Sunday, August 27, 2006

First Taste Is For Free

If you haven't checked out the comics of Brian Wood, you need to do so right now. I haven't gotten any of his DMZ series yet (but I keep meaning to pick up the first trade) but his Demo, Channel Zero and Couscous Express books have been among some of my favorite comics of the last few years. Plus he did the design work for Warren Ellis' incredible mini-series, Global Frequency.

Now, DC/Vertigo Comics are offering you a free taste of Wood's DMZ comic. The first issue is available from their site as a PDF download. Don't ever believe the hype about anything, and don't just believe what people are saying online. Check it out with your own eyes and figure it out for yourself.

First Taste Is For Free
From indie comics icon Brian Wood (Demo, Channel Zero, GLOBAL FREQUENCY) and up-and-coming Italian artist Riccardo Burchielli (John Doe) comes the first volume of DMZ, collecting the first 5 issues of the series about the ultimate embedded war journalist trapped in a most unlikely war zone: the streets of New York City.

In the near future, America's worst nightmare has come true. With military adventurism overseas bogging down the Army and National Guard, the U.S. government mistakenly neglects the very real threat of anti-establishment militias scattered across the 50 states. Like a sleeping giant, Middle America rises up and violently pushes its way to the shining seas, coming to a standstill at the line in the sand — Manhattan or, as the world now knows it, the DMZ.

Matty Roth, a naïve young man and aspiring photojournalist, lands a dream gig following a veteran war journalist into the heart of the DMZ. Things soon go terribly wrong, and Matty finds himself lost and alone in a world he's only seen on television. There, he is faced with a choice: try to find a way off the island, or make his career with an assignment most journalists would kill for. But can he survive in a war zone long enough to report the truth?

EDIT: Picked up the first DMZ trade when I went to the comic store for this week's pick-up. Only $9.99 for the first five issues of the book. I have to say, that's pretty impressive and I wish that more publishers would give you the first taste/trade for cheaper to get people involved in picking up the collections. If I had known it would have been this cheap, I would have picked it up sooner. Brian Wood's writing is as strong as it has been in the other books of his that I have read.

If you are a fan of Brian Wood, this book is for you. If you aren't a fan of Brian Wood...why aren't you? If you like non-super hero books with intelligent writing, you should check out this book. If you want a comic book that is different from what all of the other people are doing, this book is for you. Brian Wood writes in a cyberpunk sort of mode, without it actually being cyberpunk. Which means that there isn't any cyber involved. If you have read any of the DryCo books by Jack Womack then you will know exactly what I am talking about. If you haven't, you should probably head out to the library or your nearest used bookstore right now. Don't worry. I'll wait.

Basically, I am saying that this is a comic that you should check out and check out soon.

[via Warren Ellis]

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Japanese Powerpuff Girls

Yes, because the original version wasn't anime enough for people apparently. You really do have to see this one to believe it. It isn't my fault though if you spend the next eight minutes in a stupor because you clicked on the link.

You know that you want to click on the link. You know that you do.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

When Memes Attack

Sometimes two memes are so powerful that they cross streams and become something bigger and stronger. Is this a good thing? You be the judge...

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Hybrid mutant beast's body found

The world is a strange place. If you can't get a senario out of this, you're just not trying.

Hybrid mutant beast's body found

An animal found dead in the United States may be the mysterious creature that has mauled dogs, frightened residents and been the subject of local legend for half a generation.

The animal was found near power lines along Route 4 near Turner, Maine, on Saturday. It had apparently been struck by a car while chasing a cat.

The carcass was photographed and inspected by several people who live in the area, but nobody is sure exactly what it is.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Gen Con Indy: Day Four Report and Wrap-Up

A wrap up of the finale of GenCon from our friends at RPGBlog.

Gen Con Indy: Day Four Report and Wrap-Up

Sorry about my late posting for the final day of Gen Con. Anyone who's gone knows that the post-Gen Con crash can be brutal, and mine was no exception.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Summer of Bottled Drinks

Because its just too weird not to share. This, my friends, is the true essence of blogging.

Summer of Bottled Drinks

Here’s a trivial summer project to keep me and you occupied. Take a picture of bottled beverages, include where I was drinking, and blog them. I like to drink different kinds of drinks, and bottled drinks are usually 100 yen to 170 yen. There are varieties and they’re cheap enough to try all these different varieties. I’ll make a post with five drinks each.

[Via Warren Ellis]

Sunday, August 13, 2006

A closed mind about an open world

Interesting article. Makes me wonder how much of this data could be mapped across to the OGL in the RPG biz.

A closed mind about an open world

Studying intellectual property and the internet has convinced me that we have another cognitive bias. Call it the openness aversion. We are likely to undervalue the importance, viability and productive power of open systems, open networks and non-proprietary production. Test yourself on the following questions. In each case, it is 1991 and I have removed from you all knowledge of the past 15 years.

[Via Boing Boing]

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Gen Con Indy: Day Three Report

And via our friends at RPG Blog, here is a report of Day Three at Gen Con.

Gen Con Indy: Day Three Report

By the third day of Gen Con, the fatigue is really starting to show for some folks. But for most, it's a happy sort of fatigue, a daze offset by the combined momentum and energy of tens of thousands of other people still meeting, gaming, exploring, and having fun.

I Have RuneQuest

And despite the bitching of grognards around the internet, I think it is pretty cool. The nifty keen copy of Land of Ninja for RQ3 that I got through a trade came in the mail today too. Coincidence?

Watch out d20, there's a new kid on the block...and its the bastard child of the system that kicked D&D's ass before.

Gen Con Indy: The ENnies and Day Two Report

From the RPG Blog comes a day two report of GenCon, including the winners of the ENnies. Congratulations to everyone who won. Glad to seek AMP getting some deserved acclaim.

Gen Con Indy: The ENnies and Day Two Report

We’ve got plenty of more coverage from today, but let’s go to the big topic first: without further ado (a phrase I have heard many times in the past few hours), I’ll give you your 2006 ENnie winners.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Wizard World: Oh how lame it was

Jonny's report from Wizard World Chicago.

Wizard World: Oh how lame it was

I know, I's been nearly a week since I said that I would write about my trip to Wizard World Chicago on here. So enough of this waiting around shit...

Gen Con Indy: Day One Report

From the RPG Blog we have an overview of the first day of GenCon.

Gen Con Indy: Day One Report

Well, Day One of Gen Con Indy draws to a close, and what a day it was! We’ve got plenty of pictures (more of which will be added quite soon--don't worry we've got plenty more from today) to share with those of you who couldn’t quite make it (captions to come later), and a nice recap of the day’s events.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Don't Let Architecture Astronauts Scare You

This is something that I came across while randomly following links across the internet, something that I like to do when I want to find out new things or different angles on old things.

Obviously, I was looking for sites with discussion about gaming and a couple of clicks down the road of a search this article popped up on my browser. I think that it has some interesting parallels for some of the things that are "plaguing" the online RPG community these days. It ties in with the bombast of the community that I brought up in a post from a few days ago.

Here's a great quote that I think really cuts to the chase of what I think about a lot of the "theorizing" that is going on: "Sometimes smart thinkers just don't know when to stop, and they create these absurd, all-encompassing, high-level pictures of the universe that are all good and fine, but don't actually mean anything at all." I think that calling these people Architecture Astronauts is just as applicable to gaming as it is to computer systems.

Don't Let Architecture Astronauts Scare You

"When great thinkers think about problems, they start to see patterns. They look at the problem of people sending each other word-processor files, and then they look at the problem of people sending each other spreadsheets, and they realize that there's a general pattern: sending files. That's one level of abstraction already. Then they go up one more level: people send files, but web browsers also 'send' requests for web pages. And when you think about it, calling a method on an object is like sending a message to an object! It's the same thing again! Those are all sending operations, so our clever thinker invents a new, higher, broader abstraction called messaging, but now it's getting really vague and nobody really knows what they're talking about any more. Blah.

[Theory] The "incoherent" debate. - RPGnet Forums

Here' another good debate spawned by Levi Kornelsen on RPGnet. I think that the back and forth between the two "sides" of the discussion shows that there is a lot of inflexible thinking that is going on in these debates, and an unwillingness to deviate from the party line. I hope that something good comes out of this because (although it probably really doesn't matter overly much) I really like Levi's line of thinking and I have since he started along his current path of "theory."

Plus this thread features some of my favorite thinkers from RPGnet (besides Levi): Marco and Balbinus.

[Theory] The "incoherent" debate. - RPGnet Forums

Read and enjoy.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Konbini Life

Living in Japanese Convenience Stores is an interesting looking blog that I found through Warren Ellis' website. You can learn a lot about a culture from their convenience stores.

Konbini Life

Here are some samples that I thought were funny:
To those not in the know, Onigiri is a rice ball with some sort of goodie bundled up inside (in this case, Tuna Mayo) and then wrapped with a thin sheet of dried seaweed. The packages are cleverly designed so that the seaweed is kept separated from the rice until the red tab at the top is properly pulled down, allowing the seaweed to wrap around the rice ball in a crispy and delicious combination that you couldn’t dream of for less than 105 yen.


Pudding Parfait. We all know what pudding is, but do we all know what parfait is? According to wikipedia, there is American Parfait and French Parfait. This being Japan, it’s fair to say that it could have come from either one. But wait! Wikipedia has the answer there too! They say that Japanese parfait is essentially an ice cream sundae. Regardless, this one is just the right mix of sweet n’ smooth, with bits of cookies and cream mixed in, dollops of whipped cream on the top and chocolate swirled throughout, they definitely got it right on this one.

So what if it all goes to my thighs? I NEED IT! ...I can’t be sure but this doesn’t seem so seasonal, so it’s probably available year-round. Those of you who aren’t gonna be able to make your trip out to Japan until autumn or winter probably aren’t gonna be hurting if this one was high on your list of "must trys"


This claims to be Heidi of the Alps, but I’m pretty sure that’s Paul Bunyon over there on the left. I don’t really know what Heidi or Paul would have to do with selling drinkable yogurt, but nevertheless, there they are.

There's some pretty cool stuff, if you find something that you particularly enjoy share it with the rest of the world.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Hall of Collections

Originally uploaded by jlvoris.
We return to flickr for campaign and adventure ideas. I am thinking that this might actually become a regular feature of the blog. Let me know what you think of the idea.

Imagine the occult significance of a travelling "hall of collections" that moves around the country, going from county fair to county fair. It is all the easier to hide the artifacts in a place where those who look at them do not realize what they are even looking at.

Does the exhibit move in a pattern across the country that has some esoteric importance?

The next question would be who curates the hall of collections?

The Official Word -- The End of Guardians of Order

I'm sure that this is old news by now out in the blogosphere, but here you go:
My gods, I have no idea where to begin.

Yes ... effective more-or-less immediately, Guardians Of Order has ceased operations.

First, an apology. I am terribly sorry that George Martin broke the news about our situation. That is certainly not how I wanted the information to be released, and I had thought that my frank conversation with him about A Game of Thrones-specific issues was in confidence. This is the second time now that someone other than me releases very important news about Guardians Of Order, which leaves me frantically trying to patch the holes. The polite and proper thing for me -- as President of the company -- to do would be to contact all of our creditors (which includes some great freelancers and industry associates) FIRST and explain the situation to them. I was working on that process when my efforts were derailed by one simple website post. So I am very sorry that someone else took it upon himself to release this information. It's not how I was proceeding to handle things.

But yes, the end result is the same. GoO is no longer.

This was a very sad decision that I had to make, but it wasn't really a difficult one when I took a long, hard look at the facts. The company simply accumulated too much debt, with little hope of paying it off within the next decade, and my recent plans to get the company back in shape didn't materialise. When I kept my emotions in check and simply analysed the facts of the company's financial forecast, the only course of action was very clear. There were a combination of factors that contributed to the ultimate inability of the company to maintain fiscal health (which I have outlined several times in other posts over the years) -- the extreme softening of the RPG sales market, the drastic shift in USD/CDN exchange rates, etc -- but external circumstances are not entirely to blame. Simply put, I did not have the business acumen to run the company profitably when the going got tough. I'm going to steal a John Nephew analogy for a brief explanation.

I've been driving down the gaming industry highway in my GoOmobile since 1997, with a coffee in the cup holder and a muffin on the passenger's seat. For many years of driving, the highway was a straight path with very little traffic on it. Consequently, if I swerved a little as I ate my breakfast while driving, it wasn't a big deal ... the situations on the road were very forgiving and it was easy to keep on driving. Unfortunately, when the road started getting very crowded around 2003 and started making many twists and turns, I didn't have the foresight to put down the coffee and muffin, place both hands firmly on the wheel, and pay very close attention to the road. I just kept on driving like before, assuming everything was the same. Ultimately, the GoOmobile swerved into the path of an incredibly powerful semi-truck called "Exchange Rate Fluxuation," causing a terrible wreck and writing off the vehicle.

I'm not making light of the situation, but I thought that John's analogy was a perfect fit. Running the company when things were peachy was easy, but I faltered when the going got tough. For my lack of knowledge and experience, I sincerely apologise to our many thousands of consumers and fans, our creditors and freelancers, and to my many friends who put their faith in my dream. I failed, and I'm sorry I couldn't do better.

So where does that leave things now? I don't have all the answers yet -- I was trying to line them up before making this announcement -- but here's what I can say at this time:

  • BESM Third Edition is finished and ready for press. Another company will be publishing it and providing future support. It's the most elegant version of BESM and the Tri-Stat System that I have put together and am very proud of it. If you pre-ordered the book from us, more information will follow.
  • Advanced d20 Magic is back from press and will be hitting stores in August. Customers who pre-ordered directly from us will be receiving their orders.
  • We are still attempting to place the A Game of Thrones RPG with another company. Of course, this requires GRRM's approval and we are still working out details. AGOT is a fantastic game, and we will do our best to see it continued.
  • All outstanding orders will be fulfilled. If we are unable to ship you the order for some reason, you will have the option of having a refund sent to you. We are no longer taking any orders directly from our web store.
  • Our products will remain for sale as both print books and PDFs as long as the stores will carry them. We are arranging for our products to be transferred to another company. I have no information regarding their future publication.
  • Our Tri-Stat/brand licenses remain in effect for as long as indicated in the contracts, and licensees may still publish products under the terms of such licenses. Obviously, the Magnum Opus imprint will cease to operate.
  • Our creditors (which includes freelancers and friendly investors) will be contacted directly in the coming weeks. There is still much to do on this end, and I ask for your patience while we get things in order and communicate with you.

Some people have inquired about my personal future, so I'll be brief. I am leaving the gaming industry. I need to concentrate on recovering financially from the collapse of the company and on rebuilding the strength of my family, which unfortunately suffered over the past couple of years. I am now working as a real estate sales representative in Guelph, and find the work a refreshing change of pace. My health is great, my family is very understanding, and I look forward to what the future will hold.

There are so many people to whom I am grateful for all their help, advice, and support over our 9-year run. Please forgive me if I forget anyone:

  • my wonderful wife, Karen, for ... well ... everything
  • my parents for always giving me their best wishes and telling me how proud they are of my accomplishments
  • Adam Jury, who stuck with the company and with me until the end
  • Jesse Scoble, for sharing so very many awesome experiences under the guise of "work"
  • Jeff Mackintosh, for accepting that job offer initiated in the Columbus bar
  • David Pulver, for putting BESM 2e on the map
  • Ryan Dancey, for always being just a phone call away; sweet, dude
  • John Zinser, for showing and mentoring me in the Hard Way
  • Cindy Rice, for befriending this little guy in New York many years ago
  • John and Michelle Nephew, for keen insight, support, and friendship
  • Alex Fennel, for working with this fellow foreigner for several years
  • Joe Saul, for always shooting straight and giving me the US perspective
  • Erick Wujcik, for giving me the opportunity to carry the torch, even if I couldn't follow through
  • Derek, who offered to help an old friend in need
  • Andy, Todd, Jules, Lindsey, Ken, John, and Lowell for lending a helping hand
  • Steve, for helping make deals happen
  • The Hero Games crew, for making advertising a lot of fun
  • Marcelo Figueroa, for his eternal offers of assistance; and of course
  • our customers, fans, and supporters -- without whom running Guardians Of Order would have been impossible. You have my sincerest gratitude.

Hello and goodbye, as always.

Mark C. MacKinnon
President, Guardians Of Order, Inc.
Guelph, Ontario
July 31st, 2006

I guess we'll see what the next step is and who the mystery publisher is who will be taking over BESM. I am sort of hoping Mongoose, I'm not sure why of that but that's what I'm thinking/hoping. Maybe its because I would hope that Mongoose would open the system making it easier to support if you're 3rd party. It will be interesting to see what happens next.

I'm not going to put up a link to the GoO site because, who knows when it will go away now. Here is a link to a mega post that I strung together when the news of GoO's hardships first started to leak out. It may put some perspective on things.