Advanced Fighting Fantasy Quickstart

Remember those Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, which were like big choose your own adventure games with a character sheet and some roleplaying elements?  There’s a full RPG available based on those books called Advanced Fighting Fantasy.  It has a simple, streamlined system with an old-school feel and is a great alternative for those looking for a system that’s a little more old-school and retro but want to try something that’s not just based on D&D.

You can checkout the quickstart for free here.  It comes with the basic rules of the game as well as a sample adventure.

Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD

A promo for the new TV show Agents of SHIELD was recently released on YouTube.  The TV show, which will air on ABC, follows the exploits of the SHIELD group from the Avengers movie.  The preview labels the show as being “from director Joss Whedon”.  Whether that’s just an acknowledgement that he made the movie the TV show is based on, or whether that’s saying he’s actually going to be directing the TV show, I’m not sure.

Either way, from the preview, it looks like it should be quite enjoyable.  It looks to be full of action and it looks like it will probably have a different, self-contained story every week.  As long as it doesn’t go the incredibly slow soap opera route of Once Upon a Time it should be quite enjoyable.  If Joss Whedon actually is directing it, that will bring even more to the table.

This seems to be an up-coming TV show to watch for.

Pass the GM

Time for another fast, light, simple, and free RPG.  Pass the GM is a role-playing game which can be used with any setting where you can trade back and forth who plays the part of the GM.  It can also be played in a more traditional fashion with one person always playing the part of GM.  Check it out.  After all, it’s free.

Pass the GM

Machinarium Review

I recently got Machinarium for Linux as part of a recent Humble Bundle deal, though it’s available for a variety of platforms, and I just beat the game yesterday.

Machinarium is a graphic adventure game with the regular sorts of puzzles you’d expect from that genre, along with more traditional puzzles mixed in, like having to move pieces in just a certain way or activate lights in just a certain way to solve the puzzle and move on to the next.

There’s no dialog in the game.  The story is told completely through animated thought bubbles and sequences.  It’s very slick, and it works well.

Overall, I highly recommend this game.  You can learn more about it on the game’s wiki page or check out the game’s page itself.

Smeg! v1.3

The free role-playing game Smeg! has been updated to version 1.3.  A new entity type has been added, some of the rule explanations have been cleaned up to make them more clear, and a few other silly words were added.  Download it by going to the Role-Playing Games menu above then click on the Smeg! entry to go to its page.

What Indie Games Mean to Me

If you take a moment to look over this website you’ll see that I’m a big supporter of the Humble Bundle, which promotes indie computer games using a pay-what-you-want system, and recently a promoter of ebooks as well, using the same system.

I’m a big supporter of the indie game scene in general, where you have small independent game developers and publishers creating and publishing their games directly to the public through the Internet, using services like Kickstarter to raise money or simply selling directly through their own website.  This allows them to create games that large game publishers, with their slow development cycles and stagnant ideas, would never green light.

A perfect example of this is Wasteland 2, a sequel to the acclaimed computer role-playing game Wasteland from the 80s.  Brian Fargo went to many of the large publishers asking for the funding to make Wasteland 2.  None of them were interested, thinking that no one would be interested in a game like that.  So instead, he turned to Kickstarter.  The goal was to raise $900,000 to fund the project.  Instead, they raised over $2 million, proving that there really was a desire for such games, and also proving that you don’t have to go through a big publisher and play by their rules to get a game published.

This of course holds many parallels to the ebook industry and authors being able to publish their ebooks directly, but that’s a subject for another post.

So, I’ve been thinking about what indie games mean to me.  I don’t expect them to have the most advanced graphics… after all, they tend to be dealing with smaller budgets… but I do expect the gameplay to be interesting.  They often have very nice soundtracks.  Most importantly, however, I expect them to have good stories.  When I play an indie game, that’s what I’m looking for.  A story that’s deeper, more compelling, and perhaps even more daring than what you’d get out of a main-stream game.

So for me, what I expect from an indie game, and what indie games mean to me, can be summed up in one word:  Story.

Piratey Reminiscence

As Talk Like a Pirate Day was earlier this week, it’s something that I’m still thinking about.

When I was growing up pirate things weren’t as pervasive in the culture and media as they are now.  Everyone knew about pirates of course, but it wasn’t something you encountered very often.

My first real experience with piratey goodness was the game Sid Meier’s Pirates! on the Commodore 64.  That’s what really got me hooked.

In Sid Meier’s Pirates!, you can play the captain of a ship, or a fleet of ships, either acting as a pirate, or under the banner of one or more countries, earning letters of marquee and increasing in rank and prestige from there, including earning land and even winning the hand of a governor’s daughter in marriage.

While all this is going on, you can also sack towns and drive the governor out and install a governor from the country of your choosing to help further a country’s goals, find pieces of a treasure map to find buried treasure, rescue members of your family, capture the silver train and treasure fleet, recruit more sailors to your cause and expand your personal fortune, all while sailing, getting into cannon fights, and sword duels.

Sid Meier’s Pirates! remains one of my all-time favorite games.  It was ported to a number of different platforms, including the Apple II and the Sega Genesis and was made into a number of versions, such as Pirates! Gold and the newer game, also called Sid Meier’s Pirates!, for all the modern video gaming systems, the PC, Mac, and the iPad.  Each version plays a little differently, especially in the areas of fighting with cannons, sword duels, and attacking towns over land.

I always found the most enjoyable remake to be Pirates! Gold, but the original Pirates! for the Commodore 64 is still my favorite.  I would recommend that anyone that hasn’t played one of the many versions before to find one and give it a try.

The Dakota Cipher Review

I just finished reading The Dakota Cipher by William Dietrich.  It’s a book set in the 1800s, in which Ethan Gage, the main character of other Dietrich books as well, winds up getting involved in a plot to find an ancient Norse artifact.  This book chronicles his adventures crossing part of early America as he searches for this artifact.

The book is a bit different than my normal fare.  I picked it up on a whim, but overall I’m glad I did.  William Dietrich has a very nice writing style that’s colorful, descriptive, and flows well.

Be warned though, some parts of the book deal with things that might not sit well with those that have tender sensibilities.

The book is a good read and as long as you’re a fan of adventure stories, good writing, and you’re not easily offended, I would recommend it.