Friday 28 March 2014

Dickass DM - The Adventures Of Hercule Braggart: Trouble At The Track - Part 1

Remember good, old-fashioned gamebooks? They promised all the fun of a role-playing game, with none of the social interaction - what more could a teenage boy desire? The thing is, that while the gamebook became a great gaming experience in its own right, the only RPG it could possibly have simulated was one being GM'd by Satan himself. 90% of decisions led to certain death, and combat was often fatal. Satan wasn't available, so Brad will be GMing Rob through an RPG based on a classic Sherlock Holmes gamebook. Brad is the DM, and Rob plays his character, Hercule Braggart.

That's right...

Brad: On a pleasant summer day in London, you decide to visit your mentor, Sherlock Holmes, and your cousin, Doctor John Watson. Perhaps today Mr Holmes will hand you a case to solve yourself.
Rob : That'd be nice; I've had to read about them until now.
Brad: Upon reaching 221B Baker Street, Mrs Hudson admits you with a smile, although obviously in the midst of a busy cleaning session.
MRS HUDSON: "How nice to see you again. Mr Holmes and Doctor Watson are in their rooms. You know the way."
BRAGGART: "Are they decent?"
MRS HUDSON: "You might do me a favour..."
BRAGGART: "Are you in need of a gentleman companion?"
MRS HUDSON: "Dr Watson's newspaper just came. It would save me a trip if you'd take it with you. I just came down from carrying the doctor a telegram, and I've a thousand things to do today."
BRAGGART: "Can I pretend I wrote it on the way upstairs?"

Brad: At your knock, Mr Holmes invites you in, and both men great you brusquely. Doctor Watson sits at his desk, writing, a telegram sticking out of his vest pocket.
BRAGGART: "Jesus, put those away guys!"
Brad: His pipe drawing well, Holmes relaxes near the window.
BRAGGART: "You have a pipe that can draw? Well, I can write newspapers in four seconds!"
Brad: You hand your cousin his newspaper and sit to talk with Holmes. Although rarely given easily, the detective's thoughts are always worth hearing. As you talk, you notice Watson turn to the back page of his paper, look at it intently for a moment, and then toss it aside with a grunt of disgust. Holmes chuckles.

HOLMES: "You're quite right, Watson. You will make more money telling the story of Silver Blaze than betting on any of tomorrow's races."
WATSON: "That's what I decided, Holmes. Those horses would have trouble - how did you know what I was thinking?"
HOLMES: "I know the same way I always know. By observation and reasoning. Besides, Watson, you make so much from my analysis of the trivial that you hardly have the right to complain."
BRAGGART: "...I'm still here."
WATSON: "All right, Holmes, the point is well taken."
Brad: Watson blushes and smiles.
WATSON: "But for the life of me, I don't see how you did it this time. I hadn't even told you that I was writing one of your adventures, much less which case."
HOLMES: "Very well, Watson, I shall explain...No, I have a better idea. Our young friend here will retrace my steps and show us how well he has studied my techniques. Come now, see what you can do. I shall provide a little guidance."

Brad: Suddenly nervous, you marshal your thoughts, trying to remember every significant detail of the morning.
BRAGGART: "Where would I begin, Mr 'Olmes?"
HOLMES: "Why don't you try the telegram first? Just before you arrived, Watson received a telegram which he stuck in his pocket without reading. What does that suggest to you?"
BRAGGART: "He's illiterate?"
HOLMES: *stares*
BRAGGART: "The note was irrelevant to my cousin's writings. He's a proper swot when he's got a project, and so he is. So he ignored it until his work was complete. Also, he *is* illiterate. He's drawing flip comics of your adventures."
HOLMES: "Very good. There is some hope for your ambition."

Brad: Holmes continues to guide your analysis of the scene.
HOLMES: "Now, the next question to address is: was Watson writing letters or one of his stories? Try to tell just by looking at his desk - it should provide all the clues you need."
Brad: You survey Watson's desk point-by-point. Envelopes, stamps and other supplies fill the slots along the raised back. A pile of hand-written sheets lies at the left side, while blank paper is handy on the eight. Watson pretends to write on a sheet, perhaps to recreate the scene. Three crumpled balls of paper are scattered around his feet.

HOLMES: "Now that you've studied his desk, is he writing letters or a story?"
BRAGGART: "A story. There are no envelopes or stamps removed from the raised back of his desk. Also, he could probably do with a bin."
HOLMES: "Very good. Now see if you know what he was writing about."
BRAGGART: "Well, it was irrelevant to the contents of the telegram, of that I can be sure. However, it was not irrelevant to the contents of the paper. So naked girls and weather. But seriously, the horses are usually on the back, I've seen my mate Leroy go through them. I presume, therefore, that the case involves horses in some way. I'm guessing Silver Blaze is a horse? Or failing that, a jockey...but it's more likely a horse."

Brad: Watson laughs and applauds.
WATSON: "He will challenge you any day now, Holmes! Though I'm not sure I like the idea of the two of you reading volumes from my every gesture!"
BRAGGART: "Well it's easier than Captain Aspergers' here, that's for sure."
Brad: Holmes nods in more restrained praise.
HOLMES: "It will do for a start."
Brad: Holmes smiles mischievously.
BRAGGART: "See, that's what I'm talking about."
HOLMES: "Oh, Watson, in your story, did you tell of the dog who did not bark in the night?"
WATSON: "Indeed, Holmes, it is one of the key points."
HOLMES: "As well it should be. [turns to Braggart] It was an important teaching point, too. When you investigate something, look for what isn't there or didn't happen as well as what was or did. Watson, now that we have fully distracted you from your writing, shouldn't you read the telegram?"
WATSON: "[distracted voice] Telegram? Oh, yes, the telegram."

Brad: He rips open the envelope and reads it quickly.
WATSON: "Why, Holmes, it is from Sir Henry Baskerville. He invites us for the weekend, noting that he has something to show you well worth your time."
BRAGGART: "He sounds familiar."
HOLMES: "He does, does he?"
BRAGGART: "Oh, does he have a daughter called Judith?"
HOLMES: "More probably he feels he still owes us hospitality for that little matter we solved some time ago. Well, as you received the telegram, Watson, you must send our refusal."
WATSON: "Indeed, I will not, Holmes. Sir Henry provided us with a most interesting investigation, you must admit. Surely we can spare him a weekend. The fresh air will do you good, and you have no case to tie you to London at this time."
HOLMES: "Oh, very well, Watson. I can see I will have no peace until I agree. We can take a late train Friday afternoon."
BRAGGART: "Am I coming too? Only it's awkward with Judith; I'm the one who started that nickname."

Brad: This is really adding weight to the 'gay couple' theory, isn't it?
Rob : Especially the bickering.
Brad: Holmes busies himself with his pipe once more.
WATSON: "I have only one regret, Holmes."
HOLMES: "What is that, Watson?"
WATSON: "You will miss your chance to instruct me in the art of picking winning race horses - on Friday we had planned to go down to the track."
Brad: Holmes pulls his Bradshaw down from the bookcase and looks up the train schedule, then nods.

HOLMES: "Not at all, Watson. We can catch the train at a station near the racing grounds. Unless something holds up the card, we should be able to see the feature and have time to collect our winnings afterwards."
BRAGGART: "You go to the races? I'd have had you for a strip club fan."
HOLMES: "I usually am, but Watson needs a lesson or two from a logical mind to cut his losses. The race on Friday will provide an excellent demonstration. I am certain which horse will win, while Watson has his own ideas on the matter."
WATSON: "Why don't you join us? Then I shall have a witness when I show Holmes that pure logic is not the solution to every problem. Meet us here at noon - that is all right with you, isn't it?"
HOLMES: "Certainly."
BRAGGART: "Hey Holmes, you OK? You've got that look on your face like when you see the Sudoku's been done."

What has caused Holmes to put on a weird face? Stay tuned to E14 for the next thrilling edition of Dickass DM, coming April 4th!

Monday 24 March 2014

E14 Presents: The Crazy Train - Episode 22: Leonardo's A ****!

Episode 22 of The Crazy Train is now live, and can be found here:

On iTunes
The Crazy Train Page on E14

Episode 22 - Leonardo's A ****! In this episode:

  • Rob talks about a TV show he's been enjoying called Catfish
  • We talk about shows that seem too tidy.
  • We enthuse about 90s cartoons.
  • Omer rants on Extreme Couponing.
  • We talk about tall people.
  • We talk about Welsh accents.
  • We talk Storage Hunters.
  • Omer tells a story about Americans.
  • We talk about faking accents.
  • We have a laugh at a silly man with a forklift.
  • We talk about confectionery.
  • We have fun with confectionery puns.
  • We talk upcoming movies.
  • We talk superheroes.
  • We talk Ninja Turtles.

Starring: Rob Wade, Blake Harmer, Omer Ibrahim, Sour Crouch, Spike Direction.

Thursday 20 March 2014

Sour Crouch's Super Fantastic Indie Horror Roundup Super Slam....Thing" - Outlast

Words: Sour Crouch

So, I'm back. Miss me?

Yeah. Thought so.

I'll speed along to the second game I'd like to spurt furiously over:


See Crouch wax enthusiastic about the game Here

Outlast is to me what Pop Tarts are to a fat man: A last, best hope for happiness. What a wonderful game. It's quite literally got it all in the imaginary small horror experience check list I just made up in my head just right this second. Right now, and everything. It's of decent length (Wa-hey!) and proper girthy (not sure If I'm even complying with normal innuendo rulings any more) and like Pablo the Plumber it won't fix your plumbing. Unlike Pabs, however, it won't flip you on your arse and fuck you. Pablo will. He's a professional, damn it!...

But it's extra. He's got contracts. LENGTHY contracts.

Back on track, Outlast is one part Clive Barker (the good part) one part John Carpenter and one part Lovecraft. Interesting mix, huh? To top that off, it's wrapped up with all the tropes of "found footage" films. Oh yeah! This had my attention, alright. The plot is a rather simple affair, though no less enjoyable for it. You're a reporter who has received a "tip-off" from an anonymous source that something is going down at Mount Massive Asylum, with the common sense checks bypassed you've driven through the front gates and are ready to get your reporter on!

To cut a semi-long story short, shit happens and you're trapped in the Asylum. Not alone, mind. That'd be too easy. You're in there with the inmates/experiments/unknown forces and most of those guys want a piece of you. What follows is an extremely tense and well-orchestrated trudge wherein you free-run, hide and find clues in the various and vastly different areas of the Asylum grounds. The story is that of B-Movie schlock. It's there to carry the terrifying gameplay forward and while it is occasionally inventive, it's nothing out of the ordinary. There's enough to keep you going well past the point at which you really *really* wish you'd given up because scary reasons. I won't spoil anything but definitely expect to be shocked at the escalation the plot takes from simple "scary mutants" to forces with untoward interests with the world. You'll genuinely be interested in collecting the various clippings and bits of paper that serve to flesh out the story, and yes! there's definitely room for a sequel! That makes me particularly happy.

One of Outlast's most promising features is the use of the video camera. It actually creates a majority of the tension in the game. See, You play most of Outlast in pitch black darkness. You can't turn any lights on and you don't have a flashlight. All you have is your trusty camera doohickey and its wonderfully realised night vision setting which adds this wonderful grainy filter to the world. You could be walking about in the sewer level, cautiously examining every doorway or new area just to make sure nothing will jump out on you when you catch the glint of a chappie's eyes.

You hide. Maybe you're not fast enough?

Maybe he's seen the briefest glimpse of you as you escape into a room with a well-placed locker? Regardless he's on to you and starts to "hunt".

You can hear the guttural squelching the thing that's supposed to be his face makes when he calls out to you in the dark. He's obviously in pain, as are most other inhabitants of Mount Massive.

The cries continue. He walks past the locker you're in and opens the one next to you and then SLAMS it just to shit you up further.

And then something happens. A few bleeps.

Your camera is running out of batteries. This is the second impressive mechanic that Outlast employs. You see, not only do you have to deal with this "hide and seek" shit, you also have to make sure to keep yourself well stocked of batteries.

Your camera dies. You haven't got any more batteries. You're trapped in the locker with no way of seeing your pursuer. This is the meat and veg of Outlast and it does it *extremely* well.

The game, which has trained you for so long in believing you're somewhat safe, then trolls you big time. It takes the camera away for a short time leading to one of the best jump scares and subsequent chase scenes I've been subjected to in a long time. You'll want your damn camera back. Trust me.

The terror offered in this game is constant - you never get a chance to rest. If you aren't being chased by something then you're in fear of being chased by something. Alternatively, like me, you might be curled up in the corner of the room with the game paused, texting your partner so that you have something comforting to distract you from the fact that you're about to become something's chew toy.

In short:

  • You need this game in your life.
  • I like porn with plot.

This has been Sour Crouch

If you like the sound of Outlast, you can buy it on Steam, or on Playstation Network

Stay tuned for the next instalment in the not too distant future!

Monday 3 March 2014

E14 Presents: The Crazy Train - Episode 21: Nope!

Episode 21 of The Crazy Train is now live, and can be found here:

On iTunes
The Crazy Train Page on E14

Episode 21 - Nope!
In this episode:

  • We talk about the Harry Potter tour (briefly).
  • Crouch and Spike open some LEGO blind bag figures.
  • We talk a bit about videogames.
  • We enthuse about Super Nintendo.
  • We talk technology, and how cool it is.
  • Omer tells us a little about a phrase.
  • Omer talks about how he became the new Trash Wizard.
  • Rob tells of a fresh Trash Wizard sighting.
  • We talk about Jurassic Park and Greek Mythology.
  • We debate the origin of the word "Quiz".
  • We talk about weird foods.

Starring: Rob Wade, Blake Harmer, Omer Ibrahim, Sour Crouch, Spike Direction.