Category Archives: Games

HopCon is coming!

It’s become an annual San Diego Comicon tradition: HopCon, at Stone Brewing’s Liberty Station. We release W00tstout, have a big old party, and tap a bunch of rare kegs and interesting casks for fans of great beer to enjoy … and the whole thing is a fundraiser for The Hero Initiative!

This year, something special is happening, and I’m turning it over to Mike Palmer to tell you exactly what that is:

Among the über-cool upgrades we have in store for Hop-Con 3.0, we’re taking the giant plot behind building 12 (aka the garden bar) and turning it into the HOP-CADE! Our dream of creating an outdoor arcade and beer garden from last year has been realized. We’ll have only IPAs on tap, our oversized lawn games (Jenga, Connect Four, etc), two pinball machines (Twilight Zone and Theater of Magic), Donkey Kong, Miss Pac-Man and a Skeeball machine. Not enough? How about an arcade game with a 25 foot screen driven from a used beer barrel converted into a vintage arcade console? This last feat will be created by our friend Hunter Bond, Troll Slayer and resident Pinball Mechanic at J!NX, with custom metal routing by San Diego’s ReproHaus. This is all in addition to the five vintages/variations of Stone Farking-Wheaton w00tstout, exclusive beers we brewed with Aisha Tyler and Kevin Eastman, epic food and all-around geeky good times. See you on July 8th!

Tickets and more deets can be found here…
hopcon.stonebrewing.com

I think this is pretty great. This year, HopCon is not just for people who love great beer, it’s also for people who love great beer and classic arcade games, which is basically a Venn Diagram describing me.

Tickets are going fast, so if you want in, go get yours today!

chewin’ gum for something to do

Chapter 3 of Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana is online, like, RIGHT NOW.

The Beer Baron and Keg-E bid farewell to the party after considerable celebration and revelry. In an attempt to learn more about their mysterious orb, the group heads to Nestora in search of Farkiah the Antiquarian. Excited for an opportunity to bargain, barter, and more importantly, shop, the heroes quickly head to the market district, but they soon find that it holds more than goods. What does the city-state have in store for our heroes? Tune in to find out.

Looking for sweet Titansgrave loot? Check out the store here!

This is a reminder, because we think this seminar will fill up quickly, and if you care about that sort of thing, I want you to be able to join us:

TitansgraveAtGencon

And if you do care about that sort of thing, you probably want to be reading Chris Pramas’s blogs about the game design. for Titansgrave.

This happened last night:

Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 20.46.50

I was checking my network speed, because Netflix was trying to stop me from watching the end of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and nothing would stream off my media server in the house. I couldn’t figure out exactly what was wrong (I even tried turning it off and back on again), and the whole troubleshooting experience felt like trying to get the Babel Fish. But, eventually, things sorted themselves out and I got that insanely fast network speed, so I could finish the show.

In general, I liked it. The first few episodes were fantastic, and some of the middle ones were real stinkers, but I kept watching all the way to the end because Ellie Kemper is just so fantastic and such a joy. The show has a lot of problems that have been discussed to death elsewhere, so I’ll just leave it at that.

Finally, this is a show I’m doing for Playstation Network:CwCWithWilWheaton

We’ll release new episodes, every Tuesday in the US and Canada, on PlayStation Store. You’ll get them for the low, low price of FREE on your PS3, PS4, and PS Vita. What’s that? You loaned your device to your cousin and she went out of town, locked it in her house, and didn’t give you the key? Don’t worry. If you don’t want to try out those lock-picking skills just yet, we’re also going to make our episodes available on PlayStation’s YouTube channel.

So, I hope you’ll join me and some really interesting people as we talk about games like Destiny, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, Uncharted, The Last of Us, God of War and more. I’ve already taped a couple of episodes, and I’ve had some really fascinating conversations about the similarities and differences between videogames and movies, the origins of Destiny, and exactly how The Last Of Us scared the hell out of us all, while simultaneously making us care about Joel and Ellie more than we care for actual people we work with in our real lives. Yes, Mark, I’m looking at you. You are never going to get a spot in my zombie survival compound, Mark.

I’m actually on my way to the studio in about ten minutes to do interviews with the team that brought us Black Ops, and the Santa Monica Studio team, who brought us God of War and Journey, among others.

Let me tell you this: I am profoundly late to the party on Journey, but it’s maybe the most beautiful and emotional experience I’ve ever had playing a game. If you have the means, I highly recommend it.

The joy of reading RPG books

I came across this fantastic article at The Guardian about RPG books as, well, books (as opposed to game manuals).

“By putting aside simple narrative storytelling and replacing it with detailed description, the RPG offers the total immersion in an imaginary world so valued by geek readers. The elaboration of leading characters, political factions and major historical events is sometimes a very dry exercise in world building, but done with enough skill it can spark a deeply satisfying response”

It’s a short read, but thought-provoking, and will hopefully inspire some people to pick up an RPG book, and just explore the world within its covers.

Games (still) Matter

I’ve been playing a lot of video games for work (I can’t say exactly what, but I should be able to pretty soon), so in addition to being late to the party on Journey, I’m also late to the party on God of War (I know. I know.).

These games couldn’t be more different, but I loved them both for their own, very different reasons. Journey felt like a meditation, and I found myself actually feeling pretty emotional toward the end of it. It’s so beautiful, I’m going to play it again when I have time.

God of War is so intense, and so fast-paced, it’s not something I could play to relax or unwind the way I could with Journey, but holy crap is it fun to level up skills and beat up on the bad guys! In fact, I had so much fun playing it last night, I completely lost track of time and it was 4am when I finally realized that I should probably go to sleep.

And my thumb hurts in that video game controller pad way that I haven’t experienced since the old Sega Genesis days and their attendant marathon sessions of NHL 94.

Just a quick thing to think about and consider, because if this hasn’t occurred to me in a long time, maybe it hasn’t occurred to some of you who are reading this: video games are supposed to be fun and entertaining. Games can certainly be art, and games can and do run the whole range of experiences from simple narrative experiences like Dear Esther to complex experiences like Civilization to challenging team-based experiences like Destiny or WoW. Games can and do entertain us the way a movie or TV shows does, but I don’t think I would have stayed up until 4am watching movies last night.

I’ve said before that games matter, and I continue to believe that (whether they are tabletop or video games). I also continue to believe — and this is the point I am taking a very long time to make — that games are supposed to be fun, entertaining, distractions.

A lot of the oxygen in the world that supports video games has been taken out of the room in the last several months by dickwagons, and I know that I lost interest in spending lots of time playing games, and didn’t even want to identify myself as a gamer.

But when I spent some time actually playing some games, I remembered why I identified myself as a gamer in the first place. That’s something I’d forgotten about, and if you’ve forgotten about it, too, maybe this will inspire you to dust off a controller and dive back in.

Valkana is a broken and wounded world (or: the first Titansgrave FAQ)

This week, we’re going to be releasing a bunch of cool stuff to get you excited about Titansgrave (and to remind me what we’re all working so hard toward, because at the moment I’m so close to it I don’t know if I’m making the right editorial decisions any more.)

To get started, I’m sharing something from an ask on my Tumblr thing:

tallawkandnerdy asked:

I’m very excited to watch the Titansgrave series. I’m not too familiar with RPG games, but would like to be. Will I be super confused watching?

Maybe it’s a good idea for me to put some FAQ answers here:

What’s the system?

It’s called the AGE system, and it’s from Green Ronin. AGE is a 3d6 system that powers the Dragon Age RPG. The basic mechanic is: roll three dice, add them together, apply a modifier, and see if the total meets or exceeds a target number.

For example, my warrior wants to smash a goblin in the face with her axe. The goblin is squishy and lame, so the target number I need to get is 10. I roll my three dice, and I add them together: 8. Well, that’s pretty typical for the way I roll dice, isn’t it? Lucky for me, my warrior is really tough, and her strength (which is the thing I’ll use to see how good I am at smashing things with my axe) is 3. 8+3=11, so the goblin is now a two-headed dead goblin.

There’s this thing in the AGE system that I really like, called “stunts”. It works like this: I have one of my three dice that is a different color than the other two. This is called my Action Die. Whenever I roll doubles on any of the three dice (which is almost half the time), I get to do something cool and extra. Exactly how cool is determined by the number on the Action Die; higher is better, so if I rolled 1, 1, 6 when I was smashing the goblin, I’d get to do a six point stunt, like maybe smash another goblin in the face with my axe on the same attack.

Okay, I realize that this has gone from a very simple thing to me nerding out about an RPG system I love, so I’ll get back to what I imagine are your questions.

What’s the world like? What’s it called?

We created a world of fantasy and science-fiction, inspired by things like Thundarr the Barbarian, the Heavy Metal movie, and On A Pale Horse. In our world, called Valkana, magic and technology exist side by side, so our wizards can cast mighty fireball spells against cyborg lizardfolk who are wielding swords.  Valkana is a broken and wounded world, a post-apocalyptic land of science fantasy that is so much fun to create and explore.

Who are the players?

Yuri Lowenthal, Alison Haislip, Hank Green, and Laura Bailey. There’s more about them all in this post. More information about their characters will be released this week.

Can I get the adventure to play with my group?

Yes! We’re on track to release The Ashes of Valkana at GenCon this year. After that (either later this year or early next year, depending on scheduling and things), we’ll release a more comprehensive guide to the whole world, so you can create your own adventures and explore Valkana with your group.

Will Titansgrave be the same format as Tabletop?

Not really. Tabletop is designed to share the experience we have playing a game, explain the rules, and create more gamers in a world that is crying out for them. Titansgrave will do some of that, but we’re not going to cut to rules explanations like we do on Tabletop.

We’ll have some graphics to show what the dice rolls are during combat, and we’ll probably spell mechanics out a little in the first couple of episodes, so people who aren’t experienced RPG players will know what’s going on. But I don’t want this show to be about rolling dice and looking at charts. I want this series to be about the story that we all tell together. I want to put the ROLE back into Roleplaying, get people to stop thinking about RPGs as exclusively tactical miniatures games (not that there’s anything wrong with them, it’s just not what I’m going for), and have a season of narrative storytelling that’s as compelling and interesting and shocking and moving and exciting as any fully-scripted program on television.

Maybe you can understand why I’m so nervous about everything coming together in exactly the right way, now. I have made the stakes and my expectations very high, because I didn’t have enough to worry about already.

Can we see some art from the show?

It’s like you knew the whole reason I sat down to write this post in the first place. You sure can:

Titansgrave One

So this is one part of a full image that we’re releasing a little bit at a time over the next few days. When the whole thing is assembled, you’ll see the image I used to show the actors and crew how I imagined Valkana’s particular blend of science fiction and fantasy would look.

In this image, you can see a special wizard class we created, which I call the Desmage. The Desmages are huge and burly, like a warrior, because they use their strength to manifest their magical abilities … at great cost to themselves (in game terms, it’s sort of like a bloodmage). We didn’t end up with any Desmage PCs in this season of the show, but this artwork was created before I knew who the PCs would be, so it’s in this image.

Where will Titansgrave air?

New episodes will be on Geek & Sundry, every Tuesday.

So I can only watch it at Geek & Sundry?

Nope. It’s still going to be in an embeddable player, and it will go on YouTube later the same week, but I’d like everyone who watches the stuff I create with Geek & Sundry to get used to watching stuff there, sort of the way you watch a TV channel.

Will there be gag reels?

No.

Will it air every other week?

No. Every week, for ten weeks, you’ll get a new episode. The final episode will air right around GenCon.

When does it start?

We planned for June 2, but I decided to push release back by one week so we can make really good decisions about the first episode’s final cut, instead of making decisions in a rush because we want to hit that release date. We’re releasing something cool on June 2, but the first full episode will be coming out on June 9. Episode 0 will be out a few days before then, or on the 9th, depending on how the edit of that episode shakes out.

I want to know more!

There’s going to be stuff on the Geek & Sundry Facebook thing, and on the official Titansgrave homepage, so that’s a link you may want to hold onto, if you’re into that sort of thing. There’s also a Titansgrave forum at Geek & Sundry, because I guess forums are still a thing?

This week’s Tabletop is DREADfully good.

Every season of Tabletop, I feature a roleplaying game. I’ve done this, because my not-so-secret wish all along was to do a spinoff show that was a season-long RPG adventure with persistent characters.

We’ve done Fiasco and Dragon Age, and this season, we’re playing DREAD.

I. Freaking. Love. This. Game.

We have a great group of players: Molly Lewis, Ivan van Norman, and Laura Bailey (who I cast in Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana).

This was intended to be a single episode, but I liked it so much, and I am so incredibly proud of the story we told and the way we told it, I decided to make this a two-part episode.

Here’s part one:

I really hope you like this as much as I do, and I hope you’ll be happy to know that we aren’t doing a gag reel next week; we’re going to do part two, so you don’t have to wait.

If you’d like to learn more about DREAD, or get your own copy, you can find out more at their website. SPOILER WARNING: We played an adapted version of the Beneath A Full Moon setting. If you read that part, it’ll probably wreck some of the drama and suspense for you.

Let’s talk about Titansgrave for a moment.

Here’s a picture of Aqualad as a pirate, from one of the funniest episodes of Teen Titans Go I did.

Aqualad is a Pirate

I realize that TTG has its detractors, and respectfully request that they don’t use this post to list their grievances. I liked the show, I loved the cast and creative people involved, and there’s always the older, more serious Teen Titans for you to watch.

Speaking of older stuff: you know what holds up surprisingly well? The Land of the Lost (not that abominable movie; the original series). In fact, I used some elements from Land of the Lost as inspiration for some elements in Titansgrave.

Titansgrave. Let’s talk about Titansgrave for a moment.

Holy shit you guys Titansgrave is looking amazing. I desperately want to share some of the art images we have, including some of our character models and locations, but there’s this whole marketing plan that I have to follow, like I’m an adult who is part of a successful business or something.

Yesterday, I watched a rough cut of our first episode, and I loved it.  The photography and the set are beautiful, the actors I cast to play the adventuring party are just fantastic, and as I watched it, felt like the cameras and editing captured the experience we had when we filmed the show. This was really important to me, because translating the emotional and visceral excitement, tension, curiosity, triumph, despair, and joy we all had while we played the game and told the story into something an audience can enjoy is the only way this show will be a success.What I saw yesterday did exactly that. However, I know that, I’m not entirely objective, so I’m going to screen a few edits for some people at Geek and Sundry who weren’t on the set and don’t know anything about the campaign — basically what the audience will know going into it — to make sure that my instincts are correct: Titansgrave is a hell of a lot of fun to watch, and the characters who you’ll get to know are pretty damn compelling.

Lots of people are asking if we’re going to release the campaign setting, and what game system we’re using. These questions have been answered elsewhere, but I’ll put it here just so it’s here: the game is powered by the AGE (Adventure Game Engine) system that Green Ronin created for Dragon Age RPG. This is a version of the AGE system called Fantasy AGE, and we’re adding a few elements to the rules that are specific to our setting, that allows us to incorporate some science fiction elements, as well. At the moment, a lot of us are developing the world, writing fiction that takes place in Valkana, creating NPC allies and adversaries, imagining areas that we touch on in the show but don’t fully examine (so players at home can have their own adventures in our world) and building out the lore of this world we created. It’s a lot of work on a very tight schedule, because we are going to release the campaign setting this summer, but I’m not complaining because I have been itching to just write and write and write some more.

Speaking of writing, here’s a little bit of fiction I wrote while I was figuring out what a particular district of the city of Nestora would feel like.

Grell’s Alley

Korram put one hand on the pommel of his sword, and the other deep into his pocket. He pressed together the two sovereigns he found there, lest they make a sound and draw unwanted attention in this rough part of Nestora. Korram knew his way around a back alley, and was indeed using one at this very moment to make his way to the Shal, but there had been enough killing today. Far too much killing for the two sovereigns he had to show for it. Best to not attract attention, he thought. Some distance away, a concussive boom shook the air. Not thunder, Korram knew from instinct he had long forgotten how to explain. It was more likely a Guilder strike. The flashing of lights reflected off buildings at the end of the alley, as emergency and security hovers sped past, confirming his suspicions.

So much killing. He thought. Too much killing. Korram was tired.

He straightened his spine, pulled his shoulders back, and walked deliberately down the alley. Garbage bins and foul waste piled high around him. Rainwater dripped down from wires and off of rooftops, forming foul puddles between the cracked and broken cobbles beneath his feet.

“Oi!” Called a voice from the darkness in front of him. “Oi! Trellem!”

Korram grunted, and kept his eyes fixed on the end of the alley. With one thumb, he imperceptibly slid the leather guard off his sword.

A stocky dwarf stepped out of a shadow, and blocked his way. No dwarf would stand against a Trellem alone, Korram knew. He sniffed the air, drawing as many scents as he could, forming a mental image of everything around him: Wet brick and urine — human urine — eight hours old to his right. Garbage, a dead rat, a slowly leaking gas line to his left,  and there, above it, tucked into a fire escape made of rusting metal and rotten wood, an elf, wearing soaked Darham leather.

“Stop a bit and visit with old Grell now, won’t ya?” The dwarf said.

“I don’t think so,” Korram said. His sword settled into his hand, ready to become an extension of his arm, of his will. A single-shot blaster, tucked into his belt, felt warm against the small of his back.

“How about you just give me yer gold then?” The dwarf said, “To, uh, ensure yer safe passage through Grell’s alley.”

Korram breathed deeply. The elf was tensing its — her, he now realized — her legs and was about to pounce. He exhaled a sigh.

“There has been enough killing today.” Korram said.

The dwarf flashed a grim smile, revealing a mouth of broken teeth behind his filthy beard. “Disagree,” he said. The elf pounced.

Korram spun in place and drew his sword in one motion. The elf fell on it, sliding down its blade and catching her jaw at the hilt. She hadn’t had time to register surprise, Korram thought, as he yanked her head from her body. Dual daggers clattered to the ground and Korram turned back to face the dwarf.

Korram didn’t need to use his highly evolved sense of smell to know that Grell had pissed himself. “Too much killing,” he said, advancing on the dwarf, who fell as he tried to turn on stubby legs and run away.

Minutes later, Korram wiped his blade clean along the back of Grell’s tunic, elven and dwarven blood mingling together on the rough, heavy cloth. The lifeless heads of Grell and his companion kept watch over the alley, while Korram pulled a small bag off the dwarf’s body. Several coins inside jingled together.

Too much killing, Korram thought, but at least he had more than two sovereigns to show for it. He walked to the end of the alley, and down the lane toward the Shal.

Valkana is a broken and wounded world, a post-apocalyptic land of science fantasy that is so much fun to create and explore. I’m having a fantastic time imagining it, and I’m really excited for you all to come and visit, later this summer.

peer into our world…

I’m not quite ready to announce the details of the world we created for our RPG show, but I am ready to show this little glimpse of it, and I encourage you to make of it what you will…

a sneak peak at the tabletop rpg world
a sneak peak at the tabletop rpg world

What could it be?

…something wonderful.

meet the players who will be rolling initiative in our tabletop rpg show

We’re shooting the Tabletop RPG show all this week. Yesterday was our first day of production, and we had so much fun, eleven hours of nonstop work flew by in a flash. In fact, at the end of the day, one of the players said to me, “that’s it? I want to keep playing!”

We’re going to be slowly announcing details about the show all this week, and yesterday, I introduced the players to the world:

Here’s a little bit about them:

  • Hank Green is one of the most successful and influential YouTubers of all time. With his brother, John, he created the Vlog Brothers. Their network has grown to over 1 billion views, and earlier this year, Hank interviewed the president. Hank is an old school role player, and he’s a fantastic storyteller.
  • Alison Haislip hasn’t ever played an RPG like this, but she was amazing in Fiasco during the first season of Tabletop. She’s worked for G4 and Nerdist, among others. It was pretty awesome to watch her start out tentatively yesterday morning, and by the middle of the day she was slinging dice like she’d been doing it all her life.
  • Yuri Lowenthal is one of my best friends. We met when we were working on Legion of Superheroes, and we’ve gone on to work together on Ben Ten, There Came an Echo, and countless other animation projects. You’ve heard him in pretty much every video game, ever, (he’s Sandal in Dragon Age: Origins), and you’ve heard him as Sauske in Naruto. Yuri has been playing RPGs as long as I have.
  • Laura Bailey and I met when we worked on There Came An Echo last year. By lunchtime on the first day, we had decided that we needed to be friends, and it feels like we’ve known each other since college. She’s an accomplished voice actor who you have heard in over 250 projects, including Dragon Age: Inquisition, Hearthstone, The Last of Us, World of Warcraft, and Fullmetal Alchemist. Laura also plays on Geek & Sundry’s RPG Twitch show, Critical Role.

You can find them on the usual social networks, and we’ll all be posting behind the scenes pictures and short videos during production this week.

It turns out that there’s a lot happening today.

First up, this is happening:

Wil Wheaton Big Bang Theory Season 8

We also have a new episode of Tabletop out today, and it’s one of my favorites of the season.

And after waiting almost a year to be able to talk about it, Nintendo of America has announced that I play the voice of Abraham Lincoln in their insanely awesome 3DS title, Code Name STEAM.

I am extremely proud of this game, and I can’t wait to play it. It’s got a great balance of humor and strategy, and there may be some awesomely weird stuff in it, too … you can confirm it for yourself with the trailer: