Thursday, January 29, 2015

Legend of the Elements: The New Name of Avatar World

God I love the Forest Temple

Heeeeeey folks! Avatar World is no more. In its place stands Legend of the Elements!

I made the decision about a week and a half ago that I was going to strip out the franchise from the game. I'd really like to properly sell the game after putting two and half years of work into it. While in general this hasn't been as bad as I thought it would be, the main shifts that I spent tiem agonizing over were the suffix "-bender" which is now, generally, "-shaper." The title was a loooot harder but I think I've finally settled on Legend of the Elements. It has a Nickelodeon feel, it's simple and evocative, and it's not too long.

The game is also changing a bit! Freeing myself from Avatar lets me flex some different ideas. Here's a peek:
~ Expanding the playbooks a bit. This was probably going to happen regardless, but the nature of the expansion is a little different. In addition to The Peasant and possibly The Hunter that my friend is writing (which I think are appropriate, especially outside of the Avatar context). One idea that I've come to quite agree with is adding a fifth Shaper to the core lineup, the Spiritshaper. This both lets me indulge some of my ideas in a more core way, as well as instantly distance myself from Avatar a bit more. Another thing I'm still debating is the idea of splitting the Warrior back down the armored-soldier line (as The Knight) and the stealthy type (name tbd, trying to avoid The Ninja if possible, as well as Rogue or Thief). Depending on how it plays out, The Hunter might actually just be the new other half of the Warrior.
~ The bolstering of the sub-playbook lineup with more non-bending subpbs, as that's a thing I want that is sorely lacking.
~ A refinement of the existing playbooks, culling some moves and swapping some around.

End Recording,

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sunday Songs 2015: Shane Koyczan and the Short Story Long - Tomatoes


Shane Koyczan is a poet, a spoken word artist. On its own, that wouldn't qualify as "music" for the context of Sunday Songs, but then he recorded an album of his poetry in conjunction with The Short Story Long, a folk instrumental trio. He's a pretty great poet! Has quite a way with words. The whole album, Remembrance Year, is excellent. This is one of the brighter-toned songs on the album; others, like To This Day, are dark and hurtful (for him) affairs.
I like this one. It's about memories.

The instrumental support is quite great in this one. Also check out Insider, another good one with great merging of the backing music with the words.

One month down!

End Recording,

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Shining Void v0.2 Release!

Mmm, spacey electronica is always fun.

Latest Version (v0.2) Download:



It's here! It's been six months since v0.1 released, and after some pause time, and a good pair of playtest sessions, some feedback, another sizable pause while I engaged my other projects, and then FAR more time rewriting this thing than I would have liked.

So what's new? In the player-facing rules, surprisingly not that much. The speciesbooks became Cultures, the Mechanoid culture became the Outsider, Guardians of the Galaxy was slid smoothly into the list of things the game emulates pretty darn well, and Mass Effect became no more important than the rest of the things on the mediography, meaning I'm off the copyright hook (thank god)! On the MC side, the components are augmented, the explanations are refined, and there's a whole chapter of (if I do say so myself) really interesting work on First Sessions, One-Shots, and Campaigns, including the Fronts equivalent, Singularities. The files are all revamped and I'm quite happy with the all of it. Things are also presented in a better manner (which, uh, may resemble the way AvW is organized; hey, my opinions on organizing a book for an ApW hack don't change much).

If you like it, please tell me! If you have feedback I'd love to hear it, especially if you've played it! And if you're really interested in its continued development, please donate :3 (shilling done)

One big missing thing: there's no art. And there's literally holes in the document where I intend to put art but don't have any yet. If you have ideas about art style please share.

Thanks folks, hopefully it won't take too long before the next round!

End Recording,

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sunday Songs 2015: Emel Mathlouthi - Ya Tounes Ya Meskina (Poor Tunisia)


Emel Mathlouthi is a Tunisian singer-songwriter. Her music became a musical voice for the people during the Tunisian revolution (which kicked off the Arab Spring) and the Egyptian revolution.
After the revolutions began, in 2012, she released her full album Kelmti Horra, which is really a very interesting album.
The language and the native instrumentation combined with dark guitars and electronic influence reminds me strongly of early Niyaz (though I am cognizant that the language is different), which is a plus. Additionally, I immediately recognized some of the backing sounds as similar in both style and melody to some of the basslines of Massive Attack's album Mezzanine, which I later discovered was a big inspiration for her, along with Joan Baez and Bjork. Seriously, even on this song, the background tune sounds a lot like Inertia Creeps and later evolves a bit into something like Group Four, both from Mezzanine.
Middle eastern trip-hop is a thing I'd like to hear a loooot more of, especially if its from Mathlouthi considering her voice is excellent.

Next week I have something REALLY weird picked out. I really like it and can't wait to share it.

For some quick bookkeeping on other topics:
Learning Pixel Art is undergoing final proofing before release. The price will be $1. Watch this space for the release!
The Shining Void v0.2's main text is done. I'm creating the resource documents (playbooks, basic move sheets, etc). I'm also starting to think about art, though v0.2 will have large holes where I will put art.
Avatar World is currently in its fifth session of my long-form game, meaning that's almost done. Henry and I are writing two more playbooks to help round out the list a bit better, though I don't know if they'll go in the book. I'll be recording this session to generate an Example of Play, and then I'll dive into the final draft. Personal goal for release is "physical copy in my hand by ECCC (aka March 27)". I can't sell you a physical copy over the internet of course, sorry! But if you're interested, stop by...

End Recording,

EDIT: I referred to Mathlouthi as "middle-eastern" by accident. As I've heard Egypt referred to by that label I was not sure how closely North Africa associated with the term, and I've been corrected that Tunisia, or at least Mathlouthi, does not identify by that term. Thanks for correcting me Emel!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sunday Songs 2015: Celldweller - It Makes No Difference Who We Are


Celldweller has a pretty interesting vibe. While the majority of the band's work lacks vocals, it is all driven through with a sense of combined organic and electronic sounds. The entire project (the work of one man, Klayton) is permeated with a very dark tone even relative to other electronic bands, and resisted the temptation to fall entirely from melodic writing even when dubstep made bass and glitchiness a lot more popular. If I was to describe the whole project's tone in one word, I would have to call it "menacing." I don't like all of Celldweller's stuff, but much of it is very impressive.
This particular song is the one that got me to look closer at Celldweller instead of continuing to write it off as another aspect of the dubstep boom.

End Recording,

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Shining Void v0.2: Preview of the MC Chapter!

Before anything else, an announcement. My dad very recently lost his job, and with that I also lost a significant route of managing to pay for my schooling. More than ever, I need help. I have a donate button on the right side of the page, and I would really appreciate anything you can spare. If you like the games I'm writing, please consider giving a few bucks.

I don't like begging. I won't do it again. But please.

Not really less generic than the rest of Garrix's work, but MOTi helps it out some. I quite like this one for some reason. It has some variety to it, which is nice.

Hey y'all, felt like coming in and giving everyone a sneak peek at the new MC chapter in v0.2 of The Shining Void! It's paired with the new Starting The Game chapter, which includes First Session stuff, Campaign stuff (including Singularities aka Fronts), and One-Shot stuff, as well as a guided tour / script for running character creation.

 Download the Preview PDF Here!

Let me know what you think! I feel quite happy with it. The lists are pretty well-refined.

One thing I'm working on now that I could use a little help with is types of Threats that you think are iconic within action sci-fi like tSV. Any ideas?

See you on Sunday!
End Recording,

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Sunday Songs 2015: Icon for Hire - Counting on Hearts


Surprise! I've been building a backlog of music for a while now and decided that instead of a Songaday, I wanted to go back to Sunday Songs with a goal of one year of songs.

What is Sunday Songs?
I make a post every Sunday with a song I like and maybe some info about it or something.

You mentioned this was a "go back to" thing?
Yeah, I did this for a while in the past. I missed days on occasion and eventually kinda ran out of steam. That mostly happened because I don't like repeating any artists that I've already used on Sunday Songs or a Songaday or even on a normal blog post, which by this point is like a 500-long list.

How will you not run out of steam this time?
Hopefully, a decent amount of planning will help with that. I know I have enough music for a couple months right now, and I have some good avenues for discovery to help me out after that. I also have an explicit goal this time: one year, 2015. 52 weeks, 52 artists, 52 songs.

What kind of music will you feature?
 Oof, that question. I listen to pretty much anything. I have a focus on pop-inflected electronica, trance, and punk, a wider EDM interest, straight pop, and a lot of exceptions to the rules. My taste is very eclectic. I also listen to a lot of soundtracks to games, movies, and anime, but if you see any of those show up it means I either really really REALLY like them or I'm struggling that week. Let's aim for none of them.
I don't listen to much rap, and I listen to almost no country or metal.

Will this affect other posts?
If you're a regular reader, you may have noticed a posting slow-down. All of my projects are in a stage where I DON'T have the ability to give regular progress reports unfortunately. This will hopefully keep some motion happening on the blog even when I'm in work-mode and not presentation-mode.
Other posts will still have a song tagged on top of them, no rules, like usual.

When do the posts go up?
Sundays! For a non-smartass answer, it really could be any time between 12:01 and when I go to sleep the following night (which may mean as late as 4am Monday). I'm shooting for having it up by noon. Watch my social networks (Especially my Twitter, @Logbook_Project) for announcements of the post going up.

This week's song is by Icon For Hire, a rock band with significant pop-punk and electronic influences. Their strong female voice combined with rock power reminds me of Halestorm. Ariel isn't quite Lzzy-intense (I happen to think Lzzy is one of the most raw and powerful female voices in rock and metal - no one rocks quite as hard as her) but she makes up for it with some good melodic stuff. You could compare them to Paramore, but frankly I don't like Paramore (except for Riot! I think they're pretty boring) and I do like Icon For Hire. I see the similarity, but I don't really like it as much as letting them speak for themselves. Honestly they make me think a little more of the goth-metal and nu-metal scenes than Paramore-style pop-punk.

Seeya next Sunday!
End Recording,

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Avatar World: Story Games Olympia Interview

Hey y'all, I totally did an interview with cool Olympia gamer (and game designer) Orion Canning! If you read my MH or AvW reports, you'll know that I'm also a regular gaming buddy with Orion. That interview, along with the rest of the Story Games Olympia Issue 1, which you should totally read the rest of.
Click through here!

I think I'm mostly pretty coherent for my first interview. After all, I've thought a lot about the game and why I made the choices I did. Hell, I've thought a little too much about it sometimes, slowed me down some. In one of the other articles here Robert Bruce presents a really good line, regarding the writing of games on bursts of inspiration:
Do it quick, before the aesthetic sense of what belongs in the game wears out. If it wears out before you’re done, make uninspired decisions about the rest then playtest.
I wish someone had said that to me a year and a half ago. Really would have gotten the initial game out quicker.
Check out the whole issue, it's great!

End Recording,