GWJ Conference Call Episode 242

Conference Call

Live From rabbitcon!, Dread, Fiasco, 7 Wonders, War of The Ring, rabbit's Crazy Virtual Pinball Table, Your Live Questions and more!

This week the whole podcast crew records like from Julian's house! Lots of roleplaying, boardgames, video games, pinball games and maybe even a few reindeer games.

To contact us, email [email protected]! Send us your thoughts on the show, pressing issues you want to talk about or whatever else is on your mind. You can even send a 30 second audio question or comment (MP3 format please) if you're so inclined. You can also submit a question or comment call in to our voicemail line at (612) 284-4563!

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CastMedium
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Good Old Games

Dread RPG
Fiasco
7 Wonders
Mortal Kombat
Hecho
rabbitcon Storify

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

Alpha - (b-sides) - workbench-music.com - 0:30:43

Chandra - (b-sides) - workbench-music.com - 0:48:55

Comments

I saw the photos, but is there any video of that pinball table in action?

I'm working a few things up that will involve video of it in action, but for now, nope. Sorry! Stay tuned!

Fun episode, rabbitcon sounded like a blast -- very jealous!

Here what little pinball footage I grabbed on iPhone. Nothing too exciting, but gives you some ideas. Featuring Rob Borges in the background planning to destroy Chris' high score.

Looking forward to trying Dread and Fiasco

rabbit wrote:

Here's another video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjQ1R...

Wow I was having a great round on that table. Poor Sean, had to wait for me to finish the extra ball.

The pinball sounds were turned off in those videos?

Any pictures (or further impressions) of Battleship Galaxies? That certainly piqued my interest. BGG is light on the details.

Anyone interested in reading my scenario notes for the Dragon Age Dread game can check them out here. Warning: There's a lot of them. A lot. I'm apparently the kind of GM that overprepares, only to then use maybe 10% of what I've prepped.

Still, the gist of the story is there, as well as sample scene scripts, my players' questionnaires, rules explanations, codex entries (you'll see) and more.

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Except if you hate it. Then don't tell me.

I haven't posted in a while.

Great podcast today guys. I too am jealous of the great friends you have, the good times you have and the awesome talent that Rabbit has to fabricate a simply awesome piece of hardware.

Good job all around.

Cheers,
Carl

It was claimed that the reason nobody sells commercial versions of the virtual pinball tables is because the software is open source. Visual Pinball uses a really weird and unusual open source license that prohibits this, but open source in general does not.

What people usually mean by 'open source' is either GPL or BSD/MIT license: both of which allow for incorporating into commercial products. So saying it's because of 'open source' is misleading, it's because of the license.

The Wikipedia page on this license actually says it is not considered open source:

Due to the prohibition on commercial distribution MAME does not fulfill the criteria of free software as defined by the Free Software Foundation; nor does it meet the conditions of the Open Source Definition.

I guess the authors don't want someone making huge amount of money on top of their work -- but why not let other people make money off it! Unless the authors plan on opening a factory themselves, or plan on licensing it in the future? They should just GPL it so that people have to release improvements into the wild, but if they want to sell it with hardware pre-built, it'd be okay. So like linux -- products like Tivo and your wireless router can run it, and still be commercial products.

Finn,

The reason is quite simple: Mame and PinMame (the software thats underneath the DMD displays) and Visual Pinball live in a gray area of copyright. Virtually all of the machines, both pinball and arcade, are long out of commercial release. Legally, on order to sell a Mame cabinet, you'd need to license each individual rom for each game you put on the machine, and indeed, there are licensed mame cabinets available. While I'm unaware of any lawsuits, I do know some scrappy commercial Mame endeavors HAVE been asked to shut down. The open source (or whatever you want to call them) teams who contribute their code are wary of commercial products mostly because of this fear of crackdown. To make things more complicated, my VP cabinet relies on the following bits of software all talking to each other, some of which doesn't even have license language included in the non-open source binaries:

Visual Pinball (2 versions, under 2 different licenses, I believe)
Virtual PinMAME (a separate project)
ROMs (all under their own abandoned licenses)
Tables (collections of art assets and code, made by individuals, who sometimes assert licenses of their own in their installations)
Fonts/Soundfiles (each, presumably, with their own IP issues)
UltraVP (runs backglasses, hacker project for the most part)
Joy2Key and AutoHotkey (each with their own commercial license)
HyperPin (commercial)
LEDWiz (runs the flashers/solenoids)

By contrast, Mame requires Mame, and maybe a front end.

But really, its ROMs that are the issue, and Pinball is in an even sketchier position than Mame. Stern's the only commercial pinball guy standing, and has said publicly (in part through stuff I've written), that he's in favor of anything that promotes physical pinball play. He hasn't legally licensed Stern IP for folks to make virtual, but he's effectively turned a public blind eye.

Bally/Midway, who owns probably 80% of the IP that virtual pinball is based off of, is another matter. They went bankrupt, and firesaled assets, mostly to Warner. Whether the rom/artwork licenses for a specific table are in the Warner catalog, who the hell knows, its a mess. They've certainly made no noises about getting back in the arcade/pinball business, so the assumption is, unless there's a console port or an IP extension to be made (Mortal Kombat, for instance) they probably will just ignore people.

But if someone madea commercial success selling VP tables based on Warner IP? I imagine they'd come down with a giant hammer.

All of that just rolls up into agreeing with you -- yes, it's about the license, but not just the underlying software licenses. All that said, there is one commercial option: VirtuaPin. VirtuaPin is completely licensed, killer hardware, and MOST of the software set up. You still need to get in and install your own tables, but all the hard parts are done. Starts at $5k and goes up.

And last -- because of the complex interactions here, there's nothing plug and play about this. That's part of the allure for me, honestly, it's like a nerd hotrod. I LIKE fiddling and soldering and troubleshooting. But every minor table revision/software update/hardware change is a command-line level bit of work. My guess is I put 200-300 hours of work into the cabinet over the last year, and I'd guess 40% of that was at the keyboard. You can certainly get VP running on your laptop much more easily than that. I imagine most folks coild get a table running in 20 minutes from googling how. But once you start going to 3 screens, with real hardware inputs and real hardware outputs (solenoids/flashers/motors/strobes), its a table-by-table tweakathon.

KaterinLHC wrote:

Anyone interested in reading my scenario notes for the Dragon Age Dread game can check them out here. Warning: There's a lot of them. A lot. I'm apparently the kind of GM that overprepares, only to then use maybe 10% of what I've prepped.

Still, the gist of the story is there, as well as sample scene scripts, my players' questionnaires, rules explanations, codex entries (you'll see) and more.

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Except if you hate it. Then don't tell me. :)

Thank you for this. I always enjoy sneaking a look into other GM's notebooks.

KaterinLHC wrote:

Anyone interested in reading my scenario notes for the Dragon Age Dread game can check them out here. Warning: There's a lot of them. A lot. I'm apparently the kind of GM that overprepares, only to then use maybe 10% of what I've prepped.

Still, the gist of the story is there, as well as sample scene scripts, my players' questionnaires, rules explanations, codex entries (you'll see) and more.

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Except if you hate it. Then don't tell me. :)

Dreadon Age LHC? (As good as any Dragon Age DLC, just ask Certis)

I wish GWJ would provide links to all the things they talk about in the podcast! What was the name of the "battleship in space" game they talked about? And that "Lord of the Rings" one? And the Jack The Ripper one....

I seem to recall Mr Sands being fairly dismissive of pinball at some point in the past, he was preaching with the fervour of the recently converted at rabbitcon.

Great episode, rabbit when I heard about the virtual pinball table many months ago I was pretty dismissive, yet hopeful that it would work. Corey mentions that an earlier iteration was less than impressive and that was what I expected, but when you mentioned the car solenoids I became more impressed. The tactility and feedback of a pinball table is critical and it sounds like you've nailed it.

I'm jealous of the machine, but not jealous of the work to build it and make it work.

Sorry rabbit, but that strobe light thing cracked me up a bit.

As soon as rabbit mentioned the word 'strobe' I knew what was coming. Poor dude.

dominici wrote:

I wish GWJ would provide links to all the things they talk about in the podcast! What was the name of the "battleship in space" game they talked about? And that "Lord of the Rings" one? And the Jack The Ripper one....


War Of The Ring
Letters From Whitechapel

I don't remember the name of the battleship game.

This episode made such an impression on me that, last night, I dreamed I was at rabbitcon. More specifically, I dreamed that I was playing video games in rabbit's basement, which was a huge amazing retro-arcade.

Ironically, the virtual pinball table wasn't nearly as cool as the real one looks in those videos.

Poop. War of the Ring is out of print, and the new edition won't be available until September.

Tanglebones wrote:

Poop. War of the Ring is out of print, and the new edition won't be available until September.

We did a check while recording 3MA last night, and you can find WotR for $70 - $100 on eBay. It's worth that money, easily.

MrDeVil909 wrote:

Battleship Galaxies I believe.

That's correct. And I'd like to take this moment to state that, after further reflection, Battleship Galaxies was my favorite game of the weekend. Day one purchase for me.

Demiurge wrote:
Tanglebones wrote:

Poop. War of the Ring is out of print, and the new edition won't be available until September.

We did a check while recording 3MA last night, and you can find WotR for $70 - $100 on eBay. It's worth that money, easily.

It sounds like there's going to be an increase in the quality of the figures (different colors for different lands is what I heard), so I might hold off until the reprint.

Tanglebones wrote:

Poop. War of the Ring is out of print, and the new edition won't be available until September.

Hey, if you want, you can buy it on Amazon for $520. It sounds like a good time, but GAAAHHHH!

Demiurge wrote:
MrDeVil909 wrote:

Battleship Galaxies I believe.

That's correct. And I'd like to take this moment to state that, after further reflection, Battleship Galaxies was my favorite game of the weekend. Day one purchase for me.

Looking at that boardgamegeek page, a link jumped out at me and made me laugh: "Think all Hasbro games are luck-based garbage? Then you don't know Craig & Rob."

KaterinLHC wrote:

Anyone interested in reading my scenario notes for the Dragon Age Dread game can check them out here. Warning: There's a lot of them. A lot. I'm apparently the kind of GM that overprepares, only to then use maybe 10% of what I've prepped.

Still, the gist of the story is there, as well as sample scene scripts, my players' questionnaires, rules explanations, codex entries (you'll see) and more.

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Except if you hate it. Then don't tell me. :)

Thanks, Katerin. Spectacular adventure design. I can see why everyone enjoyed the game so much.

And who the hell played Muir? His/her questionnaire was brilliant.

Hollowheel wrote:

And who the hell played Muir? His/her questionnaire was brilliant.

That would be Karla (brennil). You should've seen her in action. Holy Smiting all up in the joint. Everyone was fantastic, definitely, but she really committed to the concept.

I also played with her in Fiasco and Don't Rest Your Head (which she ran). Girl tabletops like it's her job. I admit, I came away with a bit of a gamercrush.