Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Holiday Wishes

There will be no post this week or next - I hope you and yours have a fantastic holiday (or holidays). I know I will.

I'll see you all early next year.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Looking To The Future

I have seen the future of gaming, and have started moving into that future.

I have acquired a 3D printer.

It started a while ago, when I saw that DriveThruRPG now has a selection of 3D Printer Files.

Huh, I thought to myself, Apparently that's popular enough to sustain itself. I wonder how long before I start seeing more of it.

As time went by, I saw more and more things added to that selection. Miniatures. Dungeon walls/floors. A good variety of really clever things, actually.

Then I learned that a friend from HS is very active in the 3D Printing scene.

Huh, I thought to myself, I'll bet I could get Joel to help if I had questions.

Time passed, and I kept an eye on this market.  Then, on Black Friday, Amazon had the Monoprice Maker Select at a really low price.  So I jumped on it, because this is apparently a good "starter" printer so people can figure out if/how much they like the process of printing.

So I set the printer up and did what you do: I started printing.  The SD card that was included had four "sample" things to print, and then I hit Thingiverse, where I spent a ton of time, looking at what I could do.

I learned from the test prints, however, that this is not a fast hobby. One of the test prints is a little elephant figure. It's about two inches tall, and took about two hours to print.

Following that, I grabbed Benchy.  Benchy is a boat that people use to tweak and adjust their settings. It's a boat that serves as a diagnostic tool, which appeals to me.  I really like that idea.

This is the most important thing I've learned, however:

This hobby is not yet ready for prime time.  It's close, but there are so many configuration and adjustment tweaks necessary to get your prints just right that it's almost frustratingly slow. Because there are a ton of possible problems.

My bed adhesion issues?

Step 1: Adjust the temperature of my print bed to see if that fixed it.
Step 2: Re-level my bed.
Step 3: Change the thickness of my first layer.
Step 4: Slow down the print head.
Step 5: Speed up the print head.
Step 6: Change the temperature of the extruder.
Step 7: Change the extrusion rate.

The process here is make a change, and print a test. Each test took two hours (although you can stop it early if you're still having issues). Even fixing the bed adhesion issue led to more tweaking, however, as other issues kept cropping up.

I've had a couple of failed prints, too, where things just ... didn't print right.  It's especially awful when those happen several hours into a long print.

But I do think that better (and more user-friendly) home units are coming. I think the speed and stability of this technology will increase over time.

There are already a handful of games available exclusively as 3D-printed files.  Like this one, for example. While you could use cardboard chits and paper tiles with the provided rules that's not what the designer intended.

I've joined the hobby at the tail end of the "early adopter" phase. I strongly believe that within the next three years, we'll have faster/cheaper/easier home units available. Within the next decade, they'll be ubiquitous.

I have a lot to learn, still, but I'm really enjoying the studies. Enough that I am considering getting a better printer

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Lunchtime Games

Not long ago. our housemate mentioned that he was looking for good "lunchtime" games that he can play with non-gamers. My first instinct was to grab No Thanks! - it's one of my favorite filler games. It takes about two minutes to learn to play and five minutes to get through.

Here's a short list of good "lunchtime" games that you can play with non-gamers.

No Thanks! - as above. Fast to learn, fast to play. 3-5 players.

Age of War  - I've found that calling this game "Strategy Yahtzee" gets the essentials across for most players. Players roll dice trying to get the correct dice combinations to claim cards from the table - including cards controlled by other players! If you can get all of the cards of a single set (all the red cards, all the blue cards, etc.), you lock those cards so that opponents can't steal them and score bonus points. The game ends when all cards have been claimed. If it takes an hour, you're doing it wrong or rolling very poorly. 2-6 players.

We Didn't Playtest This At All - This is the game that Fluxx should be.  Fast. Random. Chaotic. And predictable in run time (short). The game lasts until only one player hasn't been eliminated - if it lasts six turns, it's an unusually long game. It also takes about a minute to learn to play.  2+ players (seriously, we've played it with 30 - but most players didn't get a turn ... ).  There are also a number of expansions that kick the randomness up a few more notches without slowing the game way down.

Rise of Augustus - Much like Age of War, I can just tell people, "It's strategy BINGO" and go from there. It's a bit more complex than some of the others on this list - call it "5-10 minutes of learning time." And be prepared for occasional questions during its 30 minute play time. 2-6 players.