A Closer Look at Elements of Mirror’s Edge Catalyst’s Visual Coding and Use of Cyberpunk Themes

In my longer review of Mirror’s Edge Catalyst I talked about how it was an ultimately anemic attempt at an activist piece of science-fiction; it failed to consider its liberal message on a level beyond what seemed to me to be the superficial. This was primarily a result of its creation of a bland dichotomy between terrorists on one end (who believed and exposited at great length that tacit acceptance of inequality made people a fair target for being killed in the name of the cause) and a peaceful progressive movement that seemed mostly to exist to make the protagonist appear to have agency. There was never a proper sense of struggle; the status quo seemed to be set up purely to hinge on the protagonist – and thus the player’s – actions.

Note: This article discusses in close detail the story of Mirror’s Edge Catalyst.

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Short Story – The Special Consultant

As my recent review suggests, I have not long finished Mirror’s Edge Catalyst. I enjoyed it, for the most part.

It reminded me that some time ago I wrote some short stories in that vein, and indeed began a never-properly-started cyberpunk-psychedelia Storium campaign with some friends to continue the idea.

It seemed a good time to revive this idea.

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Video Game Review – Mirror’s Edge Catalyst (Version Reviewed: PS4)

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is a game I was eagerly looking forward to playing for no reason other than the flawed original’s immensely enjoyable gameplay; the first game offered something interesting and different, a first-person acrobatic platforming game which offered minimal combat. It was not perfect, and felt underdeveloped, but the sequel seemed to offer a fuller and more developed experience. I am thoroughly enjoying Catalyst as a game; its mechanics are more polished, it has a large amount of missions to complete and its aesthetics are excellent (and Solar Fields’ soundtrack, readily available to purchase online, is well worth buying for any fans of ambient music). But it is a game I am enjoying despite a lot of flaws; while there is a well-made game there, it is dressed up in a lot of superfluous and questionable design decisions.

Note: This review discusses in some detail the plot of Mirror’s Edge Catalyst.

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Video Game Review – Dishonored and Dishonored 2 (PS3 / PS4)

Having recently played both Dishonored games in succession, I have had the opportunity to compose my thoughts about the series; initially I was eager to discount it as not for me simply because stealth games are not my favourite type and the nonspecific steampunk-pseudo-British aesthetic of the first game, all whalers, fog and clunky technology, seemed overplayed and uninteresting. However, I came to quite enjoy the games as I played through them and even ended up playing the second in a mostly non-lethal fashion, with attempts at a much higher level of stealth and creativity than the first game (which ended up as a kind of farce as a masked assassin roamed the streets lobbing grenades and land-mines and shooting pistols at anything that moved).

Note: This review discusses a number of plot points from both Dishonored and Dishonored 2 and assumes some familiarity with the games’ stories.

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Heavy Gear Blitz Battle Report (150TV, CNCS vs AST)

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A Northern elite Gear, a testbed for a new loadout of the Grizzly chassis assigned to a notable Duellist and test pilot, had been shot down in the small town of Astragius. Both sides immediately diverted nearby patrols to recover the wreck, a Southen Jager unit racing to reach it before a Northern reinforced patrol of Hunters and Jaguars reached it. On the way, both commanders decided to call for reinforcements – Southern units were first to the fight, as Astragius was close to a nearby base. By the time combat was joined only a single Northern unit had arrived as backup, a heavy unit of large Gears intending to carve a path through the numerous Southern units and recover the wreck. The North, however, had another advantage – the patrol had been joined by Oliver Arseid, an ace pilot with a sterling record and highly-customised urban warfare Grizzly.

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Series Review: Nekketsu Saikyou Gosaurer (1993)

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The Eldran super-robot series is arguably less well-known than the Yuusha series, in part owing to a lack of translation available before the licensing of Absolutely Invincible Raijin-Oh. Before I watched any of the shows, I was aware of them only as younger-skewing adventure series which had largely interchangeable designs and often large casts of principal characters. However, after seeing that Nekketsu Saikyou Gosaurer (1993-4) (according to ANN translated as Matchless Passion Gosaurer) was receiving ongoing subtitles – and having seen a few episodes of the fully translated Ganbaruger – I decided to try it. The series proved highly enjoyable, standing out within a crowded and largely interchangeable genre as being among the better examples.

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Tabletop Game Rules: “Don’t Be Defeated By a Friend”

It has been some time since I last attempted to design a tabletop game, but I have recently been working on a ruleset.

The intent is to create a game in the mould of Osprey’s light and thematic miniatures skirmish games such as Black Ops, Rogue Stars and Frostgrave, except with a fantastical theme not currently widely served by other products.

Don’t Be Defeated By a Friend is intended to emulate the aesthetics and fights of Japanese console RPGs and young-adult action anime. Its inspirations are chiefly the Persona and Trails video games, and series such as Busou Renkin, Full Metal Alchemist and so on, although there are aspects of Final Fantasy present as well.

Mechanically the system draws on Frostgrave, Black Ops, Mordheim, A Fistful of Kung Fu, The Walking Dead: All Out War and Infinity to varying degrees.

Currently the ruleset is at beta version 0.4; all of the basic rules for unit creation, combat, movement and magic have been written as well as initial skill and equipment tables. Limited solitaire playtesting has taken place to determine what seem to be initial appropriate values for points costs, baseline statistics etcetera.

Missing are campaign rules, character advancement, advanced and magical equipment tables and rules for adult characters. Development of these, I feel, should not take place until the core mechanics are in a more advanced state.

I am putting a playtest version of the current ruleset up on this blog for people to read and hopefully playtest. While I have, in the past, started and abandoned many projects this one I feel is more complete and playable even in its current unfinished state.

Change Log

v0.4 -> v0.4a

p4 – Regaining balance as part of a Push Back move rules, first sentence now reads “If this would take the defender over a precipice or drop, they must roll 1d12 and exceed the total distance they were pushed back to regain their balance…”

p6, “Base Statistics” – re-ordered statistics in body text in line with examples

Game Rules (Updated 31/01/17 @ 22:31 to version 0.4a):

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Blank Stat Sheet:

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Writing Prompt #004 “The Fruit-Seller of Divine Grace Street”

The prompt I chose when I opened my book of writing prompts this time was simply the word “Lemonade.”

A while ago I wrote some “comfortable”, Sei Shonagon-inspired fantasy vignettes, and so I revisited this concept to  write a short piece about a town with an interesting landmark – the sort of curious traveller’s-journal thing that I enjoy reading, only this time in a nonspecific fantasy setting. It is a little inspired by my experiences of temples in Kyoto and Osaka, but I tried not to make it too tied to one nation or other.

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Board Game Review – Pandemic Legacy Season 1

As I come to the end of playing a campaign of Pandemic Legacy, I feel it is time to review the game; it is the first “Legacy” or permanent campaign-based game of its kind I have really played (apart technically from Time Stories and Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, which have a similar limited-plays nature but are a series of discrete missions to complete one at a time rather than a narrative campaign), and I was interested to see if it was as good as the reviews suggested. I have always had reservations about the idea of a board game with limited opportunities to be played, but I entered the campaign with an open mind.

Now the campaign is all but complete, I have thought about what I made of the experience; I enjoyed the game a lot, but at the same time a number of issues meant I never felt it was a truly great game. The potential is there for the Legacy boardgame model to do interesting things (although I still feel much of the design space it opens could be replicated with non-destructive alternatives such as apps), and I am eager to see how later games develop the ideas seen in Pandemic Legacy‘s first “season.”

Note: This review will discuss the development of the Pandemic Legacy Season 1 campaign, including details of hidden information and scenarios.

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