Archive for March, 2004

I always suspected scholars were making it all up anyway

Tuesday, March 30th, 2004

Introducing Lexicon: an RPG for n players, 26 letters, and a Wiki. (Two example games are online, one run by the Paranoia XP developers and one based on the NOBILIS game world. This looks like a great way to generate source material for more formalized RPGs.)

Andy Chambers leaves GW

Tuesday, March 30th, 2004

Most of our readers are going, “Who dat,” but the Warhammer hardcore have been whispering about this online for at least a week. Internal sources confirmed today on message boards that longtime Warhammer 40,000 lead designer and very nice chap Andy Chambers is leaving the Games Workshop nest. He oversaw the recently completed and about-to-ship new edition of the 40K core rules, and while the packaging of the new edition has changed interestingly, by and large it doesn’t look like a radical departure from Chambers’ distinguished career. The interesting question is what he might do next, but that will be answered in time. [Update: "about-to-ship" means October, apparently. My bad.]

Amber turns to GOO

Tuesday, March 30th, 2004

Erick Wujcik (creator of the Amber Diceless Roleplaying Game) and Mark MacKinnon (CEO of Guardians of Order) announced recently that they’ve signed a letter of intent to move the publication rights for the Amber RPG over to Guardians from Wujcik’s company Phage Press. It’s still just a letter of intent, but GOO have opened a discussion forum about the move and future plans for the Amber RPG.

Arborell Update

Saturday, March 27th, 2004

Wayne Densley, author of the Chronicles of Arborell free online gamebook series, wrote in to report some new developments. While the second book in the series still hasn’t been released yet, work is proceeding, and in the meantime, he has released both a compilation of Blood and Iron web serial episodes (available here) and an Atlas of Arborell. Keep an eye on this stuff; it seems to have a promising future.

Hidden treasures of GTS ’04

Friday, March 26th, 2004

There were a number of unexpected products lurking in the exhibit hall at GTS last week, which is always refreshing to see. When a product I’ve never heard of appears at a major industry show, it gives me a touch of the wonder I had when I discovered my first CCG, first boardgame, or when I first roleplayed. It’s not often I feel that way anymore, so I enjoy it when a new game blows into view and kicks up dusty memories.
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TupperWar Party!

Friday, March 26th, 2004

The good folks at Columbia Games, home of Wizard Kings, Hammer of the Scots and other games involving scads and scads of little wooden blocks, are floating the idea of Block Parties, wherein you (for a hypothetical value of “you”) host a game night in your home focused on Columbia’s block games, they help you promote the event, and you get a cut of any orders generated. I’m excited to see a marketing idea this good happen in an industry notoriously deaf to good marketing ideas, but it isn’t quite perfect, is it? I mean, with games like this, there’s kind of a PlayStation-in-the-ghetto factor: if your friend has one, you effectively have one. However, for CCGs and other games that benefit from each individual making an investment, this idea could be en fuego. These games already have in-store demo support programs, but in-home events seem meaningfully different to me, better able to get through people’s resistance by showing them what their real play environment can be like – tournaments don’t bring out the best in CCGs, in my opinion. Social Games, are you listening? And what say our readers?

I’ll see that treason and raise you 10

Wednesday, March 24th, 2004

Just a quick update r.e. the Paranoia XP dev blog: some of the bits posted thus far make the game sound like it’s heading in a somewhat rules-heavier direction than fans of the old game are used to. I think this is actually just an optical illusion; what it is, is the world’s getting heavier. This extra poundage will apparently be optional, but it’s obvious where the designers’ hearts lie. Certain things give me hope, though, like this quick borrowing from Baron Munchausen.

Big exclusives hurting conventions

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2004

The GAMA Trade Show was always at least partly about the free swag retailers could load up on. For many game store owners, those products, brought back and plopped on the store shelves, paid for the trip. But with the big giveaway figures WizKids is using as a draw at the show, like the HeroClix Galactus and last year’s MechWarrior Dropship, many retailers are only showing up for the day the figure is given out, then splitting town. Inflated preregistration numbers are relayed to potential exhibitors, numbers that don’t fully convert to buyers on the exhibit hall floor.
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People like them apples pretty well, it turns out

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2004

Out of the Box announced that their flagship family/party card game Apples to Apples has sold over a million copies, and once you count expansions, over half a billion individual A2A cards. That one drawing has done pretty well for John K, one supposes.

GTS ’04 wrap-up: Pirates of the Spanish Main

Monday, March 22nd, 2004

I was fortunate enough to finally track down Mike Selinker and James Ernest at GTS last week, lead designers of the new WizKids “contructible” game, Pirates of the Spanish Main, announced at the Galactus banquet. After walking with the two of them to the WizKids booth, I watched the two examine the polystyrene punchout ships carefully. Selinker explained that the ships have movement and weapon ranges measured by the long and/or short sides of the game’s cards. When a ship is damaged, one of the multiple masts is removed from the freestanding, slotted-together ocean vessel. Each mast also represents a cannon, and has a die face showing both the target number needed and the range of the cannon (shown by the die’s color somehow). Tiny dice accompany the booster pack style game packages, though I couldn’t tell if they were a particular color themselves.
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OgreCave interviews: Mike Selinker

Monday, March 22nd, 2004

We’re still mopping up the mess from last week’s technical failure, so we’re a bit slow in getting this to you: our interview with Mike Selinker, formerly of Wizards of the Coast and Avalon Hill. The interview should have gone up right after the WizKids banquet presentation, but our website glitches had other plans. Such are the plans of ogres and men. In any case, dive in and see what Mike has to say about recent Avalon Hill games, among other topics.

Pitter Pattern, A Little Game

Friday, March 19th, 2004

Invisible City‘s March game of the month is here. In Pitter Pattern, two to four players take turns rolling a die and placing tokens on a board composed of dominoes, hoping to establish high-scoring patterns as a result. It’s a fast and variable abstract strategy game that’s more than worth the free price tag. And, as always, stay tuned, since there should be more free goodness next month; if the game list is to be believed, the next offering will be Tabletop Freeze Tag. Hmmmm.

FFG licenses Doom for board game

Thursday, March 18th, 2004

Yes, folks: they took on Warcraft, and now it’s Doom time. This title will feature graphics from the upcoming Doom III, as well as sculpted plastic stuff and what appears to be a modular board similar to the Warcraft board. Presumably FFG is wise enough not to make this play anything like Frag (don’t misunderstand me, Frag became a fine game; it would be a mistake to be seen by the customer as too near it, however). This Slashdot discussion has some of the predictable reactions from the PC crowd, and a funny joke from me. This will allegedly hit in October; it’ll be funny if Doom III gets delayed again and this comes out first.

Live at GTS 2004: Neon Genesis Evangelion, and much more

Thursday, March 18th, 2004

Games were not only the topic of Wednesday evening’s banquet presentation, they were the activity. Amidst the clusters of green balloons, and accompanied by the sometimes deafening sound of party horns and maracas, retailers were kept on their toes with a word search contest, a guess-the-number of jellybeans contest, and other games. After all, they were sitting through a presentation on St Patrick’s Day. Best to keep them entertained.
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Live at GTS 2004: Galactus takes GTS, with side of fries

Thursday, March 18th, 2004

Though they seemed a bit frantic, WizKids managed the horde of retailer registrations for Galactus HeroClix figures with only an hour delay. While the majority of retailers lined up outside the banquet hall to complete their check-in process, a handfull of WizKids employees carted massive pallets of Galactus figures into the room and unpacked them in preparation for distributing. When Jordan Weisman, President and CEO of WizKids, finally took the podium, Galactus was standing atop the podium next to him, as if to say “Thanks for coming to my show. Now the guy behind me’s going to say a few words.”
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GTS Day 3 press mock- uh, I mean wrapup

Wednesday, March 17th, 2004

I only link to this to point out that I was right. Also, I didn’t mention it before but I had vague wishes/suspicions that the name Chop Shop might be some kind of obscure shoutout to RoboRally, and now that I’ve heard it involves robots, well dammit, ¡viva la Twonky!

We will be hitting you with plenty of Pirates of the Spanish Main info when we finalize our Mike Selinker interview, probably tomorrow, as well as in our full report on this morning’s WizKids foofaraw. You know, as long as we’re in the vague suspicions department, back when we playtested MK2 and saw the weird little plasticard things, I think we might have wondered to ourselves if they’d ever do a whole game with the cardstuff, kind of like those Z-Cards things. That’s a big 10-4 there, matey. Anyway, stay tuned to this channel for some deeper excitement about PotSM.

Situation normal

Wednesday, March 17th, 2004

We had a bad roll on the Technical Difficulties Table today – naturally, the very best time this could have happened – and it took a while to get straightened out. If you find anything irregular, let us know.

Live from GTS 2004: Sucking Vacuum doesn’t

Wednesday, March 17th, 2004

Alien Menace is back in the swing of things with a revised version of Sucking Vacuum, which the company announced last week. The new boxed version is a gorgeous full-color product, with 18 tiles that are played to make the doomed International Space Station each player must escape from. Sci-fi fans will be thrilled by the upgraded version, as nearly every tile hides so many “Easter eggs” from popular TV shows and movies, gamers will spend the first hour examining the game boards and laughing at all the goodies they find. The Alien Incursion variant rules included in the box seem like they’ll turn an already solid, frantic, and entertaining game into a mad scramble for survival, and that’s for a game that was already about avoiding death by suffocation. With a compact, high-quality box, full-color components (and nifty plastic missiles to track oxygen with), and a price of $19.99, the new Sucking Vacuum is a sure winner. If this game doesn’t end up on Origins’ short list for Best Graphic Design of a Board Game, I’ll be extremely surprised.

Live at GTS 2004: Situation Normal at Human Head

Tuesday, March 16th, 2004

Left out of the Green Ronin presentation this morning was Human Head‘s next roleplaying project, Normal, Texas. Scheduled for the end of 2004, the game will be about an everyday little town with ooze monsters, giant spiders, aliens, miniaturized humans, and other freakish goodies. According to Matt Forbeck, head of Head’s Adventure Games Division, current plans are for six Normalproducts in total, providing a jumping off point for players to take it from there.

GTS Day 2 press wrapup

Tuesday, March 16th, 2004

This GR entry would be intriguing if it weren’t for the fact that every catalog-like thing that I’ve ever seen Wizards release has contained something that was either misnamed or actually cancelled some time after said catalog went to press. As it is, it’s just funny. Maybe Chop Shop is the boys’ equivalent to Star Sisterz, and you get cards that challenge you to jack cars so you can win collectible crowbars and mallets.

In other news, there are Star Wars miniatures, and the D&D Basic box set is ugly as mortal sin. (I would link to some other news sites as well but the only people who seem to be covering the show are GR and us. The big D&D dinner is being pushed down gullets as we speak, and Allan will have a full report on that. Probably not so much about the food, really.)

Live at GTS 2004: Green Ronin, SJ Games, others announce lots o’ stuff

Tuesday, March 16th, 2004

Staggering out bleary-eyed for the retailer breakfast presentation, I walked toward the banquet hall through the Orleans casino and was suddenly joined by a well-dressed, middle-aged man who seemed to appear out of nowhere. He immediately caught me off guard by calmly, matter-of-factly stating “Yeah, the works of Satan are all around us, my brother.”

Oh-kay.
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Cardboard heroes, eh? How about cardboard everything?

Tuesday, March 16th, 2004

No disrespect to the fine SJG line of folded paper, but, as in so many other genres, the Japanese have us sort of outclassed. This blog Boing Boing has been nuts for the folded paper over the last couple of days, including these Star Wars models that might be of use to players of the previewing-just-about-now Star Wars minis game, this 1:1 scale replica of the guns from Aliens (attention LARPers!), and this software that claims to turn 3D files in Maya, Lightwave or DirectX format (and others) into print-cut-and-fold models.

Live from GTS 2004: WotC wins crowd with GI Joe

Tuesday, March 16th, 2004

I just staggered back from Peter Adkison’s party (thanks, Peter!), and find Mike has one-upped me. Curses! I’ll get you, evil brother of mine. Anyway…

To kick off the banquet presentations here at the GAMA Trade Show, Wizards of the Coast gave a recap of a successful 2003, and previewed the year in progress, as one would expect from the industry leader. Wizards CEO Chuck Huebner welcomed the massive hall of retailers and distributors, then thanked retailers at length for all they’ve done to sell WotC products.
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GTS Day 1 press wrap-up

Monday, March 15th, 2004

Looks like Duel Masters will be giving MtG’s Darksteel some competition in the new Origins Awards category, “Stupidest Name for a CCG Expansion.” Elsewhere in the WotC press dinner for non-D&D properties, a release date is announced for the GI JOE TCG (should be ready for Gen Con), and you sort of get to see the RISK Godstorm cover. Thanks to GR’s squad for taking all those possibly-illegal photos. We’d have taken some ourselves, but you people are too cheap to buy us nice things like digital cameras via that PayPal link. Ha!

Also, it appears that the much-hyped news about Origins is that there isn’t any. News, I mean; they’re still having the show. In fact, they say they are going “narrow but deep” (ewwww) and refocusing on gaming, and if that means that woman isn’t going to sing, then I say pop the champagne!

Fighting Fantasy on warpath at Myriador

Friday, March 12th, 2004

Myriador Ltd. has announced their product schedule for most of this year. Of particular interest is the Fighting Fantasy Role Play Game due in June 2004. The game will use the d20 System, just as the other Fighting Fantasy derived Myriador releases, but remain a “fully contained game.” The company’s forums also mention plans for world guides, though none are officially scheduled yet.