Developing the site

We’ve been going through a major upgrade of the site recently.  There’s been a few reasons for this:

  1. Time on my part to deal with coding
  2. Time on our developers part to work with us complex code
  3. Funds for purchasing modules / development work

At the same time, we’ve got to balance both the cost of an upgrade to the site with its potential benefits.  Most changes fall into one of three major categories:

  1. Front-End Design Changes
  2. Back-End Administrative Changes
  3. Bug Fixes

Front-End Design Changes generally focus on making the website more user friendly and interactive.  So the addition of the Social Share buttons to the site, the new Checkout are all front-end design changes.

Back-End Administrative changes help us work more efficiently.  Example would be integrations with Canada Post, a stock updater and edits to our PDF invoices.

Bug Fixes are more complex.  When we can, especially if it’s a bad bug; we fix the problem as quickly as possible.  However, to fix a bug we need to replicate it.  Unfortunately, with some of our more persistent bugs in the system; they are extremely difficult to replicate.  Without going through a tens-of-thousand dollar bug-hunt; they’re just not feasible.

What to Fix & When?

The obvious constraint is funds.  All these changes require funds – whether its purchasing pre-made modules that should work out-of-the-box or having our developers write the code for us specifically.

The Benefit of the change is another major factor – if it’s fixing a major bug or adding a new, must-have feature to the site; we’ll attempt to get on it immediately.  However, some projects are multi-week projects and those then require both the funds and the free time to complete.

Lastly, there’s the Complexity of the project.  It’s why you see a lot of small, simple projects done before the major changes.  Since I can hack my way around basic code; I tackle all the small projects when I have time; leaving the complex code problems to the real developers.

Video Reviews : A Business Perspective

We’ve recently been creating video game reviews of our various board games (and soon, our role-playing games).  It’s our newest marketing push on the site, and there’s a few reasons we’ve gone about doing it.   Obviously, it’s a great marketing tool – it allows us to promote our site in other locations without being too pushy; it (hopefully) convinces customers to purchase a game and perhaps just as importantly, put a ‘face’ to our company.  Even if that face is Kaja’s for the most part. 🙂

There’s a lot of great things to say about the video reviews; but there are obviously concerns too that have held us back from creating them long ago.

Firstly, they’re expensive.  Part of that is my insistence that we do it well.  After all, we could just use a digital camera; slap it down on a table and make Kaja talk into it and then post the resulting footage without editing.  However, I’d rather we do something a touch more professional – thus Rob, Phasefirefilms and Joanna.  That does mean that each video costs us a few hundred dollars though.

The next question is ROI.  If it costs us that much to shoot, how wdo we make it back? The obvious answer is that we have to sell that many additional games from it. However; that’s not viable at all.  Except for truly big-sellers like Settlers of Catan, the resulting increase in sales is unlikely to pay us back.  Frankly, so far we haven’t seen the stick move at all (at least as tracked by sales increases on the product page directly).

Lastly, while it’s great for promotional uses; we have to walk a very fine line between making it useful for promoting our site and being too ‘corporate’ with the video.  Adding too many links on the video or ‘pushing’ a game too hard could create the opposite effect that we’re going for.

So why do it? So far, it’s a promotional and branding tool.  It helps get our name out, helps build some goodwill and it might convert a few gamers to buy here and there.  Of course, that does mean that we’ve got to consider how we’ll make our money back in other ways, which can mean something as simple as adding Adwords to the videos.  After all, nearly 60% of our video viewers aren’t ever going to be our customers since they aren’t from Canada.

New Board Games: February 14th, 2012

New Board Games:

Pathfinder Adventure Path : Carrion Crown – Trial of the Beast
Pathfinder Adventure Path : Council of Thieves – The Infernal Syndrome
Pathfinder Adventure Path : Council of Thieves – What Lies in Dust
Pathfinder Adventure Path : Kingmaker – Blood for Blood
Pathfinder Adventure Path : Kingmaker – Rivers Run Red
Pathfinder Adventure Path : Kingmaker – Sound of a Thousand Screams
Pathfinder Adventure Path : Kingmaker – The Varnhold Vanishing
Pathfinder Adventure Path : Legacy of Fire – House of the Beast
Pathfinder Adventure Path : Legacy of Fire – The End of Eternity
Pathfinder Adventure Path : Legacy of Fire – The Impossible Eye
Pathfinder Adventure Path : Legacy of Fire – The Jackal’s Price
Pathfinder Adventure Path : Serpent’s Skull – City of Seven Spears
Pathfinder Adventure Path : Serpent’s Skull – Sanctum of the Serpent God
Pathfinder Adventure Path : Serpent’s Skull – The Thousand Fangs Below
Pathfinder Adventure Path : Serpent’s Skull – Vaults of Madness
Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Rule of Fear
Pathfinder Chronicles: Dark Markets — A Guide to Katapesh
Pathfinder Chronicles: Dragons Revisited
Pathfinder Companion: Gnomes of Golarion
Pathfinder Companion: Legacy of Fire Player’s Guide
Pathfinder Module: Carrion Hill
Pathfinder Module: Curse of the Riven Sky
Pathfinder Module : The Pact Stone Pyramid
Pathfinder Module: Tomb of the Iron Medusa
Shadowrun: Colombian Subterfuge
Warpaints Starter Paint Set: Black Spray Set
Warpaints Starter Paint Set: White Spray Set

Guest Review : Savage Worlds Deluxe

Savage Worlds Deluxe Core Rulebook front cover
Savage Worlds Deluxe is the latest core rulebook for the Savage Worlds Roleplaying Game System by Pinnacle Entertainment Group. Savage Worlds is a generic game system that provides a framework for telling stories in a wide variety of genres and settings. The expressed goal of Savage Worlds is to be “Fast! Furious! Fun!” and it has been designed to minimize the amount of accounting needed to play.

Getting Started

To start playing Savage Worlds Deluxe, you’ll need this book and some dice. As a generic game system, Savage Worlds Deluxe does a decent job of providing enough information for a wide variety of settings and genres. There are races, weapons, armour, opponents, and gear enough to run a bare-bones Fantasy, Modern, or Sci-Fi game. With a bevy of free resources on the Pinnacle website and fan-sites around the web, you certainly can create a rich world with just the core book.

However, maybe you just want to have a book with all the information you need at your fingertips. Thanks to a number of third party licensors, there are a wide variety of Savage Worlds Setting books that expand on the core rules through the addition of additional player options, gear, and rules to get the ‘feel’ of the setting just right. There are also currently three genre Companion books (Fantasy, Super Powers, and Horror), which provide genre-specific game support.

Gameplay

The Savage Worlds Deluxe edition of the rules is the easiest to understand to date. There are a number of quality examples of the applications of the rules and designers notes to help clarify the intent of rules. Character creation is laid out in a very straightforward manner and, while simple, provides a significant amount of choice for players to create unique and memorable characters. Players create characters by spending points to increase die levels on Attributes and Skills. Attributes are reflections of general areas of ability, like Smarts, Vigor, and Agility; whereas Skills are defined knowledge areas such as Fighting, Scientific Knowledge, and Swimming. Skills are purposely broad, in order to keep things simple. For instance, if you want to hit someone with a bat, sword, or your fist, you only need to look at your Fighting skill.

Players may also select Hindrances and Edges to help define their character. Hindrances are the flaws that make the character human; for example, they may be Lame, Bloodthirsty, or Greedy. Edges are the truly exceptional things the character can do, such as casting spells, or particularly impressive character types such as Noble or Brawny. After this point, there are a few statistics to derive based on the character’s skills, some gear to select, a little background to give, and the character is ready to play!

At its core, conflict resolution is very simple in Savage Worlds. When faced with a task, a player will roll two dice, their skill die and the Wild die and take the highest roll of the two as their score, which is compared against a target number to determine success. If you meet or beat that target, you’re successful. If you manage to beat the target number by a multiple of 4, you score a raise. Raises often improve the results of the roll, for example, additional damage in combat, or discovering additional clues.

Probably the most exciting part of this game is the initiative system. Each Character (and group of enemies) is dealt a card. The GM resolves the order Ace to Deuce. Each round a new card is dealt. What does this mean? The attack order changes, so your tactics will change much more compared to a fixed-initiative order style game. Also, if you are dealt a Joker, you gain the ability to go whenever you want and you get bonuses to your rolls in a round.

When the fists fly and the guns are drawn, players can engage in several combat manoeuvres that help gain the upper hand. It provides a level of tactical thinking that gives characters additional ways to help their group out, especially in situations where, perhaps, making an attack is a futile gesture. Damage in combat is pretty exciting. Damage rolls are compared to the Toughness of the opponent. If the roll is better than their Toughness, this
results in a Shaken status. This means all they can do is try to run away and try to recover. If you hit with a raise, you deal a wound. Each raise deals an additional wound. Once you receive your fourth wound, you’re toast. The rules for the minions are slightly different, as they only have one wound.

Savage Worlds is a generic game system and, because of this, it may not work for every genre and every tone of game. However, because the game has been developed more as a framework, with the expectation of adding setting-specific rules, Savage Worlds is successful at implementing a number of genres. One thing to expect from most Savage Worlds games is a two-fisted pulp style, which one could expect from the motto, “Fast! Furious! Fun!”

Conclusion

Savage Worlds Deluxe is the best edition of the Savage Worlds ruleset. It provides enough material to craft a game in a variety of settings, and also includes 5 exclusive adventures for you and your friends to play through. The rules are relatively easy to learn and offer tense combat and high adventure.

If you’re interested in a roleplaying game that can offer you dungeon crawling, investigating the Cthulhu Mythos, or fighting in World War II in one system, then Savage Worlds Deluxe is the game you should consider.