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Comment: Re:Can a little guy publish successful PNP RPG tod (Score 4, Informative) 131

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) 131

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:us other engineers matter, too (Score 1) 368

If you're good you should be in charge of more people

Ummm, no. The skills required to be a good engineer are not the skills required to be a good manager of engineers. There's some overlap, sure, but you can be an outstanding engineer but have poor leadership skills, or be an amazing and revered leader but terrible at actually designing the stuff your people are working on.

You should be in charge of exactly as many people as you are good at being in charge of. That's unrelated to how good you are at being one of the workers.

Comment: Business relationship (Score 4, Interesting) 109

by demachina (#47684425) Attached to: Why the Universe Didn't Become a Black Hole

So does ./ have some kind of promotional relationship with startswithabang? If so you should disclose it.

The blog does have interesting material, and its appropriate for /., so its not like its bad that every article on there is making the /. front page. But its kind of odd that every article on there is making the ./ front page.

Comment: Re:While Buying Back $1.5 Billion In Stock (Score 1) 206

Have you ever lived paycheck-to-paycheck?

Yes, sometimes for surprisingly long stretches. And one of the reasons for that is the incredibly high taxes that chip away at what would be a middle-class (especially self-employed) income even as other costs of living go up (including especially, spectacularly because of Obamacare, health insurance - in our case, our bottom line was reduced by almost $1k per month more, even as our deductible went up from $2k/year to $12.5k/year - what a deal!). A large part of my income is transferred - very inefficiently, via many poorly run, redundant layers of city, county, state, and federal government - to other people. The only time something the recipients of those transfers transfer something back to me is when I take yet more money - out of what I have left after taxes - and buy something they do, if they work to provide goods or services. And no, not becoming criminals, or not living in diseased squalor isn't them doing something for me in exchange for those taxed days of working, just like you offering to not burn down my house isn't you working to maintain civilization.

Subsidies for the poor do far more...

Like allow the purchase of snack food, smokes and booze via an absurd mechanism for doling out other people's money through debit cards. Like paying for advertising to push government dependency programs that the program administrators (whose pay bonuses depend on getting more people hooked on the programs they run!) find sometimes frustratingly hard to make stick because of that pesky self-reliance instinct found in some communities. Quick, put together a weekly radio drama preaching the entitlement lifestyle! True, media coverage finally shamed the feds into shifting that program a little more under ground.

We recently moved out of our neighborhood of 20 years where, for example, a house a few doors down (like several more within blocks) was owned by the city. It was provided for free (no rent, no utilities to pay for, free Verizon FiOS bundle, free city-paid landscapers coming by regularly to mow the grass) to a 19-year-old woman that a judge decided would be better off no longer associating with her drug-dealing father and brother. The rule? It had to be a no-males-allowed household. So, her mom moved in, too. Hmmm? Who are all of those guys that we see pulling up at all hours? Ah, the local off-hours county cop hired by the neighborhood to hang out near our houses at night (big problem, locally, with MS-13) reported that the two women were now running a flop house and brothel, and a couple of drug dealers they'd invited in were scary enough that he (armed, and in uniform) would never venture near that house without substantial backup. The social workers and city rental property inspectors refused to set foot in the place, having had threats delivered to them at home by MS-13 messengers.

So, every day I got to wake up, put in 12 or 16 hours of work, and might as well have just walked some of my cash right up the street and handed it over to the "poor" household that was receiving 100% county housing subsidies worth about $3500/month, free food, free medical care, free transportation (each of the women piled it on over 12 months until they were morbidly obese, and thus being deemed handicapped, qualified for on-demand free door-to-door personal driver service from the local county transport system's fleet of taxpayer-funded and fueled minivans), and all of the tax-free cash they could squeeze out of the gang members who operated out of their all-female, family-only city-approved Nurturing, Safety, And Growth house. Out on the curb for trash pickup? Boxes for new 60" Sony TVs and similar purchases, week-in, week-out. The house's "guests" and clientele were blocking everyone's parking, leaving trash and broken bottles everywhere, and the home owners' association's attempts to have the residents evicted was met with a legal interception and law suit by a local activist organization claiming it was part of a gentrification conspiracy by outsiders, blah blah blah. The HOA couldn't afford to continue to defend against that crap, and just gave up. The "resident" of the house was the city's social program do-gooders, and they simply refused to communicate about the matter or any complaint, ever, in any way.

So like others on the street, we hemorrhaged a huge bunch of money, setting us back years, and bugged out. And got to hear complaints about what obvious racists we were for leaving. You want social ostracism? Talk to the gang of illegals running a drug and human trafficking operation out of the neighborhood - ask them who was doing the ostracizing. You want disease concerns? Talk to the health inspectors threatened into not stopping by out of fear for their own lives (the main disease they worried about being a knife in the ribs).

In the meantime, the next block over, were acquaintances we'd made from half a dozen other countries - all immigrants who showed up in the US with essentially no resources by local standards, from Romania, El Salvador, Cameroon, Morocco, Brazil, China and more - who were working their asses off, living modestly, and buying small townhouses. Every one of them was panicked at the thought of losing the value of their homes because of the entitlement/subsidy lifestyle showing up in houses across the neighborhood. Those were people who left places rife with the slums you worry about, and who worked harder in the US (with language barrier disadvantages and more) than their "poor" local peers, and were making a real go of it. Entirely because of desire and work ethic, not because of perpetual, infinite (or any) safety nets.

Yes. When an immigrant family from rural Cameroon can - in the course of a few years holding multiple jobs and working their butts off - own a house, buy cars, pay (rather than soak up) taxes and send their kids to private schools for a decent education (despite also paying property taxes to send other people's kids to other schools)... when they can do that while living a block and half away from the other type of household I described, yes, I blame those poor for being poor. Because poverty doesn't go away through government entitlements, housing, and food. Those hand-outs don't fix poverty, they perpetuate it. We have decades of evidence showing that's true, and especially now in places like that neighborhood, multi-generation "poor" households have thriving immigrant families they could be watching and emulating ... but that's way too much trouble when there's free housing, food, medical care, and the rest. When Latino, African, and Asian immigrants can in a few years work their way from essentially poverty to a comfortable middle-class lifestyle while the local "poor" folks simply won't do the very same, exact things day-to-day that the immigrants do in order to be comfortable, I've got no interest in hearing your lecture us about who to blame.

Comment: Re:Is the complexity of C++ a practical joke? (Score 0) 418

by Just Some Guy (#47673365) Attached to: Interviews: Ask Bjarne Stroustrup About Programming and C++

Programming is complex, system's programming doubly so and C++ is designed to help reduce that complexity, while at the same time remaining resource efficient, when it's used correctly. If it's too hot to handle for you there is always Visual Basic.

Or Go, which looks a lot like C Done Right, was designed for systems programming, and has a positively minimal learning curve compared to C++. I get why C++ exists and what problems it aims to solve, but I don't think I'd want to have to use it to solve those problems when there are more programmer-friendly alternatives.

Comment: Re:just ask carriers. (Score 1) 246

by Just Some Guy (#47664741) Attached to: The IPv4 Internet Hiccups

I have Comcast, and have native IPv6 over my home-grade Internet connection. I can ping6 www.google.com from my autoconfigured laptop without problems.

I don't doubt that they're slow rolling it out everywhere, because when has Comcast ever been in a great hurry to upgrade their network? But here, at least, it works as advertised.

Comment: Re:Betteridge (Score 1) 246

by Just Some Guy (#47664709) Attached to: The IPv4 Internet Hiccups

My ISP does IPv6, as does all my equipment. I had to disable it so that the rest of my family doesn't wonder why random sites don't work on their PC but work fine on their phone and while I can't remember the ones off to the top of my head, there are some big ones that regularly fuck up.

Wow, your setup sucks. My ISP offers native IPv6 and all our laptops, tablets, etc. come up with both protocols live. I have literally never, not once, zero times, ever had a problem that traced back to having IPv6 enabled. Maybe we just buy better equipment or have a better ISP or something, because it Just Works for everyone in our household.

The bugs you have to avoid are the ones that give the user not only the inclination to get on a plane, but also the time. -- Kay Bostic

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