Friday, December 30, 2011

Escapist Article on The Old Republic ... the first honest review?

Ok I just wanted to link an article and talk about The Old Republic as that has been the primary gaming activity I've been engaged in over the holidays, however, I have hope ... tonight we are playing some Apocalypse World and we have forays into historical mini gaming via old west, Zulus, and even Romans planned for late January and early February.

Anyway I've been playing alot of ToR ... team leveling with a friend and solo playing several other characters on the side. All in all its been fun, but if I wasn't home watching an infant alot I don't know if I'd be too happy spending all of this time glued to the PC. It has been every bit as fun as WoW ever was ... for what that is worth.

So the Escapist had a great article on it and really it struck a chord with me because this has been pretty much my experience with the game. If you are a video gamer or not this is sort of a geek cultural phenomena so perhaps just out of morbid curiosity one might want to take a look.
Anyway decent article and maybe the first honest media I've seen on the game so far, its pretty much just paid advert style reviews out there so far.

I generally agree with it ... I've had a hell of a lot of fun team leveling characters with Kyle ... by the way the game seems to be designed to team level. If you don't you miss out on alot of social points and it just gets pretty rough to solo, I know that is intentional to try to force players to be "social" with one an other. But its just that ... forced ... so to me its not meaningful.

I don't see myself playing this game for years on end like I did WoW ... I'm sure I have a few more months in me but beyond that I don't know ... I'm already feeling MMO fatigue again. The game is just too WoW like for my taste honestly. There are some bits here and there that are damn awesome but overall it is just a re-skinned, slightly updated, WoW. Anyway here is the article from yesterday from the escapist on it:

Escapist Article

I think this article hits on a few key points and they are to me. Awesome story plus an MMO might not be the match made in heaven that everyone thought it would be. I find myself more frustrated with standard MMO-ness because that crap is getting in the way of my story. Like you can easily race along on your cool class story stuff and then .. you get ahead of yourself and you can't continue because your too low level to keep going on it. So go kill 30 of these and 40 of those. The mobs are standing around walking in circles just like they were in WoW and you go out and mow them down ... yawn ... again and again. Ok come back now I can do more story ... woot!! Two segements of the story later ... back in the same spot. So the MMO-KoToR III blend is sort of leaving a bad taste in my mouth at times. At times its awesome. For me I think it makes me lose patience with the MMO format more quickly than I would in a WoW like game.

"Players often have the same companion or pet as other players in MMOs, but in The Old Republic these companions can be characters who participate in cut scenes and therefore have more heft to them than the typical henchman or meat shield does. Seeing ten people run by with a clone of "my" Imperial Agent's companion Kaliyo Djannis immediately breaks the illusion that I actually have a companion at all. Again, multiple players having the same companion in an MMO is a convention that The Old Republic's developers would have been hard-pressed to eliminate, but this time it seems strange."

That part right there can be applied to much in this game and it really hits at the core of this schizophrenic mash up of a game. Again it is not a bad MMO, not at all, and one could actually make a strong arguement that it is the BEST MMO of all time. I myself have touted the MMO model, I do like being able to again and again come back to a game and get many hours of play out of it and have a social atmosphere, etc. but I'm starting to see the big cracks in the dam on this generation of MMOs. I want the next generation and this isn't it. This is a logical, slight step past where all other MMOs have gone so far (well with the exception of Eve but ... wtf ... there is only room globally for one of those ... lol). I am not doom and gloom about it and I've enjoyed my time so far, and likely will enjoy leveling a character to 50. But this isn't the MMO-topia that I had hoped for ... but to be honest ... come on it was Bioware-EA ... that is like McDonalds and Wal-Mart teaming up, you know your going to get a commercially successful product but forget about astounding innovation. This was a licensed product made for the masses and along those lines is perhaps as good as it could have been reasonably expected to be.

So I don't disagree with this passage from the article:

"I mean none of these observations as criticisms of The Old Republic, which is reportedly the most expensive development project in the history of publisher Electronic Arts. It would be foolish to suggest that Bioware should have attempted or even had the financial resources to simultaneously challenge the status quo in MMO design on all fronts, and as I've tried to argue here the changes they did make stand to have wide-reaching repercussions we are just beginning to figure out."

In essence this game is what it should have been and what one should expect from a big, corporate product more McStarWars ...

Incidentally the image is from a Star Wars Themed Wedding Cake from ... funny stuff huh :D

« Last Edit: Today at 01:37:07 PM by The Lord of Excess »

Sunday, December 25, 2011

My early impressions of The Old Republic

My early impressions of The Old Republic:

Yes indeed it is much like a fast food style experience, bright and shiny and all the while ones mouth is telling them "hey this tastes pretty good" but somehow one always knows better. With fast food one knows that even if they haven't been reading about the horrors of the industry for years and about how terribly unhealthy it all is and how filled with chemical junk it all is, they still sort of intuitively know that it isn't the best thing they could probably be consuming. That is sort of the whole experience with most MMOs in a nutshell. This game is like a nice sack o' Burger King or McDonalds ... some might be all to willing and excited to nom nom nom at the trough, others might be looking on with disdain. I think I"m somewhere in the middle.

For full disclosure on my video game feeding habits I have to admit that years past I've been hardcore and half-assed with my MMOing, admittedly mostly half-assed. Life, kids, school, job ... all at various times were far more important than some life draining game of an MMO. But I cite this experience, many hundreds ... if not honestly ... thousands of hours spent idling away on an MMO. From Ultima Online to World of Warcraft to Warhammer Online ... even a brief stint on Star Wars Galaxies. I don't see that time as wasted as I'd have just been watching TV for most of it honestly and a good portion of that time was spent during late night baby tending, etc. and with five kids ... that is a healthy amount of time let me tell you!

So this experience gives me I think at least "seasoned consumer" status when it comes to MMOs and just so far 9 or so days in on The Old Republic ... I'm already hitting the wall. The game is mostly good, but its very, very WoW like. If you liked WoW then this might be a selling point. Its like WoW 2.0 Star Wars edition. But if you didn't like WoW then this probably isn't a bonus. I was mixed on it, I had some wonderful times with WoW and alot of sort of strung out heroin addict times where I would ask myself why I was even doing this to myself. I learned from that in terms of MMOs and just quit when I hit that point with any game. Games are not worth playing if they aren't entertaining, fun, rewarding somehow. Here is where I will segue back to Star Wars The Old Republic.

In my eyes what I saw as the main selling point of this game ... STORY ... much in the same fashion that say Knights of the Old Republic delivered, this game delivers. However in this format, the MMO format, a great deal of time passes between the cool story elements in the game. During this time your doing all manner of typical housekeeping sorts of things, crafting, walking in endlessly large mall like areas (early game, later on you get yourself essentially a spiffy golf cart of a speeder ... which makes things a little better but not much). So at least to me anyway the story sort of loses something because of this. An hour of real time or days even, might pass between climactic story moments, so much so that you might have even forgotten what the heck the given quest/story element was all about. At many points I find myself just hitting the good or bad response and space barring through all the talking, just to hurry up to get back to the grind, that next level, piece of gear, etc. awaits. That is the focus of an MMO not the story. At least for me that is what it inevitably breaks down to. What story there is they did a great job on.

To be fair I like many things about this game and I'll quickly go through them here. The companion system is great, in this game everyone is a "pet class" you get a buddy to trudge around with you keeping you from getting over your head even when your playing solo. The companions will do crafting for you, sell your vender items off and generally the companions you get are complimentary to your class. I love how crafting works, one just sends companions to do most of it all and its running in the background while one is playing the game, for the most part anyway. For me not having to stop constantly to just do the crafting as one did in other games. The crafting seems genuinely useful and it is possible if one keeps the crafting leveled up as they go to actually make usable items WHILE your leveling, as opposed to say WoW where it always seemed like crafting was neigh on useless except for that 3 or 4 items at end game. Another nice thing are the four player instances and being able to que up anywhere for PVP, etc. etc. but those things are just game mechanics and most of them have been done long ago in other games.

There is little innovation or newness here this is not a next generation game, this is the culmination of current generation MMOs linked to the Star Wars franchise. Many people are all frothy about that and already declaring this the best video game .. that is VIDEO GAME not just MMO .. of all time. I wouldn't even call this the best MMO of all time personally, let alone the best of any video game .. EVER. But such nonsense is likely to be expected with fanboys uniting and loads of promotional money being shelled out. I think everyone from penny arcade to zero punctuation has received fat "promotional" fees to pimp this game. There are almost no honest reviews of it that I can find, etc. Honestly I haven't played enough to give this thing a comprehensive review of any kind.

Thus far its good, but its average good. Its just another take on the WoW model. Expect to spend huge amounts of time leveling, I mean its not insanely grind heavy (as is evidenced by the large number of level 50 players in the game already) but for the average player who has something of a life, its going to take a good month or two of pretty heavy play to ding 50.

Right now much of the game is clearly incomplete, and by that I don't mean the zones or the quest lines or anything, but there are only 3 battle grounds, there are no brackets with PVP at all. So your facing off at lvl 10 against level 50s. They do balanced hitpoints but your talent trees and shear ability levels can't be balanced. So unless you are higher level and have a good handle on your class and what it can do in PVP expect to get automatically torn in half in BGs. The space battles are a ship on rails, old school arcade kinda feel. I like them personally, but they don't present long term replayability, so clearly they are going to have to do alot of work on the space stuff. I'm assuming that long term they'll offer a "fighter based" PVP option of some kind where you fly around and play in key battles or something along those lines, something with a little more complexity to it.

The game is very, very young and the first major patch hasn't even been released so I don't want to be unfair to it, its not a bad game at all and I don't feel like I've wasted my time or money on it ... but if you haven't already taken the plunge and are on the fence about it, unless you have some compelling reason to jump in now ... I'd wait a few months the game is undoubtedly only going to be tightened/cleaned up by then. My honest just off the cuff rating of the game is perhaps a 7.5 out of 10 with a ton of room for improvement which given the nature of MMOs is likely to come over the next year or two. I'm sure this thing is designed for a five year life cycle. But even there this is perhaps my biggest criticism, this game is World of Warcraft-esq and its supposed to last another five years?? I don't think so. At present rate I'll be very bored with this game and done with it, but February.

Who knows though the game is young and I'm sure they have many unforeseen things planned so maybe by next fall I could be giving the game a 9 out of 10 time will tell. But right now they have alot of kinks to work out and its lack of really ground breaking new features sort of has me a little sad. The companion system I think is the main new addition to MMOs and the legacy stuff has potential to be so as well ... beyond that ... this is WoW .. EQ all over again.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Old Republic

This eve hundreds of thousands (if not over a million) of nerds will be installing (many have been playing for days) THE OLD REPUBLIC.

Thus the dawning of a new era is upon us ... sort of ... as much as can be so given we are talking about the launch of a new massive multiplayer online video game based upon a science fiction franchise which dates to the late 1970s. To further reduce the newness or ground breaking potential of this game is that itself, will be the second iteration of an MMO based upon the venerable Star Wars franchise which launched with a bang and went out with a whimper and still has seared rage into many for all time.

Yet I predict that The Old Republic will break new ground and set the standard for the future of not just MMOs but all video games. I have recently been experiencing many things with gaming, all gaming and seen more and more opportunity for tabletop gaming become diminished due to the utter proliferation of video games and internet based technology. I've gained new understanding for games and the place the hold for me and come to new realizations about games. These things are mostly bad for me from a nostalgia perspective, as I'd love to see tabletop gaming go on forever. It will for some people and for the world in general but likely not for me. The day will come soon that I probably won't be doing any tabletop gaming at all.

So much to say in such a short time, the wall of text that I am fond of. That alone, the fact that people are so unwilling to even read a few paragraphs anymore tips the hand a little. That is the issue I'm talking about here, with so much choice, so many distractions and only so much time ... can tabletop gamers handle yet another distraction this big?? For me ... probably not ... this might be enough to send tabletop gaming in my life into the 100 mile below the surface of the planet doomsday shelter ... for good.

Tabletop games are dying because people are too lazy, too busy and generally too distracted to engage in them. Learning cumbersome, less than perfect board, miniature and role playing game rules to play with impatient people who just want to get back to their video games and internet based devices is becoming more and more difficult for people like me. Lets not even talk about mini games really ... because assembling ... painting ... then learning said rules then running the stinking store troll power gamer gauntlet ... more and more people are simply saying no thank you.

Strangers in strange lands as it were, people like me cast adrift in the sea of gaming. People who don't have that long standing gaming group where everyone in the group has known each other since high school. One can scoff and think "well it doesn't apply to me so I don't care", oh but it does because bit by bit tabletop gaming is fraying at the edges and it is for this very reason. People are slowly being so heavily bombarded with choice via the internet and technology and there is such heavy overlap with tabletop gaming, and since tabletop gaming lives in that bubble of disposable time ... it is very susceptible to impact from video games and other similar net based diversions/time wasters/pass times.

I believe that the old republic will hasten this fraying a bit, that more people will forsake more face to face gaming in favor of just staying home and playing some Old Republic. Star Wars I think as much if not more so than World of Warcraft did, captures the imaginations of gamers. Particularly for the Gen X folks who have spent their entire lives living with some form of Star Wars. You couple just the numbers and common sense rhetoric with the Bioware (wildly popular game producer) and their deep pocket parent company Electronic Arts is doing in conjunction with Lucas Arts. Now yes Lucas has made some huge mistakes over the years, and no one seems to have anything but disdain for episodes 1-3 of the franchise, yet, there are few examples of more commercial success. The can put the Star Wars label on nearly anything and people will buy it and buy it in bulk. So what is going to happen when the take the formula that Blizzard used with WoW and mix it with the product line that geeks can never seem to get enough of ... fizzy lifting drink ... erm ... well an irresistible product that is going to do catastrophic harm to geeks all over the planet (likely myself included). Yes this harm will be self imposed by consenting, presumably intelligent, presumably responsible, adults (and their kids who will be along for the ride).

I have played The Old Republic for 3 or so days now ... I'm up to level 25 on a Sith Inquisitor (sorcerer, going heals). The game has all the fine points of wow, easy interface, Pavlovian reward system that has one salivating level after level, etc. etc. You get ships and lots of choice in the storyline which influences all sorts of things from your future choices to the kind of gear you can acquire to I believe even how you look (I swear as I get darker my Sith changes in appearance ... maybe its just me willing that to be the case). I see the writing on the wall for myself, I will fall down the rabbit hole again and this time, just based on being disillusionment with tabletop gaming in general, I don't know if I'll come back from it. Certainly I will do tabletop gaming with my kids as they grow that is a given, but I don't know, as more and more games like this and Skyrim are released its getting closer and closer to those elements of good tabletop gaming that I know and love. Ya ya ya ... but the social ... but the face to face ... but .. but. But the anti-social, borish, power gaming, jerk, flake, etc. etc. that goes along with tabletop gaming. For people like me who are looking for new people to game with that is what is encountered. With MMOs, you can just turn off general chat, don't play on PVP servers, etc. and then if you want to do stuff with other players online, look around and find them and everyone is a power gamer, everyone is a jerk so its par for the course and you don't have to sit across a table with them, you might have to listen to them squeaking and squawking in vent ... (until you get them booted from the guild on trumped up charges .. kidding .. kidding ... well ...).

I jest really I don't know if tabletop gaming can die for me and I know I've lamented about it here many times but that is what this place is, its a way to just put things out there, graffiti on the wall of the internet that might get read by someone on the train on their way to work or something. Its just my way to say things and maybe someone reads them, maybe not, I write it down for my own catharsis that is all. Just some observations by one random gamer geek in suburban northern Utah ...

We will see what The Old Republic does to tabletop gaming, again I don't predict tabletop gaming will die, this game isn't that big, the numbers will be big but it will still be small by comparison to games like Call of Duty or Madden 381 (or whatever number they are on) ... but it strikes at the core of tabletop gaming as much or more than any game that has come out in awhile. So it might have some measurable negative impact on the tabletop gaming industry and/or on ones own local gaming group ... only time will tell.

For those who are going to be partaking ... happy hunting and have a glorious time!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

300 hours of Skyrim!


Erm ...

Well I feel like after 300 hours there I should be really be relocating to Skyrim. I mean I grew up, got married, bought several homes, became a prominent citizen and then idled away days patrolling the wilds with my uber-warrior-wife keeping the realm safe :) I'll share some screen shots of my game. It was a wild, fun ride, alot of vanilla and generic fantasy video game stuff but there were some little gems here and there. Some great dungeons and plot twist curves, etc. I feel like it was time well spent as far as gaming time goes.

If only real life could equate to this kinda thing eh? (KIDDING BTW ... this vanilla one dimensional while diverting for an evening would likely be a living hell that the Truman Show had nothing on :))

NO but in all seriousness Skyrim is a great solo-D&D emulator basically. Yet another title that WoTC should have come out with eons ago eh? This game is what I longed for decades ago as a kid. It is far from perfect, its very buggy and glitch ridden. However none of the bugs I encountered broke the game or prevented me from doing whatever it was I was doing. I have had a few crashes here and there but have yet to lose more than a few seconds of game time as a result. All in all its a really good game.

My biggest criticisms are as follows:

1) Zero story based interaction with followers

2) Too few factions ... yes for an elder scrolls game I was a little dissapointed at the lack of that many factions. With such a big game I'd have hoped for more.

3) End game is a little lackluster. Ok I know there will likely be alot of mods, DLC, etc. for this so the jury is out a bit on this one but at lvl 50 having done the core storyline stuff a few times now on different characters ... I wish there were some real end game challenges. There are none.

To go into detail on my biggest complaint though it is the interaction with followers/spouses. For those who played fallout 3, Dragon Age or Mass Effect stuff you might expect a game like Skyrim to take the relationships between followers down the same path in terms of unique storylines with the followers. Nope. Skyrim for as many leaps forward as it makes, is a dud in terms of storyline with followers. The overall storylines to me were well done and satisfying, just don't expect to find an able companion and have their story catch you up in unforseen things. That doesn't happen in skyrim at all. The marriage thing is also just a minor afterthought/footnote which produces nothing more than someone to hang out in your house and give you 100 gold a day from the "store" they open in your house. Again the store is nothing more than an added dialog option with said wife/husband (ya you can same sex marry if that is your thing or if yea be a girl you can have a husband, etc.).

The bugs, etc. to me are to be expected and I don't consider those all that bad. All in all my criticisms aside here, I would still rate this game like a 9.5 out of 10. It is the best game I've played in years. Limbo and Witcher included :)

First image here is a domestic disturbance when my first characters wife's boyfriend showed up at our home half way across the map, weeks of game time after we'd been married. Of course I flew into a jealous rage, killed him, then looted the corpse. She wouldn't talk to me for four days of game time, then went back to normal and never breathed a word about any of it again :)

The masks and other rare armor and weapons are the end game basically ... collecting armor and whatnot ... been there done that ... in a solo game like this there seems to be even less point than in an MMO ... sigh ...

Hey buddy can you help my game bug-clone he is fused into the ground somehow ...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Dystopian Wars - A breath of fresh, sea air!!

Beasts of War has done a nice primer on the game itself ...

Our gaming group has been playing for six to eight weeks now and we've really enjoyed it. There are some bits here and there in the rules that have frustrated some of the players, the way small aircraft work, the seeming wide variation in terms of usefulness of units (bang for the buck/points as it were) ... but all in all there is near universal positive views on the game in our group. We haven't done the land portion of the game yet and by no stretch have we seen every unit in the game in action. Between a five regular player group (with three or four other occasional players in the mix) we have probably around forty or so games under our belt as a group and no one has quit yet :) Always a good sign. We've been talking garage league/campaign perhaps ... we'll see. I still don't know if the game will stick for sure or not to be honest as we have a group that is horribly afflicted by ADD and just kinda flaky at times. It has been a good way to get people doing some actual mini gaming though and for that reason alone I'm pleased and feeling like the money I've spent so far has been worth it.

Here is a rough shot of the gaming table that I built for it ... I'll get some more up as I've also been in a major game room move (moving out the the more spacious garage).

Monday, October 31, 2011

Comfy Chair Games ... interesting range of minis

Comfy Chair Games

These guys seem to have quite an interesting range of post-apocalyptic/gang wars 28 MM figures.

What was perhaps even more interesting were their cool spider mechs!

THEN look at the bare pewter over on noted mini sculptor John Bear Ross's blog ... you'll see they seem to be some decent sculpts ...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Shadowsea ... it could have been so cool!!

Sadly it is an incomplete range and the guys making it seem to have ADD they are frittering off into other things and now I see Cavalcade is producing their stuff (likely meaning the game is about to die as Cavalcade seems to exclusively make money selling defunct ranges, like Ironwind Metals).

These guys did manage to make one of the coolest terrain pieces of all time (the Cthulhu temple) and the entire concept and feel of the game could have been really interesting, but they just didn't seem to produce a large enough range to make it worth buying in on. They had some really hit and miss sculpts, etc. as well.

Ah well I still am toying with the idea of buying the temple ... its pretty damn awesome looking actually ...

Antimatter games

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Too much elitism in gaming? Me > You ... :(

Clearly this is going to be a rant but I do this blog almost exclusively for catharsis and as a mental place holder for myself.

That said here goes ... my take on the state of gaming in general and I have to say
I'm tired of elitism in gaming. I've noticed it creeping in over the past several years and its just gotten to the point that its really overwhelming those things that I once found dear and refreshing in gamers and most the gaming communities out there. I don't know if its 15 years of sustained internet influence, building up these micro celebrities and giving people forums to puff their chests out in, but all in all it really just recently hit me that this is the root of what is bothering me about gaming.

More and more I can visibly see the winners in gaming both literally and metaphorically feeling like somehow they have proven they are superior. Whether that is for the evening or permanently in the gaming community depends on the case. But my point is that isn't what drew me to gaming. If I wanted that then I would have stayed with sports, golf, etc. etc. To me tabletop games of all kinds aren't about winning or losing, they never have been. Its cliche to say but really and truly they are about playing the game and having fun. It is all just about having something to do while you socialize with some people with common interests. That is being lost in gaming today I believe.

For me I came to gaming in 2000 after being away from it since middle school. Sports, booze, school, graduate school, getting married ... all those things were what my life was about. Then in 2000 I had a decent job, was done for the time with school and finally had some disposable time and money to go out and use. I gravitated to gaming because of the inviting nature of gamers, the down to earth fun geekery that I encountered sold me. I started out with war gaming via the venerable Games Workshop Warhammer 40,000. I had some very fun times with a good group in Las Vegas. But as time passed more of the old guard from our group moved away and eventually so did I. So 40K's star faded. Then came RPGs and eventually Euro-board games. But what I've noticed over the past three to five years is a trend towards elitism even in those areas.

By this I mean more war gamers are now buying their armies pre-painted and its all about graphing out numbers breakdowns for statistical superiority with army lists. For RPGs its all this factional crap with D&D, there is the old school camp, the 3.5/Pathfinder camp and the 4e camp .. some crossover but mostly those people hate each other. The indie fans for a long time seemed like a bastion of hope for me, but now with the podcast and blog-o-sphere influence mostly all of those people seem like name dropping and specialized jargon is what they are after as a way to feel superior to other gamers.

Now board games ... well ... even that once hopeful area of light has now faded for me. More and more the same issues I have with say Games Workshop games has come to play with board games. Sites like boardgame geek have turned it into a contest to see who owns the most games, who has played the most, and you have ever increasing release schedules from game companies just churning out semi-collectible products (I'm looking at you FFG!). Its just not worth even trying to keep up anymore. My only hope here is to convert some non-gamers into a little fun board game group and hope that it stays that way. I'm really tired of board gaming with war gamers and actual board gamers ... its just not fun ... the entire concept of a social board game is lost on those people anymore.

So whats left? I know historical war gaming has long had its elite camps, hell the entire concept of it is a little elitist. That said ... historicals has sort of been the "outsider" gaming pass time. There are some crossovers but generally speaking with games that might not even have a points system and are entirely "gentleman's games" ... essentially just an excuse to paint toys soldiers and get them out and look at them and push them around in little interesting historical scenarios. Well maybe there is hope there yet. Who knows.

Other than that I'm wondering if my days of gaming with people other than my kids in general are numbered. Maybe I'll just go back to being one of those boring main stream sports fans again ... honestly there is less elitism and really probably no more boorish-jerkism (probably less per-capita). Besides sports are still more main stream than gaming so it makes for better water cooler talk.

I'm a geek, I always have been, but I went from a sports geek to being a game geek and now I'm sad that the negatives that seemed to plague my fellow sports fans has crept into gaming. I'm sure its in part due to just the growth in gaming. We are seeing a wider more diverse audience and we are no longer in the fledgling "community formation" stage, so those innocent friendly days of the past are long behind. I just miss those times and miss gaming with those kinds of people.

I made this post in no particular reaction to anything or anyone I just was surfing the net as usually and facebooking and had a little ah ha moment for myself. I really don't think many people read this blog. I will be the first to admit that its not of high quality or particular interest to anyone but me, but this was something I just felt like putting down in writing to perhaps see if anyone else out there felt like this at times.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

15 MM D&D? I'm serious !!

Ok one of my favorite blogs anymore is Tiny Solitary Soldiers and recently there have been some posts over there regarding copplestones new 15 MM fantasy range. Ya you sold me ... I'm in.

I honestly wish there were more complete ranges for 15 MM fantasy in general. I have really been thinking about 15 MM D&D ... 15 MM is really a better scale for the way that many DMs run their games. Some really cool secondary benefits for going smaller, such as you could use dragons that were actually in scale to the adventurers (and it wouldn't cost you $500.00 to do so!). Terrain would be easier to do up and you could do larger rooms and scenes with less effort than you do in 28 MM. Doing large dungeons would really be a snap even by comparison to small to medium sized 28 MM dungeons. You could represent hordes on a 1 to 1 basis ... 100 goblins ... hmm ... ok no problem guys! Terrain would be easy and actually on this front I do believe that there are some decent options out there for 15 MM terrain with all the ancients terrain for Roman and Dark Ages stuff not to mention the north African stuff for WW II gaming (that would still work perfect for D&D), etc. etc.

We just need more in the way of D&D monsters, adventurers and a little bit more in the way of high fantasy style terrain options. I'm on a quest now to find more of this stuff and acquire it and use it.

Ok and speaking of using 28 MM dragons ... perhaps best of all is that some of the 28 MM monsters would work as "ancient" or "giant" variants of the said monsters. So you could probably use some figures selectively from 28 MM ranges as well (I'm thinking things like demons, wyverns, trolls, etc.).

I'm very excited about the future of 15 MM based D&D!!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Warlord Bolt Action WW II rules!!

Warlord is going to do a 28 MM WW II game go go along with their bad ass Bolt Action minis! Bodes well for weird WW II as well!! They are apparently partnering with Osprey which is friggin awesome!! Check it out!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cool Mini or Not takes over Tabletop Gaming News ... sad times :(

Cool Mini or Not takes over TGN ... sad times :(

What one says?  How can you say that!  Cool Mini or not is great!!

No ... no ... it certainly is not.  I know I'll be in the small minority of people who are displeased about this news but let me explain my angst.

Cool mini or not is a money making enterprise, they are part and parcel with the Dark Age Miniatures company which is owned by David Doust the guy who ran New Wave minis back in the day.  New wave was a terribly run site that basically took peoples money and wouldn't send them the product they'd purchased. It was so bad that they went out of business and they were in a position as a company to dominate online tabletop gaming sales ... if only they'd been run by a person with any business sense.  Dark Age has been horribly run for years and yes I know they are trying to re-launch the game entirely right now.  We'll see how that goes I wish them luck.

I'll make a prediction that alot more is said about Dark Age and everything else starts to go down hill.  I will likely un-bookmark the site and look to other sources for news about minis.  Hopefully something similar rises from the inevitable ashes.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Long RPG road to redemption ... and then certain doom ...

Sometimes you have a fork in the road, a turning point if you will and then sometimes you have a WTF intersection.

Recently that kind of an intersection has come up from my gaming group in terms of RPG choice.  Over the past several months we have fully abandoned D&D 4th edition. This isn't a bash 4th ed post at all.  We had fun with it while it lasted but essentials and just the reality of what 4e does hit our group all at once and we just found it wasn't for us at all. 

We have struggled to get other systems going (lack of enough players for more than one game until very recently has been the main problem there).  But its brought up a whole new round of discussing new game ideas and options and most of them have just been dead on arrival.
For me there are a few things that RPGs do well and a few things they don't do well and its as simple as that. 
Long ago (15 years ago now or so) a group I was gaming with collectively had the epiphany that an RPG can simulate things, it can foster story and it can create a player versus game master and/or player combat.  Some systems might be held up as being able to do all that well but in my experience RPGs work on a sliding scale.  You amp up RP too much and combats tend to suffer (unless your just narrating as GMs and/or Players whats happening but even there I'd argue from a combat perspective for the vast majority of groups that just wouldn't be as satisfying in most cases).  You dial up combat too much and you have 2 or 3 hour combats that interrupt the RP too much and get people off track (IMO this is one of the downsides of grid based D&D). 

Game masters and players can use those tools provided by said system to create/weave a collective story together. That is pretty much it right?

Yes duh ... we all know that and have known it since we first played RPGs. All I know though is for me at that time even though I'd played RPGs off and on since I was a kid I hadn't verbalized it  (going back 15 years to the eureka moment) and thought about it in mechanical terms like that. 

Now since that time I've listened to other gamers pontificate, I've pontificated, I've listened to people on their blogs and podcasts pontificating about this or that "trope this" "5th wall that" "simulator this" "indie ... old school ... whatever ... that" ... yada yada .. and at the end of the day its still just extending the discussion on "what is an RPG" but really the simplicity gets lost in all the esoteric jargony discussion.

RPGs are just a guide on how to sit around a table and weave a collective story/narrative (operative term there).  Now that isn't to say that a combat heavy game isn't the same thing ... of course it is ...that game's story is just alot more about the fights that take place than about what the characters do outside of fighting.  Its all the same thing really it just depends on what the group feels like doing. Role playing games are simply a guideline to facilitate a shared story experience amongst a group of players. 

Anymore to me a few things come into play that have nothing really to do with mechanics per say its more to do with players willingness to put time in to learn rules and to spend time playing the games.

Rulesets can be massive tomes and ultra complex or they can be simple, elegant little rule-sets that merely facilitate a single game and not much more. They can do combat well but non-combat simulations bad, they can have loads of hints and suggestions and help players and GMs along the path to a genre specific authentic experience.  They can be lose and open ended or they can be very rigid and closed.  But at the end of the day if they don't ultimately result in group fun they are going to fizzle and people are going to move on.  Each group is so different and there are endless things that can hamper fun ... pulling off RPGs is a daunting prospect even with a great ruleset.

The more complex rules are the larger commitment GMs and players have to make to learn the rules and while 20 years ago that wasn't that big of a deal to get people to spend a little time to buy in ... today ... unless you find people that are ultra passionate about RPGs your going to be hard pressed to find people who want to read a 250 page rule book and memorize a 50-100 page combat section ... JUST TO PLAY the game.  Then show up each week and hope everyone else does and hope that the game doesn't go to hell because someone does something crazy or someone's work schedule suddenly changes or whatever.

On the time topic ... same goes for how long it takes to do things in games.  If you have five semi-busy people who waste time on facebook and Ipod aplications all week and then get busy on the weekends because all the shit they should have done all week is now piled up on them come Friday evening an Saturday afternoon ... are you going to want top play an RPG that has 2 hour combats?  Or a game that it takes someone 20 minutes to do some computer slicing?  Do you want to play a game where rolling a new character takes three hours?  Probably not.  So those games are less and less appealing.  But see people don't always verbalize that ... the game just burns down and no one really knows why. 

Its sad because as we age we get more life stuff to deal with combined with our collective lack of time and willpower to break away from facebook and steam long enough to get in the car and get together to do tabletop gaming is making campaign style RPGs an endangered species.  I don't dislike the complex stuff but I see it as less and less realistic to pull off as there are just so few people who have the time and the inclination to do games like that anymore. On a side note I guess its why I'm also very much drawn to mini gaming and board games because those are so much easier to pull off with a broader audience.

I also think its why D&D continues to thrive because really the non-D&D RPGs give less competition to it by shear virtue of all the aforementioned things ... people just seem to have less and less time to devote to tabletop gaming so they pick and choose things that they know they can pull off.  D&D is a tried and true old friend for most gamers so they keep coming back to it ... whatever version or flavor ... its something that has a little more certainty than a Savage Worlds game or a RIFTS game or whatever.  There are some examples like the GW stuff ... there is a huge base of fanboys for that so it probably sells ok but its selling as an accessory to the mini games probably much more than as a stand alone RPG system.  So on that alone I think D&D is safe yet other types of RPGs unless they are lite and simple and "one shot" style I think they are going to struggle more and more to find an audience.

That is essentially what has happened to us we've gone looking to other game systems and ultimately come full circle back to pathfinder (a game we loved to hate for so long) and found that at the end of the day it fits us just fine and its far more realistic to pull off than pretty much anything else we looked at.

Friday, August 26, 2011



Mantic looks like they are just about ready to roll out WARPATH!! With some old school style army deals, etc.  I'm excited!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Selling tons of 40K stuff on ebay ...

I haven't been playing ANY 40K for nearly 2 years now so I've decided to let go of some of my stuff ... it only makes sense.   

Sad to see it all go but honestly just converting it all to something I'm going to actually use is alot more valuable and meaningful in the long run.  Its a massive amount of stuff that I paid thousands for and will likely only get hundreds back on ... but such is life. If your interested click the links thanks for looking.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Awesome Terrain from Ziterdes (in Germany)

For years I've looked at the stuff these guys make and drooled ... sadly those years have been the years that I haven't had a six figure salary ...

I'd love to try to pick some up though at some point ... (the video below is in German but it gives a good look at the buildings I've been drooling over lately).

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Fantasy Flight is getting BIG!

Fantasy Flight is really going to town these days ...

They are now moving into publishing with three novels related to their games.  Tracy Hickman is penning stuff for them.  They picked up the Star Wars license.  They continue to pump out the GW titles and all their own in house stuff (tons and tons of new titles).  They seem to be everywhere doing everything.  I'm still so surprised that they have the GW license they now seem so directly in competition with GW.  I guess if they are both making money what the hell eh?  But they seem poised to really become the dominant force in tabletop gaming (I think one could make a strong argument that they already are).

Friday, August 5, 2011

Warmachine RPG in 2012

This is older news I'm surprised it wasn't more widely distributed around the intertubez ...

Lock & Load Announcement: Iron Kingdoms RPG
Posted on June 19, 2011 by PPS_Aeryn

One of the reasons we at Privateer Press are so jazzed to have our own convention is that it’s a great place to make those huge, earthshaking announcements about upcoming products. So, without further ado, here’s a big one, info gleaned from the Iron Kingdoms RPG announcement.

    * Release Date: Gen Con 2012
    * System: Proprietary. This system shares some common mechanical elements with a couple games you already know and love: WARMACHINE and HORDES.
    * Classes: You will have the ability to play warcasters or warlocks in the RPG. With a flexible system for how you start off your campaign, you can also play such a character from session one, not just after months of adventuring.

The Integratron?? Awesome RPG one shot setting

Really odd.  Clearly mostly bunk (all the alien shit) but the acoustical properties of the building and the location are interesting. George Lynch is cool and hilarious as well.

Check out the website.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Captains ...

Ok first I don't really consider myself a trekkie but I have to say since they've put all the Trek stuff up on Netflix streaming I've been revisiting the Trek stuff which I really haven't seen for years.  I've watched all of Enterprise (which I'd never seen before at all), a good portion of the original show and I'm about half way through the Next Generation stuff.  Campy, corny, and to be honestly mostly delightfully entertaining in a warm and geeky way.  I've been drawn back to Trek this summer a bit (thanks to Netflix and the JJ Abrams film). Anyway in the continuation of this recent bender ... I watched William Shatner's Documentary this evening The Captains.

"You recognize that William Shatner may be a fool, but he's our fool."     UGO review of the film.

I can't agree more with that quote.  Come on we all know ole Bill Shatner over the top and all the way ... but god damnit ... it just works doesn't it?  Sure the film is largely about Shatner but what else would we expect?  The film really delves into what many of the actors went through to play the part and what its meant for them professionally and personally.  Beyond that if your curious check it out ... its free at the Epix website ( You just have to sign up for a free trial account.  Epix itself seems lackluster but its one of the only places you can see The Captains on the internet for free (in a non-shady way anyway).

Anyway if you have any positive views on any of the Trek series ... watch it ... you'll enjoy it.  If you hate Trek with a passion and hate William Shatner (how could anyone?) skip it.  I very much enjoyed the film for what it was ... thanks again Bill :)

New addition to geek dictionary -- Roll Player

Roll Player -- A participant in a role playing game who is a self proclaimed master role player (not to be confused with roll player) when in fact they are actually a power gamer. These players frequently use their "character backstory" to justify anything no matter how stupid or game breaking it might be. Though they frequently hide behind the guise of backstory they are almost always unwilling to work at making the game fun for everyone. Sadly they are just min-maxing power gamers trying to hide their devious ways. 
(It was here first ... hehe).

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Fantasy Flight Picks Up Star Wars

FFG snags the Star Wars license ...
gasp .. surprise .. no? 

Ya ya tons of people predicted this one it seems like FFG is the go to shop anymore for stuff like this.  I can't say I'm at all disappointed as they in my opinion generally make fine games.

Is more always better?  Well that is in the eye of the beholder I guess.  I know in addition to being anxious for a new Star Wars RPG I'm excited about more Star Wars board games, non-collectible card games, MINI games (they mention it) etc. etc.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Desperate attempt to not let mini gaming die in my gaming group ...

Mini gaming in general has been on a terrible slide in my gaming group for nearly two years now and I fear its about to die.  To be honest there are six or so people beside myself in my gaming group (out of about 20 people in the extended group) who are mini game fans.  The local mini gaming community is pretty bad, consisting entirely of store trolls and kids ... neither which demographic I have the patience to deal with anymore.  So in a last ditch effort to save mini gaming ... ANY mini gaming ... in our group.  I'm going to toss a hail marry.  

The systems that have the most appeal are Warma-hordes and Dystopian Wars.  Two systems does concern me because we are splitting the interest but that is what the group wants overall so I'm going with it. Don't get me wrong there is a GW bent in our group ... but getting 40k/WHFB off the ground has actually been whats nearly killed mini gaming for us.  

The scale, investment and scope of those systems is just too big for most of the people in the group with an interest.  Getting things assembled and on the table has just proven insurmountable for most of the other people in the group.  To top it off 40k scales horribly ... 500 point games suck ... and ya there are some skirmish fan systems out there but they aren't supported, aren't balanced, etc. etc. and there is always an Achilles heal that kills off any effort with the GW stuff with our group.  We've tried three times over the past year and each time for one reason or another efforts to as a group do GW stuff fails.  The nice thing about both dystopian and Warma-hordes is the buy in is low.  40-50 bucks and someone is in with a starter force.  The games play ok at the starter set level and there is no need to immediately jump it up.  With GW there is.  With Dystopian the painting/modeling commitment is low as well.  Warma-hordes is identical to GW stuff in terms of painting modeling really ... but again at the boxed set level.

So I'm making one last attempt.  I'm going to try to just put up or shut up about mini gaming.  I'm going to focus on the following three projects:

1) Getting a sea board built with a few nice sets of islands done up.
2) Getting two 4x4 tables done and full terrained for Warma-hordes (with like 2 terrain sets for each board).

Once that is done:
3) getting two forces done for Dystopian (Brits and Prussians) and 2 starter forces for Warma-hordes completed.  So I can offer a game to anyone even if they don't have minis and don't ever have any desire to buy and paint stuff ... no worries they could use one of my loner armies and have fun on a mini gaming night.

Right now I have no way to really tell when mini gaming is going to be taking place because I won't have my fall schedule until at least next week or perhaps the week after.  Its sounding like Monday night might be my mini game night.  For those Monday night football fans ... I have no aversion to having the game going on in the background if you want to come over play some mini games and watch the game.  But we'll get into that once I know for sure that is going to be the case.  Wednesday might also end up being a better day. I'm pretty sure I'll have class on Tuesday and Thursday eve though so likely those nights will be auto-out. 

One day I'd love to get back into 40K or perhaps Warpath (mantics ruleset which you can 100% use GW minis with) and warhammer fantasy (or Kings of War.. again mantic system) but that is likely 2012.  Its just too big a endeavor all around.  Hopefully we find some more people up a Weber this year and bolster our numbers a bit ... that would help.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

BADASSDOM! (and why is LARP so lame)

First check out that trailer.  Looks awesome!!  Peter Dinklage ... Summer Glau ... Danny Pudi ... in the same movie about geek shit.  Come on this is going to be hilariously good!

Ok second and this was sparked from a discussion the local game group forums.

I'm a jerk for saying this but I feel compelled none the less.

Ok long ago in the days of yor in the garage of old ... we had a summit of begutted self proclaimed wise men to discuss LARP and why it was so epically gay ... sorry that is offensive to the gay community to link them with LARP in any way ... lets instead go with LAME ... as it were (and is).

The panel decided that for the following reasons LARP is actually classified as the epitome of lame, the saddest of activities that the vast majority of geeks are unwilling to accept.  Why though?

First and foremost its an activity that the very obese (peeps who make me look svelte) seem to gravitate towards. However perhaps the largest group of LARPers is the terribly socially awkward set.  People who just don't know how to interact with other humans at all on a common wavelength.   Toss in a good mix of folks who don't understand personal hygiene and you have your typical LARP group. Ultimately these groups unite to make LARP look like one of the singularly most lame things one could possibly do to all of us outsiders.

This is sad because really LARP could be cool ... it really really could be a fun cool activity.  There is really nothing more lame about the concept of LARP vs the concept of pen and paper RPGs.  Yet in practice ... yes there are some super lame D&D groups out there ... but by and large most RPG groups are kinda tame and don't really differ much from your average group playing a board game.  Why could LARP be cool and fun?  LARP could combine community theater, improvisational acting and perhaps even historical reenacting with gaming.  In concept that could really be cool if well executed.

Well that trailer sure makes it look badass eh.  I mean if hot chicks and cool dwarfs LARP'd in large enough quantities ... who the hell wouldn't want to LARP.  See that is the key there ... cute girls and more normal people (lets face it truly mainstream people would NEVER LARP) don't NOT LARP in high enough numbers to make the activity cool.  Boffer LARP I think might be in some areas an exception due to an odd association with martial arts, but boffer LARP is pretty lame too for the same reasons in general.

Hell ren-fair/SCA stuff struggles with that and its alot more acceptable because they are for the most part a historical reenacting group that practices crafting, etc.

I said years ago and I'll say again ... I can make LARP cool ... instantly.  How??

Simple ... give me ten average to hot girls ... (need at least 2 or 3 very hot girls).  Five somewhat normal dudes.  Most of the people in the group need to be intelligent.  You mix that up and that could be the foundation of a decent LARP group.  You can mix in 10 more people ... a couple socially awkward people ... a couple ultra-fatties ... and it would still probably be ok.  As long as the ratio of somewhat cute girls to the overall group size is about 30% ... and the overall semi-normal intelligent person ratio didn't drop below 60%  ... it would be fun and cool.

As we all know actual LARP never approaches those ratios and therefore is doomed to be eternally lame.

For proof of this I hold up Cos-Play ... how the fuck is Cos-Play now nearly mainstream (in the geek world anyway).  Simple ... the ratios listed above.

(half serious ... half satirical ... half sarcastic !!!  INDEED!!)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

LARRYCON II this weekend!!


What is LARRYCON one asks ... well its an excuse for good friends who now live in different areas to get together in the land of milk, honey and mormons otherwise known as Utah for a wild weekend of gosh darn honest to goodness gaming .. golly gee willikers!! Sigh ... sorry I've been in this wondrous land of friendliness for too long now I think. 

Last years LARRYCON was a blast!! Over the course of the weekend thanks to not only my friends Scott and Rob who trekked up from Las Vegas last Friday evening ... but to all the local gamers who I've met over the past year ... we pulled off a 25 person Micro/Home-Con. Several people crashed in my basement ... it was awesome and hilarious fun for an entire three day weekend!  This year a few more people are trekking up from Vegas and we'll have some local new faces as well so it looks to be bigger and better than the last one ... at least 100% larger and now with a kung foo grip!

Last year we  played (and several others I'm probably forgetting):

Hopefully this year we revisit some of those and add more to the list! 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Two free online games (microtransaction) ... World of Tanks and League of Legends

World of Tanks and League of Legends.

OK so far I've enjoyed World of Tanks.  Its a Call of Duty-esq (tanks only though) style game.  You play on large maps against other tanks.  You can play as German, American or Russian tankers.  But the battles are mixed so you are playing on teams with all three factions on the same side.  There is some sort of balancing algorithm at play in the game in terms of tank types (a mix of light, medium, heavy, tank destroyers and mechanized artillery) and I think it includes peoples crew training, upgrades, etc. in the balancing equations.  So the games are mostly balanced and generally fun.

So far my only complaint is the leveling is really slow ... clearly they want you to pay for the bonus experience.  But I've heard in the game and on the forums that even with the premium experience its an ultra grind.  Really though as far as microtransaction goes you are only mainly looking at buying quicker leveling not really additional content as far as I can tell.

World of Tanks Trailer:

Ok the second game is League of Legends its apparently based on the Warcraft III engine (ya I know blast from the past eh!) but I've heard its fun.  Your basically rumbling around with a single hero in a big battlground (again just think Warcraft III) where you fight either 2 vs. 2 battles or 5 vs 5 (or you can just fight the computer for a reduced exp reward).  Apparently they rotate the hero types each week and if you want to keep playing the same hero type you have to buy it.  I don't know what other microtransactions they have going on ... I haven't played it yet I've just been hearing about it.  I'm actually downloading it now and I'll update this post when I get some playtime in. Update:  Been playing the game for a few hours, its pretty cool so far.  Worth a look anyway.
League of Legend trailer 1:

Saturday, July 2, 2011

What is over the line in a game?

When is too far ... too far?

Recently on the local game group forums we've had a discussion going on what is too far with RPGs and video games.  I'm pretty opinionated on this in terms of I think any depiction of violence or abuse towards children is 100% taboo.  Apparently people don't feel that way.

even worse someone thinks its so funny they will sing Adam Sandler opera man style songs about it

Yet as offensive as it is I don't think it should be banned or burnt.  Its protected speech and people are fully entitled to consume it and view it.  Such is freedom ... good with the bad ...

It just saddens me that there seem to be no standards anymore in terms of this sort of thing.  But this is a broader discussion.  What do people out there think?  Especially with your own home gaming.  What are your lines ... or do you have any ... in RPGs?

Its just a game is the take on the internetz ... and therefore doing anything in it is ok and your an idiot if you read anything into it.  So there are no lines at all ever, under any circumstances when it comes to games now apparently according to most people on the internet.  Because its fictional and just pixels its all ok.  This is why video games are less and less appealing each year.  I suppose at some point it will all just be torture porn hentai with an anything goes attitude.  Sad really, but just sad to me I guess after reading more about this online I realize I'm in the minority to such an extent I might be the only person in the world who feels this way (well maybe there is one other but that's about it).   I know this is kind of old news for the internet ... but we have been talking about it in the local community and we started bringing it back to the world of tabletop games and I wondered if anyone else out there had thoughts.

Friday, July 1, 2011

New Gears of War boardgame preview

New Gears of War boardgame preview ... looks cool!

Oz roleplaying game ... odd or interesting?

 I don't know what to make of this ... something interesting or just a bit too out there to want to attempt.  See this is the kind of game I could see playing with my own kids as a family RPG.  Might be interesting.  But from how the developer teaser is worded it sounds like its geared towards adults and RPG nerds at that.  So I don't know how much mileage I'd get out of it for a game for the kids, I'd be better off hacking another system and just doing a sandbox game for them.  As for me I don't know if this would be something I could reasonably get a group of gamers together to try ... even for a one shot ... lol.  Here is a blurb from the Studio 2 page.
"All of the familiar characters from the Land Oz are in Oz: Dark & Terrible, with one exception. The Scarecrow is an Anidum; a creature containing a person's soul that has been transplanted into a mannequin, while the witch responsible walks around in the Husk with all its memories. The Tin Woodsman is a retired member of the Wizard's "secret service", the Tin Men, who ensure the citizens of the Emerald City remain loyal to their ruler and are willing to use whatever means necessary to achieve their goals. The Cowardly Lion is a disgraced exile from his rightful kingdom after his father betrayed the other Animals in a catastrophic battle against Blinkie, the former Wicked Witch of the South, who refuses to be like other Carnivores who eat the hearts of Humans to gain lycanthropic powers."

For sure an interesting concept though, I'm tempted to pick it up just to see the mechanics and the game itself, I'm sure it would be interesting if nothing else. 

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The history of modern mini games and/or Games Workshop

"Games Workshop is like the McDonalds of wargaming, because it’s a reproducible, franchiseable concept" Henry Hyde, Interview with Rick Priestley.

I happened upon a good interview from 2009 with Rick Priestley and John Stallard (old time UK GW people who really have helped shape the entire gaming world via their projects at GW over the years).  I found this thanks to a great blog The Fighting Fantasist. Its really cool because they are basically talking about the old school gaming revolution ... without really doing so.  It also makes me wonder when mini games is going to really and truly get its own OSR.  Ya ya I know historicals has basically never left the 1970s but I'm talking  fantasy and sci-fi based games.  I see lots of mom and pop companies out there but nowhere near the level of community that the OSR RPG community has.  I think perhaps 15 MM sci-fi has potential to maybe be the first big OSR breakout with mini gaming.  Who knows though.  Thoughts?

Beyond that though this article had alot about gaming in general and game design in terms of rules appeal based on ones generation.  I never really thought about how age really can give one a preference for specific rules complexity.  These complex rulesets appealed to teenage boys alot (in the 1960s-early 90s anyway) because it gave them certainty in the games they were playing and allowed them not to have to worry about making judgments.   Today its probably not true as everyone's attention span has been reduced by 80% thanks to the internet and all our wonderful (and destructive) internet gadgets.  We all have popcorn brain now ... hehe. I'm beginning to see it applies to all facets of mini gaming beyond just RPGs.  I'm waiting to see it happen with board games (though one could argue it kinda already has).   Its really nostalgic in the beginning with alot of talk about the infancy of the miniature gaming industry (which incidentally spawned the RPG industry ... don't forget that Gygax and Arneson were historical gamers before they created D&D and D&D itself comes from Chainmail which was more a fantasy minis game than a RPG). Its long and if you don't know who these guys are you might not find much interest in it but I really enjoyed it!!

Really this hits at the heart of game design and how we gamers of different generations have different levels of appreciation for different types of games.  My patience level for rules complexity is not what it once was.  In my early 20s I was a fount of rules minutia and I memorized tables and charts and could ramble them back to you at will  ... now that just pisses me off.  I care about concepts, about what it is people are trying to do ... not some specific rule about "oh you get a D4 there not a D6."  But in my teens and early 20s that is all I could focus on ... because then I didn't have the capacity for judgments and generalities that I do now as an old guy.   I really like how Rick goes over how this plays into game design, etc. 

I love the quote from Mr. Hyde regarding D&D its a classic (one that most gamers can relate to). 
"I remember my first D&D game seemed a really bizarre to me because it was without
miniatures, just the Dungeon Master sitting in the corner, making it clear that you had to imagine
what was going on, it was all inside your head, and I came away feeling like I’d smoked something
particularly strong –it was just mind expanding. And it was actually quite a long time before I saw a
game using miniatures."  Henry Hyde 

When asked about Warhammer being a "six move" game he replied ..

"Yes, the premise there was that you have to be able to play a wargame that starts when you get
home from work, which can be played in its entirety, and then allow you to get to the pub in time
for last orders with time for you to discuss it! Now, because we’ve changed the licensing laws in
this country, this has undermined an entire generation of wargames developers! It’s a serious
problem! But that was indeed the basis on which we developed our games, because that’s how we
did it."  Rick Priestley

All in all  a very good but really detailed  interview... (so if you have ADD skip it. I loved it though.). 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Extremely poigniant discussion of the portrayal of armor on females in fantasy settings

Extremely poigniant discussion of the portrayal of armor on females in fantasy settings ... INDEED!

Alchemy itself as RPG inspiration

I'm sure there is alot of pseudo-science (De facto) and pseudo-history (gross over simplifications for sure) in this film.  YET ... really inspirational in terms of RPG seed potential.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Going off the grid ... BLASPHEMY!!

My friends all know my standing rant of "this isn't Dungeons and Dragons ... that died when 3.0 was introduced and the grid became a requirement for the game."  Usually a one way ticket to hell in the minds of most D&D fans and or an automatic mental ignore. Such is the life of a garrulously loquacious wanderer.

Again don't get me wrong ... sure I have extensively played 3.0, 3.5, pathfinder and 4e.  I've spent hundreds (probably thousands) on books, supplements, modules, minis ... to play in a grid world. Hell I'm a mini gamer, I play Warhammer, 40k, Warmachine, etc.  I actually enjoy modeling and painting minis.  But to me the core of a role playing game is players delving into what makes their character tick and finding a living breathing character there.  The DM can use that to make the game better and better.  The grid pulls everyone out of that immersive experience and brings them into something not very different from 40K or Warmachine, etc. but in a cooperative board game style of mini game.  Its cool and fun ... but its a very watered down version of role playing in my opinion.  I usually get shouted down as a grumpy old grognard when I say this in public though these days.
 I recall the old days though back when Hexes were traditionally used for large maps (entire regions) where the grid was reserved for smaller scales stuff (anything from buildings to dungeons to towns). In that regard the grid and hex seemed to be better suited for their respective uses.  I still use hex for large maps and grid for anything smaller when I'm doing my own campaigns, regardless of the system.  As was mentioned with 3.0 onwards for D&D you needed to use the grid for game play due to so many rules that you needed to track in terms of player proximity to things, etc.  Abstract combats became a thing of the past and the rise of grid gaming was complete (for D&D anyway) "Oh combat ... 10 minute pause as the grid is brought out and everyone drops out of RP mode into tactical board game mode."  Again as I said I've been engaging in 3.0 grid based gaming as most of us have for a long time now ... but I remember the days before the must use grid to be able to play ... RPGs.  Also I've heard the "oh you can play 3/3.5/pathfinder/4e without a grid.  In response to that I've always said don't give me any lame shit about how the grid games don't need a grid ... you can't bullshit us ... most of us have tried it without the grid and it sucks.  Half of the rules in the games are combat advantage, flanking, attacks of opportunity, AoE stuff with specific square effects, etc. etc. it would be so labor intensive for the DM to run a non-handwave fudge all the rolls game of 3.0-4e it wouldn't be worth the effort and there would be so many interuptions it would still disrupt the game with delays.  That or it would just turn into the DM faking everything and essentially railroading most of the game.

Having recently returned to non-grid based RPGs I am beginning to remember what made them magical and I'm enjoying it.  As a DM I'm seeing the story remain in play for the entire session. With the grid based games as soon as the grid rolls out its tactical board game time and all meta conversation about tactics.  That doesn't mean that in non-grid games players don't attempt to do so but in my experience you get less of it.  Also as a DM I am finding its easier to shut down the meta talk and excessive BS tangents and non-game talk.  I'm seeing my players have their characters do alot more RP type actions in combat situations.  I'm seeing players seem to get into their characters more etc.  This might not be the case for others and other gaming groups but so far in mine my grumpy old grognard theories are proving true.  So its been refreshing.  On the flip side of the coin though its not a balanced fight against me as the DM the way things were in 4e, etc.  I am more the stage manager again ... instead of an mini game opponent to my players ... I like this role more I think.

SO here is to twisted Blasphemy and heretical teachings!! Down with the grid! Up with pentagrams!