Death’s Gambit: A Review (Guest Review by Virus the Mad Bard)

This review was written by my friend Virus, you can find him on twitter by clicking here.  Enjoy the review and remember to Stay Nerdy!

Death’s Gambit is a game that’s been on my radar for quite some time. As someone who loves dark souls and 2d action platformers, I had a lot of hope for the game, and after finally getting around to playing it I figured I’d share my thoughts to try to help anyone else who might be on the fence about picking it up. 

Story

Death’s Gambit has you taking on the role of Sorun, the lone survivor from a decimated regiment of troops who ends up making a pact with death to make himself immortal in exchange for an initially undefined task. The rest of the story is mostly told through interactions with the random NPCs found around your main hub section, lore books found in locations that give you an edge against that areas boss, and some mostly brief cut scenes. Despite the plot not showing its face a fair amount of the time I did still enjoy finding out more and more about the world and lore throughout my time with the game.

Gameplay

The inspirations from dark souls are wildly apparent from about the moment you hit start and end up at the character select screen, featuring a very similar layout and equipment styling to the dark souls character creation with a few notable changes. First, there did not appear to be appearance customization, and second, your class choice affects more than your stats. Each class not only starts with different stats and equipment than each other, but also has their own special abilities and skill trees that can help in a variety of ways, from the blood knight healing from attacking enemies immediately after taking damage, to the sentinel having reduced stat requirements for all equipment. Each time you manage to defeat a boss you’ll find yourself gaining another skill point to gain some more abilities to hopefully help you survive the rest of the trek through the hostile environment.

The combat system offers a variety of weapons and tools to the player to allow them a multitude of builds  and ways to approach encounters. Also much like dark souls the game relies heavily on players getting used to enemy patterns and reading their telegraphed attacks to be able to handle them without taking too much damage. The game also has multiple areas that have chests that reward a player for making it through without healing from your last save statue, providing an incentive for the player to improve. A few of my minor complaints are that the game had a few moments where it was not particularly clear where to go, in combination with a few areas making it fairly difficult to tell where certain traps triggers were even after going through them a few times.

Additionally the game offers extra challenges in each playthrough with the options of heroic battles, super powered versions of bosses you have defeated that award special drops upon defeating them, as well as a mortal mode that requires you to go through the game without dying and rewards you with a special ending once certain criteria are met. There are also multiple levels of new game+ to continually increase the challenges you want to face on multiple playthroughs.

Audio

The voice acting and sound design overall were fairly well done, there wasn’t ever a time where anything felt particularly out of place although nothing particularly stood out to me at any given time either, with the exception of a few vocal effects on death and a few other characters adding some neat flavor for the ears.

Overall

I really enjoyed my time with Death’s Gambit, I came looking for a 2d dark souls and it gave me exactly what I was expecting, a decent challenge with good lore and a variety of ways to approach any given situation. So if you’re looking for a challenging 2d Acton Platformer, or just really enjoy souls-like games and want a bit more to enjoy, then i would definitely recommend picking this one up. If you have any other questions that you don’t feel I hit on in this review feel free to hit me up on Twitter @VirusTheBard and I’d be more than happy to try to answer them. Thanks so much for reading, and until next time, keep gaming!

YoKai Watch vs Pokemon: Are they the same?

Short answer to this is “No” by the way, but it goes a lot deeper than that.

Due to my upcoming trip to Gen Con in Indy, I decided I wanted to get a new game for my Nintendo New 2DS XL system.  While I have Persona Q2 (a fantastic game in its own right) I wanted something a little more laid back and “cute” to relax with, as Persona Q2 is very brutal at times.  In my search on Youtube watching trailers I ran across a video talking about YoKai watch and decided I would finally look into what I have always considered to be just a Pokemon Clone.

What I found is something so vastly different to Pokemon that I honestly regret having dismissed it years ago when it first appeared as just a clone.

To understand this, I wanted to take a moment and break down how each game functions, and then also discuss how they are specifically different.  The similarities are surprisingly easy though.  Both game series feature young adult protagonists (generally between 10 to 14 years old) and both feature monster catching.  That’s pretty much it as far as similarities are concerned.  So lets jump into how each game itself functions, so you, dear reader, can learn exactly how they are different as well as discuss which I feel is better, and which is my personal preference as far as series goes.  Mind you, I am only going to be discussing the games, as I have not seen the anime for Pokemon since its original airing, and I have never seen an episode of YoKai Watch.

All About Pokemon

Currently at the time of writing this, the Pokemon franchise spans 30 main series games released with 2 new ones (Sword/Shield) upcoming.  That is an incredible history.  Even taking out the duplicates (such as counting Red/Blue as one game) or remakes, you are sitting at 7 released “generations” with an 8th coming.  However, every game is pretty much built on the same formula.  The window dressing changes, but the core remains the same.  In every Pokemon game you play a boy or girl who recently moves into a new town with your mother (and never your dad for some reason, although in Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald your Dad actually is a Gym Leader), befriends some locals, meets a Pokemon professor, is given a Pokemon, and then goes on a Region wide journey to become the Pokemon Champion.  Along the way you will encounter an enemy “Team” with nefarious goals and eventually defeat them, but the end of the game occurs once you ascend to the face the Elite 4 and the Pokemon Champ to become the new reigning Champion of your region.  There are some mini games to play at times, and each generation is set in a new Region and adds more Pokemon.  By the last handheld generation (Sun/Moon) there is over 800 monsters to collect, train, and battle with.  But at the end of the day, if you have played one Pokemon game, you have played them all for the most part.  The story the games tell is linear, your travels are linear, and you always have a clearly defined goal: Become the Champ.  Additionally, your character is a silent protagonist / blank slate character.  You never speak nor respond to others.  People talk around you, and to you the player, but your character is essentially a doll thru which you, the PLAYER, experience the world.

Another major thing to mention is that the actual Pokemon are, in world, known to everyone.  They take the place of servants, transportation, labor, and pets.  Everyone knows about them, everyone has them, and they are a fact of life for the people who live in this world.  Pokemon are also, by and large, animal like.  They show limited intelligence for the most part, only being able to say their name.  There are a few exceptions to this rule of course.

Mechanically, Pokemon’s battle system is pretty straight forward for a JRPG.  You have a team of up to 6 Pokemon you can take with you out of your captured Pokemon.  Battles are mostly 1 v 1, although on occasion you can do Double Battles and some other oddball ones.  Your Pokemon each have a type which gives them certain strengths and weaknesses (like a Fire type is weak to Water attacks).  Each Pokemon will know up to 4 moves, and each move has its own type.  You can learn new moves on level up or by items.  But you can only ever have 4 moves per Pokemon.  Each round you select a move, and then you and your opponent attack each other with those moves.  This repeats until either you or your opponent have no Pokemon left with hit points.  Catching Pokemon involves first finding them in tall grass, and then hitting them till they are nearly knocked out and throwing Pokeballs at them until RNG smiles on you and you catch it.  Again, this formula has remained unchanged since the very first games.  They have added things such as Mega Evolutions and ZMoves as the series has progressed but the core gameplay remains the same.

If you want to start with Pokemon, my advice is get either Ultra Moon/Ultra Sun, Omega Ruby / Alpha Sapphire, or wait till Sword/Shield come out.  You only need 1 game from the pair.

All About YoKai Watch

The history of YoKai Watch is much much shorter then Pokemon, consisting of three released games currently in the West, with a YoKai Watch 4 on Switch in Japan.  YoKai Watch 2 (the one I own and am playing currently) does a Pokemon by having 2 versions plus 1 ultimate version (Psychic Specters, which is what I have).  In YoKai Watch you play as either Nate or a female character (Katie in 1 and 2, and Hailey Anne in 3 although technically in 3 you play as BOTH the male and female with the ability to switch between em but thats besides the point).  These characters have dialog, personalities, and goals.  The games themselves take place in a fictionalized version of our modern world.  Games 1 & 2 take place in an area of Fictional Japan, and 3 takes place in both the US and Japan.  The stories also vary from game to game, although playing YKW 2 sort of invalidates the need to play the first, as you learn about the stuff that happened in the first game thru flashbacks.  Additionally, the games are much more Open World vs linear, with you being able to wander fully realized cities with shops, NPCs, trains, the works.  The world feels like ours.  You can do both main and side quests pretty much in any order assuming they are unlocked, and each chapter of the games have their own objectives along with a overarching plot that you uncover as you play.

The YoKai themselves are also unique.  Each YoKai has its own personality, can speak fully, and have a purpose.  Swelton, for example, is this big blob looking YoKai whose presence causes people to sweat uncontrollably.  Jibanyan, the series mascot, is a Cat who haunts an intersection in Town causing Accidents as he tries to fight Trucks when they pass by (his story is very depressing and messed up for a kids game, by the way).  Your character will have conversations with these YoKai as you play the game, expressing his/her own thoughts.  The MC in these games is thus much more fleshed out, and is not designed to be a blank slate character.  Hell, during Dialog, you get these little 2D sprites showing a characters facial expressions so you can see just what mood or tone they are speaking in.  These are spirits, not animals, and you will quickly realize this as you play.

Another major thing is that unlike Pokemon, VERY FEW PEOPLE can see YoKai or even are aware of the existence of these creatures.  The MC’s parents and friends for example have no idea that these beings exist.  Its kind of depressing when you think about the fact that some people might assume the MC is talking to his or her imaginary friends.  YoKai influence the world, and are influenced by the world, but are apart from it as well.

Mechanically YoKai is both simplistic and hectic.  Combat is handled by the AI for the most part.  Each YoKai has 2 attacks, an Inspirit (Buff/Debuff) and Soultamite ability.  You, the player, only can direct where the YoKai attack thru the Pin command (and performing a mini game where you throw a literal pin at the target).  In YoKai Watch 1 and 2, your team of 6 YoKai will allow up to 3 members on screen at once.  They will attack, heal, buff, and debuff as their AI dictates.  You can also manually activate their Soultimates, super moves each Yokai has access to.  To activate you will perform a minigame that varies from activation to activation.  It may be spinning a circle, moving clock hands around, popping coins, or tracing patterns.  You can also rotate the wheel your YoKai are slotted into around to change which 3 are currently in battle, and you will have to do this if one of your team gets Debuffed (Inspirited) so you can Purify them thru another mini game.  YoKai Watch 3 does away with the Circle and Rotation in favor of a 3×3 board where you actually move them around, but I have yet to try it.  Its hectic, engaging, but simple as the YoKai fight most of the battle themselves.  Also, while they do level up and gain better stats, they never really learn new moves but rather improve the ones they have thru usage.  Each YoKai has its stuff, and that’s it.  Catching them (Befriending) is also very RNG dependent.  You have to beat the encounter, and then HOPE that RNG smiles and one of the YoKai who you fought asks to be your friend.  You CAN improve your chances by tossing some food out, but you gotta choose the right food for the YoKai and you can only try once per fight.

As far as where to start, pretty much everyone I have seen suggested YoKai Watch 2 Psychic Specters OR 3.  Either one is a good spot.

For another perspective as well as some guidance as to where to start with YoKai Watch I would like to direct ya to this fantastic article right here by Destructoid – https://www.destructoid.com/a-guide-to-yo-kai-watch-where-to-start-and-what-s-next-542374.phtml

Which is better?

This question is up to preference, and both games honestly shine in their respective niche.  Pokemon is a much more focused and linear experience.  It feels like a video game most of the time.  Everything in the world seems placed with deliberate care to funnel the character into the Pokemon Championship.  There is no goal outside of this.  And the fact that you play a blank slate character helps you feel like its YOU, and not a character, that you are in control of.  Conversely, YoKai Watch takes its queues from Western styled open world RPGs, with side quests randomly placed throughout a much more defined and open world.  You are able to do things at your own pace such as catch bugs, go fishing, befriend various YoKai and so on.  Its less about the destination and more about your journey.  Playing as a defined character as well changes how it feels.  YoKai Watch feels like I am playing episodes in an Anime, with gags, jokes, and interactions between the MC and the people around him.

Both series, honestly, are great.

If you want a defined classic JRPG styled monster catching game with a lot of depth in mechanics, you go with the Pokemon games.

If you want a more relaxed Western RPG styled monster catching game with more active gameplay, you go with YoKai Watch.

My preference

I have played at least one Pokemon game in each generation over the years.  I have reviewed Ultra Sun on this very website, matter of fact.  However, I have grown tired of the same repetition that exists inside of Pokemon.  Each game, at this point, feels the same.  As I said further up, the cast changes, but the story stays the same and that’s how Pokemon feels.  As I play YoKai Watch 2 Psychic Specters I realize, for me, that style is much more enjoyable.  I like being able to spend my time catching bugs, solving problems, and just being a young kid running around having fun.  And knowing that if I get into YoKai Watch 3 after this and it having a completely new and reworked battle system just interests me all the more.  Also the fact that the combat is both more hectic yet almost more simplistic is nice, I don’t have to think too hard with “ok he has fire so I need water types” kind of stuff.

I hope this has helped anyone who has been trying to figure out the differences in the two games.

TN’s Indie Impressions – Steamworld Dig 2

Welcome to Episode 7 of Indie Impressions! A series where I take a look at Indie and Non AAA titles giving you my first impressions after at least 2 hours of gameplay.

Today I am taking a look the sequel to Image and Form’s game Steamworld Dig 1 where this time you play as a female robot hunting for Rusty. I am talking of course about Steamworld Dig 2! Lets adventure with a sentient light and dig deeply and greedily for phat shiny loot.

Steamworld Dig 2 on Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/571310/SteamWorld_Dig_2/

And always remember…STAY NERDY!

A Look at Sandman Slim: Series Review

After finishing the Dresden Files, I felt the need to finally sit down and complete the current (as of April 2019) set of books written by Richard Kadrey, known as the Sandman Slim novels.  This series, much like Dresden, is an urban fantasy series featuring an eclectic cast of characters headed by a magical private investigator.  Further, reading both series back to back made me realize just how much they have in common in style, while their tone is so vastly different.
First, Sandman Slim is the story of the life of James Stark, aka Sandman Slim, the Monster who kills Monsters.  At the start of the very first book we are treated to Stark crawling out of a flaming hole into a graveyard, with an explanation that he just escaped Hell after being trapped there for 11 years.  The reason for his entrapment was a group of people who were part of his Magical Circle having consigned him to Downtown, led by a man named Mason Faim.
Early on you can tell that these books are not going to be happy go lucky or even optimistic.  Stark as a character is pessimistic, violent, and angry about pretty much everything.  He is brutal, and really only has one skill and that’s killing things.  However, as the books progress and we learn more about who Stark is, how the mythology of the world is setup, and why things are the way they are the fatalistic tone of the world makes sense.  Things are, in a phrase, fucked up yo.  In fact, one quote that Stark uses in a later book that has stuck with me is that Life is a journey all about carrying a barb wired covered basket of shit, and trying to find someone who can help you carry your shit while you help carry theirs.  Stark himself does grow as the books progress, becoming slightly more attached to his friends, and he does show a softer side.  Some fans are unhappy about this but I prefer my characters in a long running series like this to grow and change.  No one is static.  By the end of the latest book Hollywood Dead Stark has gone through a sort of rebirth and is ready to kick things back into action, and I was happy as to how things had progressed up to that point.
Now, what really fascinated me as the fact that as I read the Sandman Slim novels, I started to notice a surprising number of similarities in style / world building / tropes to Dresden.  Stark and Dresden both are magic users, and both do private investigative work.  However, Stark calls himself a magician, and Dresden calls himself a wizard.  Both have a pair of potential love interests (Candy and Bardo for Stark, Susan and Karrin for Dresden) and those love interests are similar as well!  Susan and Candy are both “monsters” while Bardo and Karrin are both mortals trained to deal with Supernatural threats.  Both series features bars (The Bamboo House of Dolls for Stark, Macnally’s Pub for Dresden) that are used as central meeting points for the protagonists and their friends.  Both have friendly Bartenders (Carlos for Stark, Mac for Dresden).  Both book series have men of faith (Father Traven for Stark, Michael Carpenter for Dresden).  Both have magical “Councils” that are in charge of the hidden world (The Sub Rosa for Stark, The White Council for Dresden).  Both feature father figures for the protagonists (Vidoq for Stark, Ebenezer McCoy for Dresden).  Hell even the story paths for Stark and Dresden are similar in a lot of ways, with both characters late in the books having a major event (the SAME SORT OF EVENT IN FACT) happening to them, removing them from their respective worlds for a long period of time, and they later come back to find everything different and yet the same and having to deal with the fallout of their absence.
Dresden did come out way before Sandman Slim so I am not surprised to see Butcher’s influence on Kadrey.  Additionally, the Sandman Slim novels are very different in tone vs the Dresden books.  The stories Kadrey tells here are much more brutal, violent, bloody, and pessimistic.  Stark is not afraid to kill, not afraid to use magic to kill, and unlike Dresden there are no laws of magic that prevent him from throwing down.  Also, most of the Stark novels deal with the concepts of Heaven and Hell and the goings on in both locations, rather than featuring a broader mythology like Dresden with its Fae, rogue wizards, and other supernatural creatures.  With Stark you tend to get Heaven and Hell and Elder Gods more than anything like Vampires and Werewolves and such.  Oh and a lot of government interference as well.  Turns out the US has its own supernatural agency.  Honestly I would like to see more of these sort of creatures and event, and maybe see the series evolve a bit away from the endless constant war of Heaven and Hell, but I do not see that happening any time soon simply due to where the overall plot has gone.
Structurally the series is much like Dresden.  You have a giant meta plot centered around Stark’s life and adventures, with smaller groups of books making up Arcs.  The first 3 books could be the Revenge Arc, the next 3 could be the Old Gods arc, the 3 after that could be the Afterlife War arc, and then the latest book (at the time of writing this) Book 10 could be the start of something very new.  Further there has been the Wormwood Meta Plot as well pretty much the entire time that sort of ties the world together.
Overall I adore the Sandman Slim novels, and feel that for any fan of Dresden who likes the way those are written but wants something grittier with a much darker tone, they should look to the adventures of James Stark, the Monster who Kills Monsters.  I am eager for Book 11 whenever that happens just as much as I am for Book 16 of Dresden, and I wanna snatch both books up the instant I can.
My next Series Review is going to be on the insanely large (last count I think it’s up to 22 novels and novellas with a 23rd coming soonish) Camp Halfblood series by Rick Riordan, which can be broken up in to a bunch of smaller groups of books but is all set in the same shared universe.  Good thing I love these books.

Support is a Verb – A Very Personal Post

Today I am going to be writing something a quite personal really. Its been a little over 6 months since January 2019, when I announced my intentions to move back towards video games and general “nerdy” content and away from pure tabletop stuff. But I have been asked a few times, especially recently with my twitter account having a bunch of “Under Construction” stuff plastered over it as to WHAT is going on.

It all has to do with the concept of Support, and what that term really means. Strap yourselves in because this is a long one as I am going to explain both what Supporting someone REALLY means, and my own trials with this concept / my journey.

First.

Support is a verb. It is an action. It is something you DO. It is not a passive activity.

In order to support someone, you have to give something up. Either your time, your energy, or your money. You have to give of yourself to another to support them. Thats why, for example, you support your friends when you listen to their trouble. You support ME when you read this or watch my videos.

And I was not getting much support at all from the Tabletop Twitter DND community over the past near 3 years of doing Terminally Nerdy. I had a lot of people SAY they supported me, that they wanted me to succeed, that they hoped I was growing and getting more reach. But very few have actually SHOWN me that support. What they were actually doing was encouraging me, but not actually helping to support me.

Now, I want to be clear that NO ONE owes me a damn thing. I write and make things because (now at least) I enjoy it. And I do have the goal of eventually doing this for a living. I would love to be able to spend 100% of my time writing reviews, playing indie games, streaming, and the like for people out there who find me enjoyable. I know they exist too. I got 88 people who pay me every month right now for the things I do. I got people who show up to my streams, I got people who like/share/retweet my stuff on twitter. I know who my SUPPORTERS are right now.

So if you are reading this? If you are a Patron? If you watch my youtube videos or visit my site randomly to see what I have done thats new or you watch me on twitch? You are a SUPPORTER. You are giving up your time OR your money to help me in exchange for the things I do. And I LOVE EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU.

But my issue has always been, and continues to be, those who will tell me to my face “I support you Nerdy” yet never actually read anything I write. Who never share my tweets or my videos or my streams. Who never watch my videos or my streams. And there are a LOT of them. And if I sound a bit bitter, well yea I am a bit bitter. I don’t enjoy having someone lie to my face. I especially don’t enjoy it when people tell me I got 8000 followers so clearly I am popular and people consume my content.

Wanna know how many hits from twitter I get on this website on a day when I advertise a post? Truthfully? Its 4-6 hits. On a good day I get near 10. Wanna know how many I get just from Google Search? about 350-400 a day.

You can kinda see the difference.

Now, some maybe just want to be encouraging, to do the least amount possible. Thats fine. But in the same time it takes someone tell me (or anyone) that they support me they could also just…share something of mine. Retweet something of mine. LIke something of mine. You have to DO SOMETHING to support someone else.

Hitting the follow button on social media or twitch or youtube is not supporting them. You have to spend time or energy or money to do so. Twitch doesnt care how many followers you have. Twitch cares how many VIEWERS you have. Youtube doesnt care how many Subscribers you have. Youtube cares how much WATCH TIME and VIEWS you have. Twitter doesnt care how many followers I have, it cares how many people interact with my tweets.

These places care about ACTION not Passivity.

Ok now that we have that out of the way, let me tell you a story.

I started Terminally Nerdy in August of 2016. That is when the first Vlog was posted to Youtube. The original idea was to post videos on Nerdy stuff that I love: Video games, Music, Books, and yes Tabletop. Then I created a 5 part video series in a single night titled “Tabletop RPG 101” and suddenly I had people telling me how great I was at Tabletop, and how I should do stuff JUST on that. At the time, nearly 3 years ago now, I had a lot lower self esteem and was a bit of a people pleaser. I wanted people to accept me and like me. And I thought that if I gave the people what THEY wanted, they would watch my stuff and accept me. That unfortunately did not happen.

Part of that was, prior to getting over the 1k Follower mark on twitter, I was very bad with self deprecation. I would tell people NOT to share my stuff. That stopped after about 6 months, but some folks just never got past that (and a few STILL ARE NOT PAST THAT). Additionally, up until December 2018, I would retweet a lot of other creators. This had the side effect of making my own stuff harder to find, but I believed (and I still do believe) that a rising tide would lift everyone up, that if I put into practice what I HOPED others would do for me, then eventually Karma would come back around and I would get back what I had been giving out. That also has not happened.

In fact, those actions on my part quickly gave me a reputation that persists to this day that I am not a content creator, but am in fact a promoter. I am the guy who you go to find other cool stuff, but not the guy who MAKES cool stuff. My biggest audience IS twitter, and people follow me there not for what I make, but for what others make that I will SHOW them. I have run numerous polls, talked to people, ect and the same thing I keep getting back is “I had no idea you created stuff” or “I am just here for your tweets I dont care about the rest”.

The twitter community has been supportive of me at times. Its their donations that are sending me to Gen Con, for example. But its always been the same 100-200 people. A core group who actually SUPPORTS me. I appreciate each and EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU, past or present or future, by the way.

A turning point for me in this entire saga was Novermber / December 2018. I was depressed, as I often get during the Holidays, and finally spilled out my feelings regarding the lack of actual support I had been getting overall, and how my reputation had gone to being a Promotions Guy and how I wanted to change it.

What I got back was people telling me to maybe just give up creating and just be a promoter. I also got people telling me I HAD to be the Promoter because eveyrone NEEDED me to be one so I should just embrace that. Prior to this I had a few people refer to me as the DND Town Crier no less, and had been getting more and more Direct Messages and Emails on twitter asking me to just promote peoples products / kickstarters / ect.

I took the entire month of December 2018 off from everything. No creating, no advertising, no twitter. I vanished for a month from all but my Patrons. They got a front row seat to my issues as well, and many of them have stuck it out.

And I want to tell you right here and now, in December 2018…I almost gave up. I almost quit because of this. I was tired of fighting what felt like a losing battle. I had felt that I had damaged my own public perception so badly that there was no fixing it.

However, it was talking to my friends Virus and Saev and my Patrons, that I came to a decision. I wasnt going to quit, oh no. I was going to create what I wanted to create. I was going to make the things I wanted to make. I was going to go back to what Terminally Nerdy SHOULD be and was always meant to be. And in January I started doing that. More video game related media, book reviews, a bit of tabletop when the mood struck me but otherwise more general nerditry. Terminally Nerdy would become what it was always meant to be 3 years ago.

Since January twitter support has mostly gotten worse, which I anticipated. I am essentially starting over, rebuilding an audience who enjoys video games and general nerdy stuff rather then just a specialist audience who wants only one thing – 5th Edition DND. I have lost some patrons (again, expected) because I am no longer doing nothing but tabletop.

But the people who have truly supported me continue, for the most part, to do so.

And I am getting new ones, who like the things I am doing now.

I am working to change how people view me, and how I am treated. Its a hard road, a long road, and I made a ton of mistakes getting here. The issues I have faced are partially of my own doing, and I will not hide that fact. But I am now taking steps to get my name out there on my own. I advertise via Google Words. I have a facebook fan page now. I post my videos on reddit (and they do pretty well honestly). I am networking at conventions (Guardian Con was AMAZING).

Again, I understand that I am owed nothing by anyone. But at the same time, I personally will never tell anyone I support them unless I actually have done something to show it.

Just like in writing and in tabletop RPGS: SHOW, dont TELL.

If you truly support someone, make sure they know it. Tell them, tell the world, what they mean to you. Help them get your their name out there. Otherwise, you might lose them. Just like the tabletop world has lost me.

I am done with Tabletop RPG Creation. I have 2 things left to do, that I promised I would do, then I am done. Oh I will still play tabletop games with my friends, personally. But write about it? Review it? NOPE. I am done. The public has spoken, they do not want me to create for them.

So if you are reading this, if you found this? Thank you for spending your precious time on me and my story. You have supported me, directly, with your actions. And whether or not you wish to continue, that is your choice.

However, your support, your patronage, your viewership are what keep me doing all of this. And now that I am having fun again, well, I hope you stick around for the ride. Got a lot more indie videos planned, more writing I want to do and books I wanna review, more games to do full reviews on, and the Gen con Vlog (I am gonna focus on board games and card games while I am there).

I hope this sheds light on my own personal struggles and what I have learned, and I hope this helps someone understand that you need to do what you love for yourself, otherwise you could end up in the situation I was in.

Peace out and stay nerdy everyone.

Oh, and the under construction stuff on twitter? Saev pointed out my current “branding” is very tabletop centric. I am working on getting some new stuff that is more Neutral done. The website, twitter, twitch, youtube, all of that will be updated once I have it.

I have no idea where I would be without Saev and Virus to be honest. Thanks you two, you are my brothers from another mother, even if you most likely will never see this message. I know neither of you really read my writings, you prefer my vids and streams haha!

A Look at the Dresden Files: Series Review

I love reading and have loved it since I was a child when my mother read me the entire Lord of the Rings, starting with the Hobbit.  I have a Goodreads account, I participate in the yearly reading challenges when I can remember, and I even on occasion write book reviews that you can find on this here site.  And one genre I have been enjoying a great deal as of late is Urban Fantasy.  Urban Fantasy, for those unaware, is fantasy that takes place in the modern world.  You get angels, demons, vampires, wizards, gods, and so on alongside the modern world and environments, and one of the best examples is the long running Dresden Files series written by Jim Butcher.

At this point, I have read this series (all 15 books in it at the time of writing this) around 3 times running now.  I own them on my Kindle account, and while I could sit down and review each book individually, I figured it would be a bit faster to sit down and talk about the series as a whole and why I enjoy it.

First, one big thing about me when it comes to long running series in books is that I want each book to both be connected to the larger “meta narrative” (ie the narrative that connects the entire series and world) as well as have their own individual stories in each book that the characters must resolve before the end.  I want to be able to pick up a novel in the series at any time, and be able to get a full complete story out of it.

Not many authors in the world of fantasy can do this.  Just go back and read my review of Feist’s King of Ashes book to get an idea on how I feel about a book only being a single part of a story without a story of its own.  Thankfully, most Urban fantasy authors seem to be capable and willing to create this sort of setup: Each book telling a story while also being connected to the larger plot, similar to how episodic TV works if you think about it.

The Dresden Files, for example, tell the story and life of Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only Wizard you can find in the phone book.  While most people write him off as a sham, he is in fact a real wizard, able to conjure fire and shields, track people with magic, the works.  He has a little office, and lives life mostly as a private investigator working with the Chicago Police, specifically their “Special Investigations” division, which deals with unique cases involving, well, the supernatural.

Each book in the series generally deals with a single event or problem occurring in the world of Dresden, while also connecting to much larger “arcs”.  For example, I would call the first 12 novels, starting with Storm Front and ending with Changes, to be the “Vampire War” arc as events in each book build up to the climax found in Book 12.  Book 13 starts the new arc, which personally I call the “Formorian” arc due to the new threat that emerges after Book 12.  Also, strictly speaking, all 15 books have ANOTHER Meta Narrative going through them on TOP of the Arcs!  That one I call “The Black Council” which will make sense once you get far enough into the series.

Most of the books in the series are solid entries, however there are some issues and most fans agree that the first 2 books which are Storm Front and Fool Moon (and some feel even book 3, Grave Peril) are pretty weak and a little problematic.  Butcher is clearly trying to get a handle on his writing style early on, trying to find a voice and trying to build the characters.  Further, not every book is going to cater to people.  Some books deal with the Faerie courts, others with black magic, others with faith, and others with Vampires.  I for example am not a huge fan of the Faerie driven ones simply because I find the idea behind the Faerie courts to be dull but I LOVE the ones dealing with Faith, but they are all still well written novels for the most part.

Dresden, also, can be a bit of an issue as a main character.  You see the world through his eyes, in first person (it’s always “I talked to Murphy” not “Dresden spoke to Murphy” and not everyone likes that) and Dresden himself is a bit of a chauvinistic person.  He acts like he thinks a “gentleman” should act, rushing to help damsels in distress and trying to protect and defend them against the world.  Comically, Dresden is cognizant of this and recognizes that it is a problematic outlook but also states its hard wired into him.  Further, the ladies in the Dresden Files on a whole are NOT Weak.  Karrin Murphy, one of the first major supporting characters (and in my eyes, a main character in the later books) is an incredibly scary and powerful woman who has had to fight and claw her way to her position in the police department, taking everything opportunity she is given and owning them.  She practically forces Dresden to let her into the supernatural world later on, and proves time and again that despite being a mortal she can stand shoulder to shoulder with the horrible monsters out there.

Thankfully, as the books progress and time moves forward, Dresden himself grows as a character.  He starts to trust people, willing to let them into his life and world, and willing to trust that they can handle themselves.  He is still a stubborn, pig headed, and rash individual at times, but at his core he has a good heart.  And it’s wonderful to see slow consistent growth of a character over time, especially given how he starts in Storm Front.  Also, Dresden frequently does NOT use magic to solve his problems.  More often than not, he beats his opponents by outthinking, out witting, and out planning them.  Magic, at least on Dresden’s side, is used more as a way to get information.  Now, he does throw down a few times, and it is spectacular when he or his enemies do, but just as often it’s his human side, and his allies, that get the job done in the end.

The other major thing about the Dresden Files is the world and how it is built up around Dresden.  We get to see a world not unlike our own, but built with monsters, dangers, and all sorts of creepy supernatural things built into it.  The supporting cast are also phenomenal, both Dreden’s allies and friends and the villains and horrors he goes up against.  A personal favorite are the Knights of the Blackened Denarius, which are a group of evil beings who each hold one of the 30 pieces of silver from the days of Christ.  They are…terrifying and evil and amazingly well written.  Nicodemus and his crew are one of the best sets of villains out there in fiction for me BY FAR, and the development they have as the books progress is amazing.  The things we learn about Nicodemus and how far he is willing to go to achieve his goals in Skin Game are both disturbing and a little sad.  I felt bad for the guy by the end of that book.

Overall I adore the Dresden files, and if you are looking for a good series of books I heartily recommend them.  Just be aware that the first few books (Storm Front, Fool Moon, and Grave Peril) can be a bit difficult to get through, but as the series goes on, as the characters and world mature and grow and as Butcher’s writing becomes more and more confident, I promise you that you will be hooked on the adventures and trials of Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden, Wizard for Hire.

You can view the entire Dresden Files series right here on Goodreads, and I highly suggest you do so if this Series Review caught your attention at all.

You can also find me on Goodreads right here if you want to see what I am reading, and how I rate other novels as well as occasional reviews (I post most of my reviews there as well as here so you won’t miss anything, just the star ratings).

Now as a note: I have never watched the TV Series that they made about the Dresden Files.  I have no views on it, but if you want to get an idea about that show I can suggest “Here there be Dragons: The Dresden Files” by Nash Bozard (his Here There be Dragons is just good stuff in general) as an overview on that series.  It doesn’t sound like anything I would like at all, especially based on how they changed things like Bob the Skull and the order of episodes.

 

My Trip to GuardianCon 2019 – Borderlands 3, Control, and More! (Vlog)

Hey everyone! Today I bring you a VLog showcasing my trip to Guardian Con 2019 in Orlando. I got to be hands on with demos of Origin of Storms, Borderlands 3, Littlewood, and Control and had an absolute blast during my day there overall.  Everyone I met and spoke with was amazing and friendly, the artists and vendors were awesome, the cosplay I saw was stellar, and overall it was just a complete treat from start to finish.  I cannot wait for next year!

Next year, the show will be titled “Gaming Community Expo” (I misspoke in the vid and goofed the name) and tickets can be purchased at gcxevent.com for the 2 days of gaming, 6/27 & 6/28 in 2020 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel in Orlando. I fully intend to be there.

To check out the games / devs I talk about visit the following:

I hope you enjoy the video and please pardon the quality.  Cell phone camera is not best camera lol

TN’s Indie Impressions – Steamworld Dig 1

MORE VIDEOS! Today its Steampunk Metroidvania action with Steamworld Dig 1.
Next up will be Steamworld Dig 2, then Dead Cells, then Hollow Knight. Thats my plan at least. If you have any games you wanna see on Indie Impressions please leave a comment and lemme know so I can add them to my list and prioritize better.