When I first heard about Bears Vs Babies I had no doubt that the team at The Oatmeal would put out something worth while. Given the incredible success of Exploding Kittens, they did have some pretty big boots to fill. Back in October of last year was the first we saw of it, let’s just say that it did not take me long to actually invest.
So it’s now been over a year since my first article that I wrote for GeekOut but my regular Wednesday slot started on 16th December 2015. It’s been an interesting challenge writing for the site. At times my mind has slipped into panic as it desperately tries to figure out what I’m going write about. I’ve tried hard to find interesting content; not only to write about, but also for our readers, so I hope you have enjoyed the content.
Traditional games have become such a raging success over the past few years, that it’s no surprise that some companies have gotten rather good at producing them. Two years ago, we received the world wide success that is Exploding Kittens from The Oatmeal. This game has been played so often at our meetups, that it’s sometimes tempting to buy a second copy of it, just so more people can get involved. Instead however, there are expansions for the game and now, The Oatmeal are back with a brand new title.
Bristol is home to some really cool companies and this months event is no exception. We’re going to be hosting a charity tabletop day over at the Southmead Pizza Hut branch, so if you’re up for some tasty food and you’re up for trying a board game or two, come along, say hi and I’ll get you settled right into a game!
I sure do love me a good convention, especially when it is everything that we wanted it to be and then some. It was a weekend of fun, friends and festivities, all within a wonderful three days (and nights) of activities. Join me as I talk about all the highs and lows of AmeCon and my verdict on the anime convention of this summer.
Last year I fully intended to attend a convention where I knew that I’d know no one, I’d be forced to interact with people without the safety net of familiar faces around me. That plan fell through and I ended up with Tim at ALcon 2014. After this year I now know that I’ll never be able to attempt a convention flying solo ever again. Let me explain: (more…)
Those who have been around this website for some time will recall the Kickstarter campaign that both Joel and I ranted about for a little while, Exploding Kittens. Whilst we never did a Kickstarter Highlight on it, as the game was already way over 100% funded by the time we’d heard about it, I knew in my heart that this was a game I wanted to pick up. Not just because it has the word Exploding in it, certainly not just for the kittens, (although they do help sell this game,) but because it sounded really simple.
One of the issues I have with plenty of traditional games is the time needed to learn the game. Picture this: You walk into a pub, filled with all of these really fun people who are readily playing board and card games together. You’ve never been to an event like this before, so you want to join in. You rush over to the nearest seat “Ah, hello, we’re about to play [Insert Board Game Here]!” “Oh, I’ve never even heard of this game”, you cry out. “Don’t worry… It’ll be easy.” One hour later you still don’t know what you’re doing, but you’ve likely had a pint or two by now so instead opt to just talk to people.
The Diaries Of A Geek Stubbornly Dragging His Comfort Zone With Him Into The Wider World
Last year I went to Liverpool and subjected myself to its’ populous for a weekend. This year, myself and my girlfriend went to the Lake District, and for those of you outside of the UK or utterly oblivious to national parks, they’re a place of long walks up hills, along lake-shores, and through drystone wall towns and villages predominantly made of Mountain Warehouses, cafés, pubs, ice-cream stands, and tourist shops. These are not particularly places where one might find a comic book, computer game, or anywhere where geeks may gather en masse, but still a great place to unwind, just take your own games.
We went equipped:
- A full set of D&D core rule books each with notebooks so that we could sit and write campaigns.
- Mancala – an African board game that I highly recommend.
- Eight Minute Empire – A quickfire game of rapid expansion and gathering power that takes a lot longer than eight minutes when you’re only just learning.
- Boss Monster – A game who’s purpose seems to be to humiliate me. First of all it strongly resembles a game I’ve been working on for waaaay too long, not only that but my belovèd girlfriend utterly destroyed me repeatedly. It’s about building an 8-bit sidescrolling dungeon to kill heroes in.
- I also took a load of Magic decks because I fully intended to get round to teaching her to play. Never happened.
We also stopped in Liverpool again to catch up with the same friends and get in some quality geek time. Turns out they had a copy of Exploding Kittens (now available for purchase according to an email I got earlier today) so naturally we squeezed in a few games. It turns out it’s exactly as awesome as the name would have you believe, although I have to say that the NSFW version doesn’t add an awful lot except scope for more players.
The next day proved a point.
After a brief stop in Kendal (that we agreed to revisit, it looked promising) we arrived, settled in to our caravan, and went out for a meal. Within minutes a family settled onto the table next to us, we engaged them in conversation, and the geekiness emerged. It took staggeringly little time for us to start discussing games, and we sat grinning at each other as we realised that gamers can find their own kind anywhere, even in tiny villages in the countryside.
That’s satisfying. Our love to that family, who may never read this, but at once we felt like we could go nowhere and want for conversation with like-minded people. It turns out that there if you’re willing to talk to anyone who’ll listen, eventually you’ll connect with someone in a place you never thought you would.
Tuesday took us into Windemere, the largest town on the edge of the largest lake in England. After about twenty minutes milling around in search of parking and truly drinking in the British holiday-going experience, we started to search in between the tourist hotspots and outdoor clothing chain-stores for a sliver of local character. And this is what we found in a small side-street bric-a-brac shop:
- Thirteen issues of Dragon Magazine, dated April 1988, May ’88, June ’88, August ’88, November ’88, December ’88, March ’89, May ’89, July ’89, August ’89, December ’89, March ’90, July ’90
- Six issues of independent gaming magazine G.M, dated December ’88, January ’89, May ’89, June ’89, August ’89, and January ’90,
- Three issues of Games Workshop’s White Dwarf, dated April ’85, October ’86, and February ’87
- A Warhammer army list book called Ravening Hordes
- And finally a second edition Red Box Dungeon Master’s Guide (sadly annotated by a former owner)
Now to say that the condition of these magazines is far from perfect would be fair, they were dumped in a charity shop and some of them pre-date me, in fact most of them do. Nonetheless they are amazing. Sitting and leafing through just a few of the articles was an amazing experience I’ll go into in greater detail at a later date, but they were a fascinating look into how things have both changed and stayed the same. At £12 for the whole stack and the look of slightly smug glee on my girlfriends face as I poured excitedly over her discovery, I’d say I was ultimately the one who got the better deal here, no matter the state they’re in.
Middle middle middle we had fun, and food, and played games and made our way home via Kendal, and upon re-visit my on-board geek-shop compass dragged us from Games Workshop and into a market wherein we discovered Level 8, the gamers’ refuge on the border of the Lakes. Level 8 are currently a market stall but I hear are about to make the move to larger shop premises and good luck to them. As well as all the traditional fair they also have a surprising range of nerdy knitwear.
On the subject of local gaming stores:
e-Collectica Games Day October 2015
It approaches on swift wings! In the Morris Hall on the 24th of October. Shropshire and West Midland locals keep your eyes peeled on Facebook, and here for updates and information.
Explosions are cool. Couldn’t say why of course, but they are and everyone knows it. They’re big, pointless and unnecessary and unless you’re a bad-guy in the A-Team then it’s usually fatal to be in one.
But they’re awesome, they appeal to a very primal (and stereotypically male) part of the mind that likes bright lights and loud noises. And that part of society is deeply profitable. I’ll show you what I mean:
Oatmeal creator Matt Inman joined in with game creators Shane Small and Elan Lee to create a card game. They decided to fund printing and distribution costs through Kickstarter! It worked. Oh my word, did it ever work! Over four million dollars before the first few days have even passed, storming it straight into the top ten most funded kickstarters of all time, and still with so much time to make it to number one.
Pledge $20 or more
THE EXPLODING KITTENS DECK
One copy of Exploding Kittens. (Ages 7+)Estimated delivery: Jul 2015Ships anywhere in the world
Pledge $35 or more
THE NSFW DECK
One copy of the Exploding Kittens deck PLUS one copy of the NSFW deck. This is a deck of bonus cards that were too horrible/incredible to include in the kid friendly version. (Ages 30+)Estimated delivery: Jul 2015Ships anywhere in the world
Explosions AND kittens? Sounds like a recipe for internet success waiting to happen, and success it already has. At the time of publishing this article there are 23 days to go
The reaper of childhood joy has one thing going for him. Explosions, and lots of them.
We joke about it, but they’re the most expensive and tricky part of any production to get right, and if it goes wrong it can’t be redone. And yet the explodiest director of all time  has built a career almost entirely on the back of hashing licensed products from the ’80s and explosions. Lot’s and lots of explosions. It’s an expensive hobby that gets him a lot of flak, but gets him a hell of a lot more money.
Old Spice: I honestly have no idea what Old Spice smells like. All I know is that Terry Crews is a glorious madman who really likes yelling and explosions! And apparently explosions are a fantastic advertising method, the ridiculous series of surreal adverts are amongst the most memorable campaigns in television history, spanning nations, and oddly reminiscent of the Powerthirst parody adverts.
Cool Guys: They do not look at explosions. We all knew that before the Lonely Island pointed it out, but damned if they didn’t make a good song out of that fact.
MR TORGUE: WOOOOWOOOOHOO!! EXPLOSIONS!! The Torgue manufacturer in Borderlands fires miniature rockets instead of regular bullets, and the CEO of the corporation Mr. Torgue High-Five Flexington is explosion mad. Also generally mad.
Explosions are everywhere in media. They are attention grabbing, destructive and terrible, and yet weirdly awesome. A lot of time has been spent trying to make explosions in games look as realistic as possible and the simulation of physics itself to create worlds that fall apart realistically when we blow them up. The technology is advancing so rapidly that many films even use computer-generated explosions more frequently so that scenes can be repeated if necessary.
And yet nothing can beat the real thing, at least not yet. Practical effects have their disadvantages, like the need for actual explosives on set, but they’re amongst the few things that computers still can’t replicate with near-perfect accuracy. Jamie Anderson, for example, was disappointed in ITVs choice of CGI over marionettes, and even went so far as to include a bigger explosion amongst the Firestorm Kickstarter stretch goals.
The real question is “Why write an article on explosions?” and the answer to that question is “MORE EXPLOSIONS”
Damn that’s pretty…