Monthly Archives: February 2014

Around the Web February 21, 2014

This week ushered in a new chapter for The Tonight Show.  Jimmy Fallon has taken the helm of the long running late night comedy television show, but far more important for geeks was that the show also debuted the trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy. This has quickly become one of my favorite comics and I can’t wait for this movie. I’m not super thrilled that John C. Reilly has been cast as Nova, but I’m willing to go along with it for now. If you haven’t checked the trailer out yet, then take a look below.

There appears to be a healthy mix of action and humor, which has worked well for Marvel so far.

Keeping with the Guardians theme, Rocket Raccoon is one of the best characters on the team. He is a sarcastic, badass raccoon looking alien. What more could you want in a comic book hero?  Sadly, however, his creator, Bill Mantlo is in need of our help. Back in 1992 Mantlo suffered a traumatic brain injury after being struck by a hit-and-run driver and currently resides in a long term care facility in Queens. Mantlo’s story is terribly sad and he is in need of financial help to improve his quality of life, if only just a little.


In the past, older comic creators have gotten the short end of a lot of things. Hopefully we can help prevent that from happening to current and future generations of comic writers and artists.

Do you have any old Star Wars action figures at home? While they could be worth a lot of money, I bet they’re not worth $13,000. Well that’s how much one Star Wars figure went for in a recent auction. The little known FX-7 medical droid figure started off at just under $100, but ended up going for just short of $13,000. A bidding war erupted over the figure due to the incredibly high quality of the “mint in box” figure.

FX-7 is the droid in the foreground.

FX-7 is the droid in the foreground.

I’m really tempted to go digging through all my old crap suddenly. Is that weird?

And finally, today is actress Sophie Turner’s 18th birthday. Turner is best known for her role as everybody’s least favorite Stark, Sansa, on HBO’s Game of Thrones.

She's 18...get your mind out of the gutter. Perv.

She’s 18…get your mind out of the gutter. Perv.

It’s a damn good thing she’s cute, otherwise I’d be rooting for horrible things to happen to Sansa. Ok, maybe I still do.

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Review: Robocop *Spoiler Alert*

***** SPOILER ALERT *****

This review will be discussing plot points which may be considered spoilers. Consider yourselves warned.


Seriously, who doesn’t love the original Robocop? It is one of the best examples of 1980’s action movies. It had over-the-top violence, a nearly comical amount of gore, catchy one-liners, and the acting skills of Peter Weller. When I heard they were remaking Robocop, my feelings were mixed. While I was excited about seeing the movie storyline enhanced with modern effects, I’ve seen so many movie remakes that fall short that I couldn’t help but be apprehensive. Now that I’ve seen it I realize my apprehension was misguided, though this does not mean the movie is perfect. I certainly enjoyed myself, but there were more than a few chinks in the armor.

Much like the original, this Robocop tells the story of Detroit police officer Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) who is nearly killed by the city’s criminal element. After his accident–in this case a car bomb–his organic parts are salvaged and implanted into a robotic body, making him the world’s first cyborg cop. As a single minded, crime fighting cyborg, Murphy’s arrest numbers go through the roof, and he almost single handedly reduces Detroit’s crime rate by an astounding percentage.  Eventually Robocop becomes wrapped up in the events surrounding his own attempted murder, and the deeper he digs the more corruption he uncovers.  By the end of the movie, our hero is forced to confront Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) the CEO of Omnicorp, the company that helped rebuild him.

Although a lot of the specifics have changed, the overall plot of the new Robocop is the same as that of the original film. To be honest, I liked most of the changes. Most notable was the fact that Murphy doesn’t actually die.  Although he is gravely wounded, he remains alive after his accident and is only placed in the cyborg creation program after his wife signs a release form. This leads into another major change, the role of his family. In the original, Murphy’s family moves on because he has been declared dead and nothing of the man is supposed to remain. In the reboot, Murphy is chosen specifically because of his humanity, and his emotional stability and his family play a considerably expanded role in his post-rebuild life. There is also much more interaction between Robocop and the doctor in charge of the program, Dr. Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman). Dr. Norton helps guide the newly minted cyborg through his first and most difficult days, as well as playing a significant part in the movie’s conclusion.

For the reboot of a well-loved, but not particularly intelligent action movie, this thing is packed with stars putting on amazing performances. Gary Oldman is incredible in his role as Dr. Norton. In the past I have severely underestimated his ability to take on a character and make it different from every other character he has played, but no longer.  Oldman’s Norton is both a friend and a father figure to Robocop, helping guide him through his “rebirth” and then aiding him in his final quest for justice.

Gary Oldman is amazing as Dr. Norton.

Gary Oldman is amazing as Dr. Norton.

I’d also forgotten just how much I enjoy seeing Michael Keaton on screen. Sure he is great as Batman, but I think he really excels in roles where he gets to be a little slimy and gross, like Beetlejuice or Much Ado About Nothing. While his character may appear clean cut and aboveboard from the outside, Keaton is able to convey a sense of the filth that lurks just beneath the surface of these characters.

Even some of the actors in more minor roles, such as John Paul Ruttan who plays Murphy’s son David, are very talented. So often child actors seem very wooden on screen due to their inexperience as actors and their overall lack of life experiences to draw from.  Ruttan on the other hand showed himself capable of being very expressive, even when it comes to more complex emotions. With the near inevitability of a sequel, one can only hope Ruttan is among the cast again.

Finally I would just like to point out that even bleeped, nobody says “M*****F*****!” like Samuel L. Jackson.

While I will say that Kinnaman’s pre-transformation Alex Murphy was leaps and bounds beyond Peter Weller’s portrayal, his post-transformation acting was not much better. Both actors played the character extremely stiffly and emotionlessly and it becomes a bit annoying after a while. Robocop also seems to suffer from the same problem as Batman, in that he cannot turn his head, so he has to turn his entire torso. Unlike Batman, the cyborg seems unable to find a fix for the problem.  For a movie called Robocop, Robocop’s performance paled in comparison to the rest of the cast.

Overall I was pleased, though not overjoyed, with the look of Robocop. Robocop himself looked pretty darn good. While certainly not sleek, the new look is significantly more streamlined than the original. He was also better and more realistically equipped. I am pleased with the fact that the progression from the completely robotic EM-208’s to Robocop is very clear. They are obviously based on the same hardware; Robocop just has some gooey parts as well. My favorite change to the character came with the addition of the motorcycle. I’m not sure why, but this now seems like such a natural method of transportation for Robocop.

robocop motorcycle

The CGI effects looked pretty good in my opinion. Often when a movie is set in an actual city in the near future, it just doesn’t look quite right—especially when they do the near mandatory skyline shot. In this film I really didn’t notice any of those issues. I feel the film makers did a good job making the viewer believe that Detroit was so far gone that citizens were not safe even in the good parts of town.

While there was a lot to like in the visual department, it’s also where the most painful parts of the movie come from. There is an abundance of shaky-cam in this movie and it was particularly obnoxious. I can’t stand shaky-cam, but I’ve come to expect it from American action films.  I’ve learned to deal with it enough that I can still enjoy a movie despite the fact that the camera man shakes like he’s in the middle of an earthquake. Robocop had not one, but two major action sequences that were so unsteady that I had to stop watching them for a couple seconds because they were making me physically uncomfortable. One was so jarring that I still have no earthly idea what happened during the scene because my eyes wouldn’t focus.

What would a remake/reboot be without little homages to the original sprinkled through-out?  While this can often be overused, Robocop hit the sweet spot. There were many lines like “I’d buy that for a dollar” and “Dead or alive, you’re coming with me” that were lifted from the original and put in the reboot, but done in such a manner that you wouldn’t know where they were from, unless you were familiar with the original.  Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the classic ED-209.  Originally a competitor program to Robocop, the ED-209 were basically big dumb animals, which was underscored by the various animal noises they made. This time around ED-209 was like the bigger brother to the EM-208 and they weren’t in any kind of design completion against Robocop. Despite the fact that they were much better done this time around, I couldn’t help but laugh every time I saw them on screen.

Every time these guys were on screen I couldn't stop laughing.

Every time these guys were on screen I couldn’t stop laughing.

Overall Robocop was a fair reboot and a respectable addition to the existing film franchise. As I’ve said, I fully expect there to be a sequel, so hopefully they can take their current success and build on it, fixing those issues that are most egregious. I give it 3.5 Death Stars.

3.5 Death Stars

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Filed under Andrew Hales, Movie Reviews, Movies

Editorial | What Makes a Strong, Female Character

Strong, female characters are one of my favorite topics on which to wax eloquent and passionate.  As Andrew and other friends can tell you, my “Strong, Female Character” rant makes me a huge hit at parties all the time.  All it requires is for one person to mention nonchalantly that George R. R. Martin is known for writing these strong female characters and the entire group is in for an evening full of fun entertainment.

It is best to start on the discussion of strong, female characters by determining what exactly that term means.  The easiest way to start defining the phrase is to list the females in books and other media that are commonly considered strong.  Catelyn Stark is fan favorite.  She is the wife of Eddard Stark, the lord of the northern section of A Song of Ice and Fire’s Seven Kingdoms.  She watches over the household while Eddard has been called away to be the king’s right hand man, and then leaves her family to warn him about a possible plot to kill him in the capital.

Eowyn, a daughter of Rohan from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, has been called strong as well.  She is the only person left at Meduseld who can keep things running at all, since her brother, Eomer is angrily riding across Rohan, her uncle the king has been possessed by Saruman, her cousin Theodred is lying on his deathbed after a fight with some Uruks, and Grima Wormtongue, the king’s steward, is an evil, lying bastard.

Last but not least, my foreshortened list of strong female characters would not be complete without Aerin, from Robin McKinley’s The Hero and the Crown.  Unhappy that she is not living up to her father’s expectations, Aerin sets out to fight the mighty dragon Maur.  She defeats him, but is very badly injured in the process.  She makes her way to a healer, who gets her set to rights just in time for her to lead an army of her people against the invading demons from the North.

Many authors create female characters that they believe to be strong.  The word that I hear most often is “complex.”  The author creates a girl or a woman who must be completely human, and especially heir to human fallibility.  The character must meet the challenge, fall before it, and then rise to the occasion, or at least, this is how the formula seems to have been constructed.

It is obvious through past blog posts and most brief conversations with me that I love Joss Whedon’s work.  His characters are multifaceted and lifelike, the worlds he builds are four dimensional, and the situations into which he throws his casts are complex, even when they are fantasy.  However, his women are rarely strong.  I love this quote from Bobby Roberts:

“Joss shoots his actresses most lovingly when they’re wet and crying and curled up in the fetal position, pressed up against a wall, broken, mascara running, bleeding, and reaching out. And what are they typically reaching out for? Some dude (or vampire or werewolf) and the dick he’s attached to.”

A truly strong woman, as history has shown us through the phenomenal examples of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Harriet Tubman, Golda Meir, and Margaret Thatcher, to name just a very few, is that to be a strong woman, one must do two things.  First, one must recognize one’s destiny.  It does not matter whether this destiny is to lead a country through a time of peril, or to raise one’s children to be productive members of society.  The second is that one must fulfill that destiny without turning aside.

It is this second half of what makes a strong woman truly strong that trips up many would-be strong women—both real and fictional.  If Catelyn Stark truly believed that her destiny was to help put her sons on the throne (and her actions say loudly that she did), then she made some incredibly foolish decisions.  She deliberately destroyed Robb Stark’s ability to negotiate with the Lannisters for the return of Jaime because she thought that releasing him would give her daughters that she believed were in Kings Landing a better chance at survival.  Not only did her scheme not happen as planned, but it led to massive losses that included her life, and that of her oldest son.

Eowyn would be considered strong, since she knew that her destiny was to be a Shieldmaiden of Rohan.  When the time came for her uncle, the King of Rohan, to lead his troops into battle, he asked her to take the throne and lead his people.  Instead of remaining in Rohan and realizing that she was the last in line for the throne and that her death would throw Rohan into chaos, Eowyn decided to disguise herself and ride into battle.  She would rather risk the complete destruction of her homeland to save herself emotional turmoil, than actually follow the orders that would allow her to fulfill her destiny.

On the other hand, Aerin, the protagonist of The Hero and the Crown, chose to sacrifice personal gain, love, and even her health to become the ruler of Damar.  She left her home and the man she loved to kill a dragon, and then to find the healer who could make her whole again.  She lost her mortality and her innocence along the way.  She fell deeply in love with an immortal, and chose to leave the life she clearly wanted to make with him and came back to lead her people and marry her consort to keep the land together and at peace.  Aerin is the embodiment of a truly strong female character.

To be truly strong, it isn’t enough to simply feel the pull of stressors.  It isn’t enough to continue to live during hardship.  It requires a bone-deep acceptance of destiny, and the sacrifice of ease and even of relationships to fulfill that fate.

Who are your favorite strong, female characters, and why do you consider them to be strong?  I’m always looking for new books to read and movies/TV shows to watch, so let me know in the comments!


Filed under Editorial, Tracy Gronewold

Interview with Bob Kelly and Arejen Tamminga, Creators of Los Cthuluchadores: Elder Things in the Wrestling Ring

On Sunday, February 16, we had the pleasure of interviewing game creators Bob Kelly and Arejen Tamminga about their game Los Cthuluchadores: Elder Things in the Wrestling Ring. We have mentioned this game before in our Around the Web: Kickstarter Edition and we were very excited for the chance to dig a bit deeper into this game.

TIG So, just to start off with, we would like to get your personal stories and any background that contributed to your decision to make Los Cthuluchadores.

AERJEN My name is Aerjen Tamminga.  You should hear Bob try and pronounce it.  I’m actually a research psychologist, so most of my days are spent trying to figure out how humans work.  And by night I design games and try and apply some of my psychology background into that. Coming to the States I first found out about the Game Makers Guild, a group of game designers coming together to test each other’s games and the first time I was there somebody saw one of my games, was really interested in it, and was even talking about publishing and I was like “Oh, this is something you can do for real” and that’s when I started to actually pursue game design more seriously.

For the past year I’ve worked for the Boston Festival of Indie Games as a producer.  This year I’m a director. I now organize the Game Makers Guild myself and am really enjoying working together with Bob on Los Cthuluchadores:  Elder Things in the Wrestling Ring and hope that many more games are about to come.

TIG And Bob, what about you?

Cthulhu2BOB I’ve been in and out of the game industry for about twenty years now. Every time I get involved with a game I always end up getting a really good offer to go outside the game industry and of course I sometimes follow the money a little too seriously. But Los Cthuluchadores came to me after playing Guacamelee, which is an indie game.  I absolutely love it, love the puns, I am a big… if you ever want to play the game and make sure I laugh, give me a good pun and I’ll definitely crack up.  But the cool thing that happened was I knew I had a really good idea for a theme, but I didn’t have a mechanism and I wanted to make sure the game was really, really tight. So I talked to Aerjen about it and sort of brought him on and said “Hey, I got a great idea. Let’s see how we can get this developed and move forward”. And ever since then we have had just the best luck in design and in art and in cooperation and in learning and people’s feedback. It’s been an absolute pleasure to do.

I started out doing basic flash games on what is now Newgrounds, it used to be something before it was Newgrounds and then after those flash games I decided to get back into it with board games. I’ve been an avid board gamer, love to GM, love to role play, love to do all that stuff.  It’s just in my blood so I’m really, really happy to get this game out and at the professional quality it is.

TIG Bob, you touched briefly on the inspirations for the game a moment ago, but I was wondering if you could go a little deeper into that.

BOB Los Cthuluchadores has a challenge. People can’t pronounce it. They see the logo, they love the idea, they don’t know how to get their teeth into it. And that’s where we stumbled on to the tag “Elder Things in the Wrestling Ring.”

When I was a kid I loved watching the luchadores and professional wrestling.  [It’s] the idea of someone who’s masked, who is a hero of the people going out and fighting against other people.  Some people would argue it’s high farce; I would argue it’s like a comic book.  But then when you introduce the Cthulu mythos it puts such an interesting twist on it because everybody knows the Cthulu mythos, Lovecraftian works are all about this existential horror that people are afraid of.

I want a fast game. Two players in this game is five minutes if you know what you’re doing and know how to play the game; Four players can play in twenty minutes. So it’s a real fun, fast game. The idea that you can also evoke the themes of everything that Cthulu is, but totally tongue and cheek, became a design challenge. Look at Arkham Horror. It is a two hour game. Elder Sign, [is] an hour long game. Call of Cthulu is a game that you really have to be up for and sometimes you want something light. And this light tongue and cheek humorous approach to the Cthulu mythos is up there with Cthulu Munchkin.

We stumbled on using the origami as we were working on the game one day.  The designer walked by and she just dropped one of these on top of the game and then it became one of the big drivers because we like the idea that if you spend five minutes to make one of these—and it doesn’t take much longer—but then when somebody gets the ultimate domination rule and crushes it there is a feeling of loss. And there is a feeling of investment and if you combine that with the taunting rules it there is a payoff like I have never played in any other game.

AERJEN I would also describe it not necessarily as feelings of loss, but feelings of pure joy.  Being the crusher and not the crushee.

BOB I mean seriously, when you do this *crushes the origami he was holding* it is fun. And then you have to blow him back up so that’s even sillier. (Bob crushed that one a little too energetically and it was toast)

AERJEN I think some of the things [Bob was] talking about, the way he views games and game design, rings very true for me as well. I think that’s one of the reasons we work so well together. When Bob pitched the idea of hoisting Cthulu in spandex I was like “Yes!  That is something I want to do,” because I am familiar with a lot of Cthulu or Lovecraftian games, and I actually quite enjoy them myself.  I like the feeling of mounting dread and all of that but I also felt like, let’s do something different.  This is actually a theme and we tried to design and make the frivolity the core of the game by introducing the taunting mechanic which Bob was just referring to. Are you familiar with the taunting mechanic?

TIG I’m a little familiar with it. I’ve watched the videos of you two playing on the Kickstarter page. I’m glad you brought this up though because it leads right in to my next question. Could you give us a brief description of how the game is played?

Cthulhu1AERJEN To make it a bit chronological, I’ll not start with the taunting even though I think that’s actually the core of the game. The game itself revolves, as we said, around Cthuluchadores, Elder Things in the Wrestling Ring. The goal of the game is to either squeeze all of the ooze out of your opponent and basically wipe the wrestling ring with their desiccated husk, or convert the majority of the crowd into your loyal cult following and they’ll take over the whole arena. During the game every single move boils down to three basic maneuvers and just like [in] rock, paper, scissors:  A wins from B, B wins from C, and C wins from A.

Our basic moves are Shambling, so you basically ooze and slide along your ooze, so ooze is very important for mobility.  You have Grapple where somebody tries to hug and squeeze all the ooze out of the Cthuluchadore, and you have Counter, [in which] basically somebody is moving in for the squeeze—the Grapple—and you grab them by the tip of their tentacle and you fling them anywhere in the arena.  So that’s the base for the interaction.  That gets absolutely frantic and insane when actually played with the full game, which is [when] you’re playing with signature moves. They [are] also all based on the same three principles, but you can suddenly have ooze explosions, you can throw your opponent out of the ring, [or] you can corrupt somebody else’s followers.

Each turn is basically four steps:

Step 1) Both players choose an action—or, if you’re playing three player or four player, every player chooses an action. Everybody reveals and you check [to see whose move is dominant].

Step 2) If you’re dominating, you get five seconds to taunt your opponent.  You have five seconds to make your opponent laugh or crack a smile, and it doesn’t matter how you do it. We’ve seen all kinds of different things. We’ve seen people mimic what their Cthuluchadore was doing; we’ve seen people get a little physical and a little frisky; we’ve seen people crack jokes.  I’ve been amazed and very pleasantly surprised. About eighty or ninety percent of everybody we play the game with have actually gotten into it and really go for it.

Step 3) is mayhem.  [This is where] the movement happens, the damage happens, the oozing happens. And at the end of the turn you convert the crowd into your loyal cult following.  When you actually start playing the game you’ll notice that, yeah, it’s rock-paper-scissors, but there is actually this weird tactical depth in the game.  It’s like, “Alright I’m perfectly positioned to grapple that person, but if that person realizes that I’ll probably play grapple, they’ll probably play grapple.  They’ll think what I think they’ll think what I think or should I just do whatever I think is best and then that gets fun.

Bob Kelly

Bob Kelly

BOB  Just to relate one of the best experiences I’ve ever had was early in the game. This was before we had a beautiful board or our artwork was done and we had just got two colors on the board. We had just found out the importance of the taunt mechanism and a six year old kid was playing and his mom tells me “Hey, he’s going to be a little bit difficult, he doesn’t do eye contact well”.  I’m sitting there looking at the kid and all I see is the kid’s head because the kid doesn’t look at me at all. So we get to the taunt mechanism and he finally wins a round and now all of the sudden the six year old kid goes (makes a dry heaving sound). He’s already face down so I’m wondering what’s going on (more dry heaving noises).  And then he does this real cute look up at me and smiles.  I mean that’s one of those things that as a game designer you love to have happen. You love to have that one connection with somebody; and if I can provide that through this game, or any other game, it pays for itself. It pays for itself in joy.

I’ve made money. I’ve gone out and I’ve made money for other people. I’ve done the contracting gigs. This is the first time I’ve really made something that a perfect stranger has looked at it and smiled because of what I’ve done. And that is probably more important to me than any game mechanic, or using Cthulu, or anything like that. But the fact that it’s also part of all that is just really been probably one of the best experiences of my life. Definitely a high light of my game design life.

TIG Tell us a little bit about your Kickstarter campaign and how it is going.

BOB This is our first Kickstarter.  We’ve never done this before. We did this primarily as a learning experience and we set the value based on some expected sales and enough revenue for us to carry over to a few cons.  We’ve realized since then marketing is everything.  You can have the best product in the world and if you don’t have any marketing, if you don’t get anybody out there doing outreach it’s not going to be enough.

So we’re sitting at roughly $7800 if I remember, and we need $22,000 for it to go.  We now know a lot more about how to reach out to people like you. I cannot say how invaluable the blogosphere is.  You guys are so important about getting the word out about Kickstarters or about that.  Also learning how to get into conventions and then demoing our games to people.  It is so very important to have a wonderful looking game…you know I can take prototypes like we did a couple weeks ago and do our play tests, but showcasing the game, going up to complete strangers and saying, “Hey would you like to play this game?”[is] a skill that both Aerjen and I are learning how to do.

I am disappointed that it isn’t at the $22,000 level at this point, but I’m not discouraged.  I think that the amount of information I’ve learned, [and] there are some really neat people who you meet doing these Kickstarters and it ranges from just people who are creative and artistic, to people who just really, really, really just want to help you.  And if you learn how to say yes to these people, good things happen, there’s no doubt in my mind.  I mean if you look at our trending on Kickstarter, we were running flat. But we’re going north again, we’re beginning to hit that number. So, we may not make it, but we’re beginning to pick up speed again.

We are definitely going to reach out to you and everybody else and make sure you get copies of the game this time. We’re gonna make sure we find ways of getting it into your hands so that you can actually experience some of the things we’re experiencing. The other thing that I’d really like to point out that I love, [is that] almost to a word—to a person—a reviewer that has touched the game and made a review [has been] glowingly positive about our art work.  [They’ve] been glowingly positive about the things that we’ve done. It’s up there with the [story about that] kid, of knowing that I’ve got a good solid product that I’d love for people to play.  It’s just a matter of getting it into their hands.

AERJEN In terms of Kickstarter and marketing I think [Bob] was selling us a little bit short there, because we did actually spend time on marketing.  We really tried to learn about how Kickstarter works before we actually went to Kickstarter.  So we went through all the Stonemaier Kickstarter blogs, which are fantastic.  We’ve gone through I don’t know how many episodes of Funding the Dream on Kickstarter, and other blogs and podcasts in preparation.  At the same time, the amount of information, for me at least, at some point in time becomes almost overwhelming and you start seeing things contradicting each other. For example:  what’s the best day to launch, how should you set your funding goal, how do you reach out. We basically tried to do our best with that and I think some of the things we’ve done we’ve done very well.

We actually have a product that has been fully play tested, which has been going, not just to friends, family, regular game maker’s guild meetups, but also to stores and to random strangers playing the game and doing blind play tests and at the same time [we were] still being open to what people say. Now we’ve put the free print and play files up on the Kickstarter and we’ve sent things out to reviewers.

I do feel that we’ve definitely have reached out but there were things we could have done and possibly should have done before we launched, which we’ve learned in hindsight that were more important than we thought.

TIG Thinking positive thoughts, let’s say your Kickstarter is fully funded by the deadline.  Walk us through the step-by-step process of what would happen next.

BOB This one is a lot of fun.  Aerjen did a lot of investigation on how to get the pieces printed and in a box. We’re looking at Panda Publishing and some of the other publishers in China and here in America.  So publishing and printing runs from 500 to 1500 [units].

We would love, absolutely love to be able to have enough purchases around the world where we can ship to Amazon centers in America, in Canada, in England. They just opened one up in Netherlands.  And we’re seeing a lot of interest, of course, in Brazil and believe it or not, Australia. To ship it to Australia from America would be $40. So of 1000 prints we want 100 of them to be shipped to Australia, we want another 100 to be shipped to Brazil, we want another 500 to be shipped to America.  The majority of the money goes to a combination of printing and shipping to the different locations.

To fulfill our Kickstarter [pledges] we would pay the shipping and fulfillment out of the budget we’d raised out of Kickstarter to ship to the individual rewards to all of the people that pledged. Everybody who has done a $10 pledge [will receive] a print and play [PDF] download with instructions on how to construct the game.

We have basically two levels of pledges [above $10].  One is the people who have participated [at a high enough donation to receive] signature moves.  Here’s the signature moves for one of our characters, the Azul Abhorrence.  He has nine extra signature moves that we need to create and we already know what tactics we want to put in.  [We tell the donator] “This is a shamble move—the tactic is whatever tactic we decided—and we need a name for it. What would you like to name this move?”  More importantly, we have two lines of twelve characters each, so it can only be 24 characters long.  So we have to get that pledge backer to engage in a little bit of creativity.

We’re also gonna name all of our cultists, so one of the backer levels is for people who want to have their names on the cultists.  One backer, his brother unfortunately died, and was into wrestling a lot apparently and so he wants to have his brother immortalized in the game and we said, “Absolutely, we’d be honored to do that!”

Then, once we actually have enough of the units in all of the Amazon locations, we go on to other conventions and start pushing in a more conventional sense of self distribution.  [Customers] can come to our websites and buy the game, both through Aerjen Games and, but then the key thing is that we get it into local game stores and we get people to play the game.

I love our four player rules.  We have the free-for-all, which is everybody looking out for themselves, and then we have tag-team.  [Aerjen] loves the free- for-all.  I love the tag team.  Let’s say the four of us were playing.  The two of you would be on one side, we would be on the other.  The fun thing about that is that both of us can taunt you, and both of you can taunt me.  So we’re trying to make Andrew laugh, but Aerjen and I would get to do it together.

AERJEN We’ve  thought about how we can make sure that things go as smoothly as possible, also realizing this is our first time doing this so the less risk we run in messing things up the better. You see some [Kickstarter] campaigns where you’ve got all these different pledge levels where this game comes with this or that game comes with that and we decided that if someone pledges to get one extra card, [then] everybody gets that extra card.  So, the more cards that people pledge to be added to the game, the more cards will be in the final game.

Also, when researching different manufactures, obviously we’ve been working with them to get different quotes and figuring out what is the optimum number of components.  How can we make sure that we have everything we want in this game and what is the room to add extra things without moving to another cost bracket. For example, with cards you usually have [a set number of] cards per sheet.  If you add one, you pay for another sheet instead of just one card.  However, one of the manufacturers in the States that we are talking to actually [has customers] pay per card instead of per sheet.  So we wanted to make sure we had one manufacturer that we really want to go for, and then we have a backup one just in case their factory blows up.  I hope not—keeping my fingers crossed.

BOB It all depends on the opportunity that’s in front of us. We talk to all of our options and we look at all options and we find out which one is going to be cost effective, but more importantly quality effective.

TIG That sounds fantastic!  So once the game is published, do you have any plans for additional support?  Will there be any expansions to the game?

BOB I am really excited about our two expansion packs. The first one is El Lodo Sobre Aztlan, which is “the Ooze over Aztlan.” We get to introduce items that are in the spectator arena and you get to throw the items back into the ring.

AERJEN We have the Folding Chair of Doom!

BOB The Folding Chair of Doom! Come on, you just stepped on my joke!

AERJEN I’m sorry, I just couldn’t wait any more.

BOB We are really excited about the Folding Chair. Seriously, I’ve got goosebumps.  We already know for people who learn the game and who play the game you don’t need the folding chair of doom and it’s perfect for an expansion.  If somebody really loves the game and we throw in the folding chair, they’re gonna love the folding chair of doom, guaranteed.

The other one is Cultos Innombrables, “Unspeakable Cults” where as you’re placing items around, the cultists start taking their own little actions by themselves, and they fight with the other cultists.  ‘Cause you know, you can’t control fans.  They’re going to do what they’re going to do.

As you can tell, both Bob and Aerjen are very excited about this game, and quite frankly so are we. We’re really looking forward to getting a copy in hand and testing it out for ourselves. Again we’d like to thank Bob and Aerjen for their time and for offering us a peek into their process and their minds.

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Filed under Andrew Hales, Gaming, Interview, Tracy Gronewold