An Interview with the Writer/Designer of Nighthawks: Richard Cobbett

I recently had a chance to chat with the writer and designer of upcoming Vampire RPG “Nighthawks“, which is being published by Wadjet Eye Games and currently being kickstarted. Considering this is my first interview, I was a little worried but thankfully Mr Cobbett was very cool with how we did things.

Take a look below for the interview and some sweet shots of the game and if you have time check out the games Trailer (linked below).

Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions, first of all. Let’s start by asking you who you are, and what role you have in Nighthawks, and what else have you done in the industry to give people a sense of what you are all about.

I’m Richard Cobbett, and I’m the writer, designer and programmer on Nighthawks. Most people probably know me from a couple of decades of games journalism, but in recent years I’ve been more involved on the writing side of the actual games, including Sunless Sea, The Long Journey Home, Not Tonight, and a few more I’m not allowed to talk about yet. Nighthawks largely came about because I was thinking of Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines while working on Sunless Skies, and thinking about how you could fuse the two styles together in an interesting way. A year later, this is the answer.

I also want to ask this early on. What is your design style. What got you into game design and writing, and what drives inspires you as a creator?

I see myself as being from the ‘architect’ school of game design – I like to build foundations and structure and so on, rather than designing by the seat of my pants. This is probably helped by the fact that in journalism you’re encouraged to think heavily in terms of structure from the start, rather than just filling a blank page with whatever feels like a good idea at the time.

I’ve always made games, just not public ones. I coded silly things in GWBasic back on my first PC, I made little adventures in Visual Basic… I’ve always had a love for that stuff, mostly driven by adventure games. When I was younger, I really wanted to make the kind of stuff that Lucasarts and Sierra did – worlds that you could just step into, and which seemed alive beyond the limits of what everyone else was doing. I never saw the credits run on something like Monkey Island without really wishing I could say “I made that. That was me.”

These days, the inspiration tends to be a little more focused. I love games for their ability to create responsive, unique experiences, even within a narrative frame – to be able to give people the chance to not just play through my story, but to work with me with choices to create something that hopefully feels special and sticks. The unique journeys of every captain in Sunless Sea for instance are all the more meaningful for being the results of your choices. Games are unlike any other medium in this respect, and we’re really only scraping the surface of what they can do at this point.

Now you describe Nighthawks as an Interactive Fiction RPG. Watching the trailer it appears very similar to a choose your own adventure style game. Is that pretty accurate? How would you describe the core gameplay loop you are aiming for.

I’d say that the core mechanic is CYOA style, absolutely, however the big question is really what creates those options – your powers, your past decisions, your relationships, etc. It’s also worth noting that ultimately many big AAA games boil down to that, it’s just that the menus are better hidden!

Nighthawks in particular uses choices and descriptive text because they’re the best way to create a world with the amount of choice and freedom that we want to offer. A standard RPG is primarily built around clicking on enemies to hit them with a sword, which is fine, but not so hot if you want to explore the drama of a dinner party or something rather than create a glorified arena. When it comes to their choices, they also typically boil down to picking an option from a menu, it’s just small, and the text is consigned to the bottom of the screen.

(I’d also add that people tend to look down on CYOA unfairly, thinking of the most basic variety. The model becomes much more interesting when you start factoring in books like Sorcery or the Lone Wolf series, which offered deep character interaction, continuity between volumes and so on, rather than just linear sequences of options. There shouldn’t be shame in borrowing from these games, as I know for a fact that they were a formative experience for many an RPG designer, along with the more commonly talked about D&D and so on.)

In Nighthawks, we’re approaching the world a little differently from most RPGs, in that it’s a mix of life simulation and questing. You have that central core of staying alive and boosting your abilities, with the stories springing out from it. Instead of following a set critical path, you instead have more general Objectives that you can go about as you see fit. As an example, the main goal in the first act is simply paying your hotel room bill. In most RPGs, you’d get a quest “Pay Your Hotel Bill” that would send you to one guy who has a job for you. Here, you go find your own opportunities around town. As the game continues, those Objectives get more complicated, but in ways that still allow you freedom of choice, allegiance, and the consequences that come of it.

Is the game going to have a primary narrative thread with side stories? Or will it be more life simulator, where you make your own fun while pursing various character arcs / story arcs / mini stories?

Absolutely. The game takes place over about three years, broken up into (currently) around four months of playable time that focus on key events in your path from rags to riches – from bankrupt vampire to nightclub owner to a key player in the future of both human and vampire society.

How open ended do you intend for the game to be? How replayable? How will advancement or character improvement work given the nature of the game?

Very much so! The core story will be the same each play through, but your abilities, your choices, your allies and so on will offer very different experiences – and of course, your choices will bring things to very different endings.

Character creation is a little different to most games in that you don’t create yourself, you create your Sire – your gender, sexuality, etc, is your own business, not least to allow you to role-play whoever or whatever you want within the structure of the game as a whole. However, your blood origin will definitely have an impact, as will your powers, which we’re treating more as aces in the hole than spells to spam at people – skills like Mesmerise and Corpse-Talking that will open up new avenues for each player.

The goal is that when you play through, you’ll have a wonderfully responsive, customised experience that feels complete. But then when you replay, you’ll see just how differently everything could have gone. Text makes that kind of thing so much easier. For instance, if you as a regular vampire go to the opera, you’ll be told “You hear opera.” If you’ve chosen the Culture sphere of knowledge, that might be, say, “You hear an adequate rendition of Bizet’s Carmen.” Fold that into all the other decisions, big and small, and you get a world that really seems to breathe along with your unique story.

As for character advancement, the current plan is that you’ll earn personal development points – basically XP – which you can spend around the city, along with other resources and time. So if you want to learn languages for instance, that’ll mean spending a few nights at a night school, rather than patrolling and getting into fights and making friends, etc. My rule for freedom is that you should be able to do more or less anything, just not everything.

What are some of your inspirations for the game, and more importantly, how do they inspire you? I know you mention on the kickstarter things like Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines and Urban Fantasy stories, but I want to know what ABOUT these things inspired you to make this game.

Oh, we’d be here all day! Just about every game offers something to learn from, even if it’s just ‘don’t do this’. Key ones I’d pick out beyond Bloodlines include Quest For Glory IV, for the sympathetic antagonist and wonderful sense of progression as you go from a hated stranger to the hero of the city, Baldur’s Gate 2, for how its second chapter inspired the ‘Objectives’ system, the Sunless games for proving that text-driven experiences can be as awesome as anything with expensive graphics… I really could go on and on.

For Bloodlines specifically, it’s a mix of atmosphere and character. Creating memorable NPCs is a skill in itself, and that game is full of them – Smiling Jack, Jeanette, Heather, LaCroix etc. You really feel like part of something special in that game – not just a vampire, but a Kindred, versus just an interchangeable pair of hands holding a gun. A lot of my design is rooted in wanting to dig deeper into the social side of that kind of setting, but you don’t get that if it’s not a setting you feel like you’re invested in to begin with. Then of course you add all the little details, from Deb of Night to the Malkavian script, and you really get a game that drips with love as much as any dark vitae.

You mentioned in our twitter conversation that there will be “some sort” of combat system. Any hints on how you want that to play out? Something like, say, the Fighting Fantasy Novels or games by Tin Man games? Or something more in depth? Obviously it subject to change so early on, but I am curious as to your design process for this.

At the moment, the simple answer is ‘I don’t know!’ I have multiple combat systems planned out, but it remains to be seen. One idea is a card based thing a little like Dream Quest and Slay the Spire, one is more dice based, one is a text-driven approach. Most likely, the final thing will use bits of each, so that at least important fights feel like more than just a street brawl, while quick battles cut to the jelly. But I want to get things up and running and see how they feel.

I have to say I am loving the art style shown in the screenshots on Kickstarter. How much of the design is driven by the art, and how much of the art is driven by the design?

I’d say we’re pretty much in sync! Our lead artist, pixel-wizard Ben Chandler, basically agrees with me on what style we want – a kind of electro-goth world rooted a bit more in the modern world than Victoriana, which isn’t afraid to use colour. We didn’t want to make a game that was all black, red and grey. That’s why you get the electric blue of the nightclub exterior, the green hum of the streets, and so on. It’s just endlessly more fun to explore a world where you don’t know what’s coming next than ‘oh, look, another rainy street’.

(Amusingly, our longest discussions haven’t been about the big details, which we basically agree on immediately, but about bra design – how frilly Becca’s should be, if Lux should wear one under her corset… the actual city and location design has been pretty much ‘Here’s the pitch’, ‘cool, here’s exactly what you were thinking of, only much better drawn’. Games are weird.)

Finally, anything you want to add on your own or what people to know about? Any nuggets of info or words of wisdom for those out there trying to make their way into the world of creative things?

I’ll say that if the Kickstarter doesn’t succeed, then nobody’s allowed to complain that nobody’s tried to make a successor to Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines! Smiley-face. But seriously, I think this is going to be a really cool game. It’s one we want to play ourselves, which I think is a good start, and a chance to do a lot of stuff that we’ve wanted to see more of.

As for words of wisdom… people will tell you a hundred million different things, and usually try to act as if their experiences are in some way a universal truth. Which they’re not. Everyone’s story is different, everyone has different ways of working. Don’t feel bad if you don’t ‘write every day’ or the story you want to tell isn’t the one that people would expect of you, etc. The one cast-iron rule I do think applies is that millions upon millions of people ‘want’ to write a book or a screenplay or a game or whatever else, and then they just sit and watch TV. Simply by dint of actually finishing something, whatever it is, you’re already in the top 1% of creatives worldwide, even if only your cat ever sees it.

All images are used with permission from the Kickstarter promotional package available on the Kickstarter page.

GameDev and Getting the Word Out

Hello everyone, Clay here yet again with a more instructive piece, and this one is aimed primarily at Game Developers and Creators of that sort. I noticed a few times on the /r/indigaming Subreddit that people seem to have an issue with understanding how to get the word out about their upcoming projects.  When I asked if people on twitter would like me to write something about this, I did get some requests so here we go!

Now, this piece is going to be from the perspective of first a Consumer, and then as a Content Creator. It will be divided into two sections as well, the first major one discussing how I, as a consumer of games, find out about upcoming projects, kickstarters, and the like and what I feel is the best way for a Dev to get the word out.

The second section will be discussing the role of a Content Creator (ie a Blogger, Reviewer, Youtuber, Streamer, ect) and how Game Devs can locate these folks in order to assist with getting the word out about their creations.

I want to be clear, this is my own perspective / opinion on things and may not be what works for you as an individual Dev. But this is an opinion formed over around 30 years of hunting down and playing a variety of games, so I like to think its pretty solid. I could also be completely insane. You tell me!

Lets begin shall we!

Getting the Word Out

Lets start by asking this simple question: Do you have an account on every social media site? If the answer is no, start there. You are going to need accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr at the minimum. These will give you access to those communities, and allow you to start interacting with those communities to get the word out about your game.

Word of Mouth you see is KING.

I am not going to pretend its not going to be daunting to keep up with 4 social media accounts, plus creating your game, because its going to be intense. But the fact remains that many of us choose one, maybe two sites, and stick to em. For example, I am pretty much a Twitter guy. I have a facebook and tumblr, but barely use them. I tend to stalk twitter looking for new info about upcoming games from developer accounts, creatives, and my own friends / followers.

So start by hitting all 4 sites, and then pare it down to 1 or 2 once you see where you are gaining the most interaction. Getting tons of likes, follows, and shares on Facebook but not much else? Stick there, and grow there.

Now, bare in mind that you want to seem human on these accounts. Don’t JUST Pimp your work. Interact with the greater communities on each one and connect with the consumers. We are an even increasingly connected world, and many of us are savvy to being marketed to. Plus, many of these sites will forcibly lower the visibility of anything they deem “marketing”. You need to make friends, connect, and organically grow in that manner.

Also, you need to find and use the relevant communites / groups / hashtags on each site. Are you a board game creator on Twitter? Use #boardgames for one. Making a new indie game? #indiedev is an option for you. Tags are how people locate things, as you can filter many of these sites by tags. The more tags you have, the more chances people will see YOUR work.

Another place you can turn to is Reddit. This is just one of many sites, honestly, but its a huge community driven platform based on sharing interesting things. If you have never used reddit, think of it as a giant forum divided by interests. And those divisions can get VERY Granular. For example, there is a subbreddit (thats what the divisions are called) known as “ChildrenFallingOver” which is, quite literally, nothing but gifs and videos of kids falling over. Some that you will want to get into are the following:

/r/Games
/r/Gaming
/r/Boardgames
/r/rpg
/r/indiegaming
/r/GameDev
/r/pcgaming

Be aware that Self Promotion, while allowed, is fairly restricted on reddit, and you need to prove you are there for more then just marketing. If you are going to use reddit, start by finding these communities that you want to use, and interact with em. Comment on things, share other interesting news you find, ect. Be a human. Its very very important. Also make sure you find the exact subreddits that fit your game. Are you making a VN? Then check out /r/visualnovels! Are you making an RPG? Then perhaps dive into /r/rpg_gamers! Like I said, there is a subreddit for every interest, ever genre, every THING. Dont be afraid to get in there, discover, and connect with others.

Also, dont be afraid to create your OWN SUBREDDIT COMMUNITY For your game! It gives you yet another avenue to post news and get people engaged with you and each other. Both Skyhearth and Siralim (2 Indie Games I keep an eye on) have their own Subreddits, and use them to great effect.

Personally, I find most of my info on Twitter and Reddit. Just to give an example.

And yes, this is a lot of work, but if you want to get your name out there, get your game out there, your product out there, this is the kind of stuff you have to do, at least until you have the budget to hire a Community Manager, whose job would then be to manage all of this for you. You will either spend time or money on marketing. One or the other.

One final option, specifically for the Physical crowd (Board games and Card games) to get the word out is to actually go out to local stores and see about holding an event to promote your game. Dont be afraid to go into your local mom and pop card shop / game shop and introduce yourself, and see if you can setup a promo event, showing off your game, inviting people to play, and so on. You can get both the word out (make sure you got flyers / business cards available for folks!) AND get some testing done on your game! Also, for those Board/Card game folks if you are not using BoardGameGeek already get on that site, get connected to the community, and get to work. Those are your people, right there. For the Tabletop RPG crowd, the same thing about events apply, but the site you might want to connect with is ENWorld, one of the biggest TTRPG News Sites out there.

So you got your name out there, people are engaging with your tweets, your facebook posts, your subreddit, ect. So what else can you do?

Thats where Content Creators, like myself, come in.

Finding the Content Creator thats Right for You!

Lets start by saying that there are tons of different kinds of content creators. You got Youtubers, Streamers, Podcasters, Bloggers, Social Media Influencers, ect. Each one reaches a different audience, each one will have a different focus or style, and each one will have their own unique take on things.

Finding them shouldn’t be too hard, you would think. Its not like we hide (thats literally the opposite of what we do) but there are a LOT OF US OUT THERE! Sometimes, finding the exact type you want can feel like finding a needle in a haystack.

First things first, finding us can actually be pretty simple. Using the same methods above to find consumers (events, websites, social media) you can locate us. We tend to use the same sorts of hashtags you will use, to promote our own content. For example, when I go live streaming I use #streaming as a hashtag, plus some for genre of what I am streaming. When I write a blog post (like this one) I use tags relevant to it to appear in searches. So if you want a board game reviewer, for example, try to find #boardgames on your site.

Now, you can also use the actual search functions on google and youtube to help as well. Go to Youtube, and type “board game review” and I promise you will find a ton of Youtubers who do it. If you are searching say Twitch, try to look up the name of a game thats similar, or just try Board Games, and see who pops up. For Bloggers, you want to go on google and type “Board Game Review” and see what sites show up.

Any Content Creator worth a damn is going to have their own social media accounts at the minimum, and possibly their own website (like mine right here). These will usually have ways to contact them, whether its email (like mine linked up top in my Review page) or social media accounts. Find them, and engage with them. The bigger ones will prolly have their own PR Emails that you will need to send your request to, and dont be upset if they do not respond.

Now, assuming you found a Creator you think might be interested, before you start sending em products, VET THEM. Make sure they are a fit for what you want to represent your game, and that their audience is the kind you want. Some streamers are “toxic” and have communities that are, frankly, a mess for example. Some youtubers are “edgy” and might be promoting things you dont like. You will want to sit down and consume their content.

Watch their Youtube videos
Read their Blog Posts
Watch / Interact on their Livestreams
Listen to their Podcasts

See if their “voice” is what you want to associate with your game. Because once they get ahold of it, what they say is out of your hands. Further, see if they have interests in your type of game. For example, you wouldnt want to come to me to review your Battle Royale game because I dislike those games immensely. You would however come to me for say a Visual Novel, or an RPG, because those are the sorts of games I like.

Now their are thousands of creators, big and small. I consider myself on the smallish side for example. Do not neglect us smaller ones though, cause we tend to have very rabid and devoted fanbases. You do not however want to go too small because then you simply wont have any audience whatsoever to reach. Here are some loose numbers, if I was a Dev, that I would look at before contacting a content creator.

Streamer: Affiliate Rank on Twitch, or at least 100 followers / 3+ Active Viewers per Stream
Youtuber: 250+ Subscribers, and at least a number of views per video equal to 10% of their sub base
Blogger: Varies but you want something like a thousand monthly views on average if you can find that data (For example, I am in the 10k a month average views as of Jan 2019)
Social Media: 1000+ Followers is a good start

The reason here is you want to be able to get your name out there, get your creation out there, to an active base. It also shows that they are trying. For example, if you go by my Youtube progress you might be sad to find out I rarely use it. But I am an Affiliate on Twitch and stream almost every weekend, and I am (weirdly enough) fairly large on Twitter, and my blog gets around 8k views a month (which still freaks me out btw)

Now there are some red flags to watch out for. If for example a creator is constantly doing giveaways to boost numbers and get followers / subs, you might want to be careful. Their audience will most likely only be there for the giveaways. Also, be careful if a content creators asks for multiple copies of your product. Generally, they should only need a single copy in order to stream/review/promote. If they contact YOU saying “I need 10 keys so I can give them away to my followers” be very careful with that. If you want to work WITH them to do a sort of hosted giveaway that is something you can do, but make sure that they are not constantly doing that. You dont want to run the risk of your game ending up on a pirate site or a grey market key reseller.

Once you find a creator you like, reach out to them. Email, social media, whatever option they have, reach out and tell them what you are looking for. Don’t expect a reply, and DO NOT Blindly send a copy / pdf / key to them. You want to make sure they are up for working with you. At least the small ones.

I want to stress do not be afraid to reach out to the bigger ones as well. Just be aware that the larger the creator, the greater the chance that you will have to sponsor them (ie pay money + provide product) in order to get them to work with you. Smaller ones like me, we dont usually have that restriction.

Now, for Board Game Creators and Tabletop RPG, I am sorry to say there is no other real options here. You are going to have to get down and dirty and do some leg work to find people willing to review / promote your product. And, because you will frequently need to send review copies out, this can become costly. Do your research, I cannot stress this enough. You will want to pick the best podcasts, youtubers, and streamers out there to reach the widest audience possible.

For Video Game Creators, however, you actually have two more options. Now, as a content creator these options cost me nothing to use, but they MIGHT require you to spend some cash, you will have to, again, do research.

These options are Terminals.IO and Keymailer.COEDIT 9/25/18 – I have also been led to WoovIt which is another fine option.  Similar to Keymailer in style.

These are PR firms that allow creators and designers to connect and offer a variety of tools to make things simpler. Terminals is the harder one to gain access to (on both sides) and is the one that will most likely cost the most money, but its also a well known option that has hard rules for creators (like me) to meet before we can gain access.

Keymailer.CO however is a little less strict on both sides, and I think has even free options for you to use. Now, what makes these sites handy is that they organize all a content creators information into one location. Keymailer for example will show you what I have streamed, how many followers I have on my linked accounts, easy ways to find me, and even what kinds of platforms and games / genres I am interested in assuming I filled out my profile. Terminals does similar.

Both require accreditation so you can be sure that anyone who is “Accredited” (on Keymailer) or Visable on Terminals has met their requirements to be an active and useful creator. I suggest looking into BOTH of these services and using them to learn about the creators out there.  As of 9/25 I was lead to another platform, Woovit, which seems to be in the same vein as the last two with similar regulations and rules in place.  Your mileage may vary but its worth a try.  I signed up as a creator at least.

There you have it, some hopefully useful info on finding both Consumers to enjoy your product, and Content Creators to help you get the word out. If this has helped you please let me know, and maybe share it with your fellow Dev Friends. The more who know about this kind of stuff, the better it will be (especially for me, so I can find out about cool shit yo)

As always thanks for reading everyone and Stay Nerdy!  Make sure to follow me on TwitchYoutubeTwitter, and join my Steam Group and Steam Curator pages!  Pledge to my Patreon!  Spread the word on social media & help me get out there so I can bring even more content to the masses.  You do want more content yes?

The Dirty Secret of Community and Fandom

Yes, its a clickbaity title Alright. Time for a bit of a feather ruffling discussion about the concept of Community, and fandom, and all that jazz. About 8 months ago I talked about Word of Mouth (and I still stand by that) and sure as shit it caused a bit of a ruckus, but its time to talk about something else.

The idea of Fandom and Community, and what they are and what they mean to a creator. And why you might notice that after a certain point, creators stop talking about each other unless they are working together on something.

First, to understand this notion we need to talk about Time. Time, for many of us, is a precious commodity, especially in today’s world. More and more we all have less and less time to spend on things we enjoy. Work, commuting, chores, appointments, travel, and everything else eat up what little time we have in a given day. And how we spend the free time we have left is something each of us must manage and curate to be as effective, and enjoyable, as we can.

Lets break down my personal free time, to give you a prime example shall we? I talk about this a fair amount so you might already know, but I am gonna schedule it out, from when I get up, to when I go to bed.

Monday thru Friday:
500am EST – Wake up
630am EST – Leave to take wife to work / Leave for work
800am EST – Get to work
430pm EST – Leave Work
600pm EST – Get Home / Pick up wife and get home
830pm EST – Go to sleep

Saturday and Sunday:
500am EST – Wake up
630am EST – Leave to take wife to work
700am EST – Get home (Saturdays Do Laundry
1000am EST – Setup Livestream / Work on Terminally Nerdy Stuff
330pm EST – Leave to pick Wife up from work
415pm EST – Get home from getting Wife
830pm EST – Go to Sleep

You might notice that during the week I have 1.5 hours in the morning, and 2.5 hours in the evening with which to get “free time stuff” done. I eat, shower, do chores, shop, and everything else in that 4 hour total window, most of it at night to be quite honest. On the weekends, I have 4 hours and 15 minutes at night to do this, and 3 hours in the morning, which again I use to take care of chores, relax, spend time with my wife, and all that.

That is not a lot of time to spend doing things outside of my adult responsibilities, or my Terminally Nerdy stuff is it?

So how I choose to spend that time is SUPER VALUABLE TO ME! I have only the briefest of windows to use to consume content created by others. And so I have become very picky about who I am a fan of, whose content I choose to spend my time with.

This means that if two streamers decide to stream at the same time? I have to make a hard choice on who to watch, for instance.

Now how does this factor into the concept of Fandom and Community Building? Well, this is gonna get a bit cynical, and a bit honest, and might be a hard thing to swallow but again I have to say, for a creative: A Fan is a Resource. Even more, to a creator making a living or trying to make a living doing what they love (Streams, Podcast, Youtube, Writing, ect) a Fan is literally potential Revenue.

Yes, a fan is equal to revenue. Its a hard thing to consider, but its true. A person who spends time watching your streams, watching your youtube, consuming your blog posts (like this one) and further is a potential customer. A Consumer, if you will. By consuming your content, they are supporting you. Either by time giving you views, watch time, follows, and interactions (which factor into those wonderful Algorithms that run everything now) OR by directly providing you financial support by purchasing your merch, supporting you on Patreon or Ko Fi, or subscribing to you on Twitch or giving you Bits.

As time goes on a Fandom / Community can slowly begin to build up around a creator. The bigger they get, the larger their reach, the more potential revenue (both in time / interactions and in money) they gain access to. If a person is reading my blog, then they are not spending that time on someone else. If a person is pledging a dollar to my Patreon, they are not spending that elsewhere.

Everything is a trade off, and as a creator you have to consider this if you want to make a living off of your work. Yes, its a dirty thing and an unpleasant thing to consider this sort of stuff when you think about your fans, but its true.

Now understanding that, you might realize the problem: If you are a Creator, and you Promote someone else who is also a creator, suddenly you have the potential loss of revenue. If your fans (any of them) decide that the new Creator you talked about is more interesting, more engaging, or more worthy (whatever their reason) they might decided to spend their time and money on that other creator. Suddenly, you have lost while the other has gained. Now admittedly this is not a Zero Sum game at all. If you are a Streamer and promote a Podcast, then you might be fine, especially when you and the podcast can take up different brackets of time essentially.

There are other reasons as well of course. Obviously a creator is not going to promote someone they dont like, or dont agree with, a product that doesnt fit or a channel/creator that doesnt mesh ect ect. But a primary reason (and a big one) is this concept.

In fact, this is part of the reason why sponsorships exists. Its a symbiotic relationship at smaller points like where I am where I promote folks (like Tabletop Loot for all your dice needs) and they give me and my fans a reward in exchange. But if you wanted to say have your product featured on Critical Role, you gotta pay them to make that happen. Because if they promote your product / channel / creation and their fans go out and spend money on that? Then thats money that is not going to Critical Role.

And for a lot of creators, they WANT to make a living off their creations. And the business side of things, the marketing side of things (which is what all this applies to) is something they will have to learn and deal with. I know, its unpleasant, but its true.

I have nothing against this by the way. I completely understand the mindset. For many, this is their life, their livelyhood, how they put food on the table and keep the bill collectors at bay. Some of the largest creators out there even have employees! You gotta pay your workers, provide them healthcare and benefits and all that. So it makes sense to worry about that stuff.

So when you wonder why a larger creator is not helping the smaller ones? Why they are only talking about other creators they are working directly with? This is one of the reasons, and possibly one of the largest.

It always comes down to money. Dirty, filthy lucre. Money makes the world go round. And if you want to change this? Go out and find a smaller creator that you like, and offer them a spot on say your end card, or a shoutout on your streams. Point people out to them on your twitter, things like that. If you are a larger creator, lift up the smaller ones if you can. Or don’t! I am not your boss.

Anyway thanks for reading, and hey while your here maybe check out my Ko Fi? I am raising money to help get to Gen Con in 2019.

See what I did there? You spent your time reading this monster of a post and now I am marketing to ya.  Hell did ya notice when I did it earlier? Gotta do that hustle!

As always thanks for reading everyone and Stay Nerdy!  Make sure to follow me on TwitchYoutubeTwitter, and join my Steam Group and Steam Curator pages!  Pledge to my Patreon!  Spread the word on social media & help me get out there so I can bring even more content to the masses.  You do want more content yes?

A Terminally Nerdy Update

Hello everyone! I figured I would sit down and post here on my blog my current and future plans for Terminally Nerdy. You all might have seen my Patreon post (it was public) going over things a bit but I wanted to go more in detail about what is coming up and why I am doing all this.

First, you all need to understand I suffer ADHD, or Attention Deficiet Hyperactivity Disorder. In my case, its a chemical imbalance in my brain that effects my attention span and my focus along with my short term memory. I was diagnosed back in 1987 (roughly) before “EVERYONE” had ADD. I was on Ritalin until 1999 when I took myself off of it due to the horrible mood swings and anger it caused me as a side effect. For those unaware, Ritalin is Amphetamines. Its Speed. Literally. Thats why its a controlled substance, and why people back in the day tried to get it to get high. People with chemical ADHD like me, according to studies, are uneffected by drugs in that class the way others are. Has something to do with receptors in my brain or something.

Suffice to say, my attention and focus wander frequently. I describe it as “Living in a Room full of Butterflies. My thoughts flutter, and whichever one lands on my table in my head is what my brain wants to deal with”. XKCD did a comic once showing thoughts as Balloons, and I have also heard it described as a room full of fluttering sticky notes that pop on and off the inner walls of the brain. Basically, I can’t force myself to deal with things if my brain just doesn’t want to. In fact, attempting to do so cause me actual mental stress, and can cause MASSIVE amounts of frustration.

In fact, the only reason Terminally Nerdy as a “thing” still exists is because I shift my focus so often. From Tabletop RPGs, to Video Game reviews, to Streams, to Twitter, and back again, because I have so many outlets available to me I am able to stay “focused” on the broader Terminally Nerdy Brand (I hate that phrase, by the way)

I did go over this briefly on Twitter a few weeks ago as well so that might be old news to some of you. But that is the part of the reason why it might seem like I have shifted my focus around. Because, frankly, I have. Its what my brain wants to do at the moment.

Additionally, work has been extra stressful for me as of late, with a lot of changes and things going on that make it much worse on me. I still have my wonderful 55-60 hour work week (and I still only get paid for 40 hours, thanks commute!) and thus still have limited free time, but now the actual job has become much more of a stress inducer. This causes me to have less drive I suppose you could say. Streaming video games like I have these past few weeks has been a way to both Destress (gaming relaxes me) and provide some content.

For those who want to know, I stream at twitch.tv/terminallynerdy and its generally on Saturdays & Sundays, from 10am EST till 2pm EST or so. The end time varies. However I recognize that not everyone LIKES Video Games!

So here is my plan going forward, schedule wise.

Firstly, my Weekends will be as follows (assuming my wife is working, if she is off work she gets priority):

Saturday – A “Clay” Day or Work Day. This will be me either prepping for upcoming Tabletop Games (see below), reading/writing for Terminally Nerdy the Website, recording a Youtube Video, Streaming a Game of some sort, or just taking a day to relax and recharge. Basically I am giving myself one day a week to just take care of business.

Sunday – A Stream day. I will stream something in the mornings on Sunday. Generally starting at 10am EST and running till 2pm EST. This could be a video game I am working on to review, an RPG I just wanna share, or even a Tabletop RPG One Shot.

Now, one of my Patron rewards, which I admit I have been slacking on, is Patreon One Shots. I have done a couple, but I keep pushing em off. No more. My Patrons will be getting a One Shot at least every 2 months, using the Savage Worlds ruleset. They (my patrons) know my plans, and I hope to have the first one ready by End of October.  These will be streamed publicly on Twitch in my Morning Slot on either Saturday or Sunday depending on my schedule. They will be using the Herald: Lovecraft and Tesla setting created by Ravendesk Games and will be titled “The Order of the Raven”.  If you want to become a Patron, you can visit my Patreon here to learn more.

Additionally, I will soon have an Evening, Once a Month live stream, of PUGMIRE! This will be a Tabletop RPG Campaign featuring my wife, Saevrick, Walking Virus Gaming, MK, and Kraven Gaming. Pugmire, for those unaware, is a variant of DND 5E but instead of traditional fantasy races, you play as Anthropomorphic Dogs (or Cats if you got Monarchies of Mau). This will run once a Month on a Saturday Night, from 530pm EST till about 830pm EST. Yes, I will be GMing a game, that you can watch, at the twitch channel above.

Finally, I intend to have at least one blog post or youtube video posted every month. Preferrably every 2 weeks but I need time to get my head on straight and not go completely mad from stress ya know. My health, both physical and mental, demands I take some time off for me.

So those are the plans for now. But as we always know, plans change, things change, and life changes.

I am currently working on Rune Factory 4 for the Nintendo 2DS/3DS systems, so that is a review that will be on the way. I am also streaming Kingdoms of Amalur Reckoning, which will be reviewed down the road as well. After Amalur I might do Dragon Age Inquisition OR Divinity Original Sin 1 EE (I just picked that up on Sale today!).

So basically more streaming content, still more blog posts, still more stuff in general. Its just gonna be a little random as to what I do. Also I will most likely NOT be taking anything new to review until I catch up on my backlog. I just have to…get my brain to be interested in DOING that.

Also, quick update for my Gen Con 2019 plans: I am at 60% funded, which means I have $800 more to go before I am fully funded for Gen Con. Thats kind of unreal when you think about it really. Of course, in 13 days my personal challenge of being fully funded by End of September will be over, and that means that unless I get the remaining $800 / 40% in 13 days, I will not have to run 2 public Savage Worlds games at Gen Con. If you want to donate to my fund, you can visit my KoFi.

Pretty sure that won’t be happening hehe.

Anyway, thanks for reading, let me know in the comments if any of this catches your fancy, and remember to Stay Nerdy everyone!

Pokemon Ultra Sun / Ultra Moon: A Review

As I sat in the Champions chair after the final showdown with my rival and friend, Hau, I had to reflect on the journey it took to get here.  High atop Mt Lanakila, surrounded by my partners, I had to think about the friendships, the hardships, the Pokémon I met, the people I helped, and everything else leading up to this point.

It was a trial, but Aegislash, Decidueye, Chandlure, Empoleon, Magneton, and Metagross made sure I would become the undisputed first time Pokemon Champion of Alola.

Man, it’s good to be the champ.

Hello everyone and welcome to another review!  I finally, after nearly a year of waiting, I am writing my first ever 3DS Game review!  Now I have to do these reviews in text form because I do not have (nor do I wish to have) my New 2DS XL modded for footage capture.  Maybe down the road if I get the cash I will buy a second system for that, but for now it’s all text all the time for this and future 3DS / DS games I review.  Technically this review applies to both Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, as the games are identical barring certain available Pokémon.

Pokémon and I have a strange history.  My first game was Pokémon Blue at the original release, on an original Gameboy.  I did not play another Pokémon game till Pokémon Black on a DSi XL.  Then, Pokémon Y on my old original 3DS.  And now Ultra Sun.  I have dabbled off and on with the series, but I have always loved the gentle fun loving nature of the games, focused on catching a mostly cute (and sometimes terrifying) little monsters with which to go on an adventure through fascinating lands.

Pokémon Ultra Sun is the last one that is to be released on handhelds, as Nintendo is moving everything over to the Switch now.  So it seems fitting that the final handheld release is the one I am going to review first.  And boy howdy is it a doozy.  Let’s break it down, starting with the visuals.

VISUALS

The New 2DS XL is a fantastic system, and I should take a look at it more in depth one of these days.  Ultra Sun uses its features to the max, and the game looks stunning.  Environments are wonderful to explore and easy to navigate, and the change from day to night is amazing.  Further, character models and Pokémon models are the best I have seen, with wonderful 3D renders, and occasionally a little risqué.  Fight up against a male or female Swimmer and you will see what I mean.

For the most part, framerates are consistent, but I did have issues when there were double battles (2 Pokémon to a side) or weather effects on screen as I would suffer slowdowns and fps drops..  The effects for the attacks, and especially the new Z Moves, were a sight to behold, with fantastic looks and animations to accompany them.  Also, your character can be customized quite a bit and I enjoyed the various clothing options and hair options that I was given.  Overall, visually this game is a treat and until the Switch games come out, is most likely the best you are going to get.  But what about the sound design?

AUDIO

Musically the game is pretty solid, with decent BGM throughout.  However, unlike some games, I don’t really remember any particular theme, not even the intro theme.  Further, I would not seek out the music here to listen outside of the game, like I do with Chrono Cross or World of Warcraft.  Its serviceable, and the battle theme honestly gets kind of annoying after a while.  Point of fact, I played a lot of the game with the sound turned off and I did not really notice anything too bad by doing this.

In combat, the sounds your Pokémon makes, the cries they have, and the sound of attacks are all pretty solid.  Pikachu is the only Pokémon that actually says their name (And they even have a specific voice actor credit) but every other Pokémon simply has a unique sound growl.  Attacks sound impactful, and varied enough to get the job done.  Overall, it’s a serviceable sound design and soundtrack but nothing that stands out in my mind.  Thankfully, the Story fares much better.

STORY AND SETTING

Like every other main title in the Pokémon franchise, you start as a new kid moving into a new town in a new region with your mother.  This time, you are moving into the Alola region, made up of four islands.  Unlike most of the rest of the Pokémon world, Alola doesn’t have gyms, and is a much more laid back region with several unique variants of Pokémon seen in other lands, such as the Alola Sandshrew and Alola Vulpix, among others.  You quickly meet the grandson of the local Kahuna, Hau, and after rescuing a girl named Lillie and her Pokémon Nebbie from a wild Pokémon attack, the local Totem Pokémon gives you a Z-Bracelet, indicating that you are to take the “Island Challenge”, the Alola version of defeating gyms.

The premise is simple: Go and complete 2-3 Island Challenges, obtain Z-Crystals, and then face off against the Island Kahuna in battle to grow and prove you are worthy of the Totem Pokémon’s attention.  You travel island to island doing this, while also helping people deal with issues on each island that are usually caused by a group called Team Skull, which honestly is my favorite team I have seen.  They are just so damn goofy and tryhard its amazing.  They also try to rap, really really badly I might add.  In Ultra Sun there are also sub stories involving the Ultra Beasts and Ultra Wormholes, which lead to “other places” but those are not really touched on in the main storyline too much.

I will admit however that the overall story is fairly basic, and focuses on the themes of friendship and hard work and is clearly designed for children and young adults.  If you are looking for the Witcher 3 levels of storytelling here, you will be disappointed.

One major change to how the story plays out is the switch from Gyms to Trials.  For me, the change from Gyms to Trials is honestly a welcome one for me.  The trials were all interesting, and fit the theme and tone of the islands.  The Trials all features particular types of Pokémon, and because you ended up with close to 14-15 trials overall, you got to face off against each type of Pokémon in a grand battle.  Further, the world felt a lot more real than previous entries.  Roads and trails frequently connect to multiple locations, and distances travelled felt realistic as well.  The towns all had diners, cafes, stores, and more that you could visit, and plenty of people to interact with and help.  One of the first things I did in fact each time I got to a new region was to explore as much of it as I could, looking for off the beaten path locations, secrets, and trainers.  Plus of course, all the various Pokémon I could chase down and capture.  The world even evolved as the story moved forward, with Alola changing a little towards the end.  Overall out of the few Pokémon games I have played this has to be my favorite for the journey.  It also helps that Hau felt less like a real rival and more like a true friend, both of us trying to train our teams to be the very best, while helping each other through the journey.  And what a journey it was.  Let’s talk about how the game plays.

GAMEPLAY

Let’s get this out of the way right now: Pokémon by and large can be a fairly simple game on the surface.  And if you just play it without paying attention to the nuance of it, you can miss out on quite a bit.  However, at the same time, you don’t NEED to learn all the nuances like strengths and weaknesses, or STAB or Breeding or EV/IV and things to really enjoy the game either.  It’s as basic as you need it to be, or as deep as you want it to be.  I also want to be clear that I am by NO MEANS an expert, and I am a PVE (that’s Player vs Environment) player.  I do not get into competitive battling, which is cutthroat and highly complex.

Controls are simple: You use the Circle Pad or DPad to move on screen, or select things.  You have an inventory system made up of bags which stores your potions and consumables, your TMs (machines that can teach moves to Pokémon), your beans, and more.  You also have your party of 6 Pokémon, which are the focus of the game.  You will spend your time wandering the islands of Alola, using the Riding Pokémon to speed up travel, encountering other trainers to battle for cash and wild Pokémon in the tall grass to capture.  Battles are a turn based affair as well, with you vs the other trainer in a 1v1 match (sometimes 2v2).  The trials are a combination of gauntlet (usually involving other trainers or wild Pokémon) and puzzles, involving simple switches to move things around, or slides, and the like.  You can also visit Pokemon Centers to buy items and heal your team, and use the Pokémon PC and Box system to store hundreds of your little friends.

But the real magic of Pokémon?  It’s the creatures the games take their name from.

Pokémon is all about the little creatures you find and capture, and train to make up your party.  In Ultra Sun there are over 700 little beasties to hunt down and catch, and each one has a combination of moves, strengths, and weaknesses that make it different from the rest.  A Pokémon can only ever hold 4 moves, and each move has a set number of PP (Power Points) that dictate how many times you can use that move before you have to rest.  Every game starts out the same, with you choosing a “Starter” Pokémon from a Grass, Fire, or Water type.  These typically evolve twice (yes, Pokémon can evolve and change) getting stronger and learning new attacks as this happens.  In Ultra Sun your options are Rowlet (Grass), Litten (Fire), and Poplio (Water).  I for example started with Rowlet, because a tiny owl is too damn cute to not use!

Each Pokémon can have 1 or 2 “Types”.  For example Rowlet is Grass.  These types can also change when the Pokémon evolves.  Rowlett eventually becomes a Grass/Ghost type when they evolve to Decidueye, for example.  Types dictate what the Pokémon is Strong and Weak against.  Hit a Grass type with a Fire attack, and it does boosted damage, whereas hitting a Grass type with Water does less.  Attacks ALSO have types, and if your Pokémon and the attack share a type, the attack gets a STAB (Same Type Attack Boost) bonus on damage.  So if Rowlett uses a Grass attack, it gets boosted damage.

This is where learning what each enemy Pokémon’s type comes into play, and the game can get incredibly dense.  Some Pokémon are tough against physical attacks but not special attacks, for example (And yes, attacks can be SPECIAL or PHYSICAL in nature).  Learning how to maximize your teams potential, while minimizing the weaknesses you have, is crucial.  When I played the game, I went through making sure my team was themed, with either everyone being a Ghost or Steel type.  Which, comically, meant that Fire Types were for the most part my bane (both Ghost and Steel take increased damage from Fire).  It’s a challenge I give myself each time I play, using thematic Pokémon.

This is a deep RPG, despite its child like setting and themes, make no mistake.  Battles are 1 v 1, with you sending out a Pokémon and your opponent sending one out, unless it’s a double battle.  You can switch your Pokémon out during a fight or use an item, but that takes the Pokémon’s turn, and it gives your opponent a chance to get in a free hit or even heal their own Pokémon.  Double battles can get even crazier, especially when your opponents decide to have both their Pokémon attack just one of yours.  Your Pokémon’s speed stat dictates how fast it goes in battle, and when your turn comes you choose from one of the four available moves your Pokémon has learned.  Some moves are attacks, some are buffs for your team, and some are debuffs for the enemy.  There are even status effects like Poison, Sleep, Paralyze, and so on.  And to make things even more complex, every Pokémon has an “Ability” that gives it a unique effect.  Metagross has Clear Body which prevents Status Lowering effects (things that might drop its attack or defense) from bothering it, for example, where Arcanine has Intimidate, which cuts the opponents Pokémon’s Physical Attack down.  Geodudes can have Sturdy, which make them survive lethal damage once with 1 HP.  Every Pokémon has 2 abilities it can come with, and you will almost NEVER know what your opponents have.

To make things even more complicated, you are level gated.  You see, Pokémon only listen to a seasoned trainer.  As you complete trials, the max level a Pokémon will obey you without question goes up.  But if a Pokémon goes beyond that level, then they might ignore your commands, meaning they will not do anything in battle.  This prevents you from simply level grinding to overpower enemies with sheer force.  Traded Pokémon make this even worse, as they gain BOOSTED XP during fights!  I used quite a few traded Pokémon in my team, and there were multiple instances where I simply outleveled my trainer card, and had to resort to hoping my weakest Pokémon would survive and let me defeat my enemies, because my stronger ones just wouldn’t listen to me.  My Metagross Hiemdall was my saving grace for a lot of this, because I actually caught him and trained him up on my own from his unevolved form Beldum.

All of this adds up to an incredibly deep and satisfying game, which is as complicated as you want it to be, nevermind things like IV and Effort Values which I still personally do not understand (it has to do with stat growth on level up and things) and natures.  Or breeding your Pokémon, or the various side activities or the Player vs Player stuff.  Collecting all the outfits, getting all the Z-Crystals, ect ect ect.

There are also plenty of stuff you can do with other people outside of battling, such as the Festival Plaza and Trading.  Wonder Trade is my favorite trading method, where you submit a Pokémon and randomly get one in return from someone else.  I spent several hours total just repeatedly sending out Pokémon and getting ones in return, just to see what people would send.

The answer is a whole lotta Magikarps, just saying.

Finally, there is the Post Game.  In Ultra Sun, the game is NOT OVER when you complete the main story and become the Champion of Alola.  In fact, there is an entire Epilogue called “Team Rainbow Rocket” and plenty of activities you can complete once you are champion.  Hell there are entire areas that only become accessible once you are champion!  For the first time, for example, YOU CAN DEFEND YOUR TITLE!  You can actually go and face off against people who want to take you down and become Champ in your place.  I haven’t dug too deep into the Post Game, as after 40 hours of regular Pokémon I needed a change, but it’s just as deep and compelling as the main story.  Such as hunting down the various Ultra Beasts and Legendaries (yes, there are special Legendary Pokémon which are even stronger than most normal ones out there) that exist in the Ultra Wormholes.

FINAL VERDICT

If you could not tell, this game is something else.  It’s an epic culmination of years and years of games and history, and it shows.  Truth be told, this is my favorite of the Pokémon games I have played, and one I fully intend to come back to on my system when I feel the urge.  The story, the world, the style of this game just exceeds every expectation I had for it.

If you have a New 2DS XL or 3DS system you should definitely get this (Or Ultra Moon, they are effectively the same game with just a few different Pokémon available to them) if you are looking for a relaxing yet deep RPG with tons to do and see.  If however things that are very kid friendly and feel at times like it’s come out of a child’s anime are not your thing, you might want to steer clear, as the story, while solid, is pretty basic.

You can pick up Pokémon Ultra Sun / Ultra Moon from the following places, and it’s well worth the $40 price.

The Nintendo Store – https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/pokemon-ultra-sun-3ds

Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/Pokémon-Ultra-Sun-Nintendo-3DS/dp/B071WNTGFY/

Gamestop – https://www.gamestop.com/nintendo-3ds/games/pokemon-ultra-sun/149398

Walmart – https://www.walmart.com/ip/Pokemon-Ultra-Sun-Nintendo-Nintendo-3DS-045496904555/664937166

Videos belong to their original creators.  They should give you a prime example of the kind of content you can expect from Ultra Sun / Ultra Moon.

My Dream Virtual Tabletop

Picture this:

You open up this Software, punch in or select the server you want to connect to. When you load up, you are looking out in First Person into a 3D World. The DM is already there, of course, and is invisible. You hit a button and pull up your character sheet, checking your inventory. Your friends all load in, and over the voice chat, you hear your DM start to speak “When last we left off, you had entered the Caves of Dread, to hunt the goblin warlord Smark. Before you stands a set of iron doors” and you turn your camera around to SEE the doors, standing there, surrounded by the rough stone of the cave. One of the others in your party goes up to the doors, and you can see their character model, a dwarf in heavy armor. They say “I open the door!” and the GM has the door open, and through it you can see 6 goblins, all standing around beds and tables. “The goblins appear to be engrossed in something and don’t notice you!” You all get ready to enter combat, and you hear the DM say “Roll Initiative!”

I love tabletop RPGs. But I never play in person anymore. Thanks to technology, I actually don’t have to. Between Roll20, Fantasy Grounds, Power VTT, and then other options like Play by Post forums, Tabletop Simulator, or Discord RPing I have a wealth of options for virtual tabletop.

But I still feel we as a hobby are not fully utilizing the power of technology. You see, right now the big Virtual Tabletop systems mimic one very specific style of play: Grid maps + Tokens. Tabletop Simulator enables the use of minis and terrain, but it has its own issues (which I will discuss later).

What I want to see is an advancement in tech for Virtual styled tabletops. Above, I give an example of the kind of thing I really want to see. A Fully 3D world, explored by the party in First Person and built by the DM for their game. Imagine that.

The idea came to me from a literal dream. I had this dream that someone had, essentially, modded Minecraft. They had added in a full DND Character Sheet, with clickable rolling like Roll20 has. They added in a dice roller as well, and monster sheets for the models. Someone had created models for the game as well, stuff like Dragons, Beholders, and so on. In my dream, I was the GM, and the players got to explore a full 3D town, climb around, and look at things in detail. While shopping they got to enter a shop with shelves full of items that I described, and got to talk to a shopkeeper who had a stationary model in place. It was a wild dream. And its stuck with me for a long time.

And the simple fact is: We have the technology to DO THIS!

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are options out there that sorta kinda do this, such as Divinity Original Sin 2’s DM mode, or Neverwinter Nights, or even the aformentioned Tabletop Simulator, but they dont do it exactly the way I want. To break it down, here is what my dream VTT would have:

System Neutral, with support for multiple character sheets.

  1. 3D World. Whether Voxel based (Minecraft) or more like Skyrim, I want 3D Explorable spaces
  2. GM Control. The GM can add or subtract anything they want, teleport characters around, ect.
  3. Character Customization. Players should be able to make their avatars look like their characters, as best as they can. Not with equipable gear mind, but at least hair, eye color, species, ect
  4. Dice Roller, and Clickable Character Sheets. Look at Roll20 and how they do their character sheets and you get the idea
  5. Non Grid Movement for Out of Combat, and Grid Movement (if wanted) for IN combat.
  6. Voice Chat. You don’t really need Webcams in this case built in, because you will BE your character, but having built in voice would be handy
  7. First Person perspective. I want to feel like I AM my character when playing.
  8. Community Content Support. Similar to the Roll20 Marketplace, I want people to be able to sell new Prefab buildings, new tiles, new monster and character model options.
  9. Multiplayer (OBVIOUSLY).
  10. Persistence. we need to be able to save the world state at all times, so people can load in right where they left off.

Imagine if you were playing Skyrim, but with a GM controlling everything around you. Thats the kind of vision I have (although graphically I would be fine with Minecraft TBH)

When you enter the Invulnerable Vagrant, you could SEE the shop, SEE the shelves, SEE Pumat Sol!
When you explore Waterdeep you could go find the Yawning Portal Tavern, go into the back and see the descent into Undermountain! See the patrons, hell hear the music!
You could wander the streets of your homebrew world, in realtime

Immersion would be off the charts. And thats what I really want.

Not everyone will, however. Personally, I love the idea of merging Tech and Tabletop more and more, at least for those of us who play online exclusivly. And if people did not want immersive enviroments I am pretty sure things like Dwarven Forge would not exist. The entire point of that is to create 3D maps for players to move their minis through and see the amazing visual representation of the world.

I want that but for us online players, because right now? We do not have it.

Now bear in mind, there are some alternative options out there that kinda sorta do this, or have tried to.

First, we got Tabletop Simulator, a piece of software that does exact what its name says. It simulates an actual physical table. You can play board games with it, wargames, and yes Tabletop. It even has a store with models that could mimic Dwarven Forge style boards. The issues however is one of performance. The thing renders each item in real time, and all of the items have physics, which means the bigger you make a map or the more details you have, the slower EVERYTHING gets. My PC struggled with a card game I played on it for a stream because it renders EACH CARD. Its an option, but its not first person which removes the immersion factor I want. Cost for this is also $20 a copy. You can purchase it on steam here.

Next we have an older option, Neverwinter Nights. I played the HELL out of this game when it was released, both the main campaign for the base game and each expansion, and TONS of custom modules. Its honestly a great option…if you want 3rd Edition DND only, and dont mind Isometric Perspective. But honestly, if this were first person, with the town / world design options, and I could run 3rd Ed, 4th Ed, Storyteller (World of Darkness), 5th Ed DND, Savage Worlds, ect in it? It would be almost perfect. It was BUILT to be a digital tabletop option for DND, and its still the BEST option for 3rd Ed gaming if you want to use it. Seriously, if you play 3rd Ed DND, and you can drop $20 on the Enhanced Edition this is a great great GREAT option, especially with all the community added content, adding in things like Prestige Classes, new base classes, models, ect. Just the Isometric View may not be for everyone. The 3rd person camera mode is…kinda bad (control wise) so I never used it. It MIGHT work ok? Maybe? Thought, to be honest, even single player the game is worth your time so ya might wanna snag it on steam here.

Finally, we have Divinity Original Sin 2 and its GM mode. Now in this case, its a newer game, good controls, and solid option with tons of customization. However, the game you play will STILL be Divinity Original Sin 2. Mechanically, you have to effectively learn a whole new system in order to play this. Its again Isometric as well, and I want first person. Thankfully the single player is well loved, and has co op, so its still a good game, but for what I am after this really does not fit the bill whatsoever. Its also $45 a copy on steam here.

The simple fact is we have the technology for some enterprising dev out there to create this insane idea, and I hope that in the future someone DOES grab onto this. Without using VR this is as close as we can truly get to living and playing in the worlds we all create together, and I for one would love to be able to explore Faerun, Sigil, and my own worlds in 3D with my friends, taking them on adventures, showing them the magical places created by myself and maybe others, and feeling like we truly are our characters.

Thanks for reading, and one day I hope to explore some magical worlds with you. Stay Nerdy everyone.