Tuesday, 20 December 2016

As Above, So Below: The State of the Internet 2016

Greetings friends,

A lot of people I have seen are counting down the days until the end of 2016. Why is this? For festive fun & jollies? Afraid not.

No, the reason behind the countdown is that people seem to believe that 2017 is going to be better than 2016. That all the insanity of the world will magically vanish.

I'm afraid that those people are wrong.

There is a sickness in the world, a sickness which promises to infect everyone and everything, and it is present everywhere, but more so online than in physical.


Just yesterday the website NicheGamer announced that they were changing their terms and conditions, saying that racial slurs were to be banned from use.

This is a good thing, right?

Apparently not for the denizens of this website's commentary.

You see NicheGamer was set up during the massive fallout from the GamerGate summer of 2014. Gaming websites the world over were rallying behind people of questionable opinion and saying that if you supported GamerGate in any way, then you were unwelcome on their sites.

As you know, during the beginning, I was a big supporter of the movement. Finally there were people agreeing with me that the current climate wasn't right, and that pandering to extremists who claim such nonsense as "if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem", was not the right way forward.

The problem was that, at the same time, a bunch of total a-holes decided to co-opt the moment, to use it as a platform to either a). Act like a dick, or b). Further their own political agenda. So me, and a tonne of others severed our connections with the movement and carried on independently, wanting nothing to do with the trolls who remained behind.

Enter NicheGamer, who as a founding rule stated they would offer a zero censorship policy. Yup, no matter what you did, as long as you didn't do anything illegal, you would not be censored.

What resulted was a small number of people who would 'insult' people, and 'antagonise' others by calling them racial/sexual/religious slurs.

It was disgusting, truly disgusting. And it was the reason I refused to join their community. But I understood that if you are going to have a zero censorship rule, then this sort of filth is going to exist.

But then they update their terms of service.

Awesome I think! So I create an account and post in reply to the article about the change to the TOS showing my support, and saying that was the one thing that was stopping me from contributing.

Within literal minutes I am beset upon by others claiming I'm in essence a fascist, that their rights to call people whatever they want is part of free speech and that anyone who is in support of this change isn't welcome in their community.

Yup, anyone who welcomed a change, which would result in greater inclusion, a nicer vibe, more contributors and contributions... not welcome.

So I did the best action I could think of.

I deleted my account.

As others might say, I 'cut and ran'. I could see where this was going, and frankly I didn't want to stand around and wait for it to happen.

To these 'people', the freedom to call others a racial slur, was more important than other's feeling welcome in their community. This revealed that even after this change in their TOS, they were still a community that I didn't want any association with.
- And these were the people who were not banned from using slurs.


Now I am sure there (might) be some reading this who say, "But Lox, slurs are just words. Who cares about words?"

Let me explain why slurs matter...

When you encounter someone who acts like a dick, then you have every right, no, requirement, to call them on it. To say "you sir are acting like a dick", or an a-hole, or any other insult of that variety. Because you are comparing them to something that describes their behaviour quite well. This is fine.

When someone uses a slur, by calling them something relating to racial/sexual/religious, then the problem is that it goes both ways.

Firstly it is a truly horrible thing to say because you are suggesting that being that race/sexuality/religion, is inherently wrong.

Secondly you are also saying that every person belonging to that race/sexuality/religion, acts like the a-hole you are calling out.

Labelling one person an a-hole is fine, that's a minority of one. It's calling attention to their personal behaviour. But doing so to a mass of people at once is generalisation and not acceptable.


So how does this relate to the state of the internet and the world in general?

What about that sickness I mentioned?

Well here we have people who are exactly the same as those who they were set up to confront.

'We' left other websites because 'we' were told that if we didn't con-scribe to their close-writ narrative, then we were the enemy and not welcome there.

Now 'I' am being told that if 'I' don't conscribe to his other close-wrote narrative, then I'm not welcome there either.

The whole thing is what I've been calling snowflakeism.

Snowflakeism is the sickness that is wracking our world both in reality but also online, where, in and out groups are sprouting up everywhere, be it feminism, millennials, liberals, socialists, conservatives, trolls etc. Each group creating their own echo-chamber and being unwilling to even consider discussion from outside.

All this does is make people feel disenfranchised, so then these disenfranchised join together to create their own disenfranchised group, with their own 'safe space' rules, making others feel disenfranchised, who go on to make their own group, and the cycle continues over and over. Each group hating, literally hating, the others, to the extent in liberal circles, the term 'conservative' is used as an insult, and the reverse in conservative circles.

It's tribe war of the ignorant kind, where our focus is less on the exchange of knowledge and information, and more about retaining our ignorance.


But how do we deal with this? How do we fix what is currently broken?

Honestly? I don't know. I'm not sure if it can be fixed, or if we just have to wait for the current mentality to burn away.

Some will argue that the answer is freedom. That we need to give people the freedom to be themselves, with free speech, and all that jazz.

Won't work. All that will happen is what is currently happening, with the establishment of echo-chambers encouraged by communities. With true freedom, all we are doing is encouraging people into tribalism and being snowflakes, forsaking others who think differently.

What about control and rules?

Nope! Still won't work. We'll still have tribalism and snowflakes, only this time it'll be based on whoever sets the rules, forcing those who disagree underground.

What about a bit of both?

...who knows?

What I do know is that we mustn't stop calling bullshit. Someone acts like a twat and gets a bad result, call them on it! It's not victim blaming, it's calling a goose, a goose (or a twat, a twat). If someone is making up a story for attention, call them on it!

There are more important things than 'feelings'. There are more important things than 'safe zones' and this bullshit we're being bombarded by, and that's entirely what this is, total bullshit.

But it goes both ways. Calling someone out isn't being a dick, it's challenging. By challenging people we are asking them to back up their claims, and if they run off refusing to do so, then chances are their claims were total bullshit. But that doesn't mean you should be a dick in how you do it.

One of the greatest lessons my father ever taught me, was to always question. It's something that I live by, and I believe it has kept me sane in a rapidly insane world.

So when others say "don't question, believe". I argue the opposite, "don't believe, question".

And on that, largely rambling note, I take my leave.

As always, stay safe, and be excellent to each other!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Never Settle (in game design)

Greetings friends!

Today I wanted to take a moment to talk to you about a few observations of mine regarding game design on the tabletop and my own rule about how and when a rule should exist.

This rule is simple, that every rule should conform to Occam's Razor, and have a narrative explanation.
- Note, this is about a rule, not a core game mechanic, those are different. With those, the most narrative driven and razor sliced rule would be eliminating dice or cards and have models actually do what they're supposed to do. But that is either not possible, or impractical.

Let's look at 2 examples of this from my beloved First Law: Override. Firstly, Hackers and Exo Suits. The former are the super characters of your Force who are almost always the stars of the show who win you the game, but are physically weak to compensate for the super human actions they can perform. The latter, a huge powered suit with the best armour, the best melee weapons, and an arguably best ranged gun. But these two are like oil and water.

They don't mix.


Well the meta reason is because of balance. You give a hacker an ExoSuit and they become unstoppable. They became unfun.

So out comes the razor and a rule is made to say they can't use them.

But where's the narrative?

That's simple: wetware.

Hackers have a neuronet in their brain that allows them to connect to their hacking deck, and an exo suit moves and reacts thanks to connecting to the user's brain. The two if put together would cause the hacker's wet ware to short circuit and would fry their brain.

Simple! An element of balance retained, and a narrative reason as to why!

Next up: Link-Bots and combat.

A link bot is Override's version of Infinity Remotes, or Malifaux Totems. They are physical extensions of the Hacker's deck, while being hard to kill and fast. But when they had the ability to melee and shoot, they were again unfun and to balance had to cost more in points making them unwieldily for their intended purpose.
Out came the razor, and then it was made that they couldn't be active in any combat (can still be hit or shot, but can do it back) why? Where's the narrative for this?

Again this was simple: First Law Programming! These babies are hard wired to be unable to hurt people!

Straight away we have two rules which were created to maintain the presence of 2 cool pieces of equipment, but keep the balance of the game, all the while having an understandable explanation beyond simply 'balance' or 'reasons'.


Now you may be wondering why I have brought this up? What possible motivation could ol' Loxley have for talking about this, his fundamental principal in game design?

Simple, and the reason is the most common reason why I bring up anything... because someone has ground my gears!

In this case we are talking Steamforged Games(SFG).

So a number of days ago SFG put out an announcement about their upcoming game Dark Souls the board game which included the following rule change:
Player Death
If any member of a party dies, the ENTIRE party is transported back to the Bonfire to rest, and a Spark is consumed. You still refill and regain everything and all Encounters reset.
sounds pretty simple, but does this comply with the narrative razor ideology?

This rule is pretty simple, and it is a valid way of dealing with player death, but where is the narrative? Under what circumstance would cause an entire party to reset and respawn because a single player died?

I have queried with others who agree with this rule as to why, the reasons given are 3 fold.

1). It's like the video game where when the host dies, all 'summoned' players are kicked from the encounter.

2). It was implemented to stop people suicide running, where they would front load their attacks to put out damage and after they are killed, the rest of the party mops up the boss.

3). SFG are professional game designers, therefore I trust them.

Let me give you my take on those 3 points:

1). Yes it is like what happens in the video game when a host dies, but what about when a summoned player dies? Nothing happens, the fight carries on leaving the host and the remaining summons to deal with the boss. Therefore to argue it is 'just like' the game, it is equally valid to argue it is 'not like' the game.

2). We are assuming that either this tactic is a problem, or that the numbers are fixed.
A). Is this actually a problem? People say that the reward for playing Dark Souls is the feeling of achievement when you down a boss. If that feeling is lost due to 'gaming' the system, then surely the only people loosing out are the players? And therefore in future games they will be less likely to do this tactic as they will be getting diminishing returns on their reward.
B). If it is a problem, then that would suggest that actually the numbers are wrong, that front loading your damage is too effective, or that the boss has too little health. To balance this, you don't remove the possibility of it being a tactic, but you make the tactic less viable by making damage output over a long fight better, with spike damage being lower, or stack on more HP to the boss meaning that even if they do this tactic, then the boss will still have too much health left for the 1 or 2 surviving characters to down it.

Notice, I am not adding additional rules, I am suggesting you balance the existing rules of the game. This is how you use the razor for game design. It also follows a narrative in that the players are not being magically transported away for reasons.

3). Just because SFG have made Guild Ball and are an established company, does not mean they are perfect at creating rules. I can name countless games by even more countless companies who have been in business for decades, and yet their rules are not infallible. Blindly trusting that they will produce the perfect ruleset is why we have problems with certain fans of certain Workshop based Games companies which results in frankly untested and terrible rulesets.

In short, what we are looking at here is a game defining rule, which if followed to the letter results in situations that don't make sense, pull the players out of the experience, remove tension while encouraging defeatist attitudes, and is frankly a lazy rule to compensate for a problem that in all fairness will sort itself out in time.

And anyway, if people want to play the game on 'EZ-MOAD' what's wrong with that? Especially when the videogame itself has such a thing by allowing you to summon other players to kill bosses for you!

Anyway, long rant over. Stay safe and be excellent to each other!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Monday, 7 November 2016

Moonstone - Last Couple of Days

Greetings friends!

My what a rush the past few weeks have been, but the end is in sight!
In just a couple more days time, our (Goblin King Games) Kickstarter will be coming to an end, and we will all be letting out a massive sigh of relief after trying to promote the game, write guest blogs, do interviews (both written and audio), push via twitter, Facebook, and message boards, while also answering questions received.
- And that is on top of our 9-5 jobs and families.

But then no one sensible ever said that running a Kickstarter was easy.

But what an amazing trip it has been! We've unlocked all our stretch goals including an alternative head for Doug (above) and even the Queen of the Fae, a venerable goddess of her people (below).

But we're not done yet!!

With just a few days to go, we still want to push forward, knowing that for ever pound we get we can pump that revenue back into making the game as great as possible including even more art for the deluxe rulebook, and even having the capital to take this onwards onto retail.

Oh yes, before you know it, this game will be filling up stock space at your own Friendly Local Games Store!

But we still need your money in order to reach these goals as soon as possible! It will happen, but with your money we can do so all the more sooner!

So tell me, have you backed?
Yes? Thank you!
No? We'll get your wallet out, hop onto Kickstarter and do so!

Seriously, currently this game is all abuzz, with people literally across the world, in China, Thailand, Germany, USA, Australia, Russia, and of course our little island of the UK all pledging and taking part in test games to see what they think of the rules and providing feedback.

I told you earlier this year that Moonstone was the future of Character Driven Skirmish games, and I meant it!
Let me tell you, the game is quite literally the future of Character Driven Skirmish games!
- Richi, New Fairbank News 25/11/2015

So you do not want to miss out on your chances to be in on this on the ground floor!

Until next time, stay safe, and be excellent to each other!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Moonstone the game now on Kickstarter!

Greetings friends!

So it's been a while since my last real post, but I can assure you that things in Chez-Lox have not been quiet and idle!

Oh noes! I've been busy behind the scenes with something you may have heard about...

Remember that little game that I talked about at the end of last year? A certain, future of character driven skirmish games?

Well all that hard work is coming to a peak, as right now:
Moonstone the game is live on Kickstarter!


Check it out! We got Goblin Pug Riders, We have Fancyhats and Flintlocks. We have Shabbaroons! Thwap! You can blow up a whole troupe with that puppy! We got harpoons! Sharp sticks!

If you haven't guessed, I am so excited for this project!

At the time of writing we are at 65% funded, and I am really hoping we can push forward, break our funding goal and move on to start grabbing those stretch goals!

I mean, seriously! Who wouldn't want these Faeries in their Dominion? These in particular are models which you can't find anywhere else, there is pretty much nothing like them out in the world of miniature gaming!

Throw in fantastic rules and you have one hell of an awesome game!

If you are curious, the campaign only went live yesterday on 17th October, and I am hoping to cover how it progresses right here on New Fairbank News!

So until next time, stay safe and be excellent to each other!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Like GLaDOS, I'm still alive!

Greetings friends!

It's been quite a while since my last post, quite some time indeed!

But I wanted to take a quick moment and tell you all that it's not for nought, and that your usual Chez Lox experience should return shortly.

I'm sure you are mostly familiar with the work I have been doing for Goblin King Games, and as such almost all of my 'composing and writing' time has been filled up writing for that.

Next Monday sees the launch of the Moonstone Kickstarter (full game) and I hope to bring you some lovely juicy bits throughout that.

Until then, stay safe, and be excellent to each other!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

The Definition of 'Difficulty' (Dark Souls vs Overwatch)

Greetings friends,

So the past number of months had been most interesting for me. I had played (and completed) my first Dark Souls game, and I'd also played (and had my ass handed to me) Overwatch.

For those interested, it was the latter which got me thinking about this article, and I've dwelled on writing it ever since until now when I knew it was time to finally press PUBLISH.

What struck me at the time, was how different these games treat their representation of difficulty.

The Dark Souls franchise is renowned as being the hardest franchise of games to play. Those who have played the games claim they are the 'hardest' games ever made. I remember on one episode of the popular UK daytime TV show Judge Rinder, they even had a legal case about it, with one person claiming that the original Dark Souls was harder than optioning a good three year degree (note: he wasn't the one doing the degree). Players state repeatedly that the game is never forgiving. You either Git Gud or give up.

Overwatch however is the latest game by Blizzard Entertainment, an online team based PvP shooter. Unlike Dark Souls there are no boss battles, no move scripts to learn, and no mantra about 'just doing a little better every time'. Instead you have something else: other players.
- NB: Yes I know that Dark Souls has PvP invaders, but that is only one part of the game.

When I first started playing Overwatch on launch day, as I stated in a previous post, my ass got handed to me. Everyone else seemed to be elite pro-players, while I sucked balls.

It was an interesting experience, especially after having completed Dark Souls 3 just a few days before.

What I learned was just his the different games handled difficulty:

Dark Souls uses scripting. It has the same enemies in the same locations, who do the same number of moves, the only differences being the order they may do them, however often that order can be dictated by you the player (as I found with the Ancient Wyvern who I killed without running the gauntlet, but instead causing him to follow a movement/fire breath combo that always allowed me to move out of harm). The difficulty is that a lot of these monsters can kill you with one hit, or if they can cause you to run out of stamina or make you stumble, will beat on you without you being able to stop them. The aim of the game is learning how to stop them doing that.

Overwatch, and with it, any other multiplayer PvP game, uses something very different: the almost random nature of other people. Unlike a super hard scripted combat, instead you never know what the opponent is going to do, because just like you they have free will and can change their mind. Plus they can practice, have better frame rate, and better teamwork/synergy.

It's interesting to me, because while you can still learn, it is very different. You can learn what you as a player are capable with certain classes. You can also learn what other players are capable of doing with classes, but you can not learn what they will do and when. It's just not possible.

So what does this really mean?

Is someone who is a master at Overwatch a better player than a master at Dark Souls?


That's just silly.

All they are is a master at their game (assuming in this example the other master is not as good as them in that specific game. If they happen to be a master of both, then frankly they're just a dick. And yes I am jealous).

This got me thinking, are really any games directly comparable? What about tabletop? Or is this tied directly to video games?

Honestly, I would say it applies to them all. You may be a fantastic Warhammer player, but that doesn't mean you'll be good at Infinity. Yes there are certain talents and skills which translate over, but it is not a given.

Neil Gaiman once quoted Gene Wolf about learning to write a novel; "you never learn how to write a novel, you only learn to write the novel you're on". As true as this may be for writing, it also appears to me to be true of gaming, that you can never learn to be a master of gaming, but only the game you are currently playing.

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

#7FaveGames a thought piece

Greetings friends!

So yesterday I decided to take part in the current event going around on Twitter, the #7FaveGames tag, being sure to include my wonderful wife, and mutual friend in it:

As the day progressed I saw more people take part in this mini trend, and I started noticing a few things.

I decided to do a little research, and clicked the #tag to see what others have chosen. What I found was very interesting.

Firstly, certain games were very popular and common, The Last of Us, and Overwatch being two I noticed the most, the former being to the degree that a notable number even listed that one game 7 times, as if it was the only one worthy of mention.


I have been told by a lot of people that I overthink a lot of things, and I am certain that this is one of those times. But I got thinking:
Just what qualifies as a fave game?
I realised that in my head, I had created three categories:

1). 7 Best Games. Games which no matter how old they are, you will still happily play them now. Time has proven to you that they are not a passing fancy.

2). 7 Best Memories of Games. Games which you haven't played in likely ages, but have extremely good memories of.

3). 7 Games You Currently Love. You are really enjoying these games at the moment, and like a childhood summer, you want it to never end.

I realised that I answered as 1). That I looked at games I have played so much, and how many years later their age hasn't done them a disservice. Let me break it down for you:

SNATCHER - A game I played on the Sega CD as a child. I would say I have a lot of nostalgia about this game, but as a personal rule, I dig it out every 3 years and play it through. This is a game which I know I could play it today and would be exactly as I remember. To me it has everything in it, and is probably the best game ever made.

Psychonauts - Another game I play very regularly. It's graphics are cartoony and almost ageless as a result, but it's voice acting and great imagination means I can, and do, regularly replay this game which is roughly 10 years old.

Quake 4 - My go to game. Again we're looking at roughly a decade old release, but whenever I want to play a shooter purely to feel like a Grunt, this is my go to. I probably play this in it's entirety at least once a year.

Life is Strange - This shouldn't fit into my rules. It's too new. Time hasn't proven if it will stand up. However it's emotional impact was so huge, I couldn't not.

DMC - Devil May Cry - Quite literally the greatest action platform game I've played. Again, I replay this semi regularly, and at roughly 3 years old, it's on it's way to proving itself.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution - As with DMC, I have played this game over and over, and it always is enjoyable, and at a year older than DMC, it's seriously on its way to proving it's placement.

The Secret World - Been playing this for a good 3+ years as with the recent above games. In time will it continue to be what I would say is currently the best MMO out there? I don't know, but I hope so.


Why did I chose to go this route, and not the one that so many others did about the games with the best memories?

The answer is simple. Because memories lie.

We wash over the bad parts, focusing only on the good. Graphics are often crisper and more vivid. Controls are smoother. Gameplay is more fun.

If I had completed this list about 2 years ago, I would have included the Legacy of Kane games in the list. The story was one of my favourites, and I remembered how I loved to play each one from start to finish.
- Then 2 years ago I re-bought them on Steam and tried to replay them all.


The controls were almost unusable by today's standards, the graphics which had once tried to look bright and smooth, we're now dull and blocky. The only saving grace was the quality voice acting.

I always say that you can never go back, and I mostly stand by this. So often going back and playing the older games you have such fond memories of, reveals those memories to be rose-tinted nonsense. Where playing it now makes you realise how much more enjoyable the modern standard is.

But I do not think you 'shouldn't' go back.

Quite the contrary. You shouldn't not play older games out of fear that you will ruin your old memorises. After all, to me, the idea of memories that you can't challenge for fear they won't stand up to scrutiny are pale ones indeed. You need to test and scrutinise them. You have to revisit old games and pit them against new ones.

Some you will find are just as enjoyable now as they were back then, and those are memories that you should hold onto. Others you will find were based on little more than youthful ignorance and pure rose-tinting, and really why hold onto those memories, when you can acknowledge that you enjoyed the game at the time, but know that playing it now is no longer fun.


Lastly, the lists about current games being played, yes I'm looking at you Overwatch.

To those who want to include these games from the last 6 months, maybe even 1 year. Sure you may be loving the game now, but what about in another 6 months, 1 year, 6 years, 10 years? Will you still think it is one of the best games? Or will it just be something that you played a lot of for a few months and then dropped, never to play again?

I'm sure some games out currently will fall into the former, but I have a terrible feeling, considering how fickle many of us gamers are, that most will be the latter.


I need to also say, before I finish for the day, there are a number of other games that I also wanted to include in my list but just couldn't push them before the other 7.




Mirror's Edge

Oddworld - Stranger's Wrath

World of Warcraft

Aliens: Colonial Marines

System Shock 2

Resident Evil 6


Hunter: The Reckoning - Redeemer

Aliens vs Predator (2010)

Condemned: Criminal Origins

FEAR 2: Project Origin


Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

Heavy Rain

Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth

Unreal Tournament

Mortal Kombat 3



Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

Dragon Age: Origins

Mass Effect 2

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War 2


Omikron: The Nomad Soul

These are in no particular order, and while I would love to go into further detail I am afraid the list is far too long to do so.

Know only that I think each and every one of these games are fantastic, and already are passing the test of time.

If any of these are games you have yet to play, then I urge you to seek them out and try them.

But sadly I am now out of time. Until next time, stay safe, and be excellent to each other!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Thursday, 4 August 2016

The Anatomy of a Monster

Greetings friends,

Today I wanted to take a moment to share with you a little bit about my past, who I am, and something that very much helped shape me in being the person I am today.

Now the reason for this post is that I have just finished listening to the audiobook of Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay on Audible.

This is actually my second time around with this book, the first time bring reading it in paperback.

It occurred to me that this book and the TV show adaptation, holds a very special place in my heart, and sharing this with you, the reader, would be a good thing.

I remember as a child, adolescent, and young adult, people often asked me who I found inspirational. Who was my hero. I always answered the same way:
No one. I don't have a hero.
The reason for this was quite simple. I never read, saw, or met anyone who I felt I could properly relate to. Therefore I was unable to find their struggle particularly inspiring.

Then, around the late noughties (say; 2009) I saw the first series of the tv show Dexter, and shortly afterwards read the book.

Within the confines of these 60 minute shows, and pages of a paperback, I found a character who I found inspiring.

I am of course referring to the lead character, Dexter Morgan.

Now, to those in the know, this might seem a little strange. The lead character is a serial killer. A learned psychopath, who goes around killing people. Bad people, yes, but killing people none the less. And of course this is something that civilised society very much frowns on.

So why would I find his character such an inspiration?

Could it be that your Friendly Neighbourhood , Doctor Loxley is also a back alley slasher?

Of course not!

But in this character I saw a little bit of myself. Something that I had never seen or read before.

You see, the reason the lead character does what he does, is down to him trying to satiate the driving force of something inside him. Another side to his personality that he calls The Dark Passenger.

This was something I could relate to very well.

For a very long time, I always knew that there was a part of me which was what society would consider a-typical. As a small child I could not relate to other children. I found it amusing to see them in pain, and when they cried, I was indifferent. It didn't mean anything to me.

For years I used to believe that Empathy was something that didn't exist. I heard people talking about it, and I thought it was all a cosmic joke. That no one felt it, because after all, if I didn't feel it, why would anyone else?

This was my dark passenger, or as I came to see it, my Monster.

It wasn't until my later teens that I began to learn how to fake it. To observe how people acted, to learn what those actions and reactions meant, and to say and do what was considered the 'right' thing in response.

It's why I learned quite soon afterwards that I had a bit of a gift as a therapist. The words coming out of people's mouths were often different, but the inclination, the body language, the tones were often similar, and therefore I was able to access my back catalogue of learned responses and reactions to try and help them.

My motivations were almost always selfish. After all, if I could help people, then they would want me around, and in turn my need to not feel alone would be filled. My Monster became a tools could use to feel better about myself.

Others saw this as altruistic. They thought I was helping them for their sake, so that they would feel better. To my knowledge, very few, if any, knew that my motives were purely selfish, and that they feeling better was just a byproduct of feeding my Monster.

Time went on, and I grew more as a person. I met my wife to be, and found that I was able to genuinely care for another person. Yes the list was now only two. But that is still double what it was.

But I was still very much unhappy with my monster.

I felt that it held me back. It reminded me almost daily that I was not like other people. That certain things they seemed to understand and grasp almost intuitively, seemed completely alien to me. Like someone from another country speaking their foreign language. I acknowledged the words were there, but they didn't mean anything to me.

Then I saw this show, and read this book.

Here was a character who had their own monster. One that they felt the world would be repulsed by if they saw it, so they hid it away. Resigned it to the deepest recesses of their lizard brain, while taking it out to feed when necessarily.

This character, this man, was in a situation I felt relatable.

What more. He didn't seem unhappy by it, or ashamed. He had come to terms with his monster, and had accepted it for what it was.

For someone like me, that was inspirational.


Of course, time went on, the TV show reached it's conclusion, and I saw the truth of the situation. While the end of the show seemed out of character, it was written, so it was.

The character I saw as an inspiration was a lie. He claimed one thing, to hold certain values as ultimately important, and necessary to be followed, but the moment he was forced to take responsibility for his actions, to actually openly accept his monster, he couldn't.

In that moment, I saw that I had outgrown this character. That the inspiration he had given me had dwindled and left. That I had become more than he was.

I had learned a lot of things in the years of watching and reading.

Namely that I was not alone. That we all have monsters, they just take different forms. That our monsters do not need to be our weaknesses, but can be our strengths.

I didn't need to be ashamed of my monster, and those around me, an immediate family of three now (including me), and even some people outside my family, namely a couple of very select friends, did not only accept the public me, but also the real me. Monster and all.

That those who did recoil at the idea of my monster, were not scared of my monster. They were scared of their own.


So now, if someone was to ask me who I found inspirational, who was my hero. My answer would once again be:
No one. I don't have a hero.
And you know what? I'm ok with that.

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Wednesday, 3 August 2016


Greetings friends,

So I awoke today to some wonderful news, that in preparation for the launch of the new Deus Ex game, Mankind Divided on 23rd August, new concept art has been released.

Now I love the Deus Ex concept art. For every game they have ever done including the less favourable game Invisible War. But this time rather than dealing with Illuminati inspired/references conspiracy theories, Mankind Divided is attempting to explore concepts around citizenship and human rights.

But apparently out of all the art produced, people only care about the Moscow image (above).

Why is this? Because apparently showing a group of protestors holding a banner displaying Augs Lives Matters is insensitive and 'cultural appropriation'.

Reading the claims from critics about how insensitive this is reminds me very much of the TV show South Park, and the sort of backlash it receives. A show which most people are happy to watch and laugh at, however the moment the show turns their mocking finger at a group the audience member belongs to, then suddenly it's insensitive and shouldn't be allowed.

If this art for Mankind Divided causes people to take note, just as with their use of the term Mechanical Apartheid then that is a good thing. That means that the art, theme, game, is doing it's job!

This might sound a little weird, but the way I see it, that is half the point of the science fiction genre. It is supposed to make you the audience look at the world around you and ask questions/challenge ideas. Within SciFi you can explore censorship, discrimination, even genocide, and via the SciFi veil it becomes something that can be done so much safer than actually referencing real life or history.

You see, history has been. What happened happened, we can't change that. But from SciFi we can ask and explore "what if?" (Just look at the excellent to adaptation of The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. dick). But we can also explore the other side. We might view a certain political or military group as abhorrent and inhuman, but their members are not monsters, they are not Dracula or the Wolf Man, they're people just like you and I with their own view points. If you take away the humanity of the group, make them aliens, and their terrible actions are committed on other aliens, then the writers and indeed us, the audience, can explore things from the side of those committing atrocities. We can see their desires and wants, that they too have friends and family members they want to protect, and we can begin to sympathise, or even empathise with these characters (Babylon 5 did this wonderfully with pretty much every character being a shade of grey).

More so, I have always seen SciFi telling more about the time it was written, and less about the time it projects towards. Often the clothing and fashion worn is an exaggeration of the current trends, or a ludicrous (but accepted) projection of what people will wear in X number of years. The themes almost always relating to current affairs, with the occasional amount of whacky-zane thrown in for good measure.

Why is this? Because a good writer, and I wound say that in my experience, there are a tonne of good SciFi writers, as well as creating whole new things, will also pull on their own experiences or their knowledge of the world and history.

So Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, making use of terms such as Mechanical Apartheid and Aug Lives Matter in comparison to real life events, is that 'going too far' As some have put it?

Absolutely not!

Am I a little miffed to see yet another #XLivesMatter? Honestly yes. But I honestly wouldn't be surprised if now #XLivesMatter has become just part of the current cultural zeitgeist, much like how now everything is a SomethingGate. It's just something that I have to come to terms with.

What it is not however, is an example of poor world building, as a few too many people have claimed.

Until next time, stay safe, and be excellent to each other!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Thursday, 28 July 2016

When Game Devs Are Dicks #WeHappyFew

Greetings friends,

Today I have something I want to get off my chest, so please excuse me if this comes across as a bit of a moan/rant post.

I guess I need a bit of catharsis.

So roughly a year ago I took part in a Kickstarter campaign by Compulsion Games for the game We Happy Few:

There were a number of things about this game that I really liked the look of, and so put in my pledge for $30 CAD which as you can see below offered the finished game on PC in June 2016z

There was another pledge that interested me as it would give me access to the Pre-Alpha test, but at double the price I really couldn't justify buying into a pre-alpha

- Remember, by this point First Law: Override was in beta and we were (and still are) giving the ruleset away for free, because getting the game in as good a state as possible before going live is more important.

Well, once the campaign ended, the videos started rolling in from Let's Players, complete with the weekly updates which read more like patch notes. In essence they left me with the feeling that the game Devs were saying:
Look at the awesome game which YOU aren't playing
but of course, by then any choice of buying into the pre-alpha had been missed out on, so for a year I was left being emailed weekly, having videos of others playing a game which I had already given money to, but was unable to join in on the fun.

Then it gets announced that in July this year (now) the game is hitting Steam Early Access.

And I am not happy.

As you can see here from a recent tweet, the game is due to remain in Early Access for another 6-12 months. Which means the finished game will not be received by backers until 7-13 months after the projected date.

Now I know that this is Kickstarter and delays are common, but there is also such a thing as common decency and respect for the consumer.

At no point during the KS campaign did Compulsion Games acknowledge that there even was/is a delay. Instead we were asked to celebrate going into Early Access in July, suggesting that there is only a 1 month delay on the game.

Sorry Compulsion, but that's bullshit. Early Access on Steam is not release. It's another option to buy into beta.

But it looks like I am not the only person who is pissed off by this:

Here we see an @evil_avatar pointing out to Compulsion that they are unhappy with the state of the game. To which Compulsion games replied "Nobody is forcing you to participate in Early Access".

Wow... I mean wow! Did I really just read a reply from a game dev account that was so smothered in passive aggressiveness it nearly drowned? Who are these guys? Seriously!?

This was continued by someone (@_er0th) asking if the person even knew what Early Access was. Their reply they received was Reply-RT'd by Compulsion.

So here we have a reply saying that going into Early Access is nothing about getting extra money, because the $334,753 CAD is all gone, but instead about getting feedback on ambitious gameplay.

To which I called bullshit!

And was told that I was basically wrong or a lier.

For which I pointed out that there the ones who were mistaken or lying.

To date I have yet to recurve a reply from Compulsion games. And I don't expect a reply.


Here we are seeing a game development team who in the past year have allowed themselves to surround themselves in an echo chamber, where the feedback they have received has been largely positive, and any negative feedback has been pretty much ignored on the grounds that it's the 'wrong type' of feedback.

Maybe what we are seeing here is a problem with the Kickstarter model. When you are looking at a 12+ month gap between handing over money and receiving product, it's very easy to become disenfranchised with a product or company. And here with a company who has lavished praise on the select few who've been playing for a year, and pretty much just rubbing it in the face of those who have not, I'm not surprised that I've lost faith in the company and don't really care about the game anymore.

Sure I'll give it a play at some point, I paid for it after all (in a non-refundable way, unlike those on Early Access who can get their money back) but I honestly don't care if it's good or not anymore.

For me, this is very much an issue with offering rewards like beta access to select pledge levels. By default it creates in and out groups, the haves vs the have nots. Instead a much better method in my view is to provide alpha/beta access to everyone.

They say that a reputation takes a lifetime to build but only moments to destroy. Providing access to all, and showing that all feedback is acknowledged builds that reputation, but releasing games with issues that were missed (which with more eyes who were willing to test it but unable to) is a sure way to destroy that rep.
- Need I remind you, it wasn't that long ago that people were PAID to be game testers, and yet here is a company asking for people to PAY for the privilege?

I swear, the whole world's gone insane.

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Monday, 25 July 2016

A Vaulted Explanation

Greetings friends,

It's been a while since my last post. If you are curious, blame the awful hot weather.

I wanted today to do two things;
1). Tell you all about something that I did that I a very happy about.

What is this?

Well it's upload First Law: Override up to WargameVault.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, WargameVault is a wonderful resource site. They offer rule sets, game aids, paper dolls, and paper craft terrain - Basically if it's wargame related and printable, it's on WargameVault!

2). The next thing I wanted to do was explain why I did this compared to the present local hosting on firstlawoverride.com.

Well there are a couple of reasons for this.

The first is flexibility. One thing that I want with Override is to make sure the flexibility remains paramount. Until we are ready for hardcopy publishing, and I'm not going to lie - that is quite some time away, I want to keep this as available to people as possible.

So flexibility and availability.

There are a couple of things that needs to be present for this:
Free! The game while it is in open beta needs to be free.
Available to download. For that we need minimal downtime. While the domain firstlawoverride.com is paid for, the actual hosting itself is free from Wordpress. Therefore it is low on the priority list for remaining up and active.

Hosting on WargameVault answers both of these requirements, with an added bonus.

WargameVault doesn't actually offer 'free to purchase' products. Instead they have 'pay what you want' with a recommended price.

If you check out our page (here's the link again in case you missed it) you will see that you can 'buy' this product for free, but it also allows you to pay money if you want, and I would be pretty stupid to not accept money if someone really wanted to hand it over.

Yes, another major issue with getting the game out there is people knowing when there are updates to the rule sets. As it stands, it is likely possible that someone might hear about the game, go to the .com, download the rules, give them a read and never look again.

Whenever I update the downloadable ruleset, I want people to know about these updates. We are changing the rules in ways which may not appear very impactful at the moment, a tweak here or there, but these minor changes are being tallied up and will be put out in a singular update. When this hits, I want people to know about it. As it stands that's not so easy.

With WargameVault they can receive updates on products they have purchased, so assuming they are opted in for such updates, they will see that an uodated version of the rules is available. When combined with social media, this is looking promising.

What is more, there is an option to send an email to everyone who has purchased a copy of the game! Yet another method of contact available!

Oh and lastly, printed editions! That's right, everything on WargameVault, you can pay an amount to get printed copies! Which means people will be able to do the same (should they wish) with Override!

I hold this is of interest to you, and so until next time, stay safe and be excellent to each other!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Thursday, 7 July 2016

The Black Sheep: A First Law: Override Short Story - Part 2

It wasn't long after his visit to the facility nurse that Bradley's shift was called to an end. After a quick change of clothes into his usual faded grey tshirt and mudded denim jeans, Bradley quickly left the facility and made his way across the open lobby, past the acrylic planted palm trees, and through the towering automatic doors, out into the dust filled air of Anchorage Falls. Ahead the city scape glowed with a neon touch. It was only six in the evening, and by all intents and purposes it should have been daylight, however a thick industrial smog clung above the city, leaving it's inhabitants sprawling in an almost day-time twilight.

As was normal, the street lamps were on full power. It seemed to Bradley that these lights were always on, after all, the city itself never slept, there was always a factory somewhere which required a continuous use of staffing, which in turn meant that the streets were never empty of one stream or another of travelling commuters requiring their own safety-standard level of illumination. Bradley stopped outside the Foundation's doors and fumbled with his jean pockets before pulling out a small, all-white, plasti-card box. Flipping back the magnetised lid Bradley popped out a small three inch cigarette, placed it between his lips and with his spare hand withdrew a lighter and sparked the end.

For a moment Bradley stood there, the lit end of the cigarette producing a faint smoke that wafted towards the still open doors to the Foundation factory. The doors closed suddenly, a bright red warning appearing on the glass panelling, informing Bradley that smoking was prohibited inside all Foundation buildings, and would be subject to an undisclosed fine. Bradley sucked hard on the cigarette causing it to burn quickly towards the purifying filter at it's end. In recent decades the design of these and similar drug-based dispensers had been drastically modified, certain political bodies were always trying to eradicate the production and consumption of such items, but no matter what happened, products such as nicotine based cigarettes, and other drug crazes such as the O-Cloud, an inhaler based device that forced a shot of modified Oxygen straight into your lungs, giving the user an instant, if not short lived high, was always profitable, and what was profitable was always popular.

Bradley himself didn't care much for cigarettes, but they were the cheapest alternative available to him, and one of his co-workers had once offered him one. After taking it he found that his other co-workers were much more agreeable to him, as if the mere presence of such a drug based tool proved to them that Bradley was not in fact a pariah, but someone who was just like them. It was because of this reason alone that Bradley had continued to spend what little disposable income he received on his chosen brand of cigarette. It was not the nicotine that he craved, but the feeling of acceptance that he felt from his co-workers.

Located in front of the Foundation's building front entrance was the employee parking lot. A barren stretch of immaculately maintained tarmac and concrete which at the current time was largely unused. Dotted at eight foot intervals sprouted from the solid black a single street lamp, each lamp cast from it a small ring of light which appeared to illuminated the dust that spiralled through the city more than anything else. After roughly fifteen minutes of brisk walking, Bradley had found himself in front of his housing block, number 91. The Foundation owned hundreds of these blocks located across the city. Bradley had always considered himself lucky that his was so close and conveniently located to his factory of work. The block itself looked like little more than a towering multi-storey dark grey concrete cube. Each cube consisted of eight by eight apartments, however it was only the top floor set of apartments which housed windows, and these Bradley knew, were reserved for the higher management of the Foundation.

Bradley's apartment was based on the third floor of the housing block, of course there was no lift other than the one purposefully designed to go between the ground floor and the eighth, so Bradley often wondered weather the ground floor apartments were more expensive than the higher ones as a result. On his floor Bradley stepped lightly past his neighbouring doors. He knew them all well, Mrs Firtrum who owned the sky blue door painted to look like a clear sky, the Rogtum family who's door was reinforced plasteel, even Mr Koreg, the Kratel who lived in 304, now covered in bright yellow and black police tape following his unfortunate death just two nights before. Bradley's door however was the standard issue dark grey. For a reason he couldn't fully understand, there had never seemed like a good enough reason to paint it, or replace it with a better model. After all, Bradley only ever saw his door when he was entering and exiting his apartment, it seemed almost redundant to spend time and money on something that was frankly a finishing return in regards to pleasure and happiness.

The inside of Bradley's apartment was no less basic. All of the original utensils and decorations were still in place, including the empty photo frames which housed holo-displays which read "Your Photo Here" and "15 prints! C6.99 only!" Bradley had thought once about decorating, but he felt content with the apartment was it was, the only people he thought would be interested in him decorating would be guests, and those were people that never visited him.

It was a strange sensation returning home every day for Bradley. He would look around his apartment, see the supplied furniture that was barely used, take stock of his cupboard space filled with rations for one, and then dismiss any notion he had of loneliness. He had heard others including the Foundation nurse talking about it to him, but it was not something he could truly express. Bradley knew that he longed for social interaction, to be around others, to help them and support them, but he did not feel what others described as lonely.

With a purposeful stride, Bradley approached his Mantic-Suite, a purposeful built desk and chair that he would recline in every evening and allow the digital world, filled with others, some much like him, but with many more almost as alien to him as he is to a Hydan or Kratel, to surround and envelope him. This suite was one of the few pleasures that Bradley indulged in, it's surface a glossy black with red trim. Normally these suites are built out of a variety of reinforced vacuum formed plastic, but this was not like the ones you could pick up from your local deck shop, no Bradley's suite was gifted to him by an old friend of his, one of the Foundation's Mechanical Designers. Sculpted out of solid wood, a commodity rarely used on Honos, it alone was worth more than his entire apartment, possibly the entire block of apartments. A few months after being gifted the suite, Bradley's designer friend had passed away from what Bradley had always been told was a form of aggressive cancer. Bradley never believed that story, he had known his friend better than most, and he was very much attuned to the health of those close to him, he would have known if his friend was unwell.

Bradley pushed the thoughts of his friend from his mind, they only served to depress him, and that was not an emotion he wished to feel at that point. Bradley reached for his suite's jack, a long cable which resulted in what looked like a multi-part phono-cable. He held the cable tight in his hand before closing his eyes, reaching behind his left ear and slid the cable gently into his neural interface. The cable inserted with a complete lack of friction, it glided into the small socket with as much resistance as a baby's thumb entering it's mouth, and for a brief moment Bradley felt nothing, no connection between him and his suite, as if he was as disconnected from Mantic Space as he was from his coworkers that he tried so hard to understand.

Reaching across the suite's smooth surface, Bradley fumbled with it's holo-commands before sliding his right index finger across an illuminated symbol, a circle with a line protruding from it's base, the universal symbol for Jacking In. In an instant Bradley felt a rush of excitement and pleasure, complete with an underpinning of fear, almost terror, as his mind began to merge with the Mantic Suite, and with it Mantic Space itself. He felt the chair he perched in give way, almost disintegrate into the very background of his own existence. In that moment, Bradley didn't know if his chair, his suite, even his own apartment, still existed. He was light itself, pouring through the veins and arteries of the Outer Fringe, he saw Honos from orbit, it's dark blue colouring reminding him of clouds before a rain storm. Ahead he saw Virtos, the moon that orbited Honos, on it's surface he observed small mechanical shapes as they busied the self collecting materials and minerals to build something that he couldn't even begin to comprehend. Moving further Bradley saw Krata Prime, he could feel it's populace, the rhythmic beat of it's people, and the firey temper that scorched what little hope for peace they retained. Further afield a he could make out the crystal spires of the Bastion and it's Hydan people within. All of this Bradley was a part of, he could feel it within his being and he joined with it all before pushing further, past the presence of the physical and it's limited Mantic interpretation, past the interfaces and heads up displays and deeper into actual Mantic Space itself. For the briefest of moments, Bradley felt like he was home.

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

What happened to the world? Opinion Piece

It's been a while since I've written a political opinion piece, but it occurred to me today, that I've got a lot to say about this, and as always, this is my best platform.

What happened to us, the western world?

When was it that being extremist was the norm? Because to me, that is how it seems.

I remember back when we had the 7/7 London Bombings, the general attitude at the time was that extremism is bad, that by being open with each other and embracing community we would give 2 fingers to the extremists.

Let's fast forward to the past few years:

The left vs right discussion has turned to the extreme, where Conservative voters are branded extremists and called Fascists to their face by other extremist liberals.

Films, videogames, television is being tarred almost unanimously by the 'misogyny' brush, leading to bloody GamerGate, which became labelled and adopted by extremists, which in turn was combatted by yet more extremism until people got bored and stopped caring.

No we have Brexit, and how apparently the rational response to anyone who voted leave is to attack them with personal insults, demand they pay for any cost increases and blame them for their decisions made during the voting process.

How did this happen? In just a few years everything became extreme, to the extent, extreme is normal now.

Look at the movements with social reform, there are essentially only two camps, those who agree with safe spaces, and fascists.

I mean really? Where's the middle ground? Oh wait, there is no middle ground any more, because rather than keeping our fucking heads, we've adopted the bullshit dogma "if you're not with us, you're against us", or worse still "if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem".

Life doesn't work that way, things are never black and white, it's always shades of grey, but somewhere along the way we've forgotten that. We've become so cemented in the belief that OUR camp, that OUR point of view is 100% right, that anyone who even questions us as to why is physically attacking us.

I know that chances are no one reading this will fit into the above category, and if they do, they will not realise it and will insist until they are blue in the face that they are not.

But what is the answer to all of this?

Can we fix the world?

Should we?

I don't know, but I do know what I am going to do.

I'm not going to engage in mud slinging. I'm not going to assume that someone who thinks differently to me is a terrorist or hate monger. I might laugh at them behind their backs and think that their ideals are bat-shit crazy, and/or redundant, but I will remain respectful with at the very least, a degree of decorum.

If one thing these recent years have taught us, it's that extremism just breeds even more extreme-extremism, and I for one don't believe that, that is the right way forward.

Until next time, stay safe, and most importantly, be excellent to each other!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

DaffCon 2017 - Override, Moonstone & You!

Greetings friends!

So today I had a chat with the some significant people, and together we came up with an interesting proposal...

At DaffCon 2017 i'll be attempting to run the world's first First Law: Override tournament!

This will be alongside a demo table filled to the brim with Moonstone!

Oh yeah, for one glorious weekend both Override and Moonstone are coming together under a single roof!

The tournament is going to be something simple, a 3 round event for Starter Forces (think 300Nt, similar to the forces we used at DaffCon2016) so if you have yet to do so, you can get playing for only about 3-4 models!

It is also important that the event needs to be story driven, that the missions make sense and are easy to play. For this reason, I will be writing up a story theme to go alongside the missions picked.

I will also very likely create some new missions. The ones you see in the book today are the revised versions of the originals created back when the game was first born. I think at the very least Assault on Precinct 313 should have a place in this event (one side, complete with at least 1 Exo Suit has to storm the opposing stronghold which comes complete with auto turrets and other defences). The goal of the Attackers is to access the defender's base, the goal of the Defenders is to keep the Attackers out.


But that's not all, as I mentioned before, we'll also see demos being run all day long if Moonstone. By then we are hoping to have the main game Kickstarter completed, but without production completed, but who knows.

This is going to be a lot of work for our two man team to do, so I may be looking at bringing in assistance from others, almost certainly anyone who has agreed to the Override Ghost project, but also maybe seeing if we can recruit some Moonstone Goblins between then and now.

After all, the hardest part of DaffCon this year was keeping the enthusiasm and attention going for 2 simultaneous games with only 2 people. Very little chances for downtime, and that gets very tiring, very quickly. So if you are reading this and want to sign up to the Override Ghost Project, then let me know! If you want to help out Moonstone - I'll need to get back to you on that!


Anyway, I'd love to hear your thoughts, is an Override tournament something you would be interested in?

Until next time, stay safe and be excellent to each other!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Friday, 24 June 2016

The Black Sheep - A First Law: Override short story - Part 1

The Haustan Foundation had always been good employers. In a world rife with corruption and double dealing, it was the Haustan Foundation who were always the ones in the digi-pad news, with articles covering the latest charity gala, or public service they had held to aid the struggling workers of Honos. Ever so often the Foundation would find itself presented with less than favourable press, it was after all based out of Anchorage Falls, a location most well known for the bonded labour that was enforced by other, less charitable, organisations. But even during trying times such as those, the Foundation always remained a positive influence on the world, it always ensured that it's employees were paid a fair wage, and that a healthy percentage of it's annual profit was reinvested back into the city's most deprived areas. It was for this reason that Bradley Markov held a great amount of pride in his position within the Foundation.

Bradley was a Shell Tester. He worked on a production line within one of the Foundation's many factories that manufactured their own range of 'Compliance Mechanicals', a small robot device which was cable of assisting it's owner in a wide range of tasks. It also took orders directly from it's owner and was built with an improved version of the First Law programming chipset making it incapable of harming it's owner, or anyone the owner my cross paths with. Compliance Mechanicals came in a range of different forms, some of them bipedal, others more like crabs, or even dogs, but it was their usage that interested most of the foundation. Ranging from military, to culinary, there was almost nothing the Compliance Mechanicals could not do. Outside of the brochure however, Compliance Mechanicals had a different name, Link-Bots.

It was Bradley's job to apply a range of pressure, impact, and temperature tests to the outer shells of the mechanicals. As long as the read outs were in the agreed levels, then the mechanicals were sent out for distribution. If the readings were off, then the machines were sent back to the production line. Faulty mechanicals were not disposed of, it was deemed that such an action would be a waste of resources, resources that could be better spent in other avenues of investment. Instead they were recycled and resided, sometimes into other Compliance Mechanicals, sometimes into the very machines which in turn built the Mechanicals. Very little was wasted in the process outside of the energy in the production itself. The issues present in the production process was less to do with waste material, but more the life threatening danger that it posed to those who operated the production line.

Two weeks earlier one of Bradley's friends had been operating the sixth Compliance Tester. It was yet another stage in the production line to ensure that the Mechanical's First Law chipset was not faulty, and that the previous step in production had not caused a malfunction. The Tester was called Roger, he was an old man, his skin pale and thin, with blackened fingers from years of manual labour. When Roger spoke, he did so with a rasp in his throat, a symptom of the burned tissue that lined his throat following a previous accidental industrial fire. The machine before Roger was humming with life, the Mechanical, a small humanoid machine with a ball like head and tiny grasping hands, the latest in the Foundation's Child-Assistant range, lay motionless awaiting it's next command.

Roger swiped across the digitally projected display to the commands that were suitable for this part of the production process. His fingers danced across the commands:


The Mechanical did not respond.


The Mechanical did not respond.

Roger's fingers moved across the display once more, his digits spelling out his own unique series of unusual commands, the sort that would be unlikely to be caught through basic programming, but could prove a problem when exposed to someone unpredictable like a child.


The Mechanical sprung to it's feet, a whir of pistons and robotics. With a thrust of powerful legs the machine launched itself at Roger, tiny cylindrical arms with equally tiny pronged grasping claws reaching for his face. The Mechanical was showing no signs of aggression, nor anger towards Roger, it was merely performing the task that had been assigned to it by it's temporary owner, Roger.

It was not the first time that Roger's commands had triggered a violent response from a Mechanical, and as the elderly man shrieked in fear, it was Bradley who rushed to the old man's aid. Putting himself between the Mechanical and Roger, Bradley weathered a flurry of kicks and scrapes from the small machine as it reached and grabbed, desperate to fulfil it's latest order and 'Get Roger's Nose'. Once the Mechanical had been properly restrained, it's programming disabled, and in it's entirety returned to the production line to have it's chipset re-worked, Bradley himself was sent to the factory's resident nurse.

Bradley had always hated visiting the nurse. It reminded him of his time in school, of sitting outside the headmaster's office after getting in trouble for some real, or imagined, wrong doing. The problem was, Bradley's visits were almost weekly. The nurse swore she would see him almost every week, but there was little Bradley could do about it. Whenever he saw someone in trouble, he just had to help them, even at the risk of his own life. Sometimes he wondered why others were not like him, how when there was an accident on the production line it was him, and him alone who rushed to help without a second thought. Once he even asked the nurse for a psych evaluation, to try and quantify why it was that he felt this need to help others around him.

"You're just wired that way" the nurse had said, almost blushing as she did. She told him about her own daughter who was a terraformer, how no matter how dangerous an environment may be, her daughter just saw it as a challenge that needed to be overcome, and woe betide anyone who warned her otherwise, especially her worrying mother.

"I wish I was there to protect her" Bradley answered, almost overcome with empathy for the nurse and her family.

The nurse had smiled and gently patted Bradley on his head, complete with close cropped hair which Bradley kept that way out of convenience more than fashion.
"I know you do..." The nurse replied.

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Rings of Blood & Nostalgia

Greetings friends!

I mentioned yesterday about a game called Ring of Blood. This was a bit of an off the cuff comment that I expect only one person to have understood.

So now, allow me to fill in for the rest of you what I was talking about.


Back in the day of me and my friends playing Games Workshop games, this would have been around 1999 to maybe 2000 at the latest, we had an idea for a game, something that was so silly it might have just worked.

This idea was an Arena style game called Ring of Blood.

The idea of the game was that you had a board, this board was divided up into spaces. Placed on this board you could place a single 'monstrous creature', so Trolls, Ogres, Ratogres (my personal favourite) and they would fight it out in an MMA style show-down.

Now, I am really struggling with how the game played out, but if I remember correctly, each player had a deck of cards. Each card had an 'Action' present on them, for example; punch, claw, move, grapple, bite, etc. Every turn you would draw some cards into a hand, and you could play one (or maybe two) cards.

The aim of the game was simple: deal enough damage to KO the opponent (there may have also been an option of knocking them out of the arena, I forget).

And that was it! At the end of the game you earned XP and could cash it in for upgrades in the form of equipment, stat buffs (say +1 to Claw Attacks) and if you were Demonic or Rat based, you could also get mutations.

I can not put into words how much fun this game was, or at the least, how much fun I remember it being.

At some point I would love to revisit this. Who knows, maybe that can be another project we'll see in the future for Goblin King Games...

Until next time, stay safe, and be excellent to each other!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Revisiting Ready Player One

Greetings friends,

So I was reading yesterday that Steven Spielburg is moving ahead with his movie adaptation of the book Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.

Based on this, I was reminded of my review I wrote after listening to the audio book for the first time, but more importantly, I was reminded of roughly this time last year, when I decided I was going to give the book another chance, and relisten to it.

For those who will remember my previous review, I really enjoyed it to begin with, but as the book went on I got more and more annoyed with Cline's style of writing, how rather than be imaginative about something, when he had to 'create' something, he just instead pulled something out of the 1980s, and said it was like that. In other words, just using other people's works rather than being creative himself.

Mostly though however I took issue with the ending. I know it's not good to spoil, and so: SPOILER WARNING:
The lead kid gets a girlfriend and stops playing videogames.

I said at the time, and I still believe that this is either a deliberate, or subconscious play on the traditional (offensive) stereotype that all videogame playing geeks are "fat, lazy, sofa dwellers" (quote from Peaches Geldof), and the only reason they play games is because they can't get laid.
- Maybe this was the case with Cline himself, who knows, maybe when he met his wife/husband/life partner/whoever, they were not supportive of his hobbies and so he gave them up, or maybe he actually was using videogames as a replacement for human interaction, when in reality 'all he wanted, was to be loved'. I don't know, but I see no reason why his girlfriend (also a prolific videogamer) and him couldn't keep playing videogames together. You know, like how my wife and I do. Those who play together, stay together! Now that would have been an ending that is celebrating geek culture, not a form of self-flagellation.

So I revisited the book, and with the knowledge of the end and what happens to all the characters, I found so much more, sometimes hidden within the text, other times hiding in plain sight. Most of it was just economical nonsense, such as hating on 'the big companies' all the while loving the company who owns the OASIS, and the CEOs of it, which in itself is a multibillion dollar company and two of the richest men alive. So in this case, either the lead character, or (as I am inclined to think) Cline himself, is a hypocrite.

Then there is the lack of realism in the world itself. Apparently there is a total lack of fuel, most of all being oil. This has caused the global economy to crash. Ok I can buy into that.

So along comes the OASIS, provided by these guys, including a game console, a VR headset, and a set of haptic gloves. All of which costs only $0.5!

Ok I call bullshit here! Providing that sort of hardware for half a dollar? Fuck off! Remember we are talking about a world that has a serious lack of oil. What are electronic hardware made of? Something that is an insulator most of the time, so... Plastic! What is plastic made from? Oh shit! Oil! And no subscription fee? To keep a virtual world with high quality content alive? Fuck-no! I've played those 'free to play' online games. They are shit, unstable and full to jack of gold selling spammers. That's why I play World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy 14, both require subscriptions, and both are all the better for it.

Next we have the references. The continuous references.

You know, after listening to Ready Player One the first time, I then went on to listen to Neuromancer by William Gibson.

It was like a breath of fresh air. Suddenly I was reminded of what it was like to listen to a SciFi book steeped in a virtual world that was actually imaginative and innovating, rather than just imitating. To write something as a knowing nod every once in a while is something! It's amusing, entertaining, and let's the audience feel part of the 'in' crowd. Doing it every bloody paragraph is just lazy writing.

Last but not least, we had the lead character. Every single time he encountered a hurdle, be it needing to play a certain game, or knowing the dialogue of a certain film, by total coincidence, he was an expert in that particular game and/or film.

In internet culture they have something called a Mary Sue, a character who appears to have no faults, or if they do, these faults never impact on the story. The challenges encountered, the characters are always experts in their fields. In fantasy it may be in magic, combat, black smithing, AND habidashery. In this, it's that he never encounters something that he is not an apparent university graduate on. On the few occasions he does encounter something that he should have trouble with (actual physical combat) then he has a giant fucking mech which he just so happened to have won in an earlier challenge.

Again, this is lazy writing.

Just once I would have liked to have the lead character out-trivia'd by someone else, or in any situation where he wasn't smarter, wittier, faster than someone else, and more importantly, not always so fucking smug about it.

I suspect that what we are looking here is some sort of victory/power fantasy for Cline. The lead character represents him, someone who can't bring anything to the table beyond an obscure knowledge of '80s pop culture references. So instead of just dealing with that, Cline has attempted to create his own world where these totally useless skills make him not just a hero, but a pseudo God!

After 2 hours of giving this another shot, I turned to my phone and said "Enough!" Shut it off and deleted the audiobook from my phone.


Don't get me wrong, I wanted to like this book. Something that is vaulted as one of the modern classics of geek literature, but it wasn't. It was just bad. Like the crew of Ecto1 despairing at the health inspector as he shuts off the containment unit (see I can do it too), I just knew that whoever thought this, and by proxy, the film adaptation, was just a bad idea.

Now excuse me while I jump into my virtual delorean and drive off to a party so I can have a random shape shifting-light dance off with my significant other. Why? Will this forward any story or narrative? Of course not, but people will think it's cool...

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

The End (In Sight) #Moonstone

Greetings friends!

So you may have seen over the past couple of weeks a few posts being written here about a certain theme.


Well, for those of you who haven't, I've been talking a lot about the Firespitter Miniature KickStarter that at the time of writing has roughly 1.5hrs left on it's campaign.

That's right, after 2 weeks of excitement, anticipation, and of course, anxiety, the first Kickstarter by Goblin King Games is coming/has come, to an end.

I've had a heavy investment in this for a while, remember that the lead dev helped me co-write Override, and while I have had little to no involvement in the creation of the Firespitter miniature, I have done my best to provide help and support to my friend.

I don't want to get gushy, but as I've said before, I love working with this guy on our games, and having a selection of games that we can play together which we designed is fantastic! If only we still had our Ring of Blood rules still (maybe that should be the next venture? Re-write Ring of Blood!) but that's the thing. I joke around about being a cynical bastard etc, and to varying degrees, I am. And while this guy is my co-designer, he's first and foremost my friend.

This was why my heart was in my throat with the Firespitter Kickstarter. It's why I wrote the blog posts, why I reached out to literally every contact I had including Gamer's Lounge, Flock n Awe, Tabletop Gaming News, countless more podcasts, and even Wayland Games (some of these attempts were more successful than others). I wanted to see something succeed, from which I had personally seen the love, attention, and significant financial investment, that had gone into it.

I have no idea really how much I helped the campaign, or if what I did drove up pledges, or actually drove people away, but I had to do something, to help my friend reach the goal of funding and beyond. It was the least I could do.

So how has it done?

Well at the time of writing we have just passed the £5k mark. For my USA friends, that is over $7,300!

I'm amazed! I am so happy for my friend, and I can not wait to see how this translates moving forward.

I hope to be as involved (from an assistance and chronicling stand point) as possible between now and shipping, the idea of getting models made has fascinated me, and the idea of seeing this quantity of our own custom design done - it's mind bottling!

Anyway, I should really let you get going - after all you probably need to pledge if you haven't yet! So until next time, stay safe, and be excellent to each other!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Saturday, 18 June 2016

A Long Night Online

Greetings friends!

How weird is this, a blog post from me on a weekend?!? Crazy, I know.

Anyway, last night I was supposed to do some work on the Override rulebook. This however didn't quite go as planned.

Read: I didn't do it.

Instead, I spent a good 4 or so hours playing the MMO Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn (ARR).

This is a game that I have loved playing for the best part of 2 or so years, ever since the reduxed version ARR was released, replacing the truly awful original 1.0 version.

The thing is, despite loving playing it, it's a game I've never played past the first trial boss, Ifrit. For those who knows the game, this is only around level 20 out of the base 50 levels (or 60 with Expansion Heavensward - which I've owned since they released it).

Probably seems strange, if I live the game, why stop? Is it because of the forced dungeon encounters that require you to team with random people in order to progress the story? Surprisingly, no it isn't. But it is for my wife, who I love role playing with in this game.

Well the last time we played was roughly a year ago, and I thought this week: "fuck it!" and decided to just push ahead and level.

My goal is to reach the new expansion content and unlock the Machinist class, which I'll be honest, along with the new race, was the only reason why I bought the expansion when it came out.

Currently I am level 26, and the mission content I am on is level 22, so I'm a little ahead, which is fine as it just means it's easier that way. I expect I will hit level 50 long before I actually reach the new expansion story, but that's ok, because I'm loving playing the game. The freedom of running through the forests and deserts on my black steed, of stopping off in taverns and inns while it rains, to grab supplies and pick up new missions, before setting out under a bright moon to slay yet more beasts and monsters.

But I suppose that's just me, I love the set up of MMOs, and FF14 captures that perfectly for me.

Until next time, stay safe, and be excellent to each other!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Friday, 17 June 2016

A Moonstone Battle Report - Sunnyshire

Located on the coast, the Goblin Pirates of El Capitano's troupe regarded the Gnome settlement of Sunnyshire as an easy snatch and grab. They knew that Moonstones had sprouted overnight within the town limits, and before dawn, those Stones would be theirs.

The Pirates expected the town to be largely unprotected, and as such were heavily surprised to see that the Gnomes within had mobilised a militia against them.

The Gnomes moved first, snagging the Stones available to keep it out of the dirty mitts of the Goblins.

Meanwhile the Goblins pressed their own position, while on their far flank the Firespitter and Beaky Bobby attempted to out manoeuvre their foes.

Quickly it became apparent that the Gnomes had the upper hand, their position was better defended, and it was from their location that they were able to reach most of the Moonstones from a safe distance from the Goblin ranged weapons.

Attempting to even the odds, the Shaman, Shabbaroon darted forward, determined to bring the walking dread that was Firespitter to bear on the enemies, but he was far from fortunate. With a dance and a whirl he performed the rites that would summon his Goblin ally to his side. The wind blew, but no Goblin appeared. With a stomp of his feet the Goblib cursed in his tongue as the spirits of his ancestors let him down.

Shabbaroon didn't know what hit him, as he fell on his back gasping for breath, a thick crossbow bolt sticking out of his chest. From the other side of the town El Capitano gazed with anger, the bolt had been fired by the Gnome archer known as Quarrel.

Amidst the confusion, Billy the Gnome rode his Goat mount hard into the flanks of the Goblins, at such close proximity, Firespitter became unable to swing his flame thrower and bring it to bear on the Gnome militia member, who in turn with a fell swoop sliced the head of Beaky Bobby clean from his shoulders before spinning full circle and riding towards El Capitano to help finish off the troupe of Goblins.

As the Gnome known as Young Jack crept towards yet another Moonstone, it appeared that the Goblin Pirates were in too much of a disadvantage, there would be no chance of a comeback from this.

From behind a town building, the Goblin Seasick Steve stumbled forward, swinging his harpoon high above his head, he brought it plunging down on Young Jack. Injured but alive, Young Jack retaliated and with a parry and thrust silenced the drunk Goblin.

Both Young Jack and El Capitano eyed each other, they had both seen the Moonstone that pierced the ground between them, and both, with the aid of Billy, rushed to the stone.

Billy attacked El Capitano, his attack well planned and aimed, but El Capitano was no green gilled land-lubber, who partied the attack away with ease, and with a critical hit brought his cutlas down on Jack's neck seriously injuring the little Gnome and forcing him to drop his Moonstone.

In response Billy followed suit, his own sword slicing down towards the Goblin Captain.

El Capitano spun with a flash of steel, his cutlas parrying away the second attack and followed up with a strong thrust right into Billy who in turn was taken out of the fight.

In a single round, the tables had begun to turn, the strong defence of the Goblins was falling despite the Sage Advice of Gradock and Mamma Gimble's Mother's Love.

From atop the buildings, the first glimmers of light began to pierce the night, both sides knew they had only moments. The Gnomes needed to take down El Capitano, possibly with Quarrel putting a crossbow bolt through his chest, and the Goblins knew they had to grab what stones remained and flee for the safety of their ships.

At the absolute last moment, it was El Capitano who reacted first, grabbing the dropped Moonstones, he spun on his heels and fled for safety.

The end result was a single stone advantage win to the Goblin Dominion, thanks almost exclusively to the incredible performance of El Capitano!


Mamma Gimble
Young Jack

Beaky Bobby
El Capitano
Seasick Steve

I wanted to take a moment here to talk about some of the interesting points from this game:

Gnome Synergy.
Gnomes have an incredible synergy, one that seems to be more common with Goblins, but unlike Goblins who need to use their abilities, the Gnomes' are always on.

Abilities like Gradock's Sage Advice which prevents the opponent from replacing Called Bluffs is very, very, strong. It doesn't mean that he succeeds where he shouldn't, but on about 4 separate occasions it stopped me from applying a Catastrophe.

El Capitano.
This guy was the star of the show, but it wasn't because of the model himself, but more because of the meta-game involved in melee combat. Every time he was locked in combat, I was able to predict what Tom would play from his attacker, and not only totally mitigate that damage, but allow a high damage repost in return. It was for these reasons along that he was able to single handedly take out the Gnomes who died, and figuratively carry the Goblibs to a victory, which at the half way point, neither of us thought was possible.

Hope you enjoyed these little bat-reps, and until next time, stay safe and be excellent to each other.

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley