Update 12 – On defining RPGs & Japan

One topic I get a lot of e-mails on is the dreaded “but what’s an RPG?” talk – mostly complaining that game X isn’t in the book, or (quite often) that game Y is in the book.

There’s no easy answer to this, but it’s something that’s constantly on my head, so I’ve decided to write an article for Gamasutra on the subject, exposing my views:

http://gamasutra.com/blogs/FelipePepe/20160205/253023/Why_RPGs_are_so_hard_to_classify_and_evolve.php

Also, big news: I’ll be moving from Brazil to Japan in July (extreme culture shock to surely follow), so things are a little confused now as I deal with all the paperwork and stuffies. That’s also why I’m weary of promising a date for the book’s final release – I don’t know how things will unfold once I get there.

I’m also announcing now I’ll be abandoning the CRPG Book in favor of a JRPG Book.

But worry not, work on the book will continue no matter what. In the last weeks we added reviews on games like the Sacred series, Gothic 3, Birthright: The Gorgon’s Alliance, Alter Ego, Mordor / Demise, Pool of Radiance, Amberstar / Ambermoon, Might & Magic IX, D&D: Shadow over Mystaria, World of Aden: Thunderscape, Omikron, The Summoning, The Faery Tale Adventure,  Descent to Undermontain, ArcaniA and other obscure RPGs (all posted on my twitter). I really enjoy scavenging these games, seeing what works, what doesn’t and all that.

So yeah, it’s a really fun hobby for me. A weird one… I bought XCOM 2 last week, loved it, yet spent way more time playing 1995’s Mordor… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Advertisements

Update 11 – The third release!

Last month I skipped the updated, but I have something good this time to make up for it – the third, 300-page release of the CRPG Book!

CRPG Book Preview 3

This is our third public “alpha”, once again released six months after the previous one and offering 100 additional pages of content – bringing us to amazing 300 pages! That’s more than many books already, but we still have a lot of work to do…

It’s hard to believe, but it has been now two years since I first began to work on this project. My first estimate was “I’ll finish this in 6-8 months”, the first page layout was horrible, and many other foolish mistakes were made, but the journey has been a blast so far. My thanks to everyone who joined!

I consider this release to be the “structure” update. That’s because it comes with at least a small glimpse of all the sections I wish to include in the final version, such as the “Further Adventures”, “Hardware” and “Further Reading” sections. They are still missing most of their content and changes might yet be made, but this should provide a good sense of how the final release will look like.

That in no way means it’s short on games – this edition adds reviews to many of the most popular (and controversial) RPGs, such as Skyrim, Oblivion, Fallout 3, Baldur’s Gate, Pool of Radiance, Quest for Glory, Knights of the Chalice, Neverwinter Nights 2, both KOTOR games, Dragon Age: Origins and its sequel and many more, pushing us to just over 150 reviews!

Once again, however, there are many more games that still need to be reviewed, so, if you’re interested in helping, please e-mail us: crpgbook@gmail.com or contact me on twitter @felipepepe

Merry Christmas everyone, a great 2016 for all of us! 😀

EDIT: Just noticed some of the historical/timeline pages have the wrong text… I’ll find out what happened and update this as fast as I can.

Update 10 – Welcome to the machines

Another month, another update! Some may have noticed that I’ve posted few reviews this past month on my twitter account. There are two reasons for that:

First, it was a busy month. I’m a freelance video-editor & teacher, so my routine changes a lot. Some weeks I mostly derp around & work on the book (awesome!), while others I endure crazy work hours in the basement of evil ad agencies (not awesome!). This month was mostly the later. Brazil is in a tough economical crisis and I’m in no position to refute work. :/

Second, I’m focusing now on a different part of the book: the hardware session!

00mk2

To us who grew up with these machines, things like a floppy disks, VGA/EGA and MS-DOS are fairly obvious. But those under 20 certainly don’t feel the same. So if we want to talk about old games, I think it’s important to also talk about the computers in which those were played, showing some machines, screenshots, specs and that yes, games where sold in cassette tapes.

It’s tough work. Consoles are easily divided into 8 generations and are mostly constant trough their life-time. Explaining the Apple II family or what the hell is an IBM-Compatible isn’t as easy, and I have to avoid long rants on things like MIDI cards and AdLib, but we’re getting there…

Luckily there’s some nice releases to keep people busy while in the meanwhile, such as Fallout 4 Age of Decadence, a hardcore RPG by the good folk at Iron Tower Studios:

If you’re reading this blog then chances are you already know about it, but there’s no harm in showing this brilliantly edited trailer video again. 😉

Update 9 – One year anniversary + Video

I couldn’t believe when the wordpress pop-up appeared, but it’s been a year since I began this blog –  and 18 months since I began the whole CRPG Book Project. To think I first expected to finish it all in just 6 months… heh. But the project is so much better now and so many cool things happened that I wouldn’t want it any other way. 🙂

The big news I hoped to share this month aren’t ready yet, but these days I’ve managed to recruit some great new contributors, such as the man behind the excellent  Ludo Lense youtube channel, the journalists Richard Cobbett and GB ‘Doc’ Burford, plus Internet Archive’s Jason Scott, who kindly agreed to write an article on video-game preservation.

In other news, I’m away from my PC this week, unable to edit the reviews for the book, so I’ve put DOSBox and After Effects together to realize something I wanted to do for a long while:

A video series on obscure RPGs. No long intros, awkward camera stares, overdone YouTube personalities or 40 minutes rants – just a brief look at cool games, with 2-3 minutes highlighting its qualities, to invite viewers to give it a try.

I’m not a native speaker, but I hope it’s understandable and enjoyable. And until next month!

Update 8: I really should keep these monthly…

So, it has been 2 months since the last update… that went fast.

The second preview didn’t get as much press as the first one, but apparently hosting it on a direct link made it easier to share, since it surpassed the first preview, with almost 40k downloads!

I’m working on reviews of a few big games right now and finishing the timeline, but there isn’t much to show besides the reviews I post twitter. Overall, we’ve been doing steady progress.

To help promote the book and share some interesting stories I recently began a series of articles on Gamasutra titled “CRPG History Abridged”, where I list and not-so-briefly describe a handful of lesser-known titles. I wrote two of those so far, covering 33 RPGs:

CRPG History Abridged – 21 RPGs that brought something new to the table

CRPG History Abridged II – 12 more RPGs that brought something new to the table

And, because I really like to rant about things, I also wrote about the subtleties of foreign cultures in gaming: Odorless, Fragrant and Spicy – The many flavours of foreign culture in gaming

In other news, the good folk at Unseen64 are also currently working on a book, but focused on unreleased games. They got some really great stuff on games like Deus Ex 3, Ultima Online 2, Van Buren, a The Witcher game from 1997 and the Stormbringer: Elric of Melniboné RPG:

storm

I’ve volunteered to write an article on Baldur’s Gate III: The Black Hound for them and anyone else interested in helping the project would be a welcome aid. You can contact them here.

Hopefully for next month I’ll have an interesting read to share from one of our newest contributors, but in the meanwhile I hope you all enjoy the articles and have a good time. 🙂

Update 7: Alpha release 2 – The 200-page preview

It took a lot longer than it should but here it is, the CRPG Book Project 200-page preview:

CRPG Book Preview 2.1

I apologize for delaying it so much. As you read on the last update, I had created a “few 5-year summary” pages to split the reviews and give some context of what was going on around that time. They were mostly finished, but I couldn’t get them to feel satisfactory and keep delaying the preview to re-write them… after a while I got a bit burned down and was going nowhere, so I decided to shelve them for this update (I’ve kept only one, as a prototype). However, that meant I was suddenly 20 pages short, so it took me a while to fill that blank in with more reviews.

Another factor that delayed it was my big mouth. The whole P.T. & Konami deal in the last month led to a lot of debate about gaming history, and I just couldn’t keep my mouth closed, so I went and wrote A LOT about that in a Gamasutra article.

Regardless, this release marks about 50% of the book being done AND released, which feels great. The feedback for the 100-page preview was great, with over 32k downloads and a lot of e-mails, and I hope everyone enjoy & comment on this preview as well. There’s still a lot of work ahead, but it should go smoother from now on.

One thing that we still need a lot of help are reviewers. I’ve updated the games list, so if you see any game there that you would like to write about, please contact me at crpgbook@gmail.com

Thanks for reading and for all the support!

EDIT: I’ve updated the .pdf with a few corrections and added bookmarks to every review.

Update 6: The many news of April

Sorry for the delay in this update, but I have a lot to share today!

First, the book’s preview is now over 30.000 downloads! That’s almost as many people as the population of the town I grew up, which is quite scary.

Second, I expanded the “Hot Ratios” post I wrote last year into a full fledged article at Gamasutra. The article was very well received (Ron Gilbert even retweeted it!) and I hope more people become aware of the issue of non-square pixel aspect ratios and learn a few tips on how to solve it.

Third, I’m almost finished with the 20 pages of gaming history that will serve as chapter division, splitting the reviews in intervals of five years: 1974-1979, 1980-1984, 1985-1989, and so on… These will give some context as to what was going on at the time, pointing out key events (and not just console releases). Here’s a WIP preview of some chapters:

timeline1

Once those are done, I intend to release a new preview of the book, about 200 pages long. Expect it next month, with a few surprises. 😉

Last but not least, here’s a peak at a draft of the book’s cover art, courtesy of the great Jan Pospíšil, who did art for multiple tabletop RPGs and for the cult classic King of Dragon Pass:

art

That’s all for this month, a good weekend for everyone. 🙂