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  The Biggest Threat to PBM
Posted by: GrimFinger - 02-22-2011, 03:39 PM - Forum: Editorials - Replies (1)

But PBM *could* die, or at least fade almost completely, if a few things happened. The hobby has a large number of ''leading figures'' and it is the loss of these people which does more damage to the hobby than anything else. Unfortunately, some are going to go, for one reason or another. Hopefully, new ones will rise to replace them, or the remaining ones will take up the slack. In my opinion, the biggest threat to PBM as we know it is the loss of our industry captains. A lot of these people leave because they listen too much to doom and gloom and don't look enough at the actual figures, which is a shame. Some of them just get tired, which can happen in any industry, even one you love.

- Steve Tierney (Madhouse UK) - September 11th, 1999

Source: http://groups.google.com/group/rec.games...024e2f4fdb

So, what do you think? Was old Steve Tierney of Madhouse Games right? Is the loss of industry captains the biggest threat to PBM? Or was Steve Tierney simply wrong?

I certainly think that the loss of what Steve termed "industry captains" has had a noticeable impact on the postal genre of gaming. But, in hindsight looking back over the approximate eleven and one half years since Steve posted his remarks in the rec.games.pbm newsgroup, I find myself hard pressed to conclude that he was correct.

As far as "doom and gloom" are concerned, I seem to recall that doom and gloom has been a part of discussions pertaining to postal gaming, since at least my entry into the hobby of play by mail back around 1986. That was twenty-five years ago - a full quarter of a century!

The doom and gloom for PBM gaming, of course, started well before I ever began playing PBM games. So far, play by mail gaming has survived the loss of every industry captain that it has suffered, to date. The clock is still ticking, but if you pause and think about it, the clock is always ticking. The clock will always tick for PBM games, and for the play by mail industry as a whole. Ask not for whom the bell tolls. Likewise, ask not for whom the clock ticks.

PBM has survived the loss, not just of industry captains, but of publications devoted to covering the genre of play by mail. It has survived the loss of countless individual PBM games, and the loss of thousands upon perhaps tens of thousands of PBM players. It survives, even still.

Like a Timex, PBM takes a licking, but keeps on ticking.

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  Voidspeak PBM blog launched
Posted by: GrimFinger - 02-22-2011, 03:09 PM - Forum: News & Announcements - No Replies

A few days ago, I decided to launch a new blog, one that I titled Voidspeak. You can find it over on the Flagship magazine website, in the Blogs section of their forums.

With Flagship's editor, Carol Mulholland, presently sidelined by health considerations, and with hardly anyone else posting in the forums there, I really felt that it was a shame for Flagship's forums to become the equivalent of a ghost town. So, I opted to create a blog there, something to post some short entries about something PBM related.

I titled it Voidspeak, since I view it to be a blog from across the vast void of the play by mail universe, one speaking to a PBM diaspora scattered to the furthermost reaches of the play by mail universe. Since most PBM gamers will likely never even know about this blog, much less read it, I view it to be akin to speaking into a void.

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  The Tribes of Crane
Posted by: GrimFinger - 02-22-2011, 03:00 AM - Forum: Games - Replies (18)

[Image: TribesOfCrane.jpg]

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  Fate of a Nation newsletter - February/March issue
Posted by: Peter - 02-21-2011, 01:34 PM - Forum: Games - Replies (2)

Welcome to the fifth issue of the Norberg bulletin! In this issue we are proud to present the first part of the Kigal game example written by Glom. We’ll also look at some numbers and have a look at an example technology description…

The bulletin can be found at:

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  Galaxy: Alpha [Intergalactic Games]
Posted by: GrimFinger - 02-20-2011, 03:57 AM - Forum: Games - Replies (23)

This is the entry for Galaxy: Alpha, a play by mail game from Intergalactic Games.

[Image: GalaxyAlphaBattleScanFrontCover.jpg]

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  The Mother Lode of Play By Mail
Posted by: GrimFinger - 02-20-2011, 02:25 AM - Forum: Editorials - No Replies

PBM companies sat on a wall, Play By Mail gaming had a great fall.
PBM players and PBM kin Couldn't play games by pure mail again.

When the Internet collided with what was then the play by mail universe as we knew it, a great coincidence happened. The universe changed - or, in the colorful phraseology of the common man, shit happened.

When worlds collide, lives change. When dimensions of gaming collide, gaming habits change. The irresistible force of technology meets a mode of gaming that, as it turned out, proved to be anything but an immovable object. The winner of this clash of the gaming cosmos? Apparently, it's the Internet. Big surprise, huh?

OK, so, in hindsight, it's pretty obvious who the hands-down favorite was. Play by mail gaming was a mismatch of notorious dimension for Internet the Usurper.

Not content with a first round knockout, the Internet opted, instead, for continuous strangulation of the PBM hobby. The Internet did not put its foot on PBM's throat. Rather, it decided to keep its foot on the throat of play by mail gaming. Believe it or not, this places the postal medium in a rather precarious position, as far as the postal medium remaining a viable medium for gaming entertainment.

Contrary to what some might mistakenly think, I do not advocate turning back the clock, in a futile bid to undo the Internet and to restore the postal medium to its former place of glory in the pantheon of gaming genres.

The Internet, whose hordes of techno-gamers are legion, is not a Goliath in need of slaying. The Internet is not the enemy of play by mail gaming. The gaming universe in its totality is, indeed, large enough for both the Internet and the postal medium to co-exist, simultaneously.

In the modern era, there are Internet games where just one game has more players than all of PBM gaming had in its heyday, several times over. This does not mean that, therefore, the Internet is like a Great Wall of Technology that was built right through the heart of play by mail gaming, an impersonal behemoth that evades all attempts by PBM companies to scale it, in order to overcome.

It is a matter of scale. To have a vibrant, thriving postal gaming medium once more, it is not necessary, nor even realistic, to measure the success of such with contemporary Internet-typical scale numbers. Millions of PBM Praetorians are not needed. Rather, a few thousand will suffice.

In the aftermath of the PBM Apocalypse, which was heralded by the arrival of Internet the Usurper, the diaspora of the PBM Hivemind scattered and settled. They gathered into pools, where they live on, even today.

The atom of the PBM player base was split, not fused, and trying to get the survivors to rejoin is a task of sizable scope. Each respective pool of PBM players does not sense an innate need to interact with one another, much less to merge into a larger entity of dubious value. The portion of the PBM pie on which they dine survived Ragnarok, so they rest content in their respective necks of the PBM wood.

Electronic invitations do little to move them. A migration to the great PBM hunting grounds of old does not ensue. However, this comes as no real surprise - or at least, it shouldn't.

The dynamics that generated the growth of the postal genre of gaming in years gone by no longer rule in the new universe of gaming. Rick Loomis and Flying Buffalo, Inc. may well have "invented" the commercial play by mail industry, but they have yet to reinvent it for the modern era masses. Accordingly, those very same masses never materialize on the doorsteps of the commercial play by mail sector.

Business cannot afford to ignore sheer numbers, I suppose it could be argued. As such, it is unlikely, I think, that a new era in postal gaming is to have its dawn in the existing commercial PBM sector. Rather, a far more likely candidate, I think, lies with innovative individuals (not companies) who are still capable of discerning that there is still much fun to be mined from the postal medium of gaming.

If fun is the driving force, and not profit motive, then I think that the landscape of the postal medium becomes more clear to those looking at how to exploit its potential.

The mother lode of play by mail gaming, the postal variety kind, was never the medium's potential for profit. Rather, the mother lode of play by mail was always its fun factor. PBM gaming may not have ever made tons of people wealthy, but it is incontestable that it greatly enriched the lives of countless thousands that made it what it once was.

One does not have to hate the Internet in order to still love play by mail.

NOTE: Originally posted in 2010 on the old PlayByMail.Net forums.

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  Imagination, Anticipation, and the Anti-Cost Equation of Play by Mail Gaming
Posted by: GrimFinger - 02-20-2011, 02:21 AM - Forum: Editorials - No Replies

On a personal level, I do not tend to view myself as either an optimist or a pessimist. Rather, I tend to view myself as a realist. This is one of the reasons why I do not feel that it I am being overly optimistic, when I discuss the possibilities for the dawning of a new era in play by mail gaming. And, yes, I am referring to gaming of the postal genre variety.

I think that it is beyond dispute that the postal medium is well suited to gaming, including multi-player gaming. Multi-player gaming has been one of PBM gaming's core assets and key attractions over the duration of the postal gaming medium's existence.

The downsides of the postal medium are well known, insofar as they relate to the running of, and participation in, play by mail games. Costs, delays, and poor graphics tend to be among the top reasons why PBM gaming seems, to many, to be going the way of the dinosaur.

The strong suit of play by mail gaming was never graphics. It was imagination. Even now, in today's day and age, video cards and computer graphics continue to lag well behind the imagination of human beings. Oh, sure, the computerized eye-candy has continued to improve, and new video cards dazzle and wow all who behold them. Some games even manage to garner a ten out of ten score form those who review them. Impressive, huh?

Not really. It's not that such games are not fun. Sure, they' fun. Games have always been fun. Games will always be fun. But, that's the inherent nature of games manifesting themselves before us as entertainment pieces. Games entertain. Games delight. Games make life a bit more pleasant.

Ask any die-hard Stephen King fan if imagination is dead. When you're not playing your favorite game, but you think about it, your imagination is likely to perk up and spring to life.Imagination isn't dead, in this day and age, and imagination was a primary ingredient in the play of old school PBM games.

As far as delays that have long been associated with postal gaming, we encounter delays in most every facet of our lives. Postal gaming co-opted delay, and turned what we often associate with being a negative in our lives (namely, that we have to wait for that something that we are wanting - i.e.: our PBM game's turn results) into a positive. What is the positive? It's called anticipation.

Checking your mailbox time and time and time again, as the days and weeks pass, builds the anticipation factor higher and higher. By comparison, in the electronic mediums, delay tends to retain all of the vestiges and trappings of being an inherently negative thing. That does not mean, however, that delay is incapable of being a positive in our lives - and in particular, in the entertainment aspect of our lives. Anticipation has, for decades on end, been a strong staple of play by mail life. It has not gone out of style, even now. Where inducing the anticipation factor into a game, modern computer games are still playing catch-up with postal gaming.

Costs, though, tend to be touted as the big killer of PBM gaming. There is no way, whatsoever, around some of the costs associated with postal gaming. Take postage, for example - it's just a ordinary fact of life that PBM gaming has to live with, in order for old school play by mail gaming to survive.

Why bear the burden of postage costs, turn fees, set-up fees, and whatever other fees and costs that PBM companies and their moderators pile high on your plate? Why not just skip straight over to various electronic mediums, and be done with the postal medium, once and for all?

Well, you can. The Internet and modern technology empowers you - the individual - to do just, exactly that. But, that's not to say that you don't lose something in the process, in the transition away from the postal medium to electronic mediums. Rest assured, you do lose something!

One of the reasons that I want to create, and run, a new PBM game of the postal genre variety is to demonstrate that very point - that and the fact that gaming by mailbox can still be a lot of fun, even in the mish-mash world of technology unfurled that we live in and stress in in the here and now moment of current existence.

I don't intend to use that game to save the genre. Rather, I intend to use it to make, and to underscore, a point about the genre. It's about fun, people - good, old-fashioned fun, the kind that requires no hardware and no software on the player's part.

The fun factor in a play by mail game is what ultimately trumps cost considerations, where PBM gaming is concerned. Fun is the anti-cost. Fun isn't dead. Fun lives on. Long live the fun factor!

NOTE: Originally posted in 2010 on the old PlayByMail.Net forums.

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  paway (HW), One Armed Bandit (Duel2)
Posted by: paway - 02-20-2011, 01:29 AM - Forum: New to the site? Introduce Yourself - No Replies

I go by paway on the Hyborian War forums and One Armed Bandit on the Duel2 forums (the game formerly known as Duelmasters).

My first PBM game was about 20 years ago. I read an ad for Hyborian War in a Savage Sword of Conan magazine and played Amazonia to game end. From that, I tried out Duelmasters and stuck with that for a number of years. I worked at the local Renaissance Festival over the summer and a movie theater during the school year and I'm pretty sure the majority of my minimum wage went to PBM companies. After a year of college, I stopped playing PBM games for over ten years, but I eventually rediscovered the online communities of Duel2 and Hyborian War and am once again an enthusiastic player of both games.

There are other games that I remember from my youth, that I wish were thriving as much as these two games. In particular, I recall reading the rules of Its a Crime! and Monster Island and thinking that they would be great fun to play. I've dabbled with PBeM games and MMORPGs, but for me, nothing beats the excitement of receiving a turn in my mailbox.


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  Registering with Adventure Kings Troubles
Posted by: Beast - 02-18-2011, 10:02 AM - Forum: Website Related - Replies (2)

I was able to partially register with Adventure Kings, getting a user name and password. However I have not been able to log into their forums.

I have looked over the web site and I think the next step is for me to email with a request for registration on the AK admin site. I sent emails to methusalah@sympatico.ca and bonzo.akgm@gmail.com but got no reply.

Has anyone else had this problem or better yet know how to get around this?


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  Registering with KJC Games Troubles
Posted by: Beast - 02-18-2011, 09:50 AM - Forum: Website Related - Replies (9)

I was able to partially register with KJC games, getting a user name and password. However I have not been able to log into their forums or join a game, “It’s a Crime” in particular.

I have sent emails to kjc@kjcgames.com, enquiry@kjcgames.com, and orders@kjcgames.com getting a single reply from enquiry@kjcgames.com only asking me what game I was trying to join.

Has anyone else had this problem or better yet know how to get around this?


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