MUTANT FOOTBALL LEAGUE: Attack of the 20ft Wez

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I’ve been conflicted over whether I should talk about Mutant Football League at all. This is mostly because I funded the game on Kickstarter last year when it was in pre-alpha. I also realize I’m probably not the intended audience, even within the art style’s genre. My yearly exposure to football is limited to a few Buffalo Bills games and the Super Bowl. The last football game I played before MFL was Madden 06. What I’m trying to say is that it’s not as cut and dry as previous games I’ve discussed.

The premise is pretty simple. It’s an anything goes apocalypse! The dead are rising out of their graves, a tidal wave of orcs pollutes the air with a noxious green haze, robots are leaking oil, aliens have made football stadiums on the moon, and clones of Vernon Wells are wreaking havoc all across America. But that’s not all. Blood is raining from the sky in Killadelphia and the world’s #1 pastime is sponsored by… “Monsatan Industries.” Nearly every element of NFL culture is tweaked to meet the theme. It’s silly, visually appealing, and portrays a post-apocalypse that’s simultaneously grimdark and chuckle worthy. 20180208112956_1.jpg

Taking place in a violence-obsessed post-apocalypse, Mutant Football League has some interesting twists up its sleeves. The game’s own promotional material says killing five quarterbacks to force a forfeit is a perfectly acceptable strategy. However, while the AI loves to use Quarterback Sack Attack, I’ve yet to see myself or anyone else lose in this manner.

Mutant Football League also includes Dirty Tricks, a series of special plays which typically function as a guaranteed touchdown, guaranteed fumble, or both. For example, on offense you can take out a shotgun during a run play and reduce the entire opposing team to swiss cheese. On defense, you can turn 20ft tall, instantly kill or fumble anyone you touch and then easily make a touchdown because no one dares tackle the giant mutant on the field. Overall, Dirty Tricks make the game interesting and unpredictable as every team has its own set of tricks.

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Notice the score. This is hard difficulty. Also notice how the ball grows in proportion to the ginormous player.

Opposing players aren’t the only thing to look out for. Mutant Football League fields are covered in hazards: Landmines, bottomless pits, sandworms, razorblades, and much more. Among these, one specifically stands out. It’s incredibly difficult to go out of bounds in MFL because the sidelines are often replaced with pools of blood or lava. This means you can’t maximize your yardage by diagonally cutting across the field. Instead, you have to jump, spin, punch, or dive your way out of danger or trick the other team into falling into a pool of acid.

Unfortunately, the AI in Mutant Football League is embarrassingly bad. You almost have to play against another human to face any sort of challenge. Back in the demo days of MFL, I would often shut out the other team by up to 48 points in just two quarters. Things aren’t much better in the full release.  On All-Pro difficulty (Hard), I kicked the ball toward the obvious obstacles, only for the returner to instantly die by falling into a bear trap, causing a fumble. My team picks up the ball and makes a touchdown. THEN THE EXACT SAME THING HAPPENED AGAIN 17 SECONDS LATER. Meanwhile, on Masochist difficulty (very hard) the AI will generally intercept any pass you make and will regularly make field goals from up to 50 yards away.

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Our lovely narrator.

Even though I’m not a big fan of the gameplay or AI, the art style is really the star of the show. The stadiums look great, the team logos are sleek, and the commentators are good…for a while. The narration usually doesn’t reflect gameplay as players have come to expect from other, modern sports games. Sure, you’ll hear general remarks that relate to the game “Rev up your engines! It’s time for a chainsaw massacre.” “The 40, the 30, the 20, the 10, HE’S GOING ALL THE WAY,” but I don’t think I’ve ever heard the commentators specifically mention a player by name. This is despite the fact that Tim Kitzrow, the lead narrator, is quoted as saying “”In what other video game could I talk about deflated balls?…[such as] after that vicious sack, Bomb Shadey will be playing with deflated balls for the rest of his career!” I usually play the Nuked London Hatriots and I’ve never heard that quip.

Between plays, the commentators will do a series of short skits. Unfortunately, this leads to the same problem every other comedy game faces: repetition. The more times you hear a joke, the less funny it is. You’ll hear “Oh my god! A man in a prison uniform just came on the field!” followed by “That’s the referee you idiot” dozens and dozens of times. It’ll make you smile the first time, but by the end of the football season, you’ll probably end up turning the commentators off. There’s just not enough material to keep it lively. In my opinion, one of the best examples of doing this right is Monday Night Combat, where the announcer usually chimes in at the beginning and end of each match (like Team Fortress 2), but also to inform players when interesting things are happening (churros/bacon/Bullseye appearing, impressive kill streaks, and specialist robots on the field). It still gets old after a while, but it retains some staying power by using narration as a spice rather than a sauce. Players aren’t slathered with it, but have just enough to make for an enjoyable experience.

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What we expected from the Humans class.

Then there’s the players. Most player names are a parody of either a real NFL player or a sci-fi character. The first thing you’ll, unfortunately, notice about them is that they all have the same character model. Each species of player is exactly the same, give or take the size of their padding. This is honestly disappointing as characters parodying NFL stars have unique portraits and stats, but completely average appearances. Not only that, but their facial expressions are locked in a static pose; the lower jaws move, but face and eyes do not. This is especially noticeable with the human players. I might also say that their sideline quips usually aren’t funny. Many player lines are just references or the equivalent of yo-mama jokes.

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How every human looks in MFL. Notice his left hand is clipping…

I also found some of the team compositions to be off the mark for my tastes. For example, a few teams are themed to be a single species in complementary colors. The Orcs of Hazzard, for example, is a team comprised entirely of big green Orcs in scrap metal armor. Meanwhile, another team has mustard yellow orcs and skeletons with yellow bones playing alongside blue robots. It doesn’t necessarily break the games’ immersion, but I almost wish each team was comprised of just one or two species then have an All-Star team to bring them all together. Also there’s no team made of just Wez clones, so that’s a bummer.

Overall, Mutant Football League is fun…for a while. The art direction has a lot of charm, the dirty tricks are sure to delight, and the AI bashing its head against the wall will at least make for a great highlight reel. Still, I don’t think it’ll end up on my replay list anytime soon. It’s average. Not bad, just middle of the pack. Also their Super Bowl prediction was waaaaay off.

If you’re interested in getting Mutant Football League for Steam, click here.

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Welcome to Killadelphia. Would you like to see our blood rain and giant bells?

Deconstructing Fallout 3: Tenpenny Tower

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When I first played Fallout 3 on my Xbox 360 way back in 2008, I found myself drawn to the hubs and the quests. Exploring the wasteland was fun, but ultimately I was looking for structure and a story. I’ve recently booted up Fallout 3 again, but this time on the PC. With extreme (but lore friendly) modding, I’ve found the exploration aspect far more enjoyable and the quests frankly lackluster. I want to deconstruct the quests in Fallout 3 to think about how they work in relation to an open world map and the player character’s development choices.

Let’s start with the basics. Not counting the three childhood quests, Fallout 3 has a total of 66 quests in the base game: 10 story quests, 18 side quests, 22 unmarked side quests, and 16 repeatable fetch quests. Again, I want to briefly break down each of these to see how they’ve made use of the new environment and the RPG elements.


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You know what? “Tenpenny Tower” is a good quest. It’s well structured, it’s got some great roleplaying options to expand your character, and it has three major endings, each of which has a noticeable impact on a prominent trading hub. Unfortunately, the entire quest falls apart after it has been completed.

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What is MUTATION: The Wasteland Survival Guide?

MUTATION: The Wasteland Survival guide is a six episode long series exploring the quirky and unusual world of MUTATION, as seen in The Journal of Joe Junkman. The show itself documents the writing of the Mo-Javi Wasteland’s very first survival guide. Charged with writing this book is wasteland legend James Gray and local shyster Joe Junkman. Throughout their journey, our heroes will struggle with radioactive dust storms, water scarcity, and each other.


I want to break character for a moment to say how excited I am to be moving forward with this project. The world of MUTATION has gone through a lot of change since its conception. What originally began as a pen and paper RPG has transformed into serial fiction, a website, and a show. I can’t wait to see where it goes next.

To make a long story short, Ben and I got together in the summer of 2015 and began brainstorming ideas for this short series. Although we have all the footage, brainstorming was about as far as it got. It seems embarrassing now, but we didn’t have a script or anything. Essentially, we had a concept for each episode and a location. For better or worse, almost every scene is improvisational.

When I first established this website, I had no idea what the response would be. These past few months, I’ve been consistently amazed at the hospitality and support I’ve received from the online post-apocalyptic tribe. Thank you for giving us a chance and following our stories week after week.

I’d also like to announce at this time that Ben and I are planning to attend Wasteland Weekend this year! I’ll be in character as James Gray and I believe Ben will appear as Joe Junkman.

We hope to see some of you there! The Rad-Lands wouldn’t be here without you.

-Ron Welch

How Fallout Reshaped a Genre

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The year was 1997. The Cold War had been over for almost six years. Fear of nuclear annihilation took a backseat in the public’s mind.  Post-nuclear fiction disappeared almost overnight. 1995 saw a brief resurgence with the Judge Dredd film (a critical disaster) and the release of the I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream computer game. For a brief moment, it seemed that tales of the apocalypse might die out.

Then, like a messiah emerging from the wastes came Fallout.  The game reenergized the genre, primarily by solidifying the post-post-apocalyptic genre, normalizing sentient mutants, and developing a tone and motif between Mad Max and A Boy and His Dog that would engage fans of those respective intellectual properties.

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There’s a glaring empty space in nuclear holocaust fiction from 1990-1995

The vast majority of post-nuclear fiction before Fallout focused on the hours and days immediately after WWIII. Films like The Day After and The Road Warrior show glimpses of the terrifying times after the immediate collapse of society.
Fallout took this a step further, setting the game 80 years after the war and establishing peaceful villages and trading hubs. Even after the end of the world, people continue on as they always have. Cleverly, there’s even an explanation for standardized currency.

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Many Fallout games have a secondary theme of building a life for yourself in the wasteland, not surviving or scavenging, but really living. This theme manifests itself in the formation of NCR, the quest to save Arroyo (and later rebuild it), civilizing the mid-west, purifying radioactive waters, deciding the future of the west coast, and building settlements.
In some sense, every Fallout game has the protagonist turning the Wasteland into a place where settlers can thrive. Inevitably, this meant constructing new civilizations around the culture of the old. Many settlements in the Fallout franchise are parodies or social commentary: Cultists who are kept in the dark about their own religion, a society where martial arts rules supreme, tribal nomads becoming a caricature of 50s swing.
These commentaries and interesting factions were only possible because Fallout had made the movement from post-apocalyptic to post-post-apocalyptic.

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Deformed mutants have always been a staple of the genre. In lower budget films (such as She Wolves of the Wasteland or Warriors of the Apocalypse) these were primarily feral creatures that killed everything in their way or were merely humans with burned faces. During these times, every mutant had a different deformity (see Judge Dredd).
Fallout changed that by introducing sentient mutant races (ghouls and super mutants), in the same manner as Tolkien introduced a world of elves and orcs. In many ways, the world of Fallout is like a mixture between Dune and a Tolkienesque fantasy. It has multiple races at odds with each other and who spawn from designated homelands, but it brings a heavy sci-fi influence that allows nearly anything to happen. As Clarke’s third law says: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

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Utilizing its sci-fi elements, Fallout created a unique style of its own while invoking the familiar feelings of Mad Max and A Boy and His Dog. Endless flat desert, underground refuges full of survivors, tribal communities, and murderous slavers. Fallout’s sequels  built upon its own IP while still anchoring itself to the genre with Mad Max references.

Notice how every Fallout game has a Dogmeat or a dog surrogate. This links Fallout back to A Boy and His Dog and The Road Warrior, giving the audience a sense of comfort and companionship, encouraging immersion. Like Tolkien borrowing and building upon elements of folk lore, Fallout borrowed and built upon post-apocalyptic tropes, then molded them into a livable world where characters do not live in constant fear of bandit or mutant attacks.

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Fallout is deeply anchored in the culture of Mad Max

By establishing the post-post-apocalyptic genre, Fallout carved a niche for itself. The Mad Max times have already happened. Fallout moved away from tales of survival, instead focusing on themes of either saving or destroying new civilizations.
Because of Fallout, writers have moved away from the immediate post-apocalyptic chaos and have instead shifted focus toward tribes and civilizations that parody and critique modern culture. Effectively, the Fallout franchise shifted post-apocalyptic fiction from anxiety of nuclear annihilation to social commentary.