Newsfeeds

Wave 2 June Releases Available From Privateer Press

Tabletop Gaming News - 26 June 2018 - 8:00am
The bulk of a Man-o-War suit is just too much to handle all at once for many people. As such, Privateer Press had to break this month’s releases into 2 waves. *gets a note that Privateer Press often has two release waves in a month* Well… they’re still big, heavy, cool-looking suits. So there. The […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

The Differences Between Video Game Marketing and PR - by Logan Williams

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 26 June 2018 - 7:21am
There are plenty of resources available when it comes to marketing and PR. However, there aren't many resources that draw a line in the sand between the two services, which can result in confusion. My goal for this post is to resolve this issue.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Player Psychographics: Why Do We Play? - by Caleb Compton

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 26 June 2018 - 7:15am
People who love games are a very diverse group. They enjoy different types of games, and they play them for different reasons. This article looks at some of the common ways of categorizing different types of players to aid design.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

The UI and UX of Arboreal - by Tom Hermans

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 26 June 2018 - 7:12am
For the past year, I've been responsible for the UI and UX for Arboreal. It falls into multiple genre boxes, including "adventure", "open world", "zelda-like", "farming", and more. How do you make UI for such a game? I explain my iteration process.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Paizo Previews Magic Items in Pathfinder 2.0

Tabletop Gaming News - 26 June 2018 - 7:00am
“We loot the bodies.” How many times has that phrase been said in gaming tables all over the world? Sure, you can create the greatest character ever, but without loot, usually in the form of magic items, you’re really only ever about 2/3 of the way done. We long for that perfect magic item as […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Thousands of indie android devs on the brink of extinction after Play store changes visibility algorithm rules - by Vlad Chetrusca

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 26 June 2018 - 6:59am
On June 21st, hundreds of small, independent Android game developers started observing a decrease in new daily installs across their games published on the Play store. By Monday morning, most of them lost from 80% to 90% of new organic traffic.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Mediacurrent: PDFs in Drupal (DrupalCon Session Review)

Planet Drupal - 26 June 2018 - 6:10am

There were a lot of amazing sessions at DrupalCon Nashville 2018, but one of the few sessions that sparked my interest was “PDFs in Drupal” presented by Dan Hansen. In this session, Dan goes through the importance of PDFs, gave a short introduction to some of the more popular PDF rendering libraries, and gave a demo on some tips and tricks that I found very useful for my future projects.

Most, if not all of us, have opened a PDF recently. PDFs are popular because they are universal as a document format and can easily be sent to others without having to worry about whether their machine can open them. Despite this, Dan notes that it feels like PDFs are behind in support, and it would be nice to have better PDF handling in Drupal core - similar to images in media libraries.

PDF Rendering Libraries

This session introduced a handful of popular PDF rendering libraries:

  • Print-to-PDF
  • jsPDF
  • FPDF
  • mPDF
  • TCPDF
  • FPDI
  • DOMPDF
  • Wkhtmltopdf
  • PDFtk
PDFs in Drupal

In Drupal 7, the most popular module for generating PDFs is the Print module - but does not support Drupal 8. Fortunately, there are options available for Drupal 8:

  • Printable - based on the Print module to allow generation of PDFs. It relies on the PDF API, which is currently not stable.
  • Entity Print (recommended) - allows for printing any Drupal entity or View (D8 only) to PDF. This module provides flexibility with PDF rendering libraries and is more lightweight compared to the Print module and has a stable release for both D7 and D8.
  • FillPDF - allows for filling PDF with values. This module can be used with the PDFtk library or a paid third-party service, and can help in reducing overhead of rendering PDFs.
     
Tips and Tricks

I found Dan’s demos to be the most interesting - as he showed some code examples of various (and seemingly common tasks) related to PDFs. The following examples from Dan’s session shows how simple and straightforward it is to work with PDFs:

Making a PDF from HTML

A custom controller can simply return the following output:

$dompdf = new Dompdf();
// Pass the HTML markup.
$dompdf->loadHtml($markup);
// Render the HTML as PDF.
$dompdf->render();
// Stream the generated PDF back to user via browser.
$dompdf->stream();

Combining 2 PDFs

Using the PDFtk library:

$pdf = new Pdf([ 
  'A' => '/path/file1.pdf', // A is alias for file1.pdf 
  'B' => ['/path/file2.pdf','pass**word'], // B is alias for file2.pdf ]);
$pdf->send();

Notice that you can specify a password for the PDF file (if there is one). You can also extract specific pages from the PDF files as well:

$pdf->cat(1, 5, 'A') // pages 1-5 from A 
  ->cat(3, null, 'B') // page 3 from B 
  ->cat(7, 'end', 'B', null, 'east') // pages 7-end from B, rotated East 
  ->cat('end', 3,'A','even') // even pages 3-end in reverse order from A ->cat([2,3,7], 'C') // pages 2,3 and 7 from C    
  ->saveAs('/path/new.pdf');

More of these examples can be found at https://packagist.org/packages/mikehaertl/php-pdftk.

Fill in a PDF Template

Using the FillPDF module:

$pdf = new Pdf([‘PATH_TO_PDF’]);
$pdf->fillForm([
  ‘name_of_text_field’ => ‘Some value’
])
->needAppearances()
->send(‘filled.pdf’);

I really enjoyed and learned a lot of useful tips from Dan’s session, and I encourage anyone who is looking to work with PDFs in Drupal to check out the session.

Related Content:
Accessibility: Let's Talk PDFs | Blog
Top Drupal 8 Modules | Blog
Mediacurrent Top Drupal 8 Modules: Drupalcon 2018 Edition | Blog

Categories: Drupal

Web Wash: Display Blocks within Content pages using Block Field in Drupal 8

Planet Drupal - 26 June 2018 - 6:00am

The Block field module lets you insert a Drupal block as a field on your content.

A Drupal theme is divided into regions and you can place blocks or your own custom blocks into these regions. You accomplish this task by dragging and ordering blocks in the "Block Layout" screen. That means you can append blocks before or after the main content of your content type. This "Block Layout" screen will soon be cluttered if you have multiple content types and/or multiple single nodes, each one with a different custom block.

However, there’s a way to insert a block (or many blocks) directly into your content as a field. Thus, you don’t have to place the block in the "Block Layout" screen, instead, you insert the block as a field on the node.

In this tutorial, we’re going to cover the usage of the Block field module. Let’s start!

Categories: Drupal

Views help tip

New Drupal Modules - 26 June 2018 - 5:10am

This module will add a "help tip area" header views area that will be rendered to a inline help tip, it can be themed via preprocess and twig template.

The template can also be used to be rendered anywhere.
Just use
#theme => 'help_tip'

Categories: Drupal

Esper Genesis Review

Gnome Stew - 26 June 2018 - 5:00am

Esper Genesis is an ambitious project that is attempting to utilize the 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons based OGL to create a space opera counterpart to D&D’s fantasy implementation. Like Dungeons and Dragons, the Esper Genesis rules aren’t fully encompassed in a single volume. Just as Dungeons and Dragons is split into the Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual, Esper Genesis will eventually be comprised of the Core Manual, the Threats Database, and the Master Technician’s Guide.

This review is focused on the Core Manual (the only product currently available), but like Dungeons and Dragons and the Player’s Handbook, most players will only need this book to play the game, and the Core Manual provides most of the rules that will govern play, so it serves as a good overview of what the system will look like.

Examination of Contents Commencing in 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . .

This review is based on the PDF of the product, and the physical books should be available later this summer (as of the time of this review). The book is 304 pages, including an ad for the other upcoming books, and the Crucible Core, the organized play program for the game. There is also a two-page list of Kickstarter backers and play testers, a four-page index, and a three-page character sheet.

The production values of this book are comparable to most top tier RPG publishers, with some striking art and clear, attractive formatting. The flourishes, such as borders around sidebars, take on a more “holographic” look, and stat blocks for things like threats or powers use the same format as the Dungeons and Dragons books.

There is impressive artwork throughout the book, but the artwork on the cover, as well as several pieces showcasing starships or the species native to the setting are particularly impressive.

Introduction

The introduction gives a brief description of roleplaying in general, the core resolution mechanic, the three aspects of play, and the underlying assumptions of the setting. The core mechanic (d20 + modifier compared to a difficulty number) and the aspects of play (exploration, social interaction, and combat) should be familiar to players of 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons.

The explanation of espers and the Crucibles sets the broad expectations of what the setting is—it is a space opera game set across an entire galaxy, where the player characters are people that have developed extraordinary powers, tied to the ancient, lost technologies that created the Crucibles, which generate the cosmic energy known as Sorium.

Character Creation

The next chapter of the book walks players through the steps of creating a character, as well as showing the XP progression chart, as well as ability score and proficiency bonuses, which all match those same items from the OGL.

The steps, as laid out, are as follows:

  • Create a Concept
  • Choose a Race
  • Choose a Class
  • Generate Ability Scores
  • Select Your Equipment
  • Finalize Your Character

One thing that stands out is that race seems to be used as a term here and in the next chapter, but the races are also referred to as species in multiple places as well. Terminology seems to be used to highlight the similarity to the D&D rules, even though other 5th edition based games, like Adventures in Middle-earth, utilize different terms like “culture.”

Races

This section includes nine species that are prominent in the setting, and most of those species have subspecies associated with them. In addition to the species presented in this section, there is a sidebar that notes that the Master Technician’s Guide will have more rules for randomly determining species of NPCs, underscoring that these are the most common, not the only, sentient species in the galaxy.

The races that appear in this section are:

  • Ashenforged (Artificially engineered from the dead)
  • Belare (Energy beings in containment suits)
  • Dendus (Tentacle haired inventors)
  • Eldori (Spiritual and philosophical humanoids)
  • Human (With multiple subspecies based on where they grew up)
  • Kesh (Shape shifting explorers)
  • Matokai (Reptilian creatures associated with different elemental energies)
  • Promethean (Neo-humans with genetic modifications)
  • Valna (Catlike hunters)

Many of these species lean heavily on sci-fi tropes, but I was pleasantly surprised that there were fewer direct correlations between existing D&D races and the races in the game. Except for humans, the closest D&D correlation is probably the Matokai and the Dragonborn, but the subspecies of the Matokai are more significantly different than just having a different breath weapon and a different damage resistance.

Classes

The classes chapter details the various available classes and what abilities they pick up at each level. In case you are a player that doesn’t come into the hobby from Dungeons and Dragons, the classes represent, broadly, the adventuring occupations of the characters. When a character gains a level, they get some static benefits, and they may have a choice between multiple paths that reflect exactly how they pursue that profession.

The classes that appear in this section are as follows:

  • Adept (Channels supernatural power through willpower)
  • Cybermancer (Analogous to the D&D Warlock in mechanics, manipulates powers by tapping into “online” avatars)
  • Engineer (Analogous to D&D Cleric in mechanics, uses toolkits to summon, modify, boost, heal, and attack using Techniques)
  • Hunter (Analogous to D&D Ranger in mechanics and function)
  • Melder (Channels supernatural powers to produce external effects)
  • Sentinel (Analogous to D&D Paladin in mechanics, melded to combat cybernetics to boost energy to weapons when attacking and to produce Techniques that can boost allies)
  • Specialist (Analogous to D&D Rogues in mechanics, with the option to pick up some powers based on subclass choices later)
  • Warrior (Analogous to D&D Fighters in mechanics, with the option to pick up some powers based on subclass choices later)

While it is explained more fully in a later chapter, instead of powers being magic and divided into Arcane and Divine, the powers that classes gain are instead divided into Channeling or Forging. Channelers have powers that allow them to directly manipulate cosmic energy, while characters with Forging abilities have powers that allow them to interact with technology in ways that regular users cannot.

The Engineer, Hunter, and Sentinel are probably the easiest to grasp for people that have played D&D 5th edition, as they gain a number of “tech slots” that they can spend on prepared techniques, and those techniques have levels, much like D&D spells. Forging-based characters will use their toolkits to assemble devices that can perform microsurgery, or that can assemble into mechanical allies, for example.

Channelers don’t have a direct analogy in the D&D Player’s Handbook, but borrow a bit from the point based spellcasting optional rules in the Dungeon Master’s Guide, and from the Mystic class that was released for playtest in Unearthed Arcana on the Wizards of the Coast website. Channeling talents have a level, and it costs a certain amount of points to trigger that ability, but the Esper Powers chapter has more rules on using more points to channel powers at a higher level, or to attempt to channel a power when a character doesn’t have enough points to trigger them.

Warriors and Specialists each have three subclass options, one of which, for each, gives them a channeling progression, while each class also has two subclass options that only gains “powers” that are essentially represented as abilities that can be used between rests or that grant situational bonuses. In D&D terms, each class has two non-spellcasting subclasses and one spellcasting subclass.

I wanted to particularly mention the Cybermancer, because I think the class flavor is a good example of what Esper Genesis does well when the game is at its best. The Cybermancer is very much like the Esper Genesis version of the Warlock, but the flavor feels very rooted in a science fiction game. The Persona that the Cybermancer manifests is essentially an avatar in the SIM, the computer network used throughout the galaxy. While Cybermancers are channelers, meaning they directly manipulate cosmic energy without manipulating a toolkit or implants, they learn their techniques by interfacing with what their Persona learns on the SIM. It is a wonderful mirror of the Warlock/Patron relationship, but made into something different and appropriate for a science fiction setting.

Personality and Background

In this chapter, there are details for character height and weight based on species, alignment, languages, backgrounds, and Esper Genesis. Backgrounds, for anyone unfamiliar with D&D 5th edition, grant a few skills, some gear, a situational benefit thematic to the background (such as always getting food and lodging from a certain organization, as an example), as well as traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws, which can be roleplayed to gain Inspiration.

I am not a fan of utilizing alignment in this setting. Even in D&D 5th edition, alignment has limited mechanical impact, but there are still cosmic forces from other planes of existence that literally embody those alignments. In a science fiction setting, I worry that alignment becomes permission to treat some NPCs differently with impunity, which even in the most black and white space opera seems to run counter to the core elements of the stories.

The Esper Genesis table has a list of circumstances under which the character first found out that they have Esper powers. Since all players have at least some minor Esper power that the average member of their species doesn’t have (even if it’s just a little bit of a boost on some skills because of their natural synergy with cybernetic implants), this chart is potentially relevant to all characters in the game, and can provide some nice additional backstory for characters that want it.

Equipment

The Equipment chapter has details on how much it costs to buy a variety of gear in the game, including weapons, armor, and vehicles. Cubil, the currency of the galaxy, can be physical in form, or just numbers in an account that can be transferred as long as everyone has access to the SIM.

While there are several hand to hand weapons, there are more ranged weapons than D&D has, and many of those weapons have the option to attack an area rather than firing at a single target, changing the attack from an active attack roll to a save made by targets in the area that has been fired upon.

Weapons that have the high-velocity or explosive trait either do an extra die or double damage to characters that either don’t have high tech armor or a PSD (Portable Shield Device). It’s actually a nice way to keep the damage ranges in the same expected range that D&D establishes, while still explaining that high tech weapons would tear up characters from low tech worlds that don’t have natural protection from those weapons.

Some weapons have a recoil trait, meaning that a character needs a minimum strength score to fire that weapon without a penalty. There is a relatively short list of weapons compared to other granular science fiction games, but there is a sidebar mentioning that the damage from an auto-pistol, for example, could be projectiles, plasma bolts, or radiation blasts, and to achieve that effect, leave all of the other game stats the same, and just change the damage type to piercing, radiant, or necrotic damage.

While not fully detailed, forged weaponry is mentioned as something that will be detailed in the Master Technician’s Guide, and represent items made from ancient, lost technology, or experimental gear that is analogous to D&D magic items. They can be made, but not reliably mass produced, and may produce more impressive results than the gear commonly available.

Vehicles are touched on in this section, but only to the extent of displaying the price, carrying capacity, and speed of various planetary vehicles. Starships appear later in the book.

Customization Options

The Customization Options detailed in this book deal with multi-classing and introducing feats into the game. Multi-classing allows exceptional characters to start taking levels in a second class to gain some of those benefits, and feats are special abilities that expand a character’s capabilities in one specific area.

Notable to players familiar with 5th edition D&D—Forging and Channeling don’t stack when multiclassing. In other words, in 5th edition D&D, there is a consolidated spell slot progression for spellcasters that multi-class, which can be used for both Arcane and Divine spells. Forging and Channeling don’t work the same in this setting, so while your character can get a special progression chart if you multi-class between, for example, Engineer and Hunter, or Melder and Adept, an Engineer/Adept would be limiting their progression in both Forging and Channeling.

Feats are similar to the feats that appear in D&D 5th edition. Some of them have effects that often grant a bonus to an ability score and a situational bonus to an ability, as an example. However, there are more feats that modify ranged weapons, explosives, or vehicles.

Using Ability Scores, Adventures and Exploration, and Combat

With very few exceptions, these chapters have the same content as the similarly named D&D chapters in the Player’s Handbook. This section includes how and when to use ability checks, when various skills apply, outlines of what exploration or social resolutions might look like in the game, and rules spelling out how to determine initiative and procedures in combat.

The very minor expansions to the rules involve how high gravity, low gravity, and zero gravity might affect various situations, and those rules are usually very simple and logically extrapolated from how the core OGL rules handle similar situations.

 Starships and Space Travel

The Starships and Space Travel chapter details the various size of ships, how combat differs for starships versus ground based combat, and gives some sample stat blocks for smaller ships, as well as NPC stats for ships of those same sizes.

Combat works very similar to ground based combat, except that all the characters on a ship act collectively. Characters can perform various maneuvers that can either target their own ship, or a ship within sensor range of the ship, and depending on the maneuvers used, those maneuvers may allow allies to use a bonus action to do something, or allow an enemy to spend a reaction to mitigate the effects of a maneuver.

Ships stats are directly affected by pilots and engineers on the ship. For example, the ship has a base defense score, modified by the pilot’s wisdom, and the ship’s hull points have a base level, modified by the intelligence bonus of the engineer on the ship. Ships also have Hull dice, which function in a manner like Hit Dice for characters. Under certain circumstances, crew members might be able to spend Hull dice to repair the ship in combat, but the ship needs to make port and get repairs to restore its Hull dice.

Starship combat always seems to be a sticking point for science fiction settings, where characters can easily run out of things they can do to contribute to the overall game. I like the maneuver system, how characters assigned to roles can affect ship stats, and how maneuvers can generate options for reactions and bonus actions, so I’m optimistic that this will be a robust and dynamic system for starship fights that doesn’t leave too many players without something interesting to do. Although the initiative turns change from individual turns to ship turns, it also feels like it does a good job of still utilizing the same concepts and action economy present in the rest of the game.

Esper Powers

This chapter details special rules that involve triggering and using Esper Powers, as well as detailing the many Esper Powers in the game. There is more detail on how Channeling varies from Forging in this section, including different options available to power users of each type.

Lower level Forging powers often have enhanced effects if triggered with higher level slots, but all it takes to trigger a Forging power at higher level is to use the higher-level slot. Channelers, on the other hand, can eventually trigger powers at a higher level than 5th level, but they can only do so a limited number of times per day (even if they have the points to trigger them), and must make a special saving throw to see if they can do it successfully, suffering consequences if they fail.

I am unsure what is gained from changing the “safe” range for Channeling, and how to trigger higher level slots. While it gives that set of powers a unique feel, it also introduces the ability to take penalties and lose the points used to trigger a power without gaining any benefit if the save is failed. I feel like it may be a disincentive to playing higher level Channelers if the only “safe” course of action is to only use 5th level or lower abilities consistently. It seems like it would be the equivalent of making a wizard roll a concentration check for any 6th level or higher spell any time they cast them, with the consequence of them not only failing to cast the spell, but losing the spell slot.

This section has another example of a “flavor change” that is simple, but really conveys the difference between genres. Instead of spells that can be cast as rituals, which take longer to cast but don’t expend a spell slot, some Esper powers can be used “Conventionally,” meaning that the device you have on you can utilize the power as part of its normal function, it just takes longer to do so without pumping extra cosmic juice through the device.

The Galaxy

This section of the book gives a very broad sketch of the setting. There are explanations of various regions, corporations, and power groups that operate in the galaxy. There is a color map showing the relative position of the various regions in the galaxy.

The Crucibles, giant moon sized devices built by an extinct civilization, are synched in such a way to allow a galactic standard year. The Crucibles are mined for Sorium, which allows for the most advanced devices in the galaxy to work, and FTL drives can latch onto the location of a Crucible to transport from one Crucible to another.

Finding and activating new Crucibles is a big deal, since it expands the capacity for reliable space travel, and provides a new source for Sorium. Sorium seems to renew, if it isn’t extracted faster than it can regenerate, but control of the power source for almost every advanced device in the galaxy is a major motivator, and the more active Crucibles, the more Sorium can be harvested without worrying about exceeding the Crucible’s capacity to produce more.

I really like the Crucibles and Sorium as a source for the extraordinary powers in the setting, because it provides a good corollary to magic in the OGL rules, while still latching onto an established trope in the space opera genre—the lost, ancient alien culture that was way beyond anyone in the current era.

Appendix A, B, C and D

The appendices to the Core Manual include a summary of conditions, stats for various threats, inspirational material, and the list of Kickstarter contributors and play testers.

The threats that appear in Appendix B are examples of creatures that can be summoned by powers or bonded to characters due to class features, although several of them can serve as examples of what threats look like in the setting. One side effect of seeing the stats for various threats is to highlight that the Core Manual doesn’t explain much about the various creature types. They are mentioned in the Hunter class entry, and they are assigned to various threats here, but we really don’t know why Spyders are Netherants, for example.

I particularly like that the Inspirational Material in Appendix C includes not only books, but also graphic novels, manga, motion pictures, anime, television, and video games. While just about any roleplaying game published in the modern era could include a wide range of media for influences, science fiction, especially, spans a wide range of storytelling media.

Reviewer’s Log—Supplemental

Over the years, I’ve developed a very specific opinion on Dungeons and Dragons and how it emulates genre. Dungeons and Dragons is generally not the best game to play any specific setting that wasn’t created FOR Dungeons and Dragons. As written (not referring to an adaption like Adventures in Middle-earth), D&D isn’t the best game to run a game in the Hyborean Age, Nehwon, Narnia, Middle-earth, or Westeros. However, it is one of the best games to play if you want to get a taste of multiple styles of fantasy in one game system. Dungeons and Dragons creates its own subgenre by blending in elements from multiple other subgenres.

Esper Genesis does something similar with science fiction. It isn’t a game system to run Star Wars, Star Trek, The Expanse, or Asimov’s Foundation series with. It does appear to be appealing to those that may want at least a taste of multiple settings in their science fiction, creating its own form of hybrid space opera from the elements of the best examples of the form.

In fact, if I were to point out existing science fiction settings that are close to the baseline assumptions of the setting of Esper Genesis, it would be the settings in video games like Mass Effect or Destiny, likely because those video games are attempting to do the same thing—synthesize a level based gaming experience from the tropes of the best of space opera media.

Genesis It is easy to find a cross-section of archetypes from some of your favorite science fiction in this game, and if you already understand the 5th edition OGL rules, the learning curve is low. Share29Tweet14+11Reddit1Email

There are several places where Esper Genesis does an amazing job of taking the structure of something that exists in Dungeons and Dragons and re-flavoring it perfectly to space opera. The Cybermancer, for example, it just similar enough to something that exists that you can see its basis, but diverges enough that you don’t constantly think that it is just a re-skinned Warlock. The species strike a great balance between playing on tropes and being too familiar. The starship rules do a great job of using existing templates from the games rules and doing something just a little bit different with them, making them feel familiar but customized to work in a special circumstance. The overall conceits of the setting, with the ancient alien technology, the Crucibles, and the Sorium, all feel like they have a science fiction story behind them, while also being a perfect bridge to explaining “magic” and “magic items” in this setting.

Genesis Wave

There are a few places where race and gender are used, where the science fiction setting would have been a perfect place to use more precise and proper terms like species and sex. For all the places where the book does a good job balancing changing an element versus a more direct adaption, I’m not sure that the higher-level Channeling rules tell a story with the rules that need to be told. Even though it is beyond the book’s scope to provide detailed rules on threats, an explanation of creature types would have been nice, since they are mentioned in multiple places.

Qualified Recommendation–A product with lots of positive aspects, but buyers may want to understand the context of the product and what it contains before moving it ahead of other purchases.

If you don’t like the underlying rules of Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition, or level based RPGs in general, this will not be the game that changes your mind. It very intentionally, and very skillfully, recreates the 5th edition D&D experience for a new genre.

If you like d20 based systems, and want one that does a good job of playing with the tropes of space opera, this is a game you will likely enjoy picking up. It is easy to find a cross-section of archetypes from some of your favorite science fiction in this game, and if you already understand the 5th edition OGL rules, the learning curve is low.

What are your favorite science fiction RPGs? Do you prefer your space exploration to lean more towards hard science fiction, or space opera? Do you like having a wide range of well-defined careers in your science fiction games, or do you want a more open selection of skills and talents? Let me know in the comments, I’d be glad to hear from you!

Categories: Game Theory & Design

ComputerMinds.co.uk: Including form values in an email

Planet Drupal - 26 June 2018 - 4:46am

Let's say you've built a custom form for your Drupal 8 site. It contains various elements for input (name, email address, a message, that kind of thing), and you want to send the submitted values in an email to someone (perhaps a site admin). That's a pretty common thing to need to do.

This could be done with Drupal's core contact forms, webforms, or similar -- but there are cases when a bespoke form is needed, for example, to allow some special business logic to be applied to its input or the form presentation. The drawback of a custom form is that you won't get nice submission emails for free, but they can be done quite easily, with the token module (you'll need that installed).

In your form's submission handler, send an email using the mail manager service (I'll assume you can already inject that into your form, read the documentation if you need help with that):

<?php $params = [ 'values' => $form_state->getValues(), ]; // The 'plugin.manager.mail' service is the one to use for $mailManager. $mailManager->mail('mymodule', 'myform_submit', 'admin@example.com, 'en', $params);

Then create a hook_mail() in your .module file, with a matching key ('myform_submit' in my example):

<?php /** * Implements hook_mail(). */ function mymodule_mail($key, &$message, $params) { switch ($key) { case 'myform_submit': $token_service = \Drupal::token(); $token_data = [ 'array' => $params['values'], ]; // In this example, put the submitted value from a 'first_name' element // into the subject. $subject = 'Submission from [array:value:first_name]'; $message['subject'] = $token_service->replace($subject, $token_data, ['clear' => TRUE]); // Each submitted value can be included in the email body as a token. My // form had 'first_name', 'last_name', 'color' and 'birthdate' elements. $body = <<>>; $message['body'] = [ $token_service->replace($body, $token_data, ['clear' => TRUE]), ]; break; } }

Spot the [array:value:thing] tokens! Using these 'array' tokens makes it really easy to include the whatever input gets submitted by visitors to this custom form on your Drupal site. Note that there's no sanitization done - although if your email is just plain text, that's probably not a problem.

There are more array tokens you can use too, such as ones to return a comma-separated list of all items in an array, a count of items, or just the first/last item. See the original issue for examples. These tokens are available in Token's Drupal 7 version too!

Categories: Drupal

NetCore SMS Integration

New Drupal Modules - 26 June 2018 - 3:48am
Categories: Drupal

Drupal Europe: Agency Business track at Drupal Europe

Planet Drupal - 26 June 2018 - 3:13am
photo: Paul Johnson @ flickr

Drupal is our business.

Regardless of being a freelancer, a two person shop or a hundred plus agency, Drupal is vital to our success in growing and supporting our business.

The business ecosystem is changing rapidly, thereby making it a necessity for agency leaders, managers and advisors to focus on a multitude of challenges and opportunities.

Understanding how the marketplace is evolving, driving innovation, fostering the right company culture, and adopting efficient project management methodologies, are all challenges faced by businesses today.

We all want to transform our business by working with the smartest team, create and deliver amazing projects, and have ideal customers lining up to work with us.

Any Drupal conference cannot be complete without in-depth discussions and debates about these challenges and more.

What is this track about?

The Agency Business track will provide insight, support and real stories from people running businesses and managing projects. Learn about other people’s experiences, and get tips and ideas on how to tackle the challenges faced in your business or project.

Come to this track to learn / speak aboutPhoto: Michael Cannon @ FlickrAgency growth

Growing and scaling your business can be a tricky and daunting task. We need to consider strategies for how to grow our businesses, and how to do so sustainably.

With increased competition from both other agencies and other platforms, we need to look at not only how we generate new leads for our businesses, but how do we convince potential clients that Drupal is the best, that we are the best?

Leadership and Culture

What is the right company culture for my business? How can I better lead my agency through the challenges ahead? How can I provide good leadership to my team? How can we grow and scale our business, without losing our company culture along the way? These are just some of the questions we will look to answer in the Agency Business track.

Operations

Project management is a bit of a juggling act, with many different needs and tasks that need to be taken care of simultaneously. We’re always on the look-out for ways to increase a project’s effectiveness and efficiency, while reducing the risk of it getting out of control. Let’s share our experiences and ideas on how we can improve project planning, better manage timelines & budgets, and keep staff motivated, while all the time keeping clients happy and engaged in the process.

Diversification

Markets change faster and faster, so does our market. We need to adapt our products and offering to stay competitive and minimize our business risks. Perhaps it means diversifying your service offerings, perhaps it means developing a product, perhaps it means extending into new markets or verticals. However, we also need to consider how to keep clients happy and how to continue to meet their changing needs through innovation and/or diversification.

How to get involved

At Drupal Europe, we want to ensure that attendees get the most from this track through highly valuable and insightful sessions. We are looking for speakers to openly and honestly share stories about their challenges and how they solved it. We want to hear about your experiments, successes and failures, process discoveries, strategies, and tactics. We want real-life learnings, supported by facts and figures — prove to us that your way is best.

Want to submit a session under Agency Business Track?

Session submissions are open and will close on 30 June 2018.

Whatever your experience is, whether it be running a small 2 person operation or scaling to 30 and beyond, or managing projects and project teams, we want to hear from you. Your experience and insight is invaluable and we know others will think so too.

Come to Drupal Europe and share your experiences with us — submit a session to the Agency Business track today!

Know a great speaker?

Do you know someone who could be a great speaker? Or perhaps you know someone who has an interesting story to share? If so, please get in touch with the program team at program@drupaleurope.org.

And don’t forget to help us to spread the word about this awesome conference. Our hashtag is #drupaleurope.

We look forward seeing you in Darmstadt!

About Drupal Europe Conference

Drupal is one of the leading open source technologies empowering digital solutions in the government space around the world.

Drupal Europe 2018 brings over 2,000 creators, innovators, and users of digital technologies from all over Europe and the rest of the world together for three days of intense and inspiring interaction.

Location & Dates

Drupal Europe will be held in Darmstadtium in Darmstadt, Germany — with a direct connection to Frankfurt International Airport. Drupal Europe will take place 10–14 September 2018 with Drupal contribution opportunities every day. Keynotes, sessions, workshops and BoFs will be from Tuesday to Thursday.

Categories: Drupal

Specbee: Drupal AMP : An Introduction to Rank Better on Google with Accelerated Mobile Pages

Planet Drupal - 26 June 2018 - 12:59am

Google's AMP is the hottest thing on the internet. With over 25 million website domains that have published over 4 Billion AMP pages, it did not take long for the project to be a huge success. Comprising of two main features; Speed and Support to Monetization of Objects, AMPs implications are far-reaching for enterprise businesses, marketers, e-commerce and every other big and small organizations. With great features and the fact that its origin as a Google Initiative, it is no surprise that the AMP pages get featured in Google SERP more prominently.

Why AMP??

Impacting the technical architecture of digital assets, Google's open source initiative aims to provide streamlined web pages to mobile browsers and other apps.

It is Fast, like Really Fast

AMP loads about twice as fast as a normal comparable mobile page and the latency is as less as one-tenth. Intended to provide the fastest experience for mobile users, customers will be able to access content faster, and they are more likely to stay on the page to make a purchase or enquire about your service because they know it won't take long.

An Organic Boost

Eligibility for the AMP carousal that rests above the other search results on Google SERP, resulting in a substantial increase in organic result and traffic is a major boost for the visibilty of an organization. Though not responsible for increasing the page authority and domain authority, AMP plays a key role in sending far more traffic your way.

ROI

The fact that AMP leverages and not disrupts the existing web infrastructure of a website, makes the cost of adopting AMP quite lesses than the competing technologies. In return, AMP enables better user experience which translates to better conversion rates on mobile devices.

Drupal & AMP

With better user engagement, higher dwell time and its easy to navigate between content benefits, businesses are bound to drive more traffic with AMP-friendly pages and increase their revenue.

Before you begin with the integration of AMP module with Drupal, you need to have 3 things:

AMP Module : The AMP module mainly handles the conversion of regular Drupal HTML pages to AMP-complaint pages.

Two main components of AMP module:

AMP Theme : I'm sure you have come across the AMP HTML and its standards. The one that are responsible for your content to look effective and perform well on mobile. The AMP theme produces the mark up required by these standards for websites looking to perform well in the mobile world. Also, AMP theme allows creation of custom-made AMP pages.

AMP PHP Library : Consisting of the AMP base theme and the ExAMPle sub-theme, the AMP PHP Library handles the final corrections. Users can also create their own AMP sub-theme from scratch, or modify the default ExAMPle sub-theme for their specific requirements.

How to setup AMP with Drupal?

Before you integrate AMP with Drupal, you need to understand that AMP does not replace your entire website. Instead, at its essence, the AMP module provides a view mode for content types, which is displayed when the browser asks for an AMP version.

Categories: Drupal

Words on a Screen: Game Length

RPGNet - 26 June 2018 - 12:00am
How long should a PbP game be?
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Ubisoft CEO: Our goal is provoke thought, not to make political statements

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 25 June 2018 - 11:34am

"We don't want to say, 'Do that, think like this,'" explains Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot. "Our goal is to make sure, after playing, you're more aware." ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

An object at rest

Adventures in Interactive FIction - 17 May 2008 - 2:03pm

So obviously, the pendulum of progress stopped swinging on my game.  As much as I tried to prevent it, pressing obligations just wouldn’t take a back seat (nor would the burglars who, a few weeks ago, stole 90% of my wardrobe and who last week stole my monitor).  So after a string of hectic weekends and even crazier weeks, this weekend has been pretty wide open for doing whatever I want to do.  And not a moment too soon!

So after doing all the other things I try to do with my weekends, I finally loaded up the ol’ Inform 7 IDE and started working on my game.  To get me back in the swing of things, so to speak, I started reading through what I’d already written.  It was an interesting experience.

Strangely, what impressed me most was stuff I had done that I have since forgotten I learned how to do.  Silly little things, like actions I defined that actually worked, that had I tried to write them today, probably would have had me stumped for a while.  Go me!  Except, erm, I seem to have forgotten more than I’ve retained.

I also realized the importance of commenting my own code.  For instance, there’s this snippet:

A thing can be attached or unattached. A thing is usually unattached. A thing that is a part of something is attached.

The problem is, I have no idea why I put it in there – it doesn’t seem relevant to anything already in the game, so I can only imagine that I had some stroke of genius that told me I was going to need it “shortly” (I probably figured I’d be writing the code the next night).  So now, there’s that lonely little line, just waiting for its purpose.  I’m sure I’ll come across it some day; for now, I’ve stuck in a comment to remind myself to stick in a comment when I do remember.

It reminds me of all the writing I did when I was younger.  I was just bursting with creativity when I was a kid, constantly writing the first few pages of what I was sure was going to be a killer story.  And then I’d misplace the notebook or get sidetracked by something else, or do any of the million other things that my easily distracted self tends to do.  Some time later, I’d come across the notebook, read the stuff I’d written and think, “Wow, this is great stuff!  Now… where was I going with it?”  And I’d never remember, or I’d remember and re-forget.  Either way, in my mother’s attic there are piles and piles of notebooks with half-formed thoughts that teem with potential never to be fulfilled.

This situation – that of wanting to resume progress but fumbling to pick up the threads of where I left off –  has me scouring my memory for a term I read in Jack London’s Call of the Wild.  There was a part in the book where Buck’s owner (it’s late, his name has escaped me) has been challenged to some sort of competition to see if Buck can get the sled moving from a dead stop.  I seem to remember that the runners were frozen to the ground.  I thought the term was “fast break” or “break fast” or something to that effect, but diligent (does 45 seconds count as diligent?) searching has not confirmed this or provided me with the right term.  Anyway, that’s how it feels tonight – I feel as if I’m trying to heave a frozen sled free from its moorings.

The upside is, I am still pleased with what I have so far.  That’s good because it means I’m very likely to continue, rather than scrap it altogether and pretend that I’ll come up with a new idea tomorrow.  In the meantime, I’ll be looking for some SnoMelt and a trusty St. Bernard to get things moving again.

Categories:

Time enough (to write) at last…

Adventures in Interactive FIction - 14 April 2008 - 3:24pm

So I didn’t get as much coding done over the weekend as I had hoped, mainly because the telephone company *finally* installed my DSL line, which meant I was up til 5:30 Saturday am catching up on the new episodes of Lost.  That, in turn, meant that most of the weekend was spent wishing I hadn’t stayed up until such an ungodly hour, and concentration just wasn’t in the cards.

However, I did get some stuff done, which is good.  Even the tiniest bit of progress counts as momentum, which is crucial for me.  If the pendulum stops swinging, it will be very hard for me to get it moving again.

So the other day, as I was going over the blog (which really is as much a tool for me as it is a way for me to share my thoughts with others), I realized I had overlooked a very basic thing when coding the whole “automatically return the frog to the fuschia” bit…

As the code stood, if the player managed to carry the frog to another room before searching it, the frog would get magically returned to the fuschia.  This was fairly simple to resolve, in the end – I just coded it so that the game moves (and reports) the frog back to fuschia before leaving the room.  I also decided to add in a different way of getting the key out of the frog – in essence, rewarding different approaches to the same problem with success.

Which brings me to the main thrust of today’s post.  I have such exacting standards for the games I play.  I love thorough implementation.  My favorite games are those that build me a cool gameworld and let me tinker and explore, poking at the shadows and pulling on the edges to see how well it holds up.  A sign of a good game is one that I will reopen not to actually play through again, but to just wander around the world, taking in my surroundings.  I’ve long lamented the fact that relatively few games make this a rewarding experience – even in the best games, even slight digging tends to turn up empty, unimplemented spots.

What I am coming to appreciate is just how much work is involved in the kind of implementation I look for.  Every time I pass through a room’s description, or add in scenery objects, I realize just how easy it is to find things to drill down into.  Where there’s a hanging plant, there’s a pot, dirt, leaves, stems, wires to hang from, hooks to hang on, etc.  Obviously, unless I had all the time in the world, I couldn’t implement each of these separately, so I take what I believe to be the accepted approach and have all of the refer to the same thing.  Which, in my opinion, is fine.  I don’t mind if a game has the same responses for the stems as it does for the plant as a whole, as long as it has some sort of relevant response.  Even so, this takes a lot of work.  It might be the obsessive part of me, but I can’t help but think “What else would a person think of when looking at a hanging plant?”

Or, as I’ve come to think of it:  WWBTD?

What Would Beta Testers Do?

I’ve taken to looking at a “fully” implemented room and wondering what a player might reasonably (and in some cases unreasonably) be expected to do.  This is a bit of a challenging process for me – I already know how my mind works, so trying to step outside of my viewpoint and see it from a blind eye is hard.   I should stop for a second to note that I fully intend to have my game beta tested once it reaches that point, but the fewer obvious things there are for testers to trip over, the more time and energy they’ll have for really digging in and trying to expose the weaknesses I can’t think of.

I’ve found one resource that is both entertaining and highly informative to me:  ClubFloyd transcripts.  ClubFloyd, for the uninitiated (a group among which I count myself, of course) is a sort of cooperative gaming experience — if anyone who knows better reads this and cares to correct what may well be a horrible description, by all means!– where people get together on the IFMud and play through an IF title.  The transcripts are both amusing and revealing.  I recently read the Lost Pig transcript and it was quite interesting.  The things people will attempt to do are both astonishing and eye-opening.  In the case of Lost Pig (which, fortunately, I had already played before reading the transcript), what was even more amazing was the depth of the game itself.  I mean, people were doing some crazy ass stuff – eating the pole, lighting pants on fire, and so on.  And it *worked*.  Not only did it work, it was reversible.  You obviously need the pole, so there’s a way to get it back if, in a fit of orc-like passion, you decide to shove it in down Grunk’s throat.

Anyway, my point is, the transcripts gave me a unique perspective on the things people will try, whether in an effort to actually play the game, to amuse themselves, or to amuse others.  Definitely good stuff to keep in mind when trying to decide, say, the different ways people will try to interact with my little porcelain frog.

Other Stuff I Accomplished

So I coded in an alternate way to deal with the frog that didn’t conflict with the “standard” approach.  I also implemented a few more scenery objects.  Over the course of the next few days, I’m going to try to at least finish the descriptions of the remaining rooms so that I can wander around a bit and start really getting to the meat of it all.  I also want to work on revising the intro text a bit.  In an effort to avoid the infodumps that I so passionately hate, I think I went a little too far and came away with something a bit too terse and uninformative.  But that’s the really fun part of all of this – writing and re-writing, polishing the prose and making it all come together.

Whattaya know.  Midnight again.  I think I’m picking up on a trend here.

Categories:

Day Nothing – *shakes fist at real life*

Adventures in Interactive FIction - 8 April 2008 - 12:13pm

Grrr… I’ve been so bogged down in work and client emergencies that progress on the game is at a temporary (no, really!  Only temporary) standstill.  I’ve managed to flesh out a few more room and scenery descriptions, but have not accomplished anything noteworthy in a few days.  Hopefully after this week most of the fires on the work front will be extinguished, and I’ll have time to dive into the game this weekend.

(She says to no one, since there’s been one hit on this blog since… it started.)

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