Permalink 10:47:56 am, Categories: About us, 90 words   English (US)

Cycles-rpg moves to ExiStanc3

Cycles-rpg has now a new branding and has moved to a new home.
Our adventure continues, but not on this site anymore.

Our website : ExiStanc3
Our facebook page : facebook.com/Existanc3
Our twitter feed : twitter.com/ExiStanc3

See you there and wish us good luck !!!
Cycles-rpg a maintenant un nouveau nom et une nouvelle demeure.
Notre aventure continue, mais plus sur ce site.

Notre site web : ExiStanc3
Notre page facebook : facebook.com/Existanc3
Notre compte twitter : twitter.com/ExiStanc3

Au plaisir de vous y retrouver et souhaitez-nous bonne chance !!!



Permalink 10:11:05 am, Categories: The goodies, 55 words   English (US)

Maps, again and again ...

Shit ... I missed an update !!! Too much work on the site ...

Okay, this is going to be a cheap one; sorry for that.

Here's the three maps for the lands of exile, enjoy :

And we're also redoing the maps of the city :

Those maps are really great addition to the product !!!



Permalink 01:32:17 pm, Categories: About us, 213 words   English (US)

BIG change of plan

Okay, where to start ?
Last week I went to see some firm to know more about subventions, credit refund and capital ventures. I now do know how those stuff work; and I know it is not for us at the moment ...

For those of you following this project, you might have notice that we always speak about the website and the service it should provide. It turned out that we always had bad luck with developers. But, more than ever now, we need a website.

The first plan was to release the "alpha" version of the pdf as to get some money to finance the website. But still, how about a good, reliable developer ?

So, last week, I decided that I would do the website myself. It's been seven years since I last wrote some code, but why not give it try ? So, I've been working like hell on it, and it turns out I can do it. Most of the essential functions are done, but there is still much to do.

Anyway, we think the website will be up and ready for september. Thus, we postpone the release of the pdf version as to have a "common" launch.

That's about it for the moment. I have a lot of work to do.



Permalink 01:26:50 pm, Categories: Informative pages, 666 words   English (US)

Some more informative pages : our vision

I'm still working on this, but here's some important stuff, according to me :

Our vision

We believe that role playing games are first and foremost a creative activity. We believe that role players, dungeon masters and players alike are very creative. This is why Avalanche is an unfinished product. We believe can you finish this story better than ourselves; that including you in the creative process can only improve Avalanche. This is not a story where you are the hero. This is a story where you are the author. We believe that you should create the very own fabric of the culture you are part of, that you shouldn’t and wouldn’t be a simple beholder of the upcoming adventures to come. We need you to finish this book.

We believe that the creative process has more value than the final product itself. This is why you will encounter different maps representing the same reality in Avalanche; even some drafts. In the course of this creative process, which must be as free for the creators as possible, multiple, even concurrent, versions of the same truth might arise. This is good. Because there is no truth, not even some author’s truth. As authors of Avalanche, your truth is as good as ours.

Aparté. An existentialist approach: our head fake

Avalanche, as you will see, comes from a long march. It has evolved and changed over time, but it never lost touch with its designer’s value. I won’t hide it, as the author of Avalanche I do have a strong background in philosophy; and it reflects in Avalanche. My personal position is that of an existentialist, with a stronger preference for Rorty than Heidegger or Sartre. What would be my personal interpretation of what this philosophy teaches? Mainly, two important concepts. One is the “essence”, the thing that described you; or at least, the way the others might described you. Is it from an economical, sociological, psychological, biological point of view? It doesn’t really matter. There are different points of view of one self’s essence. On the other hand, there is the existence, the things you do.
I would say that from an existentialist point of view, what defines you is what you do, for which you have freedom. Note that the existence is anchored in a strong cultural and historical asset and is projected through time. Time does matter, as it is limited. This existence that defines you must be understood through time; your choices are not infinite, you cannot do everything.

Back to role playing games. What is called “metatime”, the real time elapsed into the imaginary world is maybe one of the aspect less exploited in the history of this hobby. Does time matters in a typical campaign? I would say no; at least in the product common in the shelves. But would be like a product that would try to take this element into account? This is what Avalanche is attempting.

Remember that this is our head fake. You might or might not discover it. You might or might not want to play it. It’s up to you. But if your players are asking themselves “what are we doing with the time with have left?” Or “what is our place into the world?” you are playing it. If a character comes to say, for example, with “I am a knight, I see myself and the world sees me as a knight, but given the possibilities at hand, I doubt that my actions would reflect this knighthood”, you are playing it.

What is Avalanche about you might ask me? Sure, it is about a civil war, it is about hard dilemmas about the humans’ survival, it is about the abuse of nature, but this would not be my answer. Avalanche is about finding one’s place into the world. It is about questioning one’s value. Avalanche is first and foremost about one journey of self’s discovery.



Permalink 02:53:15 pm, Categories: Philosophy, 949 words   English (US)

Agile and rpg

Cross posted at story-games. I've wanted to write about this for quite a time now and the subject arose at this forum, so ...

Okay, I've warned Matthijs, this is going to be some heavy stuff, but here we go. I'm going to discuss the relation between Agile and rpg. Note that I'll use the term Agile instead of scrum.
And on purpose, to reflect the initial discussion, I'm going to present you Agile in the wrong order.
Agile is most of the time presented as being opposed to the waterfall model.

Introduction to Agile

Agile uses some artifacts, among which are :
- Backlog : list of features a customer wants to implement.
- Users stories : a way to describe feature using stories (something everyone understands). Note that stories are high level description. Those are not specifications. They do not tell you how.
- Sprintlog : list of activities the team has to do to implement the features.
- Fixed time of iteration : the date of the end of the iteration if announced at the beginning and can't be moved.
- Demo : you have to do a demo of what you have done in an iteration.
- Debt : After the demo, you need to state what is left; what you should have done but is not finished. Might be features, documentation, tests.
- Scum meeting : daily 15 minutes standing meeting, at the same hour and place. Each person answer three questions : what have I done yesterday, what I'll do today, how can someone else help me.
- Poker planning : way to establish efforts needed to implement a feature. For each feature, each member uses a deck a card and reveal a single card (the higher the value, the harder to do the feature). Discuss and redo until consensus arise.
- Monopoly money : customer uses monopoly money to establish priority of features, "buying" them with an initial fixed amount of fictional money.
- Scrum master : oppose to the role of project manager (PM). A kind of referee, who challenges the group. A PM leads the group.
- Customer is part of the team : the customer is fully integrated into the team.

Now, does doing all those things means you do Agile ? The hell, no !!! In fact, each of this artifacts can be used in waterfall.

The real difference
In project management, you manage three parameters : perimeters (features you implement), money and delay.
Using the waterfall model, the perimeter is fixed and the object of the "game" is to respect budget and time. If the plan derails, you must take action to come back to the initial plan.
In Agile, budget and time are fixed, the object of the "game" is to do as much features as possible. This is a results oriented approach.

This is the first thing to present.

The values of Agile

Taken from the manifesto :
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan

This is the second thing to present.

I'll take at look at indie vs traditional rpg using Agile as a reference.
Not much fluff out there, so I'll use Avalanche, my own project, as an example.
In a traditional "module", the story is presented in chapters. Chapter one, then two, then three ... Sounds like a waterfall to you ?
One of the problem with this is that if something goes wrong in chapter X, the DM has to make changes so that the group comes back to original plan, otherwise, chapter X+1, X+2 ... would become useless. You have a plan, you stick to it. This is truly a PM job in the waterfall model. The DM (PM) leads the show. This is how I see and explain railroading.

Avalanche, on the other hand, is not built that way. It is not based on chapters. There is no plan to follow. It is built for one purpose : if things derail, how can you adapt (not re-rail). Also, in Avalanche, the DM plays a role of referee, challengers. He does not lead. This is the team's show. And Avalanche is built for that purpose.

Finally, generally, those typical modules provide a lot of details; almost as for the sake of it. This would be "Working software over comprehensive documentation" : instead of trying to cover all documentation, I would suggest trying to give "working documentation" - just what is needed, no more no less.

I'm be using examples I know of ...

I do see the keys and beliefs as some kind of backlog : the themes the players wish to address, which as more value for them. And keys and beliefs do not tell you how. There is no such things in D20. You create a wizard, a warrior, so what ? What has more value for you ? Hard to tell.

I see BW as an Agile product, because of the way the rules are presented as incremental. You start with the basic rules and add the "advanced" rules in an incremental way, one by one, beginning by the ones who have the more values for you. Obviously, with d20 it's all or nothing.

I see TSOY also as Agile, but for a different reason. TSOY presents you a list of skills, keys and secrets. But, it tells you how to create your own. I don't think TSOY pretends to cover all the possibilities, so it teaches you the "recipe"; it provides you with "working documentation" instead of "all the documentation".

Finally, I think indie games really puts the emphasis over the social contract instead of the rules.

Is that comprehensive ? Is there any food for thought for you ?


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