Break in to Science Fiction Writing with Michael Stackpole

I found a rather interesting article coming from a panel with Michael Stackpole at Origins game fair.  Not only does he ignore the piracy of his books, but he does it himself.

From the article….

A lot of writers are worried about online piracy, but Stackpole dismissed those concerns. “People downloading my stories from the big torrent sites were never going to buy them anyway. It’s no money out of my pocket.” He even admitted to downloading some of his own books from bittorrent sites if he didn’t already have a digital copy, saying it was far easier than scanning it in himself.

I haven’t ever read any of his books, but I did happen to go to a panel at the miscon convention where he said, “Here’s one thing that a lot of writers who aren’t as good do…’  I suppose when you have somewhere around thirty published novels you can afford to make pompous statements like that.

To be fair, he did follow it up with good advice about escalating your plot in a believable way.

Here is the article.  It’s about building a group of followers online so you have an audience once you start getting books published.

The Best Way To Break Into Science Fiction Writing Is Online Publishing

Michael Stackpole is the author of many Starwars and Battletech books as well a a number of other science fiction novels.

The seven wonders of the world, or was it really eight wonders?

Tower of Babel BoardgameAt the last Spiel Knights board game night, we played a game called “Tower of Babel.”

The game is basically a race to finish as many wonders of the world as possible.  Everybody can work on any wonder, but not all of them will actually be finished.

The game is a bidding game.  Reiner Knizia’s name is on the box, so of course it is a bidding game!  Every turn you can bid an amount of cards to help work on the current wonder.  If the player who’s turn is chooses your help, you will get markers on the wonder.  If it finishes, you will be scoring some points.

Every turn you are given another card that you can use to bid with later on.

I liked the game, but I did quite terrible at it.  I’ll need to play the game again in the future and try a different strategy.

I would recommend playing the game with your friends, but let one of them buy it.

Frag – First Person Boardgame?

One of the more popular games that I saw at Miscon this year is called Frag.  The game came out originally back in 2001 as a funny little gag to make fun of the first person shooters.  For some reason, Steve Jackson Games decided that it would be a good idea to make a new ‘Gold Edition’ with a big board, a big box, and a big price tag.

Steve Jackson's Frag BoardgameIn the game, you basically run around a board and blast people.  The goal is to blast people until you have three frags under your belt.  Then you get a statboost and a new round starts.  If you can win the first couple of rounds, you can basically become an unstoppable juggernaut.  Or at least the number one target of everybody.

Had this game been around in the late 90’s It would have been great.  The game has kind of a Quake 2 feeling to it… well as close as a board game can get I suppose.  Instead the jokes and cards make you feel like you’ve gone back in time to where computer games were sketchy and connections were unreliable.  This is 2009 baby! Wake up!

I do have a couple gripes about the gameplay itself.  All of the movement is on squares and feels ‘chunky.’  There are not a lot of freedoms.  I wonder if a hex board would be better?  I have no idea!

Secondly is the lag… the time spent waiting between your turns is just staggering.  Especially considering a fps game is supposed to be cooking along.  It would be cool to have 2 turn tokens that get passed around.  When you get one, you can move and blast people.  Then pass the token.  Of course this would need some playtesting to see if it would even be feasible in the first place.

From some of the SJ games I’ve played, I wonder if ‘playtest’ is in their vocabulary.

Jousting With the Mind