Browsing the blog archives for May, 2007

Yikes – Update

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Miscellaneous, Personal

Wow, it’s been over a week since my last update? I’ve been kicking my tail with work all week and crossing my fingers that my home computer, which has tons of critical data on it, won’t die.

I’ve got a major backlog of posts that I haven’t gotten around to writing. Way too many Hordes battle reports with my army from over the past three weeks, amongst television, movies, gaming, and other things.

For the time being, since I’m spending pretty much all my waking hours working, I’ve been having a pretty good time listening to various podcasts. Shamus was on Fear the Boot two weeks ago and I’ve been having a good time listening to the guys on that ‘cast banter back and forth — humorous and thoughtful.

Along with that I’ve been listening to Fell Calls, a podcast about the Iron Kingdoms (which is the setting for Warmachine / Hordes tabletop wargames). Fell Calls really scratches my obsessive-compulsive desire to learn everything about the Iron Kingdoms due to my interest in Hordes.

And then there’s always the D&D Podcast with Mike Mearls and Dave Noonan. The latest one focuses on “Magic Items” or as it’s more colloquially known — loot.

Probably not going to have too much free time for the blog in the next few weeks, but hopefully that should mean situation normal, since I’m always pressed for time.

Greek Artwork

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Art, Culture

TheoiAthena

I mentioned earlier that I was thinking about drawing on the Greek Olympians to try and bolster the familiarity and background of my campaign setting without putting a big onus on players to learn significant amounts of new background material.

Although I haven’t decided whether I’m ultimately going to follow through on that, tapping the resources of the internet for religious artwork seemed like a damned good idea on its own. After all, I don’t have time to sit down and draw all of this material, and even if I did it’s unlikely I could “get” the unusual mix of stylization and lack of sophistication that much early religious artwork has. It’d end up looking either badly done or badly imitative.

TheoiNereus

I did some searching around and came across this amazing site called Theoi. There’s a huge amount of Greek artwork there, mostly vases but also mosiacs and statues and paintings. All in all, an amazing resource. It took a bit of rummaging, but I was able to download their entire collection and I am reposting it here as a result. Filesize is around 80MB total, and be forewarned I didn’t do significant sorting. It’d be better if these were high-resolution images, but I really have no right to complain.

Download here.

But Thinking Makes It So

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Personal, Technology

I was thinking the other day about how much time I really end up spending doing maintenance sort of work on my computer. Specifically, on this Windows machine as opposed to my Mac. All of the antivirus, antispyware, anti-everything-else that targets or afflicts only Windows machines. If I weren’t doing development that required me to primarily use Windows I’d gladly move on back to OS X.

So today I’m browsing the web and listening to music and my computer crashes — to a BSOD. Wonderful.

I turn the machine off, go grab myself a drink and sit down for a few minutes, then come back to it. Boot it up, everything looks okay, no obvious error messages. Start up Firefox again, get back into the swing of things for an hour or two… And get hit by another BSOD.

I’m really hoping this isn’t going to continue.

Talking on the phone the other day, one of the guys in the D&D group apparently had a critical computer issue not too long ago. The whole thing apparently was so clogged with dust that the fan stopped working and some parts melted. I had just finished sending him an email asking if I could buy his used parts cheap when my first BSOD hit. So after the second one I opened up the case and did a little cleaning, but it wasn’t all that bad in there for a computer.

Other than the dust issue or possibly one of the new programs I just installed a day or two ago, I’m drawing a blank. And that’s a bad thing. So hopefully I can diagnose whatever the issue is if it continues, though in an even better future I won’t have any more such problems.

Reflections

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Administrativa, Personal

Well, the first year of this blog being up and active has gone by. This is day one of a new year.

In retrospect, this blog has kind of gone in a different direction than I expected. Slightly more emphasis on the whole gaming and geekery aspect than I originally intended. That’s not really a bad thing, just not exactly what I was anticipating — I suppose realistically that comes from general time constraints. When I write here it’s in the time I would normally spend on other hobbies, and so there’s a lot of overlap. Writing about D&D or videogames or (more recently) tabletop wargames is just another way to sit down and ponder the intricacies of their respective systems without necessarily playing them or spending wasting time reading forums.

Seeing as how a year has passed, I’m pondering whether I should do something with the theme, or perhaps “re-branding” (so-to-speak) the site with a more game-centric title and tagline and all that? If I didn’t know that I’m already too busy to be doing that sort of thing I’d consider it…

D&D Shakeups

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Games, RPGs, Tabletop

I made a follow up post last week about some thoughts on D&D 4th Edition. Though 4th Edition is still speculative at this point, there have been a bunch of developments of late in the D&D world that lend credence to the idea that maybe, sometime, possibly in the near future, a 4th Edition will be released. Indefinite enough? I hope so.

So what do I mean by shakeups?

Back when 3rd Edition came out, Wizards of the Coast began farming out some of its material to other companies. The 2nd Edition days had left the D&D brand with a lot of neat settings, stuff like Ravenloft, Planescape, Spelljammer, Dark Sun, and so on. And while most of these settings were unique and interesting in their own ways, there’s obviously no way to support so many niche worlds (or at least, not do so and still turn a profit — generic splatbooks are probably better sellers than campaign-setting specific books)

Ravenloft was initially farmed out to White Wolf, publishing under the Sword & Sorcery brand.* DragonLance was farmed out to Margaret Weis productions. I don’t really understand the Oriental Adventures/Rokugan situation, so I won’t even speculate there. Dark Sun wasn’t supported at all.

*Details of some relationships might be incorrect. I don’t make it a point to care too much about the minutiae of who-is-what-and-how.

So sometime last year, Wizards took back the rights to Ravenloft from White Wolf and published their own “Expedition to Castle Ravenloft” module. Interesting. Wizards has mentioned that they are more interested in publishing adventure modules of late than they were initially. I consider this a good thing — I’m pretty darn sick of splatbooks whose sole purpose is to give powergamers more and more options to obsess over. An adventure, at the very least, gives some context for all of that to exist within. In fact, I think I’d prefer it if prestige classes and the like were only published in adventure modules, to reinforce the idea that Prestige Classes are not just super-classes but things that are earned through deeds or membership with organizations.

Sorry, I started to ramble. Anyway, now we hear news that DragonLance’s contract with Margaret Weis publishing isn’t being renewed.

And then we hear news that Wizards’ contract with Paizo Publishing, the makers of the iconic Dungeon & Dragon magazines, isn’t being renewed either.

What the heck is going on? It’s like Wizards is taking everything back in-house. A lot of people speculate that the reason for this move is in preparation for 4th Edition. Even though I’m betting we’ll see 4th Edition by 2010, at the latest, I’m not convinced these moves are specifically for 4th Edition. Wizards has been coyly mentioning a so-called “Digitial Initiative” (details are sketchy) whereby they presumably intend to create a system for distributing a lot of content online. It sounds kind of intriguing, but I wonder how successful something like that will be. Publishing a ton of content online will be problematic if anyone can copy and paste your content and give it away on their own website, or change the flavor text and pass it off as their own content (thus pretty much eliminating any hope of policing the behavior).

Some interesting notes from ENWorld:

2) The decision was made more than a year ago.

3) Content has not yet been decided.

4) Some Dragon/Dungeon features and columns will continue.

5) Accounts will be user based; payment options without credit cards will be available; content will be “previewable” before purchase.

6) Content will be released in frequent small bursts and then collected together.

7) DRAGON and DUNGEON, as brands, will continue to exist; implication being that this doesn’t replace the magazines, it’s the evolution of them.

8) Hardcopy compilation is a part of the plan.

9) Freelancers will still be used.

The real question I have, which I think will determine the success or failure of Wizards’ new venture, is whether the purpose of cutting off all of these contracts is to try and put the power, so-to-speak, in developing content into the hands of gamers around the world, via the Digital Initiative, or whether the goal is to try and consolidate Wizards’ assets and content and gain immediate control over how players interact with the material that they will be regularly publishing? Because I’m very supportive of the OGL and attempts to bring an Open-Source mentality into gaming, so to speak. But I think any so-called “Digital Initiative” whose purpose is not to explicitly democratize the creation and publication of content is going to fail, as it runs counter to the genius/madness and power of the Internet. The trick is always to harness that in productive ways, not to act like you can treat an online-distributed PDF as a magazine and maintain the same relationship with customers, as if the two are interchangeable. They’re not and never will be.