Tag Archives: Tunnels & Trolls

Friday Bullet Points Return Again

It is Friday and I have a few small items that I couldn’t bring myself to make full blog posts out of, so here they are in what for me passes for abbreviated form.

  • Tunnels & Trolls is here!

About two and a half years back, according to my Kickstarter record, I backed a campaign to produce a new Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls tabletop RPG rule book for a variety of nostalgic reasons.  Well, it has finally arrived.

Tunnels & Trolls Deluxe just out of the shipping box...

Tunnels & Trolls Deluxe just out of the shipping box…

Actually it arrived a few weeks back, but I haven’t gotten around to posting about it as yet.  There was a release party for it which Silverangel of Kitty Kitty Boom Boom attended.

The book itself is much bigger than the 1979 predecessor that I still have on my bookshelf.  Now to find some time to do what I always do with tabletop rule books these days… read through it and imagine all the great campaigns one could run without ever actually playing.

The book should be available directly from Flying Buffalo at this point as well as in digital format from DriveThru RPG.

  • NetherByte is Gone

The dying Minecraft hosting service NetherByte appears to finally be gone.  Having jumped ship a few weeks ago, I removed the whitelisting controls and let a few people wander around to see what was going on.  Over the weekend the dashboard and FTP access went down and, as of last night, what remained of our Minecraft world there is no longer accessible.

  • Asher and Boat

The Asher Hour podcast this week features that staple of null sec, Dabigredboat.  Asher and Boat discuss null sec, how fleet compositions have evolved and how life has changed in null, who the most overrated alliance is, favorite doctrines, and what ought to change.  A good listen and Boat barely goes into any long stories about the good old days.  Download it from Soundcloud, as Asher doesn’t seem to be keeping his old shows around, so it might not be there in a couple weeks.

  • Pirate’s Little Helper

Also on the Asher Elias front, a while back he brought up a utility that you can use in conjunction with EVE Online called Pirate’s Little Helper.  It runs on top of the game and gives you an analysis of targets within your system, so you can tell who is the noob flying around helpless and who is the cyno-bait waiting to drop his buddies on top of you for a gank.

You can also enter pilot names into the web site just to see what comes up.  My own report isn’t all that impressive, though it is accurate enough.  I haven’t done enough to earn a tag.  In space, nobody knows you’re a blogger.  A few examples from the site:

Also, Gevlon and The Mittani both appear to favor HML Tengus with faction missiles.

  • Trade Goods for Vegas

Largely due to my wife, I am going to be at EVE Vegas this year.  She will be there too, though she does not play EVE Online.  She will do something else during the panels, but has a ticket for the Chateau party.  That she will do well at.

She also felt that I ought to have something to share with friends and foes alike, and so ran some TNT buttons for me through Wacky Buttons, which turned out to be a pretty cheap, quick, and efficient service.  The buttons, 1 inch in diameter, look pretty good.

Buttons

Buttons

I will have a pocket full of those, plus some Reaver Bee buttons should I run into any of my fellow jacket pals in Vegas.

While we are getting to Vegas a day early to hang out other commitments, along with the vagaries of the Southwest flight schedule, means us having to leave mid-day Sunday.  Since the EVE Vegas schedule just got posted, now I can see that I will be missing quite a few panels.  Well, maybe next time.

 

The Return of Tunnels & Trolls

The first 90 percent of the code accounts for the first 90 percent of the development time. The remaining 10 percent of the code accounts for the other 90 percent of the development time.

-Tom Cargill, The Ninety-Ninety Rule

While I know the pain of that in software development, I think it applies to most artistic endeavors as well… certainly any project with multiple people working together.

Back in March I did a run down of the Kickstarter projects I have supported over the years.  Not a huge list.  But one of the common threads on the list was projects running late.  Some of them were a little late… Defense Grid 2 missed their mark by a mere month, or almost no time at all in software development… while others were wandering onto the scene a year or so after being promised, such as Project Eternity and Planetary Annihilation.

But the champ for lateness looked to be Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls.  Promised “conservatively” in August of 2013, it was still off in the distance when I did that post.

But last night I received a note that the book was finally off to the printer.  So I still don’t have what I pitched in for yet.  But I did get a PDF copy of the rule book.

Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls

Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls

It is nice that I have the PDF.  I can look through it, see the updates and what art was carried over from older editions and what is new to this edition.  But it isn’t very satisfying.  RPG rules are meant to be in a physical book form so you can easily flip between pages or find a table in the back quickly, something no electronic book format has ever been able to come close to duplicating.  It is a physical thing, where you can just feel in your finger tips if you have gone back far enough through the pages.

But at least I know the creative work is done and there is just a printer in Arizona and some delivery time between me and the live physical copy.

The next item on the Kickstarter list I expect to see is A History of the Great Empires of EVE Online, which was due in May and which is alleged to be close to done, though we didn’t get an update in June and here it is July already.

Addendum: And this just in, “We spent all week correcting minor typos (and adding page 31). Please get the updated version now. Sorry for the inconvenience.”

Reviewing My Kickstarter History

With some Kickstarter campaigns of interest running of late, like the Massively Overpowered funding campaign and the much-talked-about Crowfall campaign, I decided to look back at the projects I had funded to see how the whole Kickstarter thing has treated me.

NOT the official drink of Kickstarter

NOT the official drink of Kickstarter

Fortunately Kickstarter has a nice little page that lists out the campaigns you have supported.  It was then just a matter of figuring out where everything stood.

Successful Campaigns

1 – Campaign: The Jason Scott Documentary Three Pack

  • Date Funded: November 11, 2011
  • Date Promised: December 2015
  • Project Status: Not late yet

My first ever Kickstarter.  Jason Scott, who did the documentaries BBS: The Documentary and Get Lamp had a plan to do three more.  He wanted to cover tape as a recording medium, the 6502 processor, and video game arcades.  What is not to love about those three topics?

I was a little annoyed when he went out and did another documentary after getting funded, but the man is like a force of nature and cannot be controlled.  And I have no doubt I will get all three documentaries.  We’ll see if it happens by December.

2 – Campaign: Defense Grid 2

  • Date Funded: August 14, 2012
  • Date Promised: December 2012
  • Project Status: Delivered January 2013

Hidden Path Entertainment wanted funding to do a sequel to their game Defense Grid: The Awakening.  They only made their initial goal, which was enough to fund an expansion to the original game as opposed to a whole new game.  That got delivered just a month behind schedule, which is pretty good for a Kickstarter so far as I have seen.

Then they went on to get other funding for Defense Grid 2 and eventually everybody who backed the Kickstarter beyond a certain level got a copy of that, including me.

3 – Campaign: Planetary Annihilation – A Next Generation RTS

  • Date Funded: September 14, 2012
  • Date Promised: July 2013
  • Project Status: Delivered September 2014

Here was the promise of a successor to Total Annihilation, one of the three great RTS games of 20th Century, along with StarCraft and Age of Empires II: Age of Kings.

Of course, the project ran long, Uber Entertainment thought it was a good idea to sell pre-orders on Steam for less than the cheapest Kickstarter backer price, and when the game finally showed up I found it kind of blah.  Still, not the worst $20 I ever spent.

4 – Campaign: Project Eternity

  • Date Funded: October 16, 2012
  • Date Promised: April 2014
  • Date Delivered: March 26, 2015

Obsidian Entertainment said that they were going to make a spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate and a few other great single player RPGs.  What is not to love about that.  And, again, $20, what the hell, right?  And while it is nearly a year late, it got there and I should get my Steam code next week for Pillars of Eternity, as the game has been christened.  We’ll soon see how it turned out.

5 – Campaign: Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls

  • Date Funded: February 5, 2013
  • Date Promised: August 2013
  • Project Status: Soon

Tunnels & Trolls was the first RPG rules set that I spent a lot of time with.  We started with Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, but getting all three books was expensive back then and there was Tunnels & Trolls all in one book at less than half the price of of the TSR tomes.  Also, you could plunder that copy of Risk in the back of the hall closet and have all the dice you needed.  Anyway, I’ll write more about the rule set when I get the new edition.

Getting the new edition though…  The promised date was August 2013, and that was viewed as conservative because they were sure it would be done by July of 2013.  Well, here we are in March of 2015 and they keep sending out updates, but it is still somewhere over the horizon.

6 – Campaign: Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues

  • Date Funded: April 7, 2013
  • Date Promised: October 2014
  • Project Status: Alpha releases available to backers

The Lord British successor to whatever aspect of the Ultima series he is speaking about at the moment.   Clearly optimistic on dates, it is still in an unoptimized alpha state that does not run very well on my CPU.  But it is there and you can poke at it if you want, and it has been in that state for more than a year, improving slowly while trying to raise more money.  I am still waiting for it to get more solid before I devote any real time to it.

7 – Campaign: Camelot Unchained

  • Date Funded: May 2, 2013
  • Date Promised: December 2015
  • Project Status: First alpha just available

At some point Kickstarter became “spiritual successor” central.  Anyway, like the previous entry, I have written a few posts about Camelot Unchained, Mark Jacob’s run at capturing all the good of Dark Age of Camelot in an updated package.  Promised for December of this year, it just had its first alpha last week if I read the update correctly.

8 – Campaign: Planet Money T-shirt

  • Date Funded: May 14, 2013
  • Date Promised: July 2013
  • Project Status: I got a shirt in December 2013

Planet Money is one of the few podcasts I listen to regularly, in part because it covers a wide range of interesting financial topics, and in part because shows tend to run 20 minutes or less so I can listen to a whole episode during my rather short daily commute.  Their Giant Pool of Money episodes on the financial crisis were great stuff.

Anyway, Planet Money decided to do a practical project on how T-shirts are made, starting with the basic materials, raw cotton for example, and ending with people actually getting a shirt.  So there is a series of shows in their backlog about this.  The shirt showed up late, but it is nice.

Men's and women's versions of the shirt

Men’s and women’s versions of the shirt

I wear it around the house on weekends because, while it is soft and I like the graphic, it is a bit snug on me.  I am not sure anybody at the office needs to know that much detail about my body contours.

9 – Campaign: A History of the Great Empires of Eve Online

  • Date Funded: May 25, 2014
  • Date Promised: May 2015
  • Project Status: Still has two months to run.

Andrew Groen’s epic attempt to write the story of the null sec conflicts in EVE Online.  The campaign, which only asked for $12,500, funded in seven hours and hit nearly $100K.  I am not sure we’ll get the books on time, but his monthly updates have covered his progress in some detail.  He is even now up in Iceland, having given a presentation about his work.  But when we do get it, you can be sure I’ll review it here.

Failed Campaigns

And then there were the campaigns I backed but which did not fund.

1 – Storybricks, the storytelling online RPG – May 2012

I am still unclear as to what I was actually getting in exchange for backing this project.  They were working on a development tool, which doesn’t translate well for end users.  Believe me, I know that pain.  I have been working on development tools for the last 17 years.  But Brian Green was part of the project, so I kicked in before the campaign ended.  Eventually Storybricks got in bed with SOE for the whole EverQuest Next project, then the buyout happened, Daybreak ended their contract, and they folded up shop… dropping a final bit of crazy on us on the way out the door.  I am not at all sure what the trajectory would have been had this campaign succeeded.

2 – Project: Gorgon – An Indie MMORPG by Industry Veterans – October 2012

The first Project: Gorgon campaign.  Eric Heimburg wanted $55K, but barely got past the $14K mark.  Too obscure to get the backing it needed, the project soldiered on without it.

3 – Tinker Dice from Project Khopesh – June 2013

Tesh makes some dice.  While this first campaign did not fund, he later went on to have success in subsequent campaigns.

4 – Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen – January 2014

Brad McQuaid decided he was going to get into the whole spiritual successor funding thing with a throw back to EverQuest.  He asked for too much money… at least more than his name and reputation could draw… and spread his focus too wide in my opinion.  The project is theoretically still going, but post-campaign funding has been problematic at best.

5 – Project: Gorgon – A new approach to MMOs – August 2014

The second coming of the Project: Gorgon kickstarter campaign.  By this point there was a solid, playable game to be supported.  Asked for $100K, got just over $23K in pledges.  Eric Heimburg just isn’t a name with much draw, and as has been discussed before, the project name itself isn’t doing him any favors.  The project doesn’t even have a page on Wikipedia.  Still, Project: Gorgon lives and you can go play it right now.

Summary

Overall, Kickstarter has worked out pretty well for me.  I have managed so far to back only projects that have come to fruition. (I don’t count the failed campaigns.)  I like to think that I have chosen wisely, picking only campaigns run by teams with a track record of success.  But it is probably more likely that, in backing just a few projects, I managed to get lucky.

There was clearly a stretch of time where I was more enthusiastic on the whole Kickstarter thing.  That has faded somewhat, and you will no doubt notice some omissions from the list, popular projects I opted to pass on.  There is no Crowfall on my list, as an example.

The only project I have mild regrets about not backing is the Ogre Designer’s Edition campaign from Steve Jackson Games.  I played Ogre and G.E.V. back when they came in a zip-loc bag, so there was a strong nostalgia factor present when the campaign launched.  That said, I am not sure what I would do with the 29 pound box that resulted when the campaign raised nearly a million dollars when they only asked for $20K.  I don’t have anybody to play table top games with and I have more than enough stuff around the house I do not use, so another huge box in a closet probably wasn’t necessary.

So that is my Kickstarter tale.  I am still waiting on some projects to finish, and every single project I have backed has been late to one degree or another, but things have still turned out okay so far.  How have you done with Kickstarter?

Question of the Day from My Daughter…

On the way to drop her off at school yesterday morning she asked, “What is Dungeons and Dragons?”

There is a step back in time from her last set of questions.

How do you cover that topic in the five minutes left before I drop her off?

The question came back over dinner, as my wife watched our local Sharks lose to Detroit in the NHL playoffs. (One more game to decide the series.)

I started explaining it with World of Warcraft as my initial reference point, but that wasn’t going very well, except as a minor history lesson in game design and how we cannot escape from what Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson wrought almost 40 years ago.

Then I got out my 1978 Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook, however that was not the best illustration either.  “Not user friendly” doesn’t even enter into it.  I’m not sure how we figured out how to play with those original books.

Actually, I recall a lot of improvising and “making it up as we went along.”  And then a good chunk of rule book lawyering when “making it up” didn’t go the way somebody liked.

While she was pondering the book (after being admonished to “Be careful! It is more than 30 years old!”) I went looking for my dice.  They are around here somewhere.  I’ll find them.

So I then handed her a copy of David Hargrave‘s The Howling Tower dungeon module, just so she could see maps and room descriptions.

My copy looks just like this!

She wanted to play “tonight!”

She was on her computer and printing out 4th edition character sheets.  Oy!

I can see patience is going to be an issue here.  I remember gaming sessions going late into the night and never leaving the Inn where we started off… or never even getting started off, there being enough rolling up and accounting to be done to get started.

Eventually I got her to let things go to the weekend, but the original AD&D might be a bit too arcane… for even me at this point.

I might have to go pick up a copy of the 4th edition Player’s Handbook, which should be interesting.  I hear the rules have been streamlined quite a bit.  I still think of 2nd edition as being “That new stuff.”  The whole d20 system came along nearly a decade after I last rolled my own saving throw.

Then again, maybe I should just get out my copy of Tunnels & Trolls.  That was always a bit easier to get your head around, and I only need to find a pile of standard, six sided dice.