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Jeff's Gameblog
Sunday, 11 July 2004

Topic: RPGs
Got over to the Dragon's Table to spend my gifty certificate. Alas, no copy of SenZar to be found. I almost got The Palladium Book of Contemporary Weapons but settled on the Savage Worlds customizable GM screen. This is a lot like the Masterscreen product by Citizen Games, but is done in a landscape format for a lower profile. As I understand it Great White Games makes a PDF of screen-filler for each Savage Worlds campaign book as well as a generic one. But even if I don't end up running Necessary Evil or Savage Cyborgs 3025 or some other SW game I still think this screen will come in handy. Lotsa games don't have screens. I would really like to have a screen if I were to ever run World of Synnibarr or Cyborg Commando or Excursion into the Bizarre or kill puppies for satan. And some games have offical screens that frankly suck. I've never liked any Basic D&D screen I've ever seen. Some Call of Cthulhu screens have been kinda weak. And the original Exalted screen was just plain bad.

Posted by jrients at 4:00 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, 12 July 2004 9:11 AM CDT

Topic: Books
Earlier today I picked up my wife's copy of Al Franken's Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. Very entertaining book. My approach to this sort of book is a lot like my attitude towards Michael Moore's works: it doesn't matter that much to me if everything in the book is true. It's entertaining either way and pretty damning if even just a few accusations leveled at the Right are correct.

Posted by jrients at 3:34 PM CDT

So last night the Fergusons (my brother-in-law and his sons) and I played Safari Jack and Settlers of Catan. Good times. I came in second on the Settlers game. For my birthday they gave me a gift certificate to the Dragon's Table, the friendly local game store. Neato!

As we were picking up Catan to call it a night I asked the crew if they might be willing to play a four-handed chess variant at some point in the future. They indicated that they might be willing to attempt such an experiment. Guess I need to figure out which one to try and get a board and pieces put together. I supposed something that plays on a standard 8x8 board with orthodox pieces would be easiest to implement. That way all I'll need to do is paint some pieces in two additional colors.

Posted by jrients at 8:52 AM CDT
Saturday, 10 July 2004

avatardFinally got a chance to shave my head today. I feel so sleek and aerodynamic. My brother-in-law and his family are coming over tonight. They're bringing ice cream and presents in belated celebration of my wife and I surviving to yet another birthday. Even better, the bro-in-law and his sons will probably be able to play a game of some sort. I've got out my copy of Safari Jack from Cheapass Games but they may very well bring over something that they want to play. Either way, it's all good.

Posted by jrients at 4:29 PM CDT

Topic: Collecting Games
Well, I got outbid on one of the two items from Thursday's moment of weakness. I'm still in for minimum on the other item, a total committment of a fiver and change. Today I searched eBay for the two items I need for my "Android Dreams" article: White Wolf Magazine issue 10 and the old Gamma World module Epsilon Cyborgs. I came up empty on both. Maybe I should just post an incomplete first draft here to my blog and then finish it for my main website when I can lay my hands on this source material.

Posted by jrients at 11:57 AM CDT
Friday, 9 July 2004

Topic: Video Games
My wife ran to the store after my daughter went to bed, so like any redblooded gamer I broke out the porn, er I mean I broke out the videogames. Yeah, that's it. I got out both my gamesticks. These are joysticks that have some simple videogames hardwired into them. They plug right into your TV's AV ports, no console or nothin' required. One of my gamesticks plays old Namco coin-op games (Pac-Man, Rally-X, Galaxian, Dig Dug, and Bosconian) the other one plays 5 SpongeBob SquarePants themed games. I figured I'd do a quick run-thru of each game on both sticks before my wife got home. I started with the first game on the SpongeBob stick, entitled SpongeBob's Bubble Pop. I never got to the other games. Bubble Pop really got me hooked. By the time my wife got home I had continued my first game of it like 4 times. SpongeBob's Bubble Pop is based upon the old videogame Breakout, which I've encountered as an Atari cartridge but may have been a coin-op for all I know. A ball bounces around the screen and you have to destroy objects with it. BubblePop expands this basic formula by adding power-ups (like you might see in topscroller shoot-em-ups) and terrain (bumpers, critters, etc). Good game.

Posted by jrients at 9:32 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, 9 July 2004 9:36 PM CDT
Bummer, man.
Topic: RPGs
They upgraded the filter at work and RPG.net is now on the blocked list. Well, at least chessvariants.com is still okay.

Posted by jrients at 1:32 PM CDT
Announcing The Commercial Chess Variant Preservation Society
Topic: Chess Variants
Tishai (and the infantile storyline which accompanies it) was developed by James Ernest and John Bollinger while the two were in grade school. It was published as Cheapass Game #10 in 1997 and died the terrible slow death a chess variant deserves.
The above quote was written by James Ernest, the mad genius behind CheapAss Games. Obviously as a variantist himself Mr. Ernest is not attacking the concept of creating or playing chess variants. I think the point he is making is that chess variants are not a commercially viable product. Writing the rules of Tishai was not the sin, at least by Mr. Ernest's lights, the sin was publishing them with the goal of making money.

Commercial chess variants, like most other commercial gaming ventures, do not make money. I admit the possibility that [your favorite variant] may one day replace orthodox Chess as the worldwide abstract strategy game of choice, but I doubt that such a process will be an overnight money making sensation. Hell, you might as well try to dislodge Dungeons & Dragons as the leader in the roleplaying game hobby. During the months sometimes in 90's when TSR was on the verge of bankruptcy and they stopped printing new products D&D was only barely outsold by White Wolf. And D&D doesn't have nearly the fanbase or historical momentum of chess.

Where am I going with this? I'm not trying to discourage anyone from writing or even publishing chess variants. Instead, I think we should take the cold hard fact of the nonviability of commercial variants and run with it. The Chess Variants Pages has a fair number of external links to commercial variants. I think maybe the best ideas in these commercial variants need to be gleaned from theses sites and record on the CV Pages main site. Otherwise, when these variants fail as products they could very well also evaporate as ideas. Just because someone can't make a buck off of selling a variant set doesn't mean that the rules of the variant are bad. I'm certain that the commercial variants have plenty to contribute to the CV community. We need to preserve these ideas so that they survive the collapse of the business venture associated with them.

Posted by jrients at 10:29 AM CDT
Thursday, 8 July 2004
Fell off the wagon today.
Topic: Collecting Games
I allowed myself to be egged on by a nostalgic thread on RPG.net, resulting in me surfing over to eBay and bidding on a copy of Arms Law. If that wasn't bad enough, I then clicked "view seller's other items" and bid on a copy of one of Hogshead's (the old Hogshead) New Line rpgs. I'm only out about ten bucks if I win both auctions, but I'm still kicking myself for this moment of weakness. I suppose harping on myself won't do much good. I just need to try harder tomorrow.

Posted by jrients at 9:24 PM CDT
Updated: Saturday, 10 July 2004 9:11 AM CDT
An idea from a dream
The Agent is getting to old for this. He can't judo chop quite like he used to or shoot quite as straight. He's still lean and good-looking, but the scars and the grey hair keep telling him to retire. Unfortunately, he's too loyal to his boss at the Agency. And with command of a dozen languages, intimate knowledge of a dozen world hotspots, and friendly contact around the globe, the Agent is just too good an asset to let walk away.

The Kid is way too young to be in the middle of this stuff. But when a computer genius hacks the Agency mainframe and posts an impressive resume to the director's computer something had to be done. The Kid things we're playing a game here, so someone had to be assigned as a handler.

They fight crime!

In my dream the Agent was a friendly guy, tall and lanky, with a penchant for grey suits and striped ties. He liked sushi and motorcycles. The Kid was one of those nerdy little preteen towheads with thickframed glasses.

Posted by jrients at 10:04 AM CDT

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