do you game more in person, or online?

I’m writing a column for the Washington Post, and I could use your feedback, if you have a moment.

I would like to know (unscientifically, of course), if you play games more online, more in person, or about the same.

If you have a moment, please answer this survey thingy I set up:

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

I’m closing comments here, so I only have to look in one place for the data, since my deadline is tomorrow. Thank you for your help!

panorama ephemera mashupa

I made a thing, which I believe is best experienced as ambient background noise, projected onto a bare brick wall. This is not something that you sit down and watch, the way you’d watch a movie or a TV show.

This work was created by combining audio and visual works obtained from the Internet Archive, at archive.org. The visuals are from Panorama Ephemera, which was found in the Prelinger Archives. The audio was remixed and processed in Audacity, and comes from several different sources, also originally found at the Internet Archive.

Everything used to make this video is in the public domain, or is licensed for remix and reuse.

This video is released under a Creative Commons attribution non-commercial share alike license.

Halloween stuff and Tabletop stuff

Happy Thursday!

To begin: I did a Not The Flog that was released this morning. In it, I talk about the season three premiere date for Tabletop, offend nearly everyone for one reason or another, and bounce around on my couch while I wear a fancy Captain Kirk tunic.

Oh, I also talk about some dumb Halloween stuff that is occasionally amusing to me.

NEXT.

I co-hosted DC All Access today, with my friend Tiffany. I think it will be released in the SOOOOOOON.

ALSO.

I listened to a fucking amazing NPR show this morning, from Snap Judgment, called SPOOKED V. It’s a collection of fantastically creepy and scary stories, just in time for Halloween. I highly recommend it.

FINALLY.

I’ve been spending a fair amount of time on archive.org recently, and have been doing my best not to completely fall down the rabbit hole of amazing films and weird bullshit they have there, but this time of year, I just love checking out some of their old and creepy silent films. I mentioned on Not The Flog that you can see The Golem there, but you can also watch a gorgeous transfer of Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror, a silent Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde short, and the unforgettable 1960s B-Film classic, Carnival of Souls.

I’ve been having such a good time downloading and remixing things from the Internet Archive, I almost feel like I could just write about it and publish the stuff I make for the next several weeks, but I have other duties to which I must attend. So until next time, have a happy Halloween, and PLAY MORE GAMES!

 

the audacity of derivative works

Anne and Wil Wheaton 1920s outfits
Click to Embiggen

This weekend, my friends hosted a 1920s occult party. There were tarot readings, Ouija boards, and a seance. Everyone was encouraged to attend in appropriate attire, and we sipped absinthe while movies like The Golem and Fantomas were projected on the walls.

Anne and I got our clothes from Unique Vintage and Clockwork Couture. While we were getting dressed, Anne said, “I kind of love that I’m cosplaying with my husband,” and I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.

I had this idea to track down some 1920s music to play during the afternoon and evening, leading up to the party, so I started by looking on Amazon. I didn’t see anything that I liked, so I checked the Google Play store, and then iTunes. Again, I couldn’t find the original recordings that I was looking for, and as I was about to give up, a voice inside my head sort of kicked me behind the eyeballs and said, “Hey, stupid, music from the 1920s is in the public domain. Go look on the Internet Archive and I bet you’ll find more original recordings than you know what to do with.”

People, you should always listen to the voices in your head, because they know things. They know things that you don’t know. THEY KNOW THINGS THAT THE OTHERS DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW AND GREAT CTHU–

Sorry. I got a little carried away, there.

So I went to the Internet Archive, and I found a treasure trove of incredible recordings.

Here are a few of them:

I grabbed them all, because that’s what you can legally and ethically do with the Internet Archive, and I made playlists that I shuffled through our Sonos to fill our house with the sounds of the Roaring Twenties. By the time we left for the party, I was ready to hop in a plane with Lucky Lindy and fly to New York to watch Murder’s Row in action.

So the party was fantastic, and everyone there looked incredible, but that’s not what I set out to write about this morning. What I wanted to write about was this thing I made, using free (as in speech and beer) tools, to create something where something wasn’t before.

Within one of the collections I downloaded, there was a jaunty little tune called JaDa.

I enjoyed it, and I had this idea to slow it down and completely transform it into something that sounds very, very different.

Longtime readers may remember that I freaking love the ambient music of the early 1990s. Well, I loaded JaDa into a free and open source audio editing program called Audacity, and I played around with some of audacity’s effects to turn this three minute jazz tune into nearly an hour of sinister dark ambient that was directly inspired by the occult party we attended. When I finished it, I was happy with what I’d made, and I wanted to share it with the world. So I put it on SoundCloud. While I was uploading it, I saw that I could add some sort of album art. Keeping with the theme of transforming existing public domain works, using open source tools, I went back to the Internet Archive, and found a page of a 1927 seed catalog that had some bright strawberries on it. I captured part of that image, loaded it into Gimp, and applied a bunch of filters to it, until I’d turned an image of luscious strawberries into something very different, that I thought matched the mood and tone of the audio I’d created.

Here’s what I made:

I’ve talked a lot in the past about how I believe this is a really great time to be a creative person, because the tools we need to make things, as well as the ability to get those things out into the world, are never farther away than our keyboards. I hope this inspires some of you to Get Excited and Make Things.

Tabletop season 3 – the complete list of games and players

Last night, we wrapped production on the third season of Tabletop. It was bittersweet for me, as always, because I’m so wiped out and teetering on exhaustion, the idea of sleeping until I don’t need to sleep is very appealing … but I’m also sad, because I love the crew so much, and they are such a joy to work with. We truly have become a family over the last three seasons, and it’s going to take me a few days not only to decompress from the intense production schedule, but to get used to not seeing all these people who I genuinely like for 12 hours a day.

I’m incredibly proud of the work we did this season, and I am super excited to get to work on editing and the other post-production tasks, starting on Friday.

For those of you wondering, here is the complete list of games and players from this season, in the order they were played (not the order they will be released):

  • Tokaido – Jason Wishnov, J. August Richards, Chris Kluwe
  • Concept – Joseph Scrimshaw, Rett and Link
  • Roll For It and Sushi Go! – Jason Ritter, Jennifer Hale, John Ross Bowie
  • Forbidden Desert – Felicia Day, Alan Tudyk, Jon Heder
  • Love Letter and Coup – The Fine Brothers and Felicia Day
  • Hare & Tortoise and Council of Verona – Jessica Merizan, David Kwong, Alison Haislip
  • Sheriff of Nottingham – Meredith Salenger, Ashley Clements, Derek Mio
  • Stone Age – Nika Harper, Jesse Cox, Jordan Maron
  • Geek Out – Anne Wheaton, Bonnie Burton, Clare Kramer
  • Five Tribes: Jenna Busch, Richard Garriot, Satine Phoenix
  • Epic Spell Wars: Jonah Ray, Emily Gordon, Veronica Belmont
  • Mice & Mystics, Chapter One – Anne Wheaton, Ryan Wheaton, Nolan Kopp
  • Dread – Molly Lewis, Ivan Van Norman, Laura Bailey
  • Catan Junior – Emily Anderson, Brett, Baligrad, Adam Chernick
  • Libertalia – Karen Gillan, Seth Green, Clare Grant
  • Kingdom Builder – Yuri Lowenthal, Tara Platt, Paul Scheer
  • Dead of Winter – Dodger Leigh, Grant Imahara, Ashley Johnson
  • Legendary – Allie Brosh, Mark Fischbach, Brea Grant
  • Tabletop After Dark: Cards Against Humanity – Aisha Tyler, Ali Spagnola, Laina Morris

Our backers also get a special mini-episode that includes a whole bunch of behind the scenes stuff with our crew. I’m keeping that stuff secret unless backers want to talk about it and share it. Also, we have an episode order as well as a season premiere date, but we haven’t announce that stuff, yet.

 

Peak Zombie

This is my intro for Dead of Winter. I thought it may spark an interesting discussion about what I call Peak Zombie:

I think I was a freshman or sophomore in high school the first time I saw Dawn of the Dead. It hit me the way certain things can only hit a child’s fragile, eggshell mind: it was gory, and disturbing, and pretty scary. It also made me wonder what I would do if I found myself in the zombie apocalypse. Would it really be living if I spent the rest of my life trapped inside a mall? At what point does surviving cease to be living? Why am I asking myself incredibly complex and difficult philosophical questions, instead of playing The Legend of Zelda?

Dawn of the Dead piqued my interest in George A. Romero’s version of the zombie apocalypse, and I devoured — sorry — Night of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead, and even Return of the Living Dead. For many years, I was a zombie fiend. In fact, every Halloween from 16 to 30, I was some version of a zombie. I wrote stories about zombies, I read stories about zombies, and if there was something with a zombie in it, it was on my wish list.

But sometime in the last few years, we hit Peak Zombie, and the truth is: I’m kind of over it. The Living Dead are rarely a metaphor for consumerism, conformity, militarization, and complacency. In much of popular culture, zombies are little more than cannon fodder and background noise in corporate entertainment that’s rushed to cash in on the public’s insatiable — some may say zombie-like — hunger for stories that pit a scrappy band of human survivors against a relentless, endless, faceless mob of interchangeable, shambling bad guys.

But every now and then, something breaks through the fortified wall of hardened, Hipster cynicism I’ve built around my survival compound, and reminds me that we keep returning to stories where zombies are threatening our very existence because even if the undead aren’t explicitly standing in for some profound and specific commentary on our modern world, they can, in fact, stand in for time, age, hunger, despair, and every existential threat we worry about when the night is darkest, and we can’t find the light.

Today on Tabletop, Dodger Leigh, Grant Imahara, and Ashley Johnson are here to explore a game that puts us right in the middle of the depths of our fears, during the worst of  the zombie apocalypse. As if staying alive and pushing back the undead wasn’t hard enough, one of us may very well be working against the rest of us, to ensure that none of us make it through the DEAD OF WINTER.

that time seth green, clare grant and karen gillan played a game with me on tabletop

Yesterday was one of my favorite days in the history of Tabletop production, and this had a lot to do with it:

Seth Green, Clare Grant, Karen Gillan, and Wil Wheaton play Libertalia on Tabletop.

Today is our penultimate day of production on season three. In the morning, we’re playing Kingdom Builder, and it’s Dead of Winter in the afternoon.

it’s the eighth day of production

Yesterday was another great day of production at Tabletop. I had an insanely good time playing Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre with Emily Gordon, Jonah Ray, and Veronica Belmont. We fully embraced the outrageousness of the concept, brought our ridiculous wizards to life, and got in touch with our inner 12 year-olds for maximum juvenile humor. Spoiler alert: this one is definitely a candidate for an extended cut episode.

In the afternoon, I ran Dread for Laura Bailey, Molly Lewis, and Ivan Van Norman. I was so focused on being a good host, and they were so focused on not letting the tower collapse, I forgot to take the obligatory production selfie with them. I hope that we’re able to convey the tension and terror in the final cut of the episode, because I think we all worked together to tell a really cool and compelling horror story.

Today, I’m playing Catan Junior in the morning with actual human kids, and this afternoon, I’m playing Libertalia with actual human friends.

the game, as they say, was the thing

Yesterday was a fantastic day at work on Tabletop. In the morning, I played a really fun geek trivia game called Geek Out, with Anne, and our friends Bonnie Burton and Clare Kramer. Normally, I’m not crazy about party or trivia games, but Geek Out is so wonderful and fun, it’s in regular rotation at Castle Wheaton’s Gaming Keep.

In the afternoon, I played my favorite worker placement (or displacement, if you prefer) game of the year, Five Tribes, with my friends Jenna Busch and Satine Phoenix, and Richard Garriot. Yes, that Richard Garriot, as in: the guy who basically invented the MMO, and who has been to freaking space.

Today, we’re playing Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre in the morning, and in the afternoon, I’m running a Dread scenario. I’ll post some pictures later on the Twitters and Instagrams later today, so anyone who is interested can see who is playing with us (though if you read to the end, you’ll find out who is playing this morning).

Before I run off to get ready for work, I thought I’d share my intro for Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre, because I think some of you may find it interesting, and it’s the sort of thing that I would probably write about as a blog, if it wasn’t an intro for my show:

I have a confession to make. I originally did not want to play this game on Tabletop, because I felt like it was too random, and that there wasn’t enough strategy. Producer Boyan pointed out to me that we had just finished playing a heavy strategy game, and if I was looking to continue that experience, I wasn’t going to get it from this game.

Tabletop doesn’t have to be, and shouldn’t be, just about heavy strategy games, he suggested, and maybe I should give this game a second chance, let it be what it is, and see if I have fun playing it on its own terms.

I thanked him for his advice and insight, reconsidered my initial impression, and decided to let this game be what it is: a hilarious, fast, relatively light game with amazing artwork, that encourages its players to fully embrace how outrageous the whole thing is. When I did that, a wonderful thing happened: I cranked up some 80s heavy metal, got into the spirit of the game, and had a fantastic time playing it. I don’t even remember who won, and I totally don’t care. The game, as they say, was the thing.

Today on Tabletop, you’ll get to see for yourself exactly what I’m talking about, as Jonah Ray, Emily Gordon, Veronica Belmont and I put on our robes and wizard hats, to reenact the Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre.

Play more games!

50,000 Monkeys at 50,000 Typewriters Can't Be Wrong

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