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Cheerfully Demented

We are in the final 3 DAYS (!) of our Kickstarter for "Revolution 60"!

We've already blown past all our stretch goals (thank you, everyone!), so that anyone who pledges $20 or more will get both the PC and the Mac versions of the game when they are released next fall.  (The iOS version comes out in the spring, but there's no technical way for us to give that to people.)

I am so proud of this work.  We are a tiny independent team, and we are trying to do one of the most ambitious games ever released on iOS.  There are four main people (Brianna our head of development, Amanda our lead animator, Maria our programmer, and me - I designed the spaceships).  We have worked and slaved (Brianna works 80+ hours a week - literally) on this for years.  And we're hoping that, by the end of this week, we'll have the first hour of content done!

BTW, for those few of you reading this who haven't been keeping track of our game:

"Revolution 60" has been described in the press as "Heavy Rain" meets "Mass Effect".  It's fully 3D animated and voice-acted by the likes of anime legend Amanda Winn-Lee.  It's built using the Unreal engine.  The player will get to make choices during the game that affect the ending.  The story itself is about an all-female team of special operatives who work for this shadowy organization called Chessboard.  They have to go up to a malfunctioning orbital weapons platform and take it over!  If they fail, it will mean an all-out nuclear war.  Oh noes!

Yesterday, we launched our kickstarter for Revolution 60!  After some re-jiggering of the goals, we set an initial goal of only $5000 for releasing the PC version.  And.... just a few minutes ago, we made it!  Hurrah!  So... everyone who pledges at least $20 will get a PC version of the game when it's done (scheduled for August 2014).  And if we reach another $5000, as a stretch goal, we will release a Mac version, and everyone who pledges $20+ will get that, too!  Hurrah!  We made it!
Brandon Jones
This is a picture of a guy standing in front of a Christmas tree.  But if you look closely you'll notice that the Christmas tree is a painted backdrop.  And the guy is a prisoner in jail.  He probably wasn't home for last Christmas.  Won't be home for this Christmas.  And may not be home for many Christmases to come.

This foto comes to us via Alyse Emdur, who has a new book about murals painted in visitors' centers at U.S. prisons.  So... when your wife visits you in prison, you don't have to get your photo together taken in front of a bunch of prison cells.  You can use a painting of a cityscape, or a castle with knights, or a beach scene.

A lot of these murals are done by the prisoners themselves (I was relieved to hear that artists are treated like ghods in prison - whew).  But sometimes they're given odd limitations - one guy couldn't paint any cars in his cityscape red or blue - he could paint any car he wanted, but they had to be green or purple.  You see, blue and red are gang colors.

Alyse collected notebooks of photos that prisoners sent her, fotos of themselves posing in front of murals.  And you can read about her book about this here.

BTW, the guy in the photo is named Brandon Jones and he was then at the U.S. penitentiary at Marion, Illinois.  I looked him up in the bureau of prisons database, and there isn't anyone of that name still there.  So presumably he's gotten out since the photo was taken, and has had a chance to have a Christmas at home.  Hopefully he's turned over a new leaf.
Dana took some pictures of buildings for me, which were very helpful in working up the backgrounds in several Guidolon scenes, like these:

Lincoln LJ 001
A tribute to America's greatest president, Zombie Lincoln on the Moon!
I've written before about my spaceship, the Xiezhi, which I designed for Revolution 60.  I wrote about the process of designing this at Amazing Stories.  After I designed it, it was passed to a 3D artist who constructed the model in Maya.  This was then textured by Brianna and I and the final result is this:

Xiezhi LJ 002

The problem is that the model is too many vertices.  Over a fifth of a million, in fact:


This is waaaay too many.  This would be a problem to run in-engine with any machine on the planet, even consoles.  We could use the model for pre-rendered cut scenes, but these videos take up a lot of space.  And, damnit, I want my cool ship to appear in the game.

Which all meant that I needed to spend the last rebuilding a new model of this same ship.  It kind of sucked to spend so much time re-doing old work, rather than making new stuff.  But it was worth it.

My new model - made with Inventor Fusion - is only 2000 vertices [even before being cleaned up {"retopologized" to reduce the vertex count even lower)].  Yeah!  That means we can run the ship in-engine, in the game, even on an old iPad 2, at 60 frames a second.  It's not an exact copy of the original, but considering that we're losing 99% of the vertices, I'm happy with it.  Yeah!

Xiezhi LJ 001

Have you ever found yourself wondering, "Gee, who's this crazy guy Brianna married?" There's nothing that can explain it as well as this breathlessly written article by Frank at how to win at Monopoly.

Frank doesn't just want to play you at Monopoly. He has made it his mission in life to F%^&ing destroy you. A PhD in Bacteriology will help you understand some of the analogies.


Here’s an article about using math to win at Monopoly:

It is to be studied. Monopoly is almost perfectly balanced between skill and luck. If you win, you can say it was skill. If you lose, you can blame your luck. But here are some strategies to improve your chances:

FRANK’S 19 TIPS FOR WINNING AT MONOPOLY (these are state secrets - treat them accordingly):

1. Not all spaces are landed on equally. This is because players are often shunted to GO or JAIL. And the average roll of the dice after leaving those spaces is 7. This puts you on the oranges after Jail or the light blues after GO.

2. So wouldn’t the light blues and oranges be the best monopolies to have? Oranges yes, and light blues, maybe. There are two Monopoly principals at play here:

3. One is keeping your opponent from growing in power (e.g., “germistatic”). The other is the killing blow (“germicidal”). From these concepts all Monopoly wisdom flows.

4. Some monopolies are germistatics (especially early in the game), and others are germicidals. Light blues: germistatic (max rent: $600), oranges: germicidal (max rent: $1000).

5. In addition to the max rent, three other factors determine which monopoly is which: A. Which is landed on most? Orange, red, light blues. B. Which are most expensive to build on? The ones furthest from GO (Green and Boardwalk). C. Which only have two properties? Purple – Mediterranean/Baltic and Dark Blues – Boardwalk and Park Place.

6. Put all these into the hopper and my order of Desirability of Properties is this: Orange or Red > Magenta or Yellow > Dark Blues (Boardwalk and Park Place) > Light Blue > Greens > Purples (Mediterranean and Baltic). Remember this list, especially that:

7. Greens suck. Suppose it’s late in the game, no one has any monopolies. Thus: a trade. The only workable kind is one wherein both players get one monopoly. But which do you want? Suppose Larry offers this: You take all three Greens and he gets only the two Blues (Boardwalk and Park Place). Everybody winds up with $1200 in cash. Do you take the deal, because then you’d have three properties? Do you? No, you do NOT. The building evenly rules demands that there’s no more than 1 building difference among your properties. Thus, with $1200 you can only build 2 houses each on 3 properties (max rent is $450 – germistatic), but with the Blues, you can build 3 on each of 2 properties (max rent is $1400 – a killing blow). No, you ask him to swap, and you get Boardwalk. The exception to this rule: If everyone has lots and lots of money, you can use Larry Lust for Boardwalk to get the Greens. His max rent for two properties is $3500 ($2000 for Boardwalk, plus $1500 for Park Place). Your total max rent for three properties is: $3950 ($1400 + $1275 + $1275). You also have an approx. 50% higher chance that Larry will land on one of your three versus you landing on either of his two. (It’s not exactly 50% due to the Advance to Boardwalk card.)

8. Also remember: Baltic and Mediterranean sucketh even worse. These will rarely be germistatic and never germicidal. They aren’t landed on much, and even when they are, Larry has just passed GO ($200) and is likely to be able to scrape up $250 more somewhere to pay the max rent ($450) on Baltic. Thus: toss these in to sweeten a deal and trick Larry into a bad trade. Only exception to this is if you own the adjoining properties (light blues or dark blues), because it’s nice to have monopolies next to each other. The fear of your monopolies will keep him in line, scaring him into not buying houses he should.

9. Let’s say Larry offers you a trade wherein you end up with the light blues and he ends with up the oranges. No way, you say, oranges are more valuable than light blues. But what if I toss in ALL FOUR RAILROADS, he says. Do you take it then? No! Railroads (max rent $200) are germistatic but rarely germicidal. Same with the light blues (max rent $600). But oranges (max rent $1000) can be.

10. Suppose Larry sweetens the deal with ALL the railroads… and BOTH utilities? Do you take it now? No, don’t be stupid. Utilities are useless and never a killing blow. Mortgage or sell them.

11. The same rules apply in multi-player games. The trading can be Steinbrennian, involving three or four players and five or six properties. Convince Larry and Tim that you don’t want to waste all evening chasing each other around the board, and devise the deal that will get you the oranges and leave them with the Greens or Light Blues.

12. Once you have the right monopolies, know much do you build? Suppose: It’s early in the game, and you’ve got a monopoly on the reds. No one else has any monopolies. You can only afford to build one or two houses on each. Do you do it? No, you do not. Because… the max rent ($300) for two houses is NOT germicidal, barely germistatic. One house each? Max rent is only $100! And you spent $450 (3 houses x $150) to get that! No, your break-even point is three houses. So I generally don’t buy houses at all until I can afford 3 each – and still have enough to pay the max rent if I land on someone else’s properties. And buy anything I land on, if I want. The exceptions? Build hotels on the cheap properties (they only cost $250 each), or build one or two houses on Boardwalk. Later in the game, when it’s killing time, buy hotels on everything.

13. Wait – you said, I buy anything I land on, “if I want”? You mean, I don’t have to buy a property I land on? No, you do not. Read the rules. If you land on a red, and the other two reds are already split between Larry and Tim, you can declare, I don’t want it, and it goes to auction. Anyone can then bid on it, even you. Anything less than ½ face value is a bargain – because you can buy it and immediately mortgage it and actually turn a profit. Let Larry and Tim waste their resources fighting over it. And pray that neither gets the full monopoly on the reds.

14. Speaking of rules, it’s best to set up “house rules” before the game starts to avoid fistfights. Most common house rules: Getting an extra $200 ($400 total) if you land exactly on GO. And all taxes and fees that don’t go to another player, go not to the bank but in the middle of the board and whoever lands on FREE PARKING gets those. These are NOT in the official rules, people, and should be decided one way or another before the game starts. If not by vote, then whoever owns the board decides.

15. Also: Remember that you can buy houses not only during your turn but between turns. Thus, if Larry is coming around the corner toward your undeveloped properties, you can say, Wait, don’t roll yet, and quickly buy houses before he gets there. For this, it helps also to be banker. Because then you buy the houses yourself. It’s a fait accompli and you don’t have to argue with a banker who doesn’t know the rules.

16. Another good reason to be banker: It is your duty to keep the game going. As you SLOWLY hand Larry the title deed that completes his monopoly, QUICKLY ask whose turn it is now and give them the dice. This helps distract Larry from buying houses. Hopefully for many turns as you whip past his undeveloped properties. Sneaky, but not against the rules.

17. Also, as banker, it’s easier for you to keep track of which monopolies are split, and which are still available to which players. As soon as all the monopolies are split, and you have one, mortgage everything and build houses.

18. What if you go to jail? Do you pay your $50, or try to roll doubles (which you can do for three turns, after which, if you fail, you have to pay $50 anyway)? It depends. Early in the game, you pay your $50. Why? Otherwise you waste valuable turns in jail while everyone else is gobbling up precious properties. But late in the game… while Larry’s hotels of death dot the land... Jail is your best friend. Sit there turn after turn, waiting for Larry to land on your hotels. And remind him as he protests that the rules say that you can still collect rent while in jail.

19. The overall key is to make sure that –knowledge of which spots are landing on most, building the right number of houses, and staying in jail – that your max rents total more than your opponents. And then let the chance and probability of dice rolls sweep you to victory!
More positive press for Revolution 60.  This is the Geekenstein interview from PAX EAST, now posted.  He called our game "awesome".  Yeah!

There is also an older post at 2old2play, which I may have forgotten to link to.  It's here.

So... the marketing train keeps rolling.  Almost all of the press has been positive!

Here is a crude animation of a spiderbot I am building for "Revolution 60".  Opposing legs are fused into "leg pairs".  The spiderbot propels itself forward by anchoring the tip of one or both leg-pairs and then scissoring them.  It changes direction by, again, anchoring one leg-pair, and then swiveling itself other leg pair and/or body around.
User: frankwu
Name: frankwu
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