Monthly Archives: February 2013

Ragequitting over minor issues

Just last night, someone ragequit Exalted on the White Wolf forums because the word “magitech” is not going to appear in third edition.

Read that again.

He ragequit over a word. It’s not a profanity. It’s not an insult, it’s not an ethnic slur, it’s not racist or sexist or ableist or any other -ist. It’s a classification for a specific kind of artefact, and more to the point, it’s a classification that isn’t really needed for anything.

That’s ludicrous. Quitting because pulp fantasy isn’t your thing? OK. Quitting because you don’t like the philosophy they’re taking toward the Yozis? We’ll miss you. Quitting because you don’t like the writers’ hints about the Lunar revisions? Don’t be a stranger. Quitting because of one word? Nope, sorry. That’s not picking a hill to die on, that’s plonking your backside on an anthill. It’s so incredibly minor an issue that I can only assume you are attempting to demand attention by behaving like a four-year-old not getting a toy he wants and throwing a tantrum.

(I’m not going to name names, because my policy when people are doing silly things for attention is to mock them a little and move on.)

– OSM out


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Filed under For your big fat Exaltation

A change of plan

I’m going to shift this blog to Monday-Friday now that Monday is no longer a day when things happen early.

I hope you can bear the difficult change in going from crap being posted on Tuesday to crap being posted on Monday.

– OSM out

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Filed under How to Build a Thing

Terry Deary’s libraries rant

It’s always a shame when someone whose work you admire explodes in a rain of offensive nonsense. Scott Adams’ “men’s rights” post used to be the standout here, but I found a new one, in the form of Terry Deary’s proclamation that libraries were robbing him.

Yeah, no.

I doubt Deary will read this, but just in case:


When I was a kid, the Horrible Histories books were among my favourites. I read them voraciously at the school library. They provided a great impetus to my early love of books and libraries, which I carry with me today. (Before you explode again, I’ll say that I do actually own several of them, albeit submerged in the depths of my groaning shelves for about ten years or so.)

And now you’ve managed to cast a permanent shadow over all those happy memories of reading Horrible Histories books, with your little rant. I will forever remember “the books are great, but the author is an elitist jerk.”

Libraries are about the only truly egalitarian institution in Western society. The governments are run at least partially by corporate interests, the corporations themselves are by and large relentless machines for accumulating money, and you have to get virtually everything off one of these remorseless wallet-theft devices. Medical care is, of course, far better for those who can afford it, and even the internet has to be paid for. But libraries provide information to those who need it. It doesn’t matter who you are – you can get information from the library. (I am starting a course to become a librarian this year. This kind of stuff was covered in the introductory infodump.)

Let’s assume you make an average royalty of forty cents per book, which is from what little I know about publishing actually fairly low, especially for an *award-winning, bestselling author*. You have sold twenty-five million of them. (No small number of those to libraries.) Even after tax, you have taken in nearly a million dollars in your life. Is that not enough for you?

I used to look up to you. Now? Now you’re just pathetic. Just another greedy old man who’s forgotten that he used to be an artist, and who can’t be satisfied with *just* being a best-selling, world-renowned author.

– OSM out

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Filed under Late to the Bandwagon Technique


I’ve been playing around with Heromachine a lot lately. It’s basically one of those “paper doll” dress-up programs, only done in as comprehensive a fashion as possible. We’re talking Batman levels of preparation here. The current one can be used to create anything from a Crusader to a car robot, or a djinn to a dinosaur tamer. You just don’t get this kind of comprehensiveness from generic stuff.

There are some notable failings, however; most notably, version 3 is still in alpha and a staggering number of components are, say, only there on one side but not the other; virtually everything seems to be programmed to not recognise that the male and female models have different proportions before you start tinkering; the Transform system is useful but fiddly; and seriously, why is there a Male Tech section for half a dozen things but not a Female Tech one.

But apart from that I’m forced to give it a thumbs-up and a rating of “why am I putting in hours of work on sci-fi fashions when I actively cultivate disinterest in real-life ones?”

– OSM out

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Filed under Randomness

A new type of movie – one that hunts sentience: Hansel and Gretel

Note: this will contain spoilers. Look at it this way: I just spared you the pain of watching this movie.

They’ve finally found a cure for brain. Stick your head in a metal bucket and visit Animal’s cage at the back of the Muppet Theatre. Or, should that be impossible, watch Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.

Ye gods it’s loud. Imagine sitting directly in front of an amplifier during a DragonForce concert. Now drop the average IQ so hard it goes backwards in time. The soundtrack isn’t bad, per se, but it’s cranked up to 13 when 11 was already headache-inducing, to the point where I was sitting across the road from a car alarm going off and it was actually easing the pain in my head. I really cannot emphasise enough how much it felt like being in the firing line of a squad of Noise Marines. Or hit with a hammer. Or run over by a truck.

OK, I’ll stop.

The special effects are in the same boat. They’re technically fairly well handled, but still not quite enough to save the movie, and I’m really not sure why it was necessary to apply the gore with a rhino’s foot rather than a paintbrush. There are several plot points – the wire traps, Edward’s defence of Gretel, the Curse of Hunger for Crawling Things – that either exist solely for pointless gore, or needlessly ramp up the brutality of a scene because it’s an “action movie”.

Die Hard is an action movie too, but I don’t recall John McClane making people explode in showers of gore or popping their heads like grapes.

Moving on. The plot has Hansen and Gretel become huge badasses once they had completed their traditional fairytale, only for a simple bounty hunting job to turn out to be a conspiracy to create fireproof witches. (Although “kill it with fire” is described as the only way to make sure a given witch is dead, only a handful of the witches they kill during the movie are actually burned. I think they’re ensuring repeat business.)

There are some really unfortunate things about the plot which only occur to you once the headache dies down. Most notably, it turns out that witches are available in both black and white magic forms. White magic is inherited, with – spoiler – Gretel turning out to be technically a white witch. Assuming both types of witch work vaguely the same way, that means black magic should also be inherited. Leaving aside the question of how someone as hideously deformed as the average black witch is going to have kids, this also kind of leads to some awkward questions involving good and evil being clearly heritable traits. The primary alternative is that white witches are the default and black witches arise from them accepting corruption, at which point we run into the problem that the witches of this movie have no motives. They don’t have a reason for being evil. They’re just Bad Guys who want to do Bad Things so that the heroes can gun them down without remorse. The ritual they’re planning is based on preventing themselves from dying, but if they really want to not be burned at the stake they could, I dunno, use their magic for good and not mess about with deals with the devil? Have I put more thought into this than the filmmakers now? Should I get out more?

As a side note, I’m really starting to get tired of what I’ve decided to call the Will It Blend school of action scenes. This consists of making every fight an incredibly jarring string of one-second patches of footing cut from every different angle and nailed together so tightly that you have very little idea what’s actually happening. It might work in moderation, but applying it as often as H&G does makes the movie disorienting and headache-inducing, and trust me when I say the soundtrack doesn’t need any help in that department.

I award this movie zero brains out of five, and weep for the makeup, special effects and so on expertise that was squandered on it. There were a few scenes that I enjoyed, but fundamentally, it was an exercise in brainless violence mixed with unnerving implications.

– OSM out

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Filed under I done watched a thing