ffutures: Flatland map (Flatland)
Sales of The Original Flatland Role Playing Game, which is sold in aid of Doctors Without Borders, have been slow recently. I've decided to try an experiment; I've put the complete game rules and two adventures on line as a free download, omitting another adventure and some adventure outlines, the cutout characters, the wargame, the "serious scientific stuff", the novel, etc. I'm hoping that this will be enough of a "taster" that people will be tempted to buy the complete game. It's a bit over a megabyte download, accessible here:


I don't think that there are any problems, but I'd be grateful if people could check it out and see if they spot any; if so please comment below.

ffutures: Flatland map (Flatland)
I'm thinking about cutting the price on the Flatland RPG, a Forgotten Futures variant. It's currently $6.99 and not selling very well. All of the proceeds go to Doctors Without Borders, and I might sell more and possibly make more for them if the price were lower - it doesn't affect me either way. So, given this, let's have a quick poll...

[Poll #1183369]
ffutures: Flatland map (Flatland)
I got on faster than I expected this evening and now have the first draft scan of Hinton's An Episode of Flatland on line. As far as I know this is the first time the complete text has been put on line - this may be because it simply isn't as good a book as Abbott's Flatland, although the physical world described (at least in the introduction) is a good deal more scientifically plausible than the original. Unfortunately later sections tend to under-emphasise the peculiar nature of the 2D world. I still think I can do something with it for RPG purposes, though the next Forgotten Futures will come first.


I'd be grateful for comments before I put up links to it - there are probably lots of errors I've missed.
ffutures: Flatland map (Flatland)
I've been very quiet about RPGs lately because things have been a bit stuck; sometimes things just don't want to be written. But I finally have some news.

For a while I've been trying to think of things to put in the next Flatland release. I have an adventure outline (a crossover with Forgotten Futures), some sample characters for it, and an article about religion in Flatland. That isn't enough to be worthwhile putting together as a PDF. However, I now have something better - a completely new game world.

The book is Charles Hinton's "An Episode of Flatland," which takes a different slant at 2D worlds, basing its physics much more on our own universe. Worlds are 2D disks, with 2D creatures living on the rim, in the same way that we live on the surface of a globe. The dimensions its inhabitants experience are Up-Down and East-West, rather than the NSEW of Flatland. There's never been a complete on-line version of the text - everyone seems to have scanned the Dover edition, part of a collection of Hinton's writings, which is heavily cut. I've been trying to get hold of a copy of the orginal book for the last couple of years, and finally acquired one last week on eBay. It reached me today, and I hope to start work on scanning etc. next week.

This is essentially going to be a separate game, but written in a similar style to Flatland and with some crossover potential. Again I'll be donating all proceeds to Doctors Without Borders. It'll include the Flatland / Forgotten Futures crossover adventure I mentioned above, which I'll rewrite so that it's usable with both systems - this will hopefully encourage people to buy both.

I'm still looking for a title for this - for various reasons "Coinworld" or "Rimworld" seem the most plausible, but if anyone has any better ideas let me know.

I should add that this is a long term thing - I hope to complete something for Forgotten Futures first, but for various reasons I don't want to say anything about that just yet. It probably won't be the clubland thing I discussed some time ago, that isn't coming together very well and I'm going to put it on hold pending a major rewrite, and work on something else instead. With luck I'll have more to say about this in a week or two.

As for the Dianaverse... well, I think I'm just going to have to leave it for a while; Dali's / Gandhi's Angels just isn't working, and again I think the best thing I can do is put it on hold and think about other things for a while, and hope that I come up with something better.

So hopefully things are starting to move, but fairly slowly. I doubt that I'll have anything to launch this year, but with luck 2008 will be interesting...
ffutures: illos from the novel by George Griffith (Angel of the Revolution)
Yesterday's Dragonmeet was, as always, extremely good fun. Also exhausting, since I had a sore throat from the start.

I made a big mistake in the pacing of the first Flatland / Forgotten Futures adventure, which ended up lasting just under two hours instead of nearly three - the problem was that I originally designed it with a Forgotten Futures detective phase which given the time constraints would have had to be done entirely by NPCs; instead the players (as Flatlanders temporarily occupying 3D bodies) got to cross London, destroy things and frighten the horses, then rescue someone and destroy a nameless evil (with rugose tentacles). I think everyone had some fun, but it was a lot shorter and more linear than originally intended. I'll write it up properly when I'm a bit better. One possibility is that some of the players could run two characters, one human and one Flatlander, with the human leaving the stage in the second act.

I'd compounded my timing error by allowing an hour's break between sessions, instead of half an hour, so ended up sitting and talking to passing friends for nearly two hours between games. Fortunately [livejournal.com profile] doctor_toc is now resident in the UK and made it to the con, and helped me out by table-sitting while I got lunch and had a fast mooch around the dealers. Also saw Phil Masters, Mike Cule, [livejournal.com profile] pwca, [livejournal.com profile] karohemd and other familiar faces.

The afternoon Diana Warrior Princess session in which Diana and Elvis characters (through a bureaucratic mistake during a silly-season crossover episode) ended up in the afterlife - it went well, but I think the plot needed more work. It seemed to go down well enough, but I hadn't quite thought through some of the things the players might do, so a lot of improvisation was needed. Such as coming up with a version of Death - yes, with the scythe - whose idea of playing Rock - Paper - Scissors was to materialise a boulder over the head of the person challenging him. The Supreme Being (a John Cleese clone, of course) seemed to go over well, as did various undead barmen, talking lizards, etc. Again, I'll write it up eventually.

After that I nipped home and dumped my stuff, and got back in time for the auction where I singularly failed to get any of the things I bid on - I only had 50 quid left, and that wasn't nearly enough for the things I wanted. It raised £1600+ for children's charities, which I think is a record for Dragonmeet. Highest price was the last item, signed and dedicated copies of the recent Dork Tower cartoons about Dragonmeet - bought by Angus Abranson for I think £400. Unfortunately [livejournal.com profile] muskrat_john didn't make it over this year, so he'll have to wait on the transatlantic post. After that I was pretty shattered and ended up going home for an early night. Didn't even make it to the post-con booze-up today because I just didn't feel up to it.

Later edit - sorry, that was £450 for the cartoons, and it's Angus who'll have to wait, of course, since [livejournal.com profile] muskrat_john will be sending them from the USA.

My big disappointment was that all of my sales were Diana and Elvis material - none for Forgotten Futures or Flatland, despite lots of people admiring the plastic cutout characters for Flatland and apparently liking the game concept. Again, it would really help if the game got more publicity, higher ratings on e23, etc., so if you've bought it and liked it please say so. Remember that all proceeds go to Doctors Without Borders.

I've been thinking about the long-term future of Forgotten Futures, and one possibility I'm considering is to make the core rules mechanisms (in the PDF version up to page 37) available on a free basis - anyone would be able to use them for their own games, add additional rules, etc., subject only to an acknowledgement of their source - and to allow anyone to write and sell worldbooks and adventures based on the complete rules (but not to print the entire 100-page rule book unless they want to pay royalties) if they don't want to develop their own game. I won't make money out of this directly, but Forgotten Futures is a reasonably flexible system and it ought to work reasonably well as an "engine" for most types of game, and encourage people to look at my material. At this stage this is still a "something I might do" idea, not a firm proposal, and I'd be grateful for comments.
ffutures: Flatland map (Flatland)
So far the list is:

  • Albert Square - heretical lunatic and mathematician
  • Professor Quatremass - professional sceptic - suggested by [livejournal.com profile] sharikkamur
  • Ellery Quinn - the great detective
  • Rhombus - an immortal who owes his power to a tiny extension into the third dimension
  • Lois Line - unusually intelligent female reporter for the Logopolis Daily Plane, in search of a story that will make her name. This was inspired by [livejournal.com profile] kip_w's suggestion of Perry Llelogram.

Just need one more, preferably some sort of mathematician with at least 5-6 sides. Any suggestions?

LATER: [livejournal.com profile] speakr2customrs has suggested Septimus Prime, which I think will do nicely. Also got some nice suggestions which will do for NPCs and/or future adventures. Thanks, everyone!
ffutures: Flatland map (Flatland)
I've printed the Flatland Cut-Out Characters tonight, 4 a4 sheets in a plastic wallet with title page, but I think I want to add at least one more sheet of stuff that isn't in the book to add value. Since I'm running a little low on coloured toner I think this may end up being black and white. So which of the following would be most useful:

A typical Flatland home (some assembly reqired)

Some character outlines - draw your own internal structure.

Scenery of some sort.

Something else.

I'm inclined to think that the home is most useful, but I'm happy to consider other ideas.
ffutures: (Default)
Trying to work out what I'll be selling at Dragonmeet, so far the list is

Official Flatland RPG - all proceeds to Doctors Without Borders
PDF (on CD-ROM with Forgotten Futures freebies) £4.00
Cut-out flatlanders (colour laser printed on transparent plastic, 4 A4 sheets) £ 2.50

Diana, Warrior Princess - 20% to Cancer Research UK
Diana, Warrior Princess (book) £ 7.00
Diana, Warrior Princess (PDF with Forgotten Futures freebies) £ 3.00
Elvis, The Legendary Tours (PDF with Forgotten Futures freebies) £ 2.50

Forgotten Futures - all proceeds to Cancer Research UK
Forgotten Futures IX with extras £ 2.00

Pricing of the PDFs is a straight dollar conversion from the e23 prices with a small amount added for the blank CD-ROMs, wallets, labels etc.

I really wish that I could be ready to launch Forgotten Futures X and the other stuff I'm developing, but well into next year looks more likely.
ffutures: Flatland map (Flatland)
I got a royalties cheque from e23 yesterday which included my first payments for The Original Flatland Role Playing Game - I can't pay it in for a few days, but it seemed time to make my first donation to Doctors Without Borders. As near as I can figure it out my take so far is about 48 pounds, give or take a pound, so I've given the charity fifty pounds which with tax benefits will come out at about sixty going to the charity. Of course I'd like it to be more next time...

So if you haven't bought it yet, please take a look - and if you have, please give it a rating!

ffutures: (Default)
I haven't posted much in the last few days because I've been pretty busy at work, and pretty tired when I get home. This is fairly typical for the first couple of weeks of the new academic year, when I'm still getting up to speed, hopefully things will be on a more even keel soon.

One small titbit of news; I got some sales figures from e23 a couple of days ago, and while The Original Flatland RPG hasn't sold as well as I had hoped, I should still be able to give Doctors Without Borders about fifty pounds once the next royalty cheque reaches me. Meanwhile Diana continues to sell moderately well, with Elvis trailing it a little. None of this will make me even remotely rich, unfortunately, but I wasn't really expecting that anyway.

If anyone has bought Flatland or any of my other games from e23 I really would be VERY grateful if you could rate them; that really does seem to help sales, and since Flatland is entirely a charity project it needs all the help it can get.

In other news, I've written a little more of FF X and the advertising thing, not as much as I'd hoped because of tiredness, and am making occasional notes for fanfic in my rare quiet moments. Don't expect to see anything soon, it just isn't gonna happen.
ffutures: (lost world)
Apparently there have already been more than fifty downloads of the FF PDF from e23, and I've been asked to PLEASE not make any more changes unless it's absolutely essential in case all of them download it again. I've also had more registrations than usual in the last few days; not a huge increase, but enough to convince me that doing this was worth while, and that putting more freebies on line occasionally, over and above the normal game releases, will also be a good idea if I can do it without overextending myself.

I'm vaguely thinking of an "advertising supplement" next, say 32 pages of adverts from Pearson's Magazine, Gamage's catalogue, etc., if I can find enough fun ones. Does this sound interesting?

I'm also going to look at freebies for Diana and Flatland; I'm not sure what they'll be, but I'm sure I can come up with something.
ffutures: Cover for Diana: Warrior Princess rpg (diana)
Diana is back in the top ten for the last 30 days at e23; admittedly it's right at the bottom, with a less-than-massive eight sales, but it's there. It seems to be plodding along at about the same level it's had most of the time since I launched it, except for a couple of peaks (the initial rush when I launched it, and another short burst when I launched Elvis...), so presumably only nine other PDFs have outsold it in the last 30 days. If so, Diana is doing better than a thousand-odd other products. I suspect that this is a temporary blip, possibly due to thousands of the most rabid D20 gamers being at Gencon, since the usual bottom number is at least 12 or so. If not this does not bode well for the future of PDF publication...

Having said that, it's cheering that all of my stuff has made it into the top ten, and Diana has done so three times now. Today I got confirmation that e23 will be carrying Forgotten Futures as a freeby, and it'd be interesting to see what happens with that one - but I suspect that free downloads don't go into the charts.

It'd be very nice to see The Original Flatland RPG back in there, since all of its takings go to charity. If you've bought it please give it a rating, that might help to sway undecided buyers; if not, go spend some money!
ffutures: Flatland map (Flatland)
One of the reasons why I haven't been posting much is that I've been writing a Flatland article which I've just sent to Pyramid magazine - if they decide that they don't want to use it I'll probably put it on line on my own site. Basically, it's about the problems facing the Circles that rule Flatland, and some of their opposition. You don't need it to play the game, but it might be a useful source of ideas. I wanted to get it out quickly, while the game is still in the charts.

My next priority is probably going to have to be more work on Forgotten Futures, still some scanning to do, then I can start writing the next release. After that Gandhi, and if I have any odd moments more fanfic updates.
ffutures: Flatland map (Flatland)
The Original Flatland Role Playing Game has just made it into e23's top ten for the last 30 days, in equal last place with Elvis: the Legendary Tours. Hopefully it's going to climb higher, and more sales and a few reviews and ratings would help that, of course. Since this is a charity project I'm especially keen to see it do well.

So far everything I've sold via e23 has made it into their top ten, which I think is pretty good going. Diana: Warrior Princess even went back into the charts for a few days, piggy-backing on Elvis's new players. I think I may put a free PDF version of Forgotten Futures on their site if they'll let me, it ought to introduce a few new players to the game.
ffutures: Flatland map (Flatland)
The Original Flatland Role Playing Game is now available for sale.


Let's hope it makes some money for charity.
ffutures: Flatland map (Flatland)
It's now a couple of days since I had any new feedback on Flatland, and so I've had a last read through, corrected an error on the back cover and some other small stuff, and sent it off to e23.

I've decided to go with a price of $6.99; I think that the game's worth it, and I have a feeling that it'll go pretty well if it gets some honest reviews. If any reviewers don't already have the download details (for those of you who do, it's the same as the previous drafts) please contact me.

I've no idea how long it will be before it's available for download, hopefully no more than a couple of weeks. I'll post again once it's for sale, of course.

Many thanks to everyone who commented on my ramblings while I was putting it together - I hope that you'll think that the final results are worth it.
ffutures: Flatland map (Flatland)
I've put a Flatland sampler on line - I'd appreciate comments on whether it looks like a good mix of pages etc. It's about 650k.

ffutures: Flatland map (Flatland)
Spurred on by [livejournal.com profile] heliograph's nagging, and the realisation that I have better things to do with my life than wait two weeks before spending a day shopping for a (possibly) cheaper version of Acrobat at a computer fair, I bit the bullet yesterday and ordered a copy of the educational version (yes, Matt, I am legally entitled to buy it at the educational price) at a mere £99, which I think is about 2½ times the cost an American would pay for it, but never mind...

It arrived today and I've spent the evening making the PDF - had to do it twice, unfortunately, since the first time I realised (needless to say after I'd finished inserting all the chapter links) that I didn't have the Distiller settings right for the defaults Steve Jackson Games want.

I'd be VERY grateful if everyone who has access could take a look - it's in the same place and password etc, as the previous version - and let me know if there's anything that seems odd - I've tried it in Acrobat, Acrobat Reader on PC and Mac, Foxit Reader, and Mac OS-X preview and it works OK with all of them, so hopefully it's good. File size has unfortunately risen to 5.05mb.

There are also some text changes in the initial character generation section, mostly related to the nature of Flatland women and their characteristics, and femme fatale Lotte Linear is now on the page of cutout figures.

I'm aiming to get this out to e23 next week if I can, so comments by July 4th would be appreciated. If all goes well I'll get the final draft finished then.

In other news Elvis: The Legendary Tours has just made the "What's Hot" list of games sold in the last 30 days on e23, although it's right at the bottom. Who knows, one day it may reach the dizzying heights of bottom but one or so, if a couple more copies are sold...
ffutures: Flatland map (Flatland)
I just realised that I don't have any named female characters in The Original Flatland Role Playing Game. Not entirely surprising, given their rather limited status in the setting, but I might as well give a name to the big cutout figure. Here's her picture:

Lovely, isn't she...

My first thought was Linda Linear, and make her a relative of another character I have with that surname, but I think I'd prefer something else. Any suggestions?
ffutures: Flatland map (Flatland)
I've just had a fairly embarassing exchange of messages with the guys who distribute the Flatland film which (after a lot of confusion) established that there are in fact three animated versions, not two, and that the IMDB record for the 1982 version (directed by Michelle Emmer) is in fact describing the 1965 version directed by Eric Martin with the voice of Dudley Moore.

It turns out individuals can buy the latter for the "cheap" price of $29.95, or about $2.72 a minute. The institutional price is $70. I think I'll pass...

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