Monday, August 21, 2006

Cool Quote

I always felt though that I wanted to live a brilliant life you know and I sort of figured why bother living if you’re not going to try to like do something wonderful. - David Winer

Find the entire interview this quote came from, and others like it, here.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

No Ptolus Review Here

Sorry, but I simply don't have the sort of disposable income required to pick up a book like that, especially one I'm unlikely to use. Only once have I DMed a campaign out of a box, and only briefly at that. Still, it does look like a yummy thing, full of cool ideas, so I'm eager to hear what others are saying about it myself.

With any luck, we may have a review at Kill the Wizard First, sometime in the near future.

No pressure, Mr. Vogel. ;)

UPDATE: Get your Ptolus review right here: My god, it's full of awesome.

AKA, one more excuse to finally do what you know you want to do, have wanted to do since you first got a glimmer of what Monte was up to. Yes, I can feel your RPG-book lust flow through you. Type in Monte's URL and your journey to the dark side will be complete! ;D

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

True20 Feats Categorized

Over on the True20 forums, Bhikku writes:

If you're anything like me, you're using True 20 to introduce new players to your favorite hobby. But if your new players are anything like mine, they're a little overwhelmed by a huge menu of choices - particularly when it comes to feats. Sure, the role-specific feat lists are elegant yet comprehensive, but my players have been prone to passing up general feats that would serve their concepts quite well simply because the list is a little intimidating. And so many of the feats are combat-oriented that a player looking to enhance her hero's integration into the setting & its societies has difficulty locating her kind of feats - while, on the other hand, the adept who wants to gain a slight edge in combat wants to see all of his preferred feats at once.

There's no perfect solution, but here's at least a decent one. I've broken the General Feats list down into a few smaller, thematic lists.
What follows is a categorized list of the general feats. It certainly looks much friendlier to me. If you're a True20 fan, check it out.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Dragonlance Movie Concept Art

Finally, we get a hint of what some of the major characters will look like. Keep in mind that this is black-and-white concept art still. Not final versions. Frankly, we won't be able to say much about the quality until we can see the final versions on the final background moving about. Animation is tricky that way. Something that looks great standing still could be horrible in motion, and vice versa.

That said, what I see here strongly reminds me of the old Hanna-Barbera stuff from the 80's. No, not the wonky Captain Caveman much loved by the Trollwife, but the more realistic, "dramatic" shapes. Anyone worried about a strong anime influence can probably relax. Not an oversized eye to be seen. And I'm not seeing much toy-manufacturer influence either; the weapons are properly proportioned to the bodies, instead of being oversized and unwieldy. This makes me even more curious about how the characters will move. If I never see anyone do a summersault through the air during a battle scene, I'll be a much happier Troll. ;)

Things That Make You Go, "Maybe Cool."

First, there’s this from Microsoft, via f13. Stephen Zepp of Garage Games has this to say in the comments:

Basically what it boils down to is that this version of the framework is not intended to make game developers money in the short term. You cannot sell your games via the Express version, and you cannot (currently) even distribute outside of the Live Arcade interface. the purpose behind this is to get the power and money of Microsoft behind a gaming industry grass roots movment back towards innovation and gameplay instead of sequels and multi-million dollar budgets.

This might be a big deal. And it might not. This isn’t a magical ap that allows you to build a game without coding. It is the magical ap that allows people who want to code the opportunity to share their joy with x-box users. It will allow the kid today who wants to be a game programmer the chance to show up for his first job interview with a portfolio in hand. It will probably allow the half-mad genius with the new spin on computer gaming the desperately needed opportunity to break into the mainstream.

I’m still trying to decide if that’s a good idea or not. It probably is. Mainstream computer games certainly need the shot in the arm.

And speaking of shots in the arm, two of my favorite computer game makers, Bioware and Simutronics, aren’t exactly teaming up, but do seem to be splashing in the same puddles here. (Via the Ziggurat of Doom!) I like that Bioware isn’t interested in spending resources reinventing the wheel. But we’ll have to see if this here HeroEngine thingy is what Bioware needs and if it’s stable enough and easy enough to use for it to actually be useful. Neither outfit is a bunch of young punks hacking code in a basement. So ease of use and stability are probably there. I’m very curious to see what Bioware, a company famous for the depth and story of their RPGs, does with a MMOG. I doubt it will be the online LARP I’m waiting for, but I’m hopeful.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Catching Up with the Dragonlance Movie

Ugh! I let myself get sick, and I fall so far behind. :p

Ok, lots of movement on the Dragonlance movie since last I updated. First, Keifer “Jack Bauer” Sutherland is voicing Raistlin. A good choice, I think. He may be the man from “24” to most folks, but I’ll always think of him as the leader of the “Lost Boys”. The rest of the cast list can be found here, complete with links to their IMDB profiles. Just clicking a few at random, it looks like almost all of them have pretty heavy voice acting résumés.

On the art front, there’s still not much info yet. Kunoichi Creative, the company handling the animation, did post on the official forums to try to quiet fears of a “manga” style Dragonlance. Frankly, I wouldn’t have minded something reminiscent of “Record of Lodoss War”, but I can certainly understand how some people feel anime is a fad whose time has passed. I don’t agree, mind you, but it is everywhere these days in the USA.

Words are nice, but nothing compares to seeing the actual work itself. As it so happens, both Weis and Hickman make “cameo” appearances in the movie, and you can see how they were rendered by the artists here. Not bad. I certainly don’t want to stab my eyes out. The clothing is the odd, anachronistic mishmash one expects to find at Renaissance faires, which is a tad disappointing. I doubt we’ll see much, if any, influence from Elmore or Caldwell. There’s some concern that they look too bright and clean, but I suspect we see them early in the movie before all the horror and war have begun. Still, I'm not expecting to see a Frazetta brought to life here. I very much want to catch of glimpse of these figures in motion, what the backgrounds will look like, and I’m especially curious about the dragons. Dragons are not easy to draw well, and I’ve seen some real stinkers, even from professionals who make their livings creating fantasy art. (My favorite dragons are those done by Den Beauvais, especially the ones appearing on the covers of Dragon Magazine back in the ‘80’s.)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Build Your Own Space Opera Show

Over on her live journal, 3jane wrote:

So, having bitched about SG1/SGA, I then sat down to think about what I do and don't like about them, which blends nicely with my tendency to wander back and forth from campus while listening to various geek mixes on my iPod and contemplating what I do and don't like about other space operas. And so, in the spirit of how I vaguely understand fantasy football to work, I'm attempting a fantasy space opera, pulling elements I like from individual shows. (And because one can't play fantasy football/fantasy space opera alone, I hereby invite others to play.)

So, limiting myself to TV, just as a matter of practical necessity, what do I choose?

Dr. Who: Diverse cultures, alien aliens, extended stories that aren’t tied up all nice and neat at the end of an episode, likeable but not always understandable heroes, and a slightly offbeat sense of humor and fashion.

Blake’s 7: Utter scoundrels for “heroes” like Avon, and sleek, cool villains like Servelan who you still admire, even as you recognize that both sorts are moral cripples.

Original Star Trek: Being out on the edge, pushing the envelope, seeing things that no one else has ever seen before. The mutability of cultures. The importance of principles. Starships and faster-than-light travel, though I think I prefer the hyperspace technology of…

Babylon 5: Oh, where to start? Talk about an embarrassment of riches! The courage to not be what everyone expects. A real, serial story with a beginning, middle, and end. Mystery and ancient civilizations. Romance. Moral dilemma that can’t be easily resolved. Facing the tough choices and then enduring the consequences of those choices. Aliens that don’t act like people. Aliens that don’t look like people. Real science. No magical shields. Exceptional music. Better-than-average special effects. Original starship designs. Great costuming. Truth. The willingness to do unpleasant things to characters, cultures, entire planets when the story demands it. Heart-lifting victory. Heart-rending tragedy.

Andromeda: Peoples who are not nice, but must be dealt with, and not merely as villains.

Babylon 5 – Crusade: The mythic quest, in almost Arthurian style.

Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Broad, sweeping saga, huge cast, conflicted heroes, opposing heroes who are both worthy of victory, and the evil of corrupted and powerful individuals.

Vision of Escaflowne: Personal tragedy, swashbuckling adventure, fanciful technology, giant mecha, personal redemption, and science that acts like magic, tinkering with the very forces of fate itself.

Macross – Plus: Stories about people! Not machines or technologies or special effects.

Ghost in the Shell: Blurring the lines between people and machines. ;)

Firefly: Rogues, barely scraping by and holding their ship together with duct-tape and chickenwire. The nobility of common people, commerce, and trust.

Got a list of your own?