Christmas is coming and I NEED CASH to buy THINGS! So scoot on over to my online shop and pick up some art! “It’s Wizard Time” is now framed and for sale and that painting will look SWEET hanging over the fire place while you swill your eggnog and teach the children to fear Krampus.
Someone named Jack emailed me recently to ask why I wasn’t a part of the usual haunts and discussions out there on the web. He asked, “Was it something someone said?”
The short answer is, “No.”
The slightly longer answer is: I’m just not spending a lot of time online these days. I don’t know when and if that will change. I didn’t make any conscious choice at any single point and say, “That is the last fucking straw!” or whatever. I just dropped out of the google+ thing and stopped visiting all the forums and what-not because I just didn’t find the rewards equal to the time investment they required. I have not changed; I’m just less interested in having broader conversations with strangers on topics that don’t reflect what I am doing these days.
Some have suggested I create a ‘facebook artist page’ and I still haven’t decided if I need a ‘facebook artist page’ that is distinct from my ‘facebook page’ or not. I think I just use my facebook page for looking at pictures of kittens in sombreros and posting the occasional snarky comment and seeing pictures of other people’s kids or hearing about the marathons they are running or the meals they are eating; the point of a broader ‘strategic multimedia outreach’ has yet to become a reality for me.
I’m doing things (some of which don’t involve the internet) and working on some private commissions as well as some projects that are probably 2 or 3 years late and getting older.
If you have clicked on the etsy shop link on the right, you will find that there is nothing in the store (and there hasn’t been for some time). Etsy has been pretty good to me in the past but isn’t fitting into my current schemes very well — again, because of the time involved. If anyone has suggestions for a good way for an artist like me to sell original artwork that has been previously published in things like Goodman Games DCC adventures, please post or email.
If anyone wants to say hello, the best way is probably to just email me (at sbpoag(at)gmail(dot)com). After the 18th of August 2013 I will be out of the country for 2+ weeks. I will probably not have access to email in that time.
I just got copies of my Goodman Games artist portfolio booklet which is coming out soon – you can get one for free if you pre-order the new DCC Rulebook with Jeff Easley’s art on the cover! It’s pretty cool — I’ve never had anything like this before. It’s 16 pages, quality printed Black & White — mostly drawings with just three pages of my pointless ramblings about my influences and whatnot… so if reading about me going on about my influences sounds painful, realize that there is only 3 pages of it… and even those pages are partially pictures.
I think it’s dropping in June… so save your $$$!
Here is the cover:
Plus inside; read all about me:
Shameless self promotion alert: Goodman Games has already published art folios about the work of Peter Mullen and Brad K. McDevitt; up soon will be one all about me — 16 pages of my drawings for DCC and Goodman stuff with commentary on my thoughts, musings and influences. I don’t have an exact release date yet; but this soft cover booklet is perfect for bathroom reading or as a gift for your best friends or dearest enemies – printed in basic black and white – available sometime soon from Goodman Games.
Here is the cover art when it was 1/2 way done… you can see a more complete version on the Goodman site. The text at the top is not a part of the drawing; it was just as an example/place holder.
|These idiots are going to cause a lot of traffic accidents.|
You have heard about ‘Google glass,’ right? If you haven’t, it’s a tiny computer with a heads up display, camera and earpiece that you wear like a pair of glasses. It reads texts to you through the earpiece, can follow voice commands and can show you images via the heads up display. People are already at work on facial recognition aps and other functions that make this the smartphone that you wear rather than carry. It will photograph whatever you are looking at if you say, “OK, Google, take a picture.” Google is trying to make the computer as natural an extension of your body without putting it IN your body as current technology allows.
I’m surprised they didn’t call it ‘Google goggles’ or ‘Googgles’ or something like that.
Maybe I’m just a cranky old man, but I hate it already and think it’s fucking creepy to have a computer/smartphone/texting device that is always on my head and shows the world absolutely everything I see and is constantly whispering in my ear or showing me pictures so I never need to be alone ever again. I predict that the world will soon be divided between the ‘googlers’ who are constantly sharing absolutely everything they do and see and hear and the rest of us who don’t give a shit. Plus the googlers will wear their stupid devices while they drive or walk and probably swerve all over the place and run into the rest of us who aren’t simultaneously travelling AND surfing the fucking web or texting on our eyeballs at the same time.
Google co-founder Sergey Brin dialed the creep factor up to 11 when he said, “It’s really a device that wants to be outdoors, wants to be outside, wants to be with family and friends…” Really? This device “wants” things? I want things like chicken… and when I get chicken, my dogs make it clear that they want chicken, too, and that seems perfectly natural to me… but I’m just not ready for a computer or smart phone or tablet or wearable computer goggles that wants things, too. There is entirely too much ‘wanting of things’ going on… and now that the purveyors of technology are claiming that things are starting to want things too, I’m about ready to say, “Enough, already” and go live in a cabin like Ted Kaczynski.
EDIT: Google Glass is also a device that does not want to be sold or shared. Not only has Google restricted early sales of the device to people who have made a compelling public pitch as to why they should be deemed worthy of owning the device, but, if you should be so lucky as to be ‘allowed’ to buy a pair of the cyber goggles, you are forbidden to sell, loan or give them to anyone else. Welcome to the brave new world where corporations are people and objects can tell their ‘owners’ the terms of ownership.
And now, a brief message from our sponsors…
“Barrowmaze” is now offering some t-shirts via an Indie-a-go-go campaign:
|Is that ‘Webberan of the North’ checking out the pit?|
“In Search of the Unknown” was probably the first ‘published’ adventure I ever played in. Before that, we used “Monster & Treasures Assortment” and “Dungeon Geomorphs” or, more usually, we just made our own dungeons — usually frantically drawing level 4 right after the session where the players almost finished exploring level 3, etc. There were hordes of creatures living in 10×10 rooms that shouldn’t have been able to fit it 10×10 rooms and levels full of a hodgepodge of creatures without a toilet or any food and water in evidence (well, no food other player characters I guess), traps that were probably as much or more of a hazard to the dungeon residents than the adventurers and gelatinous cubes sweeping the hallways clean after every expedition. And, right or wrong, that was how we did it. I’m inclined to say it was the right way, because we kept on playing.
We explored “In Search of the Unknown” with Bob W. as our DM (as opposed to my friend Bob C., who was the guy who asked me, “Have you ever heard of ‘Dungeons & Dragons?’ and probably ruined any chance I ever had of living a normal life). Bob W. had bought his own D&D set, and, instead of the geomorphs and treasure assortment, he had a copy of a newfangled thing called a ‘module*.’ We rolled up characters and in we went. Compared to what is available today, it was probably pretty tame stuff, but I remember thinking it was cool because there was a certain logic to the dungeon… here was a kitchen, there was a food storage room, etc. There were also things that you could interact with; I remember the ‘room of pools’ that had perhaps a dozen different wells, each of which contained a mysterious liquid that might heal or harm your character, so there were things to do other than just fight monsters and take their stuff. I began to incorporate that ‘logic’ and inspiration into my own dungeon designs. And, naturally, the temptation was to think that if a two level dungeon like Mike Carr presented in ‘In Search of the Unknown’ was good, an eight or ten level dungeon had to be better (OK, my logic was flawed, but, in my defense, I was a kid).
After a brief period of recently being ‘in vogue’ among the cognicenti of the OSR community, it seems as though the ‘megadungeon’ may be once again falling out of favor. This is the impression I get when I kibitz in online forums or read the usual blogs and what not. A few years ago people were raving about 100 room dungeons, now they are patting back their yawns and saying, “That is so 1975! And not in a good way…”
Part of the problem seems to be that when the online community talks ‘dungeons,’ mostly they talk about things to buy (i.e.: a book or a pdf with descriptions and maps). And the biggest complaint from ‘adventure buyers’ is whether or not an andventure was ‘worth the money.’ (This leads me to another thought: maybe the complainers should consider building their own rather than buying, but that is probably the subject for another post). There has also been, I suspect, a ‘lifestyle’ shift. When I was a pimply dork and first put pencil to graph paper to draw a dungeon, video games were in their infancy. Today, the idea of pretending to kill orcs, find treasure and gain XP (and thereby go ‘up’ in level so you can kill bigger orcs, etc.,) are concepts that most people know through video games or online MMORPGs like World of Warcraft. The idea of exploring a dungeon by drawing it out on graph paper seems as ludicrous as rolling a hoop down the street for ‘fun.’ The people I currently play with are completely uninterested in the idea of having ‘the dungeon’ be the campaign. They tell me it just sounds boring. It does not fit with their current life style. Unlike my 15 year old self, these people have families and jobs and kids to take to dance practice or soccer camp. Playing D&D is a twice-per-month extravagence (if they are lucky). They can play World of Warcraft or a similar game after they put the kids to bed; whent they manage to get away to play D&D, they want to have fun, joke around, drink beer and have a few interesting encounters that we can laugh together about. Then two weeks will pass before we can gather again and what happened last session might not be particularly fresh in their minds. Perhaps, rather than a map with 100 discrete encounters and dozens of different tunnels that need to be methodically explored, they want a ‘D&D’ session that plays out more like an episode of ‘The Walking Dead’ or a similar TV show. The player characters will have a goal in mind, they pursue that goal, bad shit happens, dice are rolled, you try to prevail and bring as many player characters through the session as you can and then you end the session. Next session will probably start with another short term goal, perhaps new player characters to replace whomever they lost and off we go for another few hours of escapist entertainment and wisecracking. I’m not seeing how a multi-level dungeon with hundreds of rooms fits into that. Even adventures from the ‘golden years’ of Gary Gygax at the helm of TSR are going to fail to please people who have so few hours to devote to a very time intensive hobby. Something like the ‘Slaver’s Series’ (from the late 70s or early 80s, where the players had to figure out who was kidnapping citizens to sell as slaves) is probably too ‘complicated’ and long for the modern player. The hobby is changing because, maybe, the people in it are changing. I’m not saying that is a good or bad thing; but I think it may just be the truth.
So where does this leave the designer of megadungeons? I’m not sure. I don’t pretend to understand the market for anything, especially not for ‘hobby’ stuff that we are supposedly doing for our own pleasure. A few nights ago, however, I took out the maps and handwritten descriptions of one of my original megadungeons. I turned the pages and looked at the maps and remembered some of the encounters we had played out there in the old days and how much fun I had putting it together. I don’t think I can logically (or economically) justify any part of my hobby — if I wanted to make money, there are easier ways of doing it, but I have a hard time logically or economically justifying the things that bring me pleasure — and my own megadungeon has certainly been a lot of fun. I enjoyed playing it back in the day. I enjoyed designing it. And I still enjoy reading over the notes. If ever I manage to get it to the point where it will be ‘shareable,’ (a lot of work would need to be done), I’ll be interested to see what kind of reaction it gets. I can’t rationalize it as either a ‘waste of time’ or ‘time well spent’ because I think that kind of thinking misses the point. And maybe megadungeons are going to go the way of dancing the Charleston or the Lindy Hop — become something that people ‘used to do.’ I don’t know. I don’t think I care, either.
Also, check out this article on ‘Top 10 D&D Modules’ (yes, he uses that word) from `2 years ago on Wired.com.
*The term ‘module’ always made me think of ‘nodule’ (one of those tumors under the skin), which is not a good association.
Above was clipped from one of Dunham’s Weekly circulars, the “Sports Hunting Circular” with prices valid through 10/13/2012. For those not in the know, Dunham’s is the place to go for long underwear in a camo print, soccer jerseys for the kids, hockey sticks and skates, socks, athletic supporters, duck calls, etc. It’s like a discount Cabelas that also serves as a one-stop-shop for people with kids playing school sports.
The item in question is a civilian model of the HK 416, supposedly one of the best automatic rifles in the world. I’m normally not that excited about civilian semi-auto carbines, but $549.99 seemed too good a deal to pass up. Come zombie apocalypse or the rise of the machines, I’d want something with the combined accuracy and ROF of a semi-auto carbine, and the HK416 is not only better than the various AR15 clones in terms of fewer ‘failure to feed’ problems, but is also the weapon of choice for special forces around the world — and, at $549.99, cheaper as well. If my future involved manning the barricades, I wanted an HK416 in my hands. It’s the rifle that killed Bin Laden.
Well, I visited two Dunham’s and called several more, and not only did they not have it, everyone I spoke to said they never carry any rifles from Heckler Koch but they would gladly sell me a Bushmaster carbine for $999.99 if I used the coupon, $1099.99 regular price. Bunch of bait and switch motherfuckers.
Tip of the hat for marketing genius goes to whomever came up with Hornady “Zombie-Max” ammo. Yes, it is for real. Hornady is one of the many companies selling ammunition in the US and came up with “Zombie-Max” to sell more ammo to more people. The ammo is apparently a capped hollowpoint, but the plastic cap is green instead of the usual white or clear, which of course means it is better for killing zombies, because zombies are (apparently) sensitive to green plastic the way that werewolves are sensitive to silver. Who knew? If green plastic does kill zombies, I’m going to buy a bunch of green plastic army men, grind ’em up and pack ’em into shotgun shells. Just in case.
|Perhaps the editors at USA Today are funnier than I thought.|
In order to have access to most of the things I need to have my job, I need to have a browser open 90% of the time so I can access sharepoint and some other resources. When I have a few minutes between tasks or I want to recharge my batteries, I might scan the headlines or check personal email.
Today I made the mistake of clicking on a link to a USA TODAY online page (it was actually kind of work related — it involved a company that the place I work for does business with). Something went wrong. USA opened a story about some factory worker who had stabbed his coworker to death and then committed suicide. “Well, that’s not what I wanted,” I thought to myself as I closed the tab. The browser suddenly froze and then the tab I had just closed popped up again. Assuming it was my mistake, I attempted to close it again. Suddenly two or three copies of the same story were popping up as fast as I could click. At the point that nine or ten were open and USA was still trying to open more copies of the same story of the knife-man homicide, I finally force-quit.
USA Today really seemed to want me to read that story — to the point that they really don’t seem to want to give me a choice in the matter. I don’t know if it’s my crappy browser or what, but instances of persistant browser tabs that pop up again and again, or tabs that ask me, “Are you sure you want to leave and not read our web page?” when I try to close them seem to be happening more and more often. I know that people who make web pages like USA today are in the business of trying to get as many eyeballs on those pages for as long as possible, but something about their methods (which may or may not involve exploiting a weakness in internet sucksplorer) makes me less likely to want to visit their web page in the future much like a really obnoxious salesman might make me want to buy from anyone but him based on his obnoxious personality.
I was going to write a post about the current fascination with Kickstarters but now I start wondering if arguing about Kickstarters is the new, “Can Paladins kill baby kobolds and get away with it?” question… in short, it becomes a question in which a lot of people have strong convictions but I start to doubt whether the question itself (are Kickstarters good/not goof for “the hobby?”) matters.
THIS IS NOT TO SAY THAT I APPROVE OF PEOPLE USING A SERVICE LIKE KICKSARTER TO RIP OTHER PEOPLE OFF ANY MORE THAN I APPROVE OF ANY OTHER CON. But a con perpetrated through the mail does not mean that ‘the post office is evil;’ similarly, the fact that Kickstarter could be used to bilk people doesn’t mean that we should automatically be afraid of it.
I don’t know if Kickstarters and similar ‘crowd funding’ strategies are here to stay or not. I’ve kicked in at pretty low levels on a couple of them, mostly because I liked the ideas and thought the people proposing these projects could pull them off. If I don’t get what I was promised (or I get much less than I was promised), I guess I’ll feel disappointed… but I remember feeling pretty disappointed back in the day when I waited and waited and waited for TSR to publish ‘Temple of Elemental Evil’ and they just didn’t but somehow managed to find the time to grind out woodburning sets, trapper-keepers, Saturday Morning cartoons and needlepoint kits. I didn’t have to wait for the internet to be invented to feel disappointed by the way in which I fit into (or failed to fit into) a game company’s market strategy. I find myself thinking that amateurs with Kickstarter backers are going to have to try pretty hard to do worse.
The complaint that I hear echoing around the blogosphere, however, is that these ‘kickstarters’ are going to be ‘bad’ for gaming. I just don’t buy it. First of all, I don’t know what ‘gaming’ is since it seems to cover everything from Magic the Gathering to Napoleonics. Somewhere in that broad spectrum are people like me who like playing older versions of D&D — and I don’t feel much in common with the card games people or the Princess Leia in a metal bikini impersonators. I’m not against them; I’m just not a part of them. So, if your basic proposition is that “kickstarters are going to disappoint people and drive them from the hobby,” first you are going to have prove that people will leave the hobby. I don’t think that will happen because:
a) I don’t think Kickstarters will disappoint enough people to form some sort of ‘critical mass’ of disappointment that will make people leave “the hobby” (whatever the hobby is).
b) I don’t believe that all of the people who are involved in this hobby in all these different ways have such a shallow level of personal investment that not getting value for the $25.00 or $1,000.00 or whatever is going to drive them from the hobby. There are people out there who name their kids “Han” and “Leia,” do you think getting rooked by a Kickstarter is going to make them say, “Fuck it” and go scrape all the Trekkie and Doctor Who stickers off their Subaru and never go to GenCon again?
c) Who has been robbed via kickstarter? I know some projects are late and some kickstarters are not communicating with their backers as much as a very vocal group would like, but the level of noise from some people makes me feel like this is something on the scale of a Bernie Madoff con. Dear internet: late does not equal fraud. KIckstarter is not a “pre-order.” If you have actually been robbed via kickstarter (i.e.: you know that you will never get what you were promised), please post below… share details. I wanna know about it.
Some kickstarters will be in trouble because the people running them are incompetent, some will fail for lack of effort or because of dishonesty… and some will be everything that the originator promised but the backers will still be dissapointed because the backers didn’t bother to read what they were agreeing to before slapping their money down.
One suspicion I have is that the signal to noise ration has spiked because the obsessive compulsives who simply must have one of everything D&D in shrink wrap in their closet are suddenly overwhelmed by the sheer number of things coming out via Kickstarter and feel like if they don’t kick in on every project, they risk having a collection that is incomplete… yet if they do kick in on every single project, the ‘completeness’ of their collection is reliant on the good will and work ethic of strangers. Because the O.C. Collector can’t risk an incomplete collection, he has to gamble on the honesty/work ethic of strangers — no fair! Collecting is all about control and this makes me feel out of control! It’s like the wailing and gnashing of teeth we heard when Goodman printed up only 300 of some ‘special edition’ adventure for sale at one convention, sold first come first served, and, to add insult to injury, he didn’t limit “one to a customer” so people who came by later in the day were S.O.L.. For months after that event, some of these obsessive types were cursing Goodman like he had killed their dog simply because he published something and they didn’t get a copy.