Monday, September 22, 2014

Pre-Kickstarter: Valiance Online with Ben Jones

Greetings friends and welcome back to The Conversation.  Today I’m performing a bit of a preemptive strike on a Kickstarter by talking to my friend and coworker Ben Jones about his work on the upcoming Valiance Online.  Thank you for joining us today Ben.  

Glad to be here James, it’s an exciting time for me personally and the team as a whole.

Lets start off with how a NASA satellite controller can end up working on a videogame like Valiance Online while still working for NASA?  That seems like an odd combination of jobs.  

Well video games are very technical from the guts out, most things that people see are the artistic side but there is a huge amount of technical expertise that goes into game creation. Being a comic book artist at heart I was able to merge the technical and artistic sides fairly seamlessly.

How I came into it was just a bit of luck. I was originally hired on as a freelance concept artist and moved up the chain as de facto Art Director.  Little luck and a little talent can go a long way it seems.

Can you tell us a bit about Valiance Online and why should folks be excited to see it?

Because we say so, isn’t that enough?

Yeah didn’t think so.

People should be excited because this is a game built for the people and by the people. While as a successor game from the now defunct City of Heroes, we are building on what they did right and innovating what they did wrong. Creating a game within this genre hasn’t been done often and even fewer times done well so its a great opportunity for Superheroes and Villains to create a home for themselves. Like many people we have sat back and said we should create something better than what’s out there, but unlike most people we are actually doing it and doing it well if i must say so myself.

What got you into drawing comics in the first place?  How is your 2D art effecting the 3D game world?  

Well I’ve always been into comics from a very early age, something I would have to blame my father for, but in highschool something sparked in my mind to attempt to draw comic book characters. Once I started getting the hang of it, it became the most addictive drug on the planet. I went from jock to artist almost overnight and its stuck with me till this day.

Well the 2d side is the foundation of most 3d art when working in a pipeline of different artist all with different backgrounds and expertise.  Im affecting the entire game with my designs and general art direction for the world of Valiance Online and It can be a bit scary to be thrust into this position with so many people relying on your creativity and talent level to deliver something special. What everyone will see in the game visually will have my fingerprints all over it, the good and the bad.

Monday, September 15, 2014

An Extrasolar Adventure

Welcome back to the Conversation!  We’ve completed the move to the other side of the planet and now I get to take you even further then I went with the Extrasolar team.  Joining me today are the team from Lazy 8 Studios to talk about this interesting exploration experience, thanks for joining us today!

Glad to join the conversation! I’m Dr. Rob Jagnow, the founder of Lazy 8 Studios in San Francisco. I wear quite a few hats for Extrasolar. I’m the producer, the main programmer for our rendering software, and also the actor who plays in-game character Robert Turing.

Extrasolar is a bit hard to classify, even though you guys are calling it a “game” having actually “played” it I’m not sure that’s entirely correct.  I think of it more of an experience, can you explain it as best you can?  

For a long time, we avoided using the word “game” because it’s so different from any other game out there that the word comes loaded with the wrong expectations. We prefer “interactive story,” but that’s such a broad term that we’ve gone back to describing Extrasolar as a game.

The story of Extrasolar plays out entirely through a Web browser -- through written messages, videos from live actors, Websites, terminal systems, and beautiful photos from the surface of an alien planet -- no two of which will ever be the same.

The premise is that a private space exploration company, XRI, has launched a mission to an alien planet with life. They’re looking for volunteers to help drive the rovers that they’ve put down on the planet’s surface. You can apply to the program, and if you get in, you use a Web interface to tell your rover where to go, what time of day you want your photo, and what direction you want your photo. Hours later, when you arrive, you get back a gorgeous cloud-rendered image from that location on the planet. On average, it takes our players 27 days to play through season 1. During that time, you’ll find yourself wrapped up in a conspiracy, searching for answers both on Earth and on the planet Epsilon Prime.

Now I discovered Extrasolar way back June when you showed up on Gamasutra and promptly shared it with my fellow NASA coworkers.  What do you think of people who actually talk to spacecraft and rovers playing your game and enjoying it?  (Note:  All pictures in this interview are from my own personal playthrough)

It’s been totally amazing having fans at NASA and SETI. We’ve tried to keep the science as accurate as possible, and so far, we haven’t had any major complaints from our players about scientific fidelity.

To allow the story to happen, there are two major places where we broke the rules of physics -- first, we have faster-than-light communications so that it doesn’t take 20 years to send a round-trip signal to our planet, which orbits the real star Epsilon Eridani. Second, we claim we used a near-light-speed propulsion system to reach our planet in just over a decade.

Beyond that, we aim to keep the science as real as possible and even hired a biologist to give realistic commentary as a character within the story.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Kickstarting Game Devlopment training in Unity

Welcome back to the Conversation!  Today I’m joined by Ben Tristem who wants us all to Learn to Make Video Games Through Unity 3D.  Thank you for joining us today Ben.

Thanks James, I really appreciate the opportunity to share something we’re so excited about!

It seems a bit of congratulations are in order as you have already surpassed your £3,500 goal, well done!  Can you tell us a bit about your project and why you think you’ve hit your goal already?  

In fact we’ve just passed our SECOND stretch-goal at £7,500 so we’ll be adding Xbox One deployment to the course. We’re heading towards Oculus Rift at breakneck speed!

In terms of why we’re successful, I think we’ve hit on a highly demanded topic and approached it in a unique way. We will not only be teaching complete beginners to create games, but now including the process of publishing to many other popular platforms like iOS, Android, Xbox One and more to follow if people keep backing us!

What kind of user are you aiming this tutorial series toward?  Will I already need to know my way around a 3D modeling environment or will this start at the newest of the new designer?  How bored will more advanced students be?  

Our core focus is to teach people to make games. We’ll teach as much coding,
importing 3D assets, physics and other required skills necessary to achieve that aim.

The idea is that if you can read, and you’re motivated, you can complete this course. You will need to be highly computer literate, and have a positive attitude towards learning and pushing yourself. We’ll take you from there to being a confident indie game developer.

If you are an artist, we’ll show you how to bring your assets alive inside a game. If you have coding experience, we’ll show you how to translate this to game development. If you have no prior experience, we’ll show you everything you need to know, and point you in the direction of appropriate art, music and sound resources (people and asset stores).

For more advanced students we have a lot of value for you. We will be including the principles of fun, and game design (ludology). We will be touching on topics such as shaders, good code design, extending the editor (custom inspectors, editor windows, etc), and more.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

This Game Sounds Like Utter Nonsense!

Welcome back to the Conversation!  Today I am joined by Tim Swindle who is here to share his party game Utter Nonsense.  Thank you for joining us today Tim.  

Thanks for having me, James, and thanks even more for showing interest in the Utter Nonsense Kickstarter project. We are three days in and Dave and I can’t wait to see this game come to life.

Party games come in all shapes and sizes to fit any kind of group, what kind of party game is Utter Nonsense and who does it appeal to?  

Utter Nonsense is the perfect late-night party game, meant for playing with friends, fueled by alcohol and ideal for people with an overall enthusiasm for laughing really, really hard. My co-creator Dave Mazurek and I have seen even the most introverted people get into the game. You can’t help but laugh hearing people say these ridiculous phrases in different voices, like orgasm or pirate. And the phrases speak for themselves, so the players don’t have to think too hard or try too hard to be funny, it happens pretty naturally.

Accent & Phrase Cards
Do you think this is one of those games that just gets better the more drunk the group gets or is there a happy buzzed medium you want to reach for maximum enjoyment?  

We’d like our players to still be conscious, but having a little extra lubrication from the sauce can help make the more self conscious players come out of their shells a little faster. But we just played a round of the game completely sober on a radio show, and everyone was dying laughing.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Are you ready to RUMBLE?!

Welcome back to the Conversation!  Today I get to talk to someone closer to my home, from just the other side of White Sands Missile range comes Davy Wagnarok to talk to us about his Kickstarter n30n City Rumble.  Thank you for joining us today Davy!  How are things over in Alamogordo?  

*Looks outside and watches tumbleweed slowly careen past the window.*

It looks like a whole lot of desert out there, Mr. Yee. But it’s home, right?

For now at least.  So n30n City Rumble seems to be an interesting looking card game, would you tell us about it?  

Oh man, it’s pure unadulterated fun! Mechanics-wise, it’s deviously simple in that just about any gamer of any age can sit down and learn how to play the game in under 30 minutes. But at it’s core, NCR is a hardcore, highly competitive game. It plays a lot a fighting game, wherein players must practice with Fighters in order to become more skilled with them, but above that, they must learn to play the other player. This isn’t original thought on my part; I have David Sirlin’s theories on competitive gaming and Yomi to thank for this. Dynamically, this Poker mentality, coupled with a rock-paper-scissors style of attacking and a hot-potato-esque system for countering, makes for some intense and interesting gameplay. The gritty retro 90s look and feel for the game helps sell the fighting spirit behind N30N City RUMBLE.

How much do those old brawler games like River City Ransom and Double Dragon affect your themeing and gameplay?

I have loved brawlers and fighting games since I was a kid. In fact, Double Dragon II: The Revenge was one of the first videogames I ever played. I instantly fell in love with the setting, music, and high-octane gameplay. But it wasn’t until I played Streets of Rage 2 that I became obsessed with the genre as a whole. I remember pausing the game to draw Skate in various poses kicking the bejezus out of Signals. Other games that inspired NCR include Battletoads in Battlemaniacs, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time, the Final FIght series (especially Mighty Final Fight), Street Fighter 2, Ninja Baseball Bat-man, River City Ransom (cannot flippin’ wait for Concatus Creative’s River City Ransom: Underground!), Super Ninja Boy, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game. Oh and let’s not forget Majesco’s Double Dragon NEON! That game was certainly underrated (you suck, IGN!).

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Kickstarter Review: OneBowl to rule them all!

Today the Conversation is taking a look at the OneBowl project. Justin Herd, the creator of OneBowl, had an interesting idea, "what if you could cook, strait, eat, and store food all in the same container?"  Instead of just going, "huh" and moving on like most people do, Justin began prototyping and trying to make good on his idea and the OneBowl was born. 

First off, lets look at the concept of a "single bowl solution" to cooking and eating noodles.  As someone who lived the "Ramen Noodle Diet" back in my younger days I can see the appeal of this project.  Place your noodles and water in the bowl, heat, strain without a separate colander, enjoy, and even save the leftovers all in one go.   At first glance this is the perfect item for college students and single people in general, then again like any good "as seen on TV" type product this one quickly breaks down beyond a limited use case scenario. 

There's nothing wrong with creating products for limited case situations, there are plenty of products that fit that mold, but the OneBowl definitely feels  like something you'd see for $19.95 being pitched by a pitchman of some kind and the actual Kickstarter Campaign taps into that fact quite well.  From kitschy edited event scenarios to the $20 price tag the campaign is designed to match "As Seen on TV" feel and energy in a great way.  Justin seems to know his target audience and has aimed appropriately.

In the end would I back the OneBowl?  No, but that's not really a knock on the project as I am most definitely not the target audience.  The question then becomes, is the target audience large enough to get them over the $50,000 target?  Honestly I think it is, but the problem becomes reaching that target audience and I'm not sure they've got the critical mass of internet attention to get them there.  I hope they can make it, or through this campaign gain the attention of one of the "As seen on TV" manufacturers looking for their next big idea.  I would love to see this product in Target the next time I'm at the checkout line.  

Final Review:

Product Review  4 out of 5
The OneBowl is a "limited use/situation product" but in that situation it seems well designed and thought out.  If you have limited time/space available for microwave cooking items this might be great for you.  Even beyond the dorm those with limited storage at work (like in you cubical) might also want to give this one a look.  

Campaign Review 4 out of 5
The campaign is very well laid out with lots of pictures and story along with some funny videos.  My only knock against the campaign is the lack of a budget breakdown and non-college related use scenarios.  I think the campaign has a slightly larger market then is being aimed at, but other than that it is doing a great job!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Never Underestimate the Power of a Great Cookie

Welcome back to the Conversation!  Today I am rejoined by Vera Greentea and her accomplice Allison Strom who have come to talk about their latest Kickstarter Recipes for the Dead Issue 3.  Thank you for coming back Vera, and welcome Allison to your first visit to the conversation.  

Vera: Thanks so much for inviting us!
Allison: Thanks so much, Hi there!

Lets start with the basics, can you tell us a bit about the Recipes for the Dead series?  

Vera: Recipes for the Dead is an adventurous fantasy romp of an ambitious young pastry chef whose bakery is about to go bankrupt. In a desperate effort to save RocoCookie Shop, she steals a cookbook that seems to have the perfect recipes for bringing in customers. However, the book does a little more than offer instructions for cookies – it also seems to attract unsavory and rather demonic characters. Recipes for the Dead has a bit of everything; action, humor, a bit of horror and romance.

Now for full disclosure I am a backer on this project because the story sounded fun and the art was gorgeous.  Who do I get to thank for each of those things?  

Vera: Thanks, James! We love having you on board! Even though I’m the writer of Recipes for the Dead, Allison and I share many creative decisions on the flow of the storytelling. But, yeah, that art – that is all her. Allison does it all; the layouts and pencils, the incredibly radiant coloring that shines right out of the page, the imaginative character and Victorianpunk fashion design. She is amazing to work with – her brain concocts the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen on a comic book page.

Allison: The art for recipes is a bit of a mix! I’m the only person currently drawing and coloring, but a lot of the character designs and aesthetics were begun by Recipes’ first artist, Ein Lee, back in Dark Delight with Cranberries. I’ve tried especially in the latest issue to synch a little better with the look and feel of the first volume. It’s been a huge challenge, but I’m so happy with how far it’s come since my first crack at the series in Apricot Asylum. I’m still really new to drawing comics and get very overwhelmed by the workload sometimes. It’s a constant learning process.
Recipes for the Dead: Apricot Asylum (Issue 2), cover by Allison Strom
The campaign describes the series as “Victorianpunk-manga-ish comic” where did you get that description for the comic?  Were you trying to be descriptive without being pigeonholed?  

Vera: The hardest thing about describing this comic in shorthand is trying to align it with a style. That phrase I chose hopefully gives people a bit of a visual impression of what the comic might be about. I consider Recipes for the Dead to be born and heavily influenced by the aesthetics and content of manga – but it’s not exactly that. There’s so much westernized culture imbued into it because that’s what I grew up with. It’s a broad mix of silly action-adventure, Burtonesque romance a la The Corpse Bride, and all kinds of fun oddities that struck my fancy.
Artistically, RftD has Victorian elements mixed into its visuals, but I wouldn’t go as far as calling it steampunk. There are no airships or any kind of focus on machinery (or that cowboy impression you get when one reads steampunk novels). Allison seized on the idea of Victorianpunk and then gave it a baroque streak, interweaving shimmering brass curls into the buildings of Bluerouen or adding tiny ornate gold details into the clothing of the characters - inevitably giving the comic a visual language that is a deep blend of many older traditions but still comes out being its own thing.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Kangaroo Cup: The Return!

Welcome back to the Conversation!  Today I get to welcome back Joe Born who is here to talk about the latest evolution of the Kangaroo Cups: Plastic.  Thanks for coming back to talk to us again Joe.  

Sure, thanks for helping us spread the word

Lets pick up where we left off back in 2012 by talking about how you raised $6,750 to produce the first Kangaroo cups based on your daughter Lily’s design.  What has happened since then?  Did the cups get to the backers?  Is it available in stores?

We actually raised over $20k because we had a simultaneous indiegogo campaign, but that’s a long story.  Yes we did get the cups to backers (though we are still working on a few of the custom ones and special orders).  We actually took a big detour by trying to get the cups made in the US which turned out a LOT harder than we expected, and that cost us almost a year, but we’re finally back on track and expect to have the cups back in production and yes in stores too.

What brings you back to Kickstarter?  Is it just the original Kangaroo cups done in plastic or have you adjusted the design at all?

We totally redesigned the cups for plastic, that manufacturing is a lot different in many respects, the tooling for plastic is hard steel and a very different process than the plaster molds that made the porcelain ones.  These are also a different size, so really quite different, besides there were a number of things we learned and we wanted to make the handles more comfortable and the shape a bit more comfortable to drink out of.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Are you ready for Adventure?

Welcome back to the Conversation! Today I am joined by Kristin Brumley one of the talented folks behind Basic Adventuring 101.  Thank you for joining us today Kristin.    

You’re very welcome! Thank you for having me.

Basic Adventuring 101 is a webseries with an interesting premise, would you care to tell us about it?

Basic Adventuring 101 is a fictional webseries that features a group of Live Action Role Players.  It is done in a positive way that represents LARPing the way we feel is accurate and appealing! We follow the story of a new LARPer, Karen, and a hilarious adventuring team that is faced with saving their kingdom when Karen accidently releases a terrifying evil from a mysterious treasure box.

You can watch our pilot episode here.

As a long time supporter of all things roleplaying and acting I have a natural curiosity about LARPing, could you tell us a bit about LARPing?  

LARPing stands for Live Action Role Playing, and it’s a type of game where you act out a character that you have created. It’s really a hobby that involves many different interests--from acting and role play to combat, puzzle solving, costuming, and storytelling.  

Your campaign says that you want to “produce it in a way that makes our fellow LARPers proud to be called LARPers.”  What do you mean by that?  Is there a negative stereotype to LARPing and why do you think that is?

I feel that in the movies and TV-shows I’ve seen featuring LARPers, we’re often made out to be something we’re not.  Socially inept psychopaths and drug addicts isn’t a pretty picture when trying to convince new people to try a game.  I like to think of LARPers as extremely intelligent and creative people who are courageous enough to do something they love, despite the fact that it isn’t “normal.”

I know very few people who have given LARP an honest chance and came away from it disappointed. If more people were willing to play I think they’d find that they like the game just as much as we do! The trick is trying to convince people to make that step--which means fighting the stereotypes that exist because we’re part of the minority.  Without experiencing LARP in person it can often be misunderstood. Plus, I think Hollywood likes the idea of weirdos in the woods. They believe it’s more interesting than the reality.

I live life by example.  Showing people what makes LARP incredibly fun by creating a webseries is my way of doing that.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

TWEAK your dish washing routine

(Editor’s Note, English is not the first language of the interviewees so answers have been edited slightly for understandability.)  

Welcome back to the Conversation!  Today I’m joined from the other side of the planet by Nitzan Shafat and Aviv Rozenfeld in Israel to talk about a wonderfully simple product called TWEAK.  Thank you for joining us today good sirs.  

Thank you for writing about us.

They day I discovered TWEAK I had just finished dealing with a backed up kitchen sink due to it not having a garbage disposal so of course your product spoke to me.  Would you tell my readers all about it?

We invented Tweak just because of what you just described. We all hate to dispose of leftovers from the sink or hairs from the bathtub and Tweak allows you to do so easily and gracefully.    

What gave you the idea of making a squeezable strainer system that also doubles as a way of ejecting the leftovers out of it and into the garbage?  

We are both industrial designers, and during our studies we got a design brief, to design something to deal with the kitchen garbage.

I (Nitzan) always hate cleaning the sink and that time I lived with a roommate, which made the task even more unpleasant, so immediately I knew I was focusing on trying to solve this nasty problem I lived with daily. After few mockups, I came up with the flexibility concept and everybody liked it so we focused in on developing it to a nice looking product, that worked perfectly. We got a lot of help from Ani Dwilanski (product designer as well) in the design process, and she was the one who thought about doing the Tub-Tweak (woman input). We think it came out very well.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Strong Happy Healthy Free

Welcome back to the Conversation!  Today I am joined by Aaron Trumm who is here to talk about his 4th rap/rock/fusion album, Strong Happy Healthy Free.  Thank you for joining us today Aaron!

Thanks for having me!  I’m honored.

This looks like it’s going to be a personal kind of interview so why don’t we start off by telling us a bit about yourself there Aaron?  When did you start singing and what got you into rap/rock fusion?

It’s a long road!  I was break-dancing and listening to hip-hop from day 1 of rap (well I was probably 6 months behind the curve since I lived in Taos, NM), as well as all the standard rock’n’roll of the time,  plus my dad was always playing old country and western swing stuff.  So the fusion of what I do is from how I grew up.  I started making pause loop tapes and bad rap around 1989 (when I was 14) and part of the reason I was rapping was because I was afraid to sing!  Singing was too intimate for me.  Like pulling my pants down in front of everyone.  It’s still like pulling my pants down, I just down care as much about being pantsed.  I got into slam poetry for similar reasons - rapping on stage with beats or a band seemed more difficult to pull off, whereas slam was “just talking”.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  Just talking on stage with no help and no music, pouring your heart out - that’s not only like pulling your pants down, it’s like taking every stitch of clothes off, plus your skin, and revealing to everyone the color and size of your intestines.

Not only were you born with Cystic Fibrosis and all that entails, but you nearly died quite recently, yet you say these are good things?  Why is that?  What have you learned with your chat with the reaper that you’ve put into your music?  

Well first of all I’ve been chatting with the reaper for a long long time.  When I was a kid, life expectancy in CF was about 20 years.  I was very much not interested in that.  I have a song on my last record, “Bleed”, which I may even cover in a completely different way on this record (I like to do that), which in one part goes:

“but I guess it’s not too late to make amends, and maybe we can still be friends… Just as long as you understand I don’t wanna come with you where you’re going”

The point is, I tried to make a deal with death.  I wouldn’t bad mouth him or have a hatred for him, hell I might even stop running from him, but I had no intention of going with him yet.  Death seems to have been cool with that agreement so far.

In 2013, though, I thought maybe the term of our deal would be up - my lungs tanked hard and I spent six months in and out of hospitals, and quite a few evenings it was not certain I’d make the night.  Then I got this double lung transplant and almost as soon as I woke up I realized I had wanted it.  I was tired of living with the limitation of bad lungs.  I’d done a lot with that - played ice hockey at two colleges, martial arts all my life, 4 sport athlete in high school, and performing all over the country - but I wanted to be better.  Now I don’t have a limitation in my lungs.  I breathe as well as anyone.  Without even practicing for a year, I could do most of the raps on this new record without even trying, whereas before it was a real trick to get through them with any breath.

I could be pissed off that I had the limitation in the first place, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little, but there’s always multiple ways to see something.  The Christians say “God works in mysterious ways”, Zen has the story of the father who keeps having things happen and when someone says it’s good or bad he says “maybe”.  It’s even becoming a cliche Facebook trend now to say life doesn’t have its own meaning other than what we put on it.  It was not fun to have the reaper come and renegotiate our deal, I admit.  But now I feel lucky, grateful and frankly, I don’t think I could have learned certain things like how to deal with pain and how to relate beautifully to things and people and what it really means that we aren’t in this alone, without that experience.

Plus now I breathe BETTER than most people and I feel like a badass with a bunch of wicked scars!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Hollywood Home of Science Fiction

Welcome back to the Conversation!  Today I am once again joined by Huston Huddleston who has returned to both Kickstarter and the Conversation to talk about his proposed Hollywood Sci-Fi Museum.  Thanks for coming back Huston!

Absolute pleasure and glad I’m actually alive and here to talk about something that’s so meaningful to me, and to others.

When last we spoke it was October of 2012 and you had raised an impressive $68,611 dollars to restore the Enterprise D’s bridge.  What have you been doing since then and how has that restoration project gone?  

A lot and all over the place. The 68k we raised was only ¼ of the money we needed to restore the entire bridge, but more importantly, our original plan of touring the bridge to other museums proved not legally possible by the rights owner of Star Trek. Which (as we say in our video) left us with very few options, and not enough money, and no big companies really caring about our “Bridge Restoration”. So after taking the chairs and computers of our Bridge to 22 conventions around the USA, we had to create a new plan, creating our OWN Science Fiction Museum in the heart of Hollywood.

After all of that you’ve returned to Kickstarter to create a Sci-Fi Museum in Hollywood.  Which begs the question, why isn’t there already a science fiction museum in Hollywood?  

A lot of reasons. We have a board of directors that is made up of Hollywood and sci-fi geniuses, Ronald D. Moore, Rick Sternbach, Andrew Probert, David Gerrold to name a few, and we learned from them, and from their experiences with Star Trek The Experience in Las Vegas among others. There is no bigger way to fail in this day and age than creating a static museum of memorabilia that has no interactivity. Hollywood has tried numerous times throughout the years and always failed. Our Hollywood Sci Fi Museum is nonprofit and interactive AND educational, teaching real space and science through science fiction. That’s the unique part, and studios love what we’re doing because science fiction is the most successful genre in films.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Buckle My Swash it's The Queen's Cavaliers!

Welcome back to the Conversation!  Today I am joined by Caoimhe Ora Snow who is joining us to talk to us about her “Baroque, Clockpunk Tabletop Fantasy Roleplaying Game” The Queen’s Cavaliers.  Thank you for joining us today Caoimhe.  

Hi, thanks James! I’m Caoimhe -- that’s pronounced “Keeva,” it’s Gaelic -- and I’ve been playing and running roleplaying games for years, ever since I was around 11 years old. So that was like 35 years ago. Egads! I’m getting old.

Now with a tagline of “Go for Baroque” I have to imagine your game has something to do with the 1600’s.  Would you care to tell us about The Queen’s Cavaliers?  

Yes indeed! The Queen’s Cavaliers is set in an alternate version of the 17th Century, in a France analogue; as a Cavalier, you are a brave (or foolhardy) swashbuckler who fights for glory, pride, and the honor of the Queen!

One of the goals we had for the background of The Queen’s Cavaliers was to be explicitly more inclusive than either the real world or the works of Alexandre Dumas. While there were a few people of color and women among historical swordfighters of the era, we wanted something more diverse than a few scattered examples here and here -- we want diverse characters to be the rule, not the exception.

Well you seem to have struck a chord with the community as you’ve already blown past your $4,000 goal, well done!  Do you think the theme and recent increased popularity in shows like The Musketeers has helped your cause?  

Oh, I love that show -- especially that they chose to make Porthos a mixed-raced black man as an homage to Dumas, who was himself a mixed-race black man.

Certainly the BBC’s show and other media haven’t hurt the demand for good swashbuckling games. I think there’s something awesome about not just the swordfighting but also the general look and attitude that draws us to a Musketeer style of entertainment.

Lets get a bit into the nuts and bolts here,  you’re using a dice pool based system for TQC,  what advantage does this mechanic give your system versus more all purpose game systems like FATE and GURPS?  

TQC’s system is built specifically to address the type of action you see in swashbuckling movies. It’s not a fencing simulator -- there are good examples of those already in RPGs, card games, and so on -- but one that takes a broader look at swordfighting exchanges and tries to capture the back and forth rhythm of a handful of heroes taking on a score of guardsmen and then their skilled captain.

Rolls in TQC are made as opposed dice pools, where you add together the highest rolls in your pool (similar, but not identical, to Cortex Plus) and compare them with your opponent’s results. The winner then earns style points which can be spent on a “menu” to purchase results, such as disarming your foe, gaining an advantage in combat, or just stabbing someone.