Monday, December 21, 2009


Hey it's the shortest day of the year (in the northern hemisphere). With any luck it won't also be the coldest.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

JP's Birthday Season Day

Happy Birthday me! You're not old your just aged.

Borderlands - it's OK but Hank is starting to get a bit long in the tooth. the 8800 gts isn't holding up as well as I would have liked. I think I may have laid hands on an 8600 that I can SLI with it to give a small boost, but overall it may be time to start thinking about upgrades.

Windows 7 - I recommend. It's much better than Vista, and it may even be better than XP. It certainly runs OK on Larry, which is saying something for a machine whose architecture is over 5 years old.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Take yer lumps

Well, it's out there now. My game. In other peoples houses. And they're playing it. And surprise, not everybody thinks its better than Monopoly. Well, except me, but I'm not a fan of Monopoly.

This is part of being a designer and a publisher. I'm sure there are people who won't play Agricola. Though apparently, they're all unstable, sociopath mutants.

One complaint that has surfaced - you don't do much when it's not your turn. I'm not sure how to take that either. It is a turn based board game. Everything from Backgammon to Yahtzee has them, and when it's not your turn you watch the other player(s) take theirs. I see it as a design challenge.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Goal Conversion

So the traffic to the official site is through the roof. This is awesome. Sales haven't scaled up accordingly however. PGE is obviously interesting, just not interesting enough.

I'm open to sugestions.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Logitech G7 Review - Wireless Gaming Goodness?

So after everyone around me updated their gaming rigs to uber multicard video goodness, I decided it was high time to fuel my mouse fetish. I've been using hi-end mice for a long time. This time I may have bit too hard on the marketing hook, though.

The G7 is wireless, has a laser for realy high "DPI", and has two swappable LIon batteries. It has two less buttons than my Mx500, but adds the side rocker for the mouse wheel. I think that'll be ok, but I need to reconfigure every game I own now, because I relied quite heavily on the tiny button in front of the mouse wheel on my 500 ( which was the same on my previous cordless mx700).

The G7 app works fine, so far, though I haven't quite figured out how to do custom profiles yet. In order to keep my button quota up, I've switched the sensitivity on the fly buttons to be keystrokes. That means I'm losing one of the advantages of the G7, on the fly DPI changes, unless I can figure out a way to map that to something else on the keyboard.

The G7 is lighter than my mx700, which is good. One of the reasons I went back to the mx500 was because the mx700 was clunky. As is the mx700 base/charger. The G7, while not having one of Logitechs fancy new micro dongles, does have a separate dongle. You can plug the dongle into the charging station or into any other usb port. I personally keep the dongle on the back of my G15 keyboard.

Function wise, I can't really see a difference, but as I said, I'm not changing the DPI on the fly. However, wireless is always better, especially with the cramped desk I keep. I did get my G7 on sale, which made it the same price as its wired counterpart.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Portable Galactic Empire for 2

When we designed the Portable Galactic Empire, one of the challenges we faced was how many people would be allowed to play out of the box. We went with a maximum of 6. However, I would not say that is the ideal number. Truth be told, they probably aren't enough cards in a single set for six players, with the exception of monuments.

For a two player game there are too many cards. If you wish to play a two player game of PGE, I would recommend reducing some of the cards. Remove 3 or 4 sets of weapons as well as half the defenses. Reduce each of the improvements by a count of 6. Reduce the planets and systems by removing all of the larges. Finally reduce the number of monuments in the deck to 6. Victory now requires only 4 monuments.

Unfortunately, with only 2 people playing the chance of stalemate increases. As a result I also recommend you use a sudden death rule. After a monument has been played by either player, each player rolls a d6 at the start of their turn, before the Invasion step. If the result is a six, the game ends without playing that player's turn. The person with the most monuments in play wins. If there is a tie, use resources as a tie breaker. The person with the largest pile of stuff wins.

We haven't really play tested that enough to know its going to work 100%, but it should make for a faster game with 2 people. As always, you should remember that any game out of the box is a framework how you choose to play it is ultimately up to you. And if you come up with what seems look a cool variation, let us know. We love to hear from you.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Record Breaking

Well, advertising seems to be all it's cracked up to be. We have 2 ads live, one on Board Game Geek, one on Board Game News. Between the two we have surpassed all previous records for hits on Castle Games Inc.

In fact the daily hit rate continues to grow, day over day. I really hope we don't have to scramble to do a second printing so soon. But I do hope that. I'm torn.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Release Date

The official release date has been set. The Standard edition will start leaving the building on October 1st.

Head over to the Castle Games Inc. News page for some other updates.

Now just to put 164,000 cards into decks...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Litterally, 4th and Inches

I guess that should be 3rd and inches, but most people watch the NFL. Well, except me. 'cause I likes me football with 3 downs on a long field. Bthbbthbtt.


Boxes - check
Dice - check
Rules - check
Resource Cards - check
Reference Cards - check
Game Cards - still at the die cutters.

Literally, one more running play and we're ready to go. I have pictures of boxes, but I'm waiting until I have everything together to post it.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Wait - that could totally be the finish line

Well, after many switchbacks, wrong turns and a lost map, we may finally be there. Today, Jamie is headed to a place to start getting our cards die cut. We have dice in stock. The boxes will be ready by the end of September.

We are in serious jeopardy of actually publishing this game.

Sweet. Phat.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Some Castle Updates

I know - I've turned into one of those developers. I never update my .plan. Well here's some stuff.

Copies of the standard edition of the Portable Galactic Empire are about 3 weeks away. They're not on a boat or train coming from some far off land, like a certain other company I could mention. The components were all manufactured in North America, mostly in Canada. Outstanding are die cutting the cards and the boxes.

I've completely re-built the site, as of July, so if you haven't been by in a while, drop in and send us a note. We also have the fancy, custom ship dice in stock and for sale.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Printing Woes

Ai. Or auugh. You pick. I had no idea that one of the biggest hurdles in creating a game publisher would be finding a print shop willing to do the work. I want to clarify, so that you have it clearly, and it is clear. I'm not having trouble finding a print shop that I can afford, I'm having trouble finding a printshop willing to take my money.

I know, crazy. So you know, if at anytime you want to give me money, I will do everything I can to take it from you. Just let me know.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Injecting Narrative

One of the comments I have received about The Portable Galactic Empire from players is that it lacks a story. That is, it lacks a story in the box. And although this may change in the future, for now I'm OK with that.

As a player, I personally prefer games which allow me more latitude to create my own narrative. In fact the "openness" of the game directly relates to how much I enjoy a game. In this case I have built a game through which several players may construct their own stories.

If you want to see a more storied session of PGE, try doing this. Before play begins select a theme for your play style. e.g. "I've decided that my race is made of entirely artificial entities which share a mind link." Now start considering how that is reflected in the mechanics.

The spending of influence, in this case, represents the alignment of processing nodes. In order to launch an invasion, a sufficient number of processors must agree to the decision. Monuments are a manifestation of the artificial being. 5 monuments represent the true form of the data. And so on.

Try it yourself. I'm sure most of you are capable of coming up with much more interesting stories than I could have possible put in the box.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Portable Galactic Empire

Head over to the big page (Castle Games Inc.), if you want to buy it or check it out a bit. It seems I may have missed something in the rules. Actually, I know not seems.

PGE Errata #1 (also to be published on the Castle site):
After Playing developments add the rule:

Play New Technologies
The player may now play new technology cards, paying the indicated cost in resources. Old technologies may be replaced at this time with newer ones. A player may have only one each of beam, cannon, missile, E.C.M. , shield and armor technologies in play. A player may replace a “Laser Beam” with a “Plasma Beam” during this step. Technologies are made immediately available and are in force should the player be attacked after the end of the turn in which they are played.
We apologize for any inconvenience the lack of what to do with technology cards has had. Watch the Castle Games site for a nicely formatted player reference card soon as well.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Oi! So my theory proves out. Facebook is a vector for spam. In their defense, it's a bit my fault for linking here from there. Here a spider can find my actual email and email me offers top increase my man hood.

Here's the way of it. The spider hits my very public facebook page (while it's active). It follows my links, in this case just one to here. It spiders here looking for mailto s. It farms those out to spam zombies.

I turned my facebook page off again 3 days ago. At the height of the deluge, I was getting about 3 or 4 emails an hour. After 3 days, enough of those zombies have gone down or changed targets that I'm down to about 1 every three hours. By this time next week I should be back down to 1 or 2 a day.

And those 2 people need to frickin' install some AV software.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Unique - A Mini Rant

I haven't done one of these in a while, so you deserve it. I've noticed that one of the words that shows up a lot in the marketing text for games is "unique". I.E. unique stuff, unique game play, unique interface. In the words of Fezzik, I do not think this word means what you think it means.

(Lifted ungraciously from Merriam-Webster Online)
Many commentators have objected to the comparison or modification (as by somewhat or very) of unique, often asserting that a thing is either unique or it is not. Objections are based chiefly on the assumption that unique has but a single absolute sense, an assumption contradicted by information readily available in a dictionary. Unique dates back to the 17th century but was little used until the end of the 18th when, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, it was reacquired from French. H. J. Todd entered it as a foreign word in his edition (1818) of Johnson's Dictionary, characterizing it as affected and useless. Around the middle of the 19th century it ceased to be considered foreign and came into considerable popular use. With popular use came a broadening of application beyond the original two meanings (here numbered 1 and 2a). In modern use both comparison and modification are widespread and standard but are confined to the extended senses 2b and 3. When sense 1 or sense 2a is intended, unique is used without qualifying modifiers.
See, you don't mean a unique sword. You mean a fairly unique sword. It's not one of a kind. It's just extra rare. Stop it. Btthbthhbt.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Dice you!

Of all the production issues I saw coming, finding enough dice to go in the boxes I did not see. As a gamer, I naturally have tones of dice kicking around. Whole great bins of dice.

But what if you want a tone of the same die, preferably in pairs?

I found an online wholesaler, who hopes he can get them to me fast enough. So I can almost reveal the dice.

Custom dice you say...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Rolling Forward

We've finally gotten things rolling on printing. The trick - HP CP 1215 color laser. Great color reproduction at a reasonable cost per page. And it handles the card stock. Of course it has been discontinued, so get it while supplies last I guess.

The cards look phenomenal, but I don't relish all the cutting ahead of me. I'm sure this is cosmic payback for the first edition of GE.

For those of you who need to know, all things related to Galactic Empire (now more formally titled Jean-Paul Lapointe's Galactic Empire), often referred to as G.E., are IP (Intellectual Property) One. This includes but may not be limited to The Portable Galactic Empire, full size Galactic Empire, Rules of Engagement and the unnamed action role playing game.

There will be at least one expansion for P.G.E. before anything else. Then we will probably introduce I.P. Two, because I'll be bored of working on GE stuff for a while.

The Limited (internally known as Convention) Edition will be a small run of about 45 copies, entirely hand made and lovingly packed into wood boxes. They will be available first at KeyCon, in Winnipeg at our table in the dealers room. After that show closes, should we have any copies left, we'll make them available for direct sale.

Ya, pretty cool.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Production Issues

As always Mr. Murphy decided to stop by this week and mess with my stuff. He's good at that. This week he decided that the last thing we needed to do was actually be able to print on the fancy card stock we want to print on. Well, for less than an arm and a leg. I've outmaneuvered him for now, so I think we're back on track for the Limited Convention Edition. I'm also hoping he'll get tied up bothering David.

In other news I hope to make pre-release pdfs available to look at through the inter web. I need to work out the details of hosting files and such. More updates to follow.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Back to Work

All right, Poodites, back to work.

Something for you all to look at: Castle Games Inc.

Hopefully that does not redirect you to a cyber squater. We are about 2 to 3 weeks available from having actual copies of actual games in hand and ready for sale. Send us an email if you're interested.

Our goal is to get a logo and a message board some time before the apocalypse. Right now I'm toying with something that looks like a rook and a king in castle position.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Left 4 Dead 360

Left 4 Dead, out of the box - pretty cool. It's valve though so, I had high expectations. This is the first valve game I've picked up for my 360 instead of the PC, and I'm pretty impressed that even a thumb stick inept player like myself can pick it up.

Left 4 Dead is a zombie-survival-horror shoot 'em up. Light on the horror. It is very clearly designed to be played in a four (4 - see what they did there) person team. A note to all zombie watchers, these are your new fast zombies not your classic shuffling zombies.

I've played through the first two "movies" with friends online. I like that the campaigns, of which there are 4 classic zombie movie scenarios, play out in well organized, check pointed chunks. The graphics are acceptable to good.

I would like to be able to share more, but my 360 has decided to join so many of it's brethren and display me 3 red lights instead of zombie game goodness. It's on its way to Microsoft now. And I was just getting my Rock Band 2 practice routine down.