Monthly Archives: December 2017

As 2017 comes to a close

So here we are on the last day of 2017 and all I really have to say is “Meh!”.

More Fantasy Trip

I sat down and generated a couple of characters. At first I was just going to do one Melee character and one Wizard character, but I decided to use the full TFT rules instead. I had not made a character for the game in many years and in fact I have never played this game as an RPG, only as a tactical combat game. Making a basic game character literally took 2 minutes, the advanced game took me less than 10. I have said for years that one of the things I admire about the Traveler game was that you could express a character in three lines on a note card, TFT characters are about the same.

There is something to be said about simplicity.

Fighter
ST 13 DX 10 IQ 9 MA 10
Talents: Bard, Horsemanship, Sex Appeal, Shield, Sword, Thrown Weapons
Equipment: Bastard Sword (2+1/3-2), 2 Daggers (1-1), Cloth Armor, Large Shield, Labyrinth Kit

Wizard
ST 9 DX 11 IQ 12 MA 10
Talents: Literacy
Spells: 3-Hex Fire, Drop Weapon, Far Vision, Fire, Fireball, Rope, Staff, Staff to Snake, Summon Wolf, Trailtwister, Trip
Equipment: Staff, Cloth Armor, Labyrinth Kit

Well stocked bug out bag

Okay so you did something stupid and it is a good possibility you will have to go on the run soon. You will not be able to take much with you, pretty much only what you can fit in a backpack, we are talking about a book bag here not a huge camping pack.

  • 2 Burner phones, buy them at different locations on different days, get extra time cards, pay cash for them.
  • Cash, as much as you can afford in a variety of small bills.
  • Visa/Mastercard gift card, again, as much as you can afford, oddly sometimes cash is not an option, pay for it with cash and activate it under a fake name.
  • Clothes, at least 1 change of clothes, a 3 pack of new underwear and socks is probably a good idea, oh and don’t forget a baseball cap and sun glasses.
  • Food, energy bars and water will be godsend if you find yourself hiding in a barn.

Did I forget anything? I am sure someone will suggest a gun and extra ammo, but I am really not a violent person, my instincts tend toward flight rather than fight and my plan is to never be in the position to need a gun.

Edit:

I was asked why 2 burner phones. The first one is so you can call your Mom or Sister or whatever before you disappear forever. This may sound stupid, but it actually serves a purpose, make the call at a bus station, then leave the phone there to be picked up by someone else, who is hopefully travelling in the different direction than you are.

RE: The Fantasy Trip Returns….Eventually

So I have been thinking about this for a little while now and I have been considering just what Steve Jackson might do with the property. Looking out at the internet, there is very little in the way of community around this game. other games of the time seem to be doing well, Tunnels & Trolls for instance has been in print pretty steadily for the last 10 years, Traveler as well and RuneQuest. So if there were a real hunger for this game, I would be able to find a some serious web space dedicated to it. Sure there are a couple of fan sites, but mostly they have not been updated in years and yes there are a couple of knock off game, but nothing that seems to be getting any traction. This brings me to the conclusion that there are at the outside a few hundred active players of this game. This is not a big customer base, sure there are more than a few people like me who remember it, but looking at the forums where the news of Steve Jackson re-acquiring the copyright is being discussed, there is really not a ton of enthusiasm beyond “Hey this is really neat” and most of the discussion has already died down after less than 48 hours. This leads me to believe that the potential customer base for this game is a few thousand at best. If I were Steve Jackson, here are the things I would be thinking about.

  1. How to get people interested in the game again: Running a Kickstarter and putting out a huge Dungeon Fantasy style boxed set will take 2 years, assuming nothing goes wrong. Two years is a long time to let the enthusiasm die down. I would be thinking of ways to get this into customer hands as quickly as possible, even if I eventually wanted to do a big boxed set.
  2. How to keep it from competing with GURPS: Steve Jackson has a huge investment in GURPS, it has been their staple RPG for decades. Unfortunately gamer money is limited and it is good possibility that every dollar spent on TFT is a dollar not spent on GURPS. Both games fill the same niche and will naturally compete with each other.
  3. How to make this more than just a vanity project: The reality is, TFT is an old system that was never super popular and had this not happened, practically no one but Steve Jackson would have regretted it. The only reason this is happening is because on some level this has been bugging him for the last 35 years. At its core this is a vanity project for Steve Jackson, however he is also a business man and everything he does needs to make at least a little profit. Moving a new edition beyond this will be a challenge.

Here is how I would handle it. First I would try to get this back into the hands of gamer as quickly as possible. The original game was published back when they still had to typeset printing presses, so there are no real electronic versions available. First thing is to hire a transcription service to type those 8 books in word for word, update the new books with errata and commission some new art. This process will likely take less than 6 months, then put them out in PDF format and sell them for $5 each. This will solve problem number one, it will get people playing the game, it generate interest and give you breathing room to produce the big boxed set.

Once this is done, launch the Kickstarter, get the ball rolling on the big boxed set. Spend the time updating the rules for the 21st century, I know this will upset some people, but if you want solve the 3rd problem, you will need to publish a modern game, not rehash an unpopular game from the 1980’s. This needs to be a game people will play, not a box that will sit on the shelf. Remember you are selling this game to new players, the 200 people who are still playing the game are not your target audience, if this game is going to be more than a nostalgia buy for aging Baby Boomers and Gen X, the new edition needs to appeal to the new generation of gamers.

As for keeping it from taking sales from GURPS, this is more difficult endeavor. Basically, I would not move TFT beyond the fantasy genre. If gamers want a truly universal system, where they can bounce between genre without learning a new system, then that is what GURPS is for. If they want an easy to learn, fast to play fantasy game, then TFT is what they will pick. This is mostly an exercise in marketing. One of the things I would not do is dual stat. Dual stating is one of those things that everyone loves in theory but never works in reality, and is frankly mildly insulting.

Now, I seriously doubt this is how Steve Jackson will handle this. I expect we will see a Kickstarter for Melee which will have a boat load of miniatures and some nice maps, he himself has said as much. Then later we will either see a Kickstarter for a similar Wizard product or we will see one for a more compete system, but all of this will not see the light of day before 2019 and more likely 2020. The question will then be, will anyone besides Steve Jackson really care anymore.

The Fantasy Trip Returns….Eventually

Steve Jackson announced yesterday the copyright for the 8 The Fantasy Trip (TFT) books he wrote for Metagames has been returned to him. One of the rules under the current copyright laws is the original author can ask for the copyright to be returned after 35 years under some specific rules, which TFT obviously fell under.

http://www.sjgames.com/ill/archive/2017-12-26

I remember playing the micro game spin off of this RPG, Melee and Wizards in High School with my friends in the school library, which mostly consisted of Wizards facing off against each other in an arena. I still have most of the game books and I am looking forward to see what Steve Jackson does with this material.

Edit:

I do not really remember this game as an RPG. As you can see I do own the advanced books, I bought them at GenCon in 1988, but I have never played the advanced game and I am not really sure I am interested in playing it now. I remember it as a tactical combat game that as I mentioned earlier, we played at lunch time. What I would like to see is Steve Jackson reprint Melee and Wizard in the original micro game format, sort of what they did with the Ogre Pocket Edition they put out a few years ago.

The Quiet

Here I am with a bit more than half an hour left of Christmas Day. It is quiet, PezWitch has went to bed, the cats seem to have settled in for the night, I seem to be left here with my own thoughts. The only thing that seems to be coming to mind is my life kinda sucks.

Merry Christmas

I am not sure yet how I feel about 2017. Nothing majorly bad happened, but on the other hand I have not really felt like things were going in the direction they should be, I feel like everything in the universe except me is about 6 inches to far to the right. It does not keep me from doing anything, it just makes everything feel awkward and unnatural. I am not sure what the source of this is, maybe it does not matter, even if this is the new normal, I suppose I can live with it.

Anyway, Merry Christmas!

Important things to know

Karma–is the concept of “action” or “deed”, understood as that which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karma

Kismet–Is by Fate or Destiny, a predetermined course of events.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kismet

The Death of Net Neutrality

I am aware this kind of breaks my ban on political topics at this blog, but I feel Net Neutrality is an important issue of the day that genuinely impacts everyone and it is important we engage in a civil debate about it.

I was recently asked by my Nephew what the problem with returning to the internet of 2015 was, the internet seemed fine to him back then. I named some hypothetical for him, but I had to go dig up some real issues that cause the rules to be put into place in the first place. So here is a list of the shitty things ISP’s were doing prior to 2015 and are now free to do again.

MADISON RIVER: In 2005, North Carolina ISP Madison River Communications blocked the voice-over-internet protocol (VOIP) service Vonage. Vonage filed a complaint with the FCC after receiving a slew of customer complaints. The FCC stepped in to sanction Madison River and prevent further blocking, but it lacks the authority to stop this kind of abuse today.

COMCAST: In 2005, the nation’s largest ISP, Comcast, began secretly blocking peer-to-peer technologies that its customers were using over its network. Users of services like BitTorrent and Gnutella were unable to connect to these services. 2007 investigations from the Associated Press, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and others confirmed that Comcast was indeed blocking or slowing file-sharing applications without disclosing this fact to its customers.

TELUS: In 2005, Canada’s second-largest telecommunications company, Telus, began blocking access to a server that hosted a website supporting a labor strike against the company. Researchers at Harvard and the University of Toronto found that this action resulted in Telus blocking an additional 766 unrelated sites.

AT&T: From 2007–2009, AT&T forced Apple to block Skype and other competing VOIP phone services on the iPhone. The wireless provider wanted to prevent iPhone users from using any application that would allow them to make calls on such “over-the-top” voice services. The Google Voice app received similar treatment from carriers like AT&T when it came on the scene in 2009.

WINDSTREAM: In 2010, Windstream Communications, a DSL provider with more than 1 million customers at the time, copped to hijacking user-search queries made using the Google toolbar within Firefox. Users who believed they had set the browser to the search engine of their choice were redirected to Windstream’s own search portal and results.

MetroPCS: In 2011, MetroPCS, at the time one of the top-five U.S. wireless carriers, announced plans to block streaming video over its 4G network from all sources except YouTube. MetroPCS then threw its weight behind Verizon’s court challenge against the FCC’s 2010 open internet ruling, hoping that rejection of the agency’s authority would allow the company to continue its anti-consumer practices.

PAXFIRE: In 2011, the Electronic Frontier Foundation found that several small ISPs were redirecting search queries via the vendor Paxfire. The ISPs identified in the initial Electronic Frontier Foundation report included Cavalier, Cogent, Frontier, Fuse, DirecPC, RCN and Wide Open West. Paxfire would intercept a person’s search request at Bing and Yahoo and redirect it to another page. By skipping over the search service’s results, the participating ISPs would collect referral fees for delivering users to select websites.

AT&T, SPRINT and VERIZON: From 2011–2013, AT&T, Sprint and Verizon blocked Google Wallet, a mobile-payment system that competed with a similar service called Isis, which all three companies had a stake in developing.

VERIZON: In 2012, the FCC caught Verizon Wireless blocking people from using tethering applications on their phones. Verizon had asked Google to remove 11 free tethering applications from the Android marketplace. These applications allowed users to circumvent Verizon’s $20 tethering fee and turn their smartphones into Wi-Fi hot spots. By blocking those applications, Verizon violated a Net Neutrality pledge it made to the FCC as a condition of the 2008 airwaves auction.

AT&T: In 2012, AT&T announced that it would disable the FaceTime video-calling app on its customers’ iPhones unless they subscribed to a more expensive text-and-voice plan. AT&T had one goal in mind: separating customers from more of their money by blocking alternatives to AT&T’s own products.

VERIZON: During oral arguments in Verizon v. FCC in 2013, judges asked whether the phone giant would favor some preferred services, content or sites over others if the court overruled the agency’s existing open internet rules. Verizon counsel Helgi Walker had this to say: “I’m authorized to state from my client today that but for these rules we would be exploring those types of arrangements.” Walker’s admission might have gone unnoticed had she not repeated it on at least five separate occasions during arguments.

Introducing ChrisCoin

It is no secret that I consider crypto currencies to be ponzi schemes. The fact that wall street is now setting up a BitCoin commodities markets tells me this is going to be the biggest ripoff scam of the decade. I have come to the conclusion that this is a if you can;t beat’em, join’em situation. So I am introducing ChrisCoin, a new crypto currency that will be available as soon as I get off my lazy ass and code it.

The first thing I want to implement is getting rid of this requirement to “Mine” coins, this is bullshit, it wastes electricity and serves no real purpose other than to make people believe they are actually doing something when they are in fact not. The reality is “Mining” is simply a lottery, the more tickets you buy the more likely you are to win, except in BitCoin, the more processing power you have the more likely you are to win. I am going to remove that shit from my version and I am going to make it what it is, a game of chance. Every night at midnight my server is going to draw 10 numbers ranging from 0-99, every individual client will be able to generate 1 set of 10 numbers and check in to the server for a match once per day, the limit will be designated by IP address. Anyone can play more than once, but they will have to change IP address. Any client that generates the same 10 numbers will have 1 ChrisCoin deposited in their wallet. This will continue until 20 million ChrisCoins have been distributed. Of course the first million ChrisCoin will be deposited straight into my own wallet during the testing phase, so only 19 million will actually go out to other people.

Quote of the week

If you say, with great power comes great responsibility, I swear I will throw up on you!
-Jessica Jones