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Comment: Re:Can a little guy publish successful PNP RPG tod (Score 4, Informative) 195

by Sasayaki (#47709515) Attached to: Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons Player's Handbook Released

Are you kidding? Today is the absolutely best time to be an indie game system developer, ever.

Back in the day, the only way you could get your stuff into the hands of the players was brick-and-mortar stores, word of mouth, or occasionally mail-order systems in magazines and stuff. That was it.

These days, there's so many online distribution points like DriveThruRPG, Amazon's KDP, iTunes, Google Play, etc that getting your game out there is easy. Just write your game system, publish it on any/all of the above, and bam. There you have it -- distribution, complete. Almost all these retailers allow discounting, promotions, bundling, etc. The amount of promotion tools available is staggering.

You can set your price, including as low as $0.99 for most retailers. If your idea is really good (and you're good at marketing) you can use Kickstarter or Indie GoGo or any other service to bootstrap a little funding. You can create and publish video promotions for free on YouTube. You can get a website for free, or very minimal cost, and run ads on it to bring in a little extra income.

You have total control over the distribution process. You might choose, for example, to make your core rules set available for free, and then charge for supplements. You can make it OGL if you want, or licence it how you want. You can write and publish electronic tools to help run games. You can even create your own game worlds, adventures, or whatever.

And the best thing is? All the tools you need are available for free or for staggeringly low cost. LibreOffice is your free word processing suite, although I recommend you drop $40 on Scrivener (it's like sex, except I'm having it). GIMP can do covers and basic image work well enough, but again, I'd suggest dropping $40 on Photoshop Elements. On DriveThruRPG you can get gaming stock art, templates, images and all kinds of art beautification your heart could desire, all extremely cheaply. When that fails you, there's ShutterStock, iStockphoto, or any number of stock image websites. Failing that: ask artists on DeviantArt to draw exactly what you want. $200-$500 will get you a sweet digital painting from an awesome artist, which is a good investment for something like your Core Rule Book.

We are living in the publishing future.

Comment: It all comes down to the OGL (Score 5, Interesting) 195

by Sasayaki (#47709393) Attached to: Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons Player's Handbook Released

Long time d20 (and variants) player here. Not as long as some, but long enough to have played 2nd Edition when it was still current.

IMHO, 5th Edition's success will come down to their acceptance of the OGL (Open Gaming Licence), which we will discover in the coming days. All signs point to no, but Wizards might surprise us yet.

For those who don't know, the OGL was introduced in the 3rd edition (and continued its minor update, v3.5) of D&D. It was truly revolutionary. The OGL not only permitted players to redistribute the base rule system as they wished, including publishing it online for free almost in its entirety, but empowered players, writers, and campaign masters to edit, change and adapt the rules as they saw fit -- and publish those changes, as long as they too were under the OGL. It's open source for gaming systems.

One of the leading benefits of this was the publication of "Adventure Paths". As the OGL did not cover game worlds, only the mechanics and rules of the game, any writer or publishing company with a solid working knowledge of the game could create, publish, and distribute (freely or for profit) their own adventures, rules variations, optional mechanics, and thousands of various changes. One of the leading companies was Paizo, who specialized in publishing these so-called Adventure Paths. They were not the only ones. For example, I personally published a Pathfinder flavoured novel about a kobold, "Ren of Atikala", set in the original world of Drathari (oblig. plug: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00EZ...). Using the OGL, I am able to legally use, alter, and draw inspiration from the rules and mechanics of OGL-licensed publications and create original works.

As I said earlier, it's open-source for gaming systems.

Between 3rd edition and v3.5, this was the state of D&D for almost 8 years, until June of 2008, when D&D 4th Edition was released. Unfortunately, D&D 4th Edition used a different version of the OGL, which was much more restrictive in what it permitted players, authors, and creators to edit, change, and redistribute (IIRC, it was essentially, "you may only reprint the *name* of the rule, and then reference the Player's Handbook", which meant if you were playing Star Wars you had to look up Power Attack in the D&D Player's Handbook... ugh).

Because of this change, and the simplifications made to the rules system which were often disfavourably compared to a video game, many players took a distinct, sight-unseen dislike to 4th Edition.

This restrictive change to the OGL also strongly disinsentivised Paizo from publishing Adventure Paths. After some internal discussion, it was decided that 4th Edition was not for them, and released a revised version of v3.5 of Dungeons and Dragons, known as the Pathfinder RPG (sometimes informally referred to by the player base as D&D v3.75), specifically intended to be backwards compatible with v3.5 of Dungeons and Dragons material. It was published shortly after 4th Edition's debut.

For many reasons -- a feeling that v3.5 was "good enough", Paizo's open-beta policy and staunch support of the OGL even for expansion books, and for viewing companies such as Green Ronin as allies rather than competitors -- Pathfinder has flourished in the wake of the relatively-poorly received 4th edition and is now a common staple at Roleplaying conventions and tabletop gaming communities, where previously only Dungeons and Dragons was played.

D&D Next seems, to me, to be squarely aimed directly at bringing Pathfinder converts back into the fold, promising to address some of the issues in both 4th Edition and Pathfinder, by providing a linearly scaling advancement, reducing preparation time for Game Masters, and simplifying many poorly thought out and complicated legacy rules which most players will admit probably need to go.

For me, though, D&D Next will live or die the same death 4th Edition did, based on its acceptance of OGL. Gamers typically play the most popular gaming system, even if it's not necessarily the best. If 5th Edition doesn't have a full OGL, then irrespective of what it does wrong or what it does right, Pathfinder (and the huge-mongous amount of compatible 3rd party expansions, modifications, and adventures) will just crush it.

Paizo knows this, though, and I think they're afraid. They recently announced Pathfinder Unchained, a variant (but still, in many ways, compatible and familiar) reworking of many base classes to free them of "legacy cruft". Clearly, this change is a counter-point to 5th Edition, and Paizo's platform of "small, incremental change" has worked well for them in the past... but the first OGL version of Dungeons and Dragons is now 14 years old and there is a feeling, in some corners, that a true revolution is needed.

It is clear that the future is currently in flux, and on the year of Dungeons and Dragons's 40th birthday I can't help but shake a distinct feeling that, for Wizards of the Coast, D&D Next will either be the product that restores Dungeons and Dragons to its former glory as the undisputed champion of tabletop roleplaying systems, or the anchor that drags the brand down to a final, well earned resting place in the annals of roleplaying history.

The 5th Edition organised play campaign seems interesting, though.

Comment: Re:This actually makes perfect sense. (Score 3, Informative) 116

by hey! (#47708377) Attached to: Scientists Find Traces of Sea Plankton On ISS Surface

Except water vapor is the gaseous form of water; the plankton would have to be transported on individual molecules of water to reach the ionosphere.

If plankton were transportable in microscopic *droplets* in the troposphere as you suggest, a more plausible explanation is that the equipment was contaminated -- both the station itself and the gear used to test it.

Comment: Re:Trust, but verify (Score 1) 168

I disagree. It means trust but don't rely entirely on trust when you have other means at your disposal.

Consider a business deal. You take the contract to your lawyer and he puts all kinds of CYA stuff that supposedly protects you against bad faith. But let me tell you: if the other guy is dealing in bad faith you're going to regret getting mixed up with him, even if you've got the best lawyer in the world working on the contract. So you should only do critical deals with parties you trust.

But if the deal is critical, you should still bring the lawyer in. Why? Because situtations change. Ownership and management change. Stuff can look different when stuff doesn't go the way everyone hoped. People can act differently under pressure. Other people working at the other company might not be as trustworthy as the folks sitting across the table from you. All kinds of reasons.

So you trust, but verify that the other party can't stab you in the back, because neither method is 100% effective. It's common sense in business, and people usually don't take it personally. When they *do*, then that's kind of fishy in my opinion.

User Journal

Journal: Mars, Ho! Chapter Forty Two

Journal by mcgrew

Boarded!
Me and Bill hauled ass out of there towards Mars as fast as his crippled boat would take him. I did another inspection because first, I hadn't done a full inspection yet that day, second because I'd pushed her pretty hard, and third because I sure didn’t need any new surprises. We were at a third gravity because of Bill, and he was having a hard time keeping up. A third gravity? On batteries? I need to have him teach me some of that nerd

Comment: Re:Omission (Score 1) 264

I think you're mixing up programs. The mobile command center is probably not military surplus, it was likely purchased and customized under a homeland security grant.

These things aren't unreasonable purchases for a medium-sized city like Milford. They aren't military vehicles, the're basically mobile office space.

Comment: Re:No (Score 1) 264

Irrelevant. Cops are SUPPOSED to shoot people because that's what they are paid for.

No they are not supposed to, nor is that what they are paid for. Sometimes they *have* to shoot people, but that is and should be regarded as a failure, albeit sometimes an avoidable one.

Modern policing is governed by the "Peelian Principles" (for Sir Robert Peel). The very first principle: "To prevent crime and disorder, as an alternative to repression by military force and severity of legal punishment." Furthermore, the principles state that policing is only effective if it can secure the respect and cooperation of the public and "the extent to which the co-operation of the public can be secured diminishes proportionately the necessity of the use of physical force and compulsion for achieving police objectives." (principle 4)

So the idea that it's part of a cop's job description to shoot people is rubbish. It's a cop's job to keep the peace, and if a good cop shoots someone it's because it's the lesser of two failures.

Comment: Re:increased mutation rates = survival code kicked (Score 1) 116

by hey! (#47686389) Attached to: Fukushima's Biological Legacy

On the other hand, an idea that can explain anything isn't really scientific. There's no question that evolution by natural selection is a scientific idea, but somehow it gets garbled in translation into an "organism trying to find a variation". In other cases (visible in this discussion) it's seen as benign intelligent force that will compensate for our mistakes. You can purge the white-bearded sky god from your iconography, but it's harder to get him out of your thinking.

Man must shape his tools lest they shape him. -- Arthur R. Miller

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