That’ll be my last TLA joke for a while, I think. Anyway, not sure how I missed this one: Dragonshard is a real-time strategy game set in Eberron, with three playable factions and a story written by Keith Baker himself. I’ve never been able to warm up to RTS myself – it’s too much like work for me to enjoy it as play – but it’s good to get Eberron out there in more media, methinks. Release set for June.
Archive for March, 2005
The adventure-gaming wing of Human Head Studios has announced (here’s a more permanent link, for those of you living in the future) a PDF-only expansion for its GOTHIKA board game line, called GOTHIKA: Invisible Man. Yup. The obvious jokes here would be funnier if WizKids hadn’t preempted them with the Sue Storm/Invisible Girl “figure” they did as a promo for HeroClix. But I try, dear reader, I try. For those of you who hate links that are styled just like regular text as much as I do, here’s the download link.
Besides being a stellar example of what real professionalism looks like, this discussion at Privateer Press about the new products they announced last week calls out a serious problem in the game industry – and it’s even worse in RPGs.
Unfortunately, this has not traditionally been an industry that was willing to pay for quality – a message driven home every time we hear a gasp at the price of a book. Go to a Barnes & Nobles and find a book that took a year to make, is printed in full color, and caters to a specialty niche (in other words, they’re not printing hundreds of thousands of them), and you’ll see a much higher price point than anything the game industry currently supports. Basically, the consumers in our industry have dictated a pricing structure that they are willing to spend within. But printing works like this: the more you print, the better price you get and the less you can charge for a book to make it worth the while. However, in the game industry, we make products for tens of thousands rather than hundreds of thousands, so the pricing is not as good.
Steve Long of Hero Games made this same observation at DunDraCon about niche-press books… to the general derision of the room. But I think he’s right, and I hope he breaks rank and experiments with the pricing on some of his books. Meantime, ask yourself: how much are you willing to pay for quality? Did you howl at the price of the Farscape book? Because that’s what it costs, people. You want to halt the decline of the indie RPG market? You might have to pony up. Are you ready?
I suspect sometimes that the average consumer of PDF gaming material is more technically savvy than the average producer of same. Confirming my suspicion is Ginger Stampley’s post against Digital Rights Management in PDFs. It’s not the most scathing, detailed, fiery condemnation of DRM available online or anything, but PDF publishers should notice: your consumers have strong tastes, so strong that they border on moral codes, and they will not put up with your product if it bosses them around. I think that attitude goes with being comfortable on a computer and knowing what you can do. As for less savvy users, well, they aren’t the ones who go online and post all about how great – or frustrating, or sucky – your product is. So be careful out there.
The Internet is a great source of freebies for gamers, and two reliable producers of cost-free goodness have both struck again at nearly the same time. First, Project Aon went and released another free Lone Wolf adventure, The Legacy of Vashna. Soon thereafter, Invisible City did their thing, providing two free creations, the all-new family card game I Want Candy, and a revision of their Easter candy-themed Peep War. Whether you prefer to adventure in Magnamund, relax with the kids or command legions of marshmallow fluff, you should be able to find something entertaining to do today without spending a penny!
So here’s some more Hecatombage for ya, including lots of card art and a number of actual cards, some of which are stacked in such a way as to give one vague ideas about the rules. The art’s well done, and now that it’s been explained to me that the idea is to “take black from M:tG and make it the whole game,” I am less bothered by the theming. The “ooh, scary” stuff is not to my taste, but then, I’m not 15. I’m a little let down that the transparency of the cards isn’t being used in a very wide-ranging way, but I guess there’s no other way to do a tournament-ready game. The kids, they like their nice consistent card backs.
In case you can’t tell, I’m warming up to Hecatomb pretty quickly. I hope they explore some of the possibilities of the other Magic colors, and what would happen to them if they were exploded out into games of their own. I’d be interested to see a hardcore strategic battle of arcane knowledge and control based on blue, or a slam-bang flamefest based on red. Good old red. Nothing beats red.
Those who fret that hobby gaming companies’ only mainstreaming option will soon be Walmart have new reason to worry: the Toys ‘R’ Us chain has been sold for $6 billion to a consortium that includes major real estate investors. “[A]nalysts estimated that TRU’s real estate value is five times greater than the value of its toy business.” D’oh. Sorry, Eagle/Uberplay and Days of Wonder – looks like those inroads you made at TRU in the last couple years are about to be writeoffs. WotC and WizKids already have relationships with Walmart and the like, but such large deals have been known to leave smaller companies as smoldering husks on the business landscape. All the more reason to support your local hobby-gaming retailer (and, um, support their efforts to draw in new customers).
Has Toronto become a major gaming mecca without my noticing? Or maybe it always has been, and I’m clueless? Either way, I’ve just received word of good ‘ole Mr G himself, Gary Gygax, making an appearance at the Canadian National Gaming Expo on August 26-28. If you can get there late August, a week after Gen Con Indy, it might make a good show to add to your yearly route. See the press release below.
Our sources continue to be many and varied, as OgreCave staff member Justin Mohareb has sent in a few GTS ’05 tidbits after visiting the show. Here’s what Justin wanted to mention:
- As if there was any doubt, Margaret Weis has confirmed they’re releasing the Serenity RPG at GenCon for the Firefly movie.
- Two games caught my eye from independant game producers: Dawning Star from Blue Devil Games is a d20 Modern/Future supplement, and the first one I’ve seen so far. It’s got a bit of a Blue Planet feel about it (SF setting with mysteries to solve, etc) and is a great read so far. Expect a review shortly.
- In the prototype stage is a card/board game from Seaborn Games. Combining elements from Clue and Cosmic Encounter, you play an adventurer building a Hunting Party [the game's title] to pursue the Shadow by fulfilling a prophecy, discovering its weaknesses and combatting its minions to earn gold.
It’s loads of fun, with a few dozen disparate characters (and plans for more) and it works for all skill levels of players; there are even cards to benefit weaker players and handicap stronger ones. Due for release in October, once art is completed. Great family game produced by Patrick & Ben Christenson, two brothers from Texas.
When a miniatures game company has no regular release schedule of “codexes” or other such expensive modular books, the resulting buildup of fiction and photographs (what minis fans call “fluff”) can toxify and explode, resulting in a dangerous calamity of molten lead and resin. To avoid such an outcome, Privateer Press has announced Posted in Miniatures Games | 2 Comments »
- Scroll your way to the bottom game report on this here page for the skinny on a new cooperative Days of Wonder game called Shadows Over Camelot. That’s right, I said cooperative, so all you Lord of the Rings board game haters can start jerking your knees now. There’s a lot of untapped thematic juice in the whole Camelot thing in my opinion (Tom Jolly aside).
- Okay: we are long overdue in talking about Clout Fantasy, the first news of which came out a couple weeks ago. We didn’t report it at the time, I think because we were too busy boggling at it. I mean, I figured Adkison would get back into publishing at some point, but with a collectible… poker-chip game? Whatever, Pete, it’s your money. But now actual gameplay has been demoed at the show, and… we are still kind of saying whatever, because it’s apparently Diceland with d2′s. I mean, maybe there are more significant differences in the details, and yeah, maybe it’s fun, but… maybe just playing quarters is fun too, and $2.50 gets you more than two of those.
- Kenzer announces two card games, neither of which has the Knights of the Dinner Table in them, so that’s progress.
- WizKids announces a new CSG, Rocketmen, for this summer. Good news: Buck-Rogers-meets-Rocketeer stylee is hawtt, plus they’re doing a dynamic-army-building resource-management thing, which has needed to happen in minis gaming for a while in my opinion. Let’s make tabletop minis a better way to RTS than RTS! Bad news: “Rocketmen will be accompanied by both Web- and DVD-based cartoons.” All right! Way to focus.
- Green Ronin is showing Human Head’s line of Gothica board games, which is actually a line now as of Frankenstein’s Children and Mummy’s Wrath. There is also, of course, Warhammer Fantasy Role-Playing, which is looking sharp and hits at the end of the month. Our spies tell us that, besides Green Ronin, indy RPG companies tend to have a very low profile at the show…
- I can tell you there are some inaccuracies in this GR summary of Looney Labs’ plans for the year. It’s not true that they aren’t visiting conventions – they’ll have their usual large “experiment” space at Origins, they just won’t have a booth. Also, don’t expect all three of those Icehouse boxed games “soon” – I think they want to get Volcano out soonest, but my money is on Martian Chess or (my favorite) Homeworlds.