Archive for January, 2006

Never mind the sudoku, here's Perplex City

Monday, January 23rd, 2006

So I’m all set up in Portland now, and I was thinking about posting my final what-to-do-in-D&D-4th post today. But I’m not going to, for two reasons. The first is that it boils down to a single sentence, “add no rules,” and the second is that, seriously, when games like Shab-al-Hiri Roach, Shock:, and apocalypse girl are on the horizon, I just don’t really care so much what happens to D&D. But I will tell you about a product I’ve been loving lately, totally despite my usual interests (very much like the Forge games), which for some reason I haven’t posted about before: Perplex City puzzle cards.

These gorgeously designed and lavishly printed jobbies, larger than an index card and packaged six to a pack, present you with puzzles ranging in difficulty (and rarity) from totally unchallenging (but maybe conversation-starting) to Nobel Prize level (mathematics’ unsolved Riemann hypothesis is a card – but others amongst the highest rarity/difficulty level have in fact been solved). The art’s great, the variety’s great, and the setting – a sort of urban Narnia where all the cell phones are awesome and all the society-party invitations have bizarre logic riddles to cull the weak – is charming as all get out. Once you have the answer to a card’s puzzle, scratch off the scratch-off stuff for the code to enter on the website for Perplex Points; if that doesn’t scratch your itch for competition, whoever finds a certain little McGuffin called the Cube will win $200,000.

What makes this doubly interesting, even to those of you who’d just as soon kick a cat as solve a puzzle, is that the search for the Cube will tie in, inevitably, to the website(s) and their associated characters. That’s right, folks, it’s an alternate reality game, which is essentially an elaborate online LARP (as I’ve noted here). Our podcast listeners will recall last year’s being a fave of mine. I wish I could say that the writing in the ARG component of PXC were more engaging, but there’ve been some super-exciting live events in London, and I’d say things will start popping up in the US over the next year as well. (Starting with an event in NYC on February 15!)

Hasbro merges toy and game departments, eliminates pres-of-games position

Wednesday, January 18th, 2006

Ruh-roh, Shaggy. The president of the former toy division now presides over the merged department: “[Brian] Goldner, 42, had been president of the U.S. toy segment, and had previously held positions at Bandai America Inc. ‘This new organization allows us to bring the best and brightest of both toys and games together for the first time,’ Goldner said in a statement.”

Audio Report: everything is fundable, in its own way

Monday, January 16th, 2006

The bulk of this week’s show (shortish, because I have to move all my stuff) is about the Godlike/Fundable announcement and various tangents. Subscribe here, comment below.

Asmodee announces Mission: Red Planet

Saturday, January 14th, 2006

Having just released Dungeon Twister: Paladins & Dragons, ASMODEE Editions LLC has sent along information on their next release, Mission: Red Planet. Players will each control an 1889 corporation competing to conquer Mars and plunder its resources, making use of the special abilities of nine characters. No images are available just yet. For 3-5 players, Mission: Red Planet is due sometime in Q1, and will retail for $44.99. For more details, see the press release below.

Godlike print copies go fan-funded

Thursday, January 12th, 2006

Arc Dream Publishing recently announced that it would be following the lead of its co-founder, Dennis Detwiller, by going to the masses for print-run funding. Starting with the Godlike GM Screen, Arc Dream will collect pledges toward making the product available in print form. Fans who pledge for each product will receive a copy for no added charge, and each successfully funded product will be available to retailers. If the necessary cash isn’t raised for a product, Arc Dream may only end up selling them as ebooks.

This raises the question: Is print-run funding the way more game companies will go? It would give the company’s fans a more direct say in what reaches physical bookshelves next, and could save publishers from releasing a flop. This will also test the “downloadable versus print” preferences of Godlike fans, which could be equally interesting. Click below for the press release.

Audio Report: 2005 Recap

Tuesday, January 10th, 2006

In which trends of the year just past are discussed, and the Ogre’s Choice Awards categories are announced. Post here on what you’d like us to consider for the best new game, ongoing game, innovation, and publisher of 2005.

Licensed product brings enormous company low; also, dog bites man

Monday, January 9th, 2006

Reuters: “Britain’s Games Workshop Group Plc said full-year profit would likely fall short of expectations as interest wanes in fantasy battle games.” I suspect the generality of that statement is Reuters’, not GW’s, as the rest of the announcement focuses on the sagged-to-the-floor fortunes of the Lord of the Rings miniatures line. Why they don’t announce that they’re killing it is beyond me – it’d probably bounce the stock back up, and it’s not as if they don’t know how to deal with jilted, angry gamers. Oops, I might know why after all; sucky contract with the licensor!

Battle Of The Board Game Design Stars!

Monday, January 9th, 2006

Because “discussion” is not as cool. Discussion is never as cool. Come on, people, I shouldn’t have to tell you that. The industry gathering Protospiel brings us an engaging virtual panel discussion of game design with industry luminaries James Ernest, Reiner Knizia, Tom Jolly, Bruno Faidutti, Alan Moon and more.

The characters prep the game

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2006

(Second in an ill-advised series of speculative posts about the future of D&D)

The second thing people say to defend D&D against online gaming, after “there are people there with you,” is “I can create my character.” And, to D&D’s credit, you can. But all too often, players’ fun gets ruined because their character is trapped in someone else’s game: the DM’s. By the same token, DMs complain about how much time it takes to prep the game, for players who may or may not even thank them.

Both of these problems have the same solution. Let’s call it the Campaign Creator.

Special delivery at Goodman Games

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2006

Goodman Games has a new year’s gift for roleplayers, in the form of Just a Delivery, a free 16-page Etherscope adventure in PDF form. Those who want a print copy and can’t be bothered to put paper in their printers needn’t worry – a printed edition will be in stores soon for a mere $3. Etherscope itself just became available, and is already being greeted by rave reviews.