Keyboard Geniuses

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That Magic Moment

Highlights from the week’s comment threads.

By Matt Gerardi • June 22, 2012

Keyboard Geniuses is our weekly glance at a few intriguing, witty, or otherwise notable posts from the Gameological discussion threads. Comments have been excerpted and edited here for grammar, length, and/or clarity. You can follow the links to see the full threads.

Sex, Booze, And CCGs
Magic: The Gathering cards

This week, Drew Toal told the story of the Spellfire: Master The Magic, a collectible card game from the creators of Dungeons & Dragons meant to capitalize on the success of Magic: The Gathering. HobbesMkii shared a story from Salon written by a former Wizards Of The Coast employee that offers an alcohol, goth, and sex-filled look into the Magic maker’s formative years:

Further irony: Peter Adkinson founded Wizards primarily to write companion lore books for RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons. When that got him sued, he and Garfield set up Magic (under Garfield Games, licensing it to Wizards) which eventually gave Wizards enough capital to purchase D&D.

John Tynes wrote a great article about working at Wizards in the early days for Salon back in 2001. I think it makes an excellent companion piece to this article, examining Magic versus D&D from the other side. It’s kind of a profile of an upstart young company that hits a success and loses its creative compass.

Elsewhere in the comments, The_Misanthrope wrote that it wasn’t just Spellfire that tried to get a piece of that Magic pie:

Spellfire would hardly be the last one to try to cash in. In the post-Magic CCG boom, if you had a [movie/TV] franchise or other intellectual property, there was likely a CCG made about it: Mortal Kombat, Austin Powers, SimCity, Dr. Who, etc. Or, if you were feeling particularly bold, the publisher would just make up something whole-cloth, though it was often tied into an existing (though often little-known) RPG-world. Even WOTC would make several more attempts to re-catch lightning in a bottle: Vampire: The Eternal Struggle, Rage, Battletech, Netrunner, etc. Few would build an audience beyond a cult following; I doubt many of them remain in print to this day (Illuminati: New World Order is the only one I can think of off the top of my head).

I’m pretty sure I remember, at the peak of the copycat fad (’95 or ’96, I think), that I was running the registration desk at our university Games Club’s convention and the freebie/door-prize bin was so full of knockoff CCGs that I couldn’t give them away by the end of the con (I was throwing them at con-goers, though). Good or bad gameplay, shameless copy or original concept, there was just no way to stand out amongst the glut of CCGs. There even developed a sort of anti-Magic/CCG strain among the “pure” RPG players.

These days, I’d rather play a good game of Munchkin or BANG! over MTG. Or I suppose I’ll play a game with a deck of playing cards, but that is just so boring and old-fashioned. I crave a narrative in my games.

Actually, a Doctor Who card game sounds like it could be pretty rad.

On The Merits Of Wanton Excess
Alternate Soundtrack: Super Mario World & Beastie Boys' Check Your Head

The latest edition of Alternate Soundtrack matched Super Mario World with The Beastie Boys’ Check Your Head, but Derrick Sanskrit’s tongue-in-cheek association of Super Mario Bros. 3 with “wanton excess” drew the attention of some commenters. Girard argued that it was this excess that made the third installment so special:

If that’s wanton excess, then I’m pretty sure more games need it. Mario 3 innovated in so many ways upon the prior games that it hardly resembled them, despite being on the same system [the NES]. Such a huge variety of imaginative worlds (many of which you could just warp on by and never see, but that you’d have to come back and visit on a later playthrough), so many weird little secrets and ways to find them, and so many inventive and weird powers. There was so much there.

Not to slag Mario World, which should be lauded for trying some different things, and not just being more of the same, becoming arguably as great (greater, to some) as SMB3, but in its own way.

Contrast this inventiveness with the New Super Mario Bros. series, in which every game looks virtually identical despite spanning (now) 4 systems, in which “secrets” are unlocked by finding 3 big gold coins you know are in every level, and where “new, innovative power-ups” are unimaginative variations on the fireflower (…but this one shoots ice! …but this one makes…coins…or something!).

I agree. There is a distinct lack of giant boot-based power-ups in today’s games.

Even More British Game Shows!
Only Connect

John Teti’s journey into the world of British game shows might have come to an end this week, but there’s still a vast ocean of quizzes and dry humor still left unexplored. Captain_Internet provided some recommendations to kick off your own expedition:

Challenge! I forgot there was a whole TV channel dedicated to [U.K. game shows]. There’s days of fun to be had with the Challenge show list and YouTube’s search function. Particular recommendations: Bullseye, Big Break, Goldenballs, and the anti-gameshow, Shooting Stars.

Merchant Monotony
Rhianna Pratchett

On Anthony John Agnello’s interview with Rhianna Pratchett, the writer of Overlord and Mirror’s Edge, a discussion of the role of video game writers led Kurt Schiller to observe that writing assignments in the business can be rather dreary:

Companies absolutely do have in-house writers who deal in dialog, flavor text, and so on. But it’s less “Create an overarching narrative that seamlessly blends high adventure and fantasy!” and more “Write 30 things a vendor will say when you buy a sword.”

And root (1ltc) accepted the challenge:

01) Thank you!
02) A fine choice.
03) I was hoping you would get that.
04) Long and shiny—just how you like it.
05) Good! My children can eat tonight!
06) Don’t forget to equip it. (tutorial pop-up prompt)
07) I hope you kill many monsters with that!
08) Well, you asked for it. (if weaker sword is purchased)
09) Hot off the anvil!
10) Test the grip on that.
11) For a few bits more I can monogram that for you.
12) There’s a million more where that came from. Literally.
13) Hold it from the hilt, not the blade.
14) You’ll have to clean the blood off of it yourself.
15) Don’t bring this to a gunfight.
16) You like murder and I like money. We all win!
17) Some of my better handiwork, if I say so myself.
18) Your purchase pleases me.
19) No scabbard? Why don’t any of you want to buy a scabbard with these?
20) How does it feel in your hands? Good? Now try the sword.
21) I’m glad you’ll use my craft in the name of justice. … you are fighting for justice, right?
22) No common infantry sword for you, eh?
23) No shoes? No shirt? I guess you have priorities.
24) Give ‘em a short, sharp shock. Dig it?
25) You’ll definitely assert your manhood with that!
26) I threw in the sharpening for free.
27) Now you’re wielding something powerful! Uh.. with the sword, yes.
28) Normally I’d say “don’t get yourself killed”, but you always seem to resurrect. Are you mortal?
29) The King has ordered me to stop making phallic jokes, so I’ll just say thanks.
30) Did you ever have the feeling of deja vu? It seems like we’ve done this before.

That wraps up another week in Gameological. 1. Thanks for reading! 2. Have a nice weekend! 3. See you on Monday. 4. Tell your friends! …

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228 Responses to “That Magic Moment”

  1. Effigy_Power says:

    I shall forever consider Root my personal nemesis from now on, just because he wrote his list faster than me. Also I only had 10 items. And they weren’t particularly funny. And I had them scribbled on my tablet.
    Otherwise… grrr! -shakes fist-

    • HobbesMkii says:

       I thought of about a dozen, but after Root posted, there was no way I was following that.

    • GhaleonQ says:

      I blame the bullet hell shoot-’em-ups for his quickness.  I imagine his fingers are grotesquely muscular, like they were drawn by John Kricfalusi.

  2. stakkalee says:

    So what’s next for Special Topics in Gameology?

    Also, I’m totally getting a fetish for women in bodysuits with pig-noses.  Weird.

  3. The_Misanthrope says:

    I made it, baby!  Rather, I made it, and not just as a link-aggregator. 

    So just remember, kids, put in the work, perform your abolutions, and sacrifice a young child–it doesn’t have to your own!–to Comment Cat weekly.  You, too, can make it!

    • HobbesMkii says:

       I made it as a link-aggregator this week. Although, in my defense, my link caused John Tynes to show up in the comments section to chat briefly about Wizards.

      I’m not sure if that makes it worth more than getting in last week for photoshoping an image or less.

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

      Eventually all the regulars will have had a comment highlighted and the honor will be rendered meaningless. I just hope they give inanimate carbon rod the recognition he deserves.

      • The_Misanthrope says:

         Yeah, but I got in on the ground floor of this phenomenon.  Right now, I’ve got hot-and-cold-running prestige over here.  It’s only later that the young folks will eye-roll through another boring story about how “Comment Cat published my comment that one time”.

        Boy, that came off far more cynical than I was hoping for.

        • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

          I mostly just wanted to make a Simpsons reference. I will forever honor comment cat and his fine comment highlights.

      • Merve says:

        Pffft…who cares about Comment Cat? Discussion Dog is the man!

        • HobbesMkii says:

          Well, as long as Bigot Bird doesn’t show up, everything should be fine.

        • Merve says:

          @HobbesMkii:disqus: Last I heard, he was hanging out with Racist Raccoon.

        • HobbesMkii says:

          Speaking of rodents, have you seen Salacious Squirrel around? I’m still on the fence about that guy.

        • Merve says:

          Salacious Squirrel ain’t bad. I’d rather hang out with him than with Horny Hamster.

        • Effigy_Power says:

           As long as we can keep Righteous Indignation Stoat out of the way, we should be okay.
          Mind you, I hear he’s talking about gay rights with Teenage Screaming Fest Wombat.

        • HobbesMkii says:

           @Effigy_Power:disqus Now, I’m not saying you can’t join in our reindeer games…but, unless you keep to the established framework, you can’t join in our reindeer games.

        • Merve says:

          @HobbesMkii:disqus: Looks like @Effigy_Power:disqus needs a visit from Alliteration Antelope.

        • HobbesMkii says:

           Unfortunately, that’s not an option. Alliteration Antelope was killed and eaten by a Literary Lion.

        • Effigy_Power says:

           Leave me alone, or Putdown Puma is going to post something nasty on your blogs.

  4. Girard says:

    Woohoo! Maximum verbosity pays off again!

  5. Effigy_Power says:

    Hmm, all of Deus Ex on Steam for $15… that’s actually too good to not buy. Guess I know what I’ll be playing next weekend.

  6. JohnnyLongtorso says:

    The Doctor Who CCG was horrible. Half the cards had crappy CGI art and the gameplay was basically really dumbed-down Magic the Gathering.

    There’s a fan-made Doctor Who CCG, but I have no idea whether it’s any good. The guy who created it is disturbingly devoted: