Geek Proud, GeekOut.

Archive for September, 2017

Top 10 – Mechas

GeekOut Top 10s

Mechs are big. Mechs are hulking. Mechs are armoured up and they protect the person who controls them as much as they can, whilst wreaking undeniable damage. Mechanised vehicles, Autobots and other mechanical behemoths are included within this week’s Top 10 list. We’re not including every machine, but it has to be motorised, it has to have some form of offense and it has to look pretty spectacular.

All in all, this list is going to be a-mech-zing! I’ll show myself out. (more…)


Streaming For a Niche on Twitch

Twitch.tv; the name evokes the image of men and women sitting in front of their screen playing video games for their audience. Yet since last year, when people decided they would spend a night watching a man compose and play melodies on his piano, or even a weekend reliving the magic that was Bob Ross, the “Creative” tag for streams has been growing in popularity.

(more…)


Re-Skinning Spells part 2

So, rather than starting with my spell like I did in my Re-Skinning Spells part 1 last week, I’ll be starting with the spellcaster. To give your unique character a unique feel rather than just a colour-by-numbers hack-n-slash dungeon crawler, plant a little of their personality onto their spell list. For each character I’ll be throwing in more details like magical implements or Individual Magical Effect to give you some ideas on how to really change up your wizards, warlocks, sorcerers, and spellslingers.

Let me start with a character I’ve wanted to build for some time.

Chronomancer

A wizard heavily invested in the nature of time, it’s mechanisms, how it shapes and is shaped by space and matter. There’s a few spells that are no-brainers for a master of time, Slow, HasteScrying, at later levels Time Stop and it’s not a huge stretch to throw in spells like Mending as a way to reverse time on a broken object, or Disintegration to accelerate time to the point of crumbling. But not every level comes with a complete collection of spells perfect for the Chronomancer.

It would not take an overly permissive DM to alter Conjure Minor Elementals to summon Modrons instead, those mechanical life-forms from the plane of rigid order and law. The collection from the Monster Manual sits within the Combat Rating requirements. Scrying and locating spells might help pinpoint the eddies and currents a creature leaves in the currents of time, Move Earth and Control Water might toy with history so ancient that the world was different.

Each time the Chronomancer casts a spell it is accompanied by the sound of a ticking clock, a whirling of spectral gears about his/her arms, and at later levels the very stars wheel in the heavens as he/she exerts power on the universe. A stopwatch might be the focus for the Chronomancer, or a sundial with a shadow that always points to the correct time, no matter the light in the room.

Alchemist

The magic of an Alchemist is all chemical, no otherworldly powers required. The correct admixtures can turn acid into a projectile capable of flying great distances, contain fire in a case of metal to be called upon later, or spawn lightning in a jar. The Artificer class for Eberron has dabbled a little in this, although I have to say I preferred the sub-type of wizard from an earlier issue of Unearthed Arcana. That works up to a point, but there are plenty of spells that you might not be able to pull out of a bottle.

Consider a spell like Wall of Stone, rather than a movement of earth the spell could be a growing mountain of foam that solidifies into a barrier. Illusions could be the result of a potent hallucinogen; it’s hard to summon an Insect Plague with chemicals unless you keep a box of larvae or a vial of potent pheromones in your pack.

Alchemists can fit into a low-magic setting, but have to plan accordingly. Your alchemist may have to carry a hefty medicine bag filled with bases, reagents, admixtures and solvents, along with enough glassware to refit a cathedral. You might be walking around in lab gear, goggles and gloves, collapsible work bench, the works.

Et Al

Ok, let me draw some examples from elsewhere. I’ll grab some characters with signature spells or spell-like powers and give you something that’ll do the same job:

Maya’s Phaselock – Shamelessly going back to Borderlands, the Siren Maya has the power to imprison an enemy in a hovering bubble of raw energy from whatever plane of existence the Sirens draw power from. Hold Person would work fine as the basic version, but lacks the upgrades, they’re much harder to replicate without your DM allowing you to add powers and expending higher spell slots, or even several slots. Dominate PersonBless, or Resistance can give you ideas for effects to pile onto a single spell.

Witcher Signs – Igni screams Burning Hands, nice and easy. Aard, maybe use Thunderwave. At early levels you might use Crown of Madness for the hypnotic sign Axii, rather than the more appropriate Dominate Monster. The shielding sign Quen has loads of possible options, from Shield to Magic Circle. And Yrden… is difficult, planting rune-circles that trigger when you pass over them is something you’ll have to wait for when you get level 3 spells and Glyph of Warding, but that’s such a versatile spell you should pick it up anyway, no matter who you are.

Waterbending – It’s easy to replicate earth, air, and firebending from the Avatar Series, plenty of fire-based spells, mobility and defensive spells for air, and things you can change into stone, especially if you build a druid. Water might be trickier, but there are things that could be made more… watery. Magic Missile and Cloud of Daggers, streaks of water hurled at opponents, Slow and Evard’s Black Tentacles could be used as patches of water that grip and bind.


The Shrewsbury Insider: Harry Potter’s Labyrinth, D&D in The Cave

Ahh, Shrewsbury is a-growing.

We have a thriving nerd community around town, GeekOut Shrewsbury is only one addition to a variety of events, groups, societies and organisations with a geeky slant. Shrewsbury, let me tell you, we are the envy of many towns and cities around the country where the gamers, film buffs, fantasy, sci-fi, and horror fans are simply not as well catered to.

Today I celebrate a couple of new groups to town, the shop Labrinth, and a new public gaming group hosted in the Cave: (more…)


Serial Cleaner – Video Game Review

Cast your mind back to last year, when I reviewed a game called Party Hard that had nothing to do with the Andrew WK song of the same name. As you may remember, Party Hard is the game where you play a serial killer and are tasked with taking out as many of the partying people as you could, so you can get some sleep. Did you ever wonder who might come and clean up after you? If you set Party Hard in the seventies and toned down the violence a bit, then Serial Cleaner would be the game to compliment Party Hard.

Specifications

  • Developed by: iFun4All
  • Publisher: Curve Digital
  • Platforms: Windows, Steam, PS4, XBox One, Mac
  • Release Date: 19th June 2017
  • Rated: Steam: 71 (Very Positive) & Metacritic (PC) 68%, user score 7.5
  • RRP: £11.99

Design

The game has a very unique style and takes full advantage of being set in the 1970’s, where almost every male person in the game has a fine full moustache and sporting some Ray-Ban Aviator shades. Your main character, a Mr Bob Leaner, lives with his mother and makes his living by cleaning up crime scenes. In between missions, there are storyline moments that relate to history. I really like the design line the developers have taken, everything feels right at home.

The colours are really something to behold, the art style is similar to papercraft, almost cell shaded in a way. I’ve not seen that many games that follow a similar art style and for that, I give the game a lot of credit. The design of the levels themselves had a lot of love poured into them. They start fairly simple, giving you a nice introduction to the controls and concept without holding your hand at every turn, as well as having a nice challenge curve.

There are several obvious design decisions made during development and they all feel like they add to the gameplay. Players are punished for taking risks and being caught, given that there are no halfway checkpoints being caught means everything resets. Yes, this causes many moments where you may find your patience being tested and it’s probably because you just were not good enough on that occasion. The great thing about getting caught is that restarting the level is instantaneous. Having a significant reload time for a game like this might be the tipping point that makes me stop playing. Being made to wait several seconds or minutes to have another go of the same level is not acceptable in a game like this, so I am glad they made it instantaneous.

Gameplay

You control Bob, using the cursor keys to guide him. Your task for each mission is to not get caught trying to mess with the scene of a crime. You do this by using your “Cleaner sense”, which gives you the ability to see the whole map, where all the hiding spots, bodies and bits of evidence are. The second tool in your bag of tricks is the ability to hide in things and activate various bits of scenery to help lose/confuse/distract the cops from finding you before you complete your mission.

When you get to a body you pick it up and then hot foot it to the nearest body drop point, which could be your reliable Station Wagon or maybe even feeding it to a Crocodile. Finally, you have a vacuum to suck up some of the blood, which is a requirement on some of the levels. The levels are really well designed; police seem to always be in the same spot while the bodies and evidence seem to rotate around a bunch of predesignated spots with every try. If a police officer spots you then you need to find the nearest hiding spot and wait for them to give up looking for you, before you continue with the job in hand.

Verdict

If you are looking to 100% complete this game, it’s going to take you a while. There are costumes to be found so you can put Bob Leaner in a Saturday Night fever style suit, or stockings and suspenders to name a few. There are also a lot of challenges for each level so you can replay them to make them more difficult. The game also includes 10 film specific scenarios to work your way through as extra content, so there is plenty to keep you occupied. For a little over £5 more than the RRP, you can optionally grab the music as DLC. I must say that it encompasses the era the game is set in perfectly, with some big hair, shoulder-pad style schlock rock, to funk and disco.

I have a few criticisms.

Even though I think the art style is nice, it is at points difficult to understand where you can and cannot run. I got caught more than once by thinking that I could escape the cops through a certain route and come to a dead end. I also think that you could add a hell of a lot of replay value if there was a level designer. You could happily hook it up to Steam Workshop to share levels between your friends, or the public. There have been a few times where I have managed to glitch through the scenery and actually appear on the other side of an external wall with no other choice but to restart, but in fairness, there have been few and far between.

A lot of other reviewers have picked up on the fact that there is no multi-player but I don’t think that a multi-player version of the game would work. I like the game as is, I’ve not managed to finish it as yet but I have seen enough to be able to say it’s a game I have enjoyed being frustrated by and having that feeling of elation when you get a level right and manage to move onto the next one. It’s certainly worth the money in my opinion.

Have you played Serial Cleaner? What do you think of this wave of games that implement very simple rules with a definitive art style like Hotline Miami, Enter the Gungeon etc? Give us your feedback via the comments section or over on Facebook, Reddit or Twitter


GeekOut Bristol Meet – October 14th: VAMP-TASTICAL!

18+ Event

Blah! I want to suck your blood! Don’t read into that too much; I don’t really. But this month, we’re celebrating All Hallow’s Eve!

So if you’re a ghost, or a ghoul, it’s time to get dressed up in your best horror outfit! Come and give us quite the fright as we prepare for another excellent GeekOut Bristol Meet.

We’ve got the games. We’ve got the books and comics. We’ve got the venue.

We just need you!

NOTE: If you’re fortunate enough to have youthful looks, then please bring your ID. If you’re asked by bar staff to provide ID, you must show it.

We will not say you’re with us if you’ve been caught without your ID.

———————–
FOODIE PRE-MEET 12:00-13:45 (Poll Pending):
———————–

That’s right, we at GeekOut South-West believe in having a good nomming session before we start the night off of fun, games, drinks and great company!

Want to join us for some food and drink before we head over to the Old Market Tavern at 2pm? Great! We’ll be launching our food poll on Wednesday 27th at 12:00.

———————–
MAIN EVENT: 14:00-Midnight (Old Market Tavern)
———————–

Spooky! We’re in the season where the dead come back to life and the young get dressed up, cementing their futures as little cosplayers. Or just people obsessed with eating lots of sweets.

So come along for a Monster Mash, as it’ll be a Graveyard Smash – This is our early Halloween-styled meetup! Oh! Special mention to the Old Market Tavern this month, who will be providing us with some special GeekOut Bristol Meet exclusive cocktails!

PLEASE NOTE:

Food & drink can NOT be brought in with you to the Old Market Tavern. If you are caught with food and drink on the premises, you will be asked to leave until you’ve disposed of your food or drink.

There will be a food menu at Old Market Tavern in the evening! The food is very cheap and it’s absolutely delicious! Trust me, I’ve eaten there enough times… But regulars of the event are also fans of the food there! The food is home made as well, so it’s simply scrummy! Food is usually available from 5pm.

———————–
BOARD GAMES (& a dash of video games)
———————–

As always, we’ll have a large selection of board games available, so please do check out what we have:

– Bears vs Babies
– Bucket of Doom
– Cards Against Humanity (UK Edition + Expansions 1, 2 and 3)
– Cash n Guns
– Chess
– Code of Nine
– Fluxx
– Goat Lords
– Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit
– Jungle Speed
– Love Letter
– Pokemon Monopoly
– Rogues to Riches
– Scrabble
– Star Trek Settlers of Catan
– Star Wars Guess Who
– Three Wishes
– Unusual Suspects
– Zombie Munchkin
– Zombies!

AND MANY MORE!

We won’t be bringing every game listed above with us: If there’s a specific game you want to see, please let me know in the comments below, before I finish making a real system for this game request feature.

Also, bring along your devices – Quiplash, Quiplash 2 and Drawful 2 are played throughout the day. These are games where you connect with your smartphones or tablets (Or anything that can connect to a browser really). We also sometimes play other games, such as Worms and people with 3DSes can pick up StreetPasses and of course play games with other 3DS players.

As ever, we will bring along a new game for this meetup as well.

———————–
BOOK & COMIC SWAP
———————–

One of our most unique features is our Book & Comic Swap, a collection of books and comics are strewn across our table in the conservatory available for people to take a book, or to leave a book for others. These are books that have been donated, or are from my old repository. Pick up or borrow a book and get reading!

PLEASE NOTE: Books you saw last month might not be present this month, unless you have a specific request for books. A new request system will be put in place, in case you want a book to be present to take home or just to browse whilst at the GeekOut Bristol Meetup.

———————–
COSPLAYERS (Group Cosplay Picture: 6pm)
———————–

Spooky scary skeletons? Super succubi? See-through Spirits?

Whatever your poison, come along to this meetup in your best dressed scary costume! We’re going to let people see the spirit of Halloween early!

Who’s going to come along as a scary, terrifying vampire? Blah!

*CHANGING FACILITIES* If you want to change into a costume when here, please note there are no changing facilities. There are just standard toilet cubicles – Which are fine to change in, but you might want to consider this first.

———————–
SOCIALISING
———————–

We’re one of the geekiest events in the South-West. We get people together to play board games and video games, share a pint and discuss what they enjoy in geekdom. Books, comics, music – Anything that you’re passionate about, you’ll be sure to meet fellow geeks who are into the same thing as you!

We do not discriminate – But if you ever find you have a problem with anything at the event, just let the host (Timlah) know and he’ll sort it out!

———————–
COMPETITION: 20:00 – 21:00 (Spook-tacular Costume Competition) [Subject To Change]
———————–

Everyone loves a good competition and this month will be no different.

Okay, so the competition is possibly subject to change, depending on a few factors – However, as a safe bet, we will likely have a spook-tacular costume competition. After all, this is going to be our equivalent to a Halloween meetup, so why not get on your scariest costume? Show us your best spooky makeup, your scariest ghouliest self and don’t forget to freak out all of the normal patrons of the pub…

… Okay, on second thoughts, let’s not scare the patrons! We like going to this venue, so please, do not scare too many people! As mentioned above, there’s not many places to change, but there are lavatories which you can change in the cubicle, if you need to.

There’s a chance this competition will change; if so, we will let everyone know a week in advance!

1st Prize: TBC, £25 cash, 3 Steam games from our list and a GeekOut Poster of your choice.
2nd Prize: TBC, £15 cash, 2 Steam games from our list and a GeekOut Poster of your choice.
3rd Prize: TBC, £10 cash, 1 Steam game from our list and a GeekOut Poster of your choice.

Note: Occasionally, there may be even more on the day!

———————–

There is so much to do and see at this months GeekOut Bristol Meet, so please do come along, bring a friend or a member of your family and come for a geeky night out.

As part of our commitment to being a great night out, we do not discriminate based upon age, gender, race, religion or sexuality. If at any point you feel you need to speak to someone about another’s actions, please grab the host (Timlah) and we’ll sort it out!


GeekOut UK: Badge System

GeekOut UK is our brand new website in the making – Something we’ve been working on for a rather long time now. As the release of the new website draws ever closer, we’re going to celebrate by showing all of you some snippets of what can be expected of the new site. Today, we’re going to talk about a topic we covered a long time ago, but this time it takes the form of a badge system.

(more…)


Top 10 – Old Games Companies We Loved

GeekOut Top 10s

Ladies and gentlemen, geeks and nerds, we are gathered here in memoriam of those we have lost but not forgotten. This is a sad Top 10 to have to write, because the games companies we have assembled below have all contributed titles to history that have inspired and driven creative minds world-over to go into games design, or in some other way create incredible works. For reasons beyond their own control these companies have fallen by the wayside to create no more.

Join us, one and all, as we mourn the Top 10 games companies who are no longer with us. (more…)


NaNoWriMo 2017: What You Need To Know

NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is an event that takes place annually in november. The event has been running since 1999 and in that time the company responsible for the event, also called National Novel Writing Month, has become a nonprofit. But what exactly is NaNoWriMo and what can you get out of the event? We’ve written about this event several times, but we’ve never written a sort of primer on how to get involved, or what you need to know. If the idea of writing a novel in a month sounds like a blast, a terrifying prospect, or something you find slightly curious – Then read on, as NaNoWriMo is a beast that should be taken on by all comers!

(more…)


Re-Skinning Spells

A follow-up to similar articles I wrote on using D&D creature stats to make original sounding creations, how about giving your spell caster some original twists? There are a few different ways you can personalise your spell list, simply changing the appearance such as the colour, the sound, the very sensual content of your spell, is the easiest way by far, but with your DMs permission (or if you are the DM and don’t care) you can make minor tweeks to the effects of your spells. Changes of damage type are simple enough, but other effects should be taken with caution as they may unbalance the game in such a way that it makes your character more powerful than the others.

Oh yes, the Dungeon Masters Guide has its tips and tricks for spell design, but there is no exact science without zealous and time consuming playtesting, so with caution and judicious forethought, lets mess with magic. (more…)