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Games

Zombies, Run! and The Walk cross a pedometer with audiobooks
July 13, 2014 | 2:35 pm

Screenshot_2014-07-13-14-28-56Mobile technology is really bringing about some interesting new forms of gaming, isn’t it? Lately I’ve been experimenting with an Android/iOS smartphone game called “Zombies, Run!” while I play Ingress. I had heard from friends that it was a pretty good game, and after finding out that it worked just as well on a bicycle as on foot, I decided to give it a shot. The premise of Zombies, Run! is that you’re “Runner 5,” a rather quiet military operative sent in to help a small settlement called Able Township by running missions to fetch supplies, deliver messages, and...

Evil Hat’s Atomic Robo copyright notice smooths the way for gamers making copies
July 7, 2014 | 6:53 pm

robonoticeHere’s an amusing case of a publisher getting copyright right. Evil Hat, who’s been mentioned here a few times before for its FUDGE-based Spirit of the Century role-playing game and Kickstarter projects, has a great copyright notice on its Atomic Robo RPG. Right after the bit about not storing the publication in a retrieval system without permission, it continues: That said, if you’re doing it for personal use, knock yourself out. That’s not only allowed, we encourage you to do it. For those working at a copy shop and not at all...

Patent absurdity: Trying to protect its rule set lands small role-playing game publisher in hot water
June 20, 2014 | 4:54 am

patent_trollLadies and gentlemen, I give you the tabletop role-playing game community’s current tempestuous teapot. Recently, a small role-playing game publisher held an IRC interview about the new multi-genre tabletop role-playing game it had just published. The game and the company both seem to share the name Universal Horizons. Inspired by the publisher/writers’ disgust at the change from D&D 3rd edition to 4th edition, this game includes multiple campaign worlds, or “genres”—an urban fantasy world, a science-fiction fighting-off-bug-like-aliens world, and so on. These “genres” use the same character statistics but may have different skill bonuses from genre to genre. ...

House first sale doctrine hearing: My points of view
June 4, 2014 | 2:49 pm

Well, that was quite a few articles. I hope you at least read my summaries, and they didn’t put you to sleep. I was impressed by the breadth of viewpoints represented in that sample of testimony. We heard from a major publisher, a company and an interest group lobbying for digital resale, a graphic artist, a media executive, a major library, and more. They all had their own unique viewpoints, and reading all of them really gave me a new appreciation for how complicated first sale is—not just the proposed digital type, but the ordinary physical media type we all...

Storium enters last day of Kickstarter with educational version fully funded
May 8, 2014 | 4:14 am

storiumfinalIt’s the last day of Storium’s Kickstarter, and at the moment it’s raised over $212,000. This puts it well past the $200,000 goal to create a version specifically tailored for educational uses. At the rate Storium had been picking up new users until the last couple of days, I hadn’t expected it to make it. But it has, and I’m really happy about it. This is a product I’m already using, and that I firmly believe in. A lot of big names have stepped up to offer up worlds to play in. Those include official adaptations of Steve Jackson...

Bundle of Holding offers Spirit of the Century pulp RPG at a great bargain
April 30, 2014 | 4:08 am

I’ve mentioned the pay-what-you-want independent-published role-playing game bundle the Bundle of Holding before, but this time they’ve got a really good one up for grabs. There’s just over five days remaining to grab the Spirit of the Century bundle, which is a collection of books related to the pulp role-playing game Spirit of the Century. Spirit of the Century is based on the FATE game system, a modification of the free-form FUDGE. It’s one of the best-reviewed pulp games to come out in recent years, with the flexibility to model just about any character from the pulp genre. It’s...

Universalis and Storium gamify storytelling
April 24, 2014 | 3:14 am

storiumOne of the reasons I enjoy collaborating with friends on writing Internet fiction is that the give and take between you and your fellow authors is kind of like a game. It’s like roleplaying on a MUSH or in chat, except that you have take-backs and you can even jump into each others’ characters and make them do exactly what you need them to instead of relying on the other person to figure it out. In recent years there have been some great games based on that idea—games that are about telling stories rather than moving one particular character...

GenCon 2013 Interview: M. Sechin Tower, Lead Developer at Exile Game Studio
April 15, 2014 | 9:00 pm

GEDC1287During GenCon 2013, I had the chance to speak with Sechin Tower, Lead Developer at Exile Game Studio and author of Mad Science Institute. I asked him about Exile’s use of Kickstarters for publishing its game products, and this is what he had to say. Me: Tell me what Exile’s been doing with Kickstarters. Sechin: Exile has been a recent comer to the Kickstarter market, but we’ve found it extremely useful to not only jumpstart a project that would take a little longer to get going, but to also get the word out and to give people a...

StoryBundle releases video game book bundle
April 2, 2014 | 7:47 pm

The Humble Indie Bundle started out selling video games, but branched out into e-books down the road. This makes it almost, but not quite, symmetrical that its competitor StoryBundle, who started with e-books all along, has now come out with a bundle of…e-books about video games. The base price for this bundle is $3, which gets you six DRM-free multiformat e-books, mostly non-fiction: How to Do Things With Videogames by Ian Bogost Atari Inc.: Business is Fun by Marty Goldberg and Curt Vendel SCROLL: Collection 01-11 by Ray Barnholt...

Who is more relevant now: BookExpo America or GenCon?
March 28, 2014 | 7:29 pm

avenue-close-up Earlier today, Susan wrote about Book Expo America adding a celebrity author convention this year. I find this interesting, but I wonder what they're trying to prove here. Not many of those celebs are known for being writers; they're celebs who are also writers. (Martin Short? Angelica Huston? Really?) And even the ones who are writers, like Grisham and Stan Lee (who didn’t even write for a book publisher to begin with), became so famous for their writing that now they’re more famous for being famous. Why don’t they just drop all pretense and get Snooki in...

Story Cards tablet CCG gamifies reading for K-12 students
March 12, 2014 | 2:58 pm

storycardsHere's an intriguing game I just learned about. Educational publisher Amplify, makers of the Amplify Android tablet we covered last year, has come up with a way to gamify classic literature, in the hopes of getting students interested in reading it. Story Cards is a turn-based character-driven CCG. Players unlock character cards with specific abilities by reading the books they come from, and can gain bonuses by answering trivia questions related to the books in question. The game supports both single-player and multi-player modes. Students can build their own decks and compete with the game or each other. The...

Fan artist complains of Anita Sarkeesian’s unauthorized use of Dragon’s Lair fan art
March 9, 2014 | 4:27 am

tropesvswomenHere’s an interesting conundrum concerning fair use of Internet artwork. It all started when an artist going by the moniker Cowkitty created some fan art of Princess Daphne, a character from Don Bluth’s Dragon’s Lair video game. Some time later, feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian crowdfunded a series of YouTube videos called Tropes vs. Women in Video Games. And promotional material used for the $150,000 Kickstarter campaign, which collected a number of female characters from video games, made use of Cowkitty’s fan art without asking permission. (The video series allegedly made use of footage from various YouTube “Let’s...