2016 has come to an end now and we’re hopeful for a bright future in 2017. Ah, so let’s look out of the window… Dear God, it’s all gone to hell out there.
I made a big thing out of my attempt to join in with National Novel Writing Month in 2015, I’ll include links down below. By pass/fail standards then I didn’t make it, but 41,000 out of 50,000 isn’t bad going, and I’d reached a nice bridge into my third act, and I learned a lot in the process. More to the point it has triggered a series of learning experiences I wasn’t expecting, and while I may not be joining in fully this year I’ll still be working on a little side project to while the month away.
In short, this is why you too should attempt NaNoWriMo…
It’s amazing how much you learn about your own habits after trying something like this. I touched upon them before in my summary of NaNo 2015, my painful habit of using my own voice for characters, the challenges of description vs story, and exactly how much more planning I should be doing for these things. You all helped me pursue something that offered a real challenge, I rose to the challenge and I failed, there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s what you take away from the experience afterward.
I’ve attempted a few other little writing challenges this last year, and had feedback from them. After three years (well, two and a half) of writing for GeekOut it appears I’ve developed something of a style that limits my audience; great audience, and I’m not going to change, but I’d be curious to attempt something different, alter my tone, break out of the comfortable niche I have settled into, the one full of lovely people who like things that I like and don’t judge me harshly when our opinions differ but will fight me to the bloody end over which Pokemon Go team is best*.
I feel compelled to pursue new projects, ones that I might actually finish. There are game designs left unfinished, a new writing endeavour to pursue that promises new experience and new opportunities, and other GeekOut related things for you to look forward to in the year to come. GeekOut got me to do NaNoWriMo in the first place, only right to feed that new drive back into the project.
This year I said I’d play more games, and I did, I committed time that I frankly didn’t have because it was something worthwhile. Next year I’ll be attending to another hobby I’ve let fall by the wayside, another that will help my next sprint at NaNo, reading, I haven’t read a good book in too long. Reading is good for you, and it makes you a better writer to read and understand the skills, habits, and failings of other authors.
Perhaps this isn’t the project for you, maybe you should get out there and run 80% of a marathon, or volunteer to help out at an event but have to duck out for the last hour or two. Or do the whole thing if that’s what you want to do. Doing something time sensitive, with a definite start and finish will help drive you toward achieving other goals, or help you aim for something new and unexpected. This month I simply do not have the time for another National Novel Writing Month, but in the spirit of the occasion I’ll be writing a little something every day, maybe no more than a couple of hundred words, perhaps not even that, but something.
Really that’s the point of pursuing a challenge like NaNoWriMo, it encourages you to do something new, and to work hard at it. It doesn’t matter if an old NaNo novel gets dumped into the endless limbo of the “To Finish” folder, because you tried something different and learned from it. The fact that a month of effort now fades into distant memory does not alter the fact that it has changed you for the better. The same can be said of anything new you try…
Mooo-ve over goats, it’s time to pay our respects to the bovine beasties of the world with our next list. Trot on over to your seats ladies and gentlemen, as it’s Saturday and that can only mean it’s time for another strange collection to graze through. Selected by you, we’ll prove we’ve got no beef with this weeks choice. We’re not playing around when it comes to milking these puns today, it’s time for our Top 10 Cows!
10. The Tauren – Warcraft
“Moo, are you happy now?”
Ah yes, the Tauren of Warcraft are an incredibly nomadic people. These huge humanoids resemble cows and bulls, akin to that of a Minotaur. The difference with these folk are their shamanistic and druidic ways, as opposed to a typical Minotaur view of solitude and isolation, making the Tauren a lot more of a herd mentality that we’re used to from cows in general. The Tauren are a noble people, who sided with the Orcs and their Horde.
One interesting point about the Tauren is their strange relationship to the Night Elves. On the one hand, war separates the two, yet they’re both keen on the protection of the Earth. If only these two races kept to themselves; perhaps fel energies wouldn’t be so present there on Azeroth. Coming in only at number 10, the Tauren are one of the more neglected, but certainly lovable aspects of Warcraft.
9. The Brazen Bull
Torture is a terribly creative affair, it’s incredible the ways we find to bring each other pain. The bronze bull or Sicilian bull was devised a means of executing prisoners by imprisoning them in a metal sculpture that is slowly heated until the victim is cooked to death, oh but that’s not the creepiest part. Smoke was allowed to curl out of the beast’s nostrils, and a series of pipes and tubes made the horrified screams emerge as the enraged howling of the bull.
If you want to see exactly how horrific that can be, watch Immortals by Tarsem Singh, it’s a rather superb take on a classic Greek tale, but it’s also rather gruesome. Magic: the Gathering also brought out a Brazen Bull card entitled Deserter’s Quarters. And as if Amnesia wasn’t creepy enough, there’s even a haunted Bull in the torture chambers that still screams when a fire is lit beneath it.
8. Cow – Cow and Chicken
The cartoon series that featured the grotesque and childish mishaps and happenings of the brother sister team, hard-done-by 11 year old Chicken and his overly emotional 7 year old sister Cow. While Chicken largely tries to ignore or berate his sister he cannot escape the fact that he is literally overshadowed by the big, fat and ugly cow he is charged with protecting.
Cow is massive, loving, easily brought to fits of hysteria or bouts of tears, either accompanied by an emotional moo. Considering their neglectful and unhinged parents it’s little wonder that the unlikely siblings have issues of their own, although it probably doesn’t help that they share a creator with Ren and Stimpy.
7. #241 Miltank – Pokemon
When Miltank was released upon the Pokemon franchise, at first I thought it was going to be a bit of a joke Pokemon, not really understanding the meta-game importance it would achieve. Even to this day, a well trained Miltank can seriously soften a blow for a team that needs the time to set up. This beefy, tanky cow is able to withstand some really devastating attacks from many different types.
Miltank isn’t anything special really; but the fact it was such a sturdy tank for so long and can still soak up the damage is testament to how well this bovine Pokemon has fit in with the franchise. Whether it’s surviving by the skin of its teeth and drinking… Er… It’s own milk to recover health, or if it’s the surprisingly useful move set that jumps out at you, don’t worry: Miltank will never be forgotten as one of the greatest assets from Generation 2.
6. The Secret Cow Level – Diablo 2
If you’ve never heard of the Secret Cow level, then you’ve either never played Diablo 2 or you’ve never used Google before. The Secret Cow level is an Easter Egg of mythical proportions, a secret passed down from player to player and even from Diablo to Diablo (only it sometimes changes forms to other things, such as rainbow unicorns and ponies in the process).
The Secret Cow Level requires you to get the Horadric Cube and to place inside of it Wirt’s Leg, a seemingly useless item from Tristram and with it, put a Tome of Town Portal in there with it. Transmute the items together and a red gate will appear, as if conjured up by hell itself. This only happens when you’ve beaten Diablo and are taken back to the Rogue Encampment for the first time. Do not select a higher level of difficulty, for you’ll have to beat that ones Diablo. Be prepared, as these cows are tough, wielding halberds and polearms of all sorts… But the treasures beyond the portal are immeasurable.
5. Ballistic Cow/Fetchez la Vache – Monty Python and the Holy Grail
We have a Holy Grail, it’s very nice, but you cannot come in to see it. Now go away or we shall taunt you a second time! Or hurl livestock at you via trebuchet, or possibly mangonel.
In the same way that this flung cattle is the opening salvo in a barrage of assorted debris, clutter and livestock, this is one of the many, many, many many, manymany MANY jokes from Holy Grail that would seemingly live forever in the form of a wide variety of weaponised cows, many of whom appear on this list! It may not be the most famous part of the scene, but it’s perhaps the most parodied.
And this one is for your mother.
4. Cow Launched – Earthworm Jim
Considered one of the weirdest plot devices in all of video game history, Earthworm Jim is about an earthworm, named Jim, who becomes super powerful whenever he puts on his intergalactic suit. With the universe in danger from Queen Slug-For-A-Butt, Jim sets out to go and save Princess Whats-Her-Name and to hopefully steal a smooch from her. Little did he know, his dreams of smooching the damsel would be completely smooshed.
In a weird twist, the princess is flattened by a cow that falls from outer space. Jim, beside himself, leaves the scene… Only to return to steal her crown after the land has cracked away at the cow and the princess. But why would a cow fall from space like that? Back in the first level, a trap is set up to force you to progress the game. The trap forces you to launch the same cow into orbit, where you see the cow travelling by at insane speeds throughout the game. Crazy, silly ending, for a crazy, silly game.
3. Cows & Cows & Cows and Moo – Cyriak
Cows & Cows & Cows is a video featuring a large bunch of cows in a field, perhaps even a whole herd of cows. They start to moo in a rather catchy rhythm, mooing cheerily, but somewhat eerily too. They then start to bounce around in silly manners – Oh the joy in those moos. But then, suddenly, the joyful bouncing turns into weird shapes, such as spider cows… And even puddle cows. Very odd. Moo is just as odd, featuring aliens and cows fighting it out for… Something.
It’s really hard to explain what makes these videos (and thus Cyriak) such a highly talented piece of animation. But hey, Cyriak’s YouTube ventures, including both Cows & Cows & Cows and Moo saw his animation expertise be snapped up by both the BBC AND Adult Swim. Who would have ever thought that making some cow-monstrosities would create such an impressive career?
2. Angel/Demon Cow – Black and White
Black & White was a highly anticipated game by Lionhead Studios, who recently shut down for good. It’s a shame, as Lionhead produced some amazing games, such as Black & White and of course, the legendary Fable series. WIth this said, the cow in Black & White was hilarious in many respects. This was a cow that could be bigger than a mountain; or “only” as tall as a building. This was a cow that could be good and heal the sick, or be rotten by healing the sick… then eating them. It could inflict pain like no other, or it could help those who truly were in need. This cow was not only a godsend: It was a literal avatar of a god put on Earth.
This was a close call, having almost made this our number one pick… However, it just loses out because this simply isn’t as well known as our number one choice. That was the only determining factor between the avatar of a god and our next choice…
1. Minotaur – Mythology
Asterion, the bull of Minos, was the misbegotten child of Pasiphae and the Cretan Bull, sent as a curse upon King Minos for failing to sacrifice the bull. In his dispair Minos commanded Asterion imprisoned in a labyrinth, to be slain years later by Theseus, a son of Poseidon. The minotaur is also one of the first things most people think of when they hear the words Greek Myth.
Minotaurs have entered gaming circles as an entire species of evil carnivores bent on destruction. It may be a misappropriation of the source material but it’s one that’s spread throughout the fantasy genre and has built something of a mythology around themselves. A playable race in D&D, a pivotal race in Magic’s plane Theros, and in the mythology based RPG Titan Quest you can fight your way through a horde of the beasts to kill the original beneath the palace of Knossos.
Was there really another choice for geekiest cow? Well yes, it got pretty close with the Avatar in Black and White. In the end it was the far reach and cultural impact of the bullheaded maneater that won out the number one slot.
That wasn’t so bad now, was it? Now that these Moo-vers and shakers have been shuffled along, it’s time for two more to be mentioned. There’s always a couple of layabouts in a large herd. So whether it’s all about being punny, or it’s all about hoofing over another ‘potential’ for our list, here are two more that just deserved to be mentioned.
Bison – Street Fighter
BECAUSE HE’S A BISON?
I am so sorry. Bad pun it may be, but it is nerdy, and it’s kind of an interesting piece of trivia. The powerful crime lord in the red military garb is actually named Vega in the original Japanese, the masked fighter with the claws is named Balrog, making the original M. Bison the pugilist we know better as Balrog. The name swap was brought about by the unapologetic similarity to Mike Tyson.
But no matter which Bison you know, both are almost comically exaggerated combatants, and regular antagonists of the series. The boxer is a dirty fighter, and cheats to land bigger paychecks, but the head of the operation has a real god complex that has driven him to pursuing the dark Psycho Power beyond his physical limits.
Not exactly cows, but we couldn’t resist.
Mad Cow – Worms
Amongst the wide variety of brilliantly ridiculous weaponry at the disposal of the heavily armed invertebrates are a collection of barnyard animals, including the sheep, super sheep, concrete donkey, and of course the Mad Cow.
Not the most devastating, not the easiest to control, but a rather interesting balance of the two. Point and shoot to unleash a stampede of wildly trampling cows that detonate on impact, y’know, like cows do. The problem is what they might make contact with, one badly angled launch can be result in a devastating backlash or a heartbreaking waste, but I have seen some rather effective uses by dropping cows from a grappling hook.
I’ve gone mad from all of this cow-talk. So give yourselves a pat, you’ve seriously made us need to farm through the banks of our memories for this one. But don’t think you’ve defeated us, because once again we rose to the occasion and we’ve come up with a list that is definitively GeekOut and is as barn-y as we are. Oh, I really should stop with milking these puns. Take a moment to help us pick our next Top 10:
Don’t have a cow man, that’s the end of our list for this week. Whether or not you had fun trotting through this list, or if you now have some personal beef with us for forgetting your favourite cow, let us know in the comments below. Do you agree with our ordering of these shapely creatures, or do you think we’ve forgotten one all together? Alternatively, share your bovine frustrations with us over on Facebook, Twitter or Reddit.
Here at GeekOut, we love to play board games. During our meetups, we love to get out the pen and paper, the dice and the figurines. We’re big fans of being traditional and enjoying games that gets people talking. In the 80s, video games were just about hitting their height in popularity. Some would even call it the golden age of gaming. Today, I’m happy to announce next week’s GeekOut Bristol Meet is dedicated to those games. We’re going back to the 80s with our 80’s themed retro party! Join Timlah to find out more.
Ernest Cline’s debut novel was met with roaring praise, but now it’s my turn to check out what life is like in The Stacks for young Wade Watts. Would living inside of a virtual simulation be just the escape in life that he wanted, or will he find out that the world is truly more horrific than he would ever dare to imagine? Join Timlah as we look through the bleak telling of a future where the only means of escape from reality that is the OASIS.
Since I started reading in pubs some time ago, I’ve been noticing a slew of other dwellers doing the same thing. It’s weird to think that something so solitary can have such a following, at least from what I’ve seen.
I foolishly decided to review Hogfather back in July, leaving me with very few choices for a Discworld book to review that fit the season, so I considered doing the complete opposite, that being a book about boundless amounts of life springing into the world, like Reaper Man. Dammit Tim! So why choose Maurice?
This time of year is about families, which is why the primary focus of media tends to be family friendly, accessible to both children and adults in equal measure. We rewatch the films we grew up with and want to introduce those to children in the hopes that our influence can do what genetics began, creating more and hopefully better versions of ourselves. This is also why we recreate those old stories, giving them more of ourselves and making them more relevant and accessible. (more…)
There was a sound beneath him, at the foot of the bed. He turned again, aware of the dull throbbing in his shoulder as he moved. His eyes fought his efforts to open them, and a blurry image of concrete walls greeted him, which slowly focussed to settle upon the shape of Juniper.
“I recall seeing this hat,” she turned the conical disc slowly in her hands, “almost every week in the library, stood before me once again for some new misdemeanour to be reprimanded. Somewhat iconic of Leylandii, wouldn’t you say? Almost as much a part of his identity as his smile, and his disregard for maintaining order. I shall miss it. Despite it all, I shall remember him fondly as the young boy who challenged everything he was told until he understood exactly why it was being told to him.
“Do you think that the same young boy would have ignored well reasoned advice, endangered the lives of his friends and comrades, his own life, and the lives of everyone at this facility, to retrieve a hat? No matter how well meaning the intentions, no matter how competent he may have thought himself, Leylandii was not fool enough to risk so much for so little.” She placed the hat on a table behind her, utterly expressionless “Your actions have not only shown contempt for his memory, but a total disregard for your own life, with which the council feels you can no longer be trusted.”