A New Hope In the Post-Rogue One Galaxy

Rogue One is wonderful addition to the Star Wars film library, which is now eight films spanning five decades. My enjoyment of all things Star Wars is well-documented, and I was happy to see Rogue One twice over the past week. If you can find a theater with the 70mm IMAX print, then go out of your way to see that; it’s an amazing experience! While I loved the new addition to Star Wars lore, there are several things about the ending of Rogue One that continue to itch my brain days later. And I feel the need to externalize those thoughts!

The rest of the article contains details about the plot and conclusion of Rogue One. If you have already seen the movie and wish to indulge in my nerd-brain madness, then please continue!

Rogue One Rocked

Before dissecting continuity concerns, I want to clearly state the things I enjoyed about Rogue One. The characters – and the actors portraying those characters – were excellent. There is not a weak link among the ensemble cast, and I appreciated the performances more on the second viewing. Riz Ahmed especially does great work infusing Bodhi with tortured nuance, and Diego Luna presents Cassian as a conflicted soldier who has been involved in too many traumatic situations. It seems clear the character of Jyn went through some revisions between the trailers and release of the film, and Felicity Jones puts herself up their with Carrie Fischer and Daisey Ridley as strong women in the Star Wars universe. K-2SO is voiced by the “fonging” wonderful Alan Tudyk, and channeled one of the greatest droids in Star Wars history, HK-47. The crew members of Rogue One all serve a purpose, and it reminded me of the unique personalities in the strike team in Predator.

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They’ve gone rogue!

The visual and sound effects were stunning, and this includes the computer-generated performance of Grand Moff Tarkin. When Tarkin first appeared in the movie, I assumed it was a brief cameo. I was incorrect because Tarkin is a major character in the film. The scenes with him certainly passed the uncanny valley for me though his complexion seemed too dark and sickly. The computer-generated Leia at the conclusion of the film felt more unnatural to me, though it was still a cool moment. I am guessing the brightness of the room and the whiteness of her clothing made that a tremendously difficult shot to execute well. The sound in the IMAX version of the film was a delight, and the soundtrack felt like Star Wars.

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Ego Check with The Id DM – Episode 5 – Adam Johns & Adam Davis

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Adam Johns, MA, LMFT & Adam Davis, MEd

My guests for Episode 5 of Ego Check with The Id DM are Adam Johns and Adam Davis from Wheelhouse Workshop, a two-man operation whose mission is to help youths in the greater Seattle area build social skills through the intentional and targeted use of tabletop role-playing games. Both Mr. Johns and Mr. Davis have advanced degrees and use tabletop roleplaying games to teach social skills to children with a variety of mental health concerns. During our conversation, they discuss their professional background and how they use games like Dungeons & Dragons to teach children perspective taking, frustration tolerance, creative problem solving, and cooperation. They demonstrate a method to increase collaborative storytelling during a RPG session, which leads to us all wearing carved-out pumpkins on our heads! They explain the business model for Wheelhouse Workshop, and their plans for expansion in the future.

If you are interested in coming on the show for an interview, or would like to become a sponsor, contact me to make arrangements.

Enjoy the fifth episode of Ego Check with The Id DM! And please subscribe to the podcast at one of the links below:

You can also listen to the show right here:

Please consider leaving a review on iTunes and help spread the word about the show. My plan is to release new episodes the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month. The next episode will post next year on January 3rd, 2017.

If you are interested in coming on the show for an interview, or would like to become a sponsor, contact me to make arrangements.

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Ego Check with The Id DM – Felix Mak

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Felix “Fenom” Mak

My guest for Episode 4 of Ego Check with The Id DM is Felix Mak, software engineer for Vicious Syndicate, which provides detailed data reports on competitive play in Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. Mr. Mak is also a Legend-ranked Hearthstone player and we spent approximately an hour together discussing many aspects of Hearthstone. He describes his role with Vicious Syndicate and how the Data Reaper Report has developed since it’s first installment in May 2016. He speaks about myths that have been debunked about Hearthstone through the Vicious Syndicate data reports, and describes his routine as a player seeking to become a professional. Mr. Mak provides some foundational tips for Hearthstone players, we talk about the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan expansion and how it may shift the meta going forward.

Enjoy the fourth episode of Ego Check with The Id DM! And please subscribe to the podcast at one of the links below:

You can also listen to the show right here:

 

Take a look at my previous Hearthstone content, and please consider leaving a review on iTunes and help spread the word about the show. My plan is to release new episodes the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month. The next episode will post on December 20th, 2016.

If you are interested in coming on the show for an interview, or would like to become a sponsor, contact me to make arrangements.

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The Slow Regard of Silent Things and Bringing Anxiety to Vibrant Life

slow-regard-coverAs I read through Patrick Rothfuss’ The Slow Regard of Silent Things, I found myself thinking about many of the patients that I have worked with over the years in my role as a psychologist. Some of those individuals I have seen in an office setting, and others I have met in their homes. The patients have ranged in ages, shapes, and sizes – and they all presented with unique mental health concerns. I remembered many of them while reading through the thoughts, behaviors, and emotions of Auri – a character that brilliantly illustrates and humanizes the qualities and struggles of those coping with anxieties, compulsions, and symptoms along the autism spectrum.

I also thought of my personal mental health challenges while reading.

If I taught a class in psychology, then I would have students read and process the material. As it stands, I encourage everyone to read the book – even if you haven’t read The Name of the Wind or The Wise Man’s Fear. Those books provide some context for Auri’s story, but they are not required reading to benefit from the content in The Slow Regard of Silent Things that struck me on such a personal level.

Mental health, and by extension mental illness, is unfortunately stigmatized. Going to a therapist is viewed by too many as a sign of weakness. I discovered at age 16 that I wanted to be a counselor, and I was fortunate enough to start down that path early in college and never really look back. I have also been in therapy as a patient at times in my life and consistently during the past two years, primarily getting assistance with symptoms of anxiety.

Anxiety about life. Anxiety about death.

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Ego Check with The Id DM – Teos Abadia

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Teos Abadia

My guest for Episode 3 of Ego Check with The Id DM is Teos Abadia, writer for companies such as Wizards of the Coast and Kobold Press. Mr. Abadia is very active in the Dungeons & Dragons community, and you might be more familiar with his Twitter handle, @Alphastream. He has been adding comments to my articles on the blog since 2011, and has been a wonderful source of support over the years. I’m proud to have him on the show!

We spent a great hour talking about publishing original content for roleplaying game companies and what it is like to be heavily involved in the Organized Play movement for Wizards of the Coast. We devoted the second half of the podcast to a discussion on diversity in RPGs including where the industry has come from and where it can go in the future. Our conversation took place about one week before the election, and some of it seems to foreshadow the results. For example, while getting into a question, I voiced the following:

It certainly seems over time it’s becoming more diverse and that’s a wonderful thing. I think with that it brings some challenges – and you could even connect this to political factors going on in our country right now. As there’s more diversity, there’s a segment of the population that was rather enjoying the status quo and privilege that was there with what was happening before, and now things are changing – and people don’t like change sometime so that’s bad.

If I could go back and edit myself, I would succinctly say, “When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.” That’s a quote that has been going around a lot these days. I am considering writing a personal post about the election, but I may just keep things to myself; I need to think on it more. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy Mr. Abadia and I discussing diversity in RPGs.

He also shares some tips for writers and designers looking to improve their work, and we close out the show by briefly reviewing our favorite Pearl Jam songs. Because Pearl Jam is the best of all things!

Enjoy the third episode of Ego Check with The Id DM! And please subscribe to the podcast at one of the links below:

You can also listen to the show right here:

Please consider leaving a review on iTunes and help spread the word about the show. My plan is to release new episodes the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month. The next episode will post on December 6th, 2016.

If you are interested in coming on the show for an interview, or would like to become a sponsor, contact me to make arrangements.

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Ego Check with The Id DM – Chris Bourassa

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Chris Bourassa, busy researching his next game, Brightest Beachhead.

My guest for Episode 2 of Ego Check with The Id DM is Chris Bourassa, Co-Owner of Red Hook Studios and Creative for Darkest Dungeon. If you have not played Darkest Dungeon yet, then please read through my review from earlier in the year; it is a fantastic game! There are many unique features of the game, with the most noticeable being the Stress mechanic, which increases mental strain whenever your heroes face more challenges. It introduces more decision-making into the typical RPG grind, and inspired me to create similar rules for Dungeons & Dragons.

Mr. Bourassa spoke with me about his sources of inspiration for Darkest Dungeon, and the realities of the lifestyle of an independent game developer. He shared the trials of the long hours in making the game, the joys of its successful launch, and the daunting task of mustering the resources to start over on a new project. For example, here is an excerpt from the interview:

I was wondering how do you stay eager for the next project when you’ve poured so much of your heart and soul into this child of a game. As a creator, how do you regroup and take a deep breath to decide what’s next?

I’m glad you commented on that. It takes time to be honest with you. We shipped in January of this year but the game wasn’t really done with – like the Town Event stuff until later in the Spring. So we shipped, but then we had to go right back to work – so it was really over the summer that the team got a bit of distance and some perspective on the work. And the port was fairly involved as well, but by that point we kind of had some head space. And I think just loving it – you kind of well up with ideas given time so certainly when the Town Event patch went live I didn’t have anything left in the tank at that point.

But you give it a bit of time and some space and suddenly I’m coming up with ideas again. I think there’s a lot that we want to do with it. It just sort of naturally bubbles up, I guess. I don’t know if anything I ever do will be as well-received as this. There’s no way to know, but we all just worked as hard as we could and I think I just want to do that again. Maybe not to the same exhaustive level with the financial pressure and all the rest of it really crushing down on me, but I enjoy working hard. And I have to have a certain amount of confidence that we can make a Better Call Saul to a Breaking Bad. As long as the follow-up is it’s own animal, and isn’t trying to live completely in the shadow of the first one, then I think you’ve got a chance at making a second great impression. But there’s no way to really tell. So there’s always that uncertainly. I don’t think we’ve ever felt comfortable . . .

. . . You never know – the shifting landscape of Steam is a crazy marketplace so we’ve never sat back, crossed our arms, nodded sternly and said, “Hey, we got this dialed in.” Hopefully, that humility  will serve us well as we move on to the next project.

Many thanks to Mr. Bourassa for appearing on the podcast!

Enjoy the second episode of Ego Check with The Id DM! And please subscribe to the podcast at one of the links below:

You can also listen to the show right here:

Please consider leaving a review on iTunes and help spread the word about the show. My plan is to release new episodes the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month. The next episode will post on November 15, 2016.

If you are interested in coming on the show for an interview, or would like to become a sponsor, contact me to make arrangements.

 

 

 

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Ego Check with The Id DM – Mike Shea

As detailed in an earlier post to launch my Patreon campaign, I plan to create additional content beyond the articles that appear on the blog. One format for new content is an interview podcast series, Ego Check with The Id DM. I have been conducting interviews with members of the gaming community through email for the past five years, and I wanted to move the interviews to a podcast format. I now have equipment and software to adequately record, edit, store, and host the audio files, which is exciting. My plan to speak with guests on a range of topics while mixing in discussion about psychological elements of gaming, and to post new episodes on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month.

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Now this is podcasting!

That’s right, I referenced a quote by young Anakin Skywalker.

Deal with it!

Episode 1 – Shea’s Rebellion

My first guest is Mike Shea, also known as Sly Flourish. Mike was gracious enough to sit down with me for the first episode of the podcast, and we enjoyed a sprawling conversation about mindfulness and roleplaying games. Mike shared his insights about the journey from roleplaying-game fan to freelance writer for companies such as Wizards of the Coast. He also offered tips for running more-effective RPG sessions and breaking in to the RPG industry as a writer and designer.

Enjoy the first episode of Ego Check with The Id DM! And please subscribe to the podcast at one of the links below:

You can also listen to the show right here:

Leave a (positive) review on iTunes and help spread the word about the show. My plan is to release new episodes the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month – so 24 episodes each year.

If you are interested in coming on the show for an interview, or would like to become a sponsor, contact me to make arrangements.

 

 

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