Sensor Sweep: Driveclub, Ultimate Character Compendium, OutRun, The Gladiator

Monday , 1, April 2019 12 Comments

Gaming (Niche Gamer): Sony Computer Entertainment has announced they’re shutting down several titles in a few months. First, they’re delisting Driveclub, Drivclub VR, and Driveclub Bikes from the PlayStation Store on August 31st, 2019, with the online servers for the shutting down a bit later – on March 31st of 2020. They’re also shutting down the online servers for Starblood Arena on July 25th, 2019.

Here’s a rundown on the game’s and components affected.


RPG (RPG Pundit): Inspired by a combination of events from history and a classic English Folk Song, this adventure features a mission to try to find the wife of a local aristocrat who has run off with a Cymri (Welsh Gypsy) scamp. As you might expect, there’s several twists to the scenario, people working against the PCs, complications and potential wilderness encounters!

RPG (Table Top Gaming News): When you’re the GM, you’ve gotta come up with everything else in the world that doesn’t consist of the party members. That’s tough. There’s guides out there that can help you with NPCs in the world. But they give you, what? 20? 30? Maybe 100 characters? That’s nothing. The Ultimate Character Compendium gives you over 4 thousand. The book is up on Kickstarter now.


Fandom (Brian Niemeier): There are those who describe the fandom phenomenon as the circuses part of the bread and circuses of our age. That’s not entirely accurate. Ancient Roman plebs didn’t worship the gladiators sent out to distract them from their empire’s fall.

In the crumbling American Empire, geek culture has been deployed to fill a different void than hunger or the need for entertainment. Modern comics, movies, and games superficially resemble entertainment, but they’re actually filling the role once served by religion in Americans’ lives.


Gaming (Wasteland and Sky): Have you ever wanted to get away from it all? Does the idea of going the distance and seeing what you never have before speak to you? You ever wanted to grab your love and just go for it? Well, you’re human, so I would assume so.

But you don’t have to save up or find the right girl to take a vacation. There is a game for that. The racing series OutRun might be the most romantic video game series ever made. And I mean romance in the broader, classical sense. There is no game like OutRun even thirty plus years from its release.


Fantasy (Pulprev): Corey McCleeryAlexander HelleneXavier LastraRawle Nyanzi and Misha Barnett recently opined on the de-mythologicisation of magic in contemporary fantasy. All five pieces are worth a read, but the thesis running through the heart of the conversation is that de-mythologicisation robs the mystery from magic in contemporary fantasy, making it feel empty. Comparing the works of the pulp-era grandmasters and many contemporary writers, I’m inclined to agree.


Fiction (Rough Edges): HILL OF THE DEAD is the first novel in a series I’ve recently completed collecting. The Gladiator is the overall title of these books, which were originally published in England as a series called The Eagles. The first four novels were reprinted in the United States by Pinnacle. The fifth and final book appeared only in England. The scan of this one is from the copy I read. The cover art is by Marcus Boas, an artist whose work I’m normally not fond of. This one is not too bad, very Steve Reeves-like, but not at all the way I pictured the character as I read the book.


Cinema (Scott D. Parker): Today marks the 20th anniversary of one of those films that changed everything.
To commemorate the day, the family sat down on Friday night and brought out the DVD. I can’t remember the last time I saw The Matrix, but it was likely ahead of the 2003 sequel. Assuming that, it had been sixteen years since I last saw this movie.

It holds up really well.


Fiction (Western Fiction Review): Don Coldsmith tells this story in the first person, but not just through one character, but two. These are Pipe Bearer and Otter Woman. The narrative switches between them often and the reader will feel like they are part of the group Pipe Bearer and Otter Woman are telling their tale to. Both storytellers go off on an occasional tangent which adds depth to their character, and they often exchange banter that contains humorous observations about many things, especially how women trick their men into believing they make all the decisions about their life path.

History (Paperback Warrior): Author John Hersey (1914-1993) wrote 25 books in his lifetime and was considered one of the first writers to incorporate story-telling techniques into a non-fiction novel. Working as a war journalist for prominent news magazines like Time and Life, Hersey was able to write bold, non-fiction “novels” based on his experiences. In 1959, Dell published “Into the Valley”, a harrowing account of Hersey’s time with the US marines on Guadalcanal Island during WW2. The paperback features poignant illustrations by USMC Major Donald Dickson.


Authors (Lesser Known Writers): “Mark Channing” was the pseudonym of Leopold Aloysius Matthew Jones, the first of four children of George Horatio Jones (1844-1920), a dental surgeon, and his wife, Blanche Louisa Lucas (1843-1908).  He had two younger brothers and one sister.


Over the last decade, the David Gemmell Awards For Fantasy have honoured the best in fantasy fiction and artwork as chosen by the readers.  W

ith a roll of honour taking in current genre luminaries such as John Gwynne, Robin Hobb, Mark Lawrence, Peter Newman, Brandon Sanderson, Andrezj Sapkowski, Brent Weeks and many more, with all of these winners chosen by a public vote, the awards have brought focus to some of the most exciting books, authors and artists in recent times.

RPG (Sacnoth’s Scriptorium): So, I was sorry to hear the news from the Chaosium newsletter (Ab Chaos) that gaming legend Larry DiTillio has died. I never got to meet DiTillio — one of those legendary figures like Greg Stafford (whom I did meet) or Sandy Petersen or Tom Moldvay — but I highly recommend his work. Among his many achievements, he wrote what I consider the best rpg adventure ever — and not the one you’re thinking of, either.

Culture Wars (scifi movie page): Disgraced Star Wars writer Chuck Wendig, who was fired by Marvel Entertainment in 2018 for his profanity-laced twitter rants, went off the rails again recently, attacking J.R.R. Tolkien and “The Lord of the Rings” in a series of “hey look at me trying to be relevant” tweets.

RPG (Yog For many years, various publishers in the Americas and Europe have had their books printed in China as a cost-saving measure (including many in the RPG field). Often the primary downside of this has simply been the time taken for the books to arrive, but it appears there can also be another problem, as the publishers of The Sassoon Files (a Cthulhu-based RPG supplement) have announced that all print copies of their book have been destroyed by the Chinese Government – for unspecified reasons.


Writers (DMR Books):  It would look as if Steve Tompkins is still well-remembered by many bloggers out there in the aether. Commemorations of his untimely death ten years ago were many and far-flung. The DMR blog posts in honor of Mr. Tompkins were these:

Steve Tompkins — Ten Years Gone by Deuce Richardson

In Memoriam: Steve Tompkins by John C. Hocking

A Lament for Sword-and-Sorcery Champion Steve Tompkins (1960-2009) by Brian Murphy

Steve Tompkins – May His Light Never Dim by William Patrick Maynard

  • Emmett Fitz-Hume says:

    Sad news about the Gemmell Award. The only award I cared about anymore.

    Regarding the Chuck Wendig article, I am more shocked that such a piece appeared on the Sci-Fi Movie Page than I am that Wendig proved himself to be an ignorant d-bag again.

    Sci-Fi Movie Page always had an SJW vein running through it and I read it less and less over the years.

    • deuce says:

      Did you read the same article I did? John Kirowan was NOT praising Wendig. I can assure you that SFMP is not fully converged. Definitely not in this case.

      • Chris Lopes says:

        The original poster realized the article was critical of Wendig, hence the surprise. The article was my first exposure to the site, but I looked around some after I read it. While it might not be fully converged, it has a noticeable SJW bent.

      • Emmett Fitz-Hume says:

        Yes, I did. A careful reading of my comment will reveal I didn’t say Kirowan was praising Wendig.

        Like Chris Lopes says, my surprise was that an article critical of Wendig appeared at Sci Fi Movie Page at all. SFMP may not be fully converged but they are well on their way.

        I was a loyal reader for years back before they went on hiatus to re-brand/restructure themselves. I used to love reading their massive database of Sci-Fi movie reviews.

      • deuce says:

        I know one of the guys involved with SFMP and he’s anything but an SJW. He makes his views publicly known on social media, so he seems to have no fear of being yanked by SFMP. He’s not “grunt-level”, either.

  • Cheah Kit Sun says:

    Thanks for the shoutout!

  • JD Cowan says:

    Thank you for the link!

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