Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Lankhmar: City of Thieves From Pinnacle Entertainment Group

Lankhmar is coming to your Savage Worlds games, and it is coming soon. The PDF of Lankhmar: City of Thieves will be available April 14th, when the print book goes up for preorder.

That is a kickass promo image.

And then, you will most likely see the book in your local game stores this summer. I'll try to take a picture of it, if the book is available at Gen Con in a couple of months.

FINAL FANTASY: Record Keeper launches in US for iOS and Android

There's another Final Fantasy-themed mobile game out in the US -- Final Fantasy: Record Keeper is an RPG set in the universe(s) of Final Fantasy. It's also a free-to-play fix for FF lovers (with some in-app purchases available, too).

So, I've been playing around with the game a bit since its launch -- should you care about it?

Short answer: if you really love the Final Fantasy universe (all of it) and are very familiar with (all of) it, you will likely get some entertainment out of it and might even really enjoy it. If you're new or inexperienced with the Final Fantasy games, there is still a decent game here for you -- with some nice music, graphics and game play. The game is filled with references to the universe(s) and the inexperienced will, likely, have no clue as to why they should care or what's really going on.

Still, it's free and worth a look. Press release below:

DeNA and Square Enix Launch
FINAL FANTASY: Record Keeper in North America

Fans Can Now Battle their Way through the Most Epic FINAL FANTASY Moments

SAN FRANCISCO - March 26, 2015 - DeNA and Square Enix (OTC: SQNXF) today announced the highly-anticipated release of FINAL FANTASY®: Record Keeper™ inNorth America. The first mobile game where players are able to experience the completeFINAL FANTASY universe, FINAL FANTASY: Record Keeper lets fans relive favorite moments across all past FINAL FANTASY installments and build a team of classic characters. FINAL FANTASY: Record Keeper is available on the AppStore for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch and Google Play for Android devices beginning today.

FINAL FANTASY: Record Keeper delivers the entire FINAL FANTASY universe directly into the hands of players and fans of the storied franchise. Players can recruit favorite FINAL FANTASY heroes, including Tidus, Lightning, and Cloud, to form the most dynamic team of all time. Characters can each be completely customized and equipped to the fullest with iconic gear, powerful spells, summons, and hundreds of weapons to choose from.

Gameplay in FINAL FANTASY: Record Keeper is as strategic and challenging as ever with the classic FINAL FANTASY Active Time Battle (ATB) system in place. Players battle their way through the most epic FINAL FANTASY moments, woven together for the first time on mobile with an all-new tale. Featuring skill-based interactive gameplay, players plan attacks, carefully choose tactics, and engage enemies in active time battles.

"The wait is finally over for fans who have been anxiously awaiting the release of FINAL FANTASY: Record Keeper in North America," said Shintaro Asako, CEO of DeNA West. "The game truly delivers the entire FINAL FANTASY universe that players know and love in one immersive experience that won't disappoint."

"DeNA and SQUARE ENIX are proud to present the highly anticipated FINAL FANTASY: Record Keeper to players in the US," said Ichiro Hazama, Producer atSQUARE ENIX. "The mobile RPG that took Japan by storm is set to bring that same excitement to US shores."

FINAL FANTASY: Record Keeper is available as a free download on the AppStore for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch and Google Play for Android devices beginning today. For more information on the game, visit: http://www.finalfantasyrecordkeeper.comTo download multimedia assets, including screenshots, game logo, and more, visit the game's online press kit.

A gameplay trailer is available to watch and embed on your site via the following YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yivGwd39lSA.

# # #
Since the release of FINAL FANTASY in 1987, this unique RPG series continues to showcase the spectacular visuals, highly imaginative worlds and rich stories leading the industry and earning the highest accolades from users around the world. Titles of the series have so far achieved a cumulative shipment of over 110 million units worldwide.

About DeNA
DeNA (pronounced "D-N-A") is a global Internet company that develops and operates a broad range of mobile and online services including games, e-commerce and other diversified offerings. Founded in 1999, DeNA is headquartered in Tokyo with offices and game development studios across the globe. DeNA Co., Ltd. is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange (2432). For more information, visit: dena.com

About Square Enix Co., Ltd.
Square Enix Co., Ltd. develops, publishes, distributes and licenses SQUARE ENIX®, EIDOS® and TAITO® branded entertainment content around the world. The Square Enix Group operates a global network of leading development studios and boasts a valuable portfolio of intellectual property, including: FINAL FANTASY, which has sold over 110 million units worldwide, and DRAGON QUEST® which has sold over 64 million units worldwide; TOMB RAIDER®, which has sold over 42 million units worldwide; and the legendary SPACE INVADERS®. Square Enix is a Japan-based, wholly-owned subsidiary of Square Enix Holdings Co., Ltd.

More information on Square Enix Co., Ltd. can be found at http://www.jp.square-enix.com/ 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Neon Sanctum RPG Kickstarter Interview with Adam Waite

A little over a week ago the Kickstarter for Neon Sanctum, an RPG set in a post-apocalyptic cyberpunk world, launched and it's already nearing the half-way point of its funding goal with around three weeks left to go. We here at Dorkland have managed to sit down with Adam Waite of Grenade Punch Games, developers of Neon Sanctum, for a little interview about the game and its Kickstarter.

Dorkland!: How has the Kickstarter been for you, so far? What have you learned that you wish you could share with your past self?

Adam Waite: We did a LOT of research prior to the Kickstarter, so we knew roughly what to expect. I’m not sure we expected that there would be so many other great games out this month. Neon Sanctum is up against some stiff competition!

DL: Most RPGs tend to stick with just a book as their material, which makes publishing them more straightforward. What are some of the unique challenges you're facing by publishing cards (and other materials)?

AW: Clearly, the printing and shipping of a game include cards, dice and battle maps with a rulebook too is more expensive than a book. But we’ve worked hard to get some good deals. Also, once you include dice in the game it automatically qualifies it as a game eligible for VAT if sold by retailers. That also means you have to start thinking about CE marking and try to find a printer who’ll ensure your game qualifies for CE marking if you’re marketing it to under 14s.

DL: What do the cards bring to the gameplay that wouldn’t be there otherwise? Can players use Neon Sanctum without cards?

AW: The cards make the game far more accessible than a traditional RPG, but they’re core to the game – you couldn’t play Neon Sanctum without cards. We use mechanics that you couldn’t do without easily without cards, things like shuffling for initiative. Also the way players use cards mean that they cycle between their hand and cooldown decks. This brings a resource management style mechanic to the game that is unique and constantly provides the players with interesting choices.

DL: Tabletop RPGs have been played online (through various clients and means) more frequently over the years. Could Neon Sanctum be played online? If so, how might they and, if not, are there any plans to allow fans to do so in the future?

AW: Yes! In fact we’ve been doing some demonstrations via Tabletop Simulator for people interested in the game. We weren’t sure if these would be popular, but over 70 people tuned in to our first one. In addition we’re offering a free app for character creation to aid the physical game.

DL: How does Neon Sanctum's setting differ from other cyberpunk settings? What might cyberpunk fans find familiar?

AW: Neon Sanctum is set in a unique world where the post apocalypse and cyberpunk collide. It’s set a couple of hundred years after a huge war, humanity was on the very brink of defeat when they found a final solution. It ended the war in a single stroke, but it also turned most of the world into uninhabitable dead zones. This forced the few humans who survived to look for new places to settle. Two hundred years one of these settlements has turned into Neon City a huge cyberpunk metropolis surrounded by mutant and bandit filled wastes.

The world obviously takes inspiration from films such as Blade Runner, Dredd and Ghost in the Shell as well as games such as videogames such as Shadowrun Returns and The Last of Us. The idea was to pick up where many movies and games end – how do humans survive once the world has been rebuilt from an apocalypse? And at what cost?

DL: Why should people buy and support Neon Sanctum? Why should they play it?

AW: People should buy and play Neon Sanctum because it’s great fun to play, accessible, and it’s something a little different. It may be a card game but it is also a really great RPG with full character customisation and advancement. The game has had some fantastic reviews so far, and as of three days in we’ve hit 34% of our target.

DL: What plans do you have for the future of Neon Sanctum?

AW: At the moment we are totally focused on the kickstarter, we do have some great stretch goals however. Things like more items, NPCs and even skill cards. The game is really modular so you could add in new cards really easily, so the scope for expansions is endless.

DL: Lastly, what has been a stand-out moment for you while playing Neon Sanctum?

AW: We always have a great time playing the game. Some recent moments include the group being so paranoid that they threw away a briefcase of a certain drug that they needed because they convinced themselves it was a bomb. Also we had a Pegasus character once leap onto the cockpit of a dropship and kill the pilot through the windscreen.

We would like to thank Adam for taking the time to answer our questions and wish him and Grenade Punch Games the best with their ongoing Kickstarter. If you'd like to know more about Neon Sanctum, be sure to check out the Kickstarter page and its website.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Neon Sanctum Kickstarter

If you have a post-apocalyptic cyberpunk RPG itch, there's a new Kickstarter that might just satisfy. Neon Sanctum by Grenade Punch Games is offering an RPG that utilizes cards in place of character sheets and involves them in the mechanics.

Sound strange? Well, it certainly might be at first and seeing, in this case, does wonders for understanding. Thankfully, the people at Grenade Punch Games have links to a free rule book and playtest kit on the Kickstarter page. Uncertain if the game is for you? Don't take anyone's word for it -- you can see for yourself.

If you do take my word for anything, though, it should be on this section: the Kickstarter project evaluation.

The video is, for most Kickstarter pages, the very first element seen and, in Neon Sanctum's case, the teaser image for it is a nice choice, and shows the post-apocalyptic setting off. The video is nicely edited, has a good length, and the imagery shows some of the cyberpunk elements. But, the information in it could easily fly over the head of someone without any knowledge of the product. Also, it didn't seem to have any audio, though I'm not sure if that's just me.

The main body of the page is really where this project shines. There is good use of imagery throughout the page and in a variety of ways. Then there's the formatting of the text and information that helps highlight important bits, and blocks of text are broken up into more manageable bites. There are even a couple of videos embedded to give further information and instruction for the product.

The product is clearly shown in imagery. The backing tiers, as well. And, as an added bonus, they went the extra mile and converted all of the monetary amounts into USD, GBP, and EUR. That isn't something we see too often.

All-around a very nice Kickstarter project.

Now, at this point, you might be wondering what getting in on it will cost you. The short: around a dollar for a 'Print and Play' version, $12USD for a player's 'deck' and, roughly, $50USD for the core set. All the contents of the core set are also shown on the Kickstarter page, if you're curious what your money is going to get you.

But, that's all this post is going to get. If you'd like to know more about Neon Sanctum, be sure to check out its Kickstarter page (which is full of information) or check out Neon Sanctum's website.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Awesome -- A YA Novel From Eva Darrows

“Hilarious and twisted, this is one bad-ass jump-kick of a book. Move over Buffy, because monster hunter Maggie Cunningham is in town. THE AWESOME does not merely live up to its name, but in fact, speeds past it at the speed of a crossbow bolt slamming into a vampire’s breastbone.”

– Chuck Wendig, author of the Miriam Black series

Seventeen-year-old Maggie Cunningham is tough, smart, and sassy. She’s also not like other girls her age, but then, who would be when the family business is monster hunting? Combat boots, ratty hooded sweatshirts, and hair worn short so nothing with claws can get a grip, Maggie’s concerns in life slant more toward survival than fashion or boys. Which presents a problem when Maggie’s mother informs Maggie that she can’t get her journeyman’s license for hunting until she loses her virginity. Something about virgin blood turning vampires into pointy rage monsters. Blood and gore and insides being on the outside and all that.

Maggie’s battled ghosts and goblins and her fair share of house brownies, but finding herself a boy—fitting in with her peers—proves a much more daunting task than any monster hunt. Did you know normal girls don’t stuff their bras with holy water balloons? Nor do they carry wooden stakes in their waistbands. And they care about things like “matching” and “footwear.” Of course, they also can’t clean a gun blindfolded, shoot a crossbow, or exorcise ghosts from a house. Which means they’re lame and Maggie’s not. Because Maggie’s awesome.

The Awesome, in fact.
Just ask her. She’d be more than happy to tell you.
After she finds herself a date.

Part monster-hunter, part heart-breaker and all AWESOME, seventeen year-old Maggie Cunningham is the Whedon-worthy hero YA has been waiting for. An apprentice in the family business, Maggie’s interests slant more towards survival than fashion or boys, which presents a problem when Maggie’s mother informs her that she can’t get her journeyman’s license until she loses her virginity (something about virgin blood turning vampires into pointy-teethed rage monsters). One foiled fumble, a dead fledgling vampire and an angry undead prince later, and it would appear that the dating scene is more complicated than Maggie had first anticipated…

An anti-paranormal romance for the YA readership, The Awesome is fast, furious and funny. Maggie is a refreshing and recognisable figure who wouldn’t be caught dead going up against a ghoul in anything as silly as tight-fitting leathers (impractical, plus muffin top).

Coming in May from Ravenstone Press (the cutting-edge YA and Children’s imprint from Rebellion Publishing).

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

And Where Is The OGL (Or Some Facsimile)?

One thing that was mentioned with the launch of D&D 5e was that there would be an OGL (Open Game License), or some equivalent released. When do we think that will be?

There have been mis-steps along the way of the launch of the new game. Delays in releases held up getting the core books out. Books were cancelled and turned into PDFs (along with claims that they were never announced). There have been the usual edition wars and hurt feelings on the internet, and Dungeons & Dragons moved into a new edition.

I think that one of the few things that gamers can probably agree on is the fact that D&D 3.x greatly benefited from having the OGL and 3rd party support. We can probably also agree that the glut of third edition materials that came out because of the OGL may have also hurt the game in the long run. That's neither here nor there.

This new edition possibly has one of the lightest release schedules this side of AD&D 1e. It has been a while since new material has come out for D&D from Wizards of the Coast. Gamers are getting restless, and there are already people claiming that the launch was a failure or that fifth edition is dead. Personally, my gaming isn't built around how much material I can buy, so this trickle of material doesn't really bother me that much, but it does bring up the question of what happened to the OGL (or equivalent) that was promised? Mike Mearls mentioned that it was

The lack of direct OGL support for D&D 5e hasn't stopped some publishers from using the existing 3.x OGL to fill in some blanks and put out support for the game. One of the things that hampers these coming, but still no hints of glimmers even.efforts is the lack of ability to claim support with the new edition. The one/two punch of the 3.x OGL/SRD and the d20 Logo License opened up a lot of potential in the market. Not only could you use the mechanics from D&D 3.x as is (yes, I understand that game mechanics cannot be copyrighted, but when going for compatibility with a specific game being able to use the exact wording of the mechanics is helpful) but you could put on the cover of your book that it was compatible with Dungeons & Dragons. That alone was worth using the licenses for a lot of publishers.

Yes, I get that some people think that they don't have to use the OGL, and that is fine, too. This discussion isn't about that.

Just speaking as a gaming fan, and sometimes designer, I would like to see any open content from the fifth edition rules releases under the same OGL as third edition. Why? It will facilitate the pollination of material between the editions, making it easier for the good 3.x material to be brought over to the new edition. This was a problem with 4th edition, because the licenses wouldn't allow easy conversion of material from one system to the other. I think that it will be interesting to see how some of the player bits from the new edition (the stuff that I really liked) will work out with some of that material. Or maybe we can see the addition of things like advantage and disadvantage, and Backgrounds, worked into some of the material forked off of the 3rd edition material (like in retroclones). There is so much potential for material that, and I think that it wants to get out.

So, the question remains: Where is the OGL for Dungeons & Dragons Wizards of the Coast?

Friday, March 06, 2015

Carpe Noctem From Hashtag Comics [NSFW Previews]

Hashtag Comics is a new publisher who is sem-local to me. I met writer Martin Dunn last year at the Tampa Bay Comic-Con, and now we run into each other at local events and comic stores. After running into each other recently at Heroes Haven over in Tampa, he told me about a new publisher that he was involved with, and a book that he was writing for them. Pixel crossed the internet and I found myself with some previews to read. Hashtag Comics has an interesting approach as a publisher because they publish comics geared towards a more adult audience, as well as more family friendly titles as well.

Carpe Noctem is on the less family-friendly, more "adult" end of their publishing spectrum. The first issue was raw, and I found it very reminiscent of 90s Horror Comics, but in the hands of Dunn and artist Derrick Fish the story manages to rise above many of the cliches of this particularly genre/style of comic book story.

There is blood, and violence and sex. This is a story about vampires, werewolves and other things that go "bump" in the night, and telling stories about these sorts of creatures would be difficult without at least the blood and violence. I would be disappointed in a vampire comic that didn't have blood in it.

Carpe Noctem also has some intriguing concepts in it, ideas that elevate it about the average. The Auditors are ancient, eldritch beings that manage to avoid the Lovecraftian cliches that usually come with "Old Ones" and "Eldritch Beings" in comics, or a lot of horror for that matter. It is the task of the Auditors to keep the supernatural world a secret, often through dark means. In this first issue we are introduced to Chelsea, who is going to be the viewpoint character for the readers, the one through whom the supernatural world is revealed.

[Previews and more adult material after the jump]