Saturday, December 31, 2011

The State of the Blog in 2011

Just a short post to wrap up 2011 here at Kaijuville. At the beginning of the year I had the goal of increasing the frequency of posting, which I did accomplish. I started the year strong, but by mid-year my real-life schedule got more packed with responsibilities. I hope to get back to a regular schedule next year.

Regarding site stats, the pages with the most search hits continue to be my list of Free RPG Day PDF downloads, my DVD review of The Green Slime, the Bruce Timm birthday post and the obituaries for Julie Ege and Elisabeth Sladen (not Ingrid Pitt?). I didn't imagine that this would be a destination for Julie Ege fans but that's the power of Google, I suppose.

My series of movie reviews, the Cult Classic of the Week, started in January with the goal of publishing at least two reviews a month, if not once a week. It became difficult to make the time to watch the films and properly research the reviews, so I ended up posting only 14 reviews this year.

In May, I was granted membership in the RPG Blog Alliance during their first week of operation. I really enjoy the sense of community that the RPGBA has produced, and I would like to get more involved with that aspect next year. One blogger wrote that a great exercise would be the goal of posting at least three comments on blogs read each day. I wish I could remember who wrote this so I could give proper credit. I don't always post three although I make that a goal for each day. I believe it's a great way to build the blogging community.

In August I ran a series of daily posts for "Conan Week", leading up to the release of the new movie.

I posted my GM merit badges here.

In December, I was invited to write a guest post at Age of Ravens, where I examined two important popular culture influences on my gaming life.

In closing, I would like to thank everyone who follows Kaijuville and takes the opportunity to read what I post here. I hope you find it worthwhile. There are many, many bloggers out there writing dynamite material every day, and I hope that I can add to that wealth in at least some small way.

Next post: What to expect from Kaijuville in 2012.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My First Time...Gaming on G+

Two weeks ago I played my first game using Google+ Hangouts.

This was a D&D 3.5 game based on the computer game Dwarf Fortress, so all of the PCs are dwarves. Many of the players were also in my True20 Freeport campaign. The reason for running over G+ is because half the players are out of town -- C. moved to Ohio before the Freeport game ended, and D.W., the DM for this game, moved to Mississippi shortly after it ended.

To play, we needed to join the same G+ Hangout. Additionally, D.W. set up maps with tokens for PCs and NPCs using the free Maptools software, which required each of us to connect through a VPN.

I did have some technical issues, but none of them were the fault of D.W. He and C. had worked out the bugs during their initial session. All I had to do was follow the emailed instructions. At first I tried using my usual desktop machine. I picked up an inexpensive webcam after work, brought it home and plugged it in. The camera test worked fine. Maptools worked fine, but I could not get into the G+ Hangout.

Mrs. Kaiju wasn't home, so I moved the webcam and the Maptools and VPN files (including my token) over to her Win 7 laptop. I was able to finally connect to the Hangout and see/hear everyone, although now Maptools would not load. Since it is a Java program, I tried to update Java but the update failed. It took a complete uninstall and reinstall of Java for Maptools to work.

Maptools is an impressive bit of software. I was concerned about how it might work, but it ran great, and D.W. put a tremendous amount of work into the maps for this session. The maps loaded quickly and token movement was easy and fast.

Overall, my experience with G+ Hangouts and Maptools was very positive. Once I moved to the laptop, the only issue was that I kept being dropped from the Hangout about every 15 minutes. The Google error messages kept saying it was a server error, but I was the only one being dropped. Once I can get that settled (and upgrade my desktop PC), things should work well. It's no substitute for face-to-face gaming, but being able to video chat with friends across the country in real time is terrific. I'm looking forward to more G+ gaming with them and local friends, and maybe some gaming with other bloggers too.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Blog housekeeping

One area that I'd like to work on in the new year is the look and layout of the blog. Generally I like the layout, but I think there might be some areas for improvement. My main priority is readability, and while the black text on light grey seemed OK at first, I believe the readability could be improved. I'll also try other some other colors throughout. I always welcome suggestions, too.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Link: SOPA and the RPG blogging community

I rarely ever post anything here about politics. This blog is meant for important things like games and movies. However, this is a topic that requires more attention than it has received in the mainstream media. Michael at Neuroglyph Games posted an excellent article about the possible effects of the Stop Online Piracy Act on RPG bloggers (and everyone else). There is a committee vote scheduled for tomorrow.

Update: "Markup postponed due to House schedule."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Monster Stand-Ins

I missed out on some interesting Kickstarter/IndieGoGo gaming projects: Far West, Stealing Cthulhu, Crypts and Things, and Writer's Dice. One project that's really caught my attention but hasn't closed yet is Monster Stand-Ins. This is a project by Joe Wetzel, the talent behind Hexographer, Dungeonmorph Dice and others.

For me, miniatures make any game better. I enjoy miniature gaming and using minis in RPGs. It is frustrating to not have all the minis that you might need for a scene, or not the matching minis. Pre-painted plastic minis have helped with this issue, but even with super-cheap common figures it can be expensive to get a solid collection of monster minis.

The Monster Stand-Ins are a set of over 150 fantasy monster images scaled to 28/30mm and printed on plastic flat tokens that can be stood up on bases. Foamboard is included with the plastic flats for creating the bases. I don't mind flats at all -- I like using printable PDF flat figures such as those from One Monk -- so I don't see that as an issue. And no cutting and gluing required! Flats are much easier to store and transport too, with removable stands. The plastic should hold up very well with use.

150 creatures on plastic card for $30, plus the PDF file? Sign me up.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Site update

I've added a sub-page titled "Currently...", accessible from a tab at the top of the main page. This is a little list of what I'm playing, running, reading, watching, and so on. I've wanted to add this to the blog for a while but the main page layout is full with links and blog rolls. The sub-page gives it a bit more room.
The titles are pretty self-explanatory. "The New Hotness" highlights new things I'm thinking about, interested in, and wanting to play/read/watch/whatever.
For some reason, the spacing on that page has some weird issues, even when trying to edit the HTML directly. Those problems don't show up on the normal Blogger pages. I also need to re-size an image or two.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Mongoose Legend Core Rules for a buck

Legend is Mongoose's revised and updated version of RuneQuest II (with the "RuneQuest" bits removed), and the Core Rules PDF is available at Drivethru/RPGNow for just one dollar. Thanks to Late to the Party and Billiam Babble for posting about it recently. I really enjoy the BRP/d100 system, so I might finally check out the RQII Legend rules.

For more gaming on the cheap, check out the $1.35 PDF sale on Lamentations of the Flame Princess titles this week (the Grindhouse Edition doesn't appear unless you activate the adult content filter on your RPGNow account), and of course Stuart Robertson's Weird West is a single dollar as well.