Friday, November 09, 2012

"You Can't Handle The Truth!"

Yesterday, my friend Gary Ray put up a blog post about Kickstarter that has proven to be controversial. Since then he's been called illogical, "special," lazy, even "batshit crazy." His ability as a businessman has been maligned, he's been accused of wanting "all the money," as being unable to adapt to change. That last is especially funny for anyone who knows anything about Gary or his store, but I'm not going to do a biography here.

Just what was it that he said that pissed so many people off? Essentially, he said Kickstarter has been successful.

What's wrong with that? Lots of mainstream articles have pointed that out and not been pilloried for it, what was different about Gary's blog post? The problem is that he pointed out the results of that success for the retail game store: they can't sell Kickstarter products anymore.

Why can't they sell Kickstarter products anymore? Gary's critics claim it's because he's lazy, illogical, etc. That's not it though. The reason is that his customers have already bought any Kickstarter game they are interested in through Kickstarter.

To borrow an analogy from the recent election: Gary is Nate Silver, and his critics are the pundits. It's simple math. If you've already sold your product to a store's customer base, then there's no reason for that store to carry your product.

Of course, I've already admitted I'm a friend of Gary's, so how much weight does my opinion carry? It should carry less than Gary's, but since people are dismissing him let me tell you why you should pay attention to mine:

1) I want Gary to be wrong. I want retail stores to be able to carry Kickstarter products because I want them to carry all the games that I like. I'm saddened when I know someone would be interested in a game but I can't recommend it to them because it's simply not available.

2) I'm a customer. I'm the guy that usually buys games through a retail game store, but isn't buying Kickstarter games because I'm backing them on Kickstarter.

Anecdote time. When I bought Sentinels of the Multiverse from the last Kickstarter they had, I played it with some friends. They bought it and played it with some friends. There are now several sets of the game (including expansions) in the local gaming scene as a direct result, most of them sold through a new LGS. From what I can tell, all of those people have now backed the Kickstarter for the new expansion, which means that the LGS has no reason to stock that new expansion when it comes out.

This is what Gary is talking about.

It's not being "lazy" to refuse to stock something that won't sell. It's being smart.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Another Disturbance in the Force

As I suspected, Episode VII will be an original story, not an adaptation of the Thrawn Trilogy from the expanded universe. This has fans of the expanded universe going through another round of conniptions before they're even done with the one they had upon learning that Disney was taking over.

Anyone paying attention should know that the Thrawn Trilogy hasn't been a real option for well over a decade now. For one thing, the books feature Luke, Han and Leia. Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher are simply too old to reprise those roles, and no sane person would want to see other actors in them, at least not in the role of Han Solo.

Speculation is now rampant that the movie will somehow "fill in the gaps" left by the Thrawn Trilogy. I'm afraid there are going to be a lot of fans of the expanded universe up for a great deal of disappointment. Disney isn't going to pay any attention to the Thrawn Trilogy when they make Episode VII, and here's why:

Disney isn't going to make the mistake of trying to introduce story elements that don't actually take place on screen. They are going to create an original story that references the previous movies, and that's it. They won't go out of their way to destroy expanded universe canon, but they will make no special effort to avoid doing so either, because that would get in the way of making the best movie possible.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Disney Wars

I think just about every geek in the world has already heard about Disney buying Lucasfilm. It seems like 90% of them are hating it, and I'm not sure I understand why.

Now, if this had happened back in 1997 I'd be one of the people leading in the weeping and gnashing of teeth over this, but at this point the franchise is pretty much dead to me anyway. The worst that Disney could do to it would be to completely fail to revive it, which would essentially leave it in the exact same position as it is now under Lucas.

Of course, there will be the inevitable crossovers with Mickey Mouse wielding a lightsaber, but let's face it, George just approved a Star Wars/Angry Birds crossover, so even that is a step up from what we have now.

Disney also has a decent track record when it comes to managing their big acquisitions. They're certainly a lot better than EA is when it comes to that kind of thing. Although Pixar may not be quite the same studio under Disney that it was when it was independent, Disney hasn't ruined it, and the Marvel purchase led to the Avengers movie!

The only real concern I have over the deal is what's in the fine print in regards to current licenses. I'm particularly concerned over what it might mean for the future of the Fantasy Flight Games license. While I still have some concerns over how the RPG is going to turn out, I'd at least like to get a chance to see the finished product. I'd also like to see at least a few more releases for the X-Wing miniatures game.

So, overall, I'm actually mildly optimistic about what this might hold for the future of Star Wars. If it turns out I'm wrong and Disney is just as bad at managing the franchise as Lucas has been, then we're really just back to the status quo.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Mobile Frame Zero Update

Still waiting on the final version of the rules, but I did get the Mobile Frame Garage kit that formed the bulk of my Kickstarter pledge, and I wanted to show what could be done with it. I probably paid significantly more than I would have if I'd put the order together myself on Bricklink, or even Pick-A-Brick. Still, even though I am now more familiar with putting together orders on Pick-A-Brick, I'm happy that I had this one put together for me.

It's taken me a few days to figure out just what I can do with the parts in the kit. The kit lets you make five basic frames for whichever of the three factions in the game you want to play. Just to be clear, you can only have five mecha build at a time, because the different designs share parts.

The three options are Chubs for the Solar Union, Scramblers for the Ijad, or Hi-Legs for the Free Colonies. You do not get the parts needed to make variants or alternate mecha like the leader version of the Hi-Leg, the artillery version of the Scrambler, or the Free Colonies Commisar and Conscript mecha. You just get what is needed to put together the basic frames, but that will give you a good starting force for any of the factions.

I believe everything in the garage is available through Pick-A-Brick. Unfortunately, the red sloped brick seen in the pics is the only color that particular brick is available in through Pick-A-Brick. That's why the Chubs I put together before use an alternate front piece. This is also probably the reason I will eventually place my first Brinklink order as I'd really like to get the piece in some alternate colors.

I'm really psyched to now have the ability to be able to field a basic Ijad or Free Colonies force against the Chubs I already have. It's also good that I now have the ability to field enough mecha for a three-way, or possibly even a four-way, conflict as I really want to try out this system with more than two players at some point.

Friday, August 17, 2012

FFG Star Wars RPG

Update:  There's now information up on the FFG site.  My comments on that below the original post.

One of Fantasy Flight Game's Gencon announcements has been their new Star Wars RPG. I've been getting information from different sources, so I thought I'd try to compile it all into a single blog post. (picture is originally from the D6 Generation on twitter).

According to Tom Vassel, the game will feature custom dice and apps, and the first apps will be released tonight. Also, Jay Little is apparently the lead designer. He was also apparently the lead designer on Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3rd Edition.

Jason Marker and Sterling Hershey have both tweeted that they are involved in writing for the game.

As can be seen in the picture, the game is called Edge of the Empire and they have beta rules out for it which they are selling at Gencon.

That's pretty much all the information I can find right now. There doesn't appear to be any information up on FFG's site yet.

I'm heartened by the apparent setting being post-prequels. I'm disheartened by the inclusion of special dice and having the same lead designer as WHFRP3, not because I have anything against him, but because it would seem to hint that the game might be based on the WHFRP3 engine, and I'm not a big fan of that. Still, I'm cautiously optimistic that this might be a game I'll actually play at some point.

Update Continued:  The setting is definitely post-prequel for all three games planned.  The first is going to feature the outer rim and the smugglers, bounty hunters, and other scum that populate it.  The second is going to feature the rebellion, and the third is going to feature the handful of force users that have managed to survive the Empire's purges.  I love this.  I think the rebellion era is still the richest one available for roleplaying in.

On the other hand, they want me to pay $30 to playtest the game?  I didn't realize that FFG included smoking crack as part of their design process.  I'll wait for the finished product, thank you very much.  If you want me to playtest, I'd be happy to, just show me where I can download a free pdf.