Thursday, September 11, 2014

Arguing With Myself

Sir Lancelot: [Sir Galahad the Chaste is being seduced by an entire castle full of young women] We were in the nick of time. You were in great peril.
Sir Galahad: I don't think I was.
Sir Lancelot: Yes, you were. You were in terrible peril.
Sir Galahad: Look, let me go back in there and face the peril.
Sir Lancelot: No, it's too perilous.
Sir Galahad: Look, it's my duty as a knight to sample as much peril as I can.
Sir Lancelot: No, we've got to find the Holy Grail. Come on.
Sir Galahad: Oh, let me have just a little bit of peril?
Sir Lancelot: No. It's unhealthy.
Sir Galahad: I bet you're gay.
Sir Lancelot: Am not.
--From Monty Python and the Holy Grail*



I don't smoke.

I used to occasionally light up a cigar (on the average of once or twice a year), but I gave that up years ago.

The tipping point for me was noticing a change in how I really REALLY wanted to smoke another one within a day of the last one. If you ever smoked a cigar, that last half of the cigar has that harsh blech taste that typically acts as a damper on lighting up another one, and when I caught myself holding a pen like it was a stogie, puffing away, I realized I was very close to a tipping point.

It's been over a decade since I experienced that sort of craving. Sure, there's that feeling of euphoria when you walk into the dealer hall at GenCon and see all of the game vendors waiting to take your money, but that wears off fairly quickly when you immerse yourself in the crowd.**

This past month, however, I've been dealing with WoW withdrawal, which until I actually unsubbed I would have laughed off.

I've been at work, sitting through meetings, when I've had the urge to go run Alterac Valley. And when I mean urge, it's not a "oh yeah, it'd be cool to do XXX," but more like "I NEED TO DO THIS NAOW!!!!"

I've been cooking and cleaning around the house when I really really wanted to stop and go sneak into Eversong Forest on my NE Rogue and watch the new toons out and about.

I've been tired and ready for bed and I've thought "Hey, what about changing my rotation a bit," and gone halfway down the stairs before I realized what I was thinking.

I've found my fingers twitching, mimicking my rotation, at odd moments of the day.

I've had a conversation with myself, eerily mimicking the Monty Python moment above:

"You know, it's not a big deal. You can resub."
"No, I've got good reasons for not doing it. I like having less drama in my life."
"Yeah, but I do miss playing Alterac Valley."
"There are other MMOs that have PvP, so cut it out."

"But it took you how long to get good at WoW's BGs? You'd have to start over with more drama. Why not stick with what you know?"
"Did you not get the 'less drama' part? I was sniping at the kids that past few months before I quit."
"That's on you, not the game. Come on, man up and resub."
"No, and that's final."

***

If you'd have told me that I'd have experienced this when I unsubbed, I'd have thought you were crazy. I take WoW breaks of a week or three all the time, so I figured this would be easy once I actually pulled the trigger. But the thing is, that's a false analogy; even if I took a break from the game, the game was still there, ready for me to play. Now, having actually cut the cord, I don't have that security blanket.

I'm hopeful that this, like the cigar thing, will fade with time. There's plenty of other games out there, and I'm sure that I'll find them interesting once I, you know, actually start playing them.





*Courtesy of IMDB.com. I have it in a book somewhere in the basement, but I didn't want to spend over 1/2 hour looking for it.

**And you also look at the prices and realize there's no way you can afford to buy ALL THE GAMES.


EtA: Added reference to IMDB.com.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Toon Naming Rule #1...

...DON'T name your toon right before dinner.

In the span of 15 minutes this evening, I saw toons named "chuckroast" and "marsh'mallow" on Tython.

So, if you're wondering what to name that new Jedi Knight or Bounty Hunter, don't take a whiff of the smell from the kitchen and decide that the name "beef'stew" is appropriate.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Game Developers Strike Back

Just in case you missed the latest brouhaha in the gaming world, Anita Sarkeesian released a new entry in her Tropes v Women series, which was accompanied by what is becoming the all too familiar scene of bile thrown in her direction. Including the rape and death threats that some trolls seem to think are warranted.

This was the video that was the straw 
that broke the camel's back.



Well, between that and the Zoe Quinn incident, some game developers have had enough of this behavior.

Independent game developer Andreas Zecher has posted an open letter calling for this sort of disgusting behavior to stop, and quite a few development houses --including Bioware, Ubisoft, and XBox-- have signed on.

You can find the open letter here.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Thursday Quick Hit: Girls on Games

Deftig's wife passed this Kickstarter along to me, and I figured I'd share it.  I recognized quite a few of the games that were shown in the Kickstarter, and I'd be interested in hearing their stories.







EtA: Changed the title to make it actually reference the Kickstarter, like I'd originally intended, before I pressed the Publish button by mistake.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Gen Con 2014: And Lo, there were Gamers as far as the eye could see...

On a day with leaden skies and the omnipresent threat of rain, we piled into the van* and drove up to Indianapolis for Gen Con 2014.

Having made the trek for several years now, I made sure we were prepped the night before.  Yeah, even though it was a day trip, I know the routine fairly well: someone will want a certain shirt to wear, and someone else will be trying to find their misplaced list of vendor spaces to check out.

And I will want a good night's sleep, so that I don't konk out on the way back home. Which isn't a good thing if you're the driver.

We met up with my brother-in-law**, got our badges, and headed inside to the big hall.

***

Unlike prior years, there wasn't anything in particular that I wanted to see. Unfortunately, I didn't take very many pics either, although there were a lot of cosplayers in attendance.  Among the better cosplay outfits were a couple in Black Cat and Spider-man outfits, a woman dressed up as the Ranger on the front of last year's program book, a pack of Timelords (primarily Tom Baker and Matt Smith), and a family dressed as (Adam West era) Batman, Supergirl, and a little Supergirl.  Sure, there were the pro cosplayers, such as the Rebels and Imperials near the Fantasy Flight Games booth, the Gandalf roaming around in the outer hallways, and the Wolverine cosplayer who picked a fight with Darth Vader***, but for every Soda Pop Minis woman who did an exacting job on her outfit there were about a dozen or so kids dressed up as superheroes and Star Wars characters.

The biggest cosplay laugh I had went to the guy who ran around in a scruffy t-shirt and jeans, holding out a cardboard sign "Will GM for Beer".  My wife and I applauded that one, and he took a bow.

The Mayfair Games' sponsored Training Grounds, where kids could play board games and put crafts together, was absolutely packed. Yes, this was Family Fun Day, but seeing a couple of hundred families happily playing whatever game was available was an awesome sight.

I tried to not take any pics of the kids, but instead
I focused on the sign itself. However, imagine about
200 kids and parents between me and that sign...

As is traditional, in the exhibit hall there were a lot of demo areas for you to try a game out for a few rounds to see if it was something you liked. I really really wanted to check out some of the new offerings from Fantasy Flight Games, such as Star Wars Armada and Star Wars Imperial Assault, but those tables were almost impossible to get to. My wife and I checked out a lot of the family oriented booths for deceptively simple games that play quick, and we found a few at the Maranda Games booth. One of the games I particularly liked was called Eternas, which is a twist on the old Connect Four game.

Eternas, from marandaenterprises.com.


Instead of a grid to work with, you're presented with pegs in a circle, and each player has a limited number of wooden beads to use. The pegs only allow up to four beads at a time, and there are no edges, but for the most part it plays like Connect Four. However, you can't play to a tie: once you run out of beads, on your next turn you must select a bead of your color from the top of a row and move it to another location. It's a subtle change, and one that makes the game a lot more cutthroat.

There were other games that I found interesting, such as Freedom, which is a cooperative game depicting the Underground Railroad. It had won numerous awards this year from The Dice Tower, yet I somehow missed any discussion of it. And if you thought that the Freedom is some sort of lighthearted board game, the cards and events will disabuse you of that notion.

Freedom: The Underground Railroad, by Academy Games.


***

Geek Chic always manages to make me cry a little whenever I stop by their booth.

This is from 2012's Gen Con, but it's still accurate.

That... is what they call The Sultan.  Do you see those wooden edges?  They fold down.  Like this:

From geekchichq.com
The Sultan starts at $12,950 (US), and can go up to $16k (US).

This is one of those "If I win the lottery" items.

***

The main exhibit hall added an extra section this year, which allowed the overall exhibit space to grow by about 20-25%. And it was still packed.

That back section near the addition, which was filled with Kickstarter backed demos and products, was extremely hard to get through. However, whomever decided that the main card vendors should be there, next to the card playing area, should get a raise. I saw people go into the playing area, come out a while later, and go straight to the card vendors.

There are some very interesting games in the Kickstarter area that made it worthwhile to peruse, such as Clever.



***

Among the more traditional gaming companies, Paizo (the makers of Pathfinder) and Fantasy Flight (the makers of a ton of different board/card/RPGs) were running out of stock. Fantasy Flight had a sign at the entrance to their area so you could find out what was already sold out before you went in their space.  Both of these companies as well as Mayfair (the creators of Settlers of Catan, among other games) had lines so long they snaked around their entire areas.

A small portion of the Paizo booth. And my finger.
Another view of the Paizo booth. Five minutes after taking
this picture, the line for checkout (on the right) snaked
around the poster of Seoni and doubled back toward me.


Fantasy Flight Games' Report from Day 1 of Gen Con 2014

There were plenty of demo tables available for gaming companies such as Days of Wonder (makers of the Ticket to Ride family of games), Z-man (makers of Pandemic), and Queen games (which tend to be more hard core Eurogames, such as Alhambra and Aqua Romana).

RPG companies not named Paizo were well represented too.

While Fantasy Flight is more well known for their boardgames, they were well represented in the RPG area with the release of the beta of the third volume of their Star Wars RPG, Force and Destiny.**** This third volume covers the Jedi and the Sith in an environment around the events of the Original Trilogy, so any force users out there will be (for the most part) on the run from the Empire. This beta release was so popular that FFG sold out of it by Sunday, and players were queueing up to try out the game at their demo tables.

Pinnacle Entertainment had their Savage Worlds products out in abundance, as did Catalyst with their Shadowrun RPG, and the Shadows of Esteren team with their RPG. There were even some really old time RPGs, such as Flying Buffalo's Tunnels and Trolls and The Design Mechanism's version of Runequest.

But what about Wizards of the Coast and the 5th Edition of D&D?

"Gonna need a bigger boat," my ass.
From dnd.wizards.com


WotC had an entirely separate hall to themselves this year, and it was packed with gamers trying out the new 5e. You could purchase the game there as well, but given the discounts via Amazon, there weren't as many people queueing up to purchase the new Player's Handbook right then and there.  However, there was a huge release party on Friday night outside of the convention center.

***

There seemed to be an increase in the LARP vendors this year, as opposed to other years. I'm sure someone probably got all huffy about the corsets for sale being too stereotypically feminine, but given the amount of steampunk cosplayers wearing them, the vendors were just giving the people what they wanted.

***

According to the press release after the con finished, there were 56k+ attendees this year, and Gen Con has doubled in size since 2009. Things seem to be building up toward the 50th Anniversary in 2017, but now the question becomes whether Gen Con can maintain its momentum while remaining a fun con to attend. I think they can, and seeing the crowds of families and kids enjoying themselves on Sunday gives me hope for the future.

If you're looking for more coverage of Gen Con, you can find plenty of pics at Zachary Houghton's RPG blog:

Gen Con Blog: Gen Con Eve
Zack's Gen Con Blog: Day 1
Zack's Gen Con Blog: Day 2
Zack's Gen Con Blog: Day 3
The Best of Gen Con 2014

The Roo Sack Gamers have a podcast of interviews of some of the vendors at Gen Con this year:

Side Hop 8: Gen Con 2014 Interviews*****

In addition to the first YouTube video listed above, Fantasy Flight Games have a production of each day at Gen Con. No, you won't find us in the video this year (unlike in some prior years), but they still capture a bit of the zaniness at Gen Con:

FFG at Gen Con - Day 01
FFG at Gen Con - Day 02
FFG at Gen Con - Day 03
FFG at Gen Con - Day 04

And finally Drive Thru Review has a playlist of various games that they'd demoed during Gen Con.

Gen Con 2014





*Without air conditioning, as it is on the fritz.

**Who also runs the actual play podcast Roo Sack Gamers (look to the right for the link). What is an actual play podcast? It's a podcast where a gaming group records their gaming sessions for post later. The Roo Sack Gamers --so named after the roo sack dice bag (don't ask)-- run RPGs that are on the more narrative end of the RPG spectrum, such as Burning Wheel, Dungeon World, etc, that could use a little attention. Why listen to an actual play podcast? Well, if you want to run or participate in an RPG but you're not quite sure how the game will play out, you can listen to an actual play podcast and get a feel for things.

***All in jest, and it would have made for an excellent pic but I came out of the exhibit hall just in time to see them leaving.

****From what I've been told off the record, there's a LucasFilm requirement for any release --beta or not-- to be done via print. I'm not entirely confident about whether this is truly the case, as I'd prefer more evidence, but the reality is that FFG had come out with a print version only for every beta release.

*****And yes, before you ask, the kids that were interviewed at the end of the podcast are the mini-Reds.


EtA: Forgot the Paizo pics.
EtA: The Roo Sack Gamers had to re-upload the podcast, so I had to fix my link.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Mark Your Calendars

Warlords of Draenor will drop on November 13th, 2014.

Here's the trailer:



All done?  Good.

Given the focus of the cinematic, I think it's pretty plain we're back to a Horde-centric story.  It also feels like, well, a bit like this:



That doesn't mean that all that's old is new again and we're back to the original Warcraft stuff, but it is definitely a throwback in design.

But I just can't get excited for it.

No demons here, move along. Nothing that says "the Alliance will play an integral part of this expac," either.

Welcome to Draenor 2.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Play it again, Sam...

There's a Change.org petition for Blizzard to immortalize Robin Williams in WoW.

I would like that, but within the past hour it was announced that Lauren Bacall has passed away today as well.  If Blizzard does immortalize Robin Williams at the World's End Tavern, I would also like them to have Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart at a table nearby, watching the show.




EtA: Yes, I know that my title is a) a misattributed quote, and b) from Ilsa Lund in Casblanca, played by Ingrid Bergman. However, it didn't feel right referencing a bar such as World's End Tavern without using that quote. I suppose I could have used "You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve?", but that scene isn't from a bar.