Adaptations – Altering the Source

Yesterday I caught a few glimpses of The Killing Joke’s animated film adaptation, and while I won’t give you a review until I’ve seen it, the clip I saw got me thinking on the subject of adaptations and the ways people go about them.

TV Tropes has a vast list of different adaptation tropes, from Compressed Adaptation, where in the process of adapting the story to a new medium they cut out entire chunks of the story or universe hoping the overall experience remains the same, no matter how many holes there are. There’s Distillation, which is about simplifying complex elements of the source material to make the transitions easier. Pragmatic Adaptation is the most reasonable of all, where you cut out or remix the elements that just won’t work in the new medium. Continue reading Adaptations – Altering the Source

Round Table Discussion – What’s next on LawfulGeek Plays?

This week on The Mental Attic’s YouTube channel, one of my first and longest running Let’s Play series comes to an end (more on that tomorrow) and next week another one will go away. They’ve been fun games and I’ve gotten into the groove of recording multiple series every week. Even now, I’m learning new things, improving my hosting skills and content creation in general. I’m starting to edit videos, think about the presentation and slowly building my own personal brand of entertainment.

And I’m only just beginning. Continue reading Round Table Discussion – What’s next on LawfulGeek Plays?

Journalist Evolution – My Worst Articles

As a writer, my skills and personal style are constantly growing, always maturing and changing. Just on experience, what I write today is going to be better (sorta) that what I wrote yesterday (maybe). But sometimes you have to go back and analyse your articles and fiction to find out what was wrong there, what mistakes you made and what you can learn from them. So today, as part of my continuous growth as a writer and (amateur) journalist, I’ll talk about my worst articles. These were flawed pieces from the get-go, and had an immense impact on me. Continue reading Journalist Evolution – My Worst Articles

Annoying Game Mechanics – Timed Sequences

Annoying Game Mechanics are those that just make you groan when you see them in a game. You’ve seen them at their best but you’ve also seen them at their worst. You can’t love them but you can’t hate them either, but you can definitely be annoyed!

This week the mechanic I’m having an issue with is Timed Sequences! I’m pulling this one from the archives, as this was the last AGM to be featured on the site, and it was a video! Thankfully, there are no records of it ever existing and the world is a happier place for it. You don’t need me mumbling on video with poor audio. You already have me mumbling on video with good audio!

Sometimes games need to add a bit more pressure to your current task. Maybe they want you to hurry the hell up before the nuclear reactor blows up, or maybe they want you to hold on to dear life and withstand something unfairly difficult for a little while before something else happens! These are Timed Sequences, events or segments in a game where you have a finite time window to complete a task. Unlike other Annoying Game Mechanics, there are two types of Timed Sequences:

Timed Tasks, as their name imply mean you have a set time to go about your business. Maybe it’s escaping a room before a bomb blows up, or escape a crime-scene before the police arrive, or lock your doors before someone comes barging in. These timed sequences add tension to a sequence. The gameplay remains the same as do all the rules, but now you have that timer pressuring you.

Survival Countdown sequences are not specific tasks, not simple objectives to follow. Instead your only goal is to survive or hold on until the time runs out or some other even triggers. Real Time Strategy games are fond of this one, of giving you a five minute window until victory triggers with the difficulty ramping up the more time passes. While the previous mean to increase tension, these are frantic and meant to test your composure and reaction time.

If done properly these sequences do exactly what they’re meant to do, they add tension and make for exciting gameplay. They make you nervous enough to make mistakes as you fumble with the controls, but lenient enough that you can commit errors and still make it through. The successful ones add an incomparable adrenaline rush to your game and in doing so enhance the player’s immersion.

If they screw up, on the other hand, the only thing they’ll cause is stress and frustration, becoming tall walls the players need to overcome to move along with the rest of the game. They kill the fun and immersion they tried to enhance and make sure the player doesn’t have fond memories of the game.

The staple of an annoying mechanic is that it’s seen both good and bad days. The following are some of the best and most disappointing uses:


  • Every Metroid game has at least one timed sequence, usually in the form of an escape. From leaving the self-destructing planet at the end of Metroid 1 and Super Metroid to the reactor core meltdown in Metroid Fusion. These sequences are exciting and tense but you have enough leeway to royally screw up and still make it out in time.
  • Warcraft III has a few of these. The most memorable one is the last mission in the Undead Campaign, where you summon the Burning Legion to Azeroth. The enemies become ever stronger and the units come out faster and it’s a frantic race to keep your defenses up until the time is done. Thankfully your new masters send you aid in the form of demonic units to help vanquish your enemies and give you some breathing space!
  • Guild of Dungeoneering has an interesting take on the timed tasks. Some dungeons will feature a “sleeping” monster. The creature will come after you in a number of turns and you have to do your best to gear and level up before it does. The best part about it is that if you manage to reach it before it wakes up, it will take a hit to its stats, making the fight considerably easier.
  • Resident Evil games also have a tendency for self-destruct escapes. Resident Evil 2 is the most memorable of them in my opinion by having a boss fight right in the middle of it. It would be stressful if not for two reasons. First, the timer is generous enough. Second, by the time you get to the boss you’ll have a massive arsenal with which to take the boss out with time to spare. So it works as a wonderfully tense situation.
  • One of the most memorable stages in StarCraft is the mission where you must hold on until evacuation comes by resisting attacks by the Protoss and Zerg. This is the mission where Kerrigan falls. It was wonderfully paced and by the end you hate to leave her behind.
  • The Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth has a wonderful starting timed sequence. You have to jump out of bed and block out the entrances to your room before the villagers can come after you. From then it escalates into a chase sequence where each locked door adds a bit of time for a breather. If you’re playing on the PC version—in which the main character moves at 1/6 of the normal speed—this extra time is vital!
  • Final Fantasy VIII has a fantastic timed sequence. While fighting Seifer on the Lunatic Pandora, Odin will appear and attempt to kill him only to die in the process. You then see Odin’s sword flying through the sky and a mysterious hand grabbing it as it parts the clouds. If you then stretch the battle on, eventually Gilgamesh will show up, kill Seifer and take Odin’s place as your new summon. It’s entirely optional but very rewarding!


  • Dracula 2 added these to the game, but they are outstandingly frustrating. With the poor resolution on its static backgrounds, finding the latch to close the door or the mirrors to move to kill a vampire is a bit of frustrating pixel hunting that will annoy you to no end.
  • Batman: Arkham Knight added VR challenges for the Batmobile, where you race from one end to another or have a limited time to do something with the clunky tank. By that last sentence you should know why this is a bad one. The Batmobile has worthless maneuverability, making each turn take so much time that completing the challenges becomes painful. It doesn’t help that time boosters are so out of the way that it’s pointless to get them.
  • Guild of Dungeoneering makes the list again but this time with its monster chase quests. In these the monster is coming after you and will get to you in a matter of turns. With the way the AI works for determining its next move, these quests can be very frustrating when your character walks straight into the monster’s path.
  • Various JRPG, including Xenoblade Chronicles, have unbeatable boss fights where you just have to hold on for a certain number of turns until something else happens. These sequences feel cheap and are insanely punishing and barely beatable. Worse still, if for some reason you out-level the content, then it feels as though you lose by plot even if you manage to defeat the monster.
  • Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness has a few of these. The first one is at an old lady’s house, where you must escape before the police get there, but not before you find a journal. The only problem is that the journal is nowhere in sight. So you look around and of course, it’s in the kitchen? What? The time you have to do this is very tight and the ridiculous location for the item just adds to the confusion.
    • Later on you need to escape from a room where someone set a bomb, but even the smallest of missteps will make the thing go boom.

The Weekly Puzzle – Green Truth

Puzzles are at the core of Adventure gameplay, they provide challenges for you to overcome with brains rather than brawn. For Action Adventures, they offer a break from the hacky-slashy-stabby-shooty element of title.

Every week I’ll bring you a new puzzle, drawn from some of the best and worst adventure or puzzle games I’ve ever played. Every two weeks I’ll even leave you one of my own for you to solve. If you do, I’ll find a way to reward you!

Last week I left a nice riddle, and someone solved it! The answer was Eclipse.

For this week’s puzzle I’ll go to a game many of you won’t have played but I enjoyed and even reviewed last year: Dracula 3 – The Path of the Dragon. In this game, you pay as Father Arno, a catholic priest sent to Romania to investigate a candidate for sainthood, a local doctor in a small village.

The puzzle you find in Budapest, in the library of Irina Boczow, the foremost expert on vampire lore, as Arno is trying to find the origins of the mysterious Path of the Dragon Vlad Dracula supposedly went through to become a vampire. At least according to folklore.

Dracula 3
(Image Credit: Moby Games) Irina’s office makes me jealous!

For this puzzle, you need to open a box with locker like dials, each with a different letter. To find the keyword you need to solve a riddle:

If you wish to contemplate a hidden, terrible and cruel beauty, yet admirable to the sight, know that the green truth may be read in a circle which you will follow in the right direction…

On top of the box is a page from a medieval book, complete with coloured letters. To solve the puzzle you need to draw a circle that hits just the right letters, so you may find the word needed to open the box.

Can you find the Green Truth?
(Image Credit: AdventureGameFan8) Can you find the Green Truth?

When I first bought the Dracula Trilogy bundle on I didn’t know they were first person adventures like Myst. I didn’t really like that type of adventure. But Dracula 3 made me a fan and with this puzzle it showed me just how creative the designers were. There are many possible letters you can combine but only one circle gives you the answer. Even figuring out what you need to do to get those letters can take some thinking as there’s no obvious hint of what you should use. Of all the puzzles in this game this is the one I remember the most as I spent a while looking for the answer, running around the rooms trying to find a solution before deciding I had to think it through on my own. I thought there would be more clues but I had already been told everything I needed.

I just needed to put the noggin to work. Some say the best adventure game puzzles are those hard ones that lead to a “Eureka!” moment when you figure it out, and this puzzle was it for me!

If you haven’t played Dracula 3: Path of the Dragon, you should do so at once. It has nothing to do with Dracula 1 & 2, so you can skip those. They’re terrible anyway. If you have, tell me about your favourite puzzle!

Dracula: Read and Loving it!

When I was in high school they forced me to read some old, old novels by national authors and for the most part my experience with Venezuelan authors was that they had very limited ideas when it came to stories. They were all about farmers and the people in power and the struggle of classes. All of them, every single one of them the same crap. I hated every one of those novels, even if in the country they are timeless classics. Might be the reason I don’t usually go for novels tagged as “classics,” they give me bad memories. Then again, I have read some outstandingly bad books in my time, some of which were lauded as magnificent by established authors and critics alike.

Why am I telling you this? Because I want you to know about the first book I read for my pleasure. This was the book that turned me into a bibliophile, hunting for more stories to read and what would eventually drive me to write my own: Dracula by Bram Stoker. I’ve wanted to talk about this book for so long but never found the chance. But now with the Begorrathon I think it’s the perfect time to talk about it. In case you didn’t know Bram Stoker, the author, was Irish. Do note that this isn’t a review, this is pure fan-gushing!

I remember reading Dracula in Spanish first, then getting the urge of reading it in its original language, only to discover that the Spanish version I read had omitted entire pages from its translation.

Dracula opens with Johnathan Harker, a solicitor, travelling all the way to Dracula’s Castle (I’m always tempted to call it Casltevania, being the gamer I am), to finish the paperwork for the reclusive and eponymous Count’s purchase of Carfax Abbey. But things don’t go easily and Johnathan ends up trapped in the castle while the Count makes his way to London and begins targeting the young solicitor’s loved ones.

What first stuck me with Dracula was how Stoker tells the story. It’s point of view narrative but from diaries, journals, correspondence and even newspapers. Every chapter features one or more such mediums and through them you learn snippets of the story from the characters’ perspectives, while at the same time getting to know them quite well. Each of them has their own way of writing, of referring to things, of conveying information. Some are more emotional and other much more logical. Even when doing pure exposition, it’s disguised as part of a conversation or told in small bits in one of Mina or Dr. Seward’s letters.

I’ve always loved Count Dracula as a villain, especially in this novel, and it’s for one big reason: he’s a complete monster. Over the years many adaptations have tried to make him seem relatable, to change the personality as much as possible. And nowadays we often see such villains—those you know would be good guys if their lives had been different. Not Count Dracula in Stoker’s novel, this was a monster from start to finish, driven by his own lusts and desires, no humanity whatsoever and even now, I find that refreshing. I like those relatable villains as much as everyone but sometimes you just want a monster to fight, one that doesn’t give a flying toss (nor a walking or swimming one) about anything other than itself and who is as inhuman as possible. The Count fits that bill. He is completely evil and loves it.

Then there’s the rest of the cast. As I mentioned before, you get to know most of them through their writing, but they’re all wonderfully done, even those you only hear accounts of–Quincy Morris and Arthur Holmwood. Quincy in particular is a fan favourite, as is the astounding Professor Abraham Van Helsing. I loved them all, from bubblehead Lucy (she really is, not the best head on a set of shoulders) to the deranged yet somber Renfield. In my mind, they look like their actors from Francis Ford Coppola’s adaptation, which means Van Helsing will forever be Anthony Hopkins in my mind. Not a bad thing!

I love the pacing of the plot, from the mysterious Count’s introduction to the strange ‘illness’ affecting Lucy, Van Helsing’s appearance and Johnathan’s Return before the hunt begins in earnest and ends with a desperate bid for the Count’s head before the sun goes down. Some people feel the ending lacks punch because there isn’t a fight with the Count at night, but I disagree. The book establishes very early on that the Count is too powerful, so the race is to kill him before he can rise for the evening. I loved it because it made sense.

The Count’s power level is another thing I always enjoy and one thing that’s made me look at the Vampires in modern stories with pity. Dracula walked in the sunlight, and during the day, when he was weaker, he could still summon storms, call animals to his side and even turn into them. He’s resilient and overcomes pretty much every barrier put in his way. At night, he was unstoppable. His only weaknesses were the dirt crates he rested in, established very early on and exploited to kill him; and his pride, his greatest flaw, overconfident that they couldn’t stop him. It’s what inevitably forces him to flee London.

Dracula will always hold a special place in my heart, and I still read it from time to time, even if just the opening pages, to remind myself of how everything starts. And during this year’s Begorrathon I’m raising my non-alcoholic glass to Bram Stoker and this novel that changed my life.

Castlevania Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate HD Review

Castlevania Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate HD is the HD rerelease of the 2013 Nintendo 3DS game of the same name (except the HD part obviously), an interlude or interquel between Castlevania Lords of Shadow 1 and 2, and dealing with the Belmont clan and their relationship with Dracula, Lords of Shadow’s Gabriel Belmont. Continue reading Castlevania Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate HD Review

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 – Review

Castlevania Lords of Shadow 2 is the sequel to Konami and Mercury Steam’s Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, released in 2010 (and 2013 for PC), and once again follows Gabriel Belmont, who since the events of the first game (and its DLC) has become Dracula, the great enemy of the Castlevania series and his own family, the Belmont Clan. Continue reading Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 – Review

Spiral of Mediocrity – 2013 (to March 2014)

TV series are a funny thing, each show is a different beast, with different levels of quality in writing, performances, characterizations and plots, yet all fight each other for the spotlight, for a better schedule and more importantly, for another year. Extra effort always goes into the Pilot episode and the Season Finale, both big ratings grabbers. Continue reading Spiral of Mediocrity – 2013 (to March 2014)

Dracula – Season 1 Review


When the Dracula series began, starring Johnathan Rhys Meyers as the eponymous count and Vampire, I gave it a “Worth Watching” score, based on its premise, the acting, the characters and the overall potential I felt the series had. Now that Season 1 has finished its run, and we still don’t know if Season 2 will ever happen, I think it’s time to take another look at this series and see if it reached its potential or squandered an excellent opportunity. Continue reading Dracula – Season 1 Review