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Gathering of Engineers

Ludographic considerations from the Silicon Forest

Monday, February 13, 2006

February Potpourri

A lot of topics this month, but they are all linked to line items from my New Year’s resolutions: selling games; working on prototypes; and running events at Game Storm.




This past weekend, I packed up the first of two suitcases with games to sell at the Rainy Day Games auction later this month. It appears I have already rid myself of most of the wheat last year, as what I have left is largely chaff. I am certainly not expecting to haul in as much as I did last year, where I averaged ~$17 a game. Here is what is in the first batch:

  • Now that I have stopped buying every single Kosmos 2-player game that has been released, I can allow myself to dispose of the ones that I own: Balloon Cup; Caesar & Cleopatra; Elchfest; Lord of the Rings: the Duel.
  • A bundle of Wizard Kings products: original set, four expansion maps, and two expansion armies. I understand that different rule sets and scenarios have been released that “fix” the game, but it all seems like too much work for what is a rather constrained system. I will stick with CCGs and Titan for fantasy-themed warfare.
  • Various obscure Euros from a few years ago that flopped in their first playings: Evergreen; Die Weinhandler (the Piatnik release, not the recent card game); Machu Picchu; X.Net. I figure that there must be at least a couple of completists in the area who would pick these up for a few bucks.
  • A couple of games that do not require snide comments to justify dumping: Family Business; Africa 1880.
  • A Cheapass Hip Pocket bundle: Agora, Nexus, Cube Farm, Steam Tunnel. These games cover the full range of mediocrity.
  • Time’s Up: Got it off of a prize table at a con. I play this enough at cons using other folks’ copies.
  • Industria: In our first game, I did absolutely nothing for a long stretch of the game, and still placed second. A pretty game, but it failed to engage me.
  • Two Avalanche Press games using roughly the same system: Granada and Tears of the Dragon. The former was decent enough in its trial run, but I am highly selective of which wargames to add to my short rotation; the latter added a fantasy setting and spell subsystem to it, but it appears to be an absolute mess – and I rarely use that term with games.

My second load will be made up of my Panzer Grenadier Bundle (5 games), my Down in Flames bundle (also 5 games), and two games of opened and sorted – yet largely unpunched – Pirates of the Spanish Main cards.



There were a lot of games that I held onto for many years just because I had the storage space. Now that the closet is almost full, I find it hard to let go of many of them because they might be fun to play with my daughter Ruoda several years from now. Never mind that there are plenty of other games I own to play with her that I do enjoy, and that the number of such games far outweighs what I had as a kid both in terms of quality and quantity; I expect no more rationality in my decisions to sell games as there was in buying them. With that in mind:

TOP TEN CRAPPY GAMES I AM HOLDING ONTO FOR RUODA’S SAKE.

  1. Lord of the Rings (with Friends & Foes expansion) – She might turn into one of those kids who cannot handle competition, so I better keep a cooperative game around just in case. However, with me as her dad, she be more likely to be reading Pratchett than Tolkien.
  2. The Bucket King – At least until I find a better game with cute barnyard animals
  3. Fossil – How much more boring is actual paleontology than playing this game? Because I would like her to at least learn that much from the experience.
  4. Tally Ho / Gone Fishing – Every little girl needs to be exposed to hunting and fishing, and I would rather it be with me than, say, Dick Cheney. Beer not included.
  5. Big City – I can sell it as re-experiencing the nightmare of Portland-area urban planning.
  6. Hare & Tortoise – I am sure that, with my math education background, I can find better ways to get her to do arithmetic willingly. But I’ll keep this around as a fallback plan.
  7. Runebound (1st ed.) – Just in case she is into this sort of thing. I hope not, else she might resent me for not picking up 2nd edition and all of its expansions.
  8. Africa / Goldland - No matter how dry/dull you make the rest of the game, exploration games are still fun for kids of all ages, especially when they feature Goldsieber’s luscious production.
  9. Roborally (with expansions) – The coolness/cuteness factor is way too high for me to part with this.
  10. “Crayon Rails” series / “Ticket to Ride” series / “Trans*” series / “10 Days in” series – Is it not enough that we have two world maps hanging up in her playroom? Geography is overrated…


A month ago when reading the D&D Forgotten Realms campaign sourcebook, I was looking at the spell “Gemblast” when an idea came to me for a game. I came up with a rev 0 ruleset within 24 hours, and, soon after, had a rev 1 made and ready for playtesting. I have never completed a multi-player design before, so that was encouraging. I have no ambition to be published, and I do not think I am capable of producing anything original or tight enough to be worth marketing, as I fall too hard for my themes. However, some of the playtest feedback was positive, although it clearly is targeting a narrow niche. So, I thought I would make this available free for PDF download, releasing it via this blog in the next couple of months after I do a bit more playtesting. Perhaps I can fulfill my Game Storm resolution by holding a playtest session...

My main concern of self-publishing is the price of Adobe Acrobat. I would probably use it for this and my 2-player design (which I may also release the same way), and perhaps for archiving articles from this blog. That’s a lot of money to invest in small-time vanity projects… Does anyone ever use Word for self-publishing? Are there pros/cons other than platform support?



This past week, Kosmos/Mayfair announced the English edition of the Candamir character builder. My wife has not been willing to try many new titles with me the past few years, but now I think I have a way to get this one onto the table:





One of my stretch goals this year was to do something memorable at Game Storm. With the Candamir editor, I now have an idea. The hotel has wireless, so if I bring a laptop, digital camera, and a color printer, then I can make custom cards for participants. They can play the game as themselves and have a (worthless) souvenir to take home with them afterwards. If the logistics prove to be prohibitive, perhaps instead I will go with Celebrity Death Match Candamir: six contestants, two 3-player semi-finals; top 3 finishers battle it out in the finals. Here are the contenders, all legal with a value of exactly 40 points each:





7 Comments:

  • At 12:17 PM, Blogger Eric said…

    Lot's o' stuff...

    Re: the Panzer Grenadier stuff. If Guadalcanal is one of the ones you're disposing of, talk to me.

    PDFs: Switch to Open Office, and you can export directly as PDF. The latest version should have too much trouble importing your existing docs, either, though you might have some minor reformatting to do, depending on how esoteric you've gotten in your Word usage.

    Candamir: great idea, but will it be possible to effectively stay "in character" for the duration of the game?

     
  • At 1:28 PM, Blogger dave said…

    "If Guadalcanal is one of the ones you're disposing of"

    It isn't; I stopped collecting them as of Afrika Korps. Even if I had it, it would be tough for me to part with a PTO game (although I am pretty tempted to part with my AH Midway/Guadalcanal bundle).

    "Switch to Open Office"

    Thanks for the tip. I'm surprised that Adobe allow this. Are there cooler formatting things I can do with Acrobat?

    "will it be possible to effectively stay "in character" for the duration of the game?"

    Assuming you are talking about the celebrity version, I don't think that that's too much of a problem, as Candamir isn't really a role-playing game. Won't know until I try it! I came up with 3 more characters, so I can have 3 3-player games with the winners playing in a final match.

     
  • At 5:22 PM, Blogger Eric said…

    "Thanks for the tip. I'm surprised that Adobe allow this. Are there cooler formatting things I can do with Acrobat?"

    The PDF format is, apparently, fully documented so it's not difficult at all to create one. (or, at least prior versions are fully documented - you might need Adobe tools to create the latest/"greatest.") MSFT is finally getting around to supporting PDF in the next Office, IIRC.

    I've only used full Acrobat to create PDFs of image collections, so I've never really messed around with it in detail. No idea if it'll give you more control than your native app would.

     
  • At 6:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I publish documents in PDF format as part of my daily job, and would suggest that Open Office is a good idea.

    At least 99% of the formatting should be finished before passing the document to Acrobat (or your free PDF generator), so you really aren't missing out on anything important by skipping the Acrobat license.

    My two cents: If you do want to take the release more seriously, your money is better spent on desktop publishing software than Acrobat. (Ventura, FrameMaker, QuarkXPress, etc.)

     
  • At 8:58 PM, Blogger Chris Brooks said…

    Open Office is a good choice. If you prefer to still work in Word, consider using the much cheaper PDF-Xchange:

    http://www.docu-track.com/home/prod_user/pdfxchange_lite/

     
  • At 9:28 PM, Blogger dave said…

    Thanks to all for the tips. A friend sent me a private note with a link to http://www.pdf995.com/, which is similar to but cheaper than PDF-Xchange.

    There are other cool products like Adobe InDesign, but I'll probably stick with Word for now - I'm not that serious about it. :)

     
  • At 4:57 PM, Blogger Dug said…

    I want to be Dubya in Celeb Death Match Candamir, as I've been watching lots of Jon Stewart and feel I have the "heh-heh-heh" thing down. Sadly, I'll be in Canada that week, and getting back will be a problem once the Feds read this comment.

     

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