A New Way to See What We’re Planning

Do you like knowing what we’ve got up our sleeves? Well, we’ve made it easier by publishing a Google Calendar just for you! Just click on calendar in our top menu and you’ll see a list of everything we’ve got coming. And since it’s a live Google calendar, you’ll always be up to date with Educating [Geeks].

New Calendar

And here’s a peek at the calendar to get you started:

Sara’s Best of Season 1 Episode – American Horror Story

944254_580439478662353_1320947412_n

Photo by Stanley Bain

Picking favorites is not something I’m good at. I would never be able to, say, rank the cheekbones of Benedict Cumberbatch, Matt Smith, and Tom Hiddleston. I have 6 cats and my favorite changes on almost an hourly basis. And it’s always difficult for me to choose my favorite characters when we get to that part of the discussion on every Educating [Geeks] podcast. So I was shocked (and I’m sure the other ladies were as well!)  that I knew immediately which episode of Educating [Geeks] was my very favorite of 2013.

Here is where I insert a flashback sequence to 2012, when I was asked by Phoenix Comicon staff if I wanted to participate in any of a list of panels that were needing additional panelists. I jumped at the chance to participate in an American Horror Story discussion with one of the Horror Department staff members, a moderator, and everyone who attended our panel. I was asked the following year to return for American Horror Story: Asylum and knew that I had to invite the rest of the Geekhosts and turn the panel into a podcast.

At our planning meetings, we all are very guilty of letting our ideas for guest Geekhosts get away from us. If we had all the people we wanted to invite on each podcast, we’d have several dozen Geekhosts at once and it would be chaos. But we were able to bring additional voices into our American Horror Story: Asylum discussion because of Phoenix Comicon. These friends and strangers alike brought a lot of great insight and analysis. With the audience participation, we were able to get into some really deep stuff, like the themes of identity, mistrust, ambition, and the many faces of evil on AHS: Asylum.

The format of American Horror story showcases one of our favorite things: watching actors act. With the actors recast as completely different characters (even with different accents!) for each season, we get to see how great their talents really are. In addition to the actors demonstrating their versatility, AHS shows the flexibility of creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk. Not only have these guys been bringing us 3 years now of sexy horror programming, they are also responsible for all the teenage angst and schmaltzy fun of Glee. How’s that for range?!

Highlights of the podcast:

  • The record scratch during our intro music and the start of “Dominique” by The Singing Nun. We had the song playing on repeat during the panel as attendees filed into the room and I really loved how our genius editor and Geekhost Megan was able to translate that experience into something the podcast listeners could also enjoy
  • Before Bri did the official intro, Alice and I had a very sweet “you look beautiful!” “I like your new necklace!” exchange that gives a behind-the-scenes glimpse of our actual relationships to each other. It could have been easily edited out for the podcast release, but I love that it was left in. We don’t just play nice for the podcast, we are all very fond of each other in real life.
  • Megan’s Tom Cruise bit. “Tom Cruise in Tom Cruise’s movie starring Tom Cruise: ‘Tom Cruise.’” I get the giggles pretty bad every time I hear it.
  • Megan complains about the Monsignor genuflecting backwards (Anglican way vs Catholic way) and we realize that we still haven’t figured out what gets Bri “bunched up” as she put it. I have the hypodermic needle thing (the angles at which IV needles are stuck is just so completely unrealistic in most shows), and Alice has her gun thing (any experienced gun owner would NEVER just walk around with their finger on the trigger). I’m sure when we figure out what Bri’s thing is, it will be front page news on our blog.
  • When polling the audience to see whether AHS: Murder House or AHS: Asylum was their favorite, Megan says, “It’s hard to choose, right? Because they’re so very different.” SEEEEEE!!!!! I get teased by the other Geekhosts all the time for never being able to pick my favorites, so I am glad to have Megan back me up on this.
  • And my favorite audience drinking game rules suggestion: “Keep drinking until you think you’re as drunk as the writers were when they came up with the plot twists.”
Tagged , , ,

Bri’s Best of Season 1 Episode – Iconica

blogiconica

As soon as the question “What was your favorite episode?” was posed I immediately shouted “ICONICA!

Iconica was my first foray into tabletop gaming, and it was the perfect introduction. Iconica is a card and dice game with a few other elements thrown in, creator Eric Torres gave me an opportunity to pick his brain after we recorded our episode and gives an excellent explanation on how the game was created:

Q: What inspired the gameplay format for Iconica?

A: I enjoy games, films, and stories that focus on a group of people on a journey, whether that journey is metaphorical or physical. The idea of questing and traveling are underlying themes in much of our creations. Iconica was inspired by such ideas and positions the player as the leader of a questing party.

Right now, Iconica is primarily a contest between two groups of characters who face off against each other. There are plans to boost the RPG side of Iconica further, which we’re really excited to share. Basically, Iconica characters will be able to be used in a variety of scenario modules which feature places and story lines on Rynaga. The rules of Iconica won’t change, only there will be added variables and missions to complete during play.

Q: How did you balance the characters and gameplay?

A: This is a complex process involving lots of math. While this mechanic provides structure, we also allow for individuality in the characters we create. The game would be pretty boring without a balance between the two. A good friend of mine named Ryan assisted tremendously with the math mechanic and we refined it to allow for both structure and flexibility.

To me, great character based table top games are built on a solid mechanic that allows for surprise and novelty as well. It’s important to our team to release characters that feel like individuals. Each character is capable of greatness, just as every person is in real life. This means a Juggler could face off against and Assassin and come out victorious by using the right actions at the right time.

Q: When did you start on the project?

A: I started working seriously on World of Rynaga stories and art in 2000. Iconica was released in 2008 and took a little over two years to develop. So, I guess that means I started working on Iconica in 2005 or so. (I’m bad with dates.)

Q: How many people were involved?

Creating Iconica is something I can’t do alone. I work with several guys and girls who are part of an Iconica Development Team. We have conversations about the game’s growth. We test cards and debate their actions, always with the idea of individuality in mind. We imagine each character’s role in the World of Rynaga setting and think about the possibilities for future RPG application.

Q: What was the testing process like?

A: It depends on the character. Some characters, such as Disruptive Class characters, tend to involve lots of scrutiny because they have a tendency to impact the pace and flow of the game. In general, testing usually involves several players play-testing the character in different party structures. With as many combinations of characters that are possible, it’s not realistic to test every single combination.

In the end, we rely on principles of character creation to guide what actions and skills a character has. In most cases testing characters happens over the course of a few weeks. Character development in a game like Iconica is not always perfect. We’ve made mistakes which led to scrapping a few characters and starting over, but that’s the nature of small press publishing and creating original content.

Q: Is there an overarching storyline for the world?

A: Yes. The backdrop for Iconica is really about the people of Rynaga. Most of these people live out their day to day lives in search of adventure, fortune, and fame. They’re explorers, wanderers, and freelancers. Yet, there is a growing tension between two idealistic factions – an alien race known as Sarion (Legion faction) and some of the native races of Rynaga (Protectorate faction).

The aliens, who were stranded on Rynaga ages ago, consider themselves of higher intellect and seek to gain power and influence over others. The Protectorate is a group who resist Sarion domination. Both sides have their good and bad, but it’s this conflict that will eventually define Rynaga’s place in the universe.

Iconica players are a different lot. They’re looking for a connection they can be involved in between a game and its setting. This is something we take seriously. Anyone can submit suggestions, ideas, and comments to us and we’re small enough to take them seriously. As we continue our quest to share original fiction and design, storylines will continue to drive our game experiences.

A big thank you to Eric Torres for taking the time to give us a little more insight into Iconica!

Make sure you listen to the episode and pay attention for some of my favorite moments (besides playing the game itself):

  • 4:35, 25:00 & 46:25 We mention Pokemon (pretty much every twenty minutes)
  • 8:52 Alice explains the gameplay of Iconica
  • 12:35 Vicious gameplay strategies are discussed
  • 30:25 Cassie can’t get over the fact it takes YEARS to play DND
  • 38:38 I like characters with staffs and I’m not scared to admit it
  • 41:33 Andrea is adorable
  • 51:00 Drinking game rules!
  • 55:58 We all express our feelings on Megan’s favorite character
  • 57:58 We discuss Megan’s husband’s dice strategy

We Want Your Input!

We’re continuing the celebration of our first year by asking YOU our listeners to give us a piece of your mind! You’ve listened to the podcast, you’ve seen our first two picks for Best of Season 1, but you haven’t told us what you think.

Please, take just a few minutes to fill out this survey because we really want to know what you think. We appreciate your feedback!

Cassie’s Best of Season 1 Episode – Katamari Damacy

Katamari Damacy gameplay. Photo: g4tv.com

When we were asked to pick our favorite Season One episode of Educating [Geeks], I didn’t hesitate: Katamari Damacy, featuring Alice, Bri, Megan, Sara and me.

My selection was immediate, final and firm – and I’m still not quite sure why. The video game, hailing from Japan with a global following, is alright. I’m not a big fan of it like our resident Katamari expert Megan, and I was definitely the worst of the group at playing it.

But there’s just something so endearing about a cute, beleaguered, little alien dude who has to “roll around a sticky ball and pick sh*t up,” as Alice so eloquently describes it in the E[G] episode.

This is amazing and geekily heart-warming and ridiculous and amazing.
Photo: offbeatbride.com

Oh, and did I mention that the little alien dude is called The Prince of All Cosmos? And that his enormous father, The King of All Cosmos, is a malicious, insecure, slave-driving addict who forces his wee son to clean up the King’s mess throughout the universe so the stars and constellations can be restored?

The game’s feeble storyline has all the makings of a Shakespearean tragedy, or at least that’s how we all read into it. To be fair, we’re a group of women, and… you know, reading too much into meager details is kind of what we do. But there are some interesting aspects of the story and characters that can be gleaned from a few hours of play.

For instance, we couldn’t get over all of the sexual innuendo and references to drugs. Some were subtle, and some definitely weren’t. Either way, it made for a very amusing Saturday afternoon. Also, as a primarily single-player game, it allowed for side conversations and encouragement from the group, without the competition that multi-player games normally require.

Random baby cosplay. I just…
Photo: adailygoodthing.com

If you’re looking for a fun team-building exercise, Katamari may just be the game to assign. We also recommend you keep alcohol handy. Though it likely won’t help with your score, it’ll make The Prince and The King’s interactions that much more hilarious.

My favorite highlights from the podcast are:

  • 21:30 – 26:50 — Alice and Sara discuss their first cracks at Katamari, and Alice realizes her deep-rooted issues with WOW.
  • 30:10 – 32:30 — Megan explains a hilarious, yet horrifying, plot twist in the video game’s storyline.
  • 37:48 – 43:13 — Megan details Katamari’s origins at NAAMCO, and then describes another interesting video game that Katamari’s creator developed.
  • 57:14 – 57:35 — Alice, Bri, Megan and Sara break into the theme song, and it’s adorable.

Still not quite sure how Katamari works? Check out a fantastic commercial and fan video here.

 

Tagged , , , , , ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: