More interesting news surrounding TSR Games

With the recent news that broke in the last week that TSR was making a comeback that would include several of the employees of the company from “back in the day”, along with Gary Gygax’s oldest son Ernie in the fold, James Ward made this statement on his Facebook page this morning:

This is interesting for a few reasons. For one, the website lists James as a part of this new endeavor. And secondly, this was posted up on the TSR Discord by ‘TheDarrenS’ yesterday afternoon:

In this cover art that looks to be part of their first launch title, you can clearly see James Ward as being credited as creator/writer for whatever piece in the game this is supposed to be, whether it’s a supplement, adventure or some type of core book for the game?

So is TSR listing James as part of this new company to help bolster buzz and create interest? James is definitely still a beloved figure in the OSR community for his time at TSR and for his other projects since.

On top of that, we have the CEO of this new iteration of TSR apparently making public statements about OSR blogger and podcaster Tenkar from Tenkar’s Tavern. Some interesting developments for sure as this latest venture looks to hopefully clarify things as it looks to move forward?

I would say things are off to a rocky start for TSR. More to come…

As always, leave a comment with your thoughts. Until next time, LLAP!

Happy 25th Birthday to the game that hooked me like no other

At the time I was living in a two bedroom apartment with my high school buddy Freddy. We were in our early 20s and both had a love of all things video games. Quake 1 shareware (early release for PC games in the 90s) had been released in June of 1996 and I’m pretty sure we both had played through it about a dozen times or more. Desperate to get our hands on the final version, we would have to wait another 8 agonizing months before we could play through the entire single player campaign.

After the game finally dropped in February 1997, Freddy and I consumed the game like two people coming off a desert island (where video games are food, so to make this analogy make sense). One of the truly wonderful things that sprang out of id software’s masterpiece was the mod community. Shortly after release, we started to see all kinds of fantastic mods for Quake 1, that added all kinds of various ways to gib you way through the different levels of hell and the all the demons that came with it.

Fast forward to winter of 1998. Quake II had released in December, and like it’s predecessor, we couldn’t get enough of it. I come home from work one day in March and Freddy informs me that our local Best Buy has received a shipment of 3DFX Voodoo2 graphics cards. Up until this point, neither of us had been running games with 3d accelerated graphics, as neither of us had been able to acquire a video card.

Back then, a Voodoo2 would run you somewhere between $300-$400. Freddy was ready to pull the trigger. So we hop in the car and race up to Best Buy. After purchasing the card we run through a drive-thru to grab something for dinner and head right back to the apartment.

We wanted our full attention to be focused on what we were about to experience.

We quickly scarfed down our dinner and set out on the task of installing this new beauty. Installing hardware components in PCs back then isn’t what it is like today. Every time you looked to upgrade a piece on your system, you had this feeling that you were taking your systems life in your hands, and that one wrong move could mean instant death to your computing future.

We won’t even talk about what it was like installing drivers back then.

After getting the card installed, it takes a good 30 minutes or so to get the drivers installed (30 minutes was considered a success) and after a reboot, we are ready to fire up Quake II. Freddy launches the game, enters the settings menu and turns on 3D acceleration for the time. What we see next plants a seed in both of us that to this day continues to sprout and grow, maintaining our love for gaming

Seeing Quake II in true 3D was like when Moses saw the burning bush for the time. Utter disbelief.

I remember we stayed up all night, taking turns playing various mods and the single player (again). The Loki’s Minions CTF mod was a particular favorite of mine back then, as I loved the team aspect. After an all night session of Quake II, I made it a priority to save up to a card for my rig as well.

Fast forward to today, and I’m still playing id software games (along with lots of others) and still enjoying the world that is video gaming. I look back on that time and marvel at what was being accomplished by game studios, the work that was being done and the beginnings of a multi-billion dollar industry that now dominates the entertainment space.

The history Id Software has been well chronicled and rightly so. In my eyes, they were the first company that opened the floodgates to many of the things that we see in modern games today. Their fingerprints are on so many games and game companies and their influence reaches to all corners of the video game industry.

For some, id software’s titles that were released before Quake, Wolfenstein and Doom, are the first and best examples of what shaped and crafted the FPS genre. But for my money, Quake was the game that blew the doors off and really showed what was possible with the first person shooter. Without Quake, what would the landscape of FPS games look like today?

Luckily we’ll never have to find out, because thanks to John Carmack, John Romero, Sandy Petersen, Tom Hall and American McGee, we were all blessed with this incredible piece of gaming history that lives on for many of us. Continuing to remind of us what the combination of technology and art and can accomplish. The results are timeless, as is Quake!

So happy birthday Quake, you look great at 25. Here’s to another 25 more.

iddqd!

As always, leave a comment with your thoughts. Until next time, LLAP!

TSR Returns?

What you see when you hit the TSR page

In a time not so long ago we rocked TTRPG so very hard that it shook the galaxy.  It’s time to start again.  Just might save the world,  role-playing games gods willing. Role-playing games were born in the Midwestern USA and have since gone on to change the world. We’re bringing role-playing games back home to Wisconsin. We’re producing good old fashioned TSR TTRPG products with a new take. Our first two role-playing games GiantLands® and Tales & Tots ™   are just the beginning!

If you navigate to the TSR Games website, you see the above on their landing page. A few recent SM posts also show there is also a TSR Facebook group as well. If you dig a little deeper on the TSR website, you see names like Ernie Gygax, Jeff Dee, James Ward and others from the old TSR days.

They also have what looks like a game called Giantlands 1st edition that was either a Kickstarter or some other crowdfunded campaign that looks to be their first game as this newly formed (reformed) company. The game looks like it’s getting a 2000 limited print run as well.

By all accounts this new endeavor looks legitimate. It will be interesting to see if this takes off. I know there are still lots of old TSR fans out there. Will they flock to this new TSR 2.0 as it’s being touted? That remains to be seen. I for one am very interested and will be keeping a close eye on any developments with this freshly minted TTRPG group.

As always, leave a comment with your thoughts. Until next time, LLAP!

Studio Execs can be complete fucking morons

Ripley really sad knowing she got shelved for Alien: Covenant

It’s no secret that the Alien franchise is one of my all time favorite. Even as different as the first two films are I oftentimes see them as co-favorites in the series, as both do what they do extremely well and are the gold standard when it comes great cinematic storytelling. Alien 3, while flawed and obviously suffering from studio meddling, has held up better as the years have progressed. Being David Fincher’s first feature film, I can see his DNA all over the project, albeit in pieces and not as a single coherent work. If you haven’t seen the “Fincher” cut, it’s worth searching out. It’s much better than the theatrical cut.

We won’t even talk about the mess that is Alien: Resurrection, to say nothing of the two AVP offerings we’ve had, nor the latest two from Mr. Scott that did nothing to give us a return to what made the series great. See below as to my overall feelings on the latest two…

Needless to say, us Xenofites (I Just coined this term) have had a rough go of it as of late. And now we’ve just had more acid poured in our open wounds by way of a slew of previously unreleased concept art for director Neill Blomkamp’s never made Alien 5 project.

If you are unaware, way back in February 2015, it was announced that District 9 and Elysium director Neill Blomkamp was in pre-production on what was to be the 5th feature film in the Alien franchise. That news alone gave us fans great hope that the series would return to greatness, but then it was made known that his film would be a direct sequel to Aliens, ignoring 3 and Resurrection completely. It would feature Ripley returning, with Michael Biehn’s Hicks and Newt also back from the James Cameron helmed sequel.

Alien fans rejoiced!

Fast forward to summer of 2016, and signs were pointing to the project losing steam in favor of Ridley Scott’s sequel to Prometheus. 20th Century Fox ultimately decided to shelf Neill’s Alien 5 project in favor of letting Ridley move forward with which would ultimately be the shitfest known as Alien: Covenant (I’m not bitter at all, can’t you tell).

So here we are, in 2021, coming out the other side of a pandemic. And while I’m grateful that theaters are returning and I’m getting to have my cinema experience again. This release of concept art from this cancelled project is a tad bittersweet. Not since Jodorowsky’s failed Dune project has there been something with such promise, such potential. Ultimately never to become realized.

At least us fans have the amazing Alien: Isolation game that gave us a wonderful story and experience in the Alien universe. And there is even a sequel on the way.

Until then, take a look at what could have been:

As always, leave a comment with your thoughts. Until next time, LLAP!

As hobbyist, how concerned should we be about the current state of shipping costs

I think I can see my Kickstarter game from here

So unless you’re living under the proverbial rock, you’ve probably noticed how out of control shipping costs have gotten lately. In the past week, several hobby channels have covered the topic, tackling it from all angles. Quackalope did a video on why you should plan on every Kickstarter being late because of the issues currently surrounding the global supply chain. But i think the one question that needs more attention is this one.

What, if any, impact will all this have on you the consumer?

And I think the short answer is…it depends.

For fear of being labeled non-committal with my answer, let me elaborate. If you’re a big crowd funding consumer, then yes, you can very well expect to see a delay in campaign estimates and when they will reach your front door. And not only that, but game publishers have only a few options on how to handle the rising costs we’re seeing. If they’re big enough, they could possibly eat those costs themselves (at a loss to them), or they can pass them on to you, the consumer.

We’re already seeing the latter. And not just the shipping costs themselves, but production costs might soon see a trickle effect, making its way to that side of the manufacturing process as well. Which would mean higher overall costs. From the business side, I think smaller publishers and retailers are going to get squeezed the most from this. Their margins are already razer thin, and this will only decrease that margin further.

But back to you the consumer (because it’s always about you isn’t it?)

I’ve got several crowdfunded titles in the queue, with an expected delivery date in 2022. But at this point, we might see some if not most of those push into 2023? So I’m taking the stance that I’m going to be patient, understanding that pretty much all of this is out of everyone’s control. Global pandemic was on no one’s Bingo card. And for that reason, I’ve put those mentally up on the shelf for the time being. When they get here, they get here. I’m not going to worry about it otherwise. And I would recommend you do the same.

Now as far as any future crowd funded titles, that’s where the real question marks come into play. If you’re looking at backing moving forward, I would do so with the caveat of understanding that it might be quite a bit longer on getting product. Having a handle on how long this current state of supply chain woes will last is anyone’s guess. So plan accordingly.

All that said, I still have a good number of titles in my library that need some table love. So maybe this is a good time to look inward for my hobby fix. Even as much of a collector that I am, moderation is always a good thing. And I could always use some when it comes to the FOMO of crowd funded world. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you to stop backing campaigns. Far from it. As always, you do you.

But maybe this is a good opportunity to tap the brakes just a bit?

Ultimately, how you choose to navigate all this is entirely up to you. I would just recommend caution and being informed as you can when doing so. I think eventually we’ll see this ship right itself (dad pun alert) and thing will settle back down. But until then, make sure as a consumer, you’re making the wisest choice when it comes to your purchases.

Time to “stretch” those delivery estimates

As always, leave a comment with your thoughts. Until next time, LLAP!

Windows 11 UI leaks

Microsoft’s newest OS is set to release later this year. Here is an early look at what to expect.

As always, leave a comment with your thoughts. Until next time, LLAP!

Game Stores need your support more than ever

My FLGS, Game Goblins

As we continue to return to a new normal, brick and mortar retailers are looking to keep momentum in terms of sales and revenue as we move into summer. Reports show that consumers are returning in mass to their old shopping habits as the economy moves out of the COVID recession and back to profitability. Game stores are no exception. And the other piece with that is in-store events, which is always a significant component to any retail gaming operation.

When I was heavy into Heroclix, almost all of my in-store gaming was spent playing clix events and tournaments. Now that I am out of that game, I don’t really have a something that would draw me to in-store events (I am not a fan of RPGs in stores, too noisy and distracting for my tastes). Although I am always open to meeting in my FLGS play area to try out a board game or something else.

I am fortunate that I have a space in my home to be able to host people for gaming, but a lot of folks don’t have that luxury. There is where your local game store plays a vital role in helping hobbyist with the ability to connect other like minded folks.

Game stores are more than just a retail location, they help foster and support the community you’re a part of. Which is everything.

For some, cost will always be the first, last and only factor on which they base their purchases from. And I get it. As a business, it’s their job to remain profitable. As a consumer, it’s my job to get the best deal I can when spending my hard earned money. However, cash in cash out isn’t the only thing to consider when looking where to buy your games.

Consider this; The less buying options we have, the less ability we have to find the best deal possible. If we aren’t supporting our small businesses, the likelihood that we have fewer options becomes a real and valid threat. Not to mention the fact that good game establishments bring more to the table (get it) than just products.

If you’re like me, your game purchases came to a complete halt last year. With no ability to gather around the table with friends, I didn’t see a reason to spend money on games that would just sit a period of time. But as we come back to the table, don’t forget to pay a visit to your FLGS. I will continue to support my local venue.

After all, who wants to live in a world where your only option is ordering your games online?

Not me.

As always, leave a comment with your thoughts. Until next time, LLAP!

Initial Impressions of Tutankhamun

25th Century games update to the Reiner Knizia classic

It’s always a good mail day when you find a Kickstarter fulfillment game sitting on your porch. Today was no exception, as I opened my front door to find the latest from 25th Century Games to greet me.

Originally released in 1993, Tutankhamen is a game where players are vying to fill the tomb of the Great King who has just passed, by collecting Artifacts that will travel with him to the afterlife. As a Priest or Priestess, players will travel down the Nile, gathering tiles to place inside the tomb. You are looking to collect sets of these great Artifacts. On your trip down the Nile, enchanted idols from the mighty Egyptian gods may assist you on your journey.

The game is designed for 2-6 players, with a play time of around 30 minutes. Setup is brisk at around 5 minutes.

I participated in several online GenCon events last year, and one of those was a playing of Kingswood by 25th Century. Chad from 25th Century walked us through the game that day, and since we had finished early, he offered to also show us Tutankhamen. After running through a game, I went right on Kickstarter and backed it. I’m a sucker for anything Egyptian themed, but beyond that, I really enjoyed the gameplay and the quick play time.

So a year after backing it, I now have this new gem to add to my collection. One of the things that 25th Century continues to impress with is the ability to release titles that are great fun, but also great value. I feel like they are in a small group of publishers who continue to strike that balance, and it doesn’t go unnoticed.

I opted to go with the Pharaoh Edition pledge level, which after shipping I think was a smidge north of $50 (once again, very reasonable price point). The Pharaoh Edition has some very nice aesthetic upgrades, including wood pharaoh and tile pieces, along with player markers. As nice cloth tile bag with embroidered stitching and a nice metal player marker. Plus a few other small upgrades.

Overall after opening up the game to take a look, I’m very happy with the results and can’t wait to get some games in with this. And hopefully this will come into regular rotation with our gaming group.

As always, leave a comment with your thoughts. Until next time, LLAP!