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Posts Tagged ‘kickstarter’

Gaming: The Next Generation

July 6, 2015 3 comments

First, let me say that unlike a lot of the blogs I post, this is not informative, but cathartic.  You’re not going to become a better gamer from reading this post.  It’s not a review of something cool coming out.  This is something I need to write down, and I want to see what other people have to say about it.

I’m going to be real here, for a minute.  Gaming as a kid was a source of fun, certainly, but also a source of great stress for me growing up.

I started gaming with some neighborhood friend’s when I was eight years old.  I was hooked when my assassin won the friendship of a pet cat that changed into a panther three times a day (from Palace of the Silver Princess). I was excited to climb into my parent’s car to tell them about it.  I was shocked when they frowned and said, “That game is satanic.”

It was 1985.  This was both the height of gaming’s popularity, but also the height of the  various Dungeons and Dragons Controversies which centered largely around the belief that it was intrinsically involved with devil-worship.  Jack Chick published “Dark Dungeons” (viewable here,) which captures what many people though at the time.  Most probably didn’t give it any thought at all, but just accepted it because their neighbor or minister said it was satanic, or they saw something on 60 Minutes about it.

Really, why or how that came to be perceived that way is irrelevant.  The fact was, my folks seemed to believe, even if halfheartedly, that it was true.  Strangely, they didn’t entirely keep me from pursuing it.  They just didn’t like it.  I struggled with that as a kid.  Being really into something, and knowing that my parents, who I loved very much, thoroughly disapproved of it left me with a bit of a pit in my stomach sometimes.  I’m almost certain they thought it was just another phase; a passing interest that would come and go just like other interests had in the past. They investigated it a little bit, and nothing obviously harmful seemed to come from it.  But even into college, they discouraged me.  To this day, I hesitate mentioning gaming to them, despite the 30 years that have passed since that first game.

I have children of my own now.  While I showed my daughter the game when she was younger, she didn’t embrace it, and I didn’t push her to.  My son, however, asked about it and pursued it, and recently asked to play “my game” and so,  a few weeks ago, I decided to let him give it a try.

Perhaps because of my history, I’ve felt strange about children playing games… Felt strange in a way that shocked me… gnawed at me.  I went to SCARAB a few years ago, and saw a group of children (ages 8-11) playing a ‘kids track’ series of games based on the Warriors by Erin Hunter.  I’m not sure if it was the time of the day (the kids would have been playing for probably 4-6 hours by then) or the windowless room they played in, or just my history, but I felt bad for them.  Sick almost.  It felt wrong to have kids inside rolling dice and imagining adventures rather than outside and acting them out, if not living them.  I recalled, however, that as a kid, I would have killed to have the chance to go to a gaming convention, and probably would have loved something that spoke to fiction that I loved and was familiar with. I went again to SCARAB earlier this year, saw a similar table with similar kids, and despite the obvious joy I saw on their faces, I felt uneasy.

With that as a backdrop, I began making a character with you 5 year-old son, using pictures from the book and summaries of character roles to allow him to make his choices.  We used 5th Edition D&D which is classic and streamlined enough not to overwhelm him with choices. He went with a rogue, based on a picture of strong but secretive agent of some sort in a tavern early in the book.  I ran through some feats, summarizing them and he picked one I wouldn’t have, but which turned out to actually be very good.  I pulled something out of my head and we started playing.

I put a single ally, a priest, in his party and described them as old friends that had grown up together in their small town, and had decided to go off to check the ruins of a castle nearby, chasing rumors of gold and jewels said to have been lost beneath the old keep.

We fought some goblins, which he was a little timid about, but when he saw he could gain the upper hand, attacked with gusto.  He tended to enjoy the idea of being unseen more than anything else, and greedily captured as much gold as he could before a mob of goblins chased him and his friend out of the dungeon.

First Game

I have a vast collection of Dwarven Forge, and so we were able to do this right.  The encounters were three dimensional and all details were present, including a swiveling secret door.  When we wrapped up, he begged me to continue, obviously having fun.

As a young boy who grew up into a man with reservations about D&D, especially as it related to his children, I felt mixed emotions as he pressed me to continue.  In many ways, when I first became a father, I hoped to create my own little gaming group and share with my children all the things I had done and still hope to do.  This moment was a realization of something I had contemplated for decades. It was an indescribable feeling (I can’t put it into writing… but numerous emotions, not all positive, tugged at me).

We played on.  I finally crafted a final confrontation with the evil wizard commanding the goblins, adding an NPC fighter to balance out the small party my son was guiding.  As the wizard stood to challenge the party and call forth zombies to march against them, my son surprised me.

“No.  Wait.”

“What do you want, thief?  Say, before I destroy you.”

“I’m here to join you.”

“Hubba-wha?! You want to join me?”

“Yeah”

“Well, then your first task is to slay your friends! HAHAHAHA!”

“Okay, I kill them.”

“…..Wut?”

“Yeah, I kill them.”

“Uh…. okay, you chase after them, and they curse you as they flee the dungeon.”

He laughs.

“And, uh… you become a menace to the surrounding countryside, raiding and pillaging with your goblin companions, building the power and influence of the wizard you now serve.”

“Cool!”

So… My son appears to either be a sociopath, or has the makings of a great game master some day.

He has pressed to play again, and we have revisited it but sometimes it becomes more about the setting and figures than about the game itself.  He remains young for the game. But I still feel that hesitation, and want to hear what other parents have felt or how they have acted in introducing their children to games.

Monte Cook has kickstarted No Thank You, Evil as a starter RPG for families, and maybe something like that would be better suited (though it sounds like my boy needs a game called, “More Evil, Please” from his last game). There are a variety of second and third generation gamers that are introducing the next generation to the hobby, and various products that support that goal.  Maybe I need to just get over it and let him play.

In the end, I think that exposure is good, but moderation is essential.  This will start as an occasional thing and we’ll see where it goes as he gets a little older.  The only thing I know is that I won’t be passing on to him condemnation of his interests, whether they be this or something else that I don’t fully understand, but instead will seek understanding myself and encourage him to be who he wants to be.

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Zine Scene: Special Box Edition

May 25, 2015 Comments off

In the last installment of Zine Scene, I mentioned my love for Stormlord Publishing’s Black Powder, Black Magic… and the authors have started a new Kickstarter near and dear to my heart: The Zine Vault. Described as “A better way to store, organize, and transport your growing zine collection, plus dice, pencils, and more.” File this under: Why Didn’t I Think Of That?! Currently at 65% of it’s goal, I have no doubt it will finish strong and with my growing collection of zines it is going to make life very easy. Right now my zines are scattered hither and yon on my gaming bookshelf, tucked in wherever there is room. It will be nice to have a separate stand-alone ‘vault’ to protect them.

There’s a number of stretch goals associated with different types of art to be put on the boxes you order, and as it says in the video you can ‘mix and match’ from whatever is unlocked and have a blank one, a fantasy one, a weird west one, and a sci-fi one… or more! Two of each! Three blanks and three western! A great feature. I’m in for 8, figuring with the way the zine scene is growing there will be a need down the road for more.

As if that weren’t enough, all pledges will include a PDF of a new short adventure “The Vault of Pasha Kalthraga” and the higher tiers get both the PDF and a printed version thereof. Perfect for you to start your zine collection if you haven’t already got some. Check out Carl Bussler and Eric Hoffman on their Kickstarter video and store your zines safely!

All. The. Zines!

All. The. Zines!

 

Kickstarter and Convention Round Up

November 18, 2013 Comments off

lne1While not strictly gaming related, one of our Skyland Games guys has created his very first Kickstarter: the comic book adventures of Lark & Eagle. The story is about two down on their luck heroes given a second chance to earn redemption after a disastrous mission by a new reality television show called “Hero Overhaul”. The comic is written by Steve Johnson and will be illustrated by Toro Diego and lettered by Tom Orzechowski.

Another friend of mine, Lee Bretschneider has his own Kickstarter currently funding: Role Play, a series of dice portrait tee shirts. Lee is an awesome illustrator and was the creator of one of my favorite tee shirts: Go Gnolls! Being a former Seminole and avid D&D player (plus an afficiando of all things gnollish), it speaks to me. I’ve worn the other one down to where it’s beginning to fade, so it may be time to hit Redbubble and pick out a new one.

dieshirtsLast weekend, I attended MACE in Charlotte, North Carolina. MACE has been held for the last couple years just a few hours away from home, but I’d never attended although the other Skylanders had. Steve and I both attended and I had a blast. All the Pathfinder I could care to play and/or run, plus boardgames, Mecha- Warhamm- Warma- Hordes… or whatever it’s called, and even some LARP, MACE has something for everyone. At least in the Pathfinder Society tables, I found it to be a total “couples con”. Every single game I ran or played had either one or two couples at the table. I’m not saying it’s unheard of, as we have a married couple in our local home game, and we have a few that attend our Pathfinder Society Lodge days at The Wyvern’s Tale, but couples playing (at least that many and that consistently) was a new experience for me. It’s always good when your significant others are involved in your hobbies, and a convention is a good place for a weekend getaway too.

In January, several of us are attending SCARAB in South Carolina. I went last year and had a great time, and this year they are moving the convention to a bigger and better space. I’m still wiped out by my weekend game-fest, but looking forward to this one coming up… and with luck I’ll be wearing my new d12 tee shirt and reading the first issue of Lark & Eagle while I’m there.

Miniature Mayhem

February 4, 2013 Comments off

Next month, thousands of people around the world will be shipped their super deluxe Reaper Miniature kits from their massively successful Kickstarter of the “BONES” line of unpainted plastic miniatures. It was a phenomenal success for such a project, generating over $3.4 million for the company located in Denton, Texas.

I had the pleasure of attending the very first ReaperCon in 2004, where I got to tour the factory, meet the employees and take some classes with some masters of the craft including Marike Reimer, Jen Haley and Anne Foerster. A highlight of that weekend was getting some help with sculpting from Sandra Garrity and Julie Guthrie. ReaperCon has continued for the last several years. It’s being held April 18 – 21 this year and I’m sure it’s going to be a great time.

If you are a beginning painter, I suggest you read “The Craft” section of the Reaper Miniatures website in detail. Of particular interest is this article on setting up your workspace and a “shopping list” of things you will need before tackling the painting of your Bones. There’s also a ton of great sites that can give you some insight on how it’s done… but the best route for you to take is to just sit and paint. Don’t worry that your first miniatures might not be expert level, it takes a lot of practice to get everything just right and you have to train yourself when you do a new hobby.

In case you haven’t seen it, Reaper posted this “unboxing” video of their “Vampire Level” prototype last month. I keep watching it, hoping that soon my very own box will be winging it’s way to me! March can’t get here fast enough!

So Many Great Systems – So Little Time – Pt. 4

December 9, 2011 Comments off

In what will be our last entry in this series for awhile, we will spend some time with 3rd Eye Games’ Part Time Gods. This game started as a kickstarter. At the time, I had just finished reading Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, and so the concept of everyday people discovering they had a divine spark and dominion over a certain aspect of the world really caught my interest.

The game is based on the Dynamic Gaming System lite, which only requires 1d20 to play. Essentially it boils down to 1d20 + modifier to resolve anything. For people familiar with D&D 4e, that sounds like an endless skill challenge, but it looks like it ends up having a lot more possibilities and creativity than that.

The book includes a lot of rich background history about the game world, as well as a detailed character creation chapter that encourages players to think about their character concept, and not just the numbers on the page. Unlike a lot of RPGs that focus on the protagonists being heroic, this one encourages players to think about their character’s everyday life and background to give them dimension and some possible adventure hooks. Like Spider-man having to protect his identity so his enemies don’t hurt Aunt May and Mary Jane, part-time god characters need to consider balancing their mortal lives with their divine powers.

One of these days we’ll get around to playing it. Its available in both PDF and Print versions from the Third Eye Games store. They’ve got some other interesting titles including a Ninja RPG called Wu-Xing, and Apocalypse Provention Inc., which sounds a bit like Men in Black.

Check out the other parts of our series on awesome games we haven’t found time to play yet:

Part One – DCCRPG

Part Two – Leverage RPG

Part Three – Technoir

Coming soon: A Christmas Carol D&D 4e Adventure!

So Many Great Systems – So Little Time – pt. 3

December 8, 2011 1 comment

Technoir was one of the most successful RPG Kickstarters to date.  Author Jeremy Keller put together a really slick pitch video, and backed it up with a really cool futuristic game with such an adaptable system, it can be used for a lot of variations that he brilliantly used as stretch goals. Though from what I can tell, Mechnoir, Hexnoir and Morenoir are still in development at this time.

Similar to the Cortex System instead of rolling or assigning numbers to your protagonists characteristics, you allocate dice. Rather than different denominations of dice, Technoir only uses regular six-siders. The character generation system is pretty interesting in that you pick “programs” to describe your character’s background such as bodyguard, soldier, doctor, engineer, or investigator and depending on which programs you choose determines which “verbs” or statistics you increase. You also choose adjectives to describe your character (some are suggested, but you can make up your own) and attribute those adjectives to your programs.

In an interesting twist, the characters need to choose connections or contacts for a given transmission (adventure module). This means your character will have some sort of relationship with some of the NPCs in the adventure before the first die is rolled. Players are also encouraged to develop connections between characters in the party. The gear available to characters is decidedly futuristic, including cybernetics and drones.

The game evolves as players are given a mission, and press their contacts for information or other favors. The action resolution system involves rolling a pool of d6’s depending on which verb is being tested, and how skilled the opposition is. Like many film noir movies, the line between classically “good” and “bad” guys is blurred at best. It has a lot of potential to tell some really interesting stories.

Get a taste of the action in the Technoir download section with the player’s guide.

‪Kickstarter Debate – Exclusive Game Content‬

December 5, 2011 2 comments

Kickstarter has revolutionized the design, technology, music, film, and gaming industries. Pairing entrepreneurs ‬with customers willing to pledge micto-loans (crowdfunding) has launched some excellent games and started some brand new gaming companies.

Many successful kickstarters use multiple tiers of rewards to encourage potential customers to pledge more to get cooler stuff. In the gaming kickstarters, there is typically a low amount for a PDF of the game, a little more for a physical copy sent to your house, then upper tiers which have included putting the faces or names of big contributors in the game, special editions of the game with higher quality materials, or the controversial option: Exclusive Kickstarter Content.

There are essentially two arguments to this debate. To me, its a flip of a coin. Heads: Fledgling companies should offer Exclusive Game Content to entice larger contributions and reward people who are early supporters with something unique as a token of appreciation. Tails: Potential customers who missed out on the exclusive kickstarter content feel like they aren’t getting the complete game, and will therefore not purchase the regular game from that company.

So the question is this: By offering exclusive game content during a kickstarter, are you sacrificing future sales to get a quick infusion of cash early; and if so, is the trade off worth it?

I personally feel that as long as the game still plays like a complete game without the exclusive content, publishers should reward early backers of their games with bonuses that make them feel like their contribution is special. It creates a certain amount of “buzz” and collect-ability to the kickstarter version of the game.

Would missing out on exclusive game content preclude you from purchasing a game?