New game

Mar. 29th, 2016 10:22 pm
pyraxis: Pyraxis (Pyraxis)
We discovered a new game at GDC that's been my addiction for the past few evenings. It's Niche, a genetic survival game that's sort of a cross between SimLife and Watership Down. You start with Adam and Eve, a pair of little foxlike creatures that don't have an official name yet, and you have to breed your people into a whole tribe while exploring their territory, finding food, and fending off carnivores and illness.

It's made by a small group of people from Switzerland, an indie team, and it's still in the very early stages. They've been Steam greenlit but haven't started a Kickstarter yet, and the publically available build of the game is still a demo version that you can't save. I shut down my computer every night because it has a really loud fan, so I've been obsessively playing the beginning of the game every evening but rarely making it past generation 10 or so.

At GDC they had a little stall and they were running a contest where if you could breed your little tribe to ten members, you would get on the list for a free early access key when they get that far. We are on the list. :) If you join their Facebook playtester's group, you can get a bleeding-edge recent version of the build which is better balanced than the public demo.

The best part about it is it's turn-based. And it has nothing to do with war. It's rare to find a good turn-based strategy game that's not about nation vs nation.
pyraxis: Pyraxis (Pyraxis)
I'm procrastinating by playing Drawception.

It is a ridiculous cross between Pictionary and Telephone where someone makes a prompt, the next person does an awkward 10-minute sketch of it in a little app like Paint, the next person guesses what the sketch was, on and on for fifteen iterations until the end result in no way resembles the prompt. It is oddly hilarious and also addictive. I figure what the hell, at least it's drawing practice, right?

Three sets of three drawings and prompts.
pyraxis: j-t as Sen from Spirited Away (j-t)
I got to try this game at GDC. Habitat: An Orbital Strategy Game.

After Earth fell to some kind of global catastrophe, humanity is struggling to survive on floating habitats built from space debris in orbit. It's a building game where you have to collect and cobble together space junk, attach engines, and attempt to supply your people with enough oxygen, electricity and food to survive.

It's a really unique game mechanic. It has a realistic zero-g physics simulator, so navigating around is a slightly tortuous process of firing an engine on one side of your capsule, starting to spin, firing the engine on the other side to counterbalance the spin, and carefully, through short bursts of power, controlling your navigation. You have to turn around backwards and fire the rockets in the opposite direction to stop. I like the feel of it. It moves at a slow enough pace that me and my bad reflexes, which clasically fail at most RTS games, can actually get somewhere.

I like as well the idea of scavenging and constructing a proper colony from the bits of planes, satellites, and apparently part of the head of the Statue of Liberty that humanity has left behind. (How the Statue of Liberty ended up in orbit, I have no idea...) There can be combat between one group of survivors and another, but it's completely optional, and rather than guns, it mainly involves propelling bits of debris at the other guys and trying to break their structures apart. There's an air of fragility about the junk creations that feels like a refreshing change from games where you blast the crap out of anything that moves, taking utterly unrealistic amounts of damage without slowing down.

Anyway the point of all this is that they have a Kickstarter here. They're ten days in, looking for $50k to bring the game out by next Christmas. They're developing for Mac and Linux as well as PC. Please support them if you're so inclined. I think this game could be really awesome.
pyraxis: Lin (Lin)
Last December, the self-published author M.C.A. Hogarth ([personal profile] haikujaguar) received a notice from Amazon that her e-book Spots the Space Marine was being taken down due to trademark infringement.

It turns out Games Workshop, also known as the UK company that created Warhammer and Warhammer 40k, own the trademark to the term "space marine".

How is this possible, when space marines are a science fiction trope that have appeared in stories, comics and movies at least since Bob Olsen wrote "Captain Brink of the Space Marines" in 1934?

That's where the corporate bullying comes in.

Games Workshop, apparently, have a horrid reputation for being lawyer-happy. They've filed suit against one of the largest Warhammer fansites, against Chapterhouse Studios who make conversion parts for miniatures, and they reputedly hit independent toy and game retailers with clauses that they cannot stock any other gaming system if they want to stock GW miniatures.

For the past couple months, [personal profile] haikujaguar has been quietly contacting five separate IP lawyers and finding that the cost of fighting GW's claim would start at $2000 US and quickly climb into the $50,000 range when the lawsuit began. It wouldn't make business sense to protect the book. Independent authors don't make that kind of money.

If Amazon had investigated GW's claim, they might have discovered it stood on shaky legal ground (per legal publishing blog Scrivener's Error). But they didn't. They just pulled the book, and are refusing to reinstate it without GW's okay.

So essentially we have a situation where a dubious legal challenge from a corporation in another country has censored an independent author's work with no recourse. This is not a system which can claim to protect individuals' rights. It is a system where money can buy the best-equipped mercenaries, and those without it knuckle under in fear of having their livelihood crushed in the modern arena called a courtroom.

The only hope of the individual is enough publicity to embarrass their opponent into withdrawing their claims. This will be difficult against a company of lawyers, MBA's, and wargame designers which has pursued aggressive litigation since the early 1980's. A few days ago, it looked near impossible. Then [personal profile] haikujaguar made a clear, calm and concise call for help. Her relatively small group of friends and fans stepped up to the plate.

The internet rage machine is powerful once the ball gets rolling. 24 hours brought the attention of Elizabeth Moon, John Scalzi, Cory Doctorov and Neil Gaiman. 48 hours brought the Electronic Frontier Foundation and articles in The Guardian, The Register, and a host of other news sources. (Full list of media coverage here.) The Games Workshop lawyers probably thought a self-published author of e-books was easy pickings. Only time will tell just how wrong they were.
pyraxis: j-t as Sen from Spirited Away (j-t)
Still tired and short on words, so have another glaringly autistic de-stressing project. Actually I finished these about a year ago, but I don't think I ever took pics and posted them. Unlimited Adventures cicns in perler beads. These were some of my favourite characters.

Image under cut )
pyraxis: Lin (Lin)
So much to write about. Pages and pages and pages of notes.

First things first, because everything else hinges on this.

Monetizing cristal.

Cristal being the same thing as in crystal kifu. After sitting through a presentation on Final Fantasy: Crystal Mythos solely because of the name, and getting blasted by its teeth-grinding sugar high artwork, I cannot talk about “crystal” with a straight face.

The ethics of monetizing cristal. )

I will go ahead with my plans to channel cristal, unless I receive radical new information that proves it to be a bad idea. However I invite discussion from anybody who has something to say.
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