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A long time ago, in what seems a galaxy far away, I was bitten by the Dungeons & Dragons bug.

This bug afflicted me with a life-long virus that just won’t leave my system. This bug has, on occasion, kept me up into the wee hours of the morning, has had me screaming out loud in frustration, and left me breathless and close to exhaustion. The virus I was afflicted with so long ago is Dungeons & Dragons.
I was hit hard by this then new way of gaming. I devoured page upon page of source book material. I greedily saved my money in order to buy the latest adventure modules. I spent hours and hours developing my own PC sheets, dungeons, and world flavor. I spent many a day and night playing with friends, bonding over the adventures we shared.


I still play today, although not nearly as much as I used to. Time and adult responsibilities have eroded into my playing time. One of these responsibilities is raising a son. As he became older, he began to share some of my wife and I’s interests. He likes Super-Heroes and Comics, he likes to read, he has a deep “appreciation” for anything Star Wars, and he also began to like the fantasy genre, especially that world created by Tolkien; Middle Earth.
He was introduced to most of these interests through movies. Those high energy, flash and bang productions of the modern era that are all the rage with today’s youth. They may not always be true to their source material, but they are entertaining, and because of this I never thought my son would be willing to play in (to his movie warped mind) a “slow-paced imagination driven” role-playing game. How could a game run by me ever compare to the action he saw on the big screen?

Boy, was I wrong!

From the time I finally got him to sit down and play he has been hooked. He is the driving force that actually gets the group together for session after session. He is the one that makes sure that our group (which consists of him, my wife, one of my oldest friends and his wife and daughter) has the next session date already set before we close for the night. He loves to play, he can’t wait to see what happens next. He sits with anticipation over what crazy voice his father will use for the next NPC that is encountered.  Wonders out loud at what monster may be lurking behind that next door in the dungeon.


I never knew that the Dungeons & Dragons bug was hereditary, but for sure it has been passed down to the next generation.

 

-Steve R. (a.k.a. The Taskmaster)

Game DesignersMassachusettsMove Rate 20 GamesPlayingRPGtabletop gamesTaskmaster

There’s a lot of talk about the impact of on-line retailers and the “death” of the local gaming store. There are even some closed minded curmudgeons (mind you I’m a curmudgeon myself so this is not light criticism) who think board and card games are on their way out due to the electronic alternatives.  I’d have to be a fool not to recognized that the terrain is changing, or to not see that we’re in a transitional period. It’s a fact, in this day and age we have more stuff to fill up our spare time than any other time in history. Just look at my Netflix queue, my unpainted miniatures, underplayed games and unfinished game concepts if you need proof.

The Fate of the Local Gaming Store

The fact is, as with all retailers in the age of Amazon, that the local gaming store needs to adapt. 20 years ago there were only a handful of places you could get obscure games,  specialized imports or rare small print run indie RPGs (anyone remember HoL?) So today’s game store owners need to adapt to compete against the discounted prices and vast inventory of the online retailers, The way most have done so is to create a community of gamers and given them a place to meet and play together. I came across one such place during my travels in New York City wandering around Manhattan. The place is called “The Uncommons“, a coffee shop and local game store where you can buy or rent games to play with friends and strangers. It was doing a fair amount of business for a 4th of July Saturday  afternoon. The selection of games to rent was impressive, the ones to buy admirable (about half the shelf space of the rental games), but I’m sure they would bring in any thing you wanted special order. It had the feeling of a mini-convention, where people came to try new games of meet new players.

There is many local gaming stores that have done similar things, putting large war-gaming tables with exquisite model terrain to bring in the war-gamer crowd.

We’ve based our company out of shared space with Rivendell Books & Games in Rehoboth, MA where the owner has a open gaming nights twice a month as well as the usual Friday Night Magic and Star Realms tournaments.

Do you have a favorite gaming space or combo-gaming and social outlet? Please comment and let us know. Also please like and share our posts to really help getting the conversation going!

-Mr. P

Card GamesLocal Gaming StorePlaying CardsRivendellRPGtabletop gamesThe Uncommons

Privet, moi druz’yaigos…

So a couple of weeks ago, I wrote a missive detailing how I lamented not having enough time to play all the games I owned, wished to own, or didn’t own but wanted to play anyway (did you follow all that)!

That ol’ Role Playing Game Itch.

I also stated that I had no idea when I’d have time to ever play in a good old fashion RPG campaign again. Lately that itch has begun in earnest, like a good ole’ summer case of poison oak!

This time however, I have decided to scratch that itch, and actually run some RPG sessions this summer. BUT…..I now have another problem:

What system do I run?

Do I bring out the tried and true Pathfinder books? After all, this is a system almost all RPG-ers are now familiar with. Plenty of playing options are available and I am sure I can get people to play with me.
(Count me in if you go with a PF campaign! -Mr. P.)

Do I go with the new and try out the new D&D 5 ruleset? But that would take a lot more time, having to learn a whole new ruleset. And then I would have to find people also willing to try a new game.

Or do I go with the good old AD&D. Going old school and running some classic module adventures. Try to recapture that magic of youth when Greyhawk was young and the adventures seems boundless!

Knowing me, I’ll procrastinate so much that my plan to run a summer campaign will turn into a fall campaign!

Oh well….(now where did I put those old M.E.R.P. books?!?!?!)

Steve R

 

Gamer profileGamesMove Rate 20 GamesRivendellRPGtabletop gamesTaskmaster

Everyone who has made or is in the process of making games has probably asked themselves this very question. Different creators will have their own reasons for designing games. Some want to see if they can make something others will enjoy, while some may do it for the recognition. The most driving reason, however, is the desire to play. Without this desire, there would be no need to make games in the first place.

Games and the human brain

The desire to play is not unique to humans. Many animals also exhibit this quality, especially among the young. Play promotes companionship and teaches many important life techniques, whether they be hunting and defense skills for the animals or math, critical thinking, and sportsmanship for people. Unlike other animals, however, most people tend to get bored playing the same games day after day, stemming from our longing for the newest and greatest. This longing has led to the evolution of games from the dice and cards of early history to the multitudes of games today.

What games stimulate you?

Not all games appeal to all types of people, so in an effort to make them more appealing, rules are changed, added, or removed. Sometimes the pieces themselves are changed, such as from dice to cards, cards to boards, and boards to electronics. Each has its own style of game-play favoring a combination of chance, skill, and strategy, appealing to different audiences. Games with high chance factors appeal to those who like to gamble and enjoy uncertainty. Games of skill appeal to those who enjoy the physical aspect, often as a test of strength or dexterity. Games of strategy appeal more to those who like to be in control of their actions and outwit their opponents. Few games will focus solely on one aspect over the others as this can lead to the outcome of a game being known early during play or even at the outset, removing the fun for most. At the heart of it, games are made so we can have something new to play.

-James McLean

CardGamesMove Rate 20 GamesPlaying CardsRivendellRPG

Is There Still a Place for Board & Card Games For Kids in the Modern Home?

The Wall Street Journal On-line posted a video that covered the benefits of teaching your kids to play card games at a young age; and while they focus on traditional card games, I couldn’t agree more.

In recent years card games have fallen out of favor with the modern family as our personal devices pull us away from the social interaction that a lower tech diversion can provide. When I was a kid I have great memories of playing Rook and Miles Bourne with my family on camping trips and New Year’s Eve, and clearly as an inspiring game designer I feel strongly that card and board games have a place in the home. I also agree that such games help develop social and life skills that a developing child will find incredibly valuable, including how to win and lose gracefully, how to read people and how to think strategically,

The first game we are developing is something that definitely could be a family game and we will have more details about it as we get closer to a release date. It has math, symbol recognition, tactics and long term strategy. But in game you could find to play with your family, either on-line or at your local gaming store there’s Munchkin, Love Letters, the Adventure Time card game, or the old stand by of Uno. For those with older teenagers there’s King of Tokyo, Settlers of Catan and many more.

There are a lot of options available to you as you set out to plan a family game night, the challenge is keeping it happening so it has a chance to become a tradition in your home.

 

CardGameGamesKidsMove Rate 20 GamesNightRPG

Riding the success of his web series “Table Top” on the Geek and Sundry YouTube network, Wil Wheaton has revealed move info about his latest project; an RPG game based web series. Where Table Top had a group of comedians and internet celebrities playing a board or card game each episode, his new show will have a steady cast of players going through a campaign of his design.

Not the first web series about RPG Game play.

It will be interesting to see how they will edit the show to keep both the comedy and the story line intact. The creators of Beer and Board Games, Matt Sloan and Aaron Yonda have had success introducing “Rated RPG”, a web series that breaks up a one RPG game session into several episodes. As well as Community TV show creator Dan Harmon’s podcast “Harmontown” which started

devoting the last 20 to 40 minutes of each episode to playing complete RPG campaigns, first D&D and now Shadowrun. Not to mention the the PAX rebroadcasts of the “Acquisitions Inc.” D&D campaign that has been a major event at each PAX show and gets hundreds of thousands of views.  So it seems there is a demand for this type of show where people actually playing a RPG game is the subject, but it needs to be funny and entertaining. People sitting around doing mundane tasks probably won’t cut it. It’ll be interesting to see Wil’s entry into this growing genre of entertainment.  That said, I’m interested to see what this new web series will shape up to be, getting more exposure to different RPG game styles is always good for both players and GMs, even better if it gives you a good laugh.

 

 

 

 

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Games are made here

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Another few thousand DOS Games are playable at the Internet Archive! Since our initial announcement in 2015, we’ve added occasional new games here and there to the collection, but this will be our biggest update yet, ranging from tiny recent independent productions to long-forgotten big-name releases from decades ago.

To browse the latest collection, hit this link and look around.

The usual caveats apply: Sometimes the emulations are slower than they should be, especially on older machines. Not all games are enjoyable to play. And of course, we are linking manuals where we can but not every game has a manual.

If you’ve been enjoying our “emulation in the browser” system over the years, then this is more of that. If you’re new to it or want to hear more about all this, keep reading.

A Recognition of Hard Work, and A Breathtaking View

The update of these MS-DOS games comes from a project called eXoDOS, which has expanded over the years in the realm of collecting DOS games for easy playability on modern systems to tracking down and capturing, as best as can be done, the full context of DOS games – from the earliest simple games in the first couple years of the IBM PC to recently created independent productions that still work in the MS-DOS environment.

What makes the collection more than just a pile of old, now-playable games, is how it has to take head-on the problems of software preservation and history. Having an old executable and a scanned copy of the manual represents only the first few steps. DOS has remained consistent in some ways over the last (nearly) 40 years, but a lot has changed under the hood and programs were sometimes only written to work on very specific hardware and a very specific setup. They were released, sold some amount of copies, and then disappeared off the shelves, if not everyone’s memories.

It is all these extra steps, under the hood, of acquisition and configuration, that represents the hardest work by the eXoDOS project, and I recognize that long-time and Herculean effort. As a result, the eXoDOS project has over 7,000 titles they’ve made work dependably and consistently.

Separately from the eXoDOS project, I’ve been putting a percentage of these games into the Emularity system on the Internet Archive for research, entertainment and quick online access to the programs. The issues that are introduced by this are mine and mine alone, and eXoDOS is not able to help with them. You can always mail me at jscott@archive.org with questions or technical concerns.

This should be all that needs to be said, but since the Archive is doing things a little strangely, there’s a lot to keep in mind before you really dive in (or to realize, when you come back with questions).

That Hilarious Problem With CD-ROMs

Putting these games into the Internet Archive has, over time, brought into sharp focus particular issues with browser-based emulation. For example, keyboard collision, where the input needs of the emulator are taken over by the browser itself, and the problems of a program needing a lot more horsepower to run in a browser emulator than a user’s system can handle.

Some of these have solutions that aren’t always great (Buy faster hardware!) and in some cases the problem is currently terminal (these programs have been taken offline for a future date). But the most obvious and pressing is that games based off CD-ROMs take a significant, huge amount of time to load.

CD-ROMs were a boon to the early-to-late 1990s, allowing games to have audio and video like never before. Depending on the tricks used, you got full-motion video (FMV), the playing of CD audio tracks for background music, and levels and variation of content for the games far beyond what floppy disks could ever hope.

But it was also a very large amount of data (up to 700 megabytes per CD) and it’s one thing to have the data sitting on a plastic disc in a local machine, and yet another to have a network connection pull the entire contents of the CD-ROM into memory and hold it there as a virtual file resources. This is going to be an enormous lean on the vast majority of Internet users out there – downloading multi-hundred-megabyte files into memory and then keeping them there, and then losing it all when the browser window closes. Network speeds will improve over time, but this is probably the biggest show-stopper of them all for many folks.

If you find yourself loading up one of these games and facing down a hundred-megabyte download, consider one of the smaller games instead, unless it’s a title you really, really want to try out. Maybe in a few years we’ll look back at cable-modem speeds and laugh at the crawling, but for now, they’re pretty significant.

Some Jewels in the Mix

Luckily, there are some smaller-sized games in this new update that will load relatively quickly and are really enjoyable to look at and to play. Here’s some of my recommendations:

First, a game special to me: the IBM DOS version of Adventure, calling itself “Microsoft Adventure”. It’s actually a small rebranding of the original start of the text adventure world, “Colossal Cave” or ADVENT, by Don Woods and Will Crowther. Remixed to be sold by IBM and Microsoft, this is how I first got into these, and it boots up instantly, providing hours of fun if you’ve never tried it before.

Mr. Blobby, a 1994 DOS Platform game, has all the hallmarks of the genre – bonkers physics, bright and lovely graphics, and joyful music. Be sure to redefine the keys before you try to play it, because besides running and jumping, you can spin and take things. The game does not get less weird as you go along.

Super Munchers: The Challenge Continues is a 1991 remix of the original educational game that sent your “muncher” gathering up words representing a given topic or idea. The speed of the game, along with the learning aspect, make this one of the more zesty “edutainment” titles available from the time.

Street Rod is a wonderfully compact 1989 racing game where it’s the 1960s and you’re going to buy your first hot-rod, tune it up, and race it for money to buy better and better rides. It’s a mouse-driven interface and loaded with all sorts of tricks to make the game fit into a “mere” 600 kilobytes compressed. Initially simple and then well worth the effort!

Digger from 1983 is a Dig-Dug-Clone-but-Not that came out right as IBM PCs were starting to take off, and it’s a lovely little game, steering around a mining machine while avoiding enemies and picking up diamonds. The most unintuitive thing is you need to fire using the “F1” key, so hopefully your keyboard has one.

I’m also going to suggest Floppy Frenzy from Windmill Software because it’s so much closer to the beginning of the IBM PC’s reign and you can see the difference in what the authors were comfortable with – the graphics are simpler, the game movement a little more rough, and the theme is geekiness incarnate: You’re a floppy disk avoiding magnets to leave traps for them, so you can gather the magnets up before the time runs out. If you don’t make it, an angel comes down and brings you to Floppy Disk Heaven. Again, F1 is the unusual key to leave traps.

There’s many more and I suggest people browse around and try things out, really soak in that MS-DOS joy. (And feel free to leave comments with suggestions.)

Thanks so much for coming along on this emulation journey!

  • Jason Scott, Internet Archive Software Curator
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