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Posts tagged “Literature

GeekOut Shrewsbury November ’18 – NaNoGeKo

Cuz it… it’s NaNoWriMo… it’s November, we did… it’s… aheh, ahhh… good stuff.

Puns aside, this was a month full of stuff, which sounds trite, but there’s an increasing degree of me being entertained by you nerds as I am there to entertain you, enough of you have your own plans for what you want to do month by month, that I’m mostly there to introduce the new folks and organise the venue. I was still up until midnight prepping the quiz, but the rest all fell into place nicely… (more…)

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Top 10 Diseases & Viruses

GeekOut Top 10s

The diseased, the sick, they’ve come back to show off how these deadly cells have mutated. Viral infections are no joke, neither are deadly diseases, so in this week’s Top 10 list, we’re paying homage to all of the deadliest, most mutating diseases and viruses – And a brief discussion about what they do. Well then, be prepared to put on your mask!


Top 10

10) Technocyte virus – Warframe

Better known as the Infested, the Technocyte virus affects a whole group of people, made up of the Corpus and the Grineer. This virus is a parasitic organism, which corrupts and changes its host. Those who have hosted the virus for a long time are known as Infested Ancients, who are practically unrecognisable from their original form. A painful, horrible virus which changes the behaviours of its hosts.

The habits an Infested exhibit vary from different specimens, but one constant remains: They all become exceptionally aggressive. They also exhibit a form of hive mind mentality, with the larger specimen referring to themselves as “we”. Nevertheless, we couldn’t mark the Infested much higher, mostly due to how they fear the player as much as they loathe them. They’re mutated, they’ve got a new mind, but they still feel like you’re one of them – However that’s a story for another day.

9) Krippin Virus – I Am Legend

Well, they’re not zombies, nor are they vampires. They’re vulnerable to ultraviolet light, which burns their skin, they’re possessed of incredible speed, agility and strength, and they’re capable of elaborate plans and traps, but they also attack in droves while howling unintelligibly, and they are highly infectious, a disease that spreads through the air. They do stand in crowds in dark rooms while swaying, so that’s nice and creepy.

The Krippin Virus is a pretty aggressive form of measles designed to combat cancer. The infected, Darkseekers, now form the majority of the living “human” populous, only a few million people have proven immune, and not even dogs, or rats have been resistant to the monster of our own creation. We end the world with a cure, and only Will Smith stands a chance at creating a cure to that cure.

8) The Phage – Star Trek Voyager

Among the many diseases sent to challenge the various medical teams of the Star Trek franchise, one that has always stuck in my mind was the Phage, an affliction that dogged the Vidiians for millenia. It began with extreme joint pain, before slowly devouring the victim, causing the flesh to slough from their bones while still living. Attempts to cure the disease failed, as it proved stubbornly resistant to every new cure, adapting and changing.

The Vidiians resorted to terrible practices, like kidnapping members of other races for the purposes of genetic research, or the far darker methods of organ piracy, using transporter technology to abduct organs from living people for use in other bodies. The EMH is eventually able to help manage the disease better, learning skills that will help him save his creator in the not-too-distant future.

7) Simian Flu – Planet of the Apes

A disease that spelt our end, and marked their rise, and it was all of our creation. The virus was modified to help cure Alzheimer’s disease and other degenerative mental illnesses, first the ALZ-112 which propelled Caesar to new heights of reason and deduction, then the ALZ-113, which created Koba, the ruthless and cunning ape who would eventually lead the aggression towards humanity.

While 112 proved effective in temporarily treating Alzheimer’s, 113 proved to be our end, an epidemic that brought us to the edge of extinction. Cities emptied, and we were reduced to nomads and clusters of survivors, while ape society flourished, and the disease we made spread and mutated with them, becoming less lethal, but instead robbing us of our reason, our language, our minds, leaving us the feral slaves of a new world, a planet… of apes…

Oh I just got that!

6) The Red Death – Edgar Allan Poe

This may be the simplest entry on the list, but considering the literary works of Edgar Allan Poe, it’s unsurprising that this one had to make the list. He had a penchant for the macabre, with a writing style celebrating the gruesome and grotesque. This was spurred on by a lifetime of sadness, confusion and likely frustration. The Red Death then was inspired by a very real disease of the time, which they used to call ‘Consumption’.

The Red Death in Masque of the Red Death, is a deadly disease which is inspired by Tuberculosis, the modern name for the previously mentioned Consumption. Once a victim has The Red Death, they will begin to bleed through their pores, before succumbing to a nasty demise. This was clearly exacerbated by the fact his wife had Tuberculosis, which made the story all the more personal.

5) Pokérus – Pokémon

Depending how you look at the other entries on the list, Pokerus is the only really beneficial virus on the list. In fact, this might be the only bug that people want to spread to their teams, as Pokerus is hugely beneficial. In fact, once your Pokemon has the virus, Nurse Joy in any Pokemon Centre will comment on the fact your Pokemon has contracted it, which is said to help stimulate their growth.

In terms of the competitive aspect of why you’d want Pokerus; it doubles EV’s, Effort Values. Whenever a Pokemon defeats another, it gets a secret value, depending on the Pokemon yours defeated. For instance, a Pikachu might beat a Rattata and it’ll get 1 EV for Speed. Some Pokemon offer higher EV values, so it’s up to you to find the best Pokemon to train yours, but it’ll be much faster if you have the Pokerus.

Gotta spread it to ‘em all!

4) Rage – 28 Days Later

What happens when a virus gives you pure, unbridled anger? You’ve contracted Rage from the 28 Days/Weeks Later franchise. The aptly named virus targets specific neurosystems, triggering uncontrollable levels of anger, to the point where you have to just act out your violent, angry frustration. It’s no surprise that people compare the infected of 28 Days Later to Zombies, however the two are quite different.

A zombie typically has absolutely no real control over their actions; an undead cadaver seeking out their next meal. Meanwhile, those infected with Rage, albeit may be zombie-like, are actually still human – It’s just their minds are completely clouded by nothing but rage. Oh and there’s blood. Lots of blood. So much blood it makes The Red Death look like less blood. Just don’t cross these angry folk!

3) Shame – Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy

We didn’t think this one would rank so highly on this list, but when we realised just how absurd this entry was. The absurdity of it alone meant that we marked it a lot higher, but the popularity of all mediums of Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy meant we had to include it. It’s actually quite an obscure entry on this list, all things considered – But again, we had a good laugh at the idea behind this one.

Shame is, in some places in the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy’s universe, a terminal condition. Yes, people have and do die of shame. The most notable example is Ford Prefect’s father, but there’s one piece that puzzled us the most. This entry is only really included in a footnote, to which they state that it is “still a terminal disease in some parts of the universe”. Please, if you know the cure to shame, share it with us in the comments below.

2) Lycanthropy

We debated this one a little. Often described as a curse rather than a disease, and with highly and unapologetically magical symptoms; physical transformation and a moonlight trigger, but lycanthropy shares many things in common with an illness.

It’s transmitted via exposure via open wounds, so if you can survive an onslaught by an infected party then you’ll likely find yourself a victim to their symptoms instead. Did you know that silver has strong antibacterial property, and transmission via saliva strongly suggest that lycanthropy is a bacterial infection. Like many old “curses”, is it possible we have a case of advanced use of bacteria as a witch’s curse, like in the old haitian zombie?

I sincerely doubt it, but that’d be pretty cool. Werewolves and their ilk make the number 2 slot.

1) Virus Strains – Resident Evil

We had a tough choice with this one, too – Do we include zombies? To which our main answer was “no” as zombies are another list all together…

… So why did we include one of the most zombie filled games as one of our examples and indeed, our top example? In Resident Evil, the initial virus was known as the Progenitor Virus. This was effectively the basis for all other viruses in the franchise, which was a virus spread by flora. This virus was mostly unexplained, but it led to the research and development of the t-Virus and the g-Virus.

The t- and g-Viruses are notable for being some of the main focal points of the franchise. If we stick with the t-Virus for now, the logic also applies to the g-Virus. Effectively, the t-Virus was made to better the human race, but an altered strain meant that there was instead a zombie outbreak. Without giving you a whole load of information about why the games even happen, the various viruses in Resident Evil often start with good intention, before becoming mutated to make their victims more aggressive and even cannibalistic.

Plus, Resident Evil is a franchise all about viruses… We’d be mad to not include it.


Honourable Mentions

Not all diseases affect people the same way, so we couldn’t help but come up with some more examples. There were a lot more deadly infections and viruses out there, but these we had to give an extra little nod to – Just because we wouldn’t want these conditions ourselves!

Flayer Virus – Warhammer 40K

What disease could possibly infect a race of metal bodies with immortal, undead souls programmed into their aeons old circuitry? Only the kind of madness that could make such future-zombies miss having skin enough to try and get some more. Such is the infectious virus that spreads among the flayers, a parting gift from a C’Tan destroyed by the Necrons, something to forever thank them for their treachery.

It’s a god-given curse turned computer virus with the infectious properties of a real virus, and it’s the only kind of illness that could make the machine-dead more terrifying. The foot and a half long blades that tip their limbs don’t quite have the same potency of a skeletal robot coated in freshly harvested flesh.

The Spon Plague – The Goon Show

I talked about the Goons recently, and if you’ve looked into them since then, or before, or during, then you’re already familiar with the terrible disease that swept through the cast at roughly knee height, an infection known only as the Spon! Why, you may have it, even now! Quickly roll up your trousers to examine your knees. Are they bare, all exposed to the elements and whatnot? Then hie thee hence to a medical practitioner at once, you’ve contracted the dreaded Spon!

Not to worry there, young Seagoon, you may indeed have the cure right at your kneetips, for a particular manner of berk is completely immune to the disease, namely that what weareth long underpants! Yes folks, say no to the wonderpill for the Spon Plague, and don longer undergarments. Save your money for that new wonderpill to protect you from the Quodge, a new epidemic whose symptoms include bare knees covered by long underpants.

Bloaty Head – Theme Hospital

When we first discussed this list, somehow this painful sounding condition completely slipped our minds. Bloaty Head is a disease where your head, unsurprisingly, bloats. It gets larger, more rotund and is all in all very balloon like. Sadly, it doesn’t mean the head is any lighter for the infected patient. Theme Hospital had a wonderful solution to dealing with the painful disease, which caused immense discomfort.

A pin would be used to pop the head of the patient, before being inflated back to a much more reasonable size. Certainly a painful method, but hey, it’s effective. With the release of Two Point Hospital, which we’ll have a review of next week, we legitimately couldn’t forget to include Bloaty Head; an iconic staple of Bullfrog’s title. They might not have bloaty heads, but get ready for Lightheadedness!


It’s safe to take your masks off now, folks; the sick and dying have now left the building. Some of the diseases and viruses we’ve seen today are enough to make you question: Where did nature go so wrong? Why did we make such sick, disgusting things to do to people? Where can I find the highest EV Sp. Att Pokemon to train my Machamp? All these questions and more will not be answered when you vote for next week’s list below.

Now that all of these deadly diseases and viral viruses are outta here, we’d best make sure to sterilise everything thoroughly! Whilst we prepare the site for next week’s list, why don’t you share your thoughts about the above? What did you think of our picks? Did we forget any diseases or viruses that you think should have made the list? Should we have included the “Virus type” Digimon for instance? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter.


Top 10 Films That Were Better Than The Books

GeekOut Top 10s

Last week, we looked at Films That Were Better As Books. Those were films where the original source material was better than the films that was produced. In today’s Top 10, we’re flipping that on its head – Looking at the times when the films were better than the books. A lot of people say you can’t beat a good novel, but we beg to differ, as we check out our Top 10 Films That Were Better Than The Books.

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Literature Review: Golden Age (The Shifting Tides Book 1)

With a king who doesn’t want to face the facts, the second son of Xanthos, Dion, looks to the seas to better his home. Meanwhile, in the grand city of Phalesia, the daughter of the First Consul wishes people would leave the Eldren alone. With one city being more concerned with their peaceful neighbors than the infiltrators from across the seas, the other is blissfully unaware of the potential threats that may come their way. Now, seeking help, Dion and Chloe enlist the help of the shapeshifters, the Eldren, who live in the wilds by Phalesia… But will these powerful people help them, at the risk of becoming wild?

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GeekOut Bristol Meet – May 12th: Timey-Wimey Doctors

GeekOut Cosplay Competition 1302 23

18+ Event

Jump into your TARDIS and make your way to May’s GeekOut Bristol Meet, where we get all timey-wimey with the good doctors of Bristol! This month will be filled with dangerous Daleks, Cruel Cybermen and some curiously fine scarves! Join us for another 10 hour long event (exclusing our 2 hour pre-meetup), where we’re going to enjoy some good food and drink, followed by some excellent games and geeky conversations.

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BristolCon 2017

The annual sci-fi and fantasy convention based in the heart of Bristol, BristolCon is a great time out for all fans of literature and art. Whether you’re a fan of large or small authors, or if you want new sci-fi and fantasy inspired art pieces to display around your humble abode, this is the event for you. BristolCon, coming on October 28th, is a fun-filled one day event with interesting panels, local authors and artists and much more. If you’re a sci-fi/fantasy geek, then read on for more as you will want to check this out!

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Top 10 Unfitting Characters

GeekOut Top 10s

When you’re making a cast of pirates, do you ever think of putting a bouncy ball in amongst the crew? Not really. When you’re making a story about war, do you ever think of putting scantily clad ladies all over it? Probably not. What about those times you’re designing a fantasy RPG and you design one of the main characters to be… A robot? Ah well, at least we remember these characters, right?

These characters stand out amongst the crowd; they’re odd-balled, they’re different and that’s why we remember them the most. They are against the grain of the rest of their cast – And today we’re listing down our Top 10 most Unfitting Characters. STOP! Before we continue with this, just be aware: If a whole series is weird, chances are the character actually fits in.


Top 10

10) Tails Doll – Sonic Racing R

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The Tails Doll, a character who is so insignificant, so useless and so basically average that you’d hardly believe that they’d put it in the game at all. Let alone the fact that it’s a character that didn’t exist within the Sonic universe before going into Sonic Racing R, you’ve got what’s basically just a filler character who barely fits in with the lore and mythos of the Sonic world. Yes: There’s definitely a lore behind it, don’t question it.

However, one thing that constantly bewilders me is the fact that this little weird possessed doll became one of the biggest talking points of the game. From the Evil Tails Doll Curse, to the Acid Remix of Can You Feel The Sunshine, it’s really out of place for the rest of this rather happy go lucky Mario Kart clone. Still: You can’t really blame them for adding a character like this into the game… He even ended up going into the comics as an evil doll.

9) Manta – Shaman King

oyamada_manta

Manta is really small, which isn’t too much of a surprise with a name like that. He’s tiny, he’s got a strange haircut, we know him as Morty in the English dubs of Shaman King and he’s a smart guy. In fact, he’s probably one of, if not the smartest guy in the entire anime. But there’s always been a small feeling of aloofness about him – Like, he’s not all there. Almost as if he’s strung along by Yoh just because he has nothing better to do.

I don’t know why Manta decides to journey through the incredibly dangerous Shaman King tournament, but he seems to stay around because he’s friends with Yoh. Morty isn’t a shaman, but he can see spirits. He isn’t strong, but he’s smart. He isn’t even all that brave, except for rare circumstances, but you know what? The series wouldn’t have been the same without his worrying.

8) Twoflower – Discworld

The Colour of MagicSean Astin as Twoflower©RHI/Bill Kaye

The Disc is filled with people and narratives that point a big fat finger to real-world things and says “This is you, this is what you look like, you burk.” and no one but no one does that quite so overtly as Twoflower, the little man from the Counterweight Continent who goes on holiday and starts a revolution. He doesn’t quite fit in around Ankh-Morpork, as a generally quite dingy and unpleasant city a man with a cheerful disposition and a penchant for offensively colourful shirts stands out a mile, and yet he doesn’t quite fit in at home either.

He is, in every regard, the oddball, and that makes Rincewind a perfect companion because though he looks the part and generally fits in a whole lot better in society, he’s not exactly full-blown wizard material himself. However out of the entire cast of characters from the glorious Discworld series, say if they were laid out à la one of those Simpsons character ensembles, Twoflower would light up like a beacon.

7) Monkey – Time Splitters

monkey

This little monkey packs a serious punch. I mean, it’s literally just a monkey and the game is very happy to tell you this over and over again. From the first Time Splitters, where the Monkey’s entry simply says “It’s a monkey” to Time Splitters 2, where the entry is updated to “Yep, it’s still a monkey”. He’s not a durable character, he’s not even all that great – but he can still wield a gun like it’s nobodies business.

The oddness of the Monkey knows no bounds. From it’s little ooks and aaks, to the fact that it’s simply a joke character, the fact that this Monkey became the mascot of the game is both hilarious and odd. They could have chosen the rather witty characters from this shooter, but they chose the goddamn Monkey!! Also, don’t get me started on just how many times I was killed by this little Monkey in the multiplayer modes.

6) Tex – Red vs Blue

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Amidst the warring teams of idiots duking it out in a box canyon of absolutely no strategic value it seems like a single well-trained individual would be able to massacre both sides* and get out unscathed, but it just wouldn’t be funny like the rest of the series. Red vs Blue began life fourteen years ago in the early days of the internet creativity boom, a crude animation made in the Halo multiplayer. Now it’s immense, and creators at Rooster Teeth are now a major animation studio, thanks in no small part to Tex.

Tex is a badass mercenary gone renegade from an elite military unit who brings a layer of seriousness to the comedy stylings of Red team and Blue team, acting as a “straight-guy” to their “funny-guy”. She’s better trained, in fact she’s the best, and she’s mostly there to save the Blood Gulch boys from all of the terrible forces that want them dead! And she also spends much of that time listening to their arguments and non-sequiturs wondering why she’s going to all the trouble.

*This link has rude words AND AN AWESOME FIGHT SCENE but it gets a little too rude for this site.

5) Tingle – The Legend of Zelda

tingle_artwork_majoras_maskIf you know anything about The Legend of Zelda, it’s that some characters seemingly don’t know when to quit. Even Link, the hero of Hyrule, is barely able to stop for a second. Tingle, meanwhile, depending on the game you see him in, is either a collector, a fan or other. Tingle is annoying and we all get annoyed when we see his stupid face around. Couple that face with the stupid green spandex he wears, damn it Tingle, why are you even in this game?!

But he does serve a purpose, so it’s not all lost. However, just because he serves a purpose, it doesn’t really mean he should be there. In all honesty, he wasn’t too bad in Minish Cap, when really he mostly served as a way to deal with all of the Kinstones. He’s been around since Majora’s Mask, so you can bet your butt that he’s not going anywhere soon. Actually, probably not a bad idea, considering he usually has useful stuff on him. Let the fairy fantasizer be, I guess.

4) Kon – Bleach

kon-bleach

I feel like somewhere in Shonen Jump’s contract there is a requirement for a fluffy and adorable character, or just some bracket with “Grim and Gritty” at one end and “Childish and Adorable” at the other, and all Shonen Jump properties must fall somewhere inside that bracket. So in a world of lost and murderous souls put down by a semi-divine enforcement agency with a solemn duty to save the living from the dead… put in a teddy bear. Make him wear a dress sometimes.

Kon… why? He serves the very occasional purpose for a story, or maybe he just gets a narrative of his own from time to time, and it’s usually better than the filler arcs. He’s a constructed artificial soul placed into a vessel that he brings to life, and while he’s mostly there to occupy Ichigo’s body while he’s on Shinigami duty and saving the world, off-duty he lives inside a fluffy teddy… maybe a lion? On the bright side, he’s just as irritated about the whole thing as we are.

3) Chiaotzu – Dragon Ball

chiaotzu

This one has always confused me, because Chiaotzu is a tiny little human. A tiny human who has always seemingly been able to fly. A tiny human who has always been at the side of Tien and a tiny human who doesn’t look at all like the rest of the humans from Dragon Ball. Now, don’t get me wrong: Dragon Ball is full of ridiculous characters, as we all know and love it for… But Chiaotzu? He seriously seems more out of place than the rest. I’ve never been able to put my finger on it before, but now I think I know why he’s so misplaced.

According to the Dragon Ball Wiki, he’s supposed to be like a Chinese Vampire. From the way he floats around the place, to the way he attacks with his arms stretched out, he seemingly is a perfect fit to this description. Even the white skin and red cheeks are a reference. Dragon Ball is full of myths and fantasy stories: Heck, it was originally even a loose adaptation on The Journey to the West… But Vampires..?

2) Squirrel Girl – Marvel

wolverine-vs-squirrel-girl

Ok, so Marvel have got just about everything in their arsenal so far as superheroes go. Every viable superpower from the incredible to the insignificant, the terrible to the ridiculous. If a reasonable backstory cannot be conjured then the mutations of the X-Men can always fill in the blanks. That Squirrel Girl exists is not a shock, at most it’s a mild surprise, and the only reasonable response is “Seriously?”, to be repeated, louder, when you find out she’s one of the most powerful heroes in the Marvel Universe!

Doreen Green is a human with squirrel attributes born of some odd genetic quirk, a long fluffy tail, robust buck-teeth, claws, agility, and yes, the power to talk with squirrels. With this incredible arsenal of abilities she has killed Thanos, bested Deadpool, and turned aside Galactus himself. She’s good enough to beat Wolverine in a straight fist-fight (no claws allowed), she’s got her own Iron-Suit, and amongst the foremost members of the Great Lakes Avengers.

But she’s a SQUIRREL! And she made friends with the World Eater! Deadpool just doesn’t hold up to that, so if you were expecting him on this list then clearly my friend, you don’t know Squirrel Girl.

1) Giygas – Earthbound

Giygas is literally the embodiment of evil. That’s what it represents; that’s what it is. It’s pure hatred in an ethereal form. It’s also a villain that we’ve grown to both fear and respect at the same time. From that menacing music, to the frightful appearance of Giygas, this is a terrifying concept for most people, as he says some of the creepiest dialogue in the game. Words like “I… Feel… H..A..P..P..Y.” Creepy.

However, Giygas is probably one of the most unfitting characters of any video game made to date. Earthbound is renowned for being really surreal and silly. I mean, one of the enemies is the New Age Retro Hippy, who likes to get rulers out and measure… Stuff. We don’t know what, but that’s one of his attacks. Couple this with the colourful characters, the zany plot and the lovable story behind it, Giygas comes completely out of the blue. Even though you spend the whole game preparing for it.


Honourable Mentions

Okay, we’ve seen some downright weird characters today. But don’t you worry, we’re not finished yet. Here are two more examples of characters that really do not fit within their properties… But yet, they kind of do in a story-related fashion. You’ll see what we mean…

Mr Poopybutthole – Rick and Morty

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Here’s an example that makes itself. The little yellow blob in the top hat joins the cast of Rick and Morty during an episode that generates all manner of kooky and poorly conceived characters like Bacon Samurai, Reverse Giraffe and Pencylvester. All of them are introduced through a series of flashbacks that make it seem like they’ve been in the series the whole time, but they’re all parasites that shapeshift into wild characters to prey on those whose trust they acquire.

The way to spot a parasite is to check your memory to see if you have any bad memories of the beloved part of your family. If they’ve never shot you, kicked you in the face or abandoned you to some terrible fate then they’re a parasite, and need to be killed. They clear out the house of all of these crazy and wacky characters they once thought were friends and settle back down to a meal of the crummiest people in the family… and Mr Poopybutthole. Oh but it turns out that he’s real, which we find out when Beth shoots him and hurts a real friend, a friend who has never hurt her.

I guess sometimes it pays to fit in, just a little more. Mr Poopybutthole is there to stand out, to be “wrong” compared to the others, because he’s the punchline to an episode that makes a huge joke out of badly introduced characters who just don’t work.

Khajiit and Argonians – The Elder Scrolls

khajiit-vs-argonian

Not a character, but there’s something a little jarring about the bestial races of the Elder Scrolls games when you first begin. Having the sapient cats and lizards pop up in the choices for playable races mixed in amongst the variations of Man and Mer starts out as unusual until you get used to seeing them around, and their particular cultural quirks, and in Morrowind being unable to wear boots or helmets was a nuisance, albeit one that made sense.

They never seem more out of place than in Skyrim however. Cold blooded Argonians in the freezing north? Desert dwelling Khajiit treading the snow instead of the warm sands they adore? There are opportunities for them both in the proud nation, more so than for the displaced Dunmer who are hated and shunned by the more nationalist Nords, but I cannot imagine that any one of them would rather be anywhere but home.


Okay, now will you kindly stop sending me pictures of Jelly Jiggler? I understand he’s pretty weird, but we’ve been through this: Some series are just too weird to have any one unfitting character. But alas, we’re done with weirding everyone out with these rather odd characters who happen to just be there. It’s time for you all to help us for our next Top 10 – I wonder how fitting these selections will be?

That’s it for this week, we can finally stop thinking about the evil that is Giygas. Hopefully, we’ll be saved by the unbeatable Squirrel Girl and who knows… Perhaps Chiaotzu will finally have a new use. But what did you make of this really rather unfitting list? Did we do good, or did we do bad? Did we order the list the way you would have? As always, let us know what you think in the comments below, or over on Facebook, Twitter or Reddit.


GeekOut Bristol Meet – January 13th: ROBOT REVENGE

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.

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NaNoWriMo – Last Year

Shield-Nano-Blue-Brown-RGB-HiResI 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…

Better Writing

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*.

More Motivation

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.

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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…

Most things.


Read my history with NaNoWriMo here.

*It’s Instinct.


Top 10 Cows

GeekOut Top 10s

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!


Top 10

10. The Tauren – Warcraft

Taurenew

“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

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

Cowandchicken Cow

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

241Miltank

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

CowLevel

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

Cow BAW

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

minotaur1

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.


Honourable Mentions

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

YES m bison

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.