Tag Archives: Movies

Journal of the Emerald Specter 92: Building a Better Emerald Specter

Um… what?

This is a column I’m about to detail a whole bunch of things in and it’ll involve everything to do with EmeraldSpecter.com, the podcasts, the articles, BuJoRPG/BuJourneyRPG, and the future. This is a roadmap to getting me from where I’m at to where I want to be, which will include what I’ve done in the past that worked that I’ve stopped doing.

Despite my sincerest desire, “winging it” with a lot of my content isn’t working as well as I’d hoped. There are spurts where I can do just that but I also have the opposite, which is long periods where nothing works. This leads me to look back at what has worked, which means looking back to LimeFlavored.com.

When I started Lime Flavored, I literally just needed a place to do things online that entertained me… and hopefully along the lines someone else would be entertained as well. That philosophy has definitely held up for the years and has become a pseudo-business model for what I’m doing with Emerald Specter. There was a point, though, where things needed to have a little more structure.

Fast forward a few years (from 2000 to about 2010), where the Lime Flavored Podcast jumped into the world. The show started as a place for me to talk about this and that, sort of like how the Specter Show has been, and then I started bringing on guests to talk to… several episodes then were mainly about the conversation between two people. This eventually led to me having regular cohosts for the show, with two dominating the show for lengthy runs, but died down when excuses from those cohosts began to take down the recording schedule. That’s when I initiated “the show format.”

Rather than beg guests to come on, or talk about the random this or that, I came up with a weekly rundown of segments that would be structuring the show into something more… structured. This version of the show was the most popular, got the most downloads, and fell to the wayside when trying to edit the video content for episode 50… the LAST episode.

Lesson learned, although not immediately.

During the run of LimeFlavored.com, as well as falling well into EmeraldSpecter.com, was the Greatest Show (originally known as the Greatest Show Online). This was me and my best friend Bob getting together to talk about whatever we wanted to, which ran like this for a long time, including my wife into the show as something for us to watch (she cooked while we talked and filmed the cooking), turning eventually into inviting a few more friends on to turn the show into a round table discussion of the more recent years. Special guests have been had and though most of the hosts aren’t on most of the time, those that show up when they can are welcome. Guests have also started to become a big part of what the future of the show is going to be…

Back in the early days of Emerald Specter, I had a multitude of columns. There was the generic “Emerald Specter” column, Gaming Specter, UFC Specter, Storytelling Specter, SpecterFit (also known as Fitness Specter), and those are just the ones I can name without looking up the others. Each of these were short, primarily to keep content flowing, but all eventually started dropping off here and there in favor of a more generalized column… that would be the current Journal of the Emerald Specter (which you’re reading issue 92 of right now).

I’ve added the Specter Show as a podcast as well, doing the “winging it” audio I was in the early days of the Lime Flavored Podcast, along side the Greatest Show (which takes longer breaks between episodes than I’d like but as long as it keeps going I’m good).

This is a lot of unstructured things happening at once, most of which interfere with my ability to progress on structured things like life, BuJoRPG/BuJourneyRPG, and producing more content that I’ve wanted to start producing.

So, I am going to make some changes to streamline, structure, and produce higher content.

Starting with what has become the flagship content provider of the site, the Journal of the Emerald Specter.

Each issue of the Journal will be presented with a unique “cover,” going along with the comic book feel of the site’s aesthetic. This will more than likely convert to a square cover instead of a more comic book traditional shaped cover, but this will be the first step.

Next comes the banner topic, the “geeky thing on my mind” in a smaller than current segment. This could be about anything I listed above but will be concentrated on that topic alone. I plan on planning out these topics in advance, too, allowing for the research that might need to be done when writing.

After that comes the first ever serial fiction I’ll be writing. I will be writing an installment of a serial fiction story with the intent of finally putting out my fiction that I’ve wanted to create for a long time. Including this into the column will allow me to remove the self imposed requirement of having the story completely written before hand and just get my ass writing again. I don’t know how long the installments will be, I’ll let that flesh itself out after a couple of columns.

That is followed by a sports commentary of some sort. I often want to write entire columns about sporting items and rather than dominate a column like I have with chess over the past two issues, I figure I can throw a tidbit into this in order to quench my thirst. Ideally, I’d be covering whatever sports are actively happening but I am not going to limit myself to just that. I’m hoping that continuous commentary on certain topics might one day pan out into a paying gig on another site.

Next comes bullet journalling updates. I am going to include an update EVERY SINGLE TIME and that means I better be making progress on things in the background. Play testing the BuJourneyRPG hasn’t started as of this writing but I’m on the edge of actually being able to do that, and that means I can definitely have content for this segment of the column.

Finally, there will be an RPG tidbit included in each column. This might be a story hook, a review on a new game, a story about a game that I participated in, or just a general discussion about merits of why a certain system works well. This won’t be as big as the main topic but I want to start doing something gaming related and that means writing is probably the best place to start.

That is just the Journal of the Emerald Specter, folks. Let’s look at the Specter Show next.

Just like the Journal covers, the Specter Show will also be getting custom covers for each episode. You might be wondering why I’m interested in doing this for both of these and it’s because I’m interested in putting out quality content, meaning that if everything is planned ahead of time I don’t have to scramble to accomplish anything.

The show will be led off by a geeky topic of discussion, I’m thinking that this might be the place where I talk about my love of TV and movies (reviews, reactions, etc), but I am not locking myself into anything specific. Media seems to be big on the podcast scene so that is definitely where I’d be looking towards for inspiration on this.

Also like the Journal, there will be an installment of a serial (not the same serial), read aloud of course… and this would probably be on the shorter side but with this being altogether different than the written stuff, I’m interested to see what kinds of wonderful pours out of my head in the near future on the serial fiction front.

Finally, the show will include a “what to watch for” segment. The reason for the media being in the beginning could relate to what I’m talking about in the “coming up” section. Movies, TV shows, comic books… all that I’ll be consuming in the near future.

I also had a plan for the Greatest Show, but I won’t be locking anything down on that front because I don’t want to shoehorn anyone else into following a strict rundown. Time will tell what form the show takes but what we’re doing seems to be working for now.

When will all this go down? I did have specific issue/episode numbers for when I’m rolling this out but I want to make sure all the back end stuff is done before I roll out everything. There will be a few graphical updates to the site, too, but they won’t be monumental in difference.

147: Avengers Infinity War

Reunited and it feels so good! DJ gathers together Tricia, Metal Jesus, and the long awaited return of Rachel as the team discusses (mostly) the new movie Avengers: Infinity War.

This is the audio of the video version, which can be found here.

DJ can be reached at EmeraldSpecter.com, @EmeraldSpecter on Twitter and Instagram. You can also email emeraldspecter.com@gmail.com.

Tricia can be reached at MadeByTricia.com, @MadeByTricia on Twitter and Instagram. You can also email madebytriciapdx@gmail.com.

Metal Jesus can be reached through astral projection and smoke signals.

Rachel can be reached by telepathy.

Journal of the Emerald Specter 72: Star Wars

I have a bit of house keeping to put up here… then we’re on to the column.

The Greatest Show is having some issues getting back up and running. I am exhausted from the holiday season and several of the others have their own things going on and that means we’re trying to get things back on track. Bear with us.

On to the column!

Star Wars: The Last Jedi has been out for about a month now and reactions are, oddly, mixed. Everyone has had their say and I’d like to throw my thoughts behind the situation to see if I can explain who wants what, why, and where we go next from here.

George Lucas created Star Wars, the entire saga. He came up with the idea, used themes and symbolism from multiple sources, and created what some people call “modern mythology.” Star Wars: A New Hope (titled such when he made a sequel) amazed audiences because they were treated to something new, a lived in science fiction-esq universe with weird aliens and awesome space ships.

Then came Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, and audiences were split. Yes, split. Some people HATED the movie, thought it was too dreary and there was blow back from people who thought that Lucas was a one hit wonder. Go on, I dare you to find universal love from 1980… you won’t be able to, because this was not universal loved (at the time).

Lucas then went on to create Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and we again had people who weren’t universally behind the movie. The lightning rod of hate for this one went strongly towards the Ewoks, which were the Jar Jar Binks of 1983. This ended the trilogy and we were left without anything new for a great long time… yet, there was something interesting that happened.

ANH was loved. TESB was split, though people eventually came around to the movie being one of the best ever made. ROTJ wasn’t as good as TESB but fans eventually came around to hold all three Original Trilogy movies up on a pedestal.

In 1999, we were witness to Star Wars: A Phantom Menace… and the reaction was more than mixed, with hate for Jar Jar Binks as a character leading the way. Die hard OT fans decried the unveiling of midi-chlorians, the biological means by which the Force is manipulated. Forget about what was good in the movie, there was a largely negative response to the movie… from adults who grew up watching the OT.

Kids? Loved the movie. THIS is their trilogy beginning.

Star Wars: Attack of the Clones came out and there were a lot of problems with what went on, but we have ourselves another split on the general fan reaction to the movie. Adults were less than pleased, kids were more than pleased, and despite some really stilted dialog, this one exists and has one of the best lightsaber battles in any Star Wars movie (Yoda vs. Count Dooku).

In the finale of the Prequel Trilogy, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith gave us everything we could ask for in a Star Wars movie… and you either like this one or hate it, though if you ask the denouncers, they hold this one up as the pinnacle of the PT.

Largely, if you grew up during the OT you hate the PT. The PT generation doesn’t necessarily hate the OT, which the OT crowd uses as fuel to point out that the OT is more popular and “doesn’t suck.”

George Lucas was dumped on because he went and made the PT to show us how Darth Vader became Darth Vader. Original Trilogy fans cried out and wanted George gone because he made the Prequel Trilogy in the same way he did the Original Trilogy: for fans of all ages. OT fans thought the medium should have “grown up” with them and not been for the wider audience, but as we move into the future, the Prequel Trilogy is more accepted because the generation that grew up watching them is showing their kids and they are being accepted for what they are: part of the saga.

When George sold Lucasfilm to Disney, the OT generation started celebrating because even though the whole Star Wars saga came from the mind of George Lucas, they all thought he shouldn’t be allowed to do anything with the saga anymore… because of what they believed were terrible movies in the prequels.

Disney announced that there would now be a Star Wars movie every year and they would start focusing on “the future.” Original Trilogy fans rejoiced and rejoiced even harder when Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out.

In my opinion, the movie is fan wank and the reaction of the OT generation proves, time and again, that my assessment is right. I don’t totally hate TFA, there are some bits in there that are interesting and intriguing, but overall, this was nothing but fan service (or wank, as I keep calling it), because the OT generation thought this was the second coming.

Mainly, the ones I’m talking about are the “purists,” the ones who claim that if it isn’t exactly what the OT was then it isn’t worthy. How can you hate half of something and be a fan of it?

Now we come to the latest installment of the saga, Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Fans are once again split.

TLJ doesn’t do the fan service/wank of TFA. There is multiple references to letting go of the past and moving forward into the future, like Disney said when they took the reigns. There is a new direction for the characters who are ported over from the OT and the OT generation can’t accept that their idealized concept of Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewie isn’t matching up 100% with what they imagined.

Honestly, their issue is that the Expanded Universe didn’t just pan out onto the screen, which is really what the OT generation wants.

If Star Wars is going to survive as a property then that property is going to need to evolve. If fans won’t let it evolve then it will die. Plain and simple. In order to evolve, we need to move FORWARD and away from the OT.

Rey doesn’t need to be related to anybody. Snoke’s origin isn’t important. Speculating on which Ewok one of the Pretorian Guards is does nothing to further the story. It is a BIG galaxy, though if we keep the connections so tightly wound, it’ll feel like we’re only dealing with a single cul-de-sac worth of characters and their trials in dealing with lawn care.

I skipped over Rogue One, the impending Solo movie, because these are accomplishing something that the OT generation will applaud without even realizing what is happening.

What IS happening?

Rogue One, while telling us a great “heist” movie, started the franchise down a path we really shouldn’t want to go… it fills in part of the “in between.” Solo? Does the same thing. If there is a Boba Fett flick, that will do the same thing. How is that a bad thing? Well, pretty soon, we’ll be seeing movies about what Luke was doing while traveling between Tatooine and Alderaan… did he brush his teeth, play some holo-chess, or was he reading up on how to cook nerf steaks?

If we map out every second of the past, then we lose something. We lose a lot, actually. We lose the mystery and we lose the point.

The EU was interesting enough for me to read right up until the end. Would I love it if they kept writing more? Yeah, but there isn’t going to be anymore “Legends” novels. Do I think they should have just taken the novels and made them into movies? No. Despite the novels being good, they were boring and slow. Movies, at least the Star Wars movies, aren’t boring or slow.

Let’s move FORWARD. Nostalgia is a word that means “unable to get out of the past,” and if you’re one who is super into nostalgia, then I’ll see you later… because I’m moving into the future.

Journal of the Emerald Specter 69: Pump Up The Volume

Here’s a little bit of a different column, I’m going to be writing about two topics (with one obviously taking the majority of the column). There was a movie that I wanted to discuss, sort of in the vein of the nostalgia trip I took with the last three weeks, but without the solo RPG angle. I mean, literally, this movie defining something that literally isn’t a thing anymore.

I’m talking about Pump Up The Volume.

In Pump Up The Volume, Christian Slater players a teen named Mark Hunter who is an introvert and doesn’t really socialize a ton. He’s got a lot of pent up rage and discovers that his shortwave radio allows him an outlet to rant against the injustices of society. He’s got himself a post office box under an assumed name to receive mail, his voice is obscured with some technical mumbo jumbo, and he’s doing all of this as an airwave pirate, something that was quite illegal.

I bet you can tell where I’m going with this already…

Everything that happened in Pump Up The Volume is literally happening right now. Podcasting is allowing anyone to put out anything and they don’t get arrested for it. In fact, there is no FCC involved at all and that, I find, is hilarious, because this movie now is not only terribly dated but it is quite anachronistic, too.

Using the music of others without paying royalties, like apparently is alluded to in the movie (it’s been close to 30 years since I’ve seen the movie, that would catch the FCC’s attention (along with the use of profanity, which I do remember is quite prevalent). The broadcasts that Hard Harry, the alter-ego of Slater’s Mark Hunter, are limited in range and wouldn’t really catch a large scale attention because they were so limited in range.

Put this in same category as Footloose, as in the premise is slightly ridiculous and over the top. This was a typical 80s thing, where they came up with something and made it plausible, then resolved it within the confines of a two hour movie. Unlike Pump Up The Volume, though, Footloose is a totally ridiculous premise.

Podcasting has busted open the idea that anyone can say anything at any time and there is an audience for that. If you look at iTunes, Google Play, or other podcast aggregators, there are thousands of podcasts (I have three of my own) where people are talking about all kinds of subjects, using whatever language they want, and some even are clouded mindedly pretending to be ON the radio, giving weather and station identification… between their playing of music that they aren’t paying for and don’t own.

Now, I’m all for using a clip of some music for some theme song stuff, but to play the entirety of a song without giving any props to the artist is downright stupid.

Watching this moving now would feel completely confusing, like watching Smokey and the Bandit and wondering why the Enos Brothers couldn’t just go pick up some Coors at the store. The world was a very different place 30 years ago, and is hard to understand why people did things the way they did them.

In fact, when someone wants to “relive the good ‘ol days” because they remember it being awesome, I like to point out that sometimes those memories are heavily shaded with the rose colored lenses that they’re wearing.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the movie. I haven’t watched it in a long time and after writing this, I don’t think that I could get over how awkward things were back then. It’s just nice to know that we’ve advanced and evolved to a place where our options aren’t limited by an “overseer” like the FCC.

I used to play a game called Ingress, and technically I still play that game but I haven’t really done much of anything in the game for the better part of a year. As a recap, Ingress is a location based game where you are trying to either free or enslave the minds of humanity in order to create peace or free will options.

As I’ve said in a previous column, and actually several previous writings on this website, I belong to the Enlightened (the green team) and I’ve made quite a few friendships over the time I’ve played, though my ability and/or desire to play the game recently has waned because of a lack of time and difficulty achieving the next few levels I need in order to be “at the top.”

There is a problem with bias and cheating in the game, though, and I’m going to be talking about that aspect of the game.

I’ve met a lot of players, and of those players, I’ve come to understand that there is a problem with cheating going on in the game. The thing I’ve noticed about all the cheating of which I am fully aware is that the Resistance (the blue team) is responsible for the majority of that cheating.

I’m stating that I am positive the Enlightened have cheaters as well but I’ve not personally met any of them. As far as Resistance cheaters, I’ve met more than I care to talk about.

The first instance in which I understood cheating was happening ended a long run of my holding a portal, which provides a badge in game. I was within 10 days of meeting the highest badge possible for holding a portal. My streak was ended when a player, who was living in Maryland, spoofed his location to take over my portal and end my (at that point) current streak. His account was banned less than 2 days later due to having been caught spoofing, since one cannot go to Bismarck (North Dakota) to Shanghai (China) to Buenos Aires (Argentina) in the course of less than 24 hours. Despite this banning, I had to start all over with my Guardian.

When you play Ingress, you often meet up with players from “the other side,” participating in mini-games and what not to build a little community. I’ve met several Resistance players who are completely above board with their game play, but even in North Dakota, I met just as many who were spoofing their locations, using apps clearly outlined as illegal per the terms of service, or using the game to stalk certain people. The fact that I’ve met so many players on the same team that do this is, in my opinion, highly disturbing.

I won’t limit this to just outright “cheating,” either. Many of the members of Niantic, the company who makes and runs Ingress, are Resistance players, unbalancing the “hub of arbitration.”

There have been a few instances of unfair decisions coming down from those “on high” that have tilted the game in favor of the blue team, mainly the core team “taking care of their own.” I’ve no examples of this for this particular column, I’m just saddened that the creators had to choose a side and neglect a chance for balance to be present at even the highest levels of the game.

If you can’t guess, the above items are a big part of why I don’t want to play Ingress anymore. I’m sorry if someone thinks that this outlook is unfair, but honestly, I don’t care. I call it like I see it and I see the cheaters and unbalanced decision makers ruining what was once something I really looked forward to doing.

That’s all for now, though… thanks for reading.

Journal of the Emerald Specter 67: Resurrecting Awesome IPs Part 2!

After writing the last column and stating that I would love to continue with this line of thinking (basically converting IPs I love or a no longer “a thing” into solo RPG settings), I started making a list of what else I wanted to cover…

That list is very long.

Not only do I have a few more to add to the mix, but I came up with some other examples of ones I wish I would have included in the previous column. There are enough of these that I might have a part three, too, and if I keep coming up with them, a part four!

First, the “space series” that I mentioned in the previous column (the one more Firefly than Trek or Wars), another great property that is long since dead but much beloved by me is Earth Star Voyager… this one is about a ship heading to a new planet for colonization, but it was designed as a series pilot that was never picked up. There are so many questions left unanswered: why is there an OTZ? What reason do the ships have for weaponry being installed on them? What exactly was the reasoning behind the Triton Corsair’s master plan?

There’s also a similarity with Interstellar, which could fit into the puzzle nicely, too.

On to the rest of this column!

Continuing on with my look at properties that can be used for settings, I came up with Final Fantasy… a perfect video game franchise that, while not dead, presents itself as a “world that is unveiled through play” that would be well suited for my solo RPG purposes.

In some installments, the characters kind of know what is going on with the world and basically have their “railroad” to follow to the end of the line. There are examples of the “I don’t know what is going on” scenario (in two of my favorite installments of VIII and X), with a world of fantastic possibilities to delve into (summon creatures, Chocobos, etc).

This is a setting I can use to flesh everything out with minimal preparation (world background, historical information, power limits, extras, etc). I can literally start rolling die with the Mythic Game Master Emulator and get to moving in the right direction… of playing an actual game.

The Final Fantasy franchise is large and would allow for a lot of expansion as far as a solo RPG goes, but that can also tie into another franchise that runs with a large “amnesia” angle through many of the installments… that being Legend of Zelda.

Digging back into the “I was going to write prose” options, Heroes is a great place to point at for ideas.

The direction I’d go in, rather than having the “secret society after secret society” layered on without much of a plan, I was thinking more along the lines of the 4400, where the super powers come out and people are challenged in moral and ethical ways on how to use that power. You’re going to have a nut job who wants to rule the world and you’ll have other strange things going on around you that are tangentially related to the goal of stopping the “big bad,” but will ultimately reveal what the hell is going on.

What I was essentially going to prose write was something happened, globally, that gifted a lot of people super powers… while there were a few characters who really wanted to use their abilities for good, there were a large set of groups that wanted to fight to control vast stretches of population across the globe. There were strange things going on around the world, too, like a half sphere-sized hole in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, a suddenly tropical location in Antarctica that is impenetrable by modern scanning devices, strange creatures running around altering DNA, and more. Hell, the very reason people got the power was geared towards a specific end goal (something like an alien invasion).

In this setting, the world is already technically fleshed out (because it is our world) and the powers would be discovered along the way. The Walking Dead uses a definitive formula that would fall right in line with how my Heroes-esque version would be: survive, discover civilized folk, discover those folk aren’t so civilized, destroy, move along… that is the Walking Dead model. How many times can that be done before people stop being interested?

What about the lovely Black Sails?

Living on the high seas, as a pirate (not terribly unlike Pirates of the Caribbean), experiencing the pirate life and fighting for survival. Black Sails is specifically a “prequel to Treasure Island,” which mixed real and fictional pirates together… I liked that version better than Disney’s because it is more grounded in realism.

Unless I could really come up with a few “grand scale” ideas about a long arc, the story would be mainly about plundering the odd ship’s stores, sinking the enemies of piracy, and just living through life that way… interesting, yes, but is it solo RPG worthy? Sure is!

Continuing with a “treasure hunting” theme, I present Indiana Jones!

I love me some treasure hunting movies. I love the National Treasure series, the Robert Langdon series, Goonies, and basically I’m saying if there is a treasure to be sought out through figuring out of clues, I’m probably going to like the property.

As a character, obviously I’d come across some long lost thing that leaves me a clue to go somewhere, which leads me to more clues, which lead me to more places, and I eventually come to the end of the line where I find the treasure (or whatever that treasure ends up being) at the end. With Last Crusade being my favorite installment of the Jones series, I think that finding a “Grail Diary” type prop would be a great way to start out that type of adventure.

Moving right along, I will dive back into the “I had a series idea” pool… with Knight Rider.

This idea was fleshed out in the late 90s and early 2000s… where a team of scientific types designed some artificial intelligences to helm vehicles to aid with crime fighting. We’ve advanced well past the point (technologically speaking) where my original premise for the story would work (plausibly), and that leads me to look for a means of making it work in today’s world a little better. So I decided that maybe taking the Airwolf model would benefit the story.

If you are unfamiliar, a top secret helicopter was stolen and two operatives were tasked with retrieving the chopper. Once they get it back, they decide that the technology shouldn’t be in the hands of reckless government types and they opt to use the helicopter FOR that government if they deem the situation bears the necessity of using Airwolf.

Tying that in with the Knight Rider idea, there would be a special operations group that runs missions with the aid of artificial intelligences that can transfer between all kinds of vehicles (choppers, cars, etc). This ties in with the military unit style game that would interest me and it could always branch out as the “the government shouldn’t have this, we’ll go on the run” type storyline.

Speaking about “going on the run,” how about Doctor Who?

I have, many times and in many ways, created alternate versions of the Doctor (and Doctor Who universe) to tell stories in. First I named the main protagonist the Stranger, then Inspector, then Agent, back to Inspector, then to something else and so on… always existing in the same general backdrop with the stories being “rejiggered” to work with the new mythology that was modified.

Always those ideas ended up failing… but there were points that I continued to use and have developed into something that I’d dip my toes into here with you.

One concept was the possibility of regeneration into either sex (something Doctor Who finally did with the Time Lords). Other ideas related to more “investigating mysteries” without so much of the science, leaning me always towards the “Inspector” role… which was ruing in parody for me with Inspector Spacetime on Community.

My most recent iteration, though, ties all of the ideas I’ve ever had into one… continuing through my “adventuring time traveler.” I won’t name that traveler, as there is a distinct possibility that will come up in play during one of my solo RPG games, which I would love because then I’ve tied another thing into that item… which would then allow me to flesh out that character in detail through the same means of discovery!

I wasn’t sure how to broach this particular subject, but the idea of not being an amnesiac and discovering the setting through play relates to two properties I love: Terra Nova and Lost.

The premise I’m looking at exploring is the “I end up someplace I don’t understand, which looks familiar, but isn’t what I think it is” type game. No amnesia. Lost uses the plane crash as a means of getting people corralled on an island, where weird crap is going on and no one really understands what is happening… then they go exploring and they discover the secrets of this magically impossible island.

As far as Terra Nova goes, fleeing the future (which is in a state of disrepair and destined to cease existing), people travel back 65 million years to set up a new civilization and save the human race… except, there are weird things going on here, too, with random factions, rogue future elements that are altering the course of things, discovering they aren’t the first civilization to end up in the past like this (due to a boat being found), and finally learning that the past they are in isn’t the same past they thought they were in…

Fun times! Sadly, Terra Nova will never be explored out and I’ll never learn where the weird boat came from, but that doesn’t stop me from using the same basic premise as a game setting to play in.

Next I’ll draw way back from science fiction and get into police drama, like the Chicago Code.

I’ve long liked good police dramas. One series of books I was fond of (until the author changed) was the Badge of Honor series by W.E.B. Griffin. The focus is crime fighting with a good helping of understanding about the cops involved doing the job. While you could also include Hawaii Five-O in this listing (I haven’t watched the original), my hope would be to be as exciting as the Shield without the untoward shenanigans going on in the background.

Police drama these days, though, concentrates a little heavily on murder… which is all well and good, but there is so much else out there to explore. What about what Miami Vice did without needing to rely heavily on homicide? How about Nasty Boys? Hell, even CHiPs managed to have several great seasons of entertainment without needing to have a dead body every week. I love the NYPD Blue aspect but I think having a far more well rounded “not just homicide” department would work better for my gaming needs.

Finishing up with one more property, I’d like to explore the ideas in Smokey and the Bandit.

Generally speaking, Bandit (who is a trucker) is approached by two rich guys who make a bet whether or not it’s possible to bootleg beer from Texas to Georgia in a specific (technically short) amount of time without getting caught. Bandit gets his friend, Snowman, to run the rig while he drives the iconic 1977 Pontiac Trans Am as a “blocker” to attract all the cops his direction. While there were two sequels and a TV series that loosely followed the same logic, I’m going to concentrate on the original film. (Note, in finding the link for the movie I learned that Edgar Wright is doing a reboot in 2019 of this movie, so with any luck, it’ll stay basically the same premise rather than it being some modern version of the same story, ruining the entire thing.)

Having someone who is running illegal things from point A to point B is a great idea for a game. The concept allows for an episodic feel, or can expand out to the “big screen” feel of the movie. The setting will be key, whether it’s in the 1970s bootlegging or running moonshine like the Dukes of Hazzard was originally supposed to be about… the setting will inform the types of things being done.

This would definitely be a different type of game and would allow for more action than dialog, keeping the pace of the chase up throughout. I don’t think I’d want to have this as some sort of government operative escaping with things from other countries, I would really want to have the looming threat of being imprisoned for doing things I shouldn’t be doing at speeds which attract a lot of attention… in the end, the idea is heavily under consideration.

Again, I’m over 2,000 words already and I still have more properties I’d like to cover. Sure, some of what you read has devolved into less about what the original column was and more speculation, but I can get back on track with the next edition.

If you’re curious, the list I made is currently sitting at 17, with me remembering other properties I’d like to include on that list. These are all settings for RPGs, basically, with my own spin on making them as great as they can be…

Hopefully you’re enjoying the ride.

The Specter Show 041: Memorabilia

A review of Thor Ragnarok that includes the lovely Tricia Allen, who joins the Emerald Specter himself in a little talk about a movie we just finished seeing…

Host: DJ Allen
Intro Music: The Idea of You by Nine Inch Nails (from Not the Actual Events)
Outtro Music: The Perfect Drug by Nine Inch Nails
Intro Lead in: Dirk Manning

Contact:
Email: EmeraldSpecter.com@Gmail.com
Twitter: @EmeraldSpecter
Instagram: @EmeraldSpecter

Support Emerald Specter at Patreon!

Thanks for checking this out, you can find more at EmeraldSpecter.com!

The Greatest Show 139: I’m Not Giving It Seven Episodes

A game of chess is played, drunken ramblings return to the show, we discuss a plethora of 80s movies, Underworld’s new TV series, Watchmen, I bequeath Preacher unto Jon, and a little bit of randomness.

Hosts: DJ “Emerald Specter” Allen, Tricia Allen, “Metal Jesus” Kevin Lama, and Kevin Couick (with guests Jon Cabral and Steve!)

Contact:
Website: www.EmeraldSpecter.com
Email: emeraldspecter.com@gmail.com
Twitter: @LPOKMNJ @MadeByTricia @EmeraldSpecter
Instagram: @MadeByTricia @EmeraldSpecter

Here’s the SHOW!

Emerald Specter Movie League

If you’ve clicked over, you’re interested enough in the headline to learn more about what I’m calling the Emerald Specter Movie League. There are movie drafts online, on podcasts, and in work places that allow you to draft movies and compete with friends and co-workers to “earn the most money,” but Movie League is different… yeah, I’m going to make it more complicated. Let’s get the “splash” image going right here:

MovieLeague300

The idea behind the Emerald Specter Movie League is to allow people to compete against everyone else by drafting movies and trying to come out at the end as the “big winner.”

DJ, that sounds exactly like every other movie draft… ever.

Yeah, but Emerald Specter Movie League is different.

The Emerald Specter Movie League will take place over the course of two, yes TWO, distinct movie “seasons.” The regular season will run from June to September for 2016, with the top half of the competitors will then be able to participate in the “post season” schedule, running from October to December 2016. The ultimate winner will be the one who not only advances TO the post season, but is the big money winner IN the post season.

The 2017 will hopefully have some mad large participation and we can get the ESML running with lots of folks. The 2017 season will run from April 1, 2017 to September 30, 2017 and the post season will run from October 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018… because movies are awesome.

So… here’s the rub. Here’s what sets the ESML apart.

The movies eligible for the draft will be posted prior to the draft, and you will bid on movies to try to win them from your competitors. You’ll be bidding in the millions of dollars and you don’t have a spending limit. Read that again: there is no limit on how much you can spend.

DJ… DJ… DJ… we can just go on bidding forever? How is that going to work?

I’m glad you asked.

Let’s say the movie in question is Larry Bond: 003.5. So, Joe Q. Public bids 100 million to buy Larry Bond, Sam Body bids for 125 million, with Bill Fold bidding 155 million. Bill wins, he now owns Larry Bond: 003.5 for a whopping $155 million. The movie finally comes out on June 1, 2016 and earns (domestically) $162 million (rounded up)… here’s where the catch comes in and why the bidding stopped when it did. Bill Fold has his $155 million bid SUBTRACTED from the total domestic gross of $162 million, leaving him $7 million towards his ultimate total in the ESML. Bill regrets spending so much, but the movie was rated so highly and he really wanted it… he just wishes he spent a little less on it.

Your bids are subtracted from the domestic (American) gross. If your bid is MORE than the domestic gross, you still subtract it… which means you can potentially earn NEGATIVE totals in all of your bids. This creates a new strategy and will eliminate anyone just putting all their eggs in one basket with a big blockbuster (i.e. Star Wars or Harry Potter) and makes you consider more options.

Boom.

The 2016 season will be invite only, though I will take some enthusiastic potential requesters at emeraldspecter DOT com AT gmail DOT com.

Who’s in?

The Greatest Show 77: Movie Edition

GS77

In a world where things are not what they seem. In a land of things that never seem to go right. In a time when technology is totes the bomb, yo. You have a mission to accomplish.

She’s the fastest cook in the West, in the modern day, wearing totally tight pants that her husband loves staring at… especially her butt. She has the ability to make things burst into flames with her mind. She’s the brains of the operation, but she’s also the beauty. She is Tricia Allen.

He’s got a beard that thinks for itself. No one has ever bested him in a game of lawn darts. Water flows around him because it’s afraid what will happen if it gets him wet. He is the vampire, werewolf, medieval knight that likes to hit people with magical foam weapons. He is Bob Miotto.

Dashing, daring, pony tailed up… he is the stealth, the low budget apartment residing hacker who knows that a night on the town may involve him dressing up and playing the role of someone completely different. He is Kevin Couick.

He is a lover, not a fighter… and he’s a fighter. He has counted to infinity… twice. He doesn’t read books, he intimidates them into giving him the information that he wants. He wears a live rattlesnake as a belt. He is the most interesting man in the world… he is DJ Allen.

This is the movie edition.

Review of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

BvS

I literally just got home from watching Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. As I have started to do with many of the “big release” movies, I am reviewing that for you here on Emerald Specter.com. Let’s get to it.

I am a Marvel fan, have been since I started actually “collecting” comics. While the first superhero I fell in love with was Shazam (aka Captain Marvel), I usually put my hat into the ring with the Marvel cast of characters because they’re a little more realistic in my book. That said, the Marvel movies are a huge hit with me and I’ve been interested in seeing how DC would respond to that for some time. I did write a companion piece about how DC’s cinematic universe would fail, but I didn’t know about what this particular installment would be like.

Spoilers from this point on.

The idea that Bruce Wayne wants to kill Superman for no apparent reason (thinking that he’s saving the planet) bothers me. Building that up over the course of the first half of the movie was a little annoying, like they were trying to justify a reason for Batman to fight Superman. I found Lex Luthor annoying as all get out and the government just allowing him unfettered access to the Kryptonian ship was bordering on the unbelievable. The James Bond-esq nature of Diana Prince’s involvement was a little weird, seemed out of character to me, Bruce Wayne doing all kinds of the cloak and dagger outside of his bat suit, and the fact that Gotham and Metropolis seem to be right across the river from each other was too convenient for me. The critical reception of Man of Steel concentrated on the rampant destruction wrought across the planet (centering on Metropolis) and that continued here as a conveniently uninhabited island and a conveniently abandoned dock are laid waste… oh, and Metropolis takes another hammering.

That said, I think there is more good in this movie than bad.

Doomsday was cheesy, or at least how he was created was cheesy, but they needed something that the DC “holy trinity” would combat and because two of the three of the trinity are superpowered they needed a villain that was powerful enough to give them trouble. We did NOT need Jesse Eisenberg in this movie as the “chicken hopped up on Red Bull” Lex Luthor that we got. He was highly annoying, flighty, and there is absolutely no way anyone with half a brain is going to allow him unrestricted access to an alien ship without supervision. The very concept strains credulity. Remove him from the movie and you’re looking at a solid star increase in a five star system.

Jeremy Irons was a great Alfred. Just like Sean Pertwee in the Gotham TV show, we get an Alfred that isn’t just an old guy that happens to know who Bruce Wayne is at night. His level of involvement was perfect, too. I also like Laurence Fishburne as Perry White, generally, but he was borderline annoying in this movie… he shouldn’t have been such a pushy ass.

Ben Affleck was a great Batman. Michael Keaton was told he wouldn’t be great in the suit and he was, Christian Bale was great in the suit, and now Affleck makes a great Dark Knight. I enjoyed the portrayal immensely and anyone that says he didn’t do a fantastic job is a complete idiot. I can’t wait to see more of him as Batman.

We didn’t need the Knightmare scene, the part where Batman is wearing a trench coat and fighting Superman soldiers and whatever those big things were… it did allow the Flash to pop in with a warning about something or other, which I believe is the red herring to what he was actually talking about, and I know that was needed mainly to put in the trailers to build up the short Batman/Superman fight. Without that scene, we could have had more story building on Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent researching what they really needed to be worried about: Luthor.

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was perfect. Wonder Woman’s movie is going to be great and I’m seriously looking forward to seeing that movie. I’ll be interested to see how DC and Warner Brothers are going to build up the characters rather than continuously reboot them according to movie executives thinking they know better than the source material. Wonder Woman isn’t a hard sell, you just had to do the character right instead of trying to just do the character how you THINK the character would be responded to by the general populace. Superheroes aren’t for the general populace, they’re supported by actual fans.

I left the theater hopeful that my column about DC failing being wrong. There is still a lot of possible ways to screw up but I’m more hopeful now. Jason Momoa as Aquaman is going to be awesome and, while I’m not a Cyborg fan, Im curious as to what the hell that damn cube thing was that started making him Cyborg.

With Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman teased, that gives us six of the “big seven” of DC. Green Lantern would be the seventh and I hope they go with the John Stewart version for the Justice League. We’ll also get to see Shazam at some point, but I wonder if they won’t use him until his actual movie, hoping whomever is cast for that character fills the role of Superman for the “next version” of the Justice League. I can totally see that happening already, replace all the original heroes with different ones so that 15 years into the future, they aren’t relying on Henry Cavill to still be interested in playing Superman.

Out of five stars, I’m going to give Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice a reluctant four. I think it was better than three but would have been closer to five if Jesse Eisenberg wasn’t in the movie. He made an annoying Luthor, and just like my loathing for the Joker, now I have a reason to hate Luthor.

Go see the movie. Critics are dissing it and people are comparing it to other movies that weren’t good but those people and critics are wrong. 4/5, it will be a great movie franchise if they go in the right direction.