2014 in Review, and Plans for 2015

It’s the end of 2014, and I’ve fallen behind on the blog (again) because of taking some teacher certification tests. Unfortunately, I didn’t get around to everything I planned to do this year, though there are some exciting things I did get done as well as things that will be going on.

Let’s begin by looking ahead to the future. Tomorrow, the Loreshapers Game Design Contest begins, which I’m running. It should be a fun time for all involved, and I will be officially announcing the theme that games must address tomorrow. I think I’ve got one that a lot of people will enjoy, and I think we’ll see some cool outcomes.

I’m also working on two game projects; 1-800 Regime Change and a fantasy game codenamed “Miracle”. Both of these are essentially the same project; 1-800’s just an offshoot of Miracle’s ruleset intended to test much-needed changes to the combat systems.

I’m also working on a lengthy dissertation on copyright law and how it relates to game designers and people who engage with digital media. The first article would have gone up this week, had I not decided to hold it until I’ve got a little more of the series done. I’m hoping to address the general specifics of copyright law and the DMCA (and how they’re applied), bring up alternative intellectual property movements, and lay out some ideas for how to improve the American copyright system.

YMICAE is also on the burner, but it’s moving along at more of a slow simmer. I don’t think I’ll have the time I need to work on it until the summer, at the earliest.

Now, let’s look back at 2014. It’s been a wild year, and I’ve probably missed as many blog posts as I put up. I defended my honors thesis, which XMICAE served as the basis of, and also worked on a couple other gaming projects.

I’m attaching XMICAE’s complete final files, and the final .pdf of the commentary to my thesis, Exploration of Medieval Europe through Interactive Fiction, to this post. This represents the official release of XMICAE 0.1.1, which I’ve been putting off for what seems like forever. The content for XMICAE is not finished, but it should be sufficiently large to serve as an example. The technical document is still unfinished, and will likely remain as such. At a later date, it may be polished up and published, but XMICAE’s impractical for commercial use as is and YMICAE should be a suitable alternative by the end of the year.

I’ve done a little writing for Stuffer Shack this year, but I haven’t been terribly active in general on that front. I let my featured reviewer status at DriveThruRPG lapse, following a review of the lacklustre Mindjammer which put me off of the prospect of reviewing games for a while. I did go and make a video review of Shadow of Mordor to test the process, but a hardware failure on my old headset (and its subsequent replacement with a crummy $4 headset) means that it’d be difficult for me to do voice-overs on reviews for a while, so we’re unlikely to see more of those for a while.

I also have a mostly-finished game design study of Civilization: Beyond Earth, particularly focused on critically assessing the game through the lenses of Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri and Pandora, its two most obvious alternatives. It’s far from polished, as it had its origins as a disappointed rant, and then evolved out into its own thing, but for the most part it needs some reorganization and rewriting to get it fixed up.

At one point, I was working on a steampunk game. Unfortunately, my school efforts sort of took over, and I never wound up finishing it; my interest waned in the off-time, so it’s probably going to wind up in the huge cycle of things that I occasionally return to. Because this is the “Kyle shows what he did this year!” post, you can download Unending Clouds and a Quick Play Edition of it here, in .odt format. The two parts are not compatible, and contain different things.

I’ve also been working on a new game. Miracle (or, rather, the game codenamed Miracle) is a fantasy game that intends to be a suitable replacement for epic and well-established games like Pathfinder or Dungeons and Dragons, but approach the game design from a more narrativist and flexible standpoint. It’s being built from the ground up using a new system, with support for classless play and exotic characters. Set in a gothic fantasy world, it’s intended to follow adventurers rebuilding after a catacylsmic event that ended civilization as it once was. If gothic fantasy isn’t your thing (or you just don’t like my interpretation of it), Miracle should support some simple tweaks to make the rules fit other fantasy genres. One of the core features of Miracle is a highly developed magic system, somewhat inspired by the one I was working on for Unending Clouds. You can grab the latest playtest version of Miracle here, though there will be massive differences before the next “neat” version is released, including an expansion of the setting.

1-800 Regime Change is being rebooted in this system as well, though it follows a vastly simplified version of the ruleset. The main purpose of this is to get a feel for how exactly the Miracle ruleset should be applied for exciting and fluid play, but also to get an idea of how Miracle’s hideously overwraught system can be streamlined in the future.

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