Ascension Online: a Bad Taste in My Mouth

In case you missed the news, SBE released this a few hours ago and sent out a similar email to the backers of Ascension Online, which is both surprising and not at all at the same time. Overall, I’m somewhat conflicted, although the most definitive emotion is just a bad taste in my mouth.  I figure this makes a pretty good topic for a post so let’s dive into it.

First some background, Ascension comes out, IOS app developed by Playdek comes out, massive hit. SBE announces new game of Solforge, does a kickstarter, succeeds, stuff happens for that and it was more or less on track. SBE does another kickstarter, this time to bring Ascension in house digitally cause Playdek can’t/won’t give it the kind of support they want. That kickstarter is succesful. Fast forward to December and we get…a beta. A kinda shoddy beta that only has the first two sets in it. Fast forward another three months and we get some form of online play that is again kinda shoddy. And then we get to now, wherein we find out that this entire experiment has been mostly pointless as they’re back to working with Playdek. Also before continuing, I just want to be clear that I don’t really have much skin in this given how low I backed.

Regardless of anything else this leaves a bad taste in my mouth for one simple reason. It’s an example of a Kickstarter failing. Sure, they’re doing what they can to salvage it, which isn’t nothing. That doesn’t change the fact that this Kickstarter was largely pointless. While I”m certainly happy to finally have a PC version, and there are no doubt people who feel the same way about an Android version.

When you look past the fact that this is a salvaged Kickstarter to the means of it, then the bad taste really sets in. What changed? Should we actually be expecting any of the stuff in the Kickstarter beyond the rewards, the stuff that SBE wanted to do with Ascension but Playdek didn’t? Not to mention that since then Playdek’s portfolio has grown and they’re set to start working on Twilight Struggle(Depending on when you read this you may still have time to back it on Kickstarter, it seems pretty sweet and offers some nice value). These are all fair questions that really do deserve to be answered. The announcement of Rise of Vigil coming out sometime this summer and a PC client in October really don’t answer these questions, at all.

This in conjunction with the technical problems they had with Solforge(the backer’s only tournament and the dearth of anything from August to December of last year come to mind. Although on the flip side, the smooth release of stuff since Rise and a patch that didn’t cause any problems are things to praise as progress.) raises the question of whether they should have done this at all.  It’s frustrating to have these kind of problems happen repeatedly.

This frustration isn’t just a matter of unfulfilled promises and a less than professional conduct; although to be clear that is part of it. The bigger part of it is that I hate that SBE of all companies is doing this. It’s a company that I like, by and large I find their games to be fun and have served as a medium for me to build friendship with more than one person.  I want them to do well and improve. I want this whole situation to be resolved in the best possible way. It’s at the same time that because I care that I feel compelled to write stuff like this. So come on, don’t make me feel like a chump, work this out satisfactorily.

 

 

Defiance: The Opposite of Hallelujah and In My Secret Life Review

Defiance was never a great show in it’s first season, in fact I wouldn’t even call most of it good. What kept me coming back to the show week after week was that it did just enough right to make me stay invested enough to keep watching. As the season went on it started to build momentum and with that momentum, so too did the quality rise. There was a season finale that at its core did everything you want a season finale to do: provide a climax and leave the door open for the next season.  In the year since the first problem with this set up became apparent: it wasn’t good enough to stay on my mind. For once, the previously on part of an episode wasn’t grating but actually helpful.  With that perspective in mind, let’s get into it.

The season premiere has one big problem, it really isn’t an episode. Instead it’s setting up the new status quo after a nine month time skip. I’m not really fond of this move, since as I mentioned in the intro, Defiance’s greatest strength was that it built up momentum. Leaving the uncertainty of the season one finale for a new status quo were we’re only told indirectly what happened means that we’re back to square one. All of that momentum has to be built up again. Aside from that, the show also shows that it’s strongest part is Stahma. There’s not much else to be said about this episode by itself, it’s fine and functional.

The same cannot be said for the second episode though, which suffers from two bigger sins. The first is that it primarily exists to get Nolan back to where he was in season one as lawkeeper. The second is that it’s not really engaging. The race against the clock to find the culprit  is something that Definace has done several times already and before it was done better for a variety fo reasons that basically boil down to what it revealed about the characters while they were doing this. The most that this episode manages to do with it is a conversation between the E-Rep captain Berlin and Nolan that was the highlight of the episode. The actual climax was dull, the show has never presented the possibility of it’s characters being in any sort of danger, the closest it’s come is with Irisa’s dream sequence in the premiere. Speaking of Irisa, the lack of any sort of meaningful continuation of the Kaziri is going to be obnoxious; so far it’s caused the following: technicolor resurrections,  hallucinations, and the desire to kill random people. The odds of a ‘Nolan investigates murders committed by Irsia’ is fairly highly if I had to guess. The only character left to account for is Datak, who hasn’t done much aside from his one trick of killing someone to make himself look better.

Given that we’ve now spent two weeks doing little more than being acquainted with the somewhat new status quo, I”m hoping that going forward we can actually start doing something new. Preferably this something new would involve picking up all the plotlines from the season one finale and actually continuing them. Right now the show has been spinning it’s wheels and quickly trying my patience. I’m still watching for now, but my standards are higher for a second season and I don’t have much qualm in jumping ship.

Feel free to comment, I’ll be back next week to talk about…something. Not sure, if you have any suggestions or something you want me to talk about feel to comment on that as well.

 

“Review” of OITNB Season 2

I guess this technically counts as a review, but considering that this will be more along the lines of stray observations and discussion instead of what you’d expect in a review, I decided to put it into quotes. 

So the new season of OITNB has been out for over a week so I figure everyone who wanted to has at a minimum at least started to make progress on the new season if not already finished it.  I found it to be rather enjoyable and i’ts a piece of media that invites its audience to engage critically with it. I’ve been mulling over that latter part, as well as the season from a more technical point of view. I feel like my thoughts are in a place where they’re coherent and meaningful enough that I can write a post like this.

First off, my general verdict/review: While this season is different both tonally and to a lesser degree, structurally from season 1, this is still very much the same show at it’s heart. If you didn’t like the first season, then don’t watch this, you’ll just be frustrated. At its core the show still has the same writing, acting,  and focuses on social issues that aren’t seen much of anywhere else on television with characters who are very much flawed. The one over-arching criticism i have of it as a whole is that it felt clunky at times.

That being said, below are my more specific, and thus spoilery observations/responses to parts of the season. So have some spoiler space

Spoiler space

spoiler space

spoiler space

Alright then let’s get into it with no particular order aside from when I think of it:

1. This season very much feels closer to The Wire in criticizing institutions and their harmful actions in the name of self interest. We saw this a bit last season with its effects on the prisoners and a bit on how it spreads out from there. I’m specifically referring to  Poussey’s monologue to Tatysee after the latter winds up back at Litchfield. Instead this season opted to use Caputo as a lens to look at it from the administrative side.  This isn’t strictly speaking a bad thing, in fact the more things that can reach The Wire’s quality and social commentary is a good thing. While this isn’t to say that it reaches the same level as The Wire,  ti gets an A for effort at the very least. It’s execution is a bit murkier.

2. This is partly because the showrunners clearly don’t have the same background as the creators of The Wire did, but part of is also a matter of different tones and story conventions. What I mean by this is things like Rosa being a bankrobber or Gloria’s abusive boyfriend being coincidentally killed in a way that  could be supernatural vengeance is more on the fantastical side. It’s not a bad thing, merely a difference that both shows understand and work with for their own advantage.

3. I disliked Vee, she was flat and utterly evil. Her main advantage was in how she affected people around her: Red, Suzanne, Poussey and Tastyee all had wonderful material based around her presence and actions but Vee herself is not really a character. A better description would be a plot device. SHe served her purpose and I’m glad that she’s gone.

4. I’m still annoyed that we didn’t see what Poussey did to get arrested, while her flashback sequence was interesting, albeit the parallels were a bit grating, this still annoys me. You can say the same thing for Red, arguably moreso for Red.

5. I really, really hate the season opener. Between Piper effectively alone, ignoring the rest of the characters whose lives we left mid-sentence, coupled with a groan inducing SYMBOLISM made this a painful hour to get through. Although two points in its favor: 1. from what I can gather is actually something that happened to the real life Piper more or less, I haven’t actually read the book yet. 2. This kind of move is something you can only really do on Netflix or maybe, maybe AMC/HBO.  Streaming it means it’s only a matter of looking at the next episode summary to see that the attention goes back to Lichtfield. AMC/HBO et al. cause it’s ballsy and with the proper execution is artsy critic bait.

5a. Piper’s lawyer is terrible.

 

6. I don’t dislike Piper. It helps that her sins are repeatedly called out by other characters. The only two characters I actively hate are Larry, Healy and I guess technically Vee but see above. Everyone on this show is varying degrees of terrible, but they’re by and large trying to be good people on some level. It makes the show a lot more enjoyable instead of being mired in terrible people who do terrible things repeatedly like say It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. I admit that I’m also a bit more lenient towards the prisoners for being terrible people, cause they’re in prison. It sucks and you do what you have to do.

7. More on the characters I actively hate. Larry is a self centered dick who’s main arc last season was based upon exploiting Piper’s incarceration for his own advancement. The whatever you want to call it between him and Polly read to me more as a groan inducing way to keep him relevant to the story instead of anything, organic or meaningful. His scenes are dull and I don’t care. Healy on the other hand, is basically a MRA who had no qualms in allowing a murder he could stop from happening. His one saving grace is that his material is more engaging, which is to say at all. I don’t hate Pennsatucky cause she’s stopped being a meth addled self righteous zealot and seems to be trying to be a better person.

8. A theme of this season seemed to be couples are evil or stupid or something. Cause Larry/Polly and Daya/Bennett were some of the worst material.The former for keeping Larry around and the latter cause those two are just so, goddamn, stupid.  Daya/Bennet had the saving grace of varying quantity of dumb, so not all of their scenes were bad.

9. I could’ve done without the continued use of Pennsatucky’s former lackeys from last season as the white trash comedic duo. They just didn’t do it for me.

10. I don’t think they had much of a plan in Season 1 for  a lot of stuff. Clearly Vee was retconned in, a touch awkwardly in my opinion. Morello’s situation feels like a retcon based on a throwaway line from either Nicky or Boo in the first season. I feel like there are some other things that didn’t sit quite right with me from a continuity stand point but I can’t think of anything specific. Conversely, it seems, and I hope, that they have a lot more planned with Season 3 based on the sprawl that happened.

11. I have no idea what they’re planning to do with Brook, the contrast angle to Piper didn’t last long. Her flashback(s) should be interesting to say the least. or they’ll be ungodly grating, either or.

12. I have no opinion on Alex. After the opener I was fully expecting her to only appear in flashbacks if that. I was surprised by the fact that she showed up in the current day. While she’s pretty high up there of irredeemable characters, there’s a certain element of alienness to her circumstances that makes it hard to be invested.

13. I really hope they don’t use that backdoor of perjury to extend Piper’s sentence. If the show keeps going after she gets out, then it keeps going without her. I thin based off of the vague timeline we have to work with they’re giving themselves enough room to keep the focus on Piper for a while. This is based off the assumption that season 1 was 3-4 months, 1 month time skip, 3-months for season 2 means we’re roughly halfway through Piper’s 15 month sentence.

14. I liked the sprawl of season 2, more of that and less of a focused arc like season 1 for season 3 would be great. This seems fairly likely given that the producer wanted to use Piper as a way to get to tell stories about women lacking the same kind of privilege.

15. I found Red to be the most compelling story this season. Her adjustment to life and her own seeking redemption were the most engaging things. I didn’t think this last season for a few obvious reasons.

16. Characters who haven’t had flashbacks yet/characters I expect flashbacks of: Brook, Boo, Red’s second from S1 who’s name I’m blanking on, Anita, Norma, Flaca, Flaca’s friend who I’m blanking on right now. More Red and Piper/Alex flashbacks but I’m not sure who else actively needs flashback in this vacuum of speculation.

17. There’s definitely a comparison to be made in House of Cards and OITNB structure as a series made primarily for Netflix. I’m in no position to make any sort of definitive statement but it’s something to consider at the very least.

If you have any feedback or would like to discuss any of these points further then feel free to comment. Until next time, where I either talk about Solforge or Defiance in all likelihood.

 

 

Some thoughts on modernish Star Wars stuff

Before I begin this week’s post proper, I just wanted to commemorate the double milestone. First, this is my 100th post on anothergamerguy.wordpress.com, which is exciting. Second, I’ve been doing this blog for two years. Boy does the time fly. Thanks to everyone who has been reading these past two years, I’ve had fun writing and plan on doing this for many years to come.

As you can see from the title, this week I’ll be talking about Star Wars. The reason I’m not more specific than that is because this post is going to be a bit of a meander. There are a few relatively disparate things that fall under this umbrella. No sense in wasting time with an intro that says even less than usual so let’s get right into it.

First some background so you all know where I’m coming from. I love Star Wars and a part of me always will. I grew up with the PT in theatres and the EU. While I was a huge Star Wars fan in my teenage years because of the EU this interest died hard and fast around the time of Legacy for a number of reasons. I know that this doesn’t apply to a lot of people and given the big tent involved in being a Star Wars there are no doubt people who just nodded their head in agreement or cringed. That doesn’t really matter, only that it makes sense for me to present my background before I go any further.

Star Wars the Clone Wars: I just started watching this and so far I’ve been really impressed for the most part. While the movie was a terrible mistake that should’ve just been four episodes, it was still entertaining and the series proper was a lot better. In a lot of ways it’s pretty comforting in how familiar a lot of it is. Part of this is due to the quality and how it gets the uniquely Star Wars things. A large part of this is in a big supporting cast with plenty of different Jedi. Star Wars EU in a lot of ways was about filling in and filling out the universe that the films presented for better or worse. I’m still not really sold on Ahsoka in that while I get that she’s meant to be a foil/audience identification tool for the target demographic, the first one wasn’t really that needed. The EU showed that Obi and Anakin had a good relationship and they played off one another pretty well. I’m not going to comment on the audience identification part cause that doesn’t’ really apply to me. Overall I still think it’s kinda weird to introduce such a pivotal character who doesn’t get mentioned in Revenge at all.

While I did say that I find Clone Wars to be comforting, it’s relation to the canon that I know is probably the worst part of it for two reasons. First, side and minor characters are an important way to present threats whose fates aren’t locked in by canon. The repeated dangling of capturing Dooku, Grevious et al is getting old really fast. Second, so what else is considered canon? Mainly this question relates to the first Clone Wars cartoon. While I find myself remembering more of the finer points of the EU canon then I’d expect after all these years, I’m not really bothered by the fact it’s been invalidated, just more curious about the stuff that would presumably have a higher priority.  Also cause I can just take the mindset of comics and mash all the good stuff in my head anyway.

Star Wars Legends: This was the best possible outcome for what was going to happen regarding the Disney takeover and the EU. It keeps the old stuff in print and gives it a respectful name and pasture to graze on. Mainly since no one would in their right mind would use the convoluted mess that the EU had become. Let’s remember that they commissioned a book just to clean up stealing the first Death Star plans and there were 2 or 3 different run ups to the Battle of Coruscant somehow. All of the new stuff should mine the EU for inspiration and build on it, stand on the shoulders of giants.

The new films: While I hate JJ Abrams’ Star Trek reboot that doesn’t inherently mean the new trilogy will be bad. I’m keeping an open mind and I’ll wait to see it to pass judgment.

Rebels and other stuff: I’ll probably try Rebels if/when it’s on Netflix if for no reason then I’ll just want to watch something new at some point. Book are a lot less likely given that in general I need to be more selective about my disposable income then when I was in high school and there are a lot of other things I value more highly.

A lot of this can be summarized as live and let live I guess.  In general it’s a pretty good attitude to have towards fandom and media. Maybe one of these days I’ll use a blog post to go down the lane of the EU. Anyway, until next time.

 

 

Solforge Draftcap no. 3

I haven’t done one of these in a while and I ended up with a pretty sweet deck last time. So let’s not waste any time and get right into it. Just a heads up that if you haven’t read either of my first two, i have a style of only discussing a card once, when it first comes up.

pack 1: This isn’t a particularly deep pack. Firestorm and Static Shock are varying degrees of bad. Restless Wanderer is a below curve vanilla creature with some upside. Aether Root is probably bad due to its reliance on spells and just dying to Blight Walker et al. So that leaves Ebonskull Knight and Fleshfiend. Knight is a sweet underdrop and was tempting since I don’t have a playset, but Fleshfiend is still super solid,so I go with that.

01

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pack 2: Cull the Weak is still meh. Glacial Colossus is fine but locks me into Tempys which is a total crapshoot. Scavenger Scorpion is a meh underdrop and only has much value if  I want to try and force abominations. Deepwood Prowler is also a meh underdrop but places me into Uterra, which on paper is really solid but never works out for me. Cypien Augmentation is super powerful and places me into Alloyin, which I’m always happy with.

02

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pack 3: Nether Embrace and Energy Surge are varying degrees of unplayable, so that leaves the two creatures. Aegis Conscript is okay but only shines when you have a Voltron to protect whereas Death Seeker is solid.

03

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pack 4: These are all decent creatures. Grave Ghast is fine but is better when paired with Uterra with all the pump. Forge Guardian Alpha can be powerful if you get a Jet Pack, which at this point is getting to be a pretty big if due to the growing card pool. Nyrali Ooze is just another variation of two bodies for one card. It makes stuff like spiritleash and corpse crawler better and is an easy pikc up here.

04

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pack 5: Tower Vanguard is bad, Aegis Conscript isn’t as bad, next.

05

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pack 6: Speaking of, Spiritleash is a super powerful pump spell with a drawback that isn’t much. Vyric’s Embrace is super solid with the incidental life gain and better effect than Ghastly Touch at level 1 makes it sweet. Aegis Pulse is bad, Sparkblade Assassin is fine,his level 1 is meh, the level two is huge and the level 3 is meh. Steelgraft is better than Aegis Pulse but not much else can be said for it.  I have two ways to take advantage of Spritileash already and it’s the most powerful.

06

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pack 7: Electro Net is fine, Vengeful Spirit is solid. Omnomnom is unplayable in this deck. Organ Harvester is a card I like maybe more than I should, when you’re ahead or even it’s good. When you’re behind it’s bad granted but it’s a card I like having 1 of.

07

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pack 8: Nyrali Symbiote is meh, but he’s the best thing here. Necrovive doesn’t do anything and Metamind Explorer is end of pack chaff.

08

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pack 9: Drake is the wrong Allied combination and Grave Ghast has more regen. I go with the Ghast cause they’re close enough in this deck but ghast is better.

09

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pack 10: Heavy Artillery is okay but I don’t want a 3rd spell at this point, Alpha it is.

10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pack 11: Onxyium Maruader is pretty sweet since he’s hard to kill and a good target for to Voltron up. Vault Technician is solid. Alloyin General is meh, his ability and his body don’t syngerize well in draft. Necrotic Wurm is fairy bad, I’ve played him for some success but I’m never happy that I have it other a lot of things. Grimgaunt Spectre is okay and Tower Scout is pretty bad. Marauder easy.

11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pack 12: Witherfrost Banshee is just the best card here. Vault Blockade is a good defensive card but I’m not really in the market for that. Steelwielder Medic is okay and Metasight is bad.

 

12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pack 13:  Ghastly Renewal is too weak to be effective, Spark bot is fine, Forgeplate Sentry is a tad underwhelming at level 1 and gets really good at 2 and 3 still.

13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pack 14: Nexus Core doesn’t do anything whereas Sap can be super annoying. Sap is the pick easy.

 

14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pack 15: 2nd Organ Harvester is weird but I like it more than Grimgaunt Spectre.

 

15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pack 16: Anvillion Enforcer is analogous to the guys with high regen in that it’s meant to be a good baseline to stack up pump, which is nowhere near where this deck is going. Group Meal is really powerful, it affects multiple lanes and is exactly what you want from a spell.

 

16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pack 17: Stasis Warden is just bad in draft. Alloyin General is not great, his boost and his body don’t really mesh all that well together. Marrow Fiend is a fine underdrop. Necrovive is a good way to keep a bomb alive. Scrapforge Titan is insane and just wins games on his own. There is very little that I will take over the Titan, mainly Legendaries, Battle Tech, and WWP.

 

17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pack 18: Xithian Crusher is a bit like Stonefist Giant in that an unremarkable level 1 pays off in higher than average level 2 and 3. but a death of rule of 6 cards is alarming at this rate so i just take the Zombie Infantry.

 

18

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pack 19: If there is a Darkheart Wanderer deck,this isn’t it. Corpse Crawler can be solid at all points in the game and I’d rather a tricky creature then a spell when my rate of spells is fine.

 

19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pack 20: Windmill slam that Ebonskull Knight.

 

20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pack 21:  Contagion Surge isn’t where i want to be, the level one is hard to get value out of and i don’t have a plethora of leveres to cheat it to level 2. Duskspire Zombie isn’t where I want to be with another high regen dude. Darkshaper Savant has some synergies with my underdrops and spells already and it’s powerful, easy pick.

 

21

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pack 22:There’s not really a whole lot I can Tarsian Pact for value so that’s out. Gloomspire Wurm is bad as it only works when you’re ahead and if your opponent stabilizes it’s a waste of a level. Hungering Strike is really good but I’m just going to go with the second Marauder here.

22

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pack 23: Metamind Operator is a good blocker but he tapers off a bit at level 3. Forcefield is just bad. Metatransfer is really good, it levels something and it impacts the board, often in a way that’s more meaningful than Technosmith at level 1. In general I like having one to smooth out my draws, but with a Scrapforge Titan it has more value.

23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pack 24: Ossuary Spirit is just like Duskspire Zombie, high regen and not what i want. Death Current is a mostly unconditional removal spell that’s kinda like Bonescythe Reaver in my opinion.

24

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pack 25: Gloomreaper witch is an underwhelming creature that can sometimes 2 for 1 and comboes with a few of the cards we already have.

25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pack 26: Xithian Hulk is a perfectly fine vanilla creature, which is something I don’t have much at all. The gloomfiend is pretty strong but I’d rather just have some solid numbers. None of these other cards are worth considering much as I don’t want seconds of the good to okay cards and I don’t want a bad card.

26

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pack 27: Grave Pact is really bad since it requires so much to get it to work. Technosmith is a card I always want 1 of and it’s not even much of a question here since everything else is either bad or meh.

27

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pack 28: Vault Tech is a fine card and one of the best rule of 6 cards at common. Lightshield Patrol can be really powerful but I prefer him in A/U where there’s more pump. The other two cards are fine but not as good as Vault Tech.

28

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pack 29: Well one on hand a 3rd Organ Harvester feels sketchy but it is removal on a body. There’s a case to be made for Metasight but I’m in the camp of rather not have it cause of how it’s bad.

29

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pack 30: 2nd witch over 2nd sap.

30

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Game 1 was a case of ‘curving out’ perfectly. I played all level 2 in PL 2 and won the game handily in PL3. Game 2 my opponent was removal heavy to keep my stuff off the board and played a powerful N/T deck where I did to multiple Seimsic Adepts on the field. Game 3 I don’t really remember to be honest but I won it. Game 4 was against a sweet T/A deck that  I kept in check through a lot of Organ Harvesters and some luck. It was clearly the MVP of the draft and having 3 of them was in fact pretty sweet. Overall the deck was really fun to play as a more dedicated control deck then I normally play.

Feedback of any kind goes into the comments, until next time.