The Post You Were Probably Expecting

…when I announced Video Game Week. So, here it is.

Mobile gaming on tablets and smartphones seems to be a huge and growing trend. According to this article, it drove THQ into bankruptcy, forced out John Riccitiello from his job running the soulless corporate combine called EA, and even kneecapped Zynga (Facebook’s social gaming mega-moguls). That’s a lot of scalps, kemosabe, and all in a very short period of time.

And, of course, all these developments are sparking the usual overblown rhetoric, “The Death of Console Gaming!” and the like. Now I can’t tell the future yet, but I seriously doubt console gaming is going to die anytime soon. At worst, we’re looking at a long period of slow decline as the platform gradually sheds users and developers. (You know, like PC gaming, certain politicians, or European imperialism.)

Of course, console companies can speed the process along. Maybe by making a console so shitty no one wants to buy it. Or by requiring always-on DRM or axing backwards compatibility.

As a dedicated console gamer who’s spent — literally — thousands of dollars on Xbox gaming, I’m contemplating buying a Playstation for the first time, ever. That’s not a good sign for Microsoft. Of course, if Sony proves equally dickish I won’t buy from them, either.

After all, customers don’t have to buy a console — a fact Sony learned the hard way this console generation. And if the — rumored and announced — draconian policies really are implemented, console makers might drive people to alternate venues.

Mobile gaming won’t kill console gaming. But console manufacturers can commit suicide, by badgering customers, making crappy consoles, and in general acting with thoughtless arrogance.

“Temple of the First Mother” Members Detained by LAPD

Jan. 1, 2015 | 12:56 pm

Los Angeles, California (NP)

In the aftermath of last night’s protest, lawyers for the Temple of the First Mother held a press conference to denounce the allegedly unlawful detention of nearly the entire Orange County Chapter of the nascent religion.

“This is religious persecution, pure and simple,” said Jim Wells, church spokesmen. “The State of California has been oppressing us at every step, interfering with our rights to peaceful assembly, free exercise of religion, freedom of speech, and right to educate our children as we see fit.”


Founded in Pasadena, CA in late 2013, the Temple of the First Mother is the fastest growing religious sect in America, with some 65,000 members nationwide, most in the Los Angeles basin.

See Also:

Video: Protesting “Compulsory Education”
Photos of a Temple Retreat
Editorial: Are the “Hipster Amish” Really a Threat to Society?

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Countdown to Armageddon

Time to get serious. Storm Knights + the ∞ Infinity Gaming System. After 13 years, this is going to happen.

I’m done redefining the various cosms, I’m done replumbing axioms, I’m done roughing out mechanics.

In short — I. Am. Done. Fucking. Around.

Three months. In three months is PAX, the Penny Arcade Expo, in Seattle. When I get back, we are playtesting this son of a bitch. Weekly or biweekly, over video chat in

9 Realities. 4 players. 1 campaign.

The next three months is about me getting my mechanics and campaign background into good enough shape to start running the game. Preliminary mechanics, sketched-in cosm writeups, rough draft FX systems.

And, of course, it will all be blogged. All the run-up, all the rough drafts, all the mechanical development.

Three months until…

Holes in time and space. Invaders from other cosms. Storms that warp Reality itself.

Three months until the end of the world.

Remixing RPG’s and Copyrights Thereof

Everything is a remix. (Also watch parts 2 and 3. Well worth your time.) D&D, the first RPG ever, was a remix of a lot of different fantasy sources (halflings, treants, and balors from Tolkien, for example), combined with rules from Chainmail. And every other RPG since then has remixed D&D.

This is, by the way, wholly legal. Let me quote the US government’s copyright site:

Copyright does not protect the idea for a game, its name or title, or the method or methods for playing it. Nor does copyright protect any idea, system, method, device, or trademark material involved in developing, merchandising, or playing a game. Once a game has been made public, nothing in the copyright law prevents others from developing another game based on similar principles.

So, suppose we were talking about an RPG which used cards in its play. (Deadlands, as an example.) Any other RPG could adapt that idea, and it’s wholly legal. So long as they don’t use that game’s text, it’s all kosher.

In the RPG community, we kind of skirt around acknowledging this. Which is understandable, as few of us are lawyers (excepting Necromancer Games and Kenzerco) and none of us can afford to be sued. Litigation could bankrupt us.

There’s also the issue of “creativity”. As expressed by most people, “creativity” means “being wholly original”. So people can’t acknowledge their antecedents, because then they’re “uninspired” or “a ripoff”.

But that’s just not true, because (and see the top of the post for why) everything is a remix. If you think something is wholly original, it’s because you don’t know where the author borrowed his inspiration from. There are uninspired ripoffs, but just borrowing elements from other games or settings doesn’t make them so.

The Matrix is a remix of a dozen prior movies. So is Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Kill Bill as well. (As seen here, after the credits.) In fact, Quentin Taratino’s entire approach as a director is to take inspiration from all of cinema, and mix it together in his own original way. (Not that I’m claiming the skills or talent of a Quentin Taratino.) What determines originality is not if you borrow inspiration (because everyone does) but what you do with it.

I’d like to see more people acknowledge the sources they borrowed from. I’ve done so in the past, and want to again.

To be clear, the ∞ Infinity Gaming System takes strong inspiration from Torg: Roleplaying the Possibility Wars. Several of the character mechanics are adapted from FATE’s Aspects, as is one-roll combat. The inner logic of the Action economy is loosely inspired by d20. 2d10 Dice is adapted from a similar system (using 2d6) from The Babylon Project RPG. The rest is a mish-mash of ideas inspired by many different games (such as Savage Worlds) and wholly original ideas, as modified by feedback from commenters (winstoninabox, John McGlynn, Glen Taylor, Ks. Jim Ogle, and many others) and playtesting.

But as a coherent, unified whole, ∞ Infinity is wholly mine. It draws inspirations from other games, but is exactly like none of them.

I used all those elements (making my own remix), but tried to make something unique. Of course, like all RPG’s ∞ Infinity is also a remix of D&D.

Which — as I’ve stated — isn’t a problem. Everything is a remix.

The Day Ironforge Died

From economics to epidemiology… (What, you thought Video Game Week was going to be straightforward? Ha!)

This story has it all: bio-terrorism, failed quarantines, the dead lying piled in the streets, and people fleeing the cities for the desolate countryside, in an attempt to avoid the pandemic. And, oh yeah, it happened in an MMO.

Back in 2005, the World of Warcraft saw an outbreak of a pandemic, the “Corrupted Blood Plague”. A disease, part of a high-level boss challenge, escaped the dungeon and laid waste to Azeroth:

The major towns and cities were abandoned by the population as panic set in and players rushed to evacuate to the relative safety of the countryside, leaving urban areas “filled to the brim with corpses”, and the “city streets literally white with the bones of the dead”.

The pandemic was big enough news to get covered by Reuters, the BBC, and The Sunday Times of London. I did some re-reading of the several articles on the subject, and the Wikipedia article covers the incident the best.

Accidental economic collapse… accidental pandemic release… human beings can’t even control our imagined worlds. What makes us think we can control the real one?