30 October, 2008

Fantastic Contraption

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

DO NOT PLAY FANTASTIC CONTRAPTION!!!

It's highly addictive and will prevent you from doing other more important work like designing games of your own, posting in forums, feeding the dog or completing assignments.

If you really do need to play this game, here's some ideas that I constructed to get through two of the tougher levels.

http://FantasticContraption.com/?designId=3681201

http://FantasticContraption.com/?designId=3682060

But it's probably easier if you just forget that you ever saw this post.

23 October, 2008

New Sequential Art Project

I've started developing a project that links into one of my other hobbies...sequential art, commonly referred to as comics, but often encompassing a wide variety of media.

There have been some ideas sitting in the back of my mind. Ideas that have festered for quite some time, like many of my game design ideas.

I think I've hinted at a few of these ideas during previous entries of my blog, but I'm just too lazy at the moment to go back through them all and read what I may or may not have written. It's easier to just go forward with my plans and hope that if I'm repeating anything, then a subconscious and instinctive memory pattern will prevent me from making the same mistakes I might have made in the past.

I've spent the last few nights generating some archetypal characters for a story, I'll have to see what I can do to load some of these images up to my photobucket account, or I might try to resubmit some work to Elfwood (though the images of characters don't have an inherently fantasy or science fiction feel to them even if the sequential artwork will eventually link to these concepts). I might have to work up some of the images a bit more and send them to my currently inactive DeviantArt account. For some reason, I can't load them onto my website and access them from here.

16 October, 2008

Dreams

Have you ever had one of those dreams that seems really symbolic at the time, you wake up getting the feeling that you really need to act on the subconscious messages contained within.

I had one of those last night.

Seeing people from my past, people who were apologising for actions they had done, while other members of my private history were telling me not to forgive them.

I'm sure there could be a whole lot of things read into this dream.

But I'm not sure if I want to...how much would be read into it and how much is actually a connection to a global subconscious dreamscape??

14 October, 2008

Rookwood

This morning I decided to take a quick drive around Rookwood Cemetery, the largest working cemetery in the southern hemisphere.

This has caused me to revise some ideas for some concepts I've been working on.

It's a common anthropological theory that funerals are a ritual for the living, not for the dead. Visiting graves is a similar concept that helps the closure of a persons life within the space of their cultural footprint. Those who are more influential within a family draw descendants to their graves, those who have a wider impact on the community (through fame, wealth or other influence) draw visitors to their final resting place beyond their families.

Visiting the Chinese part of the cemetery was a truly interesting part of the journey. I don't know enough about the origins of chinese funeral rites (whether Buddhist or Taoist), but I do know that they believe in many hells. People are believed to spend time in these hells to atone for their sins in the mortal world, before reincarnating or passing on the a higher plane. Time in these hells can be reduced by descendents burning "hell money" which effectively ransoms the soul, shortening the duration in hell between reincarnations.

It's an interesting idea that is similar to the Purgatory of the Catholic faith, or even the concept of Grey angels in Kaballah (where white traditional angels bring goodness, black angels[demons] bring punishment and misery, and Grey angels bring misfortune that may be overcome in the mortal world to atone for the sins of previous stages in your life).

Driving between sections of the graveyard I thought of numerous concepts that could be useful to a game, or to a cosmology. The intersections of the Jewish section are marked with huge paved "Stars of David", the Russian Orthodox section has gravestones marked in Cyrillic, the chinese name both husband and wife on the gravestone even before both parties have passed on (the surviving member covers the letters of their name in a red paint...I'll need to look into this tradition more carefully if I'm going to use this concept in a work of speculative fiction or a game).

Parts of the garveyard are so old that the graves seem to blend in with the landscape, other parts have a palpable energy about them.

One part of the cemetery has a roadway with jewish graves on one side of the road, and chinese graves on the other. I immediately thought of a war between fighting spirits of each faith. But the problem here is that sects within each faith believe in reincarnation.

If spirits do linger in such a place, why would they do so?

If the spirits have moved on, what happens to the energy invested by mortal descendants. If modern physics has begun to establish parallels where belief fuels reality, then what happens to the expended hell money, the incense, the prayers if their recipient is no longer present to accept the blessing?

I was reminded of certain concepts in the old World of Darkness game "Wraith the Oblivion", reminded of how I'd love to expand some of those ideas in my game "Tales".

As I left the cemetery, I was also reminded of the fact that the cemetery is completely surrounded by at least two "rings of iron". Railway tracks border three sides of the cemetery, with a complete ring of track encompassing both the cemetery and a few nearby suburbs. Additional parts of the Sydney rail network form a second complete ring around the cemetery. (The standard network map doesn't show the goods lines that criss-cross the commuter network). A track even led into the cemetery for many decades, with four stations, leading from the Mortuary/Regent St. Station in the city, and with tracks leading toward another cemetary called the "Field of Mars".

I'm seeing some great potential for a game about ghosts and the afterworld here. Now it's just a case of doing it right, or working out how to best incorporate these ideas into my other concepts.

11 October, 2008

Framework for New Website now works.

After encountering a mysterious glitch that stopped most of my pages from rendering on any web-browser other than Firefox 2, it now seem that new updated version of the Vulpinoid Studios website now works.

As for some of the questions about why the website is currently designated version 2.2.0, that's pretty simple, but it goes back a while.

To cut a long story short, I had a previous website in the late 1990's and early 2000's, I even had a domain name registered for it. The various iterations of that website fall under the category of the 1.X.X series of version numbers.

You can probably still find copies of it on the wayback machine, or by googling Ukiyo Zoshi, which was one of my earlier game concepts that was run by a few German groups in the early 2000's and still seems to be used as a object of modification by some game designers.

The 2.X.X series of version numbers represents my second serious web presence. Where versions 2.1.0 through to 2.1.6 were different incarnations of a layout that has developed and evolved over the course of 2008. Enough tweaking and modification led me to abandon the layout concept that formed the core structure for this site. Hence moving onward to version 2.2.0. Hopefully, the next couple of weeks will see a few more revisions of the site, but these should mainly come in the form of updated text/images, insertion of multimedia components, and general improvement of streamlining and usability.

Then I might be able to get back to some game design.

09 October, 2008

Site Upload Version 2.2.0

This afternoon I'm going to start uploading the new version of my website.

vulpinoid studios


I don't know how much of it will actually reach the web this afternoon. But hopefully the next day or two should see a revitalised presence for the Eighth Sea and my other games/projects.

Fingers crossed..but I don't know how conducive listening to Ozzy Osbourne is to work...

07 October, 2008

Sydcon Debrief

It's been 8 years since I last attended a game convention in Sydney, it's surprising how many familiar faces are still around the scene...how many people recognised me...how old some of the crowd is starting to look.

The Eighth Sea was run 7 times over the course of the convention to various degrees of success.

I really have to accept the notion that no game can be for everyone. Some people really just don't get the concept, it's a bit different from the other games that are regularly seen at conventions and anything that deviates from the norm will either resonate more strongly with an individual player or it will just seem a bit off key compared to their regular playing style.

I tried to play with the notion of restricting genre within the system to see how the game would play under a different series of constraints. 3 options...1950's Pulp Sci-Fi, Victoriana Steampunk, and Modern Dramatic Sci-FI (a la Stargate SG-1, Firefly, etc.), I threw in a fourth genre twoard the end...Anime.

I guess it still depends on the players, and since I haven't seen the game run by any GM other than myself, I can only guess that the potential GM plays a major role in the game as well.

It seems to play very similarly depending on the genre, and the different genre conventions simply seem to be set dressing on something that remains the same at it's core. I haven't decided whether this is a good thing or not, it's simply an observation at the moment.

Almost 30 players were introduced to the system, and I sold five more copies...which is a good thing.

Other good things to see with the system are a clearly defined sweet spot. 4 to 6 players is great for inter player intrigue. It's enough to get factions appearing on the table, but not too many for players to get frustrated or bored with the continuously convoluting plot.

One experiemental session ran with 2 players, each controlling a pair of characters. This was purely experimental, and I did warn the players in advance that the result could have easily ended up being a train-wreck...but it ran well. Definitely outside the sweet spot for the game, but with the right players it runs well (I awarded convention trophies to the players for their efforts in this).

One of the slower and less successful sessions involved a pair of kids, young teenagers who've quite probably been alive for less time than I've been roleplaying. Intensely competitive and always trying to dominate the story, they just didn't understand the concept of shared narrative at all which gave the game some tense moments that I had to smooth over as delicately as possible while trying to keep things vibrant and interesting for the other players. The other problem is that one of the pkayers in this groups was an old convention attendee from years ago who had played in my sessions from the mid to late 1990's. He knew how fun the game could be and he knew my GMing style. So thankfully, he was a help.

Among the players, I had individuals who were fascinated with the structure of the mechanics, I had others who were intrigued by the games interplay with narrative and the way it draws forth a communal subconcious for a short period (there were some pretty intense discussions with a few people along these lines). Then there were the players who simply enjoyed the fact that they could run riot, compared to the limiting aspects found in plenty of other games.

On the whole, a successful convention. Marred only by the fact that I didn't go home first to take my wife to the after party for drinks and a bit of socialising/networking.

02 October, 2008

Polyurethane Resin

Over the last couple of weeks I've been working on some more physical projects, and this has meant the blog has been put on hold a bit.

But on the positive side, I've now got some new pictures to show what I've been doing...

steampunk goggles

resin coins

These are some coins and some Steampunk goggles I've been sculpting to go with some of the games I'm working on.

The coins are designed to be used as meta-game currency in The Eighth Sea. The larger coins being used as "Pieces of Eight", which are used by players to purchase changes in the storyline. The smaller coins are use as Wind tokens, to modify difficulties within the game.

At least that's the theory so far...I might end up swapping these two types of coin around depending on how well they play at Sydcon over this weekend.

The goggles are for a number of purposes, but mostly just for use as a fun prop in Steampunk games. I'll be using them at Sydcon over the weekend, and hopefully they'll generate enough interest that someone might want to buy a pair.

Further details about these will be available on my website, as soon as that becomes operational.