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Caravel Forum : Caravel Boards : The Illumination : Pilgrimage for geeky goodness' sake (Our news for October)
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mrimer
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icon Pilgrimage for geeky goodness' sake (+2)  
Last month's Illumination, I mentioned how DROD's roots are tied to board gaming and provided some background on the German/Euro game movement. Caravel forumites posted some nice feedback on the forum about their favorite hobby games and on-line board gaming sites, such as BoardGameGeek.com. This is *the* place to go to find out everything on practically every board game ever produced. One of the big news items everyone talks about there is the Essen Internationalen Spieltage, or simply "Essen". Essen is an annual game show held for four days in October (starting Thursday this week!) at a large exhibition centre in Essen, Germany. It is reputedly the biggest and best public show for boardgames, card games and CCGs, with designers and publishers demonstrating their newest games, retailers selling games at discount, and a large fleamarket with a wide range of new and used games. If you like European- and family-style board games, Essen is the biggest and best show around. There might be a spot here and there featuring something video game-related, but this is by no means a focus of the event.

Both board and video games have quite grown up over the last thirty years or so. However, if this were a race, rapid advances in personal computing technology would make it no contest to award a "Runaway Winner" prize to the upstart younger brother and his technical doo-dads. Computer gaming, and more generally, console gaming, have swept the entertainment market and show no signs of giving up the increasing growth margins over other forms of popular entertainment.

Table-top gaming just doesn't see the sheer volume of play had by video games, not by a long shot. I'd cite perceptable social, mental and psychological factors such as:

* graphics -- those newfangled moving pictures capture and hold one's mental attention better than a static image any day

* advances in user interfaces and accessibility -- these days, you don't have to read a rulebook to start playing; video games are considered flawed if they don't teach you how to play from the moment you click "Start"

* immediacy -- since many people already sit at a computer for a large part of the day, it's not an imposition to click a few buttons in order to play any title at any time

* the internet, making it trivial to always find a gaming group for any title you want to play

* relentless marketing engines that push title development cost well into the eight-figure range.

These factors both separately and in combination all translate into wins, both for game publishers and consumers. And yet, experiences like the one I'm about to share make me understand how the now relatively niche market of table-top gaming will hold sway over social contexts for a long, long time.

A few years back, my wife and I were visiting Erik Hermansen in his home. Though Erik and I collaborated daily on DROD work via e-mail, chat, and the forum, this was one of only a couple times we got to see each other face-to-face. While there, we got to know each other better on a personal level. Part of that experience involved Erik sharing many beautiful drawings he had created (some of which you've seen if you've made it to the Dreamplane in DROD:JtRH). He also shared his original hand-drawn art for DROD's Map of the Eighth. To me, being made witness to this was like making the archaeological find of the century. But what became the center of this bonding experience was when we sat and played a flavorful, independently-produced card game I'd never heard of before called GOLEM. In this game, you are a mad scientist building a monster and trying to avoid the angry mobs and defeat the other players' abominations before they trounce yours. A fun, light game. I think I lost, but playing together was a blast.

Now, I'm going to get tribal on you for a bit. When friends and family get together, traditions as old as time drive us to spend our common moments centered around focused bonding rituals. After the harvest, the village gets together for a jubilee dance in the town square. When you're on an overnight campout, you spend time sitting around the campfire, roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. After Thanksgiving holiday dinner in the US, you spend time together watching the big game and rooting for your favorite team. Board games can provide this tribal focus that cements the special moments surrounding the event into a person's memory. When you get together with family or friends, sitting around a table with a gaming catalyst can make magic.

For me, such crystals of memory would not sparkle so brightly if we each were to take a seat in an online deathmatch instead of sitting around a table. Peering into a monitor to play lets us face inward. Board games give us opportunity to face outward, bringing both a satisfying immediacy and tribal memory that I find electronic games hard-pressed to duplicate. Playing on-line can be great fun, but along with that, give me a chair at a table with faces that can look back at me and peer into my eyes any day.

And, inexplicably, some primal urge within me whispers to make that tribal pilgrimage to Essen. I hope any forumites that are going there this year will have a great time. Maybe some future date will see us there too!


The Next Big Project
There are rumblings about what the Next Big Project is. And yet, Mr. Bar solidly refuses to move...or respond when clicked. What gives? Well, the truth is that I'm probably more effective as a developer lead than a manager. I've been bogged down in administrative tasks and it has been hard for me to find time to advance this project. I hope to kick it into high gear soon (or, heh, at least low gear). I'll keep you posted as things start happening!

The Naming Office: Our Contest for November
November's upcoming contest centers around job openings at the Naming Office. Do you think you have what it takes to fill their role? Inquire within!
http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=30189

RoboBob3000's Topical Topic Picks - Apply directly to skin!

The Test Of Mind
http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=30105
There were no new user-made DROD holds released this month, but we did see the release of one new DROD RPG level set. The Test Of Mind is the first published DROD RPG level set by accomplished architect Jeff_Ray. It's been lauded as a high-quality, yet somewhat forgiving level set. I encourage you to plow through it with bravado!

Mosaic Frost by Rheb
http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=30094

Garden by Jutt
http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=30149

It's been a big month for custom room styles. Jutt and Rheb have put together a couple of gorgeous tilesets for the community to digest. Take a look at their respective threads to grab the files and to see some sample images. And of course, you can find more styles as well as installation instructions at http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewsitepage.php?id=202354.

Architectopedia 1.1
http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=27158
Here's a little topic that's been somewhat underappreciated until recently. One of my favorite architecture advancements in the DROD RPG engine has been the addition of _MyScript variables. Rather than explain how helpful they are when scripting, I'll redirect you to skell's meticulously compiled resource regarding their effects. Architects who mean serious business will be referring to this thread ALL THE TIME.

Be a critic! Music for my game
http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=30155
Got an ear for video game tunes? Our buddy Kwakstur would like your critique! I love it when our forumites help each other out with non-DROD related projects - we've seen a lot of awesome stuff come out of some simple collaboration. Come give your advice or just generally crack wise about MIDI composing. And if you've got a project of your own - any project at all - come share it with us!

---------------

Thanks, Robobob! Till next month, keep on DRODing!

-Mike

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[Last edited by mrimer at 10-22-2009 03:13 AM]
10-22-2009 at 03:11 AM
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jbluestein
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icon Re: Pilgrimage for geeky goodness' sake (0)  
Some day, probably when my kids are older and it's less of an imposition on my wife to abandon her for a week or so, I will make the trip to Essen. I am always green with envy at the people I know who get to go.

But I do have my eye on a few things that will be coming out of Essen.

Josh

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10-23-2009 at 05:40 PM
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Nuntar
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quote:
mrimer wrote:
Table-top gaming just doesn't see the sheer volume of play had by video games, not by a long shot. I'd cite perceptable social, mental and psychological factors such as:


I can think of three further reasons. One is the simple one of speed. Board and card games typically take quite a bit of setting up, not to mention shuffling in between games or rounds, and moving the pieces around physically will always be slower than the computer's ability to move pixels.

Next, variety. You can imagine DROD as a board game -- it would just require too much setting up and physical piece movement to be nearly as enjoyable. But a board game of Iji, or even Repton, would be inconceivable.

Finally, total immersion. When you play a video game (if it's a good one) you are mentally within its world, to the extent that even trivial interruptions become greatly annoying. Video games have the same power to absorb you into a fictional universe as books or movies. Your gaze is inward, as you say in your post, but it's not a blank wall (or screen) you're looking at. In fact, right now I'm writing this post to clear my mind in between paragraphs of the Iji fan fiction I'm working on. I dare say there are not nearly so many fanfics for board game universes in existence as there are for video games.

Not that I want to disparage board games -- I love them too, on the rare occasions that I find myself among a group of like-minded people. If I'm ever lucky enough to have children, I'll make sure I don't neglect this vital feature of a well-rounded upbringing :)
10-23-2009 at 05:59 PM
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Jatopian
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icon Re: Pilgrimage for geeky goodness' sake (0)  
quote:
Nuntar wrote:
Iji fan fiction
8D

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10-23-2009 at 06:14 PM
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DanielFishman
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quote:
Nuntar wrote:
quote:
mrimer wrote:
Table-top gaming just doesn't see the sheer volume of play had by video games, not by a long shot. I'd cite perceptable social, mental and psychological factors such as:


I can think of three further reasons.

I would add another: that computer gaming lends itself far better to single-player gaming. The vast majority of board games are multi-player, whereas AIs allow even intrinsically multi-player computer games to become single player games; and there are is a lot more possibility for intrinsically single-player computer games than there is for board games. Now, although IMO one of the things that is best about board games is the fact that you have to interact with other players, and you get to know them and how they think, if you are a games enthusiast whose family isn't then it's a lot easier to get a computer game and play against the computer than it is to find three opponents to play a board game against. As I know, from personal experience.
10-24-2009 at 10:04 AM
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robin
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I was wondering if there was some (official) information yet about "The Next Big Project"?
We missed 3(or 4) illuminations :(

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02-18-2010 at 10:07 AM
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Doesn't Mike make most of the illumination? He might be really really busy right now and doesn't have anyone to cover for him.

Hopefully, we'll see a new one in March. If not, April. If not, maybe Caravel is going for a record of darkness.

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02-18-2010 at 01:34 PM
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