Friday, February 29, 2008

Now You Get It, Right?

Here's Scratch Factory's True20 Prehistoric Bestiary as an Issuu display. I'm pretty thrilled about that. I mean, that's just cool, right there.

Not sure I'm crazy about the thickness of those borders. Well, it's a work in progress. You know how it is.

The other thing to announce is that tomorrow is Haru Matsuri at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Center, and we of Tokumeikan will be demonstrating. Demonstrations are always very exciting. I will have more to say on this topic (or perhaps some related topic) soon.

Finally, Gordon Liu is only in Peacock King for about ten minutes, but it's worth watching the whole film for those ten minutes. Man THROWS DOWN.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Less Important, More Pretty

Todd Harris, one of Disney's concept artists, has been one of my favourite artists ever since he did a series of Asian Adventurers PC portraits for Wizards years back -- those pictures ending up inspiring my near-legendary Kung-Fu Angels games.

Anyway, Mr Harris has posted a very cool time-lapse of his rendering process. It's like one of those painting shows that used to be on TV, only instead of painting landscapes with happy little trees, he's drawing a hot chick with a sword.

Truly, a man after my own heart.

The other really cool thing for today is Issuu. I believe these guys have just solved the problem of reading stuff online. And it's not Kindle, folks. It's free.

I'm still checking it all out, but I expect to be uploading all my True20 pdfs and more to come in the near future. This is cool.

This Is Important

Pay attention: the Tories are trying to pass a bill that will allow the Minister of Canadian Culture to deny tax credits to already-completed TV and film productions. This means that you can get all your financing in place, shoot your production, and then go to recoup your expenses (say, via a Telefilm grant -- which is dependent on your production getting that CanCon tax credit), and then have some bureaucrat, with no accountability to anyone, decide that today, your production doesn't count, and so you're hosed.

We're talking about millions of dollars that WON'T get invested in Canadian productions because nobody will know if they're getting their money back until after they've already spent it.

Denis McGrath tells you what to do. Go and do it.

This bill is already in its third reading, so it could become law any time. Move fast.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Oh Phew

We're back, and hopefully for good at last.

There's still some hosting shenanigans to take care of, but hopefully that can all go on behind the scenes.

Good grief, what a mess. That's three weeks of my life I'll never get back. Good thing I was unemployed.

It's always a bad thing when your hosting provider calls you and says, "So, do you have any backups of your site?"

Kids, I'm here to tell you to make sure that answer is always, "YES, BY GOD!"

We'll be posting a few things pretty soon, but just wanted to let the world know we're back, and DINO-PIRATES OF NINJA ISLAND is closer than ever!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Little Excitement

You may have noticed that things have been kind of... borked... around here of late. Well, everyone's trying very hard, we assure you. But things are sort of up in the air just at the moment with our hosting. Stand by.

In the meantime, I just have to say that watching Jet Li and Jackie Chan go at each other in the cheeseball-but-kind-of-promising trailer to Forbidden Kingdom raised a few goosebumps. The history alone is reason to go see it, I reckon.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Star Destroyer Potemkin

(via A Swarm of Angels)

Battleship Potemkin done in Lego Star Wars. By extraordinarily clever people.

PART ONE




PART TWO




Clever, clever, clever.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Art n Stuff

This guy makes me very happy. Go browse around the site of Erwin Madrid, artist. I love especially the stuff displayed under "Personal Projects", like the image here -- lovely colour work and such specific lighting you can almost feel the sunshine on your face.

A lot of his Drake's Fortune stuff evokes the kind of feel I have in my mind for DINO-PIRATES OF NINJA ISLAND, the forthcoming logo for which I think I'm probably driving Claudio completely insane over with my endless suggestions for changes. But I know he doesn't mind.

Do you, Claudio?

And the logo is going to be majorly BAD-ASS. And I have previously demonstrated my expertise on that subject, so listen up.

In other news, Chuck Rice over at RPGObjects/Vigilance Press has announced plans to create a Clash of the Roses True20 game. Gaming in the world of Henry IV (parts one and two). As long as the soliloquy mechanic is good, I'm on board.

And my buddy Joshua notes that as AWESOME as Hot Pursuit was, it probably suffered from the "too many rules" disease that afflicted the d20 scene. I agree. And I think the right place to address that problem is the True20 release of my chase rules -- which will probably happen sometime in May.

I got interested in the idea of Passively Multi-player Online Games (I think via Metafilter), which then led me to the ideas of ludology, which have been helpful for me in clarifying what I find wrong about the notion that video-games form an important new art form. Ludology is the study of games AS games (as opposed to the study of games as narrative, or as demonstrations of economic choices, yada yada yada). And I came across this paper that outlined the following definitions of play and game:

Paidea [play] is "Prodigality of physical or mental activity which has no immediate useful objective, nor defined objective, and whose only reason to be is based in the pleasure experimented by the player".

Ludus [game] is a particular kind of paidea, defined as an "activity organized under a system of rules that defines a victory or a defeat, a gain or a loss."


Not bad definitions, all things considered. But interesting to note that under these definitions, RPGs don't actually have to be games. A table-top RPG doesn't have to provide for victory or gain via the rules. Many do, but they don't have to. It's possible to run a game where gain is acquired externally to the rules -- through the story being told, or just by DM fiat.

For example, my Barsoom campaign eschewed such mechanics as experience points -- I simply decided when I wanted my players to go up a level, and they did. There was no rule that defined that gain for the players. Under the definition above, Barsoom was play, but it was not a game.

Well, you can get too tied up in definition. But I've always been fonder of playing without rules than with. I just like making up stories with my friends.

Finally, Steven Brust is a great writer, and he wrote a Firefly novel that's free. Go. Read. Play.

Another Sort of Value

So a while back I posted on how Paizo is providing a certain kind of value to my gaming. Something interesting in the whole "providing value to gamers" world has been going on over in the True20 world.

Green Ronin seem to be taking almost the direct opposite approach with True20 that Paizo is taking with Pathfinder. Instead of providing specific, encounter-level detail, GR are working on providing genre-level rules detail. I think it's an approach that will bear dividends. True20 is turning into the ultimate DM's toolkit system. Instead of releasing adventures and campaign setting material, GR put out non-genre-specific rulebooks that invite DMs to pick and choose, selecting just the components that will suit their games.

There can't ever be a "standard" way to play True20 -- any incarnation of the game will have to embody a set of choices on the part of the DM as to what the setting will be, what backgrounds will be used, what options will be available to the player. The game is literally unplayable with all the options included. It's fascinating, and very suited to my "kitbashing" approach to DMing.

They're now releasing a set of "Handbooks" for each "Role" in the game -- Warrior, Expert and Adept. And while that may sound like the "Classbooks" that Wizards releases for D&D, the difference here is again that the options provided are not all consistent with each other, and no campaign could ever support all possibilities. The DM has to decide what kind of campaign to run and then make choices as to which options support that.

Green Ronin's strategy appears to be to allow third-party developers to create campaign settings and adventures for their system -- they're opening up the True20 license later this year to make it easy (and free) for folks to create True20-compatible products. Interesting how this is pretty much exactly the strategy originally designed for D&D with the creation of the Open Gaming License. Wizards is moving away from Open Gaming with the forthcoming edition of D&D, and GR seems willing to take up the mantle.

It's an interesting move and it should prove to be a fascinating year in the industry. As a believer of the idea that free markets generate the most value, I'm obviously rooting for True20. But we shall see what we shall see.

In other news, 2008 remains murky.