Archive for 2013

Countdown to Release

I’ve posted this everywhere else, why not my own blog?  Road of Kings has an official release date: January 18th.  Also, we’re officially supporting iPhone/iPad in addition to Android, which is very exciting, as we expected it to take much longer to support that platform.  Things went pretty smoothly though, thanks very much to the good folks over at libgdx and robovm.

Finally, here’s the new trailer we just released.  Enjoy!

Algebraic!

I’m working on isometric projections at the day job this morning.  I had the world position of an entity (wx, wy) and had to figure out the grid coordinates (gx, gy) of said entity on an isometric grid which had individual tiles tw wide and th high.  I also already have the formulas at hand for the inverse problem of converting from grid coordinates (gx, gy) to world coordinates (wx, wy).  I’m sure this math exists in a dozen places online, but actually spending a couple minutes doing out the work always helps if it doesn’t quite work right and you find yourself trying to figure out why in the debugger.  So here’s what is written on the notepad on my desk:

Known Formulas
wx = (gx – gy) * tw
wy = (gx + gy) * th

Solve for gx
wx = (gx – gy) * tw
(gx – gy) = wx / tw
gx = (wx / tw) + gy

Solve for gy
wy = (gx + gy) * th
gx + gy = wy / th
gy = (wy / th) – gx

Re-solve for gx excluding gy
gx = (wx / tw) + (wy / th) – gx
gx * 2 = (wx / tw) + (wy / th)
gx = ((wx / tw) + (wy / th)) / 2

Re-solve for gy excluding gx
gy = (wy / th) – (wx / tw) + gy
gy * 2 = (wy / th) – (wx / tw)
gy = ((wy / th) – (wx / tw)) / 2

I’m sure it marks me as a huge nerd, but I find it so satisfying when I get to do this kind of thing as part of my regular employment.  Sweet, sweet justification for all those math classes.

Road of Kings Update

In other news, progress on Road of Kings is going strong.  In fact, a large part of why I’ve missed updating my blog so much recently is due to my focus instead being on the social media marketing campaign we’ve started.  Granted, none of us are marketers and we don’t really know what we’re doing, but we’re trying very hard to have a much stronger visible presence on social media as we approach launch.  As such, I’ve been posting to Facebook and Twitter much more than my own blog.

If you’re not following us there, here’s what you’ve missed:

  • I’ve been posting a dramatized actual play report bit by bit on Twitter.  You can find that at #TaleOfSoryl.
  • We’ve posted a couple lore posts to our website, and promoted them on Facebook and Twitter.  The first was on the race of the Aesir, a strong group of sea-going raiders that you can join or fight against.  The second is on the staring location of the game, Delm Island.
  • Finally, I recently dropped several new screenshots of the game on our website’s front page.  Here’s a little teaser, follow the link for more:

Road of Kings

So, if you dig what we’re doing or just want to give us a little moral support, please consider liking us on Facebook or following us on Twitter.  I promise you’ll get much more frequent updates over either of those channels than waiting for me to remember to post to this blog about such stuff.

Kickstarter

I have a strange love/hate relationship with kickstarter.  I love the creativity of the projects it produces, many of which I know would never have come to light without this kind of funding.  On the other hand, I continue to wait for the day when a huge kickstarter based scam is revealed — it seems only a matter of time.

The first project I ever funded on kickstarter was a set of geomorph dice.  It seemed a neat idea, fairly niche, and exactly the sort of thing kickstarter is well suited for.  I have in the past tried to produce things that are economical on a larger scale, but for the individual are impossible.  I’m looking at things like music tapes/CDs, t-shirts, etc.  The price for one custom piece is usually astronomical compared to how cheap they can be bought by the gross.  So it seemed very natural to use kickstarter to distribute the cost across a large group, and it worked just as planned.  Within a few weeks I had some pretty cool dice, which I still haven’t actually used for a game to this day.  But still, it did give me some confidence in kickstarter.

Next I backed two much more ambitious projects — Ogre and Dwimmermount, in May and April of 2012 respectively.  Both became these crazy drawn out projects.   Ogre trundled on, and gave regular updates, in fact, I just got update #147.  The good news is though, a week ago I actually got the end product.  I had long forgotten about why I even backed this crazy thing, but now I have this monstrous board game in my closet.  Hopefully some day I’ll play it.  Despite being a slow process, Ogre seems to be a real example of kickstarter success.

Dwimmermount, on the other hand, continues to struggle on.  Mired by the dramatic disappearance of its creator and quazi-celebrity blogger James Maliszewski, it is under new control and I get regular updates often indicating some small progress.  Will this thing every come to light?  Maybe.  Will I demand a refund?  No.  I didn’t really sink that much money into this thing, and I’m willing to gamble on maybe it’s being released some day.  Also I have fond memories of James’ old blog, and to some degree feel like my investing in his nebulous project is perhaps in some way a karmic pay-off for all the enjoyment I got out of his previous unpaid efforts.

Since then, I’ve been a bit more hesitant in using kickstarter.  I did invest in my friend Bob’s project, but perhaps there’s less risk when you feel like you could go bang on the guy’s door and demand to know where your book is.  Or maybe that’s a mean-spirited way of saying that good friendships are based on trust.  And then there was this kind of interesting looking WWI board game, which was canned within days of my backing it.  That thing didn’t last long enough for me to get nervous about it, so maybe however risky it seemed is moot since no money ever changed hands.

So there I was, with pretty mixed feelings about Kickstarter, when the HeroQuest 25th Anniversay Edition was announced.  I admit I’m a huge fan-boy when it comes to this game.  I have the original, and the later Warhammer Quest, carefully stowed in my closet.  I’ve written supporting software for the latter.  I will still play it with anyone that wants to play any time.  So yeah, naturally I backed this thing as soon as I heard of it.

Perhaps I should have done a little more research.  You’ll notice the above link doesn’t go to kickstarter, here’s the actual kickstarter link.  Not much there but a scary message saying “Heroquest 25th Anniversary (Canceled) is the subject of an intellectual property dispute and is currently unavailable.”  I suppose that’s not surprising given how jealously GW is known to protect their IP, and I’ve worked on a GW licensed product, I know this all too well.  Oddly though, it appears it’s not GW that’s complaining, it’s some other company I’ve never heard of.

In fact, the producers of the new project (Gamezone Miniatures) are a company I’ve never heard of.  They looked like a pretty solid miniature manufacturer at first, though perhaps not a local one.  The update emails I got about the project regularly had grammatical and spelling mistakes, which I assume is because they’re not native English speakers, but still didn’t fill me with confidence.  They talk about how they’re not an American company and thus don’t need to worry about American copyright issues, and yet they also talk about the injustice of being hit with the C&D on Thanksgiving, a uniquely American holiday.  (OK, yes, I know the Canadians have it too, but they celebrate it in October.)  And their website, now that I look at it, has some unfortunate holes in it — the about us section is especially sparse.

Now it appears they are abandoning kickstarter.  The kickstarter project is officially cancelled, and I’m told I won’t be charged any money.  Meanwhile, Gamzone has said on their website that they will move to another venue for their crowd funding.  Will I follow them?  No, not this time.  I’ll watch the project and if it releases in such a way that I can buy a copy, I will do so.  But I’m not risking money up front on this one.  It just smells a little too fishy for me.  And let’s be honest, do I need yet another clone of a game I love and already own?  Probably not.

And where does that leave me with kickstarter?  Pretty gun shy to be honest.  Granted, I have yet to lose money on anything that’s obviously never going to happen.  Only in one case have I paid money and still not seen any return, and that project does still have every appearance of being actively worked on.  But I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.  I hope kickstarter is investing in a strong legal team, because I just can’t imagine that they won’t eventually be used as a vehicle for fraud, if they haven’t already.

Update:

A friend pointed me at this article, indicating that yes, it has happened that someone simply took the money and ran.  And the project was a board game no less:

http://valleywag.gawker.com/kickstarter-project-canceled-after-dude-spends-all-the-912176282

TotalCon Events

OK, after much delay I finally figured out my events for this year.  I wasn’t sure how much if any of Thursday I would take off this year, and honestly, I’m still kind of hedging my bets by only running a Thursday night game.  Still, to get there in time to check in and run my game I’ll have to leave at least a little early, and it’s a short jump from there to just saying screw it and taking the whole day off.  Anyway, here are the events I’m hoping to run.  I’ve never had any event I submitted not go through, but you never know.

Treasure Map to the Red Cave
Thursday, 7-11 PM
After months of collecting copper bounties on goblin ears your crew has finally gotten a break. You had to pool your cash to afford the map that ranger had, but he assured you it was nothing compared to the wealth it would reveal. And rangers don’t lie, right? Though, they’re usually not that drunk either… Moldvay edition Basic D&D rules, characters provided.

Tunnel Rats
Friday, 1-5 PM
Life in the clan comes with responsibilities. You have been selected you for an important mission: infiltrate the newly discovered dwarven halls underneath the warren, bring back any valuable artifacts, and find out what happened to the last pack sent to explore the area. Sounds dangerous, but what’s a loyal were-rat to do? Moldvay edition Basic D&D rules, characters provided.

Gloomwood Falls
Saturday, 1-5 PM
It has been many days since the prince and his men left on their quest to locate the tree of life. How were they to know war would break out while they were gone? You must find the prince, deliver the news, and bring him back if possible. Moldvay edition Basic D&D rules, characters provided.

I seem to have inadvertently created a theme this year: “following in the footsteps”.  The first one is actually written by Dyson Logos, and is the game I just ran for my coworkers a couple weeks ago.  It’s a nice wilderness trek game and should be a nice variation from the other two that are more dungeon oriented.  And it went over well with the coworkers, so I expect it to be fun.  It’s also the one I feel like I can run with the least number of people, and if things go as they have in past years I expect Thursday to be pretty under-attended.

The other two are both adventures I wrote. Tunnel Rats was originally a WFRPG game written for HelgaCon that I since adapted to D&D.  Changing skaven to were-rats is kind of fun, it drives the game slightly away from comedic and more into sinister, which I’m fine with.  The last one was originally an adventure I wrote for my home campaign, but then my players decided not to follow that thread and go do something completely different, and it wasn’t used on them until quite a while later.  In between I ran it as a convention game at GenCon 2012 and I think it went over really well.  And yes, this is the one that was strangely missing.  I still can’t find the digital file for this, though I did unearth a hard copy, which I promptly photocopied just so at least there would be two hard copies floating around.  I have no idea how I lost this file, the printed version was clearly made on computer originally.  Oh well.

I’m glad to finally have that all scheduled out now, and am really looking forward to the convention.  I suppose I ought to make sure I have characters prepared for these games, but it’s a long ways out still.  Maybe I’ll at least scan Gloomwood Falls to PDF so I don’t go losing it again.

Getting Ready for TotalCon

This year I will not miss the TotalCon even registration deadline, I swear!  Actually, I have all the way until November 15th to get my games in, but since I completely failed to do this last year I’ve vowed to make sure it gets done early this time around.  But what to run?  I have no pressing ideas or desires, but I know I want to run three games, and that they should all be old school in nature.  I probably have time to write something new, but before going that route I thought I’d take a spin through existing material and see what can be re-used.

Between TotalCon, GenCon, and HelgaCon, I have accumulated a fair amount of convention material.  HelgaCon has especially spurned this on, as I run three games there every year, and as it’s generally the same group of people every year I constantly have to find new material for it.  The only problem is that with three conventions a year I do get a little hazy on which games I’ve run at which conventions.  Fortunately, I have this blog!  I just took a quick look through my posts in February of the past several years and was kind of surprised at what I found.

My first year at TotalCon was 2010, at which I was only a player.  In 2011 I ran two sessions of my One Page Dungeon Contest entry Four Corners, which I think I’ve run at just about every convention possible as well as for friends at home, so I’m pretty well done with that.  I also ran Into the Forgotten Realms, which while enjoyable turned out to be a little too new school and thus it’s no longer a contender.  In 2012 I was on my slavers kick, running serveral rounds of the A-series modules at TotalCon.  And then there’s 2013, when I was so ill prepared I ran nothing.

Huh, is this right?  Besides Four Corners it looks like I’ve never run any of my own material at TotalCon?  How bizarre.  Well, that’s good news actually, as that means I have a plethora of adventures to choose from this year.  Now it’s just a matter of sifting through them and picking which ones I think will be most fun.

Of course, the one I really want, the one I adapted from my home campaign and ran at GenCon 2012, but I can’t seem to find the files anywhere.  It was a great adventure, and I know I used Dyson’s geomorphs to build it, so it must exist digitally somewhere.  It’s not in my personal subversion repository, not in my home directory on my server, and not in my dropbox account.  Was I actually foolish enough to keep this only on my desktop’s hard drive and not copy it to one of these many backed-up locations?  That’ll be really bad if true, as that desktop has been reformatted many times since August of 2012.  My only hope now is that I have a hard copy of this in a filing cabinet at home somewhere.

So, I guess I must put off registering my events at least one more day so I can go root through the filing cabinet.  I really hope that adventure is in there somewhere.

CardHunter

Sorry for the lapse in posting everyone, I blame CardHunter.  If you haven’t seen it, do check it out, it’s a web-based game with a decidedly D&D theme.  In fact, all the visuals and shell of the game really emulate old school D&D hard.  You may recognize some of the thinly veiled names like the intro level “Raid on Ommlet” and the home base “Keep on the Hinterlands”.  Heck, check out the level artwork, made to look like old school D&D modules:

CardHunter Levels

Note the dice, soda, and Cheetos.  Yeah, this game is punching hard on the old school vibe.  It does stoop a little on some of the nerd jokes (sigh, yes, the nerdy DM character loses all confidence in the face of the pretty pizza delivery girl), but generally I find it rather endearing.  On the flip side, the actual gameplay feels pretty new-school.  The game itself is just combat between your three person party of characters and some group of enemies.  Each character has a deck of cards that are played for everything — movement, attacks, etc.  Ultimately though, this is just the format where I enjoy that kind of highly tactical combat.  That stuff bogs down real roleplaying games, but is perfect for a casual video game.

CardHunter Gameplay

The game is sold in freemium format.  For those not in the biz, that means the game is completely free to play but offers various in-game purchases to “enhance your experience”.  This is always a bit of a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, the developer can go too far and make the purchases really effective and/or required, thus turning it into a “pay to win” or “money game”.  On the other, if there’s no value in the purchases nobody will buy them at all and the developer has just given away all his work for free and it’s not long after that that the servers shut down and the game vanishes.

Personally, I did buy their “basic pack”, but mostly because as a fellow developer I feel like they should reap the rewards for creating something I’m clearly enjoying and spending a lot of time on.  That said, I’ve yet to feel like I got something really cool beyond the basic experience of the game for my money.  I think you could get a lot of enjoyment out of this game without paying a dime.  I hate to encourage people to do that, but perhaps you can go ahead and do what I did – play the game and if you really enjoy it, consider buying something in game even if you’re just going to ignore it.

But definitely play it, it’s really very fun.

 

Save Stonehell

Stonehell, by Michael Curtis, is an excellent mega-dungeon written as a huge collection of one-page-dungeons linked together along with extra notes, custom monsters, etc.  It’s a great dungeon, and one I personally transplanted into my own campaign world and ran some players through a few different parts.  And sadly, it’s only half done.  The linked publication above specifically calls out that it’s only part one of the dungeon.

Unfortunately, publishing part 2 has been a bit of a trial, and is now in jeopardy due to failed computer equipment.  Mr. Curtis has posted a humble request on his blog requesting help drumming up the cash to fix or replace the broken equipment.  But he’s not just begging for charity, he’s actually offered to send to anyone that donates any amount a pdf of a couple adventures he wrote for convention use.  I happened to be lucky enough to have played in one of those games run by Curtis last year at TotalCon, and I sincerely hope he makes the trip again this year as it was one of my favorite games of the convention.

I usually don’t pitch in to these kind of things, but this is definitely the exception.  First of all, I think he deserves a little extra from me for all the hours of enjoyment his first book has given me, not to mention the great time last TotalCon.  Second, I really do want to see the second half of this dungeon, even though I’ve already filled in some of the lower levels in my own campaign — there’s always room for more.  So I’m going the extra mile and posting here, asking anyone who reads this blog to consider helping a fellow DM out in his time of need.

Save Stonehell Fundraiser

GenCon Attendance Continues to Rise

Last year I posted about the phenomenon of rising attendance at gaming conventions.  Unfortunately I only have numbers from GenCon to support this argument, other conventions don’t seem to publish their numbers, but I do attend some others and suspect it’s a general trend.  This year I wasn’t able to attend GenCon, but despite my absence it seems their numbers are again through the roof.  I got an email recently in which they claimed “more than 49,000 people attended the convention with attendees from all 50 states and more than a dozen countries.”

Here’s the updated chart from Wikipedia:

GenCon-Attendance-2013

 

I cannot help but wonder how long this growth will continue, and what on earth is powering it?  Seriously, do I need to worry about a time in the future when the convention is so huge that it’s no longer enjoyable?  I’m not really sure if that is a legitimate concern.  So far GenCon has done a reasonably good job of keeping like activities in similar locations, which I think helps create the microcosm of “your convention” vs. the convention at large.  Unless your tastes are all over the map, chances are you won’t have to spend half the convention running back and forth across town as you’ll really spend most of the time in one of two or three hotels and the main dealer’s hall.  In fact, for the past couple of years I’ve only ever entered the TCG and Miniatures halls on the last day before leaving, just to see the splendor and say so long to the convention.

To put these numbers in perspective I decided to look up another convention which I had a vague idea was significantly larger: E3.  Turns out E3’s attendance last year was actually only 48,200, still a huge number, but actually lower than GenCon’s 49,000.  Another interesting fact is that the first E3 was held in 1996 and drew 80,000 attendees.  It is interesting to note that not only has it shrunk in its lifetime, but the year of the first one has an interesting parallel on the chart above, the first year that GenCon’s attendance started to flag.  Is it possible that in the mid 90’s interest in video games was stealing from tabletop, and that now almost 20 years later that trend has reversed?

All this is just a bunch of silly conjecture based on not nearly enough data I’m sure.  Still, I find this chart fascinating and am excited to see what the numbers are like next year.  More though, I’m just excited to get to go back to GenCon again.  I can’t believe I missed it this year.

Gaming Table Obtained

So last weekend it showed up, by which I mean, it showed up at Pier 1 and I had to rent a u-haul truck to go pick it up.  And of course all they had left was 14′ trucks, so I had to rent this massive thing to bring home one table.  I guess the good news there was that there was plenty of room inside the truck to rip open the packaging so we could bring it upstairs to the family room piece by piece.  With just Jenn and I as labor, it would have been impossible to carry up the whole box as a single piece.  Here though, is the end result:

1239578_705244492362_1781798040_n

As you can see I’m quite excited (though that may be due to simple physical exhaustion).  The chairs are still just some folding chairs I set up to get a sense as to how many people could really sit at the table.  10 will fit easily with the leaf in, and I can imagine 12 might squish together.  With the leaf removed it’s still a pretty imposing table, but not totally overwhelming.

Behind the table you can see my two miniature display cases mounted to the walls, with shelves between them ready to hold my dwarven forge collection.  Just off to the right you can see my GM’s Valet from Geek Chic.  I have to say, 12 year old me would probably be pretty amazed at the gaming setup I’ve managed to make for myself.

Not pictured (behind the photographer) is the 10′ tall mural of an enormous moose, complete with real antlers hung on the wall at the top of its head, courtesy of the previous owners.  So before I go unpacking all the miniature terrain, books, etc, I’ve got a lot of sanding and painting to do.  Soon though, I hope to put my game-cave to serious use.

Chairs too, I gotta find me some chairs.