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M. P. O'Sullivan
Works at The Basement Apartment
Attended University of the Arts
Lives in Philadelphia, PA, USA
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M. P. O'Sullivan

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This is the first year I get to say this... but I've sort of got some stuff for sale in this year's Epimas!

The Cheer bundle includes With Great Power, a great superheroes story game written by +Michael Miller with cover art by myself! I'm really proud of that piece, and the book it wraps around is even better than the art, so you should definitely pick that up.

The Mirth bundle includes The Indie Hack, which is the main text from which I am writing my first ever games text. +Slade Stolar wrote an incredibly smart game, a fantasy adventure RPG with a ton of grit and a focus on character and change. And you'll want this if you want to play The Monstrous Hack, my Elizabethan Horror Adventure game due out first quarter 2017.

And there's so many other great games on there that I had nothing to do with! Questlandia by +Hannah Shaffer is seriously incredible, The Clay that Woke is an amazing piece, and the Last Days of Angelkite is an incredibly sharp and evocative piece of writing by my friend +Brendan Conway (who I will only complement THIS ONE TIME!).

Oh, and there's also By Crom!, a comic about a modern woman and Conan just doing people stuff like the laundry. It's real good.

Let the holiday magic take you–it's powerful and your circles of protection are but nothing before its might! 
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Such a small world! I'm really excited to see and play The Monstrous Hack next year. And I'll be playing Anglekite this January.
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M. P. O'Sullivan

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Holy crap, I forgot how good Sketchbook Pro is. Jeepers. Butts. Jinkies. 
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Thank you!!!
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M. P. O'Sullivan

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Very excited for the new edition of Cthulhu Dark. Graham's insight into Lovecraftian horror is sharp, and his design is inspiring. Absolutely worth looking forward to. 
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M. P. O'Sullivan
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Sweetwater: Open Discussion and Chat  - 
 
Season 2 of Westworld was officially announced yesterday. Looks like we get to explore the maze even deeper next year. 
Westworld 2.0 is officially happening. HBO has ordered a second season of the sci-fi robopocalypse thriller – along with renewing fellow fall...
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M. P. O'Sullivan
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Pariah: Episode Discussions (with spoilers)  - 
 
S1E06: The Adversary
It seems that the story elements of Westworld have accreted to a point now where forward movement is inevitable. Much is discovered this episode, both about characters and their plots.

A couple of things that really stood out to me:

>The interactions between Maeve and Felix are incredibly compelling, and a little sad. Maeve fighting with her canned responses to stimuli was breathtaking–Thandie Newton was able to play pained and malfunctioning together without making it big and showy. Maeve's response to learning that she was programmed, to change her programming to better pursue her goals, was just absolutely great to watch play out.

>Teddy's cold butchery is really interesting. It actually put me in mind of the first episode and the reveal that Teddy was a host. The way that was done, riding with Teddy and putting us as viewers into his shoes, then showing us what he really is... it did such a great job of setting the stage for us as viewers that we're supposed to feel for the hosts as much as we do the guests, that the events happening to them are as real to them as can be. Seeing Teddy's flashbacks, and the ease with which he engages in violence really pulled at me. This new facet of Teddy totally fits, and makes me really sad for him.

>Tessa Thompson has joined the cast! I love Thompson (see Dear White People), and I'm very excited to see what she brings to the show. Her brief moments here were perfunctory set up, but she was great to watch.

>Finally, more on the corporate espionage storyline, and it looks like the call is coming from inside the house! It feels a bit early for me to figure out Theresa's true intentions for reaching out to Delos outside of normal channels, but hell if I'm not intrigued to see what that means. Is it her only way of communicating with the home office that Ford can't read?

>Also... Arnold's dead and getting into some shit! The discovery of the young Ford family was a revelation for these characters. Arnold recreated Ford's favorite childhood memory, and Ford couldn't help but tweak a nostalgic gift to add in the painful parts of his childhood, like his father's alcoholism. A very simple, subtle example of the difference in outlook between these two people.

Very excited for next week's episode! Apparently, reviewers were sent the first seven episodes to preview back when the first episode aired, and episode seven is supposed to be a big moment for the show. I'm absolutely thrilled to see what's coming next.

What did you think? What were your favorite moments? Anything not working for you?
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I really hope Elsie's ok. I love her a lot.
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M. P. O'Sullivan
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Sweetwater: Open Discussion and Chat  - 
 
A great description of some of the complexity and intent in Westworld from Katherine Trendacosta at io9.

"Westworld has taken great pains in previous episodes to put the viewer and its guests in the same position, and more specifically to shame anyone who’s more interested in the action and sex scenes than the philosophical questions it’s asking. This week, again, there was violence and sex all over the place. And, once again, it’s not at all the important part."
Westworld has taken great pains in previous episodes to put the viewer and its guests in the same position, and more specifically to shame anyone who’s more interested in the action and sex scenes than the philosophical questions it’s asking. This week, again, there was violence and sex all over the place. And, once again, it’s not at all the important part.
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I wouldn't say shame, so much as, it's not what's interesting. Like, those titties and cocks are out there because it's exciting to people, but also it's incidental and not what you're leaning in to see.
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M. P. O'Sullivan
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Pariah: Episode Discussions (with spoilers)  - 
 
S01E10: The Bicameral Mind

First, thank you all for some great conversation this season. It's been a ton of fun talking storytelling and dissecting narrative with all of you. I really do hope that we can all come back and do it again next year.

As for this episode, I don't want to say much yet as the season finale just aired last night. I'll probably be posting my thoughts in the comments, and I invite you to do the same. I would love to hear everyone's opinions on the episode and season.

These violent delights have violent ends.
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Ha.
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M. P. O'Sullivan

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Game makers Fria Lagan just put up the kickstarter for their newest RPG, Tales from the Loop. Like the board game Scythe, Tales from the Loop is inspired by the works of an artist, in this case the phenomenally talented Simon Stålenhag. His paintings depict a nostalgia-tinged portraits of 80s suburbia invaded by strange robots or energy-draped monoliths.

One of the things that I appreciate most about Fria Lagan's games presentations are how much they call out their intent. I know that a lot of games do this right now, but I think Fria Lagan is a particularly good example of this approach–clear, concise, evocative writing that boldly paints the game's target is a powerful tool. Each of their books has a lengthy section very early on that cuts through all of the shit and says matter-of-factly what the goal of gameplay is. It doesn't hurt that they've also made design choices that support those intents, but I just love seeing writers be that upfront with their game's purpose. Seeing a designer that can clearly state the goals of play communicates to me as a reader and player that they also probably know how to make a game that does the things they're promising.

If I can clear a little money from the little life event that I'm doing called a cross-country move, I'm definitely going to back this.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1192053011/tales-from-the-loop-roleplaying-in-the-80s-that-ne
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M. P. O'Sullivan
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Unclaimed Territories: Rumor and Wild Speculation  - 
 
The True Purpose of the Man in Black

First, let's suppose that William is the Man in Black. The show seems to be hinting that way in some serious ways. I would especially point to the Odyssey at Red River monologue from Episode 2 for the first serious signs the William is MiB.

As we've seen over these past few episodes, William has fallen in love with Dolores. Outside of Westworld, William is some sort of corporate management figure, used by the family that runs the company in dramatic plots between its members.

But, like Ford says, William has come to Westworld and not learned who he is, but gotten a glimpse of who he could be. Someone who could genuinely feel love, passion, and courage. Someone who can fight. And it's Dolores who has taught him these things. It's a hauntingly genuine kind of love, the kind where you let the person you love impact you.

So, assuming that the Man in Black is William, and the Man in Black is deeply, powerfully in love with Dolores, this leads to one place: I think the Man in Black is after Dolores' freedom. I don't think he cares if he gets to live the rest of his days with her, over on the river cutting through the Unclaimed Territories. I think he just wants her to be able to discover who she could be, returning the love that she had shown him.

If true, I think this show plays in some interesting ways with Ex Machina, a movie about AI, femininity, and love. I could spin that particular yarn for hours, but I think I'll wait until the season is over before I start in on it.

What do you think? What are your theories on this dynamic?
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M. P. O'Sullivan's profile photoPaul Beakley's profile photoFrank Manna's profile photo
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Logan's eyes are brown, Ed Harris' are blue. That would be too dumb a mistake when they could find an actor with blue eyes (which they have in McPoyle).
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M. P. O'Sullivan
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Pariah: Episode Discussions (with spoilers)  - 
 
S01E07: Trompe L'Oiel

HBO released episodes 1-7 to critics earlier this year for advance viewing to get excitement going. The refrain that I heard most often was "Wait until you get to episode seven–that's when it goes off."

Man, did it ever.

This was a great episode (a feeling which I think I might have for every episode this season). In particular, Tromp L'Oiel was a spotlight for Jeffrey Wright.

His subtle physical acting, his quietude and nuance really elevate the character of Bernard into something else.

One moment in particular that just stunned me was in the final scene of the episode (and spoilers ahoy here). Bernard is confronted with incontrovertible proof that he is a a host. His reactions are beautiful, a stutter here, a quavering voice there, all crescendoing with Bernard saying "I'm not one, I can't be. My wife... my son."

And it's that last line that he lands on, tilting his head up, ending the sentence in a subtle upward tilt. The pain that he feels that his son might not have ever existed, quietly begging for it all to be untrue. I just watched the scene again and it still stuns. Wright, Hopkins, and Knudsen are all incredible.

Other thoughts:

>This episode pretty much confirms to me that we're dealing with three different points in time: The Far Past, in which old Bernard (possibly Arnold) talks to Dolores in the basement of the cottage; The Recent Past, in which Dolores is going on adventures with William; and the Present, in which Host Bernard has just killed Theresa.

I think our window into the past is actually Dolores' reveries, that the story is totally happening in the current time but Dolores is reliving her experiences from years ago with William. We're leading up to discover what happened at the chapel.

>Maeve's story continues to compel. It's heartbreaking watching her have to see her friend get lobotomized. I'm very excited to see where her plan goes.

And this is mindless speculation, but I think I have an inkling on what the Man in Black is after. I'll post about that in Unclaimed Territories.

What did you think? How did you feel about the Bernard revelation?
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I'll also add that I'm hoping it's not three timelines for some reason. I'm not sure why. I'm not opposed to complex structures per se. Maybe I'm just feeling too weary to think hard lately.
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M. P. O'Sullivan
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Sweetwater: Open Discussion and Chat  - 
 
Aaaaah, Mondays, the day where we all get to chat and think about last night's episode.

On that point, here's a great video about the bicameral mind, the original blueprint for the psychological architecture of the hosts, and what it could mean for the narrative. Some very interesting stuff here, especially in the last minute or two.


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+Robert Bohl Me, too! All of the stuff with Maeve, the further developments with Bernard... all so good!
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M. P. O'Sullivan
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Sweetwater: Open Discussion and Chat  - 
 
Nerdwriter gets in a great dissection of Anthony Hopkins subtle acting choices in S1E04: Dissonance Theory. Some great observations about what Hopkins is bringing to the table.

Very slightly spoilery if you haven't seen the episode.

I've got to say, I've found every actor so far on the show to be working at the heights of their abilities. Evan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton are both incredible, and the subtle shades of character that Ed Harris is playing in just elevate every scene he's in. And Jeffrey Wright! Oh my god, that man understands how to work with his body so welllllll!

What do you guys think? Any actors working or not for you?
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Paul Beakley's profile photoJ. Walton's profile photoRobert Bohl's profile photoMichael Wenman's profile photo
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If by "bitchy tech girl" you mean the behaviour programmer, rather than the QA representative, then yes... it's great to see the diversity of her acting talents after the role in the sitcom "Raising Hope".

Around here we've also been happy to see Jimmy Simpson in a role where he isn't playing a villain.
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Freelance Illustrator
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  • The Basement Apartment
    Illustrator, present
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Philadelphia, PA, USA
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Jackson, NJ, USA - Honolulu, HI, USA
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Comic book writer and artist. Freelance Illustrator.
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Born in PA, raised in Jersey, lived in Hawai'i, living in Philadelphia.  I like to draw.
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Currently drawing "Orphans", a scifi adventure webcomic.
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  • University of the Arts
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