The D&D Room

From The Acaeum:

I have been working on and off for about 2 years building our “D&D ROOM” to hold most of our collection and give us a cool place to play. I did 99.9% of the work myself with just a bit of help in the attic from my brother Shawn. All lighting is controlled by the DM via a dimmer/control box mounted under the table. When you walk in the lights automatically come on via a contactor mounted in the closet. There is also hidden strobe and fog machine for effects. I also mounted speakers in the beams and have a sound system in the closet. Here are a few photos…

(via Boing Boing)

I Kept Playing — The Costs Of My Gaming Addiction

From Kotaku:

The Scars of Velious expansion for EverQuest came out in December of 2000. My roommate, perhaps tired of my moping over my lost love, picked up a copy of the game for me as a Christmas present. I installed it, created a half-elven Bard, and soon our apartment had two guys in the living room at all hours of the day, faces bathed in the glow of monitors.

Within a week, the game that hadn’t affected me at all nearly two years previously had become an important part of my life. Soon, it would become my life.

If I wasn’t asleep or at work, I was playing EverQuest. The former was becoming a rarity. I would go into work, and I would still hear the sounds of EverQuest orcs in my head. All I had to do was close my eyes and I was speeding through the Greater Faydark zone, killing pixies and turning in quest items.

In January of 2001, a man with a tow truck came to my place of employment and took my car away. I had fallen behind on payments without realizing it, and Nissan had decided they wanted my Sentra back. My first thought as I watched the tow truck drive away was how many hours walking to and from work would take from my EverQuest time.

I worked at a company called FranchiseOpportunities.com, maintaining and creating websites, but increasingly my time there was spent either communicating with my EverQuest friends or browsing websites for tips on the best equipment and techniques for grinding experience points and gold. It was impossible for my co-workers not to notice. In February of 2001, Joseph Lunsford, the owner of the company, called me into his office.

The Homeless Sims

Alice and Kev:

This is an experiment in playing a homeless family in The Sims 3. I created two Sims, moved them in to a place made to look like an abandoned park, removed all of their remaining money, and then attempted to help them survive without taking any job promotions or easy cash routes. It’s based on the old ‘poverty challenge’ idea from The Sims 2, but it turned out to be a lot more interesting with The Sims 3’s living neighborhood features.

(via Gerry Canavan)

Wired on ‘Settlers of Catan’

I have to get some friends who are into board games:

Released at the annual Essen fair in 1995, Settlers sold out its initial 5,000 copies so fast that even Teuber doesn’t have a first edition. That year, it won the Spiel des Jahres and every other major prize in German gaming. Critics called it a masterpiece. Fans couldn’t get enough, snapping up 400,000 copies in its first year. “It was a maturation of the form,” says Stewart Woods, a board game scholar at Curtin University of Technology in Perth, Australia. “It wasn’t until Settlers that the whole thing broke wide open.”

Since its introduction, The Settlers of Catan has become a worldwide phenomenon. It has been translated into 30 languages and sold a staggering 15 million copies (even the megahit videogame Halo 3 has sold only a little more than half that). It has spawned an empire of sequels, expansion packs, scenario books, card games, computer games, miniatures, and even a novel—all must-haves for legions of fans. And it has made its 56-year-old inventor a household name in every household that’s crazy about board games, and a lot that aren’t.

Most impressive of all, though, Settlers is actually inducting board-game-averse Americans into the cult of German-style gaming. Last year, Settlers doubled its sales on this side of the Atlantic, moving 200,000 copies in the US and Canada—almost unheard-of performance for a new strategy game with nothing but word-of-mouth marketing. It has become the first German-style title to make the leap from game-geek specialty stores to major retailers like Barnes & Noble and Toys “R” Us.

Settlers is now poised to become the biggest hit in the US since Risk. Along the way, it’s teaching Americans that board games don’t have to be either predictable fluff aimed at kids or competitive, hyperintellectual pastimes for eggheads. Through the complex, artful dance of algorithms and probabilities lurking at its core, Settlers manages to be effortlessly fun, intuitively enjoyable, and still intellectually rewarding, a potent combination that’s changing the American idea of what a board game can be.