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Friday, February 5th, 2010

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Tirade's Choice

100 Game Cupcakes Game


"Just had a customer drive sixty miles in the rain on Christmas Eve to buy a copy of Looney Lab's Fluxx. Now that's the mark of a good game." -- Tweet by Scott Thorne of Castle Perilous games



Rash provides another batch of links and commentary on topics including: the Time Camera, cutbacks at NASA, the 57 Varieties, Unhappy Hipsters, Rare Photos of Famous People, subway-riding Russian dogs, Five Little-Known Websites That Will Save You Time and Money When Booking Airfare Online, How to Replace Your Lost Cellphone Charger for Free, The Skeptic's Dictionary, the Five Creepiest Unexplained Broadcasts, the Top Ten Places You Can't Go, the Top Ten Clever Kitchen Repurposing Tricks, the Best Free White Noise Generator on the Internet, the New York Bedbug Registry, 4 intriguing new books, "Harry Truman, Leader of the Freeway," Christmas Tree Rocketry, Roger Ebert, Shun Yen, unsold goods being deliberately destroyed, Paris circa 1962, his students, his tooth troubles, and the new drinking-straw star he made for us on Christmas Eve


The New Fluxxes Are Almost Here / Action Castle

Well, 2010 is off to a typically busy start for us. There's so much going on, it's hard to find the time to stop and update this website! Among other things, we're getting ready to release the new EcoFluxx and the repackaged Family Fluxx, at the same time, and we're getting ready for the first big trade show of the season: Toy Fair, in New York City. We're making all-new literature, and new booth backdrops, and we're working with some new Sales Reps, so this year's Toy Fair preparations are more intense than ever. And in Other News, I've discovered a new game system called Parsely which has impressed me so much that I've started designing my own games for the system.

As I described back in November, we're getting ready to re-release EcoFluxx in an updated edition, now in full color, with more cards, and of course, in the new standard-sized box. We're now nearing the end of that process: the actual games are currently being printed, at the factory in Michigan that Kristin took a tour of last year. Shipments are expected in time for both the official February 26th release date, and for our sales team to be giving preview copies away to retailers who visit our booth at Toy Fair in mid-February.

At the same time, we're also switching Family Fluxx over to the new style of packaging. We're not making a big deal about this transition because there's not much to it -- the cards themselves aren't changing at all, although we are updating the rulesheet as well as the box. Family Fluxx was the first version we did using color, so we didn't need to change the art, and despite suggestions like Homework and Chores, we're resisting the urge to add Creepers to this version of Fluxx (as we've done with so many others).

Here's what the new boxes will look like. They sure look real don't they? Well, they're not -- these photo-real box images were created by a graphic designer we've just started working with, named Bo Geddes. He's located in Seattle. The new box designs were created for us by a local design company, Larry Paine & Associates. Thanks you guys for the beautiful design work!

Anyway, the new editions of both of EcoFluxx and Family Fluxx go on sale at the end of the month. We encourage you to buy your copies at your favorite local game store, but if you're planning to get them online, we're starting to take pre-orders now at LooneyLabs.com.

To promote the new Fluxxes, we're making new Posters and Promo Card Postards for each. The posters are available now, and the promo card postards (featuring a new type of promo card postard technology!) can be pre-ordered along with the games. Here's what they will look like:


Over the holidays I had my first experience with Action Castle -- and more importantly, its underlying game system, called Parsely. I'm incredibly excited about this. Very rarely do new game concepts come along which impress me, but this one stands out as being something truly revolutionary. And yet, like many of the most brilliant ideas, it's so fiendishly simply that you say "why hasn't anybody thought of this before?"

Action Castle was published last year by Memento Mori Theatricks in the modest form of an oversized, folded, laminated card. I first discovered it by reading the OgreCave.com Stocking Stuffer idea list last December. I was so intrigued that I put it on my Xmas list, and was delighted to receive it. (Thanks Jean!) Alison ran us through the Action Castle module the following Thursday, and it was such a hoot that several of us left the session intending to create our own scenarios for the system.

The Parsely engine, created by Jared A. Sorensen, is really quite simple: it's a way of playing an 80's style text adventure game without a computer, or rather, with a human pretending to be a computer. Instead of typing "GO NORTH" or whatever, you simply speak your commands, and the "computer" tells you what happens. A Parsely session is a lot like every other RPG (Role Playing Game) system except that the Dungeon Master is an android who only understands a limited number of commands and instructions.

Parsely is a cross between two great game systems that work together, like hot fudge sauce and vanilla ice cream, to create something that's even better than either component alone. (Most writers probably would have gone with the peanut butter & chocolate analogy, but that one seems overused to me.)

Parsely games are better than old-school text adventures in lots of ways. Firstly, it changes a solitary activity into a group event, transforming something that isolates people into something that brings them together. Secondly, it's just a lot more fun telling your commands to a friend rather than typing them into a computer. (Yes, even when that friend is deliberately slowing you down with "syntax errors.") Thirdly, human-ware is more sensitive to the player's needs than hardware, and thus can react to player frustration with hints. Lastly, and perhaps most significantly, it's vastly easier to create a Parsely scenario than to program a full-scale text adventure game.

Parsely games are also more appealing, at least to me, than any other RPG system I've tried. In the first place, text adventures are all about puzzle-solving, whereas games like D&D often devolve into elaborate battles with imaginary monsters (which I find terribly dull). It's vastly easier to run a Parsely game than to become the Gamemaster in any other RPG, since a well-debugged Parsely "program" will have everything you need all figured out in advance. A standard RPG Gamemaster has to be able to handle it when the players say "Let's do this totally different thing" and go running off in a direction you hadn't planned for (and are possibly unable to cope with). In a Parsely game, the computer can easily shut down any "fast ones" the player is trying to pull by saying "You can't do that," or "There's nothing special about that," or "I don't understand that, try again."

All of these factors combine to make Parsely a Role Playing System I finally want to create modules for. In fact, I've already done so. I dusted off the ideas from some of my earliest game design creations, i.e. a couple of text adventure games I created when I was in High School, and I've blended them into a really fun Parsely game I call Muffins. I've run increasingly complete versions of Muffins several times now for different groups of my friends, and I'm simply delighted with the fun it delivers.

For the time being of course, Muffins is a game design you can only experience if you know me personally. But Action Castle is available from the Memento Mori online store -- Check it out!

AndyThanks for reading, and have a great Whenever!

Thought Residue
Here's something that's been bugging me recently about Back to the Future part III. [Warning, spoilers ahead!] What power source could Doc Brown possibly have used in 1885 to power the time circuits on that fancy time-machine-train engine he returns with at the end? It's well established that you need a much more powerful energy source for the time circuits than for whatever you are using to bring your vehicle up to the required 88 mph, so even assuming he could build a time locomotive that could handle such speeds, it doesn't explain how he could have sent that train forward in time, since neither Mr. Fusion, pellets of plutonium, nor a predictable bolt of lightening were available to him in 1885. So, what gives? The otherwise-amazingly complete timeline of events at the BTTF wiki has little to say about this...

As a life-long fan of disaster movies, I hate it when the premise of the movie makes no sense, as in 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow. So here's a suggestion for Hollywood, about a disaster scenario I actively worry about. Actually, it's two: the eruption of the Yellowstone SuperVolcano, and the Mega-Tsunami that will result from the collapse of part of the island of La Palma, which could occur the next time the Cumbre Vieja volcano erupts. And if you still need to "go Hollywood" with the idea, to make it over-the-top enough, you could make both of these things happen to the same group of characters.
Here's a product I'd like to see: Hazelnut M&Ms. I think they'd be very delicious and I'm frankly surprised they haven't already been created -- particularly when I hear about the opinions within top management at Mars about the superiority of the hazelnut over the peanut.


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Last Modified: Nov 28 2014 at 11:32