This is Audio EXP for the 20th of March 2021, and the title of this episode is ‘Finding the balance’.
[The following is a transcript of Audio EXP: #88]
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Do you ever pay much attention to music in computer games? Some people go a bit further than that and seek out the music to listen to when they’re not playing.
This week’s quirky stats come from UK retailer GAME. They’ve been investigating the most popular computer game songs on Spotify.
The top song is Legends Never Die, and the top three are all League of Legends.
GAME estimates that people listening to Legends Never Die have earned Riot Games nearly three-quarters of a million pounds based on public royalty information.
In fourth place is the song Megalovania, from is from the classic indie Undertale. I hope this is right because GAME estimates that the track might well be worth a quarter of a million quid. I hope so.
A computer game soundtrack that we’re yet to discover is the one in Dark Alliance.
We now have a release date for the over-the-shoulder adventure. That’s June.
Dark Alliance will be Wizards of the Coast’s first D&D computer game. They made it. Okay, they made it because they bought Tuque, the game’s developer, but Hasbro has made Wizards of the Coast the organisation’s digital powerhouse.
We should expect more D&D computer games in the next few years. As a reminder of my Audio EXP thought starter, do you think D&D 6e will be a paper book led project or a digital one?
It feels like it’s been a busy week, and there’s been the sort of story that means I need to spend time stopping idiotic comments appearing on the blog. Let’s take a look, shall we?
White Wizard Games is no more. The company is doing well, revenue up 20% but they’ve renamed themselves to Wize Wizard Games.
Why? Well, COO Debbie Moynihan says it was due to feedback from fans and the company’s development.
We can guess, though. White Wizard might be a reference to Gandalf, but political tension has somewhat hijacked the adjective. Ironically, the people most likely to moan about Wise Wizards dropping the word “White” are probably the same people who’ve introduced some toxicity to it in the first place.
In very similar news, Legendary Games have decided to delist their Far East RPG range.
In this context, “delist” means getting in touch with retailers to ask that digital products be taken offline.
The decision comes about after they announced a Pathfinder 2e supplement called Asian Spell Compendium.
Sometimes I learn about world news through the RPG lens, and this is what happened here. In America, there have been some targeted killings of Asian Americans. My readings tell me that it’s a reaction to COVID-19, which some racists over there call the “China virus”.
I can’t quite get my head around it, but I can see why any publisher might want to review all their products inspired by or even based on any Asian mythology to make sure they’re happy with it.
Legendary Games did just that in response to concerns about the timing and title of Asian Spell Compendium and found themselves wanting.
Very quickly, they apologised and took action.
I’m not a mind reader, but the action was decisive, and the apology seems sincere. I’m not Asian, not so I don’t get to accept or refuse the apology.
But, I think they did the right thing.
On the subject of doing the right thing, there’s Prosperitea a game on Kickstarter in which you’re running a tea shop.
If export rules allow, your game might even arrive with tea.
I spoke to Aven Gonzalez, the game’s designer and art director and they told me about the sustainability ethics put into the game.
Simply put, and this might be awkward to hear, board games aren’t especially good for the environment. They use a lot of card, often have way more packing or components than they need, and tend to ship from China, to the States and then back out to backers.
Prosperitea can’t avoid all of that, but the team has actively and aggressively tried to minimise that. For example, they’ve looked at how to wrap the games for freight shipping. They’re using an old technique to avoid shrink wrapping bundles of the games. The result is less plastic and better for wholesale dealers who don’t have to deal with whole pallets units at a time.
If you’re interested in the other steps the card game has taken to be green, check out the blog’s full interview, or go directly to the innovative Kickstarter.
Another innovative Kickstarter is The Darkest House from Monte Cook Games.
Monte Cook and the team promised us a whole new type of RPG product. The Darkest House is interesting in its own right, and I’ll leave it to decide whether it’s different enough from the virtual-first Burn Bryte or digital-toolkit of Cortex Prime.
The Darkest House is a virtual-first digital-toolkit designed to let you drop a haunted house scenario into your current campaign. It comes with its own rules, charmingly known as The House System, as its more straightforward to convert to it from any system than the other way around.
There is a PDF for players, but GMs get a product designed to be run from your screen with point and click tools for selecting text to send to players or images to share.
If we stick with online play and finding a balance with the traditional tabletop play, we find ourselves with a rather interesting contrast between two large gaming conventions this year.
UK Games Expo is sticking to the dates of July 30 to August 1 for this year, despite not having all the space they usually have and their hotel partner being closed.
Today, half the adults in the UK have had their COVID-19 vaccines, at least a first dose, so perhaps the world will feel a very different place by July. Perhaps we’ll be raring to go.
Now, in comparison, Gen Con has moved back in the year to mid-September. Vaccine rollout is further behind in the States.
However, what Gen Con is doing is a hybrid convention. Gen Con @ Home will also run; it will be a virtual convention. I think this is terrific news, and I hope all major conventions do this in the future. It’s in their interests to do so and helps them become media properties in their own right.
Furthermore, Gen Con will also run pop-up stands in some retailers and turn Gen Con week into a “visit your local game store” week. It’s a brilliant branding decision.
What’s not worked out for Gen Con is the dates they’ve picked or had to use. It clashes with a Jewish holiday that, I’m told, prohibits travel. Now, I don’t think it is up to a convention to tell you how or whether to be religious, but it is certainly a big enough clash that Gen Con should have seen it coming and preemptively planned for it.
They agree, have apologised and said as much.
As a reminder, Geek Native runs a convention calendar. If you check it out and spot something missing, please let me know.
If I do go to a convention in meat-space this year, then I wish I had some Oumcraft dice to bring with me.
Oumcraft have a complete range of gaming dice that contain floating eyeballs. They’ve tackled the balance issue as well as they can, and with weights, those eyeballs are always looking up at you no matter how the dice roll.
Yes, I know, this is perhaps a visual story better suited to the blog than the podcast… but… I couldn’t help myself. Dice! Eyeballs!
If you do go to a convention this year, dice eyeballs or not, and get a chance to play Skycrawl then I’d recommend taking the chance.
Skycrawl is a game from Aaron A. Reed in which characters can travel from one floating land to another, flying through an infinite sky.
Hexcrawls let people explore a map, dealing with each hex they visit. Skycrawl is the same, but for a sky where the lands float off and the sentient suns might get angry at you. You can read the full review on the blog.
On the other hand, if getting out to a gaming convention simply isn’t on the cards this year and you’re interested in geeky things to do at home, Games Workshop is thinking of you.
The wargames company has hired Finn Arnesen to lead Warhammer Entertainment.
Arnesen comes from Hasbro Studios, where he was VP of global distribution and development. In other words, making shows that can be sold around the world.
Games Workshop already has a TV show in the works, from the studio that made the X-Files and the Man in the High Castle. We can expect more. We already know Hasbro is pitching multiple D&D shows.
There are also several shows coming to Netflix which I think look really interesting. Isn’t that usually the case, though?
I’ll pick one to highlight; The Irregulars.
The Irregulars are a young street gang who occasionally get work from a pair of suspicious characters, which gets them caught up in supernatural danger.
The dodgy character they usually deal with is a sinister chap called Doctor Watson. The gang knows even less about his mysterious partner, a man called Holmes.
Outside of Netflix, an anime called D_CIDE Traumerei caught my eye.
It may never leave Japan, so I have every reason to keep my hopes in check, but it clearly has some Cthulhu mythos inspiration.
It is set in a world where scared people strike pacts with unnatural creatures who warp reality.
While that sounds quite Lovecraftian, the anime trailer is also full of large swords and high schoolers. If it comes to the West, we’ll have to find out just how Mythos the anime feels.
Let’s finish up with some bits of blog news.
First up, there’s a thank you to Geek Native’s $5 patrons. A Battle of the Bands style D&D adventure was released this week, and qualifying patrons will get a free copy of Tourmaline Valley: Tritonia.
Thanks to Fainting Goat Games, there’s a physical copy of the Savage Worlds The After RPG to giveaway. Check out Geek Native’s coverage of Tales from the Trail, the Kickstarter project to fund a sourcebook of The After adventures for details. You’ll find the links in the show notes.
Lastly, in bundle news, Daedelic Entertainment turns 15 this month, and you can get 20 of their games for about 10 bucks from Humble Bundle, but only for the next two weeks.
On that note, let’s wrap there, so please keep safe, pop into the Discord server if you want a chat, and we’ll see you next week.
Join (or start) the healthy debate. Share your observations below.