Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ah, The Show

Here's how making the show works:

1. I cut it however I want and send it to The Escapist.

2. The Escapist (without whom there is no show) say they don't like it and want it cut the way they would've done it.

3. The girls (without whom there is no show) say they do like it and want it to stay the way it was in the first place.

4. I sigh, yawn, and re-cut it until both The Escapist and the girls are ok with it.

5. On some Wednesday, the show goes up, hundreds of thousands of people watch it, and 0.05% of them post comments complaining about it and making suggestions about how to make it better that I ignore because I'm not the one in charge.

6. I count my money and remember that, as side-gigs go, it's pretty fun, and does no harm.

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I've gotten about a thousand times more static for playing D&D with Sasha Grey while somebody filmed it than I ever did for fucking her while somebody filmed it, but the show does what The Escapist wants it to do and does it a lot, so no worries.

Anyway: today episode 5 of I Hit It With My Axe goes up, which is the first one which comes close to the kind of thing I would've done if I were the only person in charge.

I also feel pretty good about episodes 6, and 7, and all the episodes after that. The Escapist and I started agreeing after a while.

So, my advice: watch episode 5. If you like it, you will probably like all the episodes of "I Hit It With My Axe" yet to come, if you don't, then you won't.

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Like Scooby Doo, the idea is to have a different guest-star every few sessions. Episode 7 is the last one with Sasha guest-starring, after that there'll be a chunk of episodes guest-starring Justine Jolie (over there on the left). Due perhaps to Justine's soothing presence, the hacking and slashing slows down a bit and--look at that!--a plot starts to appear.

Guest stars after that include but are not necessarily limited to: Gia Jordan, Bobbi Starr, Caroline Pierce, and Andy San Dimas.
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I'm hoping to use the show to give exposure to people in the DIY D&D blogosphere who are making interesting things--I've already cut deals with James Edward Raggi IV, Jeff Rients, and Lee of New Adventures in Fantasy Fiction, and--with luck--the girls will end up sandboxing their way into something they wrote sooner or later.

________________

Also: if you have any questions about the show or anybody on it, the surefire way to get an absolutely verifiably incorrect answer is to post about it on your blog or some random message board.

Nothing says "My desire to know what I'm talking about is vastly outweighed by my desire to sit in a chair and type" than reading what someone says and then asking everyone but them for clarification. If you want to know how or who or why something is on the show, ask me, I'm right here. If I answer and you think I'm lying, I'll send proof.

I don't often say stuff like this, but I feel like I should go on the record:

If nothing else, this blog is about how everybody, even people who you may have seen taking 3 cocks at once, is an actual person and--like you--they have actual reasons for the things they do--and these reasons may not always be the ones you, in your infinite random-internet-user-wisdom, think they are. So, again: if you want to know something, ask. Because when you assume, you become just one more of those blathering, avatared wwwheads helping make everyone dumber and more boring.
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Oh, p.s.


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47 comments:

  1. The reason I like it is because we're seeing a group of friends playing these games for the first time (in most cases, anyway), and there's something compelling about that. Perhaps because most of us don't get to see that too often. How anyone can complain about that is beyond me. They're tea-drinkers too, apparently, which only adds to the righteousness of the endeavour.

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  2. Oh, and the "we're covered in blob" and close-ups on Satine eating a banana? The 0.05% are going to hate that, probably without even knowing why. Well played.

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  3. @kelvingreen

    So your theory is: they hate the best parts?

    Possibly.

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  4. I haven't watched the show yet but I went back when I first started reading your blog a few weeks ago and read it from the beginning. I've always had mixed feelings about porn and everything probably because like a lot of people, I've never met anyone that does them and there's a lot of cultural taboos associated with adult films and everything. But that being said, you and the group have made me think differently about it and I'd love to play with you guys. Your game sounds like a ton of fun and the players are funny and really endearing. Out of all the gaming blogs I've looked over, yours is probably my favorite.

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  5. @Amanda

    Thanks!

    It's always nice to start the day hearing something sane and friendly

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  6. I'd watch a video of Justine Joli reading her mail. Wow that didn't sound stalkerish creepy at all!

    That is to say watching her play some D&D would also be pretty awesome.

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  7. Zak, you're cleverer than I am, so I'm sure you know what I'm getting at, and it seems clumsy and unnecessary to explain it, sort of like explaining a joke, and we all know how that ends up.

    Alternatively, you're not doing the clever and funny thing I think you're doing in the bits I mentioned, in which case never mind.

    Either way, nice work.

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  8. I also enjoy reading your take on the internet reaction to your show. It makes me proud to be a human being when "zomg!!1!! teh girlz arnt even hawt" is responded to by a well written and reasoned post. For me it's online reading that is as great to see as all your creative ideas and wonderful art. I feel proud when someone shows what humans are capable of in the face of drooling teenagers whacking away at an iPhone (among other things.) And reasoned discourse is one of those.

    Also, thanks for hipping me to Clauswitz yesterday.

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  9. I've gotten about a thousand times more static for playing D&D with Sasha Grey while somebody filmed it than I ever did for fucking her while somebody filmed it...

    That says something very depressing about gamer fundamentalism. Not (I hope obviously) that you ought to get static for either of those, but you know what I mean.

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  10. OMG when Sasha and Mandy were talking about mind control the dialogue went, "No one has that power.", "What the hell?!" I had flashbacks of an ex-girlfriend of mine. It was like deja vu in how much it sounded like something she would say.

    Awesome stuff.

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  11. Guys and girls having sex? No problem.

    Guys and girls playing D&D a certain way? OH MY GOD WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPEN TO OUR SOCIETY?!

    So, you know, the usual.

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  12. "Do the flowers resist?" ;D

    Yeah, I see what you mean; this one felt a lot more like a recap of a D&D session, and I was more able to follow the flow of events. Still, this is the last time I try to watch your show while eating lunch. "Hey, who are you chewing on?" ;p

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  13. Sturm im Wasserglas.
    Forget about the haters at the forums and blogs. This show is decent and nice to watch, camera is decent, loudness volume could be a bit louder, but overall a nice show to watch.

    Both thumbs up!

    =D

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  14. On the rare occasion that she rings my phone, Satine with a banana chomped as if it were a cigar is the image that pops up on my phone. Do we have a recurring theme?

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  15. "Sacrifice a horse to it" just cracked me up. To me thats the funniest line of the series so far. So classic; my players would totally do that. That changed me from think they're porn stars playing D&D, to hey, they're gamers too. This was the best episode and yes, despite me finally empathizing with them as gamers, I did love the banana bit too.

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  16. it seems to me that you feel the need to defend your work (despite the fact that you state you don't care).

    don't! there is no need. keep up the good work!

    ps: your blog gave me so many ideas to torment my dm next saturday... mwahahahaha

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  17. @shlominus

    I don't feel I need to defend MY work, I just feel I need to say what's MY work and what's somebody else's work.

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  18. I actually read the comments over on the Escapist this time, and saw all the comparisons to the Robot Chicken game. It's funny, I look forward to I Hit it with my Axe, but I couldn't watch the robot chicken game. It was just so clearly not how I roll. Which is in a funky apartment, with metal playing, and maps on scratch paper. The sickest mini you have ever seen fighting pennies, which are orcs. Which is, for some reason, less confusing than using the skeletons we have 50 of as proxies. So as some one who has only gamed with queers, punks, and both genders I really appreciate what you do. 6 weeks ago when I found out about this I was in a utterly shitty mood, and after reading this blog for 20 minutes I went to bed totally happy just to know this was happening.

    Thank you.

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  19. fair enough.

    like i already posted on the escapist, the way it is now is very enjoyable.

    i hope you are satisfied with it as well and won't change too much in the future.

    how many episodes have been finished already, if i may ask?

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  20. I went and read the comments at the Escapist. People are such dicks it's amazing. Give someone with poor social skills an anonymous avenue to communicate and what comes out is pure crap. I think what bothers me the most about the comments is how because they are women and working in the porn industry some of those jerks seem to think that gives them a free pass to evaluate the gals like some kind of casting couch group.

    And then there's the drooling fanboyism about WotC's videos...
    I expect WotC to put on a super polished show. They have plenty of cash and essentially a professional DM to run games. It's great promotional stuff for them.

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  21. @Amanda

    Yeah, people are morons.

    as for WOTC's show--if we wanted our show polished, we could;ve done it that way, people don;t seme to grasp that we purposefully are just taping real-life games

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  22. Well, I think some of the criticism is worth acknowledging. I mean, despite the seemingly super-appealing concept of the show, it's terribly, terribly awkward to watch- in a way watching someone take three dicks is not. Sex is a natural act we all like to watch. A social situation which many of the participants seem to be struggling with to some degree or another is essentially difficult to watch. And the first four episodes all have that element.

    However, I think people don't realize that the whole appeal of the show is that we get to watch a bunch of newbies figure out the ropes and make themselves at home with something way outside their comfort zone. I loved seeing in this latest episode the way the ladies are just starting to get into it, planning and even talking like any other tabletopper. I hope to see more of it, and I suspect, Zak, that much of the pleasure of GMing is derived from guiding this process.

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  23. I don't think they realize the first WotC games weren't what they are now. The original Penny Arcade podcasts had some audio problems but they worked it out eventually. I'd like for your detractors to record their own games and see how much game there is in comparison to the fluff of bs that goes on at your average session. I know our group probably spends almost as much time in humorous digression as we do actual adventuring.

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  24. @Terry

    It's probably worth pointing out that all the episodes are from one session. I don;t think the girls are so much "learning" (except Sasha) it's more just that the first 4 episodes are decptive.

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  25. I just threw some of my best mockery at the haters in the Escapist's comments section. :)

    Assuming it will be deleted for being over the top, I figure it could only help the show if other supporters made some other positive comments over there too. Its fast and easy to setup a account to comment if you don't have one.

    Joe

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  26. Zak, all these are from one session? How long did you play? And the new guest star will be the next session?

    I went and looked at one of the WOTC videos at random. It's like the anti-game, dreadful.

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  27. @telecanter
    yes, that's why everyone's wearing the same clothes and sitting in the same place.

    we played 4 hours, then 4 hours more.

    as for your next question, I answered it in the post.

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  28. I don't give a shit who you are gaming with: your blog has some cool trippy monsters and great ideas for dungeoncrawling awesomeness. This is all good stuff for jaded D&D players who have memorized the Monster Manual (whatever edition) and just want to see something new and freaky.

    Continue to rock on.

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  29. The older Penny Arcade podcasts with the same DM are much better. I listened to 2 episodes of the current videos with the Robot Chicken guys and it was just not as amusing.

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  30. Sorry, didn't watch 'em all back to back so didn't notice the clothes.

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  31. @Amanda

    Escapist comment threads are generally full of people trying to pass off their rank ignorance as some kind of carefully-cultivated cynicism (I've spent a while playing forum-janitor there). And topics involving women or minorities tend to invite it the most -- which is pretty sad, given the site's history.

    Bear in mind that most of the site's audience are high-school- and college- age kids, and very few have any experience with tabletop RPGs. That doesn't excuse the dickish posts, sure, but I think it explains why so many commenters have so little to say.

    -- Alex

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  32. You could probably do a lot with 'I Hit It With My Axe' and the reaction from various in-groups versus out-groups in a sociological sense (thesis alert!), but I have to agree with Zak's comment that much of the friction seems to come from some segment of the audience's unwillingness to accept people as people, rather than occupants of a convenient box used to organize their personal world-view. Not everybody wants the occupants of that box to get out, because not everyone wants to or is capable of dealing with the realization that real life is messy and doesn't always stay within the lines and sometimes the moments in which you find yourself completely off the map are the moments you remember most fondly.

    With that said, I also have to agree with Tim Brannan, even if it does sound creepy-stalkerish.

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  33. I have to say, you guys weren't kidding. Episode 5 solved the few, minor issues I had with this, and I'm now sold.

    And yeah, reading the escapist section, I'm stunned at the raw amount of pretentious cynical sexist bullshit that's flying in circles over that place. Whatever happened to optimism? Is hope just not cool anymore?

    Well, fuck that noise I say. You guys are making a fun, entertaining show, and all those hypocritical douchebags that seem to shift between screaming it's all a ploy to draw in sex-hungry teens and that it needs more tits can go drown in a lake.

    I do have a question though, do you run any other systems or games? 'Cause I would love to see these girls demented minds try something like Mage, or over the edge or, dare I say it? Paranoia, IOU and Monsters and other Childish things.

    Seriously, had I the money, I would pay for that. As it is, I can only offer kind words and possibly the shipping of Spettekaka.

    @David Wintheiser: Yeah, have to agree with that suspicion. Boxes are evil. Circles are the key to happiness. Well, Circles and maybe triangles, even though they're all pointy.

    And while I probably wouldn't care much for the opening of mail video, I am looking forward to the DnD one. Redheaded bringers of plot always get my vote.

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  34. I love I Hit It With My Axe. All the players remind me of player types I have played with before.

    Mandy is the smart, reasonable one who realizes there is a plot behind these random encounters and wants to know the story.

    Sasha is the newbie, who is sometimes confused, sometimes interested, still making up her mind if she likes the game or not.

    Kimberly is the hack and slasher who likes a fight. She plays a barbarian, and when she gets lycanthropy, and raging becomes dangerous, she still does it.

    Frankie is the player who likes to do one thing. She likes to sneak. If she could play a ninja, she could.

    Connie is the roleplayer who fixates on the cute things her character finds. She likes rescuing unicorns and petting her horse.

    Satine is the experienced one. She's been playing since her teens, and has gotten over the extremes some of the others show. She can be bold or rational as the situation calls for it.

    I may be completely wrong about some or all of them, as we only see snippets of them in play, but it's why I love the show. They remind me of so many people I have played with.

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  35. I stumbled onto this blog about two months ago. I LOVE IT! And,the show is great. Zak, you have a point about armchair, or in this case, blog-chair dunderpates who have taken it upon themselves to ridicule and finger waggle on their own blogs and sites.
    Keep up the great work and can't wait for more.

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  36. Pretty much an excellent representation of what a gaming session amoungst a slightly more mature group goes. Just like "8-Bit" was the perfect mirror of what it was like when I was 14.

    And I think it's great that as a side for a great gaming blog you are destroying a stereotype.

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  37. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  38. "Also: if you have any questions about the show or anybody on it, the surefire way to get an absolutely verifiably incorrect answer is to post about it on your blog or some random message board.

    "Nothing says 'My desire to know what I'm talking about is vastly outweighed by my desire to sit in a chair and type' than reading what someone says and then asking everyone but them for clarification. If you want to know how or who or why something is on the show, ask me, I'm right here. If I answer and you think I'm lying, I'll send proof."


    ...you just summed up exactly what it's like to work for White Wolf.

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  39. "Due perhaps to Justine's soothing presence, the hacking and slashing slows down a bit"

    Kimberly must have been disappointed at that. If there was ever a more classically Lawsian butt-kicker I've never met one.

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  40. I'd just like give you props on how you lovingly captured the time-honoured, old-school style application of lamp oil; the back and forth between a player and DM.

    'You gonna throw the oil or are you gonna run right up to it?'

    Can't believe that whole ordeal made the cut. Glad about it, though.

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  41. I think my favourite comment from the 0.05% was the one about the show needing a better script. Brilliant.

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  42. The one thing I'll say is I think you ought to have title cards or something at the beginning, identifying the different players. Five episodes in and I really don't know what person is named what (other than Zak & Frankie), or even which one's the guest.

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  43. @Delta
    I'll send it up the chain.

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  44. I agree that episode 5 shows a lot of improvement. There are still lots of fast cuts, but each small segment seems to have more context so it not as jarring. I understand with the short overall format cutting to the 'punch lines' so to speak, is going to be a necessity, but it seemed a lot smoother with this one. Overall, I enjoyed it. Keep up the good work.

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  45. I have to admit the only reason I don't watch I Hit It With My Axe is that I find video of D&D playing somehow detracts from my enjoyment as an outside observer; I prefer audio only. That said, the thing that really turned me off the Robot Chicken game was the all-guys we-can-say-slightly-misogynistic-shit vibe I managed to get from it, so thanks for putting gamer girls on film.

    As for your comment that you get more static for this than actual porn, well, the people who "hate" porn either don't watch it or (more likely) pretend not to watch it. They don't see or pay attention to porn stars because they don't go to porn sites (or, again, they pretend not to). Some of those people do, however, play games (though a sizable proportion also lump games into their pile of fun stuff that is somehow evil), so you're bringing something they usually ignore into their realm, so to speak.

    I say, good. It's a step towards more mainstream acceptance that people get paid to have sex on camera, but so of course some people will push back against that; but once they're forced to realise that porn stars are people with lives and personalities outside of what you (normally) see on camera, they'll have to re-evaluate their understanding and opinions.

    Plus, of course, it's fun, right? The whole thing is done purely for entertainment value, not to promote gaming or porn, or to make statements about the ethics of this or the rules of that.

    I enjoy the blog, and if there's ever an audio version of the game - which would make more sense than just listening to the audio of the video, thanks to the different way in which the media are edited - I'll be onto it like a shot.

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  46. Watched episode 5. Has there ever been a party in the history of D&D which has NOT suspected the DM is out to kill them?

    That was the moment when I realized that I must forward this series to all my gaming friends.

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  47. @Har
    If you want to pick a fight with joe, do it on joe's blog.

    as for your other comments:
    -My cut would've explained why our friends were there watching us play.

    -You misunderstand. The point of the blog is, of course, to trade useful gaming information. But it incidentally mkes a point about human beings and this point clearly needs to be made since a get a LOT of mail from a lot of gamers who don't seem to get it.

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