Thursday, 31 January 2013

And now a word from or sponsor...

FAUX NEWS REPORT.... This just in.

 

National Guard forces were defeated today in an all-out assault on Ogden Utah; this could very well be the end of life as we know it.... And now a word from our sponsor- Blammo! It's better than bad, it’s good!
 
 
 
 
The shipment has arrived at WGF Utah and will begin shipping in bulk on Monday. This process could take anywhere from seven to fourteen days depending on how many of you opted to wait on your shipping. WGF are bringing in extra staff to deal with the project and expedite the process.
 
Kickstarter backers will start receiving your shipping confirmations next week.
 
Retail sales will commence once all backers orders have been shipped.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Some amazing conversion work on the OOP resin kit

Holy Buh-Jezus! Take a look at what Warchild40k did with one of the limited edition 15mm scale resin kits.


 Keep in mind this was a solid block of resin, that is a hell of a lot of work. I just love the use of the votive candle lights to make the stacks flicker. Very creative!

Cheers!
Mark

Saturday, 26 January 2013

CURB STOMP

Just a bit of eye candy.

I was working on box art for the Mortis and thought I would render out this amusing scene ;)

The Mortis braces itself on a nearby building while using its scythe arm to provide further stability and commences to  administer a good old fashioned curb stomp. Repeatedly smashing the light mech into the broken pavement.



The commander of the light mech must have really pissed off the pilot of the Mortis to provoke such a brutal response.




Tuesday, 22 January 2013

BREAKING NEWS- Eisenkern forces invade Los Angeles!


On Monday, January 21st. Roughly 65,000 Eisenkern troopers supported by a legion of over 1200 Leviathans landed on US soil. Los Angeles California was rocked by an unstoppable wave of destruction.  In related news, a fleet of transport ships have taken up position over Utah and appear to be waiting for the armored spearhead.
 
What do they want? Why are they here? The only transmission sent by this invading force: “We are the Eisenkern, we have come in peace”.

 
Cutting a clear path North East, at their current pace and trajectory they are anticipated to reach Utah and link up with their transports sometime next week. The only thing clear to us is that Utah is not their final destination…. 


A coded message has been sent to key personnel (Update# 86) with further instructions. 


Promo shots from Battle:LA copyright Sony Pictures.


Update #86

The cargo container has arrived at the Port of LA and will be making its trip to WGF Utah as we speak.

At this time I would like to make a couple of suggestions. WGF Utah will be printing packing lists over the next couple of days in order to expedite the process. In order to make sure that your pledge rewards arrive at their destinations; (your door step) you will want to follow these easy steps.

1. If you have moved, please update WGF with your new address by emailing them at dfg@wargamesfactory.net so they have your correct shipping address. We will need this ASAP! as they will be finalizing this information early this week.

2. Add the following emails to your contacts list (in whatever email program or mail provider you are using) to make sure that your spam filters do not block the tracking emails of your delivery. We had a problem with some email providers blocking or listing as spam the emails sent from WGF, this step should resolve most of those issues.
The emails you should add to your contacts list:
dfg@wargamesfactory.net
shipping@wargamesfactory.net

Thank you again! I hope to post another update soon letting you know that we have begun shipping.

Cheers,
Mark Mondragon
DreamForge-Games

Monday, 21 January 2013

Goals and Storytelling

Let's talk about goals in storytelling games. Not really the far-reaching "save the princess" or "kill the evil dude" kind of goals, but the local and moment-to-moment goals that face a player throughout the experience. I have sort of touched upon this in the scene-approach to high level story telling story design post, but want to discuss it a bit further. I think this is another major reason why there still a need for either violence or puzzles to drive the story forward. The reason being that the player does not know what they should be doing otherwise.

In a non-interactive story the characters can behave in certain way because it works for the narrative. They think about the things that are relevant to the story being told, and perform actions that have interesting outcomes. In an interactive work, it just does not work like this. In order to control outcomes, the player would basically  have to know the future of any action, something that is neither possible or desirable. Thus, the game will have to guide the player into making the actions that the story requires in order to give an engaging output. This is where violence and puzzles come into play.

Games based around violence teach player the following: You need to kill anything in sight and when you run out of things to slaughter you need to progress until you find more stuff to fight. Once the player accepts this the problem with having is non-issue and the role of a designer is to weave a story into this mode of progression.

Puzzles have a different set up. Here the whole idea is to constantly bring up riddles for the player to solve, and then create a story out of that. What gives the player goals and directions are the requirements of the currently encountered and unsolved puzzles.

A more abstract and direct version of this is simply to have a certain goal artifact and then evolve the entire game about retrieving this. Portal, Braid, World of Goo, etc are all examples of this approach.

Puzzles and combat are the most popular ways of settings up goals, but others exist as well.

Most platform games, like Super Mario, just have the player walking in a single direction. While these games tend not have much story content, there are more experimental games that do. Passage, One Chance and Everyday the Same Dream use this approach quite directly and are sort of very simplified platformers. I think Dear Esther and Journey can also be said to use this kind of approach, as the player does not really have any other goals than moving in a certain direction.

Another approach is to not give the player any explicit goals at all, but let them just interact until something interesting happens. There are not really any longer games that uses this method to implement player progression. The Path and some of Vector Park's games do it to a certain extent, but then only for a single specific scene. Adventure games use in limited sequences, like when being thrown into a new location and forced to explore, but never for any longer stretches. The problem with this approach is that the player cannot really make any plans, which brings down the sense of agency and engagement quite a bit. This makes this only work for short bursts, often when a sense of disorientation is appropriate.

Finally, I have to mention the on-rails method, which is essentially what Walking Dead and Heavy Rain do. It is sort of similar to the "walk this way" approach of platformers, but just removes the required interaction for forward movement. These games drags you along whether you want it to or not, only letting you interact in very small and specific situations. An interesting aspect is that the "interact until something happens"-approach can work quite nicely here, partly because there are often relatively massive amounts of exposition before each interactive moment.  This combined with a closed of scene makes it possible to set up a goal using purely plot means.

This pretty much sums up how any storytelling games goes about creating low-level goals.

When starting out the new Super Secret Project I was very much into "interact until something happens"-approach, but it did not really work. The lack of gaminess did not make the player more into the story, but created frustration  and made them spend most mental energy pondering "what the hell am I supposed to do?". Our current approach is instead to use a combination of puzzles and the "walk this way"-approach.

Puzzles tend to always give certain feel to the environments; machines to boot up, broken bridges to cross and that sort of thing. This limits the range of goals quite a bit and is often quite evident in games. For instance, in Amnesia: The Dark Descent there is always the need to open some form of door. The challenge here is to be creative of course, but it is a very hard problem. To make puzzles out of various situations is one of the biggest challenges we face.

I think it is also very important to recognize that a big part of puzzles is to provide goals. Starting with Amnesia, we stopped seeing puzzles as challenges and instead view them like interesting activities. Focus is put on making them engaging and fitting to the narrative, instead of (as was the case the before) making them challenging. One cannot remove the challenge entirely though, because then a certain immersive quality of the puzzle is lost. There needs to still be a certain amount of "revelation" taking place in order to feel as if you are really making a connection with the game's world.

The "walk this way"-approach is very interesting as it gives much more freedom in the kind of environments that can be used. Now you can place the game in just a about any situation without any need to figure out ways to use it gameplay wise. The main issue is that you need to make your environments very linear. For the approach to work the goal must always be very clear, else it turns into a puzzle. In order to keep players engaged, it is also important that there is reason for continue going in a certain direction. This can either be the promise of some reward when getting there, or a steady flow of interesting things happening along the way.

I am unsure how long a game can be and what kind of stories can be sustained by only using the "walk this way"-approach. All the current ones (that I know of) are quite short. Interestingly, the more complex and direct the story (like One Chance and  ImmorTall) the shorter, and the more abstract and vague (Dear Esther and Journey) the longer. This might just be by accident, but might also be  a sign of some kind of limit to the approach. Worth nothing is that compared to other approaching, there is little inherent engagement in this one.  Simply moving forward simply stop being interesting after a while and something else is needed.

I think the question of various ways to set up goals is a  really important issue but I do not see it addressed very often, or really at all. For some reason any design articles I come across are based on a type of design and then just take that as dogma. Perhaps I am just missing all the nice papers/articles out there?

Also interested in hearing if I missed out on any ways to create the low-level goals in a storytelling game!

Saturday, 19 January 2013

4 Winds Fantasy Gaming to be acquired by Purple Duck Games


For Immediate Release

4 Winds Fantasy Gaming’s owner/publisher, Robert Thomson, announced today that 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming will be acquired by Purple Duck Games. The acquisition includes rights to all existing 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming products and over a dozen “in-the-works” projects (including the two successful crowdfunded projects), along with the rights to all names, logos, trademarks, and original artwork contained in the products.

“My wife Connie and I started 4 Winds in March 2009, and it’s been a fun, wild ride. But the time is right for us to divest ourselves of the company and move on to other things,” said Thomson. In the nearly four years of 4 Winds existence, the company released 48 different products, including several apps.

Mark Gedak, owner/publisher of Purple Duck Games stated that Purple Duck intends to keep the 4 Winds brand alive, and that all existing 4 Winds products will remain available for now. Any 4 Winds “in-the-works” projects that Purple Duck chooses to finish will probably carry dual Purple Duck/4 Winds branding.

“I want to keep the 4WFG brand intact and add it to Purple Duck’s, allowing us to continue to build on the great work done by both companies,” said Gedak.

The acquisition will be complete as of January 31, 2013. After the acquisition, Thomson will stay on with Purple Duck Games as developer of the 4 Winds “in-the-works” projects. 

Monday, 14 January 2013

To hell with your fluff!


To hell with your fluff, tell me a story with your miniatures.

Let’s face it, fluff is huge part of the draw to a game and should not be underestimated; when it comes time to play a game, what is more important the fluff or the visually striking miniatures that grace the gaming table.

There is only so much you can do with a base box set of miniatures before they start looking homogeneous. I love making special characters, miniatures that represent a scene or action, miniatures that tell a story through their pose or actions.
With this in mind I created the Stormtrooper accessory set. This kit contains a massive number of parts, packs, pouches, accessories, heads, arms, hands and equipment so that you can tell your personal story and unlock your creative genius.

 

Here are just a few examples of what can be done. Granted I will not win any modeling or hobby awards with what is featured here, my lack of cleanup and exuberant use of glue keep these from being show pieces, but this shows what can be achieved in just a few hours with only a moderate level of care.
Each of these custom figures used the arms, and hands from the accessory set to create unique figures and poses that simply could not be achieved with the normal ten and twenty man Stormtrooper sets.

We start with a Rifleman, equipped with binoculars; he holds his rifle as her surveys his surroundings for enemy action. Standing next to him is the ‘Old man’ a veteran officer, pistol at the ready and pointing at his objective, as all officers do ;)

Next we have a Grenadier, his SMG with grenade launcher slung over his shoulder as he leans back to throw a stick grenade into the enemy ranks, while a rifleman behind him provides covering fire.

We finish up this line up with a platoon sergeant, running into action, two SMG’s blazing away ‘Neo style’. At his side a support specialist, carrying his Panzerfaust in a more traditional method rather than the RPG configuration, his SMG/grenade launcher tethered to his hip.

A couple more shots of the ‘Old man’ in action.
 
The Rifleman scans for targets. 
 
 

The Grenadier in all his glory.

My homage to the Matrix, this sergeant displays the Hollywood run and gun Neo style.  

Hate painting eyes? I do ;) The accessory set contains enough goggled heads to equip 10 troopers and four officers.

Don’t care for the RPG grip style of the anti-tank weapons? This conversion brings us a more old school configuration.

 
 

I really enjoyed building these, some of the parts were small and I had to take care with removing them from the sprue so they did not go scuttling across the table but all in all it was a simple job, everything fit as it should and even the little fiddly parts went together with no issues. I used a standard hobby clipper to remove the parts and a swipe from a sharp hobby knife to clean off the remnants of the sprue. Everything went together fast and easy with the use of Testors model cement (Stay away from superglue… the standard orange Testors cement works like a charm and will make a much better bond).

Enjoy!
Mark

Friday, 11 January 2013

First wave release instructions peek

The first stage items will be landing in the US soon. While I work away on the stage three items, I thought I would post up the instruction inserts so you can begin your mental build ;)

Do to time limitations we did not get some of the inserts in the box before they made the sea voyage, the poor folks at WGF Utah will be folding and inserting these into the Stormtrooper sets.

Cheers!
Mark








Saturday, 5 January 2013

Kickstarters!

I want to be very clear, Purple Duck Games has not created a kickstarter to fund any of our products but we certainly get drawn in by many kickstarter campaigns from 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming's Exploding Aces to Reaper's Bones Kickstarter. Two kickstarters that we are really interested in now for our own personal benefit are the Pathfinder Online Kickstarter and Legendary Realms Kickstarter.



Pathfinder Online is a fantasy sandbox MMO by Goblinworks based on the Pathfinder tabletop game. It uses a unique process called "Crowdforging" to determine what features are implemented in the game, in what order.

Even if you are not a MMO player there are lots of excellent rewards attached to this kickstarter like the Emerald Spire Megadungeon for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game (currently this is set to be 6-levels deep, but when the product is funded there should be 10 levels at a minimum).

Then there are Pathfinder Battles Minatures and my favourite the Crowdforger PDF Superpack



Paizo's community is very strong, and that includes friends at many excellent third-party publishers that make roleplaying products for use with the Pathfinder RPG. Paizo reached out to those publishers and asked them if they would be willing to donate a PDF or two (or sometimes even more) that we could bundle up and offer as part of the Crowdforger Kickstarter backers, and the response has been absolutely amazing—including Paizo's own contribution, it currently includes 42 products from 29 different publishers. According to current counts there is over $300 dollars with worth of material from Third Party Publishers who have leapt behind this project. 

I can't think of another OGL-related project that has brought so many publishers together in one place.

 Legendary Realms
The Legendary Realms kickstarter is raising money to invest in the technology needed to increase there product line. Legendary Realms produces fantasy terrain for tabletop roleplaying. Brian Berg, from Total Party Kill games, is managing the kickstarter for Legendary Realms and each of the reward levels provides a different amount of premade terrain. 

All the terrain is made out of a two-part resin that is designed to fit snugly together and each piece of terrain is hand painted by the people at Legendary Realms. 

Although the kickstarter video is not great to look at, I am impressed by the look of the terrain and am happy to back a project like this. Additionally, the project has been up for a day or so and is already 56% funded.

If you have any interest in all for megadungeons, 3PP Pathfinder products, MMOs or resin dungeon terrain please check these two kickstarters out before it is too late.

- Mark Gedak
ps. Our "Year in Review" post will come at the end of January, we have a couple super-duper secret things that we need to finalize first.



Friday, 4 January 2013

First shipment heading to WFG Utah!

Just a heads up, the shipment left China last week (Dec 29th) to start its sea voyage, so we are still on track for it landing in Utah the last week of January.

We filled a 40 foot container just for the KS backs ;) there was another shipment that left shortly after for the retailers stock.



Fingers crossed, this will be a common occurrence :-P