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Saturday, 21 July 2012

X Factor for gamers

I'm a reality TV fan.


I'm not one of those ostensibly 'ironic' reality TV viewers who apologise for their foible in a loud, obvious and infuriatingly disingenuous manner for the purposes of making themselves appear more interesting by railing against public opinion. I just gain enjoyment from watching other people's lives unfold from a safe distance. I am, if you will, a voyeur. 


To that end, I have watched with some interest as control of RPG, Boardgame and Wargame design is passed slowly yet surely into the hands of the fickle consumer. I refer, of course, to Kickstarter.


This was probably unnecessary.


Like me, you may have initially laboured under the misapprehension that Kickstarter was a funding platform used exclusively for game development, (In my defence, I was first exposed to it via Tabletop Gaming News and only later explored the site to any great extent). However, Kickstarter offers the potential to advertise and fund a wide range of creative projects in a variety of media. The medium that I will be focussing on, however, is Boardgames and Wargames.


I'd like to take a balanced view of Kickstarter's benefit to our hobby, rather than offering an ill-informed, choleric opinion on the matter either way. 


Advantages


Reduced risk and barriers to entry for new/small companies - 
Small companies looking to launch their game, or figure range often face an inordinate level of financial risk. Many can't afford to conduct widespread marketing; opting instead to gauge opinion in a more informal manner via forums and blogs. Considering the cost of even a small casting run - assuming that sculpting and mastering are conducted in house - there still exists the possibility of being landed with 2000 blisters of a miniature that nobody wants


Using Kickstarter eliminates risk for small businesses to the greater extent. If you have a concept with artwork and preferably a few sculpts, then the public will vote with their debit or credit card. If they don't like it, then they don't buy it and you don't waste time producing something that nobody wants 


Rewards -
Kickstarter actively encourages project leaders to create exclusive rewards for their backers. In the case of two projects which I followed with interest - those being 'Sedition Wars' and 'Zombicide' - there were a phenomenal amount of exclusive goodies on offer. 


Gamers get new stuff more quickly -
Small companies like Redbox games, Mantic, (believe it or not, they are apparently a tiny wee company despite the big shadow that they cast) and Avatars of War started up through a combination of hard work, skill and direct experience working in the industry. To date they have each produced an incredibly wide range of miniatures in relation to the scale of their operations  , but Kickstarter has given them the opportunity to fund new projects and ideas by providing capital without the vast sales figures - justifiably - enjoyed by Games Workshop.  

No risk for backers - 
Financial constraints aside, ignorance of this was the reason why I - in my uninformed, lazy, herd mentality - failed to back the Zombicide Kickstarter. Here's a quote direct from the horse's mouth:


All-or-nothing funding?

Every Kickstarter project must be fully funded before its time expires or no money changes hands.
Why?
1. It's less risk for everyone. If you need $5,000, it's tough having $2,000 and a bunch of people expecting you to complete a $5,000 project.
2. It allows people to test concepts (or conditionally sell stuff) without risk. If you don't receive the support you want, you're not compelled to follow through. This is huge!
3. It motivates. If people want to see a project come to life, they're going to spread the word.
This level of detachment from risk simply does not exist for investors in the commercial environment and means that many of the games we have seen and will see on Kickstarter in the future would have been unlikely via the more traditional development path.

Disadvantages

I can only think of one and do so reluctantly:

Nice figures are one thing, but what if the games turn out to be shit?

Video footage of sedition wars is online for backers and prospective backers alike. Similarly, the Zombicide rules are currently available for download. Both of the systems look interesting. They're certainly very professional and polished games and industry veteran Mike McVey's name on the sedition wars ticket alone should hopefully be an indicator of a very robust and enjoyable game mechanic. 



To the best of my knowledge - and I actively invite you to correct me if I'm wrong - none of the wargames, or boardgames funded to date on Kickstarter are available on general release at the time of writing. To that end, I can only watch and hope that unlike the X Factor there will be no tantalising, albeit shameful relish in watching reality intrude. I have no desire to feel that oft-times jarring moment of guilty pleasure at the realisation that another's aspirations are incompatible with their abilities; often accompanied by the gentle tinkling of shattering dreams... 



Monday, 2 July 2012

Red Scorpions army on ebay

If you haven't been on Redscorps' blog, then you're missing out.



Selling this must be pretty heartbreaking...

Incredibly, this guy only took up miniature painting a relatively short time ago, (What am I doing wrong?).

His marines have been featured on GW's 'What's new today' and you owe it to yourself to have a look at this auction, even if you don't have any intention of bidding:

http://reds-corps.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/red-scorpions-for-sale-on-ebay-for-7.html?showComment=1341246474090#c1873891355523680250

He also did a tutorial for the GW site which you can find here:

http://www.games-workshop.com/gws/content/blogPost.jsp?aId=17900004a


More painted Dust Tactics Squads


Since the release of Dust Warfare, I've been busy painting up some of the Dust Tactics miniatures in my back catalogue.

I love Dust Tactics and Warfare is a great ruleset too, but it's not the absolute be-all and end-all for me. It's quick and fun with a surprising capacity for real strategic depth. Unfortunately, despite a novel game mechanic, (in my limited experience) and lovely presentation, the rulebook itself is a mess in terms of functionality and layout.

For a balanced review, go and see one of my favourite reads on the blogosphere, Frontline Gamer. In the meantime, here are a few pictures of my Allied minis for Dust Tactics/Warfare. I've only photographed the ones which are both painted and completely based, so this is a small selection while I wait for the Vallejo brown earth to dry on the others:

"Who's that? Jervis Johnson? No, I still haven't forgiven you for the last 3 editions of Warhammer Fantasy. Yes, I'm playing Dust instead now. Are you...? Dude, are you crying?"


Actually, I was just going to say that in this month's Standard Bearer column, I ...

"Piss off Jervis and take that fucking Storm of magic with you on the way out!"


"Righto! (It's probably for the best).



Ozz 117's flamethrower bears an unfortunate resemblance to some kind of petrol-driven sex aid.

"I'm the leader because I'm pointing like this. See?"

"Well, this is nice. So... um... what do we do now?"
"Sir, we could shoot some monkeys sir."
"Private? I like your thinking. To the zoo!"

"The humans approach my brothers. Now is the time for our emancipation! Now is the time to rise up and show the oppressors our true intellect! Now is the time to.... hold on  a cunting minute, is that dude holding a banana? Hey you, over here! Look, I'm playing with myself in an amusing manner and throwing shit at the cage bars! (Ook, ook, etc...)"



And that 's pretty much how my first game of Dust Warfare went down. Peace out, y'all.