What I'm Backing on Kickstarter:

What I'm Backing on Kickstarter:
After Winter Dark Campaign Setting

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Speaking of Time...

I might end up with an abundance of it. I've heard unfortunate rumors of a possible layoff -- mine. If I'm lucky, I'll be spared the axe. If not, then the good news is more blogging and more work on material and projects connected with Arcana Creations and BHP. As for the bad... well... I'm sure we all know what that could possibly entail.

On a completely different note, today is my spouse's birthday. Instead of dwelling on the bad, I'm trying to focus on the positive and tonight we are celebrating.

She is so wonderfully supportive and, despite the challenges we both have had to endure in the past few years, she has managed to keep focused and 'stay the course' so-to-speak. May the time between this birthday and the next see your wishes fulfilled.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Limits of Time

When I was younger, I took for granted the sheer amount of free time I had. With a lot of this time (especially during my high school years), a lot of this time was devoted to gaming. As I got older, an increasing amount of responsibility and commitments meant less 'game time'. A few years ago, it meant next to no time spent on these sorts of pastimes.

As an adult who works a 40 hour workweek and who may have commitments which may include childcare or other necessary duties, it's easy to lose these little luxuries as other things become priorities. Add to that other friends who shared some of these hobbies who also have similar responsibilities or commitments and you may end up in a situation where games and game books collect dust on the shelves.

A few years ago, I managed to re-enter a hobby that I hadn't been a part of for a few years. Being a player is easy enough and the only requirement is devoting a bit of time on a regular basis. This could be once a week or even once every second week. However, the key here is to MAKE the time in order to get this to work. Sure, it won't always work and sometimes life will invariably demand your attention elsewhere. Gaming is a diversion but it shouldn't be used as a replacement. It's not hard to make a commitment and it shouldn't be too difficult to keep it.

If you think you are too busy to game, the first thing to do is to take a good look at your average week. See if there is a spot where you don't seem to do much or don't have something planned. If you do, how much time do you have to spare? Depending on what you do or play, you'll probably need 3 hours or so at a minimum. If you have more time available, then that's even better. However, it's better to game a solid 3 hours a week than none at all. If you can make that commitment on a regular basis, then you could be on your way to gaming regularly.

Aside from that, as a player, you don't necessarily have to worry about much else but participating. If something happens and you can't make a particular session, let your GM know as soon as you can. See what sort of requirements they need for an ongoing campaign? Do they have someone else play the character while you are absent or is the character taken out for play for that session.

If you can't do face to face, consider trying a game over the internet using Skype and other computer gaming aids. You can save a lot of time and get in and out of a game pretty quick if all you need to do is log into your computer. It is also a great way for friends to play over great distances and, even if everyone is local, is a way to avoid travel time.

Now, what if you are short on time but you want to actually run something yourself? This can be done as long as you keep a few things in mind. First keep it simple... play a game that is rules-light and don't get wrapped up in trying to design an enticing locales and NPC's before the fact. Consider published material for your adventures or take something you like and tweak it to suit your needs more. Do not create more work for yourself than what is needed.

When I stumbled upon C&C, this is the approach I took. I didn't worry about trying to create my own fantasy world or even overly develop my own adventures. I grabbed a handful of adventures which we played through and basically considered them as 'episodes'. Key things or questions which become a focus for the players and their characters in one adventure might create a hook or different angle for the new one. This will add to a more uniform feel to a series of adventures that were not originally linked as long as you allow it to develop naturally. Players have wonderful imaginations and all they need is a bit of inspiration for it to take off. In this way, the players help color the adventures you are putting them through and there is nothing wrong with taking advantage of that. Sometimes a great twist will be result of an action that a character makes or an idea that the player is trying to follow through on. Use it and enjoy gaming in the moment and it may go a long way to help reduce time to prepare for a gaming session.

Another idea is rotating the GM responsibilities if the group is generally limited when it comes to time. This doesn't work for everyone but some groups have had some success at sharing some of these responsibilities.

Of course, as I mentioned before, there are times when schedules conflict and nothing can be done to get out of certain plans. For me, April is proving to be a busy month. I'm currently involved in a BASH game that plays every two weeks and I was looking forward to playing a game of Victorious (currently in development) over Skype this Thursday. Circumstances have forced me to advise fellow players that I won't be participating in either game. That said, I have one C&C session I am running later this month but I will still try and get some general gaming here and there with a couple of friends between now and May.

It's important to make to make a bit of time and put in a bit of effort for the things you enjoy when you are able to. Seize the opportunity when you can and may your dice keep on rolling.


Monday, April 5, 2010

TLG's New Marketing Plans

It's been a couple of days since Steve over at TLG made a public announcement with regards to what will be happening soon with the company and one thing discussed was pricing. The post he made on the forums can be viewed HERE.

There was quite a bit of news for some fans to be excited about and while some may have mixed feeling whether or not the news about the CKG can be believed, others may have noticed the notion of the $5 module. This isn't the first time that a shorter or less expensive module was released into retail distribution. In fact, I believe the release of "Lure of Delusion" and "Dwarven Glory" modules was in effort to 'test' retailer perception and acceptance. You see, at a the price of $5, a retail store doesn't make much money on the sale at all. The reasoning is that a lower price point might generate a bump in sales and any 'loss per unit' might be made up by a greater number of units sold. It could also possibly increases the sales of material sold at the time of the purchase of the core books. These core books are also probably under priced when looking at other similar gaming products on the market.

There are a few issues with the strategy though. First off, by offering these books at a cheaper price, you may end up devaluing the line. Some customers who sees the average price of gaming books may view this as a bargain version of something 'better'. Cheaper doesn't always mean an increase in sales. However, assuming that sales are maintained and none are lost, what you end up with a much narrow profit margin. This means less money to develop larger projects which may not be a negative thing if they are altering their business model along with their marketing plans. It does mean that the company is restricting its own growth potential and could essentially starve itself out of business if the small releases are not regular enough.

One issue that I immediately found with this plan is how it effectively can screw with the possibility of third-party support for the game. Admittedly, there isn't much third party support currently but by selling certain products at cut-rate prices, a third-party company may be less inclined to even consider providing support for the game. If a third-party company can't afford to price an a product to be close to other items in the same line by TLG, the sales could suffer causing the product to be a loss.

All that said, some of the motivations behind this decision might be because of the new 'Old School' type of games hitting the market in retail distribution. Castles & Crusades had an advantage of being one of the only commercial options that was widely available. However, with WOTC re-considering its own strategy, Goodman Games doing its own thing, and interest generated by Dragon Age and the new Hackmaster, it may be trying to 'dig in' a bit better. This is probably the reason why the CKG is being pushed out as soon as it can.

If this book is released as suggested along with the other "Monsters of Aihrde" book, it could really help TLG out of a bad position if combined with the slashed pricing.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Last Minute Gaming...

My plans yesterday evening were simple enough. Do a bit of work on the computer, watch an episode or two of Lost (I'm watching the series for the first time and I'm partway through Season 4 right now), and post my thoughts on Harvester on my blog (as I had committed to doing).

Just prior to the end of my workday at my 9-5, a friend asked if I would be willing to do some gaming. He was inviting a couple of other people over and providing the pizza. I decided to go for it. I should point out that 'gaming' in this case didn't involve any RPG but a variety of card and board games. This is cool for me... it's a great way to relax and chat while managing to have a bit of fun. I also like trying new games when the opportunity arises.

I was the last one to arrive and my friends were already in a game of the "Adventurer Card Game" (using both expansions). A great game to play to kill time, it is also easy to grab a hero and just join in. The main game we played that evening was "Small World". The game is one that is currently published through "Days of Wonder" who also produce "Shadows Over Camelot" and "Ticket to Ride". I had seen the game before but wasn't too interested from what I saw of it. I'm glad that I gave it a shot though as the game is simple to learn and play but hold enough of an interest for people who are frequent gamers. I came very close to winning and it is a game which I believe can get 'GF Approval'. By this I mean that my loving partner will likely enjoy the game and be willing to play it when the situation arises. After that game, we killed a bit more time by trying a very simple game called "Castle Panic". This is also an amusing game which involves a combination of luck and minor strategy. It is also a co-operative game where the goal is to beat off a hoard of invading monsters (notably Goblins, Orcs, and Trolls). A very fast paced game and one that can be enjoyed by younger gamers.

As the evening came to a close, one of the people there pulled out "Three-Dragon Ante". Now I have the card game and bought it about a year ago in the 'as-is' section in a local bookstore of a large chain for about $5. I considered myself fortunate since the contents were still in shrink despite the box was pretty much destroyed. That said, I had never tried to play the game or even sit down to read the rules of play. It was the last game of the night and it was already very late but I decided to give it a shot.

I was surprised at how fun this game turned out being. It's almost a shame that this game has the D&D name/logo associated with it since it is a stand-alone game and the only concept it really borrows from D&D are the color associations of the dragons. Pretty much this boils down to metallic dragons being good and the color dragons being evil. The game can best be described as a combination of elements of a few 'classic/traditional' card games (like Poker) with a couple of twists. Nothing overly complicated and it proved to be a great way to finish off the evening.

So... I didn't get to write about Harvesters... I got home really late and I'm on about 5 hours of sleep right now after a week that has already been quite tiring. I had fun though and it was well worth it.