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Games

GenCon is this weekend; are you coming?
August 11, 2014 | 5:56 pm

20140508_171116_HDRGenCon is coming up this weekend, at the Indianapolis Convention Center (that kind of flat building at right, visible between those two red towers) here in scenic Indianapolis. Are any of our readers planning on attending? It would be cool to have the chance to meet some of you! I’m highly excited about it; this is the first time I’ll be attending as a resident rather than an out-of-towner. I can bicycle home at the end of the day rather than having to drive a rental car down to my brother’s house. I’m probably going to be around Thursday and...

Review: Designers & Dragons Vol. 1: The ‘70s
August 8, 2014 | 5:23 am

designdragon70s I’ve finished reading through the first volume of the RPG history from that Kickstarter I mentioned the other day, and I have to say that I’m very impressed. In fact, I plan on nominating it for the “Best Related Work” Hugo when the 2014 Hugo nominations come around. It’s just that good. As I explained in the last article, this history is split across four volumes, divided by decade. However, the decade only refers to the period in which the company was founded. The approach the book takes is to trace the history of each company from...

Scrabble gets an update with new word options
August 6, 2014 | 4:51 pm

scrabbleI saw this fun little story in several media outlets today! The Scrabble people have updated their official player's dictionary and added some new word options. They run the gamut, from media-inspired (chillax, bromance) to the techie (selfie, hashtag). The 5000-odd new additions also included new additions to the power player's two-letter word options ('te,' a note on the musical scale) and qajak, an Inuit form of 'kayak' which is notable for being a Q word which will not require a U. As with all legal Scrabble words, new additions had to be between two and eight letters, listed in a real...

Evil Hat Kickstarts Designers & Dragons, a four-volume history of role-playing games
August 6, 2014 | 2:18 pm

designdragon70sHere’s an intriguing Kickstarter from Evil Hat Productions, the folks who ran a highly successful KS for pulp tie-in novels to their Spirit of the Century game, and several other Kickstarters besides. This one is for a four-volume history of role-playing games entitled Designers & Dragons. Previously published in a single volume, it has been revised and expanded by its author to four full books. And this Kickstarter looks like a great example how to do things right. For starters, they set the goal to $7,500—a reasonable level for printing and shipping the first volume. Perhaps unsurprisingly, just a...

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...