Archive for February, 2005

Getting Published

February 28, 2005

From Kevin Kelly’s wonderful Cool Tools site

In 8 easy steps, here is how to get your book, CD, or DVD listed on the long tail of Amazon:

Comments on Orphaned Works

February 25, 2005

Here are my comments to the Copyright Office on orphaned works (revised):

I am a moderator for some websites and online discussion groups related to DragonQuest (a role-playing game originally published by Simulations Publications, Inc. (SPI) in 1980; a novel by Anne McCaffrey and a series of videogames share the same name but none are related to each other).

There is a small but interested core of fans who still play this game. Print copies are becoming rarities because it has been out of print for so long, and attracting new players is more difficult because the rules are not readily available.

Moreover, a number of these players and fans of the game who would like to develop new rules and additional material for use with this game. However, because of the uncertain legal status of the game. There have been several attempts by fans of the game and interested parties to try to find out about acquiring the rights to the game in order to bring it back to the market. These have never been fully answered because the ownership of the game has changed hands so many times.

SPI was acquired by Tactical Studies Rules, Inc. (TSR) which was later acquired by Wizards of the Coast (WotC) which was itself acquired by Hasbro. Because TSR did very little with the game once it had acquired the rights, and WotC did nothing with it once they were the owners, it is unlikely that anyone at the parent company now knows anything about this game. For them, unless there is enough money in it, it is simpler (and more economically sensible) to ignore the works than to deal with how the rights to this game have been transferred.

Games that are still in print can continue to grow and attract new players by putting out new materials. As a community, our activity is essentially stifled because of the uncertain legal standing with regard to revising or rewriting the rules to make them more contemporary and up do date.

Because game rules are something that is more prone to revision over time than a work of fiction, this is a much more severe effect on the community of fans and players of this game than if the item in question were a novel or some other work of fiction.

Twenty Scenarios for an Espionage Game

February 24, 2005

Twofold purpose in setting these out. First, is to provide examples of play. If we lay out how we want things to happen, then we can make sure that the mechanics reflect them and are best suited for what is envisioned. Second is to lay out the scope of the game. Twenty is an arbitrary number, but if there are a couple handfuls of different scenarios that lay out the scope of what can be in the game, we’ll have more direction and a richer setting to work from.

I’m purposely keeping everything very generic in this. I don’t know if we want to have the final draft in this form, or if we want to strongly embrace the inter-Iron Curtain dance (and by extension Le Carre et al.) There are advantages either way. For now, I suppose I’m leaning toward the generic, but I can be convinced otherwise.

Differentiating between countries and powers. Differentiating between allies, agencies, departments, subsections, etc. CONTROL is not monolithic at all. Agents may report to more than one CONTROL. Paired agents may report to differing CONTROLS.

Agent X is attempting to get the secret document from the safe in Doctor A’s office.

Agent X is expendable and her own people are trying to kill her.

Agent X is chasing operatives who work for Doctor A.

Agent X is trying to infiltrate into an unfriendly foreign country.

Agent X wants to go after Doctor A, but his superiors, Station Chief Y and Director Z won’t allow it.

Agent X is trying to smuggle another person across a border (checkpoint).

Agent X wants to take over operation of the office run by Station Chief Y.

Agent X needs to make contact with an allied agent while working in a foreign country.

Agent X is being pursued by agents from an allied power who think he is working for an unfriendly power.

Agent X learns that Station Chief Y has been turned and is working as a double agent.

Agent X is set up to fall into unfriendly hands in order to support/discredit information the unfriendly power has obtained.

Agent X must arrange for planted information to get into unfriendly hands.

Agent X wants to set up unfriendly Agent B so that she is arrested as a traitor.

Agent X wants to prove that Station Chief Y was set up by unfriendly power to be discredited, but Chief Y is really innocent.

Agent X is working with an allied agent on an assignment, but superiors have indicated that the allied agent is expendable.

Agent X has to kill Diplomat B.

Agent X has to arrange the killing of Diplomat B without it being attributable to her own agency or allies.

Agent X has to meet a defector who has information (which is a trap), and escape alive and with the information (From Russia with Love).

Agent X has to foil a megalomaniacal scheme (Goldfinger, et al).

Agent X has to get a secret device across the border and out of an unfriendly country.

A Theory of Fun for Game Design

February 4, 2005

Review of A Theory of Fun for Game Design on Slashdot. Being on Slashdot, it’s probably more about video games than paper & pencil ones, but there might be a bit of useful information in here.