Monday, December 28, 2015

Openers and Closers

Twenty two years ago, Roger Zelazney wrote his final book, called A Night In the Lonesome October. The book casts some of the West's most classic monsters as players in a cosmic Game to either open to door for the Elder Gods to pave over our world and construct a new one, or to shut the door and keep the world like it is.

The Game takes place over the month of October, with the players arriving and spending the month getting ready for the ritual at the end of the month. This includes gathering items of power, performing ritual sacrifices, collecting herbs, and of course surreptitiously sabotaging one another. Membership in the two sides--the Openers and the Closers--is kept secret for much of the month. Players find that knowing who the others are inspires sabotage, whereas anonymity breeds cooperation.

Players construct a home base where they perform their ministrations. The book's hero, Snuff, together with his master, Jack, collect monsters to serve as body guards during the final rituals in the game, gather body parts from the cemetery and weirdly specific items from town (a scrap of a green dress stolen from a woman with red hair). These home bases also figure into a complex piece of calculus for the location of the Game's ritual, at the center of which an altar must be placed.

This sounds like a really interesting video game! A team game where, for much of the match, you don't really know who your teammates are. Perhaps each player selects the side they're on. Then they're given tasks and strengths and weaknesses. Your character can't do every task on their own, so you have to collaborate, but someone who can help you out might work for the opposite faction, so you have to keep it secret. 
So I envision a game going like this. You're given a side: openers or closers, and a series of tasks. You awaken on a map, and must select your home base, and set about defending it while completing your tasks. You investigate your neighbors to determine whether or not they're allies, if they can help you with your task or not. You might build trust with people, trading information on third parties. Or you might just try to poison everybody and take all the glory for yourself.

I picture a game that is full of secret monsters, spells and traps. A combination of a Lovecraft fantasy story, Assassin's Creed multiplayer mode, and a team based objective game.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Night Vale Update: Khoshekh

I'm updating my Welcome to Night Vale  LEGO set. Cecil's soundboard has been improved. And I've added something special:  Khoshekh, hovering by the sink in the Men's room. This comes together to form a triptych: Cecil, at his booth. Carlos, listening to the radio while experimenting on a clock. And now Khoshekh.

I've started designing other spaces, although I don't think Station Management has enough popular capital to sustain it has part of this set design. Much like Kevin and Desert Bluffs Community Radio, I like the builds a lot, but I also don't think they're particularly marketable. I think it would look good in pure black, possibly with a light brick low and underneath, casting everything in an eerie glow.

The glass is removed for the sake of clarity in one of the pictures above. All whipping tendrils in the dark office. Pretty cool, right?

Click and support!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Welcome to Night Vale LDD: Abandoned Concepts

While I've been working on these Welcome to Night Vale LEGO designs,  This turns into a lot of junked designs as I hammer through stuff.

Desert Bluffs

Kevin's desk is identical to Cecil's in every way but redone in orange and yellow, with bloody hands and a bone microphone. And unlike Cecil, he has a skull for a face. Ultimately I felt like building the exact same thing twice with slightly different colors would be boring, and that Kevin wasn't interesting enough on his own to warrant a part in this playset. Carlos provides a much more interesting foil for this set.

Hey, like my Night Vale Lego kits? Go to Lego Ideas and like it!

Monday, September 7, 2015

LEGO LDD: Welcome To Night Vale

I'm working on updating my Welcome To Nightvale fan project to include some ideas from commenters. I decided to eliminate the BLOOD STONE CIRCLE in favor a more poignant and character-driven set: Carlos' laboratory.

Carlos' lab consists of a workbench, stool, and desk with four drawers. He's experimenting on a clock. Clocks... don't work in Night Vale. Time doesn't work in Night Vale. And he wants to find out why. In the picture above he's also listening to Cecil's show while he works.

Some of the different options for what Carlos could have on his desk. I really like the clock, but I wanted to capture some other ideas. The first here is a a collection of complicated science equipment. The second contains three shelves of science materials. The last is a micro-model of the Nonexistent House in the Desert Creek Housing Development. A hinge on the back wall allows Carlos to tinker around inside the model.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Welcome to Night Vale: The Dog Park

"The City Council announces the opening of a new dog park at the corner of Earl and Sommerset, near the Ralph’s. They would like to remind everyone that dogs are not allowed in the dog park. People are not allowed in the dog park. It is possible that you will see hooded figures in the dog park. DO NOT APPROACH THEM. DO NOT APPROACH THE DOG PARK. The fence is electrified and highly dangerous. Try not to look at the dog park, and, especially, do not look for any period of time at the hooded figures. The dog park will not harm you."

The Dog Park set is designed to resemble Night Vale's newest municipal asset. Obsidian columns support electrified barbed-wire fences. The set's baseplates are connected with hinges--as it opens, if you follow the right-hand fence for long enough, eventually you will arrive in a vast desert other-world populated by masked giants, warlike and distant.
The set includes 2 masked giants, 2 hooded figures, and Night Vale Community radio intern Dana Cardinal. I'm particularly proud of the brickbuilt giants Doug and Alicia, who have all the same articulation as a minifig, plus two ankle articulations. Dana's skin and hair are transparent blue to represent her deliberately ambiguous appearance--she's using a walkie-talkie to represent her cellphone, although a 1x2 flat tile may be preferable. The brown hooded figure glows in the dark. Since dogs are forbidden in the dog park, I decided not to add any dogs.

Detail of the entrance to the Dog Park.
 Detail of a fence column. Each fencepost is mounted on a turntable that allows them to rotate, so that the fences can be realigned to suit current play environment.

Like what we're doing here? Want to learn more about the mysterious radio show from the even more mysterious city of Night Vale? Click here to visit the page for the podcast.

Like this LEGO set and want to turn it into a reality? Click here to add your support to the DOG PARK Set. Want to see more Welcome to Night Vale sets?  Click here to visit the LEGO Ideas page and vote for my radio set!
And hey.
T h  a   n    k     s.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Welcome to Night Vale Lego Set

A pleasant desert community where the Sun is hot, the Moon is beautiful, and mysterious lights pass overhead while we all pretend to sleep. Welcome... to Night Vale.

 Cecil's desk. Contains a mic, Carlos' trophy, a desk (containing some bones) and a coffee mug. The chair rotates on a turntable. Cecil's desk drawers, his microphone, and the tape deck all glow in the dark. I used traditional yellow skin on Cecil because although it is often considered white it can stand in for any color.

The antenna for broadcasting to the city.  Two dishes, two antennae, and a blinking red light. More glow-in-the-dark elements may be incorporated here.

Cecil's blood stone circle, as approved by the city council. 
Like what we're doing here? Want to learn more about the mysterious radio show from the even more mysterious city of Night Vale? Click here to visit the page for the podcast.

Like this LEGO set and want to turn it into a reality? Click here to visit the LEGO Ideas page and vote for it! And hey. Thanks.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Sunday Shortie: The Flash

1) You're actively hamstringing police investigations
In the current episode--S1E19, "Who is Harrison Wells"--a metahuman capable of disguising himself as anybody he touches uses his abilities to frame a detective in the shooting of two cops. It looks like a slam dunk case because nobody really wants to broach the topic of metahumans. Defending the detective, Barry points out some things can't be explained around Central City. Not "I saw someone disguised as the detective" or "you know the Flash and the Weather Wizard and all the other super weird shit that's happening around here? What if something something something, and then that happened?" Barry, you were on the scene as yourself. You can say that you saw what you actually saw, and you're not putting your identity at risk. The DA even admits to having seen the Flash at the end of the episode, so it's not like you would have looked silly because she thinks he's just an urban legend. You idiot.

2) You're putting the public in harm's way
This is kind of like the police--but for literally every person in Central City. Metahumans have so far been proven to be almost universally dangerous. Nearly every single one murders at least one person in the commission of their crimes. Boy! If only people were open to the idea that terrifying people with awful superpowers were everywhere, all the time! People with loved ones that are missing or acting strangely could probably report them, so you're not waiting for someone to be choked to death by psychically controlled strangler vines or something before responding to a metahuman.

3) Oh, you're just illegally detaining people?
Seriously, you just catch people and lock them in a 3x5 cells? (S1E3: Things You Can't Outrun) First of all, it's dumb because it's expensive; even at minimum security it costs about $60 a day to keep an inmate locked up (source), and oh yeah these aren't white collar embezzlers. I guess you see some savings when there's nobody guarding these inmates or... even paying attention to them?
Barry! Barry. Has anyone been feeding them?
S.T.A.R Labs appears to have three employees, who, as far as I can tell, are all volunteers and none of them ever spend any kind of time with all those prisoners you have illegally detained. Oh yeah, no charges, no trial, no sentence. No long-term plan for what to do with these people, or even any effort to study them, as far as has been visible on the show. Just a freak in a red leather bodysuit who's going to keep them down there until it's convenient to let them out to fight someone else. I shouldn't have to explain to a forensic investigator, two police detectives, and three geniuses with multiple degrees across a dozen fields that prosecutors have a special name for what you're doing, and it's called "slam dunk felony convictions". Because false imprisonment is a felony. Oh, and your victim's lawyers will also have a fun name for it: "alley-oop! We own all your possessions now." Central City lawyers are apparently way into basketball.

And here's the dumbest thing! It's so expensive you guys, and you could  probably get paid by the state. These metahumans are horrifying monsters that can do scary things like explode constantly, turn into chlorine, or project the movie version of Green Lantern directly into people's brains. (S1E3, S1E5 respectively) I know, easy joke, but Ryan Reynolds is unbearable. You have a facility that securely holds these people as long as nobody stupidly lets them out for personal reasons, exactly like you guys have do constantly. You know who wouldn't do that? Professional guards with no personal reasons to let them out. Professional guards who would probably be paid by a state that isn't super on-board with the idea of a man who can just straight up turn into anyone he wants. We're barely comfortable with a woman running for office--I can't imagine a woman who can teleport into a bank is going to be popular.

Menstruation AND teleporting? This is why I'm so anti-science 
4) Good luck getting a conviction, idiot
In the legendary Marvel comic arc Civil War, Tony Stark points out that vigilante action drastically reduces crime numbers not by getting criminals off the streets but by preventing criminals from being convicted. That makes sense! On a scale measuring quality witnesses, adults who dress in costumes and commit multiple felonies during the act of "preventing" a crime are probably not reliable people you want on the witness stand. The Flash's anonymity appears to violate the 6th Amendment; you can't face an accuser who, in spite of being a single man in his mid-20s, is refusing to come forward to "protect his family" like every person he catches is going to put a mob hit on him. This is all a fairly standard argument against superheroes, but it gets worse for the Flash.

See, the Flash can often apprehend people before anybody notices what is happening. In S1E18, he catches an armed robber, pulling them out of the car they are driving, and replaces them with a police detective, handcuffing the passenger-side suspect at the same time. All this happens without any interruption to the control of the vehicle, and before the (admittedly distracted) passenger even notices there's been a change.

Instant defense against any of these: "The Flash is framing me. I was just outside, minding my own business, when suddenly I'm sitting in the back of a police cruiser in nothing but a trench coat." A defense attorney could probably make pretty good money just torpedoing cases where the Flash was "unnofficially" involved, by calling on prosecutors to prove that the Flash isn't framing people, as other metahumans like Everyman (S1E19) have already done.

5) Why are you doing this for free again?
This is something that comes up with nearly any superhero. Why they feel the need to patrol the streets in disguises, and keep real jobs in addition to the often late-hours work of fighting crime in the middle of the night. But this is something that's extra baffling for the Flash, who already works for a police department. Barry isn't even afraid of being experimented on--he's literally teamed up with exactly the people who are going to do that.

6) How does this protect Iris again?
Joe, Barry's adoptive father and biological father of his love interest/ adoptive sister Iris insists that Barry keep his identity as the Flash secret from her, "to keep her safe". How would her knowing that Barry is the Flash put her at risk? And what does her not knowing about that connection do to minimize that risk? We've already seen what villains do once they've captured someone they think knows who the Flash is--they torture until they get an answer, and then they stop. (S1E16) Her not knowing just means she has to endure more torture and possibly murder before the villains are satisfied she doesn't know anything. 

Joe and Barry have also tried to convince Iris to stop writing about the Flash. That effort failed so catastrophically that Iris ended up working for a newspaper... writing about the Flash. She has even been kidnapped at least once, and wouldn't it be handy if she knew she had a personal line directly to the Flash for just such occasions? Wouldn't it be handy if she (and everyone who works with the Flash, actually) were prepared to be abducted by lunatics? 

Not only that, but being the Flash isn't the kind of secret one keeps their entire life, like how much you enjoyed Ryan Reynolds as the Green Lantern. As of episode 19 of the first season, there are at least 12 people who know the Flash's true identity, two of whom are the Flash's enemies. Someone's going to slip, or she's going to figure it out, and it's going to be so bad for Barry, and so bad for Joe, when she finds out.

And of course she finds out, and is furious.