Kickstarting

I think the idea of Kickstarter is pretty solid. I’ve backed a few things that I definitely would have passed up if I saw them in the store, just so I could be a part of the process, and help see something happen that may not have otherwise. I want to talk briefly about two huge Kickstarters that seem to be suffering similar problems.

If you made it to my small little corner of the interwebs, I’m sure you are at least remotely familiar with the Ouya. These folks are trying to take back the TV with a console that has the specs of a phone (that’s a scary thought). But having a controller and hdmi out. $100 was the base price to actually get a controller, and they were so successful that they were able to fuel a huge upcoming launch. Now I haven’t received my Ouya yet, which is understandable since I had been debating back and forth whether I actually thought it was a good thing to back. So I backed it pretty late after I decided it would be nice to have a second console in my “Den” next to my Genesis. The 360 that I have from my Microsoft days lives proudly in the living room with it’s Massive faceplate.

There is a fair amount of frustration being posted by users on the Ouya kickstarter comments. I think some of the frustration is legitimate, the poor communication including a line graph that is very informative, and a reddit AMA that dodged all questions that would yield any useful information, and an upcoming retail launch that backers were promised to receive their Ouya’s before official launch. I know just recently they pushed the launch date back most of June, but here we were sitting in the first week of May, very very early backers hearing no word, and people started to get nervous. I would hope that a little bit of communication could have eased a lot of this, but a lot of marketing hoo-rah also caused these same issues. Now I’m not one of these folks that are disappointed in backing Ouya or needing to get a refund or anything like that. But a more precise method of how shipments were going out (priority queue) along with more raw numbers about how many have gone out, would be more than enough to make a lot of the dissenters feel more comfortable.

I also backed Reaper’s Bones kickstarter. Now I don’t consider Miniatures to be inside my realm of expertise for my gaming knowledge. Board games, video games, Magic: the Gathering (even though I no longer collect cards) all fit comfortably in. I’ve been playing RPGs since I was in 7th grade, even though I don’t have a regular game right now. But miniatures? No, they seem cool enough, but they are way expensive. But I couldn’t resist when I found out about the Bones kickstarter. Not only was there a huuuge amount of value (as opposed to Ouya, where you’ll pretty much be able to get the exact same stuff for the exact same price), but their goals were fantastic. Every odd numbered goal, something was added to the base Vampire package (also $100 for those counting at home). Every even numbed gave you extra add-ons to choose from. Some of the add-ons were ridiculous too. Take Kaladrax here. This was one of the last add-ons available for the Kickstarter. The price for me as a backer was $10. The retail price is $75. If I realized what a bargain all of the add-ons were, I could have easily spent another $100. So before even being tempted by add-ons I was receiving 241 models for $100. What a steal!

Now, onto the communication issues. I thought Reaper did a pretty good job explaining how things were going to work. They said that they were building all the molds, getting all the stuff produced overseas, and then had to package them up in their HQ in Texas before sending them out. They were planning on doing the simplest orders first (so they could get in a good groove of how shipping  works). They said their estimates would be when they would start shipping, and hit those dead on. They warned us about RepearCon (which was already in the works before the Kickstarter) which meant nothing would happen that week and in general made me feel pretty confident I was gonna get my stuff in a reasonable amount of time. I wasn’t expecting shipping miracles, but I was (and am since they haven’t come yet) pretty damned excited about having all of these bones, and painting a few of them for different things. But as soon as shipping started, all of the updates stopped. Early on I think one of the guys was in the comments trying to reexplain what they had mapped out, but no official updates came through. No Friday evening post saying “hey guys, things are going great, we’re still working our way through plain Vampire levels” or “I know you ordered a lot of stuff, but if you included the 4 pound Kaladrax, that pushes your order backwards in the priority queue”. Thankfully they did post very recently saying that they’ve made it through their whole first round of boxes, and are waiting the second round. I hope mine come soon, the stretch goals and the pure awesomeness of this has been an experience I hope can be replicated by other Kickstarters I back in the future.

Greenland: How do I win?

If you missed last week’s segment, feel free to check out the backstory first.

As much as I love playing board games, describing the theme sometimes just confuses first time players. While I’m trying to create a nice atmosphere for the game, certain games definitely skim over the strong thematic need for a backstory. Like Dominion. That game is a ton of fun to play, but what’s the theme? You are some type of royalty and you are trying to collect more land than your rival royalty? What? Something like that. I don’t even go into the theme when I describe the game. I hope that people will describe the theme to new players, because I think it’s part of the fun (and will hope for a small bit of roleplaying for those interested).

Anyway, for those not interested in a theme the first thing they might care about is “How do I win the game?” which is pretty important to know. In a lot of the (euro-style) games, the answer is “Get more victory points than the other players” and then expands out to something like “Create the most diverse Farm” (Agricola) or maybe “Control the most territory and take the most advantage of your Race abilities” (Small World).

Since GGLF is an asymmetrical game, victory points don’t really accumulate in the same way that they do in other games. Instead Greenland as the aggressor will accumulate Water Flow Points for each ton* of water that reaches two designated points on the log flume. Denmark starts with a set number amount of Flood Level Points and accumulate a much smaller amount during the course of play. Greenland must accumulate at least this amount to win.

* Volume of water hasn’t been determined yet.

The following is exactly how I have this written in the current written up rules:

Goal: As Greenland, your goal is to build a giant log flume able to collect the melting glacial caps and carry the water over 4000 kilometers (2400 miles) to Copenhagen.

As Denmark, your goal is to prevent your annihilation by disrupting the log flume. Also, you promised all the other Scandinavian countries you wouldn’t blow up anything near their countries so you can’t just drop a bomb on the flume. That and any such Actions would probably obliterate the Faroe Islands where King Christian-Frederick I has a summer home.

Greenland Storyboard

To me one of the most important games is the flavor. While strong mechanics and game play that sucks you in are important, there are very few games that I play and enjoy that miss the “flavor element”. So when developing the idea for Greenland, the first thing I came up with was the story behind the game. I’m not sure when I became interested in Greenland’s controlling country, but I bet it had to do with Wikipedia. Anyway, I had been tossing around the idea to do a subtheme about Global Warming Flooding the Earth in the other game I had been brainstorming (Global Skirmish) when it struck me that the subtheme was much too large to be contained wholly in GSkirm. This doesn’t mean it won’t appear eventually in GSkirm if it ever makes it into a fully developed scope, but since I’m fleshing out the idea fully now, I can ease up on the subtheme later.

So Greenland was chosen because there aren’t very many huge land masses that are in the same predicament that Greenland is in. Plus since it has Glacier access, it makes for the perfect launching point for the Global Warming theme. One day I was brainstorming up names and came up with a Log Flume and pitched it to one of my buddies. He immediately took out his wallet and asked me how much. So Greenland took form and while some of the baselines of the story have grown as the game has been fleshed out, the central theme is right in your face. Greenland is trying to gain their freedom by unapologetically dumping their glacial reserves onto Denmark, and Denmark is tasked with preventing this in a non-disastrous method so Europe doesn’t get pissed.

Story

The land of Greenland may be the least densely populated country in the world. But it’s only a country in name. Greenland is really controlled by the totalitarian monarch of the Danish! On June 21, 2019 the 10th anniversary of the day they were upgraded from home rule to “sub-country of the Kingdom of Denmark”, the native Greenlanders decided it was time they became free. The ice caps were still melting from the Global Climate Change, but they thought of a wonderful idea. Instead of ruining their lands with overflowing Arctic waters, they would funnel it down a Giant Log Flume, targeting Denmark with the worst water ride of its life!

Public Transit

For those of you who know me, you know I take public transit to work every day. Now I recently moved (maybe more on that later) but by moving I’ve changed my daily routine of walking 5 minutes to the train station to experimenting for Public Transit in my new place.

For those of you who don’t know me, I live in New Jersey (about 13 miles outside of Manhattan) and work in “the city”, technically Downtown Brooklyn, which many wouldn’t consider the city at all. Although the big boss keeps suggesting we might be moving into Manhattan at some point next year.

Anyway, so NJ Transit trains are fairly reliable, however I was one of the “lucky” who was stuck on the train under the tunnel for 3 hours. http://gothamist.com/2011/09/22/power_outage_leaves_four_trains_stu.php

Since I also have AT&T, I was able to keep myself entertained with my Nook and my Nintendo DS since I didn’t have the luxury of having the internet or phone service like the Verizon customers on my train… Anyway, in general the trains are very consistent, sometimes being clogged, but hardly taking more than 40 minutes (as opposed to the 30 they are estimated to take) to make a one way trip.

My new location is much further from the train I was taking (I could either walk about a mile to the closest stop, or my town also has a shuttle that I can take down to the train station I was previously taking, and do that. I haven’t quite done that in the mornings yet, as I’m barely awake enough to eat cereal and read some morning emails. But I have taken it home a few times (albeit to my old apartment, which still has a few things left behind). But it’s given me an interesting perspective on things.

1. Taking the DeCamp bus into the city isn’t really all that bad. I haven’t quite figured out the schedule yet, and there seems to be less consistency of when they actually arive. But my walk to the bus stop is much less than my old walk, since it picks up right at the end of my block.
2. Taking the DeCamp bus out of the city has the privilege of sitting on Route 3 the parking lot if any accidents or similar causation occur.
3. Although, I have been leaving work at a similar time and getting home at a similar time as long as the bus doesn’t have to stop because of traffic based on an accident.
4. I have the ability to take the bus up to my favorite bar http://www.cloverleaftavern.com which I guess I could have done before, but now it’s part of the flow of my evening commute instead of being a hassle and full planning ahead type of thing.
5. DeCamp “monthly” passes aren’t month long ones, like the NJTransit passes. When I buy 40 tickets at a discount, I’m literally getting 40 one way passes from it. When I buy a monthly NJ Transit ticket, I can ride NJ Transit all I want for that month, but that’s it. If I take a vacation for a week, then it’s not worth getting the pass for NJ Transit. For DeCamp, if I take a vacation for a week, then I just finish using up those tickets one week later then I normally would have.

Greenland Ideas

While it would be cool to try to add Greenland as a Kickstarter Project. I think I want to get the actual gameplay fleshed out to Full Prototype status before I try to do anything like that. I do have a plan for this blog starting in the beginning of the year.

A lot of the Rules Sheet are typed up and for these parts, I’m happy with how they structure the game.

The rule book will be on display, one section at a time. We’ll see how often I’ll post, I’m thinking it’ll be best to be every 2 weeks or so. While the portion of the Rule Book on display will be the main portion of each blog post, I’ll try to go into detail for some parts why I made particular decisions. Or maybe discuss other related information regarding Greenland. I’m hoping with the timing setup with posting the Rules, I’ll more commonly be doing something with the game. More easily be able to add 10 minutes worth of content.

If you’d like to see something relating this, feel free to let me know.

Server Move Done

Well, I still am going to be doing some cleaning up around the site. But the server has seemed to completed it’s move relatively painlessly. If you actually had a user account, it looks like the export/import didn’t save those. Sorry about that, although to be honest it was mostly spam accounts that had user accounts here.

I’ll have to remember what else I had settings-wise and get it all up to speed.

Moving Servers

In the next few weeks I’ll be moving Hosting Servers. Hopefully if I do things properly there will be minimal downtime, but I want to get the new account setup and all my files transferred before changing my domain. Feel free to send me an email if things don’t look like they should.

Back to our Regularly Scheduled Programming

Time to redouble my efforts. I have my prototype board for Greenland out on my table in the living room. I have all the pieces setup how I’d expect to see them. I’m looking for a program to print out the sample cards I’ve generated. Not every card has been designed yet, but a fair amount have been. And each have a resource attached to them. I was using Inkscape with the boardgame extensions, but it doesn’t want to print on the page very well. Hopefully I can either figure it out, or find another utility to do it for me.

I still need to work out the details to the “Opposing faction” part of the game. But I need to look through my notes to determine how far I’ve gotten with it. I wonder if splitting the play styles in two will hurt the game. On one hand it should make solitaire play easier. (Creation of a “robot” that a Greenland player can aim against.)

Re-employed

Well I’ll soon be re-employed as a Software Developer and hopefully that means I’ll be able to be more motivated to ASoOJ. Things have been slow around these parts as I looked for a new job, and the Amateur Game Designer had to take a back seat the Professional in me. Gotta put some food on the table?

I have been working on some side projects, just ones that were more focused on programming. I figured that would be a good way to keep my skills as sharp as possible, and give me something to talk about on interviews.

So Thursday is going to be a Homebrew day where the plan is to brew a pretty classic Irish Red. I’m hoping it comes out as delicious as the Pumpkin beer that we brewed in October.

I’m going to bust out the plans for Greenland so I can brainstorm up some ideas. I’m pretty happy with the Greenland side of things, of course, playtesting should help even any of that out. I have some interesting ideas for how the Denmark side should play, but need to get it fleshed out, and working with the economy structure. I do want to try to balance my projects more carefully than previously, and it would be fun to be able to get others to playtest my own board game. But I have to take it one step at a time.

Soon I will be out of the tunnel, and focusing my energy on work-life-play might be trickier than it was previously.

We’ll see how it goes.
-tdch

Roll-Playing and Contests

So I had planned to write a bit about the session that I’m GMing right now. But that’ll probably have to wait until later. For now, let’s talk about Contests. For whatever reason I’m a sucker for Contests. I have always had a lucky streak. And contests for cool systems that I’ve been wanting to try out for a while are a great way to dive in.

So when I heard about troll in the corner’s giveaway I spread the word to my buddies in my gaming group and started rolling away on my lucky dice until I rolled out all of the 1s (not really, but I could have!).

So if you haven’t heard of Pathfinder yet, it’s sorta like D&D 3.75. And the contestis a great way to explore some new worlds. There seems to be a ton of modules out for Pathfinder already and Paizo doesn’t have the same stigma to me as Hasbro/WotC does.

I wonder if I’ll be able to convert my 3.5 campaign into Pathfinder. Actually, it’s probably better to keep it as 3.5 since one of the guys haven’t role played before. But if Pathfinder holds up to backwards compatible, then someone of the stuff may be forwards compatible. And it would be neat to integrate some of the things I’ve been reading about.