This is Audio EXP for the 17th of October 2020, and the title of this episode is ‘33% more tentacle’.
[The following is a transcript of Audio EXP: #66]
Dexter, the TV show about a dangerous killer who works with the police as his day job, is getting a new series. It’s not a reboot, we’re told, but a whole series to act as an alternative ending to show.
I’ve not seen it. One of the reasons I’ve not made time to watch Dexter yet is because everyone tells me the finale is so terribly disappointing.
As it happens, that’s our weird stats for the week too. I have seven geeky shows that consistently rated more than 8/10 on IMDB but which dropped below that mark of excellence for the finale.
Here we go from best to worst.
Westworld Season 3 finished with a rating of 7.3, that’s just below 8.
The Walking Dead, Season 6, Episode 16 dropped from above 9/10 to only 6.5.
American Horror Story wasn’t polling so strongly throughout its run, but the Season 6, Episode 10 final, drops to 6.3.
Of course, both those shows, The Walking Dead and American Horror Story were renewed after those finales and the following seasons did better according to IMDB readers.
Then it’s the show Power. Season 9, Episode 15 drops from incredibly high ratings to a poor 5.4/10.
It’s only now that we come to Dexter, which was doing so well but finishes with an awful 4.6/10.
There are still two more to go. Game of Thrones is next, and IMDB was polling well for it all the way to Season 8, Episode 6 when it nosedives to 4.1/10.
Which show does worse? Well, it’s the American version of House of Cards which after flirting with scores over 9/10 plummets to a depressing 2.5/10 for Season 6, Episode 8.
Did you watch any of these? Are they really that bad?
Now, as you’ll know, a lot of Geek Native’s stats come from competitions run on the blog. There’s one live right now but, sorry to say, it’s only open for listeners in the United Kingdom because the shipping is pre-paid. The game is from Twogether Studios, that’s Keith Barker’s studio, and the game is Action Pups!.
If you can, check it out, and tell me which pet you have with you if you were also a dungeoneering adventurer.
Now, let’s stick with stats for a bit because Roll20’s quarterly report is out.
There are no prizes for guessing that Dungeons & Dragons 5 is out on top. In fact, it’s market share has gone up slightly.
It was a good quarter for Roll20, no doubt boosted by the lockdowns and travel restrictions, and the virtual tabletop platform passed the 100 million hours of roleplaying on its system.
Roll20 point out how well Powered by the Apocalypse games are doing. They’re not wrong. That’s a system that seems to be a common choice for many popular indie Kickstarters.
I noticed Call of Cthulhu, though, which is holding firm in the third position in the popularity charts. Second place goes to homebrew or otherwise uncategorised games.
11.30% of all campaigns played in Roll20 use one edition of Call of Cthulhu. In Q2, that figure was 8.46%.
In other words, one-third more gamers are playing Call of Cthulhu on Roll20. That’s 33% more tentacle or eldritch horror.
Slightly confusingly, Roll20’s stats say Call of Cthulhu has had a 10% increase. We both might be right, though, as the report also tracks games in accounts, as well as campaign played.
Using the Roll20 table for “Systems With Biggest Growth in Q3” the top five are;
- Tormenta up 26%, which is a Brazilian fantasy RPG.
- inSANE up 17%, which is a Japanese horror RPG.
- Lancer up 14%, which is a mud and mech indie game that managed to get nominated for an ENnie this year, only then to withdraw in protest.
- Star Trek Adventures up 12%, which is part of Modiphius Entertainment’s growing empire.
- Call of Cthulhu up 10%, if you bundle all the editions together.
There’s one more bit of Roll20 news before we move on. Roll20Con 2020 is next weekend, from the 23rd to the 25th, and the company will match donations up to $50K to their charity partner.
Now, sorry if stats and figures aren’t your thing. I hope that wasn’t too boring.
Larian Studios, the computer game company behind Baldur’s Gate III, doesn’t like boring either. This week they scolded early access players, telling them off for creating boring D&D characters.
In fact, Larian says they thought their analytics package was broken. They checked it and, nope, it was working fine.
However, Larian seems to have wanted early access players to have given their characters demon eyes, horns and tails. Well, that’s not entirely how D&D works, is it? That sounds like a Tiefling to me, not a human, dwarf, half-orc, elf, gnome or any of the other races I might want to play.
I’ve not played Baldur’s Gate III yet, probably won’t get the early access but absolutely will check it out later.
A computer game I’ve played since we last spoke, and which I can happily recommend is Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Heart of the Forest.
The game is a choose-your-own adventure storybook evolved to perfection.
Character creation is entirely done on how you respond to the events in an unsettling dream. This then gives you some basic stats which kick in automatically to unlock or obscure other choices. However, it’s not set in stone, your character evolves as you react to the events in the dangerous Polish forest.
I was given a copy to review, as soon as I could, I bought several copies to give to friends.
Another computer-ish game that I’ve tried, but not yet completed is the Starfinder Alexa game.
It works really well too, but only the pilot episode is free. It’s another choose-your-own-adventure, but with more overt dice rolling and mechanics and absolutely no reading. It’s read to you, and you speak your decisions back.
After the pilot episode, Amazon steps in with their Audible Studio and helps Paizo out. It’s become one of the most popular recipes on Alexa and stars actors like Nathan Fillion and Laura Bailey.
Each new episode isn’t expensive, just $2 and you can subscribe to the whole season for about $10.
As a supporter of the RPG industry, I hope audio games become a new way for fans to have fun and publishers to make money.
In Audio EXP 60, we talked about how some big money appeared to be eying up the tabletop hobby and for some potentially big bets on digital. We talked about the Netflix of board games.
That discussion is relevant this week with a runaway success on Kickstarter. The project is The Infinity Game Table and, if you’re interested in it, you should know that all pledge tiers are limited in number and selling out. No pledge tier is cheap.
You’ll find the links to it from the transcript, which is linked in the show notes.
Arcade1UP, the company behind The Infinity Table, has a store in the table that connects to the internet over wifi. They have deals with Asmodee and Hasbro.
In theory, this table and the store means you can start your Netflix for board games project. I don’t know if Arcade1UP will be the first company to make it happen, there are other candidates, but the more companies who try, the more likely it is that one will succeed.
The great attraction of a subscription model for publishers is that it means a reoccurring and predictable revenue for them. Customers are worth more.
Of course, you don’t need an interactive table with wifi to have a subscription model. This month Atlas Games announced a subscription to Feng Shui 2, their Hong Kong cinematic action RPG about time-travellers.
There’s the flipside to consider as well. What about the good old book?
Well, I don’t think they’re going anywhere. Tabletop gamers are often collectors or people who want to invest in a thing of beauty. It’s never a surprise to see Kickstarters with a Collector’s Edition tier often do more business there than with the regular hardback.
Cubicle 7, this week, showed off their Collector’s Edition for Soulbound. A faux leather cover, gold-edged pages and the whole bundle come in an impressive box.
So, with subscriptions, you can get regular but relatively small payments from customers. The other approach, the investment approach, is to produce books of beauty and charge an appropriate premium for them. Both work for me.
Those are two money options, but there are also free games, and I’ve two freebies to highlight this week.
First up is Zadmar Games’ Samhain Slaughter. The game is a standalone Halloween treat for the Tricube Tales system. That’s not a system I know at all, but I appreciated the chance to check out Zadmar’s style with the freebie.
Next up is Handiwork’s A|State Nicely Done. This was an adventure the Scottish company ran at Albacon, which is now free at DriveThruRPG.
A|State is a mature RPG about The City which you can never leave. A|State II is in the works, and Nicely Done is part of the effort to promote that.
A|State II will be converting to the Forged in the Dark system, and so you need a copy of Blades in the Dark or similar to play the adventure. However, Nicely, Done is an excellent introduction to the setting and a reminder of the fantastic art that comes out from Handiwork.
This week, I also reviewed Ex Novo from Sharkbomb.
It’s a novel game, one you can play by yourself or with friends. Well, that’s if “game” is the right term to use. In Ex Novo, you are a Guardian Spirit, and you’re helping to found and then forge a settlement to turn it into a village or town.
If you follow the Ex Novo system, you’ll have a map of the village and a history for it. I think it’s a way to gamify your worldbuilding. Therefore of interest for any gaming group interested in getting into collaborative campaign creation, or for groups already doing it.
Leaving Guardian Spirits and early age settlements behind, we will soon be able to go into space with Osprey and Joseph A. McCullogh. The popular skirmish game Frostgrave it getting a sci-fi spinoff called Stargrave.
Lastly, and coming back to Earth for this, the active gaming community, news site and video production company OnTableTop announced this week it was being bought by one of Europe’s largest indie retailers; Wayland Games.
Congratulations to Warren, Lloyd and team.
And on that note, let’s call it a wrap. Keep safe and stay out of melee range. See you next week.
What are your thoughts? Strike up a discussion and leave a comment below.