Wednesday, May 09, 2007

come visit the messageboards

Well, its been a while since we've had time to blog- what with Dark Heresy being a demanding beast and all.

We're fine tuning playtest at the moment, with the help of some excellent volenteers (if you're reading this, a big thanks!) So at the moment we're making all sorts of detailed nips and tucks to the manuscript.

We're also beginning to see how things like the layout and the character sheet are going to look- though it's very early days yet.

So, if you'd like the latest on how Dark Heresy is doing, stop by the Black Industries messageboard

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

We have been invaded...

Today, we have mostly been learning about birds.

Turns out a rogue Duck has wandered off the river Lean and made a nest near our office.

As they're a protected creature (not exactly sure why- perhaps something to do with belonging to the Queen?) we've been asked to be mindful of the broody water fowl as we go about our daily jobs. And we had to read the Mallard Code of Practice
Not entirely what we expect on a Tuesday morning, but a welcome change from darkness, heresy, daemons and death.

Monday, March 12, 2007

how roleplay writing can make you mad (for a bit)

Sometimes a project can infiltrate your mind in strange and subtle ways. Like a warp beast feasting on your psychic juices, ideas can take hold, and become very difficult to shift.

Take for example our formatting jargon. When you’re making a book like Dark Heresy, you have to use a standardised code to indicate formatting stuff like boxed text, side bars, headers, that sort of thing. We use a sort of HTML type short hand that allows the layout guys to know when we want a big, bold header, or just a little italic by line.

Of course, when you use a code, you have to use it consistently. And naturally, when folks are writing, creative, intricate or exciting stuff, the last thing on their minds is whether they’ve used an EN dash or and EM dash. So, once all the fun writing part is done, some one has to go through and make sure that the right formatting has been used, and the right type of code expressed in the text. And boy, that’s a fun job.

Obviously, we encourage our writers to learn and use the proper format as much as possible- but this can have some odd repercussions. For example, if we’re having a design chat, and something comes up that’s not immediately relevant we found ourselves saying “oh, sidebar that” or “needs more brutal- but that’s a sidebar”

Even worse are the air brackets.

Recently we were spotted by our BL colleagues in Bugman’s Bar ranting about daemon pacts and making duck-bill gestures with our hands. Apparently it was scary viewing. In fact, we’ve been getting carried away with the different stages this section would need- and unconsciously signing the ‘<’ and ‘>’ brackets that surround the header notations.

Sometimes you need normal folk to remind you that “bracket header one bracket capital pact of capital vengeance return start italic quote mark their destruction will be mine exclamation quote mark end italic return” is not a sentence used by sane people.

But, the way we see it, you have to go a little bit bonkers to make something great. After all, more 40k madness can only be a good thing. Even if it is making us into punctuation fanatics (ellipsis)


(end of post)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Conception by the Sea

Last week Dave and myself took the trek down from Nottingham to the Conception roleplaying convention near New Milton on the south coast. Arriving at the Naish Holiday Village in Highcliffe on Thursday afternoon we settled in to find out what Conception was all about.

Conception is a big annual roleplaying convention that attracts hundreds of gamers form all across the UK. Primarily focused on rpgs and larps it offers a huge variety of games. Each day is divided up into a number of slots with boards advertising which games are on offer for each slot and players simply put them name down for the games they want to play.

With the aid of our volunteer GM Andy Kybett (who had been at the convention since Wednesday afternoon enthusiastically running games of WFRP) we set about posting our scenarios on the boards for people to sign up to.
Dave ran ‘To Hell Pit and Back’ (downloadable from the website) a scenario he has written himself, full of Skaven nastiness and general ratty mischief.

Andy also ran a game of his own, ‘Sweet Meat’ that details a settlement in the Border Princes with a very dark secret.

While I GMed the dungeon from Lure of the Liche Lord, inviting tomb robbers to try their luck in the dark domain of the Death Scarab.

Much to our delight all our games filled up quickly and over the 4 days we were there we did not want for players (thanks to all those that signed up for our games).

I had loads of fun running Lure of the Liche Lord for various groups, and thoroughly enjoyed watching the players test there wits against the ancient tomb king’s dungeon. Some of the more memorable events included:

The group’s Scholar foolishly slipping away during a battle for fear of getting hurt and retreating back down a trapped corridor. Then falling down a pit the group had just bypassed and disappearing much to the bewilderment of the rest of the group who couldn’t figure out where he had gone.

One of the group trying to lasso a piece of gilt-work armour from the arm of a giant statue that turned out to be an Ushabti before being dragged off screaming into the dark because he has tied his lasso to his wrist!

The Dwarf tomb robber who was fed up with always opening doors and checking for traps so when the group went to investigate a chamber told them he was staying right here and sat down on a convenient stone bench. This promptly set off a trap which caused a block to come crashing down on him from above.

Special mention has to go however to the group that through a combination of luck, skill and extreme caution made it to the treasure chamber and through the use of lasso’s snagged a few 100 gc’s worth of items before beating a hasty retreat!

Both Dave and Andy also reported that there players were equally enthusiastic, from groups of Skaven players that were trying to backstab each other 5 minutes into the game to such memorable events in Andy’s game as a character trying to ride a Chaos Troll bare back!

All in all it was a fantastic few days with a really warm and friendly atmosphere. The venue was also well suited to roleplaying, with many of the games being run in the lodges and chalets where people were staying (many times as I was walking back from the main hall at night I would hear the yells and laughter of gamers in the midst of some adventure).

So thanks to all the organisers and players for making it one of the best cons I have been to and we will certainly be making an appearance next year.



Friday, February 09, 2007

Heresy Update

So, how is Dark Heresy going? Well, we're all disgustingly excited by the career sketches that have just come in. Some cracking work by Andrea Uderzo!Somehow it just makes it all the more real- here are all those characters we've been slaving away to design careers for.One of the cool things about Dark Heresy is the careers stuff we've worked out- think WFRP but customisable. They're a real pig to design and balance, but are a joy to play. Get your XP, decide what route you want to take and bam! All the exciting 'shopping' hit you get from planning a WFRP career, but with the ability to link it to what's actually been happening to your character.Ah, but we can't talk about it any more until we come to officially introduce you to each of the careers (what an exiting couple of months that will be!) So, Instead we'll have to sign off and leave you slightly tantalised...

How to make Roleplay more popular

Today we have mostly…

…been discussing how we could make Roleplaying games more popular to 'the youth of today' (not that we feel old or anything)

Here is our action plan:

Older brothers
Almost everyone blames their older brother for getting them into role play in the first place. Whether it’s because he sneered and said ‘you can’t play, you wouldn’t understand’(meaning, of course, you’d do your damnedest to play, just to stick it to him) or whether it’s because his Dungeon party was one man down and they needed a meat shield (“Why do I have to stand at the front all the time? When do I get a sword like you guys?”) Cloning older brothers, and issuing one to every home is a sure fire winner.

Mandatory choose your own adventure books

Even before we were roleplaying, these babies were there, corrupting us to the way of the die and the hit points, the fudging of rolls, and the Fate Point like act of keeping your thumb on the page you’ve just left, just in case turning to 97 leads to certain doom. From the Warlock of Firetop Mountain to Return to Brookmere, Fighting Fantasy to Endless Quest- reading these books should just be the law. Put ‘em on the National Curriculum and we’ll have less ASBO’s and more Dice Rolls.

Bring back Knightmare

For our Trans-Atlantic readers, Knightmare was a game show where a group of kids got together, nominated one of their number to wear the ‘Helmet of Justice’ (a bucket with horns on it) and then pushed him into a computer generated/dodgy blue screen dungeon.

The advisors (who were nice and safe in Dungeon Master Tregar’s castle) would then look into a magic pool (TV Screen) and shout instructions to the hapless adventurer. The kid, blinded by the Helmet of Justice, would wander around encountering gypsies, goblins, elves, puzzles, giant spiders, bombs and various other types of death.

Inevitably, the kid would mishear his advisors shouting “one step to the left…no, left!…LEFT!” and would take a step to the right…and end up falling into spinning saw blades of death. Then, huge gloomy bells would toll, a massive skull would appear on the screen and the team would be out of the show.

Despite sounding a bit ropey, it was, in fact, ace (or ‘top smart’ as we said at the time) and was the perfect introduction to role play. Done today, with CGI and special effects, it would wipe the floor with other Kids TV.

So, those are our theories (well, the printable ones anyway) What would you do to promote Roleplay?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Dark heresy update 1

So, we recklessly promised to post a regular update on how Dark Heresy was developing.

So far this year it's been the little details that we've been tinkering with.

Today we added Explosive Collars to the list of Equipment a Guardsman might start the game with, sparking a long debate about explosive radius and whether its ok to use another character as a mobile grenade. Effectively, people were in favour of it as long as they weren't the ones in the collar. Typical.

In other news, we finally cracked our bugbear- the name generator. What's more difficult than coming up with a name for your character? Coming up with hundreds of 'em, that's what.This had been on our minds a fair amount, as names in Warhammer 40,000 are a pretty wide and varied affair. Everything from the short punk-y names of Hive gangers to the mellifluous tones of High Gothic needed to be catered to- and in a reasonable amount of space. We toyed with generators that mixed syllables together, but never really got the gears to work on it. Instead, we ended up doing it all by hand- and what an exhausing thing that was too! Thankfully the guys on the forums provided some inspiration, and we had the nice long break of Christmas to recover.

We've liberally plundered real history, geography and science as well as sprinkling a dash of names you might recognise from the Horus Heresy novels, and the history of the Imperium. We've also added some we just plain made up, and a few little gags, just for us. All in all, we're fairly pleased.

What's difficult now is to stay away from the charts, and resist the temptation to tinker.

Still, thats the art of design, right?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Figgy pudding

Black Industries and Black Library enjoying some fine Christmas pudding and brandy cream.


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Happy Holidays

So, Christmas is nearly upon us, and new year too.

What a time we've had over 2006. It's been a crazy, busy, exciting year.

Our team has got bigger, we've given out awards at the Ennies, we've changed our website, released a ton of books and of course worked our Aquilla covered socks off on 'Dark Heresy'.

In the last few days before we close our offices, we've taken the time to slow down a little and indulge in some fine pies and ale.

We've had no less than three Christmas dinners already, ranging from an almighty trough down in the canteen to picnic in the office to 'nosh and nightclub' in Nottingham city center.

We've had all manner of cards and things from people- with our fave being the Green Ronin xmas samurai.

All that really remains is to send season's greetings to all our readers, and leave you with a little hint of what 2007 will herald:

In the twelve months of next year,
Our fans are going to see,
Dark Masters lurking,
Demo teams working,
Liche lords a-luring,
Priestess’ curing,
Eight winds a-blowing,
Kislev a-snowing
In Realm of the Ice Queen!,
More Blog posts,
Two Dice Tins,
One Salvation Tome,
(your rumour here)
And the release of Dark Heresy!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, November 17, 2006

How to get our greasy cash

The folk in our office are raising money today for Children in Need. (A UK charity that helps deprived or disadvantaged kids)

The fund raisers seem to know what motivates us all too well.

We've ended up donating cash to a chap who has grown comedy Muttonchop whiskers. We've put in some money so we'll be in with a chance of winning a bottle of Champagne, and of course, we ran into the cake sale and couldn't pass up the chance to buy a pie.

Beards, booze and bread. The staple elements of the Empire... and BI

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Why you should be part of the Games Industry

Making games is great.

It may come across as a bit smug for us to be posting this fact on our blog, but it’s true.

In fact, you already know we’re right.

If you’ve ever run a Game where the planets just aligned right and the session went better that you could have ever imagined- then you know what we mean.

If you’ve ever spent a summer playing in a campaign where you got to know your character so well you practically lived a double life- well then, you also know exactly what we’re on about.

If you’ve ever snorted beer/milk/Mountain Dew/drink of choice out of your nose because you were laughing so hard at what happened in your Game Session, then you’ve been there.

If you’ve ever looked up from a tense session to realise that three hours have passed in the blink of an eye and you feel like you’ve lived a lifetime- then you also know what we mean.

At the end of the day, making Roleplaying games is about creating those moments for people. What a job to have.

It’s easy to get weighed down by the annoying minutiae of this Industry- snarky reviews, printing errors, containers of your books being washed off a ship mid Atlantic (don’t ask), forum flame wars, missed deadlines, weekend convention work, oh… and all the other stuff.

On the other hand, when you log onto a forum like RPGnet and see posts from complete strangers saying ‘I just got this game and it’s the best thing ever’-it’s great.

When folk come up to you at a convention and tell you how they’ve started up their RPG group again, just because of your game- you do get a little glow.

When you meet folk at parties and you discover they’re an accountant*, whilst you make Goblins for a living- well, that’s kind of cool.

When you talk to a writer or artist about some work they’re doing and they say how excited they are about what they’re creating- you do end up smiling.

We had a great example yesterday. A playtest report for a certain dark science fantasy game we’re developing turned up. The team- KIA Special Ops as they’re known- were just starting a new session with the latest rules. They’d gone to a spooky lunar mining complex and opened the door leading down into the earth. Shadows crowd the corridor and an unnatural wind sighs up out of the darkness. The Pskyer decides to use her powers to light the way. She promptly botches the roll, gets a really horrid result on a table and explodes into a ball of fire. And this is the first roll of the first game session. Talk about gaming moment.

Ok, so we’re probably going to adjust that rule, but it was amusing.

And of course, at the end of the day, what is roleplaying about if not fun?

What a field to work in…

*Black Industries recognises that accountants perform a valuable service in our society, and no accountants were harmed in the making of this post. We didn't really point and laugh at a party saying 'ha! adding things up and writing numbers in tiny boxes is for loosers, us roleplay types are way cooler!'**

**This of course, is irony. Just in case you were wondering.