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Zynga's online gambling COO has left the company

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 15 September 2014 - 4:12am

Two years after Zynga added Maytal Ginzburg Olsha as its chief operating officer of new markets, the online gambling veteran has left the social games company. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

DrupalCon Amsterdam: DrupalCon for Designers

Planet Drupal - 15 September 2014 - 2:54am

Unlike DrupalCon Austin, there is no separate UX track at DrupalCon Amsterdam. Ruben and I had to balance both design and development into one track. It was challenging, but it forced us to be really careful about every decision remade.

We really wanted there to be an overlap between sessions, frontend development and design are closer than ever in the workplace, so we wanted to reflect that in our session line up.

Here are a few sessions we think complement each other really well.

The State of the Frontend

Not sure what to learn or where to start in frontend development? Let David and Brian guide you through the landscape, introducing new tools and techniques.

We've also planned this session as an introduction to the entire track, pointing signposts towards other sessions in that track that can fill in more in-depth knowledge about particular subjects. I would encourage everyone with an interest in frontend development to attend the session if only to better understand which sessions in the frontend track are right for them.

We also have a few session that compliment and feed in to each other. Here are a few sessions we think work really well together.

Because it's about the interactions. (Better UX through prototyping) & Axure Prototyping for Drupal

How do we shift from an old design process to a new one while keeping our clients and team members happy? Roy Scholten, UX co-maintainer for Drupal Core, walks us through why prototyping is a better way to design and how to introduce this into your work life.

Then, in Axure Prototyping for Drupal, Dani Nordin takes us on a deep dive of Axure, a prototyping tool you can use without coding. I've been using it recently on a client project and I've been impressed with the way it introduces some concepts of frontend development without asking you to write code.

The Future of HTML and CSS

As a designer, knowing the limits and capabilities of your medium is important, also it means you can call your developers out when they hit you with “That's not possible” which is fun. If you're interested in seeing where web browsers are heading and finding new tricks to add to your repertoire, Preston's talk on The Future of HTML and CSS should be a treat.

Getting a CLUE at the Command Line

As a designer/front-end dev, I've never had a formal education on the command line, it's always been something I've picked up as I've needed it. It used to scare me. This is me using the command line a few years ago:

I'm so happy Emma Jane is talking on the command line in Getting a CLUE at the Command Line in the same vein as her introduction to Git at DrupalCon Prague last year. The command line is an immensely powerful and productive tool and I'm looking forward to picking up a few tips.

Open Source Design

Something I've struggled with, both in my day job and as the maintainer of Drupal's admin theme is how do we bring successful design together with Open Source. I'm really happy that Jan-C. Borchardt, agreed to speak at DrupalCon and share his knowledge and experience with us. Jan is a big supporter of usability and design in free and open source software, with projects including A guide to Usability in Free Software, OwnCloud, Libre Projects, and the brilliant Terms of Service; Didn't Read.

It's really important for Drupal for us to gain insight from people outside the community and learn from other projects. Thanks again Jan for agreeing to speak! I can't wait!

--
Lewis Nyman (LewisNyman)
DrupalCon Amsterdam Frontend Track Chair

Categories: Drupal

MariqueCalcus: Drush

Planet Drupal - 15 September 2014 - 12:30am

Dru(pal)sh(ell) is an essential tool if you are working with Drupal intensively. If you don't know it yet, Drush is command line shell and scripting interface for Drupal. It helps you to quickly perform various administation and maintenance tasks using only a terminal. If you are not convinced, you should probably install it and give it a try. You won't regret it. It's awesome and will save you headaches, time and again more time. If you are using Drush, you must have been using the command "drush cc all" like a million time. I have. But Drush can do much more.

Read More...
Categories: Drupal

Fuzzy Thinking: King Me!

RPGNet - 15 September 2014 - 12:00am
Wrong fuzzy game!
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Field Library

New Drupal Modules - 14 September 2014 - 11:59pm
Overview

Field library allows you to build up a library of pre-configured field-api fields.
You can then add these fields to other fieldable entities in bulk.
This is ideal for modules like Entity Form where several forms may share common fields.

Features

Create your own library of field bundles.
Easily add a bundle of fields to any fieldable entity type.
Edit the fields after adding them.

Requirements

Ctools

Categories: Drupal

Károly Négyesi: Drupal 8 progress from my / MongoDB perspective: update #29

Planet Drupal - 14 September 2014 - 3:47pm

Perhaps the most important development is the final naming of what was field/field instance in Drupal 7: in Drupal 8 these are configuration entities. The machine names are field_storage_config and field_config. There has been several renames but we have settled on these finally (although the field_config rename is not yet in). It does reflect the most important difference between them: field storage contains everything pertaining to the storage of the field. The things that do not change the storage of it go into the instance. However, some confusion might come from already existing Drupal 8 documentation and other materials where field_config was the name for what ended up as field_storage_config.

In other rename news, entity storage/list/form/render "controllers" are now handlers. This probably decreases confusion as controllers are used by the router system to deliver the page content.

Migrate now tracks the whether a migration has been run or not. Previously we were guessing from the id mappings -- but if a source returned zero rows we couldn't really say whether the migration ran or not. Now we could clarify for real what are hard dependencies and what are optional. In the Drupal 6 migration, there are few optional ones which is just as it should be.

There's a Views migration in the works. As expected it's really complicated with lots of moving parts but it's coming along nicely.

Only book storage needs entity field query conversion after the epic comment query conversion issue finally got resolved.

One of the child issues of the last beta blocker removes the special casing for SQL storage -- hurray! Instead of requesting the schema of entity tables during module install (and other places) and then creating the tables there are now events on entity type create, update and delete. This makes it possible to create mongodb indexes cleanly.

Categories: Drupal

d7One: Step by step guide to installing Commerce from scratch

Planet Drupal - 14 September 2014 - 11:50am
The following guide was used in a presentation at DrupalCamp Montreal 2014. The presentation focused on how to install Drupal Commerce from scratch. FIRST FLOOR
  1. https://www.drupal.org/project/commerce
  2. Install required modules
    • drush dl ctools views entity rules addressfield commerce
    • drush en ctools views entity rules addressfield commerce -y
Tags:
Categories: Drupal

Steve Purkiss: Case Study - NickJr. Colour CMS & API - Feedback sought!

Planet Drupal - 14 September 2014 - 11:00am
Sunday, 14th September 2014Case Study - NickJr. Colour CMS & API - Feedback sought!

It's been an embarrassing amount of time since I last blogged or did anything to my site so I've started to create some content, but before I submit it as a case study on Drupal's site I'd love to have some feedback, it's been years since I wrote case studies so a little rusty. Is it of interest? Does it help? Does it answer the right questions? Are there any questions you'd like me to answer?

Brief overview

Viacom’s Nick Jr. is a digital television channel aimed younger children, home to popular shows including Dora the Explorer, Angelina Ballerina, and PAW Patrol. 'Colour' is a section of the Nick Jr. website where, daily, tens of thousands of users interact with predefined line-art drawings using paint brushes and stickers. They can then, if they wish to, send pictures they create to their friends via email. The mostly Flash-based front-end currently connects to a legacy back-end system which is being replaced with Drupal.

Completed Drupal site or project URL

http://www.nickjr.co.uk/create/#!/colour

Why Drupal was chosen

Drupal's core and contributed modules along with customisable web administration interface provided all the functionality required out-of-the-box and is already used widely throughout the organisation.

Describe the project (goals, requirements and outcome) Project Goals

The goal of this project was to provide a bespoke back-end CMS based on Drupal to replace the legacy system, along with introducing new functionality enabling Send to Gallery and Pic of the Week features. The CMS needed to as simple as possible for content managers to use, and the whole system had to be able to cope with the tens of thousands of users using the API on a daily basis.

Deliverables

The site was to be delivered as a Drupal install profile so it can be adapted and re-used – an initial step towards creating internal Nickelodeon-specific distributions of Drupal, further lowering costs and time-to-market for future projects with similar requirements. Purkiss built a similar system a few months prior for Universal Artists uView Augmented Reality App and have extensive experience integrating Drupal with 3rd party services so were ideally placed to deliver this type of Drupal project.

Theme

First we set up the install profile with Shiny, the administration theme which comes with Drupal Commerce Kickstart, to be the main theme to the site. Shiny is a great theme for this kind of system where there's really only one main display the content managers interact with – it's easy on the eye with good typography and spacing.

Legacy Migration

We then re-created what functionality was required from the legacy system using Drupal Services – the calls for saving images, retrieving images for a show, etc. There was a major difference here as the legacy system stored all the data in flat XML files with no user data linked. Drupal is a relational database system so we have user accounts, content types and taxonomies – this proved to be an exercise in both education of the client as to the benefits of hooking into the Drupal API, along with re-architecting of the current content model and workflow.

Features

We used a Features-based approach to development with each of these features, along with the install profile, having their own private Git code repository in the cloud in order for issue tracking and maintenance to be easier.

The features we delivered were as follows:

  • Content Types
    • NickJr Colour Image – stores the user’s image along with a Canvas ID which refers to the line art used, a taxonomy field to link to the associated show, and two flags – one to show if the user has sent the image in to Nickelodeon for consideration to be included in the showcase, and one to denote whether it is in the associated show’s showcase.
  • Fields
    • User Profile Fields – extra profile fields to store the user’s name and age.
  • Rules
    • Redirect after login – redirects to the front page view after logging in.
    • Pic of the Week – Views Bulk Operations Component – one rule to set and one to unset an image as Pic of Week
    • Showcase – one to set and one to unset an image as to be in a Show's Showcase
  • Services
    • NickJr. Colour API – the Services settings for the custom API endpoints.
  • Taxonomy
    • Shows Taxonomy – with Pic of the Week field
  • Variables
    • Always harmonize views filters – Allows views to use both contextual and exposed filters for views
  • Views
    • Front Page – Displays all images, defaults to only show images Sent to Nick
    • Showcase – Displays images in showcase, all if no show_id sent through
    • User Profile – Displays users images on their profile page
Schedule

Project timescale and budget was for an incredibly tight 10 days which we delivered in, however were subsequently hired for a further 7 days to re-factor the API and provide a few final additions to the administration interface.

Out-of-the-box, Drupal Services module provide a standard set of API calls so you can do things like create a user, a node, etc. so all the functionality required was there however required a number of calls to the API to achieve the desired workflow. It was decided to spend extra time creating custom API endpoints which would hide this functionality, reduce the number of API calls required, and make it easier for future users of the API.

The downside to this approach is the technical debt introduced when diverting away from the *.drupal.org infrastructure of support, i.e. core and contributed modules. In this instance the code was simply wrapping existing API calls and the client has access to technical resources so the decision was to take on the technical debt in order to produce a more tailored outcome.

Outcome

We used the extra time to create a RESTful API which abstracted away from Drupal Services out-of-the-box API endpoints along with coding an auto account creation system to link up user data from the front-end without users having to enter their email address, a requirement of Drupal’s user account creation. We documented the API using Drupal’s inbuilt help module and passed the system over to the client, helping them through building the system from the Drush make file.

Summary

The resulting system is a clean, simple-to-use CMS with RESTful API handling thousands of users on a daily basis. Content managers have a separate role with very restricted access so can only do what they need to do on the system.

We really enjoyed delivering this project, however alert anyone thinking of building similar to allow extra time, especially if it is their first Drupal experience - no matter how good specifications are, issues usually arise in one form or another. Also often once people do start using Drupal and see the possibilities available, requirements change and it is good to allow for those to be taken into account.

About Purkiss

Purkiss helps organisations onboard Drupal through consultancy, development, training and support. For more information about Purkiss services please visit http://purkiss.com

Modules/Themes/Distributions

boolean_formatter
cors
eva
features
filter_harmonizer
mimemail
rules
services
shiny
smtp
strongarm
views_bulk_operations
views

Why these modules/theme/distribution were chosen
  • boolean_formatter – makes the user interface a little nicer by providing icons for boolean fields such as ticks and crosses
  • CORS – required for connecting to the front-end
  • EVA - we used an Entity Views Attachment to display users pictures on their profiles
  • features - features allows you to export configuration settings to code
  • filter_harmonizer - Views Filter Harmonizer fixes an issue when using multiple filters on views
  • mimemail - used to send images via email
  • rules - as described above, used for redirecting user on login and for custom views bulk operations
  • services - used for the RESTful API
  • shiny - an administration theme we are using for the entire site
  • smtp - for sending email
  • strongarm - for storing variables in features
  • views_bulk_operations - to enable easy workflow, such as adding an image to a showcase
  • views - so we can display the data we want easily
Community contributions

As the API is specific to the client and used mostly existing functionality we had no code to contribute. The only custom code was for automatic account creation and there are existing modules which provide similar functionality which we used the code from but is too specific to this install to re-use externally.

This is however the second time we’ve been asked for this sort of system, and with the growth of mobile apps we are currently working out whether it would be possible to create a distribution which will help get most of the way there - at least have relevant modules and perhaps an example scenario based on the simple image requirements for this project.

tags: case studiesDrupal PlanetPlanet Drupal
Categories: Drupal

mailbox

New Drupal Modules - 13 September 2014 - 11:14pm
Categories: Drupal

Campaign Guide: Plight of the Tuatha

New RPG Product Reviews - 13 September 2014 - 11:15am
Publisher: Mór Games
Rating: 5
This Campaign Guide for the Plight of the Tuatha Adventure Path presents a wealth of information about the setting as well as background to the AP itself, and is well worth getting if you want to run this campaign. Even if you are not, it presents a rich setting ripe for conflict, a place in which adventurers will thrive, the world called Aeliode.

It's all based around the expansionist Avitian Empire. Sometimes they are after rich pickings, but they have been heard to claim that they believe it is their mission, obligation even, to spread the light of civilisation to other lands. And sometimes they just grumble about how wild and untamed the lands beyond their borders are, and want to do something about it.

The first chapter looks at the peoples found here, with four main groups: the Avitians of course, the Ceravossian Republic, an ancient bunch from Tir Ydrail and the Ostmen who live on remote islands in the northern seas. For each there is useful information on favoured professions, how different races fare and the like, background that will be useful to those who come from there or should adventuring take the party into each group's territory. Languages, society, arts, history, physiology - all laid out in concise yet copious detail. There's a lot of variety here, such that an elf, say, from one region, might be quite different from an elf from somewhere else - and yet distinct from a dwarf, gnome of human even from the same region. This creates a feeling of a vibrant community with a rich spread of distinctive groups - much like the real world - which helps to add an air of realism.

Chapter 2: The Gods of Aeliode deals with the deities venerated by all these different peoples. The Ostmen and those in Tir Ydrail each have their own pantheon, whilst the Avitians and Ceravossians both worship two pantheons (the same two, I mean). Then it gets a bit complicated. There are Multi-Planar Religions and the lesser Prime Plane ones. The Multi-Planar gods are more powerful, and tend to pop up in more than one pantheon maybe under different names or worshipped in different ways; the Prime Plane ones are tied to specific locations. And then there are the Natural Religions, which venerate spirits inhabiting the world rather than 'gods'... theologians' heads must hurt! Mechanically, however, clerics gain their spells in the same way as other Pathfinder clerics - this is more deep flavour for those who wish to dig into what is going on behind it all.

Within the Empire, there are gods and saints, and a strong tradition of ancestor worship - not to mention the odd emperor who has proclaimed himself a god as well as specifying which other gods are worthy of worship. This has led to a split between the Orthodox Church and the New Church who both, quite naturally, declare that their belief is the one and only true one. Then there's the True Church, which accepts the emperor as a deity... and has wangled its way into being the state religion. If you enjoy religious conflict or debate, there is plenty of resource material here. Each of the major deities is described in detail, including symbols, beliefs, practices and everything else a regular worshipper or a priest of that deity would be expected to know.

Chapter 3 looks at the Lore of Aeliode. An ancient tale, the Mysteries of Eshu, is recounted. Like many such myths and legends, it is an attempt to explain the world and people's place in it in terms of powers beyond their control. It's quite fascinating, and probably something that any well-educated person will be familiar with.

Chapter 4 is a bit more mechanical, it's a look at Player Options. Things like languages, details of different races, traits (campaign, racial and regional), prestige classes and a few new feats, spells and even a skill - that of interrogation. This covers any kind of questioning from friendly questions and subtle inquires to aggressive questioning under torchlight, or even more aggressive means of questioning (which, I'm glad to say, are left to your imagination. I know what my players would come up with, they can be a nasty lot sometimes!).

Chapter 5 covers Gamemaster Options. You may want to share at least selected bits of the earlier parts of the book with your players, but keep this bit to yourself. It provides all manner of ideas to develop the world further and make it integral to your adventures rather than a backdrop, however fascinating, to adventures that you could run in any campaign world you have to hand. There are some really neat ideas here, well worth studying especially when you are planning your campaign. Many are linked to game mechanics, so giving you a way to administer and adjudicate what is going on as well as spin ever more interesting tales in the shared alternate reality that makes up your game. This includes the War of Words, a way to mix game mechanics with what the characters actually say to make diplomacy and debate something more than mere die rolling yet not leaving it purely down to player eloquence either. There's a whole bunch of well-developed NPCs all ready for use as well.

Finally, Chapter 6 provides some recipes. Described as some of the typical dishes you'd find on Aeliode, these are recipes that you could knock up yourself and eat around the gaming table - perhaps not during the game, but as a social activity before, after or during a break in play. Well, some of them. The one involving the consumption of a whole Ortelan, a bird native to Aeliode, might be a bit hard to arrange, although it's based on a known French recipe in which diners hide under covers to divert the gods' wrath as they consume an entire ortolan bunting, bones and all...

If you are after a rich and well developed world in which to adventure, try this one!
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Rocks - quick and easy - 2D art in inkscape - by Chris Hildenbrand

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 13 September 2014 - 8:04am
Another quick tutorial while I am still reworking the space tutorial. This one is another request - how to create rocks, that don't look like clouds.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

A.I. Lessons: The cost of memories - by Benoit Prezeau

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 13 September 2014 - 2:37am
What I have learned about character memories while working on a CRPG with artificial intelligence.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

A Dissection of Current Gaming Media - by Mike Higbee

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 13 September 2014 - 1:01am
Trying to break down the criticism of what gaming media currently does and the various roles in it.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

'What value do you see in game jams? What have you learned?'

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 12 September 2014 - 4:34pm

They're increasingly popular and seemingly going on all the time. What value do they hold for game developers? We asked our readers. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Redshirt, Hack 'N' Slash among this year's IndieCade finalists

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 12 September 2014 - 12:02pm

This year the IndieCade officials have nominated 36 indie titles for awards, including games from Double Fine, DigiPen, Deirdra "Squinky" Kiai and more. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Servants of Gaius

New RPG Product Reviews - 12 September 2014 - 9:52am
Publisher: Bedrock Games
Rating: 5
The Introduction recounts some of the inspirations for this game, the chief being Robert Graves's I, Claudius and Claudius the God novels, brought to the TV as a mini-series 35 years ago... just when I was taking a classical literature course in high school and discovering the pleasures of Roman history! Based in an alterate history world, this game aims to recreate the intrigue, adventure and mystery of the Roman Empire in its heyday, a heady mix to explore.

Chapter 1: Servants of Gaius goes into more detail of what the game entails. Set in Rome, the core concept is that something threatens the well-being of the Empire and of Caligula the Emperor, and the characters are tasked to deal with it... once they have discovered what it is! City-based intrigue and investigation come to the fore, although the ruleset is suited to any activities in any part of the Roman Empire if such is preferred. History paints Caligula as a self-indulgent cruel madman, but no: he was a great Emperor and indeed a god! Who would not flock to his service, seek to defend him from all ills? With a brief overview of this core plot, the discussion moves on to an outline of the game mechanics, based on those used in other Bedrock Games games - the Network System - but modified to suit this particular game. The core mechanic involves a dice pool of d10s, rolled against a target number (or another dice pool if the attempted action is being opposed by someone else). The number of dice rolled depends on how skilled you are at whatever you are trying to do, and the highest number rolled is compared to the target to determine success or failure. That explained, we hear about the general things that will have to be considered as you create your character and prepare to get to grips with Ancient Rome. This includes matters that may jar against modern minds, a fairly rigid class system and a tendency to view males and females as different. The game has been written according to generally accepted historical principles of what is known of the attitudes of Roman society - but naturally it is up to your group to decide just how historically accurate you want to be.

Next, Chapter 2: Character Creation dives right in to the detailed process as introduced in the overview last chapter. Most works by allocation of skill points, the number you have depending on the Social Class you choose once you have decided on age and gender. You will need to decide what your primary and secondary skills are, as well as a wealth of detail showing just where your character sits within society - the priviliges and obligations of the chosen class, starting money, ancestry, occupation, religion and so on. The chapter then goes into detail on each stage, beginning with a discussion on Roman names and the complicated way in which each individual had a whole string of names. This is followed by the simplified class structure suggested for the game, in which there are but five social classes ranging from Senators to slaves. Each have their advantages and disadvantages, and your choice will depend on what the game master has in mind as well as what sort of character you are thinking of playing. There's a complex system of titles - normally, starting characters will not have a title but may earn one by their efforts during play, but if preferred more experienced characters can be created who already have a title or two.

Skills, which are pivotal in determining what each character can do, come in six groups: Defence, Combat, Knowledge, Specialist, Physical, and Mental. Most are pretty obvious, but Defence is used to protect you against attempts to influence you mentally as well as against physical attack. Moreover, unlike other skills, you do not roll them, instead they provide the target numbers that others need to roll against to attack you. Then follows detailed discussion of every skill available, including notes on when and how you might want to use it. Characters unskilled in an area are not precluded from having a go, they roll 2d10 and take the lower roll as the result. As well as 'mundane' skills, magic works in this reality, and there are a range of magical skills that may be taken based around divination, ritual and sorcery. The first two are perfectly acceptable in polite society. Note that there are no 'attributes' per se, everything is mediated via the skills you choose for your character. For those who want to specialise, to be particularly good at a given area of a skill, there is the option to spend extra points to gain an Expertise, which gives you an extra 1d10 to roll when appropriate.

Another interesting feature is the way in which Allies are handled. Roman tradition includes a network of Patrons and Clients, where those of higher status or wealth took others under their wing. Both parties incur benefits and obligations from the relationship, and each character starts out with a single Ally although he can gain more in the course of play. It is also bound up with Auctoritas, the system whereby you exert influence, gain favours and so on. Starting characters have zero Auctoritas and this develops as he gains experience and renown. A Patron should have more Auctoritas than his Clients. Characters may also select Vices, disadvantages that add to role-playing potential and garner extra skill points.

Next comes Chapter 3: Equipment. It starts with currency and typical wages for different occupations. Next weapons and armour are discussed. Unlike many games, they are not easy to get - only if your occupation is Soldier or Gladiator will you even know where to go, everyone else must role-play finding someone to make what you are after... and they tend to be expensive. Still, most characters get into brawls, so assuming you have got hold of weapons you can find out here how much damage they do. Hazards such as poisons follow, then modes of transportation. This section seems a little jumbled and it can be hard to put your hand on the rule you want in the heat of the moment. The chapter rounds off with clothing and footwear, and other everyday items.

Chapter 4: Rules describes the game mechanics in detail, concentrating on combat and on the use of skills for task resolution. In combat, there are various options depending on how deadly you want combat to be, such as allowing an automatic wound BEFORE you roll damage if a 10 is rolled when you make an attack. There are notes on healing (and dying) and the expected amount of detail on how actual combat proceeds. It is a round-based combat system, with order determined by a Speed Skill roll. Each round you may make a single Skill roll and a move action. The Skill is normally whatever attack you wish to make, Defence does not count as an action (as it is a target, not something you have to roll). If you wish, you may forego a Skill roll to take two moves or to add +1 to your Defence. Whilst combat is covered in fair detail, it is not regarded as a major part of a game that is more about interaction: intrigue and investigation however will upon occasion result in a brawl, however, or of course a bout in the arena may feature in your adventures. Gladatorial matches and chariot races are included (a must for all lovers of Ben Hur!), as are environmental hazards and more normal skill use. There's even a mechanism for abstracting Senate votes, for when the matter is not one for which characters want to make speeches, or if it is a background event when characters are engaged elsewhere. There are also notes on modifying the rules to allow for a particular gritty or an heroic, larger-than-life campaign.

The next chapter - Chapter 5: Running Servants of Gaius - is aimed at the game master, and opens with a discussion on alternate history and how to run it effectively. The default alternate history is that Caligula was a just emperor who had to defend against supernatural threats, and the game is designed to accommodate intrigue, exploration and investigation to that end. Naturally, if you want more combat, conquest or lots of arena action, you can include them. One thing that needs to be avoided is allowing too much real-world knowledge of the history of the Roman Empire to affect events in your game. Things may not happen in this reality in the same way, or according to the same timescale, as they did in the real world. Player-characters may alter the course of history, but cannot, should not do so by using their own knowledge of who did what in the real world. Change events as necessary so that avid historians are as baffled as everyone else! There's plenty of advice on melding history and imagination as you manipulate events; as there is some details on how to ease your characters into the campaign - especially if you choose to use the specific supernatural threat presented as their main opposition in your overarching plotline. The focus on investigation and intrigue do require a fair measure of preparation on the GM's part, after all it is hard to investigate something that isn't there! Intrigue works by understanding the people involved and what they are trying to accomplish, so the work for an intrigue-heavy game will be developing an array of NPCs for the characters to interact with. Ideas flow, and plenty more will be spawned, as you read through these notes as they give the GM quite a lot of food for thought. But be warned, this is not something you will be picking up and playing, this game will repay careful planning and preparation. To aid that, this chapter rounds out with a wealth of resources to mine for ideas and flavour alike - drawning on everything from modern fiction, movies and TV series to the writings of eminent Romans like Suetonius and Tacitus (which are available in translation, you do not need to learn Latin!), as well as historical texts and more.

Chapter 6: Servants of Gaius delves in a lot more detail into the core plotline of the characters being recruited to aid Caligula against a specific supernatural threat and is most definitely GM-only material. It introduces the eponymous organisation that the characters will be recruited into, outlining its structure, ways of working and resources. The mechanics of the organisation are such that it is easy for the GM to direct characters to investigate or get involved in whatever it is that he has prepared for them - very neat! There are plenty of ideas for various sorts of missions that you may wish to assign.

Next, Chapter 7: Characters provides you with a ready-made cast of important figures, drawn from history and laid out with full game statistics ready to take their place in your world. It's followed by Chapter 8: Minions of Neptune, which provides an array of ready-made servants of the opposition forces to counter your characters and their fellow Servants of Gaius. A neat element is that, whilst the threat and opposition is real, its precise nature is left to the GM to determine. Is it a foreign power? Or an individual rival for the Imperial throne? Or is it indeed a god seeking to interfere in the realms of man? Or something else entirely? You decide. And of course, they are not enough on their own. Read Chapter 9: Other Threats for everything from the forces of law and order to wild animals, politicians and gladiators to pit against the characters.

Naturally, in Ancient Rome you do not have to contend merely with other people, wild animals and more exotic monsters. Chapter 10: The Gods is a timely reminder of the interfering ways of the deities of the time. The Romans believed that they often took a personal interest in mortals and, as far as this game is concerned, that is indeed the case! Even if you do not care to have them strolling around, religion played a major part in Roman life, so here is all the information you need to run the cults and temples that feature in everyday life in the Empire.

Chapter 11: Caligula's Rome not only gives an overview of the city which may provide a base for your adventures, it also explains the history and casts an eye over what the future may hold (unless your characters act to change it). The game is set to start in 38AD but of course by then Rome had already amassed a considerable history, which the characters - as good Roman citizens - should be aware of. So here is the sweep of history, as well as notes on what life was like in Rome and indeed the rest of the Empire.

This game bodes fair to provide some exceptional entertainment. It combines a love of the period, one I've shared since schooldays, with a light touch that provides fast and unobtrusive gameplay.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Video: Navigating the moral maze of the new games business

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 12 September 2014 - 9:45am

Games are continually criticized for their portrayal of violence and women, as well as their supposedly addictive nature. But with the advent of free-to-play, for the first time ever the industry is discussing the ethics of a business model. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Commerce Checkout Multilane

New Drupal Modules - 12 September 2014 - 9:39am

Drupal commerce can be adapted to virtually any use-case. At least as long as the checkout process remains roughly the same within one site. If this is not the case, hook_commerce_checkout_pane_info_alter() provides ways to modify pane order and visibility. However, because that alter-hook does not provide any context (e.g. the current shopping cart order) its usefulness is quite limited when it comes to dynamically rearange panes based on shopping cart contents.

Categories: Drupal

Cutting the cloud computing carbon cost

Virtual Reality - Science Daily - 12 September 2014 - 8:24am
Researchers have investigated how cloud computing systems might be optimized for energy use and to reduce their carbon footprint.
Categories: Virtual Reality

TIGA calls for $5 million game development fund in the UK

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 12 September 2014 - 7:26am

UK trade body TIGA has proposed that the British government set up a new Creative Content Fund for video games, investing £3 million ($4.9 million) in game developers each year. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design
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