If you are reading this, and not a page full of links to Cialis resellers, then you should take it as a sign that normal service will be resumed in the near future. That is all for the moment.
Did I lend one of you lot my copy of Homo Ludens by Johan Huizinga? If it was you, can I have it back?
I’m speaking tonight at the Game Makers’ event at the Hub in King’s Cross, doing a 15-minute thing on storytelling and pervasive games. Working title is ‘Naked Stories’. I have a feeling the event is sold out, but fight to get tickets: there’s some fantastic people talking—Minkette, Alex Fleetwood, Holly Gramazio and others. I’ll try to upload my slides or something.
For all of us who are sick of smug SXSWers filling the bolognasphere with “I am eating a pankace at an American pankcae palce in Austen in America join me #eatingpankachesinausten” messages… Well, Nolan Bushnell is speaking at BAFTA on Thursday night.
That’s the Nolan Bushnell whose Wikipedia Â entry ought to reach out of the screen, grab you by the throat and go “Motherfucking NOLAN BUSHNELL, man! NOLAN BUSHNELL! You don’t know who he is? What’s WRONG with you?”
It’s Nolan Bushnell. He’s not the daddy, he’s the granddaddy. And he’s not in Austin, he’s in central London. You can see him talk for a very reasonable Â£7.50. Also you get to go into BAFTA, which is frankly a bit ordinary inside and the bar’s lousy expensive, but it means you can wander round the next day going, “Yeah, I was at BAFTA last night… listening to motherfucking NOLAN BUSHNELL.”
(As for SXSW… I may be unfair. We Tell Stories, which I worked on at Six to Start (people may recognise my style in the structure of a couple of the interactive storytelling games), just won the Experimental category of the SXSW Interactive Web Awards, and also the Best in Show award. So not all bad, then.)
We relaunched Dragon Warriors. Did I forget to mention that? We relaunched Dragon Warriors last week, and this week we’re launching the Dragon Warriors Bestiary, and next month we’re launching Sleeping Gods, the first campaign-book for Dragon Warriors. If you’re looking for Christmas presents for young friends who like fantasy and games, I just solved all your problems.
Dragon Warriors is a traditional face-to-face RPG, first published in 1986 by Corgi Books as a series of six paperbacks. It was written by Oliver Johnson, who went on to write the Lightbringers Trilogy, and Dave Morris who was the highest-selling author in the UK in 1991. Our edition reformats the material from those six paperbacks into a big, chunky hardcover and a series of smaller softcovers, but it is essentially the same game and absolutely the same post-Crusades medieval Europe-ish background. In a nutshell, if the medieval world had functioned the way that its population thought it did—magic exists and is scary, goblins turn the milk and steal your children, dragons exist but are a long way away, the dead sometimes rise but the power of God is stronger, the old king sleeps under the land and will rise when his country needs him, the current king is a prat, &tc. &tc—then that’s Dragon Warriors.
It does not feature warriors who are dragons, or dragons who are warriors. The etymology of the title is unclear.
Sales so far have been great. We know that a lot of UK retailers sold out of the rulebook on the first day of release. Mongoose, our co-publishers on the book, have been deluged with so many mail-orders that they can’t keep enough copies in the warehouse to send me the freebies I need to pass on to authors and artists. This is all excellent and bodes well.
This Saturday is Dragonmeet, London’s friendliest games convention (which, for the hard of memory, I set up in 2000 and ran for its first three years… or was it four?) in Kensington Town Hall, and we’re doing a big launch event for the game there. Most of the principals involved in the new edition will be doing a panel and Q&A at 11.30 (including me, lead artist Jon Hodgson and adventure-creator Frazer Payne and, we hope, either or both of Dave and Oliver), then a signing at 12.30, and a very boozy lunch at 1.30 to which you’re not invited. If you’re planning to be at the convention, or if you remember Dragon Warriors from your mis-spent youth, then do come and see us. It should be good.
Playful 08 was a gas: like Russell Davis’s Interesting crashed head-first into a crowd of games-heads. There were many fantastic talks. Lots of hardware hacking (Roo Reynolds on turning the Rock Band guitar into an actual musical instrument, Matt Biddulph of Dopplr on the possibilities of the Wiimote, Matt Brown of LastFM on Trumpet Hero and making sock-puppets sing), lots of technology stuff (Chris Delay of Introversion demoing his company’s procedural generation software), lots of game theory and ideas, and some completely out of the blueâ€”two in particular here:
Eric Clough of 212box, who designed and built this apartment in New York, describing how he did it. That latter was truly awesome, inspiring, tears-in-eyes stuff. More of this kind of thing, please.
Jolyon Webb of Blitz Game Studios talking about why CG characters have such unrealistic teeth, and along the way effortlessly transcending the uncanny valley. One of the pieces of video he showed demonstrates two CG heads, one of which sustains a major impact trauma and–well, you can watch it here, second video on the list. You could have heard a pin drop. I could feel my body reacting to the experience of watching this happen. Very odd.
My talk, ‘A Thing of Beauty is a Stout Green Toy’, a description of how a large percentage of the modern games industry can trace its roots directly to one three-page piece of experimental French writing from the mid-1960s, seemed to go down well. Judge for yourself: I’ve uploaded it here, interspersing the slides with the text. Slideshare seems to have done something odd with several of the fonts, but I’m sure you’re big enough to get past that.
The event is being held in collaboration with pervasive-gaming mavens Sandpit (who are paying for some of the drinks). There will be a variety of novel games to play, including a pro-celebrity demonstration of the Baron’s game at 7PM. Admittance is free but there’s a 100-person limit on the venue.
The other reason I’ve been unable to access my blog lately is that a couple of weeks ago the ceiling of my study fell in, quite unexpectedly, leaving interesting dents in my PC, monitor, both printers, new gaming keyboard (a fortnight-old Logitech G15) and laser-mouse (Logitech MX Revolution, I am a complete tart for Logitech kit). It almost left interesting dents in me, but I felt a trickle of Victorian plaster on the back of my neck and got out sharpish.
The PC in question is the machine I use for the majority of my DTP work, and also for storing the names and email addresses of everyone who had asked to be emailed about the release of Baron Munchausen and Dragon Warriors. So if that’s you then, uh, sorry.
I apologise for the lack of updates and comment-approvals. WordPress has refused to let me log in to the blog for the best part of a month. Having tried all the regular orifices I’ve finally forced my way back in through the ribcage, have performed some open-heart surgery on bits and bobs, and we should be back to normal.
What have I missed? Well, The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen has been rereleased. The limited-edition hardcover looks gorgeous and has sold out at the publisher, so if you see a copy then snap it up. There will be a launch event for it on Wednesday next week (29th October) at 01Zero-One in Soho, in collaboration with pervasive-gaming mavens Sandpit and as part of the London Games Festival Fringe—doors 6.30pm, all welcome, free entry and booze.
The day after the Munchausen launch I’m running an all-day workshop on tabletop game design and paper prototyping at the same venue, 01Zero-One. You need to register in advance for this, but it’s only a fiver and should be fun. I’m hoping that by the end of the day we’ll not only have shared pearls of wisdom but we’ll also have a complate playable prototype of a game. This event is also part of the LGF Fringe.
And then on Friday 31st October—yes, it’s a busy week for me—I am speaking at Playful: Game Design London which is (oh yes) another part of the LGF Fringe. I asked for a nice quiet mid-afternoon slot so I could do something a bit technical about methods of generating narrative through gameplay. Instead I discover to my horror that I am the first speaker. This will be… interesting. I’m not quite sure what I’ll be talking about, but it’s unlikely to be self-generating narratives. Luckily I will be followed by the awesome Roo Reynolds, the double-awesome Russell Davies, the Hon Bros, Tom Armitage, Matt Biddulph and Alex Fleetwood, to only mention the speakers I know personally, so it should be a terrific day. Cheap at £25.
The Dragon Warriors rulebook is at the printers. And I am discussing a very interesting project with some major publishers, but for obvious reasons I can’t say a word about that yet.
Busy! Lots to catch up on. More to follow.