Monday 10 September 2012

Kickstarting a free RPG? Check out The Artefact

Being obsessed with philanthropy means that I've only had a passing interest in Kickstarter. However, my interest was piqued when I learned that Emmett O'Brian had launched a Kickstarter for his free Sci Fi RPG The Artefact. I love The Artefact (you can tell from my review), not only is it a fantastically well thought out setting but from a personal point of view, it made me return to Icar and improve it.

Kickstarter... for a free game... come again?

Kickstarter is a site for community funding projects. Emmett's brilliant idea is to raise money to update the graphics throughout the book and then do a print run. Depending on your budget, you can get a floppy or stiff one (soft or hard cover), or have your name listed in-game for a dollar - which I rather like.

The more I think about it, the better the idea is.

Why The Artefact?

So original, I can't think of anything more original to write hereScience fiction roleplaying games tend to be thinly veiled reproductions* of one of the following:
  • Star Wars
  • Star Trek
  • Traveller
The Artefact is really something new - based on a huge elliptical world where alien races are battling for control of it. As humans arriving on The Artefact, you must discover its secrets, learn new technology and explore without being turned into vapour. The shape of the Artefact is core to its design, with all of the horrid physics worked out for you so that you can enjoy the science rather than be baffled by it.

Don't believe me? You can download it now!. Or get the Alpha for the latest version.

Put my money where my mouth is

I've chucked cash at it because I'd love to hold The Artefact in my hands. I'm not the only one who thinks this is super, Rogue Games is a huge fan as is Nils, the world builder behind Enderra. If you've ever wanted a chance to say thank you to the philanthropists, this is it.

* My Icar included. It's about as original as Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Monday 3 September 2012

If you were to have a library of free RPGs, what would it do?

I am leading the community to build a new library for free roleplaying games and I want... no, I need your ideas and feedback. Am I going about this the right way or am I barking up the wrong tree?

I do love my free RPGs. You know that by now. I've got a whole bunch of them on a hard drive at home. Most of them serve as a static and yet beautiful digital time capsule from a time when someone had an idea to share. Free RPGs have been shared online since the early usenet days and now there are a lot. 1KM1KT does a modest job of containing 669 of them - and counting. It does a reasonable job too - but it could be better. Browsing and exploring is difficult and search is fine when you know what you're looking for.


This is the codename for an idea that's been buzzing around the intertubes for a while: a prupose-built repository for all free RPGs and a spiritual home for their authors. The forum does a wonderful job of supporting the authors but the games themselves need a better home.

What should it do?

I believe it needs to be like deviantArt but for free RPGs. I started putting together some concepts and got some great feedback but I want more. Coding wise, I am putting together the framework and domain. There are areas I can get working without too much input - I know there will be a shared login with the forum and that we'll need document upload.

While I am getting that sorted, I need more feedback from the community - that's you, dear Reader - about what you would want from it. Whether you're a seasoned philanthropist with 10 games to your name or someone who loves finding them and reading them, I need your feedback.


Here are some crayon sketches of what it might look like. On the left is a home screen with the latest games, a featured game and random ones from the archive. On the right is the "Game" screen where you get to add documents, author, description and so on. The orange bits are help bubbles. The brown lines are Felix, my son, who wanted to help.

Crayon is where it starts

Generally speaking, I think that the model would work a bit like this:

  • A Document is a file, such as a PDF or Doc.
  • A Document has a unique version.
  • A Product has at least one document. Most will have only one.
  • A Game has at least one product. Core rules, settings and so on.
  • A Document has at least one Author.
  • A Product or Game is authored by all the authors on its documents.
  • A Game has a description and a bunch of taxonomic tags
  • A Document has a moderation state. (This is only to avoid spammers).
  • A User can be a Visitor (no login), a Guest (logged in) or an Editor (logged in with permissions)

That's the core of the model and I think it serves as a starting point. You could add another layer such as a publisher, which is a collection of Games (such as Stargazer Games) but that will come later.

Technical talk

This is the bit that you either understand or it's me saying "blah blah blah" - don't worry, it'll only help anyone thinking about volunteering! I will probably end up coding the majority myself but I will be giving out the system to the community by hosting it on GitHub. Coded in PHP with MySQL database, it will be built on the Symfony 2 framework (which has Doctrine 2 for ORM and database Migrations). It also has Twig templating, which is a well featured template engine. All the styling will start with Twitter's Bootstrap, which I will override later to create the site theme.

Now it's time for your brain!

What do you think it should do? Are there any killer features you think it needs? All ideas great and small are warmly welcome. I know comments are a bit low-fi for some opinions, so feel free to blog it, pop to 1KM1KT, G+ or send me an email on Please do not assume I would have thought of something. There are implementation details I've not included here, so you might find me saying "Thank you, yes, we'll do that!". That would be cool, it means we're all thinking along the same lines.

No idea is too stupid. Alright, some ideas are too stupid but I'm really nice to people who babble madness!

Now's your chance to make a big difference.