This is Audio EXP for the 2nd of January 2021, and the title of this episode is ‘Hogmanay and rogue AIs’.
[The following is a transcript of Audio EXP: #77]
Here in Scotland, Hogmanay can be a pretty big holiday.
I’m told that the origins of the word “Hogmanay” are still debated, probably some Gaelic and Nose mixed together. Might even be a little of Old French in the name.
However, we usually throw the Hogmanay party at the end of the year, and thus it has become synonymous with New Years celebrations.
2020, of course, means no such parties.
And as it’s the week between Christmas and Hogmanay, I think it’s been the quietest it has been all year. I’ve noticed plenty of sites doing 2020 recaps, but I feel Geek Native’s already shared a ton of charts and I’m not entirely convinced my top 10 games or anime are worth the cut.
Instead – and this will be a shorter Audio EXP podcast as a result – I’ve embraced the drop in pace and used the time to go for socially distant walks instead. Away from the keyboard stuff. Shocker.
Instead of making 2021 predictions, let’s ask a question instead: Do you think AI will endanger humanity in your lifetime?
This was a question that Geek Native asked back in October when the site had a copy of Halo: Shadows of Reach to giveaway.
I processed the answers this weekend, and I can tell you it’s not a fringe concern.
Over 40% of people taking part in the competition thought AI would become a threat.
The usual disclaimer applies as this was a competition, and people took part without any supervision at all, and critical terms like “artificial intelligence” and “threat” were not defined.
However, I think for most people, those same terms are pretty straightforward.
I also asked people to self identify as a geek or not.
I can tell you that geeks are a little bit more cautious about AIs than everyone else.
43.4% of geeks thought AI would become a threat. That compares to only 38.1% of non-geeks who did.
What do you think?
Whether it’s jobs, culture or perhaps our physical safety; do you think AI will become a danger to us within your lifetime?
As it happens, probably the biggest story to surface during this quiet week is related.
Nightfall Games released the quick start to The Terminator RPG.
It’s a 44-page Pay What You Want available via DriveThruRPG and uses Nightfall’s 5S5 system.
I think it’s both a good and a surprising license to win. I can’t even remember the latest Terminator film’s name, just that it flopped at the cinema.
The RPG isn’t related to it. Nightfall only has the right to use the first film, and they can’t use Arnie’s face. They do have all the Dark Horse comics to work with, though.
Also in license news is the unfortunate fate of Battlestar Galactica – Starship Battles.
This space battle game won both best miniature rules and miniature line at UK Games Expo 2019.
Sadly, Ares Games have not successfully extended their license deal with Universal Brand Development, and so the game closes. There are a few months where you can still buy products from the shops and then it’ll retreat forever into private collections.
Ares had previously announced Faster than Light and Additional Counter Sets for Q1 2021. Instead, fans will get cut down and digital-only versions of those as PDFs – for free.
It’s tempting to guess at why Universal would say no to more Battlestar Galactica board games.
Has another publisher made a better offer?
Or are their wider Battlestar Galactica plans afoot elsewhere in the studio?
Sticking with sci-fi, there are Traveller RPG deals in the Bundle of Holding this week. In fact, two different sales across four collections.
The first deal, Traveller LBBS 1, has the 1981 edition of the RPG.
So, if you want to go from having nothing of the Game Designers’ Workshop run of Traveller to having an impressive collection, then these two deals are worth peeking at.
Alternatively, if you only dabble in modern, then it’s worth knowing there’s a Premium Upgrade of Savage Worlds available for the Foundry virtual tabletop.
You can get the basic Savage Worlds entirely for free for Foundry. It’s a Github install, which is in keeping with the software approach of the virtual tabletop. With Foundry, you buy the software once, there’s nothing to rent, and it is yours.
If you want to add Savage Worlds do it, then it makes sense that, with Pinnacle’s permission, you can download the software add-on from a trusted repository and add it to your program.
The premium upgrade is available from Pinnacle’s store and adds more details. There’s even a macro with it that, when run, will upgrade your current Savage Worlds details from basic to premium.
If spending money is the last thing you can afford to do after the expense of the festive season then – and I know the feeling – check out Three-Dragon Ante.
WizKids announced a release of the physical game back in 2019 and leant on the idea that it’s intended to be an in-universe game for D&D. Then, sometime in 2020, Wizards of the Coast put a free to download version on DriveThruRPG.
I want to finish off with a visit to Geek Native’s RPG Publisher Spotlight which opened to Patron votes for the February poll yesterday.
The Spotlight is an effort to do two things;
Firstly, to try and help highlight indie creators and studios.
Secondly, to involve site Patrons with decision making in an editorially appropriate way. Simply put, the Patrons can vote on which publisher gets the Spotlight for the month.
The winner for January 2021 is Parts Per Million. As it’s New Year, I’ve not immediately reached out to them to see if I can get in touch for an interview but I will soon.
Patrons can suggest publishers for the Spotlight. When that doesn’t happen, I usually go to Itch.io or DriveThruRPG and work down through recently active publishers to build a shortlist of five.
I’m looking for publishers that offer up a social media profile, website or email address—just something I can use to get in touch.
As a result, the five candidates for February 2021 are a mixed bunch. They are;
And let’s wrap it there, keep safe, stay out of melee range and see you next week.
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