Monthly Archives: February 2019

Emerald Specter 115: My Wife is Addicted to Escape Rooms

My wife is addicted to Escape Rooms. I could literally leave this column at that single, short sentence but I felt it was time to out my wife in public and compare her addiction to some of my own.

That, and I wanted to talk about escape rooms.

This header is the only one that really fits, so I went with “Entertainment” and will just roll with it.

About a year ago, my wife wanted to go to an escape room for the first time… and I think it was for her birthday… maybe. I was also interested in escape rooms and was completely willing to go. My brother in-law and his wife (whom I refer to as my sister in-law-in-law) joined us, as well as two strangers, and voila! Fun was had.

Since then, my wife has really wanted to do more (and we’ve done several)… but I’m getting ahead of myself.

The escape room we did was themed as an assassin’s apartment that we were investigating and got locked in, forcing us to solve our way out. Two days later my wife and I did another escape room, because she enjoyed it so much, that was us solving a Russian stolen nuclear rod… and we solved that one, too.

A couple months later, we went on vacation to Las Vegas (in an unseasonably warm period of time). During our stay, due to the sweltering heat, we ended up staying indoors for most of the trip and that spawned her looking for escape rooms in Vegas. We ended up doing no less than four, but I’m pretty sure we did five.

After returning home, we’ve been to a place about an hour away twice, winning one and losing one, which has not sated my wife’s appetite for more. As I write this, she’s already asked me to do one every day this week… whether or not she’s being serious is another story. If I said yes, though, I guarantee we’d be at that rooms solving one.

While my wife has gotten addicted to these things, and I do enjoy doing them, I just want to space them out a little more. It’s more fun if we don’t do one so often that I dread them, which hasn’t happened yet but I can see that happening if I give in. I would like to say that I like things in moderation.

That’s where my addictions come in.

I’m addicted to comic books. I’m also recently addicted to tattoos (I got my first one and I’m already planning on getting a second, third, and more). I’m also, unfortunately, addicted to starting new things and not finishing them (i.e. SpecterChess, though that isn’t entirely my fault).

While escape rooms are fun, I’m worried we’ll exhaust our options locally and we’ll end up traveling well out of town to find more to do. That means vacations might turn into escape room trips rather than relaxing entertainment.

I guess I felt I had more to say. I apparently don’t.

I do have fun in these rooms and I’d like to do them but just not so many in such a short period of time.

Emerald Specter 114: The Orville is the Best Star Trek on TV

In this Golden Age of Geekery, we have a bounty of wonderful science fiction to intake. While the TV screen has been previously dominated by Star Trek… but now we have something that is better Star Trek than Star Trek: The Orville.

This is not a popular opinion, but let me explain everything about my opinion.

CBS has recently started a new Star Trek TV series, Star Trek Discovery, and the look of the series is definitely towards the Kelvin Timeline, they have positioned themselves in the Prime Timeline. While this would be something to behold, they put the show behind a subscription service exclusively on an app and that has limited my personal viewing of the show. I’ve seen about half that series and apparently I stopped watching before the “good stuff” happens.

Seth MacFarlane pitched a Star Trek series (supposedly) and got rejected, leading to MacFarlane heading over to Fox to pitch the same basic idea. Thus, The Orville was born. (I couldn’t find supporting documentation but I’ll stick with the here-say on this one).

While Star Trek Discovery has gone in a direction I’ll call “gritty,” the trend among media these days, The Orville has kept the essence of what previous Star Trek has been in the past: exploration of themes. Without having seen the whole Discovery season, I am going to be judging the merits and faults based on what I have seen…

Disco, as some are calling it, feels more like a thematic “dark” for the sake of saying “we’re examine the dark underbelly of Starfleet.” The brightly colored and well lit days of Trek have been left behind for lease flares, monotone colored, and not well lit sets that make the realism seem real. What I witnessed was a stretched out version of a movie, jamming in action and intrigue as if they were presenting us with a movie instead of a TV show. That’s fine, in and of itself, but the lean towards “gritty,” in my opinion, was done for the sake of just being gritty… the thing that everyone complains about the direction most media is heading.

And yet, there are some diehard supporters of Disco, in the face of denying that which they are complaining about.

The Orville seems to have taken off straight out of the Next Generation. In the second season, we’ve seen some expansion into the DS9 or Voyager style of Star Trek, but overall, The Orville has maintained a system of storytelling that has a proven track record without sacrificing the “fun” of what Star Trek used to be.

Now, I’m a fan of the original Star Trek movies because they left the campy stories of the Original Series. Without those campy stories, though, I wouldn’t have a deeper appreciation for the movies like I do.

I am not one of the people out there campaigning for dark and gritty. I do like a little more realism in my science fiction (which is why I love the hell out of the Expanse), but I think Star Trek should remain more like Star Trek. Hell, even the Kelvin Timeline movies are more like Star Trek than Discovery currently reflects.

The other kicker with Disco is something that Marvel Comics fans currently have an issue with: continuity. Rather than adapt the media to tell new and interesting stories without being bound by what has come before, fans of Marvel and Disco insist on continuity laded storytelling. In the case of Disco, I want to point out that this means that Spock’s Brain, a highly derided OS episode, is absolutely canon. How the hell does THAT fit with the new dark and gritty storytelling?

All in all, The Orville is better Star Trek than Disco. I’d rather watch The Orville than Disco. The lack of access to Disco has a lot to do with my hard stance on this, but even if Disco had more accessible options, I’d still be leaning towards The Orville.

I am a fan of telling stories without needing to point to hundreds of episodes or issue to tell the stories. If Disco had been something outside of the already established continuity (like, if they didn’t try to jam it between Enterprise and the Original Series), I probably wouldn’t have as much of an issue with the series.

Disco suffers from what Star Wars is currently doing: filling in all the gaps. Rather than just let us assume what happens in between movies (in the case of Star Wars) or series (in the case of Star Trek), they have the compulsion to tell us about every second of everyone’s lives from start to finish. I don’t need that and no one else should, either.

What were the intricate details of what happened between the end of Enterprise and the start of the Original Series? Who cares! Move into the future, look FORWARD, don’t look backwards…

BuJoRPG Dev Blog 001: The Beginning

You’ve waited for it, and it’s here.

I looked at the poll and I decided that everyone would be happy with a bit of video AND a blog, so I’m starting with the blog portion and I’ll do videos now and then. So, let’s get to the goods.

Unlike the original BuJoRPG, I boiled down the BuJourneyRPG to four basic Attributes: Physical, Mental, Social and Emotional. They are abbreviated as PHY, MEN, SOC, and EMO accordingly. These are the basic building blocks of what you’ll be working on to advance yourself in the BuJourneyRPG experience.

At the heart of BuJourneyRPG, just like the original BuJoRPG, is a conflict resolution system. Each of those attributes has three sub-attributes that serve specific roles. Those roles, first, are offense, defense, and recovery. PHY has Power (PWR), Fortitude (FOR), and Vigor (VGR). MEN has Will (WIL), Stamina (STA), and Vitality (VIT). SOC has Charisma (CHR), Control (CON), Resilience (RES). EMO has Faith (FTH), Piety (PTY), and Spirit (SPR). Each of the sub-attributes are listed as offense, defense, and recovery.

Some of you might be saying “conflict resolution” is just a fancy way of saying combat. Well, yes… but without a conflict resolution system, I can’t move this forward in a direction that will allow for advancement against “obstacles” in a conflict resolution scenario. Combat, specifically, is a PHY situation. Combat, though, is simply physical conflict resolution. You still get three other attributes without “combat.”

It’s a small start, and this is all for this installment, but I am still working forward towards the next update. I probably won’t wait for a full month to update again, as I’m in a fast paced development stage.

Stay tuned!