Gorgon Kickstarter

Our dear friends from Elder Game are giving Kickstarter another chance to get in on their MMO Gorgon, which is in the works and not that far from completion. Development takes time, and time is money, so they need a surprisingly small amount of money to bring the project to fruition.

Over at Elder Game, you can read a lot of the development discussion. I’d like to note four features, all of which are mentioned in the Kickstarter proposal:

  • All those Kickstarter projects where they pitch before they start programming? There is a playable alpha of Gorgon today.
  • Adjustable difficulty levels. Yes, in an MMO. You can choose the risks you are willing to take with customizable death penalties, or you can play your own challenges that the game will recognize like pacifism and vegetarianism.
  • The planned business model is $5/month subscription fee. That is almost free, but because it is not free, I expect a lot of horrible behavior to be suppressed. You’re aware of some of the perversities of “free,” from both players and developers.
  • Death xp. There is a “Dying” skill that rewards you for finding new ways to die. Gorgon generally has some interesting ideas about death penalties.

The $125 level is tempting just to ensure that Ethic the Ratslayer appears in the game.

Gorgon has a mix of new ideas and old school approaches that deserve more exploration, and exploring mechanics costs a heck of a lot less than having full voice acting for your game.

: Zubon

If just two hundred people go for the /smite ability, they’re in business.

[GW2] Some Game

Guild Wars 2 is two. Two years. I don’t even need to really look at my /age, and honestly I don’t really care. ArenaNet has made a pretty good thing. Not the perfect thing, but Guild Wars 2 is starting to get pretty comfortable. We’re at the point in this relationship where things are a nice burn instead of all hot and firecracker’y, intense and sometimes caustic.  Continue reading

10 Years?

I was bored today and decided to see when I first posted here. Turns out it was in May of 2004. Has this site really been going for over 10 years? Yikes.

- Ethic

[RR] D&D 5th Edition Player’s Handbook

Bits of 5th have been online for a while, and it officially launched at Gen Con. I have my PHB (and nothing else yet) and was thinking of gradually walking through the book, a review in parts. Let’s start with some general notes.

First, while I understand some of the business reasons for not dropping $200 worth of books on people at the same time, the staggered release still feels odd. If nothing else, Wizards of the Coast is training players to play without the official books, although I presume someone in their business office has run the numbers on that.

As has been noted widely, 5th is a throwback after the new direction 4th Edition took. It looks a lot more like 2nd Edition, so one hopes it contains enough new and interesting to justify using it instead of just going back to 2nd Edition. I have a lot of 2nd Edition books. Continue reading

PvP & D&D

Today’s post from Tobold is about Dungeonmasters in Dungeons and Dragons, but the essential argument is the same as the one for PvP MMOs like EVE Online and for multiplayer content over single-player content. CRPGs and single-player games are consistent and sometimes mediocre. Multi-player content can be really horrible, but it can also be really great. If you are playing for the best times, which may or may not correlate with the best average times, you play with other people.

: Zubon

[TT] Dumb Fun: Poop

As the evening wore on at Gen Con, friends brought out a “dumb fun” game. It was a silly superhero game with lots of spirit and a chance to play as Heavy Metal Elephant. It also took more than a half hour to set up the board and explain most of the rules. That is well past my “dumb fun” threshold, and I have begun using a rule of thumb that a game with a book of rules (instead of a page) is a gamer game.

Another evening, someone brought out Poop. Poop qualifies as “dumb fun,” a game with a silly theme and rules that fit on a card. It plays like a simplified Uno. I doubt it will ever be one of The Great Games that You Must Play, but its owner was satisfied to have paid $5 for it. He got to play with Poop a few times, and the Poop box had several rule variants to explore in the future. He went back the next day to find expansion Poop.

It was not my favorite theme for a game, but the lads got to engage in puerile sound effects and had fun. I demand less of a game that I can learn in less than a minute and play in less than five.

: Zubon

Back next week to talk about simple and deep.


One thing I may not have expressed well about Gen Con is the size of the event. There were 56,614 people there. That is people, not triple-counting people who attend several days, and it probably does not include the people who showed up but were not officially attending the conference. Origins felt like a large event at 12,902 attendees; quadruple that. I heard folks spreading the rumor that the event was going to spread into the stadium next door next year, as it has already filled a convention center and spread into nearby hotels, which is a nice idea, but Gen Con would nearly be a sell-out crowd for the stadium and that would be just to pack people in seats watching something. As you might imagine, gaming takes up a bit more space than watching a game.

As Adam Smith explains, The division of labour is limited by the extent of the market, which is to say, you get more niches when you have more people. Games at Gen Con have editions listed for each, in case you insist on D&D 3.0 not 3.5 or refuse to play the revised version of Betrayal at House on the Hill. The vendors can similarly serve narrow markets, such as the booth that did green screen photo shoots for cosplayers to give them exciting, customizable backdrops. A popular game might have an entire floor, and the anime area was larger than some anime conventions.

It’s kind of a big deal. If it repeats this year’s growth, attendance will break 60,000 next year and 70,000 the next. There must be some limit to how big the event can get, but they do not seem to have found it yet.

: Zubon

[RR] Shameless Conjecture

One of the big consumers of my writer’s juice has been a project I’ve been working on the for the past few months that is finally moving towards the light. I’ve been creating a line of tabletop RPG supplements mainly aimed at solo players or GM’s that need a bit more guidance.

The first release is UNE – The Universal NPC Emulator – which aims to create, color, and guide the use of NPC’s, non-player characters, in RPG’s. I released it back in 2007 on a whim, but now I’m trying to do things a tad more professionally. UNE has been cleaned up, and is now  heavily supported on the other thing that has been sapping my time.

ConjectureGames.com - this puppy has tons of examples, tutorials, and even previews for upcoming products. For example, it shows how to use UNE to create an adventure or create a villain with weaknesses.

Anyway, all the Conjecture Games products will be pay-what-you-want, and I am perfectly happy with the payment of $0.00. I just hope that they are useful to somebody in this niche hobby. BOLD is the next product, and is hopefully slated for September. It is the Book of Legend and Deeds and aims to create player histories, define downtime events, and even create a dramatic skeleton-frame for adventures.


Writer’s Juice

There’s some bit of finite energy required by blogging. Unfortunately, it is the same juice used to write elsewhere, whether it be at work or in other arenas. I find that if I am active in say a G+ community or a forum, I write less elsewhere. If I write up a solo RPG session, I write less elsewhere. Note that this is not a function of time. It’s more like a function of will.

There’s so much to write about too. The Guild Wars 2 community seems frustrated with ArenaNet’s communication, but then my mid-season view of the Living World story is aces. Windborne got a small update. Chuubo’s Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine just got released in beautiful PDF form. I roleplay with my young daughters every other weekend or so as well, which has opened my eyes to a whole new world.

Then, I also live less than half-hour’s drive from Ferguson. So, I got that going for me.

As always, Zubon and other blogger around the ‘sphere are doing fantastic work. I just felt like I needed to write a note that was like “I’m still here in some form.” I am hoping now that school is started, and things are getting regularly scheduled, I too will find time to manage my juice.


[TT] Tile Placement

I saw Monster Factory at Gen Con and was immediately reminded of Starbase Jeff from Cheapass Games. Both are tile placement games with two types of “fittings” where you try to complete stations/monsters to bank points. There are some differences in the details, but the mechanics are 90% the same. Carcassonne is broadly similar.

How much of gaming is that? Same core mechanic, same basic flow of play, but we are trying to find the perfect variation on the details that makes it pop, or maybe the same game with a different theme that we favor. And, you know? Sometimes that little difference does make a big difference. I love the mechanics of LOL but will never play DOTA or Newerth because they include a creep denial mechanic, and I find it fundamentally absurd to have a game encourage you to kill your own troops so that the enemy cannot.

So maybe those little differences in how you select or score tiles means a lot. We have generated an entire genre of deck building games in the last decade, and how many of them start with something very like 7 copper and 3 VP?

: Zubon