And after years of work, he has received word that he has passed his exams . . . he's now a Certified Public Accountant.
Congratulations to Kelly Singletary, CPA!
-- Steve Jackson
Instead, we will sell individual unpackaged Ogre vehicles and figures through Warehouse 23. This is a good way to fine-tune your army for the exact force mix you want . . . BUT . . . if you have a local game store, please visit THEM to buy your boxed sets. We do not want to take business from the stores that support US. So . . .
(a) Our online prices are set so that if you buy the individual parts of a boxed set, you are NOT saving any significant money over a store purchase of the set (and sometimes it works out to be a bit higher!);
(b) We don't put a new vehicle into Warehouse 23 until we have shipped all our pre-orders to distributors and built up our stocks to handle re-orders. This means that, on the average, your store will have the new boxed sets 3 weeks to a month before you can buy the loose figures online.
-- Steve Jackson
A newly discovered dinosaur has been named after the lead guitar for Dire Straits. See the MSNBC story, if they're online at the moment.
The Academy site reports that the deadline for products to be submitted for "eligibility" has been extended.
-- Steve Jackson
On behalf of myself and the Academy Committee--the eight individuals who manage the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design and the Origins Awards--I'd like to respond to a few of the comments you made in your Daily Illuminator "Origins Awards Rant."
Setting aside your more personal comments for a moment--and your paraphrase of Rick Loomis' position (I'll let him respond to that himself), I'd like to cut straight to your criticisms of the Origins Awards nominations process, to clear things up a bit for you and your readers.
I'll start with the "loophole" you talk about, in which you claim to be subverting the Academy's desires by encouraging designers to submit their own works. This is, I think, the crux of your misunderstanding.
This new rule isn't a "loophole." To the contrary, this is perhaps the biggest and most important change made to the Origins Award process since the formation of the Academy in 1980. Your readers might not be aware that prior to this new rule, the Academy relied solely on the input of publishers to compile the list of products eligible for the Origins Awards. If a publisher didn't submit a product--for whatever reason--the designer had no way to ensure that it was considered.
Like you, we "want EVERY game creator in the hobby to push as much as they can" through the new rule. Last month, when the process of gathering eligiblity data started, we went to great lengths to get the word out to as many designers, authors, graphic designers, and miniatures sculptors as we could, letting them know that for the first time ever, they could ensure that their works got a shot at Origins Award nomination without having to rely on companies to submit them.
As for "big companies," this move is specifically designed to reduce their influence on the Origins Awards. In the past, some companies--big and small--have chosen to submit only the single product they thought would be most likely win an Award. The other products were never considered, and the authors of those products had little recourse to get them on the bollot. Now, every designer can ensure that his or her best works get the consideration they deserve, regardless of whether the publisher thinks they are most likely to win. You seem concerned that this new process will not give every single product an equal shot at an Origins Awards nomination. True enough. The process of nominating, voting for, and selecting the Origins Awards inevitably allows only five nominees--and one winner--per category. It's a culling process, in which the nominees are culled from the submissions by the 200 or so members of the Academy, and the winner is culled from the nominees by the voting public.
Is it unfair to ask designers and companies to participate in this culling process by submitting only what they consider to be their best work, instead of every single thing--good, bad, or indifferent--that they've done during the year? We don't think so.
Finally, at the risk of "snivelling," I'd like to address your comments on the character and accessibility of the Academy Committee.
We are very proud of our many acheivements and new programs over the past few years (the new Award design, of which you are so disdainful, is only a small part of our program). This "clique" (actually, the eight Committee members, in their day jobs, work in all strata of the game industry, in companies as diverse as Guardians of Order, Alderac Entertainment Group, and, yes, Wizards of the Coast) serves the professionals of the adventure game industry with dedication and a lot of hard work--and receive nothing in return. In an endeavor such as ours, it is impossible to please all of the people all of the time, or to get everything right on the first try. But any criticism that we are lazy, self-serving, or lack dedication is way, way out of line.
I'm sorry that you find communicating with us "slightly less useful than talking to a wall." I don't know why you would say such a thing--I don't believe that I, or any Committee member, has ever failed to respond promptly and reasonably to any email or telephone call you've made--and we've certainly never badmouthed you in a public forum. I will be happy to respond personally--as I always do--to you or any of your readers that have questions or concerns about the Awards process (although please be aware that I am moving next week, so my response may be delayed for a few days).
You mentioned in your rant that you expected to receive some "hate mail" from the Committee. The tenor of your comments would seem to invite it, but the truth is that we all have the same interests at heart. I hope that you understand that, and that you'll look at these issues in a different light. I also invite you to post this message--in its entirety--for your readers' benefit. As always, if you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to drop me a line.
Charles Ryan, Chairman
Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design
Okay. I ran that in full, just so no one could say that I distorted or chopped up the other guy's story. Now responses to his claims (the boldface is me):
"This new rule isn't a "loophole." To the contrary, this is perhaps the biggest and most important change made to the Origins Award process since the formation of the Academy in 1980. Your readers might not be aware that prior to this new rule, the Academy relied solely on the input of publishers to compile the list of products eligible for the Origins Awards. If a publisher didn't submit a product--for whatever reason--the designer had no way to ensure that it was considered."
Untrue. I served on the committee for around ten years; I have no record of when I started, but my last year was '94. During my tenure, the committee worked very hard both to get complete lists from the publisher AND to check them both from members' own knowledge and from other sources, such as catalogs. We never rejected input, info, or questions from ANY source.
"Last month, when the process of gathering eligiblity data started, we went to great lengths to get the word out to as many designers, authors, graphic designers, and miniatures sculptors as we could, letting them know that for the first time ever, they could ensure that their works got a shot at Origins Award nomination without having to rely on companies to submit them."
Untrue. You posted an announcement to some industry lists, but it didn't say ANYTHING about "companies will be limited to one listing per category" or "creators will also be limited to one listing per category." It was a long message, but it parsed to nothing but "Rah, rah, authors can now ALSO list their works for nomination." Which, as I reminded you above, is not news. And the info you sent out to companies didn't even say THAT much.
"As for "big companies," this move is specifically designed to reduce their influence on the Origins Awards. In the past, some companies--big and small--have chosen to submit only the single product they thought would be most likely win an Award."
Used to be, if that happened, the committee would correct that "oversight."
"The other products were never considered, and the authors of those products had little recourse to get them on the bollot."
Untrue. At least, neither of those things was true up till 1994. I don't know what the new committee might have done since then.
"Now, every designer can ensure that his or her best works get the consideration they deserve, regardless of whether the publisher thinks they are most likely to win."
Untrue. You're permitting a designer to submit ONE work in each category . . . if they find out in time.
Worst of all, a designer could look at the official Academy website and read that the process had NOT been changed. If you read the "Awards Process" section of the "Origins Awards" page (http://gama.org/academy/awards.html) of the Academy's own website, you'll see: "Every year, in January, the Origins Awards process begins with a nominations round. Every known game company is asked to put forward several of their products in each award catagory [sic]. A ballot combining all of these potential nominees is mailed to all Fellows of the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design." So . . . not only did the committee NOT come out and say they were making this change, but the Awards Process description on the official website, as of THIS WRITING (Saturday midnight) still describes the old, inclusive process.
"You seem concerned that this new process will not give every single product an equal shot at an Origins Awards nomination. True enough."
I rest my case.
"Is it unfair to ask designers and companies to participate in this culling process by submitting only what they consider to be their best work, instead of every single thing--good, bad, or indifferent--that they've done during the year? We don't think so."
You're not asking. You're REQUIRING. Without notice.
Finally, at the risk of "snivelling," I'd like to address your comments on the character and accessibility of the Academy Committee . . . We are very proud of our many acheivements and new programs over the past few years . . .
The heck of it, Charles, is that I believe you when you say that. You are satisfied with your own performance.
"But any criticism that we are lazy, self-serving, or lack dedication is way, way out of line."
You are in a position of trust, Charles, and when you abuse that trust, deliberately or through indolence, you will get criticized. And indignantly telling me I'm out of line will not change a thing.
"I'm sorry that you find communicating with us "slightly less useful than talking to a wall." I don't know why you would say such a thing--I don't believe that I, or any Committee member, has ever failed to respond promptly and reasonably to any email or telephone call you've made . . ."
(Since I wrote my rant, Charles has given me reason to believe that the most critical thing I have sent the Committee recently, via the link on their website, might genuinely have been lost to computer problems. Nevertheless, my experience with the gentleman in the past has been that issues are waved off with denials, "I don't see that," or general protestations of competence and virtue. Which is why I have completely given up on him and am going over his head, for whatever it may be worth.)
I will be happy to respond personally--as I always do--to you or any of your readers that have questions or concerns about the Awards process. . .
Okay, you heard the man. But I suggest that your letters be copied to firstname.lastname@example.org . . .
". . . we all have the same interests at heart."
Charles, I really don't think so any more. I still hope that, while there is time, the President of GAMA will choose to act to reverse these unfair changes.
-- Steve Jackson
But here are the results of the 1,418 votes cast in our poll. These will get our official company nominations in their categories, and we'll do what we can to alert the authors of the others . . .
Best Roleplaying Game: Supplement - GURPS Steampunk. (By better than 2 to 1 over the next one, which was GURPS Ogre, which was almost 2 to 1 over the third-place item.)
Best Game Aid or Accessory - Cardboard Heroes Dungeon Floors (by a narrow margin over Traveller Deck Plan 1: Beowulf)
Best Miniature Game: Science-Fiction/Fantasy - Deluxe Ogre (our only game in that category this year, whoopee. Only listed in the poll so I wouldn't get 200 letters asking if I'd forgotten it . . .)
Best Periodical, Game-Related: Professional - Pyramid (with a margin over JTAS about equal to the difference in number of subscribers.)
Vanguard Award - Suppressed Transmission (by a narrow margin over the Munchkin's Guide to Powergaming)
Best Graphic Design: Roleplaying Game, Adventure, or Supplement - GURPS Steampunk (by a fairly narrow margin over Traveller Deck Plan 1: Beowulf)
So there you have it. Our thanks to CGI wiz Mark Cogan for building us the poll on short notice!
-- Steve Jackson
-- Suggested by Diane Donaldson
Okay. Here's the poll page. Please vote, but just once. We'll allow one full day for voting, and report the results Saturday, along with some of the commentary I've received.
No personal hate mail from the committee, I report with bemusement. A WotC employee, who is personally QUITE happy with the new awards system, flamed me on a Pyramid message board, and long-suffering GAMA president Rick Loomis fears that "it makes it sound like I agree with your entire rant, when all I said was that I'd really rather that the company be allowed to nominate all its games if it chooses." So no, to make it absolutely clear, all I was or am saying is that Rick didn't like the nomination limit any more than I did.
Other than that, I've had a couple of dozen responses, all favorable)
-- Steve Jackson
Should we even care? A recent Pyramid poll showed that only 1% of the zine's readers were seriously influenced by the awards, 38% might look at a game because it had won an award, 46% wouldn't even do that much, and 13% were mostly or completely unaware of the awards. And Pyramid readers are a fairly elite and committed group!
(Those of you who don't care at all about the awards can skip the rest of this, unless you just like reading rants.)
Still with me? OK. As far as awards go, the Origins Awards, administered by the "Academy of Adventure Game Art and Design" (a committee of GAMA), are the only game in town. Every year or so a magazine announces some kind of awards, which last as long as the magazine does. The Origins Awards at least have continuity.
Unfortunately, they don't have much continuity or credibility, not recently. The current committee has been very concerned over the past couple of years with redesigning the physical award to give it "more dignity," dressing up in tuxedos for the awards ceremony, and fooling with the nominations process, but didn't find time last year to meet its own deadlines. So it goes. (At least it's not as bad as 1991, when the awards were skipped for a year! The 1991 awards weren't given till '93, despite what the Academy website claims.)
Okay. Just what am I mad about? I'm mad because the awards committee, with no visible input from the hobby, has changed the nomination rules, in a way that benefits the big companies (okay, say it, the big COMPANY) and hurts small companies and individual authors and designers. Each company is now permitted to place ONE of its releases in each category on the nominations ballot.
This is, pure and simple, an answer to the big-company concerns about splitting "their" vote. It turns the awards from a vote on the best game into a corporate popularity contest. The big company decides which of its products it wants to win, and nominates it. And there you go.
For the small company which cares about its authors, though, it means choosing ONE author to favor. And that's grossly unfair. Let's get really specific here. Am I supposed to look at great books by David Pulver, Phil Masters, Jon Zeigler, Ken Hite, Walter Milliken and Beth McCoy, and so on, and say "Only one of these will have a CHANCE even to be NOMINATED?" No way.
My experience has been that talking with the current Awards clique is slightly less useful than talking to a wall. The wall, at least, won't snivel because you're criticizing its "volunteer" work. So I took my concerns last month to the president of GAMA, Rick Loomis.
Now, I am not whacking Rick. He's a hard-working guy. But he got back to me to say, and this is a short paraphrase of several letters, the last one received today: "I don't agree with their new process, and I tried to get them to change their minds, but they won't. I'm busy picking Origins off the floor where WotC has dropped it, and I have to run my own company, so I'm not going to take any more time on this." Note again, gang: these are my words, not his. He was polite about it and didn't use words like "drop on floor." But Rick is an honest man. He didn't weasel with me. He doesn't think this is a good use of his time.
So what am I supposed to do? The deadline is coming. I think that the new nomination process is unfair and morally corrupt. I can't come out and claim it's specifically intended to give any one Big Company a better chance to pull awards (but look at the committee leadership and members and draw your own conclusions). But for me, this is not about awards. The new process will keep worthy products from earning nominations. There is only one award in each category, but several nominations, and anything that blocks good products from a CHANCE at nomination is just rotten.
They CANNOT force me to treat my authors unfairly. So what am I doing about it?
Three things. The first one is this rant. Let's shine a light into the dark, cozy corner inhabited by the awards committee. Or, at least, let's see if anybody cares what happens to the awards.
Second, rather than ME choosing which of our products we submit for nomination, I'll run a poll tomorrow. Please log back in then. Everybody who hits this site will be eligible to vote. We'll submit the winners as our nominations. But following that, we'll do everything we can to get all our OTHER releases submitted anyway, because . . .
Third, there's a loophole in their rotten new system, and I want EVERY game creator in the hobby to push as much as they can through that loophole. Although each company can only nominate one in each category, any designer or creator can also nominate one of his own works in each category. Now, that's still rough on the more prolific creators, but it's a start. And you can always call a co-author, etc., on your other books and see if THEY will enter a nomination.
(Doesn't this remove my objection to the system? No. A loophole never justifies a bad law, and not every game can make it through anyway. Designers aren't used to having to submit their own games for nomination, and some won't get the word. Designers used to be able to trust the Academy itself to do its best to compile a complete list; that was a big part of the committee's job. Not any longer . . . I guess that was too much like WORK for the tuxedo-wearing committee members.)
So: If you're an author or designer, check with your publisher(s) and find out whether they submitted any of your work. If not, you don't have to be cut out of the process. Go to this page and fill in the form. DO IT NOW! Their stated deadline is the 27th. You better expect that these guys have THEIR nominations in already; don't expect any slack.
Yeah, I realize that if I played along with the cozy little in-group game and didn't risk "splitting the SJ Games vote" I might have a better chance of winning an award. I don't care. I'd rather lose a fair vote than win a rigged one. And I'd rather that ALL my authors, and ALL their books, got their fair shot at a nomination!
Don't let a company rig the vote. Don't FORCE the honest companies to rig it when they don't want to. Let the gamers vote and decide.
And if this all annoys you, protest to the GAMA president, email@example.com. Please be polite. It's not HIS fault. Poor Rick DOES have big things on his mind, but if he hears from enough people, he'll know this is worth a bit more attention. And if he DOESN'T get mail, he's justified in deciding that I'm a crank and it wasn't worth his time. Fair's fair.
Tomorrow: the poll, and any really juicy lines from the hate mail I expect from the committee :-)
-- Steve Jackson
"Having established that millions of cubic miles of porous metal will inevitably strike the atmosphere, it is important to consider the state of the debris . . . If the remains of the Death Star II were evenly laid upon the moon with the same density as in the original substance of the station itself (with no extra compaction) then the entire globe would be buried in a wreckage layer over half a kilometre deep. Of course, significant compaction is likely; the final depth of solid material is likely to be only a few dozen metres on average. The sanctuary moon of Endor is likely to resemble a heaven for junk scavengers . . ."
"Even if it were not for dust-induced climate shifts, the chemistry of the air and surface of the moon must be severely changed by the arrival of this immense mass of foreign material. The debris is likely to include noxious chemicals . . ."
"It is not clear whether the remnant Ewok population is large enough for the species to remain viable without extensive genetic therapy to counteract the ills of inbreeding . . ."
"All Ewoks would have been better off if the tribe which made contact with the rebels [had] continued with their original plan of killing and eating the commando team's leaders."
GURPS Atlantis is now in playtest. Pyramid subscribers can access the playtest files. And if you're not already a subscriber,
-- Keith Johnson
Russell Godwin is not leaving us, but if we told you about his new assignment, we'd have to [fnord] you. Ask again in about six weeks.
-- Steve Jackson
-- Suggested by Beth McCoy
The Ogre T-shirt is a reprint of the very limited edition one that Richard Meaden did for us years ago. Screaming green and orange on a black shirt. I don't know what it looks like on your screen, but on mine, the image is completely lame and washed out compared to the thousand-decibel loudness of the real thing.
The Goth T-shirt, on the other hand, is brand new. In modern spiky type, white on a black shirt, it asks a tough question: If you're really a Goth, where were you when we sacked Rome? Let me know if you get a good answer.
-- Steve Jackson
Combine Set 1 - Ogre Mk V (for Ogre Miniatures)
The mighty Mark V terrorized the battlefields of the Last War . . . on both sides. It was introduced by the Combine, but Paneurope fielded its own Mark Vs built from captured templates. The Mark V was the biggest cybertank to see action in any numbers. It has the intelligence of a genius, the cold savagery of a shark, and the firepower of an armor battalion.
This set contains a complete Ogre Mark V; a full "repair kit" - an extra tower and a full extra set of guns - in case of battle damage; a "swimming tower" to represent the Ogre when it's underwater; and a record card.
Stock #10-2101, ISBN 1-55634-465-1. $19.95.
Combine Set 3 - Heavy Armor Company (for Ogre Miniatures)
The big tanks that rolled across Europe with the Ogres: two Combine heavy armor squadrons, eight units in all. Each squadron is made up of the squadron leader's "Alamo" superheavy tank (a brand new unit, never before available) and three "Ranger" heavy tanks. The set is packed in a reusable plastic case.
Each heavy armor squadron is worth 30 points in Ogre Miniatures: one superheavy at 12 points, and three heavies at 6 each. The two squadrons in this box boost your army's value by 60 points.
Stock #10-2103, ISBN 1-55634-467-8. $19.95
GURPS High-Tech is a sourcebook for the technology that extends man's mind and hands. On the battlefields of 14th-century Europe or in the lonely alleys of 20th-century America, adventurers need the best equipment. Whether the problem is navigating the trackless seas or stopping the monster cold in his tracks, GURPS High-Tech has the gadget for the job.
This book details the period from the ascendance of gunpowder (Tech Level 4) through the modern era (Tech Level 7).
128 pages. Stock #6018, ISBN 1-55634-358-2. $20.95
The Ogre Book
The best Ogre articles from Space Gamer and Pyramid (and some completely new stuff, too!) are collected in this new edition of The Ogre Book. 128 pages of fiction, variant rules, new units and scenarios, cartoons, and predictions about real future warfare . . . plus introductory material and a brand-new Ogre story by Steve Jackson. This is a must for all Ogre fans.
128 pages. Stock #3202, ISBN 1-55634-461-9. $19.95.
For use with Ogre/G.E.V., Battlefields contains four new "geomorphic" maps designed to link with the G.E.V. and Shockwave maps. Now your Ogre games can be bigger than ever . . . combining these maps with the G.E.V. and Shockwave maps lets you build hundreds of different large-sized map layouts . . . up to 2 feet by 3 feet in size!
Battlefields also has eight new scenarios - two for each map - and a sheet of counters. New rules include cheap cannon-fodder Militia, Engineers to build bridges, and Revetments to let you improve a defensive position.
Stock #7207, ISBN 1-55634-441-4. $14.95.
-- Keith Johnson
Attaboy! There's hope for the Post yet!
You can post your letter online, or send it to Letters From the Heart, PO Box 2319, Costa Mesa, CA 92628-2319.
-- Suggested by Jason Sharp
But not while drinking liquids -- unless you needed a new keyboard anyway.
-- Steve Jackson
David L. Pulver, author of such popular books as GURPS Vehicles and GURPS Mecha, has joined the Steve Jackson Games staff as Line Editor for GURPS Transhuman Space. He will oversee development of this new series, as well as writing for other SJ Games lines.
"I'm very pleased to be given this opportunity," David said. "I've had a long and fruitful relationship with Steve Jackson Games -- they published my very first book -- and I look forward to working on Transhuman Space and other GURPS projects."
David has been a freelance author in the game industry since 1988. Until recently he was also staff writer and anime line developer at Guardians of Order, and he continues to do development work for them on a part-time basis. David has written or co-authored over 30 roleplaying games and supplements (including 17 GURPS books). His credits include GURPS Bio-Tech, GURPS Technomancer, and Big Eyes, Small Mouth 2nd Edition.
David joins the growing telecommuting force at Steve Jackson Games, working from his home in Kingston, Ontario. He will be the special guest in Wednesday's Pyramid chat (7 pm CST), so log on and join the discussion about future GURPS books, Transhuman Space, and other cool products from the mind of the master.
Welcome, David! We're thrilled to have you on the team.
-- Alain Dawson
And we are less than a couple of weeks away from reaching 3 million hits on our home page. I'm mentioning this in advance this time because people have said "Hey, don't wait and tell us afterwards, we want to watch it roll over!" Oh, very well, but isn't there some grass you can watch grow or something?
Still . . . 3 million. Wow.
-- Steve Jackson
So we have an opening. Basically, the online editor is expected to maintain the page, solicit new Ogre-related material, put up some news once in a while, and keep in touch with us about what's going on with the game. Minimum requirements: love of the game and basic HTML skills.
Compensation would take the form of graft and/or free access, and is somewhat negotiable depending on how much you bring to the table in the way of skills and mad enthusiasm.
The Ogre pages are becoming more and more active, and need to become more active yet, as the relaunch of both the boardgame and the miniatures line continues. So there would be room for an "activist" here.
Reply directly to me . . . Ogre is still my baby.
-- Steve Jackson
How does this organization intend to put out the word about this dangerous new device? They're going to build one - and use it.
-- Suggested by Keith Johnson
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