So… GamerGate. Yeah. F**k those guys.
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In case anyone’s taking our silence as assent, rather than just the usual state of things around hereSaturday, October 18th, 2014
So, remember Choose Your Own Adventure books, the Fighting Fantasy and Lone Wolf gamebooks, and other solo-adventure enabling products? Those are interactive fiction. We like to bring them up from time to time because they were formative influences on our gaming tastes long ago, and they still provide a great source of inspiration and enjoyment. If you long to revisit the days of exploring an authors world in a more immersive way, of following literary versions of the IF/THEN/ELSE command to their destinations, you should check out VuPop 2 – An Academic Conference Where YOU are the Hero: Interactive Fiction in Print and Online. Organized by our longtime resident gamebook expert Demian Katz (who also runs gamebooks.org), the event promises several informative talks on the genre. Best of all, if you can’t make it out to Villanova University in Villanova, PA this Monday (tomorrow), the conference will be streamed online. So skip work, wake up early and get interactively fictional to start your week off right.
From a somewhat disturbing post over on Story Games:
And yet another different D&D freelancer friend said:
“This is why D&D 4E is called an indie game. It tells you how to play. Many of us know that the rules are better than they have ever been design wise but that’s not the point. Look at Iron Heroes designed by Mike Mearls. The same people who loved that game, a game which was similar to 4E in many ways, hated 4E. Why? They actually like the rules in many cases. But they don’t want to be told this is the way to play. These games are about people. They are about friends. And you don’t know my friends better than I do.”
Now, that’s just the opinion of one alleged freelancer, and even if we took it as truth, it doesn’t pose a large problem… unless you’re interested in the accessibility of D&D. The trouble with not telling people how to play is it limits the game’s growth to the oral tradition. A new group, as in people who don’t know (or don’t know they know) anyone else who plays, must fill in that deliberately larger gap between the rules and the table all on their own, which A) has a lot of known bad side effects, and B) simply fails more often – often enough that I’d guess it doesn’t replace players faster than they drop out.
By returning to not (fully) telling you how to play, Wizards is accepting that D&D is inaccessible from the outside and that the best it can do is reclaim some old players. As we’ve discussed, with D&D Next they’re likely really just aiming to win back recent converts to Pathfinder. That’ll do, corporately speaking; that’ll hold the line. It disappoints those of us who’d rather that D&D were closer to a living part of gaming culture than an archival piece, but it does suit Hasbro’s general M.O. and stated reason for investing in D&D at all: getting value out of a brand through an array of ancillary products. Hell, I kind of don’t know why they don’t just distribute the core RPG books for free. (They haven’t said they won’t, of course; in my view it’d be a smart way to return to the PDF market.)
There are ways, though, that Wizards could make the oral tradition more effective. They’ve announced that they are revamping the D&D website, which is good, but my confidence is a little low that they’ll be able to do what’s really required: utterly changing their online corporate voice. If they did manage it, they could be the oral tradition, the place people go to see and hear what this hobby is and what it looks like when people live it. The right selection of official YouTube videos alone would be a great step towards clearing away the annoyingly persistent confusion about just exactly what it is you do when you play D&D.
That would possibly reopen the door to the world at large. But from what we know right now, that isn’t a goal.
Yesterday Wizards announced they’ll be reprinting the 1st Edition AD&D core books in new collectible (in the pre-Magic sense of the word, thanks) editions this April. We can only assume that the choice of reprinting this particular edition, rather than the white box or something else you can’t readily find in free boxes on the curb, was chosen for reasons of rights and convenience on Wizards’ part. It would certainly speak volumes about the supposed commitment to embracing all editions in D&D Next if some other reprints got the same treatment.
EDIT Mike is a jerk: it makes a certain amount of sense that this is a reprint of the last major edition of D&D that Gary Gygax was personally invested in, since the books are a benefit for the Gygax Memorial Fund. Okay then.
While there’s always some new Eurogame or RPG coming along, it seems less often that you hear about a new, interesting all-wood abstract strategy game… I’ll do my best to remedy that — I’m told that a new one is hitting the market tomorrow!
In Perigon from Clarendon Games, each player controls four pieces that live in grooves in the board and move by rotating around intersections of the grooves. There is also a neutral flag piece which can only be moved by connecting to it with your own pieces. The object of the game is to capture the flag and move it through your opponent’s side of the board and onto a goal line. Of course, like many simple but deep strategy games, it’s probably easier to play than to describe — you might get a better idea of how it works by watching this video.
So, you’ve probably noticed a distinct lack of… well, anything here for a bit. More of a bit than usual, that is. We’ve had multiple CaveDwellers going through major Real LifeTM events, both happy (congrats to Lee and Demian on their newborn babies!) and unhappy (working through divorce, myself). This last item has been the main issue impeding site progress. But rest assured, OgreCave has plans in the works, and you’ll be seeing more new reviews (Lee has managed a few lengthy reviews, for example, despite recently becoming a father), coverage of gaming events (PAX coverage will commence shortly – watch our Facebook page!), and our podcastery will resume. So to sum up: if you missed us, we’re sorry, and thanks, ‘cuz we’re not done; if you didn’t… well, we’ll show you why you should have.
Petroglyph, the makers of Guardians of Graxia, has announced a new expansion for the PC version of the game. It is called Elves & Dwarves, and it is available from major PC direct download services. The expansion features two new Guardians, Flist the deceitful Elf and Broxin the greedy Dwarf. They bring with them even more powerful units and abilities to engage on six additional skirmish maps, some of which have random tile generation for unique gameplay. The base Guardians of Graxia PC game has a downloadable demo. We have previously reviewed the board game version of Guardians of Graxia and interviewed Chuck Kroegel, the General Manager of Petroglyph, as part of our Gaming News Update podcast series. We have also reviewed the fantasy deck-building card game Heroes of Graxia. Whether you are a card gamer, a board gamer, or a PC gamer, there’s plenty of fantasy gaming coming out of Petroglyph these days.
First came the news in November of the discontinuation of the Heroscape line of products. Now, Wizards of the Coast has announced that apart from occasional collector’s sets, they will no longer be regularly producing pre-painted D&D miniatures. Previously sculpted miniatures will continue to see new life in other Wizards of the Coast products like the Wrath of Ashardalon board game. However, those uses of minis aren’t typically pre-painted.
Days of Wonder has announced that in February 2011, Alvin and Dexter will be attacking Ticket to Ride boards across the globe. Alvin is an angry alien in a space ship. Dexter is a giant reptilian monster. These two rampage across the board, cutting off players’ access to key destinations during the game, and reducing points for destination tickets to those cities at the end of the game. They are moved by players discarding locomotive cards in a never-ending battle to stick some other poor sucker with the giant monster and the alien menace. This expansion will work with all Ticket to Ride board games, and will have a suggested retail price of $13.00.
Nightfall is AEG’s newest deck-building gaming creation. It is due out in early 2011. Designed by David Gregg, Nightfall puts players in control of things that go bump in the night, creatures like werewolves, vampires, and ghouls. Each player is fighting for control of a world that has been plunged into perpetual darkness. Unlike many other deck-building games, Nightfall will feature direct player-vs.player action as well as card drafting and some mechanics new to the deck-building game genre. To herald the coming of Nightfall, AEG has announced a special promotion called “The First 100 Days”. Every day from January 1 through April 10 one name will be drawn to receive a full copy of the game in a special preview collector’s box. Be sure to check back regularly at the game’s website, www.nightfallthegame.com, for more information.
AEG is running a new contest for avid writers and fans of the Legend of the Five Rings RPG who want to be published authors. In the summer of 2011, AEG will release The Imperial Histories, a sourcebook for the L5R RPG 4th Edition. This sourcebook will present individual chapters covering ten separate eras in Rokugan’s history, with all the information a GM would need to run a campaign in that era and all the mechanics a player would need to play in it.
During the month of October, the L5R RPG 4th Edition Design Team will be accepting proposals for a fan-created era or setting to be depicted within The Imperial Histories. This chapter will include fiction, a timeline, prominent heroes, and mechanics, just like all the other chapters.
For complete details on the contest visit the L5R website. The fourth edition of the Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying Game was released in June of 2010.
Charles Roberts, the founder of the Avalon Hill gaming company, died on Aug. 20 at the age of 80 from complications of emphysema and pneumonia . Roberts was a Baltimore native, so the Baltimore Sun has a full story on his life and his passing.
Days of Wonder just announced Tales & Legends, the fourth expansion for their award-winning area control boardgame Small World. Tales & Legends will feature a deck of 54 large-format Event cards. In every round except the first, an event card will change the way that the game plays. This expansion was created by Laurent Verrier, Special Prize Winner of the 2009 Small World Design Contest. Small World was named Game of the Year by Games magazine in 2009 and had the highest first year sales of any Days of Wonder product since Ticket to Ride. Like the base game, Tales & Legends will be available in six languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Dutch, and Japanese. Tales & Legends is expected to hit hobby game stores in late June or early July with a suggested retail price of $15.00.