Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Introductory Lectures and Influences

So, today was the day, it has all begun and I've had my first lecture. It was a lecture on the history of games and was given by Steve Jackson. Now as I've mentioned elsewhere I grew up reading Fighting Fantasy Books, they are in many ways what started me on this path and led me to here so there is a beautiful synergy to Mr Jackson giving my first lecture. It was a great and interesting start on the history of games, ranging from some of the first games we know existed and ended with a neat tail into digital games.

Steve Jackson spoke extremely eloquently on all sorts of historical board games, card games and moved onto miniatures, war-games and roleplaying games. I know that I for one found it fascinating and a useful lead into the subject. Anecdotes and facts meshed together neatly and put the topic nicely in context. I set a lot of store in good board games / social non-digital games and enjoyed mentions of some old classics as well as games that have taken up many hours of my life! I look forward a great deal to hearing him speak more and seeing more of what has brought him to this stage of his involvement with the industry. I was also enamoured of the fact that he can talk about the games he was playing last night. Hopefully at some point we'll get to play some games with him!

In other news I've begun to understand the bus system a bit more and it's an easy (if early) journey! I'm now on my way home to read some Rules of Play (Salem and Zimmerman) before tomorrow's first theory lecture.

Finally of course (and how could I not mention this) there was a major event at the university today, for which there were signs everywhere. You have probably heard about it on the news, but if not, then I'm sorry you missed it... How bizarre.

Big News?

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

In The Beginning

So, as I mentioned in my details somewhere this is partly a blog about my travels I to Games Design. Today, being my first day at university (Brunel) I thought I would kick off with a post, rest assured I won't be posting about my travels to uni every day! However, it being 'the start I thought it was worth a note. Today is just a day of admin and signing forms, but it all has to be done. I am also using the day as a travel experiment - trains vs automobiles in many ways (no planes involved just yet), and will I suspect involve me getting lost, either on the way to the campus or at the campus... So, here we go.


Insert gap of about 3 hours
And that's that done. It's good to know it's an easy journey on the train, and will be quicker next time, given that I managed take the wrong bus. Twice. I am however officially a person at the university, have specc'd out where I need to go on Thursday for the proper induction lecture and am all in all looking forward to the beginning of the course proper. Must get home and order some books and things next!

Friday, 16 September 2011

Decision Tree

I know that this isn't really games related but it felt close enough to a Choose Your Own Adventure book to be worth including.  That and it made me smile :)

It is by a gentleman named (as you can probably see for yourself) Mike Naylor and it, and various other amusing 'mathemagics' can be found on his blog: Mike Naylor's Math Blog.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Exciting Times?

It seems to be an exciting time for games & things that I am interested in and for my games stuff in general, here's a quick summary for things I am looking forward to.

I am about to start my Masters Degree in Games design which is very exciting.  I am about to start running a tableop WFRP campaign using a couple of interesting tools and the excellent looking WFRP 3E rules.  I have discovered podcasts and am listening to various gaming ones.  It's a great way to pass the time whilst washing up or walking to work!

In games I have just bought Space Marine - I have always liked the Warhammer 40k setting - the whole techpriest, god-emperor feel is very stylish.  It's a nicely put together game, I fear it may be a bit short, but there is a whole world of expansion possible that I forsee in the future.  I'll be interested to see where it goes.  The multiplayer is fun too - a lot like CoD but I enjoyed it more last night than I did that 'classic'.

Starwars: The Old Republic, The Secret World are both MMOs that excite me.  I fear they may eat some time in the coming months.  If SWTOR dissapoints then a little part of me will die inside - I am perhaps a little over excited about this one.  By contrast Secret World looks interesting and will be a gem if it works. 

On the Xbox there is Batman Arkham City - Arkham Asylum was a terrific game, and following that there is the latest Assassins Creed game and Elder Scrolls V and Silent Hill: Downpour.  It's a lot of games, and sadly there is only so much time in the day.  Perhaps we could arrange for there to be one added?

FFG are also still releasing their Lord of the Rings Card Games, which are excellent (1 per month) and have announced a big expansion later in the year called the Khazad-dûm Expansion and in December are releasing the next WFRP expansion, The Lure of Power.  Exciting Times.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Old Habits Die Hard

When I was 15 I played a LOT of a Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay campaign.  It was tremendous fun.  I don’t think we knew what the real background of the WFRP world was, or much of the ‘canon’ but it was well reffed, with quite a few players and we played for a few years.  It was reffed by Peter Newman and I have extremely fond memories of it.
Here I am almost 20 years on <I weep at this>  and I was thinking that I fancy running some tabletop again and into the frame comes bouncing Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3rd Edition (WFRP).  It’s created by Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) who I mentioned last month in this post.  I was quick to discover in my research that it has received quite a lot of praise and a fair amount of criticism also.  I was told by a few people who do use the sytem that it works well, which is encouraging.
It uses a lot of tokens and cards and components (something Fantasy Flight to nicely) to represent things you keep track of.  Some people accuse it of being a bit ‘boardgame-esque’.  Anyway I took a punt and bought it and very quickly fell for it.  It’s beautifully produced.  There are LOTS of extras for it, and it’s a really nice product.  I am yet to run the game (starting in a couple of weeks) but it seems like it will be a really good experience.  The idea of the cards is that it cuts down / out on the looking up of rules.  You have them there in front of you.  Even the dice are different and are pictorial, and supposed to make working out results dynamic and interesting.
Expansion packs cover a wide range of topics from Chaos Gods to disease and mutation to horses (!)  The artwork in them is fabulous and they are simply laid out and easy to read.  My only concern about them all really is the level of entry is quite high – you have to shell out quite a lot to have all the products you are bound to want, not to mention card sleeves and all that paraphernalia.
In total I think to have all the packs NOT including the published adventure material is well in excess of £200.  Which is a lot.  You don’t NEED a lot of it, but if you are like me you want it – which is the nature of a hobbyist I suppose.  And of course you don’t know what you’re missing until you have them.   IT’s important to stress again that you don’t need it.  The game (apparently) runs perfectly well without anything bar the base box set.
Nicely FFG have now released a component free version so you can be just pen and paper if you want, but for me that would take away some of the nice qualities of the game, some of the things that make it ‘different’.  You can also download quite a lot of the source books and guides in a PDF format, although it’s not included in the price, but it’s only circa $10 or less for E-copies of some things that.  There is also a dice rolling app on the iphone which is easy to use as well.  I thought it was a shame it wasn't free, but it's certainly cheaper than the dice sets at £7.99
There is a huge amount of source material available on the net and the Warhammer Online game means there is even more background readily available, I don’t really ever use pre-written campaigns but they are nicely done if you do with some nice props and things should that be your bag.  I’m looking forward to seeing how it runs – I am sure it will take a couple of sessions to be ‘smooth’ but in the meantime it’s an exciting system and I am really looking forward to taking it out for a spin.

Oh yes - where can you get it from I hear you cry?  Well, here is a good starter for 10...  (or should that be for one Sigmars Hammer and two boons?