16 December 2010

Star Wars RPG license

So, Mongoose says that another company got the license for a Star Wars role-playing game.

yawn

Yet another SWRPG that will start from scratch rather than being able to build on anything from the two versions that came before. (Assuming you count the Wizards of the Coast editions as only a single version.) If it is a smaller company, then the money they have to pay for the license will limit how much they can actually spend on development. If it is a bigger company, they will likely treat it something as a hobby while keeping most of their focus on their products that are not hindered by a license agreement. Plus, we already know that they will not have the license indefinitely.

sigh

Yeah, I will be interested to see who gets it. I will be interested to see what they do with it. There is the chance I will even buy it. It is just hard to be excited about it. It seems like their ought to be a better way here.

15 December 2010

The iOS home button

I think I understand why Apple choose to go with the single home button for iOS devices. I think the argument for it is much stronger than the single button mouse. The problem is that they once again didn't live with the limitation they set for themselves. They added double-clicks.

Double-click are much worse than a second button. We’ve known this for years. A number of users have trouble executing double-clicks, so it should only be used as a short-cut. Many other users have trouble understanding the difference between single-clicks and double-clicks. So many users have been mistakenly trained to always double-click. So, we have to program defensively to recognize and ignore double-clicks even when they don’t do anything. Not to mention that some developers fail to understand how to properly use double-clicks, which just leads to more confusion among users.

I like the “recent apps” UI in iOS 4, along with its audio and other controls. What I don’t like is having to double-click to get to it. Worse, double-clicking is the only way to get to it. Though I suppose you could argue there is (almost) nothing the user could do through it they couldn’t do another way.

I think what I’d really like would be three buttons: Home, Spotlight (search), and Recent Apps. Without two more buttons, though, perhaps there’s another way to make it work better.

Consider this: When you are in an app, pressing the home button takes you to the last home screen you were on. Pressing the home button again takes you to the first home screen. Pressing home again takes you to Spotlight. These are not time-based double- or triple-clicks. These are just sequential uses of the home button in different contexts. Given a single button, I think I’d like my first press of it to take me to the recent apps. Pressing the home button again would then take me to Spotlight. A third press would take me to the home screen.

Although, I’m not entirely sure about the order of the last two. Since the recent apps only takes up a strip at the bottom of the screen, perhaps an on-screen Spotlight and Home buttons could be added to allow the user quick access to both. Then the home button becomes simply a “recent apps” button.

11 December 2010

iOS printing

I’m a bit surprised by how much I am actually printing from my iPad now. It is very convenient. I’ve even thought about printing from the iPhone a couple of times, but I haven’t upgraded it yet. Most of it has been pretty straight-forward. Print a PDF. Type up some notes in Pages and print them. But there has been one more involved process:

  1. Take a photo with iPhone
  2. Use Bump to transfer the photo to iPad
  3. Create a Pages document
  4. Add the photo and resize
  5. Duplicate the photo a few times
  6. Print

The early-adoption cynic in me wasn’t expecting that to work so well already.

(One thing I learned: When printing from the iPad Photos app, you can’t tell it what size to print a photo at. Also, AirPrint tries to switch to the printer’s secondary paper tray assuming it holds photo paper. Using Pages allowed resizing and printing from the primary paper tray. And, really, Pages was probably the right way to do what I wanted to do anyway.)

The biggest downside right now is needing to either have a AirPrint enabled printer or a Mac running Printopia. (Not to mention that buying Printopia ought not to be necessary.) Being able to print at friends’ houses could be very convenient too.

09 December 2010

Traveller: the infection

Recently I’ve been occasionally hosting my role-playing gaming group again. The kids are now old enough that they are really paying attention to the game now.

Sunday, after Saturday’s game, Grace (8yo) took at stab at improv’ing a Star Wars game for her brother. No rules, per se. Just imitating what she’d seen us doing.

I printed out a copy of Starter Traveller for Jake (10yo). Space, military, and the phrase “create starships” immediately got his attention. Both kids made characters. (And neither failed a survival roll!) Jake then had me walk him through world generation to give his character a home world. He’s mapping it.

(By the way, Far Future has made Starter Traveller free from DriveThruRPG and RPGNow until the end of the year!)

This week, Jake’s been taking the books to school with him. All his friends have made characters. Last night he made up a planetary system and some NPCs and took his first stab at referee’ing an actual game today. Apparently it went well, and his friends are asking where they can get their own copies of the game. Tonight, after homework and bath, we reviewed space combat since it had come up today and he’d had to improvise because he hadn’t read the rules.

One of the things I’m very impressed about is the way he seems to natural see the rules as tools to use when it suits him and to ignore when they don’t. (Or to gloss over for now and learn later.) He went ahead and improvised space combat until he could look at it later. Even as we were going over the space combat rules, he was deciding how he was going to house rule it. “I’m going to simplify this bit.” & “We’ll ignore that for now.”

08 December 2010

Two weapon fighting in Labyrinth Lord

I haven’t thoroughly read the Labyrinth Lord rules, but—to my knowledge—there is no provision for fighting with two weapons. And I’m perfectly fine with that.

Even so, there are some advantages to it without any mechanical considerations. e.g. Using a sword and a dagger means that you have a dagger ready to throw and a sword ready for melee at the same time. No time need be wasted sheathing or drawing either weapon. That, however, isn’t the reason many people fought with sword and dagger.

The Advanced Edition Companion gives the old AD&D rule. I’ve probably argued against two weapon fighting providing a second attack sufficiently. Suffice it to say, I think a second attack is generally not a good way to model anything in most D&D-derived combat systems.

I’m leaning towards this: Attacks are resolved as if the character were only wielding the primary weapon with an additional +1 “to hit”. The player may decide each round which weapon is considered the primary.

The nice thing about this is that it doesn’t discourage using more unusual combinations—e.g. two scimitars—but it doesn’t encourage them either. Most characters will probably stick to sword and dagger except for style or expediency reasons.

As others have said before me, this is also a nice foil to the -1 to AC granted by a shield.

01 December 2010

Scabbard

Between buying a new waster at TRF (from Hollow Earth Swordworks) and my look at Labyrinth Lord weapons, I’m beginning to wonder: It it possible that the thing that really made swords and daggers such popular weapons simply the scabbard? It makes them easy to carry and quick to draw.