So summer has arrived in Vancouver, and from what I understand, all across Canada. Beautiful weather - great sunshine, the warmth and fresh air and the lush growth... you have to love it after a particularly nasty winter of snow, snow and more snow.
So yay Summer!
Unfortunately, the first month of summer is always a particularly bad month for us an online store. Everyone's out, enjoying the sunshine and thus not purchasing games or being online much. There's a marked slow down around this time, which is expected but still sad.
So damn Summer.
Sometimes, running an online store is rather schizophrenic. I wonder if it's any different for a retail store. Anyone have any inside knowledge?
The subject of Civ-lite games has been brought up here many times before so I’m not looking to necessarily cover any new ground here. Really this is just a collection of my thoughts before going to bed after playing another of the completely soulless attempts at the genre recently. I’ve decided what many of these games really lack is that great randomizer of history. Something that neither dice, cards, auctions, nor a fucking rondel can mimic. The human factor. Which as many here already know is often completely absent in modern board game design. However, there are certainly some notable exceptions in this genre, which I’ll get to further down.
I know that it's already been done, but I think there's got to be a better game out there somewhere based on that fine piece of American Trash - Escape From New York. What got me thinking was reading a thread at some other gaming site where he was talking about a President's Helicopter going down and the group having to fight it's way out of some shithole. Someone mentioned Escape from New York meets Black Hawk Down. So why not just do Escape from New York.
For the folks that haven't seen the movie, the premise is that New York was converted to a prison. The President's plane is taken down and crashes in New York. A war hero (played by Kurt Russell) is about to go in the prison but he is given a deal to rescue the president. Hilarity ensues as he wanders through New York.
So anyways, as I was thinking, why not have factions. There were sort of factions in the movie. There was the group led by Isaac Hayes. There was the Brain and Adrian Boobeau. Then there was Snake Plisken (Kurt Russell). I think there could be more factions in the game as New York is a big place.
So Snake's role is to get the President out. He flies a glider into the city and climbs down the World Trade Center to get into the city. He is armed with a MAC-10 and his wit.
One of the factions will start with the President. The other factions try to get him. They want to take him to the sort of bridge between Manhattan Island and the prison control.
In the movie there was a time limit, so I think the game should have some sort of time limit (24 hours was the movie). I envision each turn representing 30 minutes (giving 48 turns). There could even be another faction of the Prison Guards who go in if the President isn't out within 20 hours.
This is another session I posted a few days back on BGG. I though I'd post it here as this time it shows a detailed solo Scenario. I promise I'll stop posting Frontline Sessions after this one :p
After a disastrous failure yesterday, I went back and re-tried the second scenario solo playing the US. The first time I had been very unlucky although I had also made some mistakes that cost me a whole section early on... This time I was determined to be more careful...I went for a pretty varied equipment with as many rifle-grenades as possible (3), a shovel, some bandages, some grenades and some flasks.The Germans start in a heavy fortification at the top of a hill with two sections, one with a Heavy Machine Gun and another with a Flamethrower. The US forces start on open ground, with the machine gun dangerously close but thankfully far enough from the flame thrower. Also, the US has three sections: One with 4 soldiers, One with 3 and the last one with a Heavy Machine gun and 2 men.The Germans started attacking right away, with the flame thrower's section targeting the smaller machine-gun section. As the flame thrower was out of range, the full counter attack from Livingston's section (the 3 men one) was extremely effective thanks in part to a rifle-grenade (40-6=36FP). The flame thrower was down and the other two soldiers were wounded, pinned and lost all moral. This was a great start to the mission.Right away, the Americans using their binoculars examined the German fortifications, spotting some weaknesses. This information would prove useful right next (I recovered the card just used to counter-attack with full FP). But the Germans must have had some first-aid equipment as the two wounded soldiers were quickly bandaged and recovered not only their health, but their will to fight!The nasty Heavy Machine Gun attacked next, but Sobel's section (the one with 4 men) was able to counter-attack again at full power. While managing to find cover behind some rocks. Bullets flew over them but they were unharmed.
Now it was Johnson's turn to fire. After setting the Heavy Machine Gun up he fired towards the German's Machine Gun section as quickly as he could while his companion used a rifle-grenade. The MG section tried to counter attack, but without enough time to reload after their last attack, they weren't too effective. Luckily for the Machine Gunner, he was barely scratched although he hit the ground nevertheless, not feeling so great as he saw one of his companions die as the other was wounded.Sobel's section attacked too, trying to take advantage of the fact that the German's HMG wasn't firing. Because they had already used some ammo before, they weren't able to generate such a strong firepower (26) and as they started firing, the German Machine Gunner managed to get up and started to reload his gun, but at that point he got a couple of shots that ended his life. His only companion left didn't last any longer either.So now, the only German opposition was from two confused soldiers (which I realized a while later should have been promoted to form one section... It really didn't matter much as they were pretty much powerless). The US forces advanced so they could use the grenades and ended with all the opposition quickly enough. At that point, they spotted a new force of German soldiers approaching the hill, but now terrain advantage was switched in favor of the Americans. They also had some time to prepare before the attack.(Ok. Here I've skipped a few uninteresting turns where the two remaining soldiers would attack with low power and I would advance my sections unharmed. It was pretty easy to finish them off and occupy the hill before the arriving German section acted. At that point only Livingston's section was on the hill, with the other two behind).Even though the new German section was pretty weak at such a great range, they tried attacking anyway, without much success, even getting a bit depressed when the Americans counterattacking from the Hill almost got them down...At that point, Sobel's men decided to advance onto the hill, and the Germans, with even less firepower than before tried attacking Johnson's section which moved fast out of the way and into cover, closer to the hill. Livingston's section stays put, preparing for action.Then the Germans decide to advance to close the gap, while the Americans wait, getting ready for action (I wanted to attack, but there's this rule that won't let you attack if the solo player's last action was "move" and they don't have any more sections to use during their turn...)Livingston's section watched as the Germans got closer and fired with all their power. The German soldiers jumped on the ground managing to find some cover, but as the rain of bullets hit them, there was little they could do (FP was 42-11=31). After it stopped, only one of the Germans got up, and he wasn't about to keep on fighting...In the end, the day was won, with 22VPs for the US and not one wound on any of them. Amazing.... Thoughts:So I was lucky this time, especially at the beginning when I eliminated the flame thrower with a Dead result and then the machine gunner with two wounds on the one attack. But I think I also made much better use of equipment (flasks helped more than I thought they would) and cards. Of course, with the two most powerful Germans out of the game, it wasn't that hard protecting my men from the remaining enemy sections...
BTW, it's true pins aren't very effective after an attack on the AI is over, but they're still very effective if you manage to inflict lots of them in one attack because of the way they soon turn into moral hits, and then into wounds. This is especially effective on the weaker soldiers with 1-2 moral points. So while it's true the AI recovers quickly, if you hit them hard enough it doesn't matter as much...Last, I'll say it again: This is an excellent game, both playing solo or against a human opponent.
"Addiction is possibly the most ephemeral quality that a game can have, yet it is also one of the most important."
That quote was taken from Matt Thrower's latest article. For the longest time, I would have agreed with him. It's fairly common to talk about a game's ability to interfere with your day-to-day relationships and responsibilities as a reliable measure of its quality. It's also easy to regard the concept of gaming addiction as a real, crippling dependency with a sort of detached bemusement. After all, you'd have to be pretty screwed up in the first place if you'd lose your job over a game, alienate your friends and family, or go so far as to play until you dropped dead from exhaustion, right? Those things just don't happen to normal people.It's easy to say all of that until it happens to you; until you watch someone slowly drift away from the world around them, escaping farther and farther into a fantasy world until there is no coming back. Eventually, you lose someone, in the true sense of the word, to a game. Have that happen to you, and you might no longer think addictiveness is all it's cracked up to be.She and I started living together almost 7 years ago, when I was still 21. Long story short, I was out of a job at the time, and she was between college semesters. We'd jettisoned most of our things in our respective moves, and had little outside basic personal items except my dwindling savings. She wasn't what you'd call a "gamer" then, and aside from my regular Monday board game nights, niether was I. What was the point? We were happy to spend the majority of our time together just being together; taking long walks around town, drawing and painting, or just sitting together for hours not saying anything. Our life was simple, but we were loving it. We figured there was plenty of time for her to go back to school to pursue a career as an artist, and me to start working while I figured out just what I wanted to do.Eventually, I picked up a steady, full-time job. She didn't, nor did she go back to school. It didn't matter to me at the time; I was bringing home a decent paycheck, so there was at least enough money to get a real life started for us. The job was a back-breaker, though, and coming home dead tired with only 11 hours until my next shift so often left us with a lot less time together. She was quite upset about it, and I noticed she started dealing with being alone by playing video games. Even then, I knew it wasn't a particularly constructive way to deal with things, but I was wrangling for a tidy little 9-5 position at work, and I assumed things would get back to normal once my schedule did. Besides, I would be making enough money to buy us a house if we stayed with my mom for a few years, and we were planning on getting married. I was 23, having a blast at work, and looking at a solid future with the woman I loved. As far as I was concerned, we were winning like Charlie sheen. Then, I watched it all go straight to hell for the next 5 years.Although we had plenty of time together now, we started taking advantage of it less and less. She quit drawing and painting, now filling the sketchbooks we spent so many hours looking through with cryptic, 12-digit friend codes. Her pencils collected dust, while her Nintendo DS stylus was in her hand on a near constant basis. Though she was never exceedingly social, her recent withdrawal from close friends and family was conspicuous. She had no interest in going out anywhere, and on the rare occasions I managed to coax her out of the house, the DS was always in tow. She struggled to converse with people about anything except her Animal Crossing town. She'd found whatever friends she thought she needed online, through these games. I knew it wasn't normal, healthy behavior, and I tried to confront her about it from time to time to no avail. It was starting to damage our relationship, but I was able to rationalize it as something she'd eventually get bored with and give up. I remember watching her sit up at 2 a.m., explaining the story to the new Zelda game to some kid in Brazil, and thinking she'd be a great mother. It had to get better.Once she took to the Xbox, things went irretrievably out of control. Gears of War 2 began to consume 12, even 18 hours of her day. It was impossible to explain to her how much time had elapsed while the played; she'd lost any real perception of time, even having to ask what month of the year it was on a several occasions. Getting her to do anything to help out around the house usually necessitated a long, exhausting argument. She went days on end without showering, let alone grooming, and changed her clothes even less frequently. I wish I could count the number of days I came home to find her sitting in front of the TV, in a pile of spilled ashtrays and coffee cups, pale, languid, and unkempt. It seemed like she never stopped losing weight. This was unreal; I've seen people look better after month-long drug binges. On the very infrequent occasions that I tried to play a game myself, she would yank the wireless adapter off of the console and refuse to give it back to me. This wasn't the person I knew, and no effort I made to put a stop to it did any good. When I asked what it was she was trying to hide from me, she insisted that I was paranoid, and that I needed psychiatric help. No matter how many times she played from sunrise to sunset, she insisted her use was moderate. I stopped paying for the Xbox live subscription, thinking that being cut off from her buddy list might pull her back to reality. They simply payed for it for her. When I told her I wanted to get all the games out of our lives, she threatened to leave, and I gave in. This situation just continued to degenerate for for 3 years.
I can't say it all did wonders for my sense of self worth. I took to drinking with frequency and abandon. We barely spoke outside of the times I came home drunk, and then, we mostly replayed the same bitter argument time and again. I started an almost nightly regimen of booze and sleeping pills just to get to sleep. More times than I'd like to admit, I thought about whether or not I'd wake up if I took all of both bottles, and if that would be what it took to finally make her see the damage she was doing to her relationships. As time went on, I had to wonder if I never went through with it because I didn't have the nerve, or because it didn't seem like she would care all that much. Whatever the reason, I was still planning on buying our house this fall, miserably resigning myself to living out my committment to her as a drunken, festering pile of resentment. I was tired of trying to salvage our relationship, and after a while, just stopped talking to her. As much as I knew I needed to end things and move on, I never let go of the ever-diminishing possibility that she might change, that things might get better. They certainly couldn't get much worse.
I came home Thursday night to find a note: "I'm not coming back. This relationship needs to end, and it's in both of our best interests. You will be a much happier person like you used to be." That's it. Those are the last words I will likely ever hear from the woman with whom I shared the last 7 years of my life. She's gone now, and nobody I've contacted has heard anything from her. Hell, most of her friends and family have heard anything from her in years. She didn't take anything but her driver's license, and the Xbox's hard drive. Apparently, that's all she found important enough to take. I've since found out that, 6 months ago, my sister caught her calling a cab to the airport. She was planning on stealing my debit card and charging her way to... wherever she is now, presumably. Everything else from the time we shared together is still here, as if she simply vanished from existence.Are the games themselves really to blame? I defy you to go through what I have and not feel that way while it's happening, to read papers detailing the intentional design choices game makers use to get users compusively playing without imagining your hands around some programmer's throat, or to laugh at the next reviewer who quips about how much marital disharmony this new, kick-ass game caused him. But really, she had no capacity for, or interest in, dealing with reality. The games simply provided her an avenue of escape into a world where nothing was hard, nothing was expected of her, and her actions never carried any real consequences. I had never stopped to think about what a powerful attraction that can be for people; never considered the very real impact that games can have on people's lives. I self-applied the term "gamer" without much thought as to what it really means to define yourself, in even a small way, by diddling away a good portion of your life on a completely frivolous activity. Games aren't all fun, all the time. People die over them. Otherwise bright, loving, funny people shrink away and disappear. I brought them into our lives, when we were just fine without them, without giving any of that a moment's serious thought. I've always given lip service to just how unimportant games really are in life, but I never really lived that way. I was always willing to lose a few hours' sleep to a particularly engrossing game, to skip out on some social engagement I wasn't particularly interested in to sit around home with a joystick, or to wake up on a Saturday morning and start playing, only to pass the entire day without stopping to pay attention to the world around me. I never thought any of it was a big deal, and now, I no longer have the luxury of lying to myself that things will get better. Now, I'll never see her again. For days, I held out hope every time the phone rang, thinking that maybe she was calling to let me know that wherever she is, she's OK, or at least say "goodbye." That was until I realized that, Jesus, she probably doesn't even remember our phone number.All things considered, I don't think I can be blamed for not being too fucking excited about Gears of War 3.
Digital game available now!
Alone with the Dead of Night
My memory slows,
and I can't remember much.
But I know enough.
-Ryan Mecum, Zombie Haiku
I wish I could forget that crazy night. If I could reach into my head and tear out the piece of brain that holds my memories I would.
I had been fleeing cross country for a couple of days. My plan? -- to survive on my own for as long as I could hoping that some group of friendly armed people would find me before it was too late. But I was out of food and water and excruciatingly exhausted. I remember sitting down to rest as the sun sank down behind the horizon. Despite what was happening to me, I was glad to be alive. I let myself close my eyes. It was so nice to soothe them for a few seconds. I was so tired...
I jumped awake. It was dark. I could barely see the fields -- but I now saw that they were spotted with the black figures of people creeping towards me. Damn.
I pushed myself up and pressed on into the woods. After a few minutes I stumbled onto a small dirt path that led to the backyard of a big house. No lights were on. I scanned the yard but couldn't tell if something was moving or if it was just the flicker of shadows. I could hear the crackle of the woods behind me. Across the yard to my left was a garage and shed. I started walking that way.
When I stepped into the field I felt exposed, conspicuous -- like I was doing something wrong and was about to get caught. Hurrying, I pushed the garage door open and discover an old mini car. It didn't look like it had been used in years. There were a pair of garden shears on the wall. These might come in handy, I thought.
As I reached for them something lunged at me from the dark. I frantically swung the shears at the man and caught him on the side of the face. Strangely, the shears pierced his face quite easily. It was like he was made of lettuce. He fell back and slid off my shears. I could feel some cool liquid trickling down the handle onto my hand.
As I looked down at the rotting corpse, I wondered how many more zombies there might be. If there weren't too many, maybe I could find a room in the house and barricade myself in until I was rescued. Maybe I'll find a hammer and building supplies in the shed.
I snuck out of the garage and jumped in fright as I noticed in the distance a few figures standing still, looking at me. As I hurried to the shed I kicked something in the grass. I reached down and found a box of ammunition of some kind. Cool.
When I looked in the shed I found a flashlight and power tool but no hammer. I grabbed the flashlight and headed towards the house. As I approached I noticed a fuel canister resting against the shed. Maybe I can use this for the car! I felt eyes looking at me as I put my flashlight down and lifted the canister. The canister was full and quite heavy. I chucked my flashlight a few yards towards the house to free a hand and carry the canister. Once I got to the house, I pushed open a window, dropped the canister in what appeared to be an empty bedroom, retrieved my flashlight and scrambled inside. The figures creeped on.
"Hello! Anybody home!?" I yelled. No answer. No lights. There was a bathroom to my right and a door ahead to my left leading out to a hallway. With shears in one hand and flashlight in the other, I decided to scout the house to look for signs of life and anything that I might be able to use to barricade the windows before the corpses got here.
I went down a hallway and into another bedroom. I noticed a kid's hockey stick leaning against the wall. I shuddered at the thought of a bunch of zombies clawing at the poor kid's body. I hoped he was safe with his family somewhere far from here. I crossed the room and opened another door. A wall of putrid stench hit me in the face. Flies were buzzing. A rotting body was in the bed, and the gore was oozing through the bed sheets. I gripped my shears and flashlight and waited. Nothing moved. I took a step towards the bed and still nothing moved. Then I saw something: it looked like a teenage boy was crouching down in the corner next to the bed, his head tucked down, hiding. "Hi there," I said, shining my flashlight on him. "Are you okay?"
The boy looked up and stared at me. He was covered in blood and cradling something in his hands. Something bloody. He was eating it.
I gasped in shock as he lunged at me. I plunged my shears into him and pummelled him with my flashlight. The light in my hand jumped around like a strobe as I rained down blow after blow onto the disgusting little bastard. He stopped moving. Catching my breath, I stepped back from his mashed brain and looked around the room. I leapt for joy when I saw a hammer and bag of nails on the floor next to the sidetable. I also found a shotgun and another box of ammo under the bed. Thank God for those who take family defense into their own hands. I looked in an adjacent storage room and found a fire axe on the wall. Maybe I had a fighting chance after all.
I looked out the window and saw a bunch of zombies lumbering my way. They were getting close. I nailed dresser drawers and book shelves across the windows. This took a bit of work, but I wanted to make sure the barricade would hold.
As I hammered away, I wondered at the futility of my situation. I left the fuel canister in the other room down the hall, and that room had a bunch of windows that the zombies could easily break through if I didn't get back there in time. But even if I do get there in time, what if the barricades don't hold? There could be hundreds of zombies out there for all I knew. I couldn't hold them off by myself. I needed a plan B.
After the last nail was in, I tied the shotgun and fire axe to my backpack. With the shears and hammer in my hands I rushed back to the bedroom where I left the gas canister. I looked out the window and saw that a massive crowd of zombies were inching across the yard towards me! There was no way I could get to the car now even if I wanted to. But nor was there enough time to barricade all the windows in this huge house. And even if I got some barricades up, what if they didn't hold?
I didn't know what else to do but start barricading these windows anyway with anything I could find. At least this would buy me more time. As I hammered away I saw that the sound I was making was attracting more zombies. I'm driving nails into my own fucking coffin, I thought. But then I had an idea: maybe I could lure the zombies away. If I went out the other side of the house and fired a few shots at them, they'd follow me. This might buy me a bit more time. I only had to remember to save one bullet for myself, just in case...
I stepped back and assessed my work on the windows. It looked pretty strong, but I knew there were other windows on the same wall towards the front of the house. I left the room, entered the furnace room across the hall and started barricading windows there. The zombies were only a few yards away, so I worked frantically. I was on the verge of panic. As soon as I was done I quickly ran into the other wing of the house to see if I could make myself into zombie bait and distract them from testing the barricaded windows.
I entered a large bedroom and climbed out a window into the front yard of the house. I looked one way and could see the mob of zombies gathering outside the furnace room where I was just hammering. I looked the other way and saw another mob. I was between them, and each group turned towards me. I decided the best thing to do was a hit and run. Judging at how slow the zombies moved, I probably had enough time to barricade all but one window, do a hit, and run back into the house and close the last window behind me.
When all but one window was barricaded, I took a deep breath and stepped out. The groups were only a few yards away on both sides. Time to bust a few heads, I thought. My fire axe and shotgun were on my back, but I needed my hammer out so that I could hammer the last window closed after me. So, shears in one hand and hammer in the other, I let out a yell and rushed the closest zombie to my left, eager to pop open his rotting head.
I swung wildly but missed, and my momentum threw me right into him. He reached out and latched his stinking fingers onto my face, scratching my eye. I winced but managed to drive my shears through the bottom of his chin into his skull. I stepped towards two other zombies and hammered one square on the forehead. I drove my shears into the other one's ear. I laughed in satisfaction despite the stinging pain in my bloody eye.
I didn't want to get swarmed, so I veered around and ran the other way towards the other group. A few zombies were moving ahead of the rest. I struck one, but the bastard flailed its arms at me, tipped me off balance, and caused me to twist my ankle really badly. Ignoring the pain, I slashed back and sliced the top of his head open. As the zombie fell, I thought: this fighting is not going very well for me. The mobs of undead were almost upon me, and there was no way I could keep this up. I hobbled back to the window. I climbed in, and used my now reeking hammer to nail the opening closed. What the hell was I going to do now?
As I caught my breath I saw a set of car keys on the dresser in the bedroom. I hobbled over and grabbed them in case they were for the mini. Then I heard a smash coming from the furnace room. Shit. They broke in. I wasn't going to take any chances this time, so I pulled out my shotgun and tucked my hammer away. I opened the door to the furnace. An unusually tall and scraggly zombie loomed in front of me.
I blew his fucking head off.
A few more were trying to crawl in. I shot one. Then another. Then another. I stuck my barrel out the window and fired away, dropping one zombie after another. By now I was covered in stinking gore. Once the area was clear, I took out my hammer and nailed closed the damaged barricade.
My ankle was hurting quite a bit, and my eye was watering and getting puffy from the filthy scratch. The number of zombies outside was probably growing. I had no idea what I was going to do. Maybe I should just suck on the barrel of my shotgun and fire.
I pulled myself together and decided that I'm not done yet. I remembered that there was a washroom attached to the bedroom where I left the fuel canister. Maybe I'll find something there to tie my ankle up and clean my eye. I hobbled back to the room.
I was relieved to see that the barricades were still holding. I went into the washroom and searched but only found a couple of bottles. There was no first aid. I looked under the sink, in the cabinets, but all I could find were fancy bottles of hair products, body wash and perfume. I'm screwed, I thought.
I sat down on the toilet to rest and then noticed that the first aid box was hanging on the back of the washroom door. I opened it and found a tensor bandage, some eye wash, and bandages. I patched myself up a bit and felt much better. I've got to find a way to survive, I thought. I took out my fire axe.
Looking at all the bottles on the ground, it suddenly occurred to me that I could fill them with fuel to make Molotov cocktails. I put my axe down and went to work emptying the bottles. I heaved in disgust when the syrupy floral fragrance of the perfumes filled the room. And as if provoked, a couple of zombies burst through the barricaded window.
I grabbed my axe and split one head down the forehead to the nose. I swung at the other one, caught him in the neck, and saw his head tilt off as he fell. I grabbed the shotgun, pointed it out the window and exploded a few more heads. I realized at that moment that I had used my last bullet. I guess I decided not to give up. I put the gun down, grabbed the hammer, fixed the broken barricade and went back to making my bombs.
With my axe in hand, shotgun over my shoulder and two Molotovs in by backpack, I decided to go outside and clear a path to the car. I jogged down the hall to the bedroom at the far end of the house. I crossed the room, climbed out the window and circled around the back of the house. There were a few zombies dragging themselves towards me, but my axe sliced through them easily. Then I turned the corner near the shed where I could see the yard I crossed to get to the house. I stopped and looked.
I saw a nightmare I will never forget. It was a sea of gasping undead corpses reaching over each other like waves against rock, trying to get into the room I was just in. I put my axe down, took my backpack off and grabbed a Molotov. When I flicked my lighter, I felt a hundred vacant eyes turn towards me. The wick caught fire and I lobbed the bomb through the air. The explosion was massive. It engulfed dozens of undead in a blazing inferno. Ha! That's how you clear a path!
Under the light of the flames I caught sight of a box of ammunition a few feet away from me. I picked it up and shoved it in my pocket. I took out the other Molotov and gently tossed it behind the shed near the garage. I'll need that later. Axe in hand, I ran back to the barricaded window and started chopping it down to get back inside. I could hear the corpses sizzling in the fire right next to me. When I broke into the room, the perfume, now mixed with the stench of rotting zombie, wafted out. I threw my axe towards the garage to free my hands. I reached into the room and grabbed the shotgun and hurled it too. Finally, I pulled out the fuel canister.
I walked toward the garage and a couple of muddy corpses emerged from behind the shed. I put down the canister, picked up my axe which had landed nearby, and chopped each of them in the face with much satisfaction. About a dozen more zeds were outside the fire in front of the garage, so I found the other Molotov in the grass, set it alight and threw it at them. This made another spectacular explosion and up in flames they went. I stood in admiration of my work. Nearly the whole yard was smoking and flickering with flame, and dozens of corpses were cooking on the ground.
I filled the car with fuel, and tried the keys -- haha! the car worked! I put the axe and shotgun in the car and got in. I felt giddy being in the safety of a car with a full tank of gas and a shotgun full of ammo
I drove out of the garage and through the smouldering fire across the yard, crunching and skidding over dead bodies. When I got to the street three zombies were standing in my way, so I stopped the car and shot them down. A bump and crunch under the wheels later and I was on a smooth road with the house in flames behind me, laughing wildly at how long it will take them to catch up with me.
For miles I walk.
Day turns to night turns to day.
So hungry I walk.
So for whatever reason, I've only now gotten motivated enough to read some Lovecraft. Who knows why I waited? I love horror and the time period his stuff's set in.
I guess some things happen in their own time.Anyway - so I read The Dunwich Horror first. And I really liked it. Kinda touch and go at first as I got into his writing style. And had to power through the dialect writing of his characters. Gave me flashbacks of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - which I worked though and enjoyed, but still. It's work.So what, esteemed Lovecraft fans, should I read next?]What are you favorites? Least favorites? Anything to recommend based on my enjoying Dunwich?
So I work customer service. With games. Right now I am buried in requests, and somewhat of a stress monkey. Definitely a 'Switch To Decaf' sort of day. I work alone in a building by myself right now, where there is room for my crap. I have alot of crap. I have some long days ahead of me before I crest the mound of emails.
Someone headed over here for some playtesting (my homestead is also the rec-room sort of, lunch and flex space), and asked me if I needed anything. I listed off a couple things I needed from the main building. A couple damaged games to murder for pieces. Office supplies.
A couple clones would be nice.
I'll be damned if he did not bring me some Rackham miniatures Clone units. Not even from sarcasm. He's the guy I generally go to when I need something Rackham replaced, because I have a hard time keeping all the 1000 freaking figures sorted. He was 100% earnest, when he thought I needed some. It was a good excuse to have a laugh.
Now to go make a cup of Decaf Earl Grey.
I've got that post con grog going on right now where the gaming was a blur of laughter, faces, cards and dice...and breasts. One of the last games we played yesterday was Busen Memo. And I played it with Walterman and his amply endowed wife. Zev's man boobs are nothing to sneer at either.Busen memo is actually really hard. It is a simple matching game the but images are extremely similar and there are so many of them. After intently staring at them to find matches, some of them are still burned into my brain.BTW, even though I am a self appointed boob man, Zev was the runaway leader by far.Back to the beginning...I rolled into Wafflehouse late to find Zev, Launius and a local named Carlos finishing breakfast. Undaunted, I ordered my Fav Wafflehouse breakfast - a triple order of smothered hash browns with lots and lots of Tabasco. It was a favorite hangover special in college and I still relish it today.When we got back to the clubhouse, there were peeps already waiting so after a moment of deliberation, we fired up "The Target."The game is along the vein of Shadowhunters or devil’s stagecoach. In this case it is CIA vs KGB with one or two double agents being the spoilers. As you build sets of cards you have opportunities to attack other players, discover their identities and score (or negate) points. The game is well done and definitely worth getting. Game play is slower than Shadowhunters but richer. There is no player elimination and the game encourages cooperation and subterfuge.Zev and Frank peeled off to play some new abstract game from Essen and I played a 6 player game of Motocross Grand Prix. One of my favorite antagonists Sara Wilson (and her hubby Brian) showed up. It only took a few minutes for the game to turn nasty as we deliberately tried to wreck each other. Damn that Launius for snaking the win.
Next, Richard, Brian, Zev and I tried a Launius prototype about spycraft. The game has a few rough edges but is fun to play. Each round you get a combination of agents, equipment and resources that you use to either go on missions or build up your agency. In either case you roll a handful of dice to hopefully get the combination you were looking for. The push your luck aspect of the game carries the the theme fairly well and I like rolling a big handful of dice to get the hard combo.
Then we tried Brians' Dragon hunting proto. If I could just beat his Eurogame tendencies out of him, then the game would be fun. It sounds just like you would imagine. Dragons fly around and you catch up with them and fight. Brian is enamored with adding a resource aspect to the game. I just want to go beat on the friggin dragon.Zev brought out a bidding game disguised as an adventure game. It had lot special powers and several good things going for it but also had a few fatal flaws. It finally was starting to gel for me when I realized that Zev had seized first player action to grab the big VP noble I was trying to buy. So I flipped the table!Chits and cards went flying- Frank dove to the side. Launius spilled his quart side soda down the front of his shirt and Zev threw his had up to ward off the spray of game comp0nents sailing toward him.Not really. But I should have.We finished out the evening with a trip to Shane’s BBQ and more Roadzsters, Junta Dice, and of course Busen Memo.By the end I was tapped out. I had been burning the candle before Zev came down and repeated early mornings and late nights finally caught up to me. I am ready to crash and I’m ready for more.
Zev arrived yesterday around 11. Atlanta is huge airport but all the gates emerge at one chokepoint for baggage claim so I staked out my spot and waited. All but one that is, and that is the one Zev took to slip by me. Fortuantely as I wandered back to the baggage claim area to contemplat how Zev was going to enjoy sleeping in the airport, I ran into him.The ride back was short and sweet (no wandering zebra during rush hour this time...) and we stopped at Dreamland BBQ on the way back for a bite to eat. That lead to the discussion of other BBQ joints and apparently Zev is enamored with the food at BGGcon so it looks like I may have to put that on the dockett for next year. I'm not a foodie (more like a bottom feeder) but we talked cons and BGG and Origins are his top 3 most fun cons. (Essen being his top pick) Granted his criteria is a bit different than mine (I weight food much less and strippers and alcohol much heavier) but he is definately a man who knows fun.We got back to Launiuis house and the three of us started on a game that I am working on and having a bit of trouble with. It is a co-op and the writing was on the wall that we were not going to make it so we abanded it and kicked around ideas for making better.That started a whole chain of prototypes that would dominate the rest of the day.Richard's set matching card game with a dungeoncrawl theme-Mark's napoleanonic tile game-Jason's KungFu Fighters -One or two more prototypes that Zev brought down-We grabbed some Moes and Launius openned up the clubhouse. The weather was the nastiest its been in months- Cold wet and windy. We kept remarking about how nice it was two days ago and there was a constant stream of people who weathered horrible atlanta traffic to come game. All told we had about 25 people who came out despite the mosnsoon.I got a chance to play some newer games too.We played through two different tracks of Roadsters. If you haven't seen it, it is like pitchcar but uses a ball with a ball bearing inside it. the inner ball bearing makes for some interesting physics when you flick it. Also the cars have sloped backs so you can jump over them by using them as ramps. I am heavily invested in pitchcar but.... I like this better. It is a hard admission after getting all that pitchcar stuff, but there it is.Jason Maxwell then talked me into playing Dexter- the game based off the TV series. I don;t mind horrible games (it is part of what binds FrankB and my friendship together) but hoo boy- this one is bad. We laughed throughout though while merrily collecting chainsaws and scalpels. I declared myself winner after 35 minutes of random dice rolling.BTW, If you get a chance to hang with Jason Maxwell, I highly suggest you take it. He is a interesting guy who is filled with contradictions: Easy going but stubborn, funny but prone to black moods, insightful but oblivious. Best of all he is fun to beat on during a game.Arrg-itechs. Oh man-this one is fun. You are a cave man architech and have 5 words, 5 gestures, and one big club to get your point across. The Arrgitech has a schematic with 5 colored blocks and uses his limited vocabulary to get his team to assemble the peices. When you do something right you get bonked on the head.If you do something worng you get bonked twice on the head.Zev said that FFG is picking it up. MB can start the cave man bashing now ;DAnd the best game of the day....Junta the dice game.So simple so direct so fun- it is brilliant. People wheel and deal. Then the presidient trys to buy off people to defend (or at least not attack him.) Then people secretly assign their dice to attack or defend each other. Then you roll the dice. Winners get more cards to buy stuff and Voila' thats the game. Zev said he's picking it up and it should be ready around March.
Well. I'm off to day 2. Wish me luck. I want beat down Zev and send him packing.Steve"El Presidente'"Avery
Too close to home?
Perry Bible Fellowship is amazing. Give him all your money.
One spare time project which I will work on for the rest of the year and hopefully also finish in this time span is "Zap Front", the title under which I want to create an Up Front clone; a game which uses the same rule system as Up Front, but where I create anew all the material otherwise subject to copyright laws. My intention behind this project is not monetary; instead I intend to work on it as a means to channel my artistic output and to also gain first experience in publishing. In addition, Up Front is at the time of this writing as likely to be reprinted as it was in the year 2000 and I personally consider it a shame that this ingenious game system is currently not implemented in any way and unavailable to the gaming scene.
Judging from the information I have (although I will try to find more) game systems are not protected by copyright, only their artistic expression - the actual implementation of such a system, in written text and images - material that can actually be copied. An invention could be protected through a patent, but this is not the case concerning the Up Front game system.
Here is what the U.S. Copyright Office has to say on board games:
Since I want to draw new graphics anyway and since the original rulebook certainly warrants a rewrite, the law actually plays into my hands.
I am aware that Up Front is currently in the progress of getting a reprint, but neither am I fully convinced that it is actually going to happen, neither do I feel much remorse concerning a business as fraudulant as Valley Games or the various shell companies they entertain. I would probably think differently about the whole affair if Up Front was reprinted by an honest business in an unbloated, non-kickstarted fashion. Moreover the would-be reprint is also likely just a derivation of the original, not a licensed copy, so my version and the reprinted version are probably going to be more distinctive from each other than my version and the original version, which remains unavailable in any case.
Free as in Freedom
Be that as it may, I still believe it would be ethically wrong to charge money for a product that is essentially a clone of another game. I've had a look at various copyleft-type licenses to publish Zap Front under and given that I am a propnent of the Free Software movement, will probably choose the GNU Free Documentation License, which would turn the resulting published document into a free work of art - free in the sense of free to use and modify, although of course it will also be free of charge.
What I am most concerned about is the possibility of single images getting reused out of context, which would be limited by the GFDL, because any copies would have to contain also a complete printing of the license, which is about 1-2 pages long.
The S in SciFi stands for Satire
Now, what I want to actually do with Zap Front itself is to create a Science Fiction theme for it: firstly because SciFi is more playful and popular than War or History and secondly because a SciFi theme allows satirical elements and philosophical musings to more easily enter into the game. As an example, I will list below ideas I have for creatures to replace the nationalities in Up Front with:
Tellans are the offspring of humans living on Earth. Around the year 2035 the universe was folded (read below), placing the solar system right next to the core
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