Copyright and Intellectual Property

Although I’m in favour of Open Source Software, it’s good to know about Copyright and Intellectual Property (IP).

Concerning IP in Australia

This video, A day in the life of IP Australia, provides an over view of IPAustralia the Australian Government department dealing with IP and trademark concerns within Australia

UK Information

http://www.antenocitisworkshop.com/news/copyright-registered-designs-uk-primer/

 

History of Miniature Wargaming Rules

A while ago I got curious about War Gaming, in particular it’s history. Having been an irregular war gamer for the last *many* years and cut my teeth on Battletech. Then expanding into Warhammer 40K, Necurmunda, Space Crusade & Space Hulk. I’d like to try my hand at making a board game or war game of a similar nature. So I was wondering did they all come from? How did they evolve to what we know now, and what influenced that process?

The wikipedia page on Wargaming, giving some insight about hobby and how it started. With the a set of rules been publishing in the early 20th century,  with H. G. Wells’ Little Wars and Jane‘s naval war rules in 1913. It’s also worth noting that Jane also publish All the World’s Aircraft, which is a great research for aircraft of types and is regularly updated.

Little Wars is a set of rules for playing with toy soldiers, written by H. G. Wells in 1913.
Little Wars by H. G. Wells.

John Curry the editor of The History of Wargaming Project has a few videos outlining the project (See part 1 & part 2), and an interesting presentation of the Fletcher Pratt Naval Wargame, which at it’s peak had huge games of 60+ players and did not look like the hobby as I know it now. This was a more social game with people playing on a Friday or Thursday night in large dance halls.

RPGs Split off

In 1971 Gary Gygax & Jeff Perren published the miniature wargame Chainmail, which lead to Dungeons & Dragons and the RPG explosion of today. However, it is worth remembering that most RPGs model themselves after D&D and as a result have a strong tactical basis for their game play. It’s only later, in early 1990, that more narrative-based RPGs emerged with games such as Whitewolf’s Vampire.

Chainmail is a medieval miniature wargame created by Gary Gygax and Jeff Perren.
Chainmail

Computer based Wargames

A decade later saw the adaption og Turned-based War Games (See Turn-based strategy (TBS)Turn-based tactics (TBT)) on the computer, with Blue Bytes Battle isles a personal favorite. These in turn led to Real Time Stratagy (RTS) Games, like Dune 2000 and Command & Conquer.

 

Command & Conquer is a 1995 real-time strategy video game developed by Westwood Studios
Command & Conquer

So going back to the start of all this has given me a better idea of these style of games. Along the way I’ve found some cool projects and some great ideas for my own games, and should aid me in writing one.

Print on Demand Services, Melbourne

The costs with the local printer for the printing of a single book proved to be too expensive. So I did bit of research into Print on Demand services in and around Melbourne, Victoria. Although I have not looked into it, most books seam to be printed in China at the moment and companies there should provide a cheaper service, but you would need to be certain of the end product as there are many things that could go wrong.

Print on Demand

Print on Demand or PoD,  is a useful adaption by printers to everyone’s need for a one off books, or a very short run of books. There have been improvements in software used to produce books, for example Adobe’s InDesign or the open source Scribus. Websites have also improved in that they can provide an image that looks close to the final document, removing some of the need for the converting from digital to print. This has resulted in less risks and associated costs with following this path.

The Process

Generally speaking, once the document or book has been written. The text is laid-out on the page, with images & diagrams added. There are a number of check that should happen at this stage, the pre-flight document before being sent to the printer. Looking at things like the colour gamuts of the text and images, the bleed, the placement of the gutters, margins and slugs. It really opens another world of possibility when converting an idea into a physical really.

PoD Services

So Here’s the quick list;

3D Bridges built!

About a month ago I created a 3D model of a sandstone bridge, put it up on shapeways. The printed model only took a week & half to arrive (from the other side of the planet). Now that I’ve proofed the physical copy, it’s up for sale on shapeways.

Overall, I’m happy with this model. Some of the colours are a little darker than expected, but not insanely so. The topology needed some correcting. You can see the line of bricks in the center of the bridge.

set for scale, these 3 miniatures give an idea of the size of the bridge
set for scale, these 3 miniatures give an idea of the size of the bridge
Goblin on the birdge
Goblin on the birdge
Soldier defends the bridge
Soldier defends the bridge

 

 

The Bridge
The Bridge

This render of the finished bridge shows the corrected brick tiling. the terrain fearture is available in sandstone and grey stone

 

 

The Bradbury Challenge

Someone once told me about the challenge that Ray Bradbury set for himself, which was to write a short story each week. The whole idea of setting a definite time frame to complete a challenging yet achievable task is good way to start writing.  Over on Dieselpunks, they have an 8 sentence Sunday, which is the same idea, but cut down to a more digestible size. However, what about other artist mediums other than creative writing?

Music

The 25 project  run by Cath & Nick, a few years back aimed to produce 25 songs in the course of one year, about one each fortnight. So the first week would be spent writing the lyrics and melody, while the second was spent in recording with local bands and producing the final track. So for a musical challenge try a 2 week cycle to finalise something, with the 2 stages of writing and production.

Visual Art & Animation

The critical thing is to have the deadline to produce something, anything really. Last year I worked on background animations for a musical, Beach Blanket Tempest. Just think Shakespeare’s the Tempest set in the 1960s. However, they was a tight deadline to get the work done, even though I was not complete happy with the quality.

The ‘Bradbury’ Challenge

Named after the Sci-Fi author, the challenge is simple. Create something. It does not matter what medium it is in, but the trick it to create, then rinse and repeat. And through this process the quality of your art should improve.

So animation is my focus and that is where I’ll be starting. I realise that 3D work requires a lot of time. So I’ll need to break it down to make it easier to  work through, much like the music example (above) and the individual stages will change depending on your individual focus.  For example;

  • For 3D Printing; Research, Modelling, Printing.
  • For Animation; Story-boarding, Animation.

Pixar’s RenderMan is free

Pixar have made RenderMan free for Non-Commerical use and have dropped the prices on their amazing render engine. NoFilmSchool have a good overview of the opportunity, to Hone Your VFX Skills for Free. The thing I find interesting is that it’s not really free, since you are investing time in their render engine as apposed to other renders. However, it does provide the opportunity to access RenderMan and build up a demo reel.

Getting (re)started

It’s been to long. The regular distractions of Real Life (TM) crept in to distract from all the possible fun out there.  I’ve only just returned to the many forms of gaming that I enjoy, and long with 3D Animation, and 3D Printing.

So my focus here with be on these things:

  • A Blender course I have been writing over the last few years.
  • 3D Printing for miniature gaming, along with finished projects on shapeways
  • RPG Campaigns I’ve being writing.

How to do an effective web-search

Or notes on finding out who distributed a film in Australia.

Normally, IMDB is a great source of movie related information, quickly followed be wikipedia, Although, both these were not effective in easily finding out who the australian distributor of a film was (or it or will be depending on the case). So a bit of a web search lead to a few interesting finds. No instant solution, but a two step solution which was ok for this because it was only a few.
The first part was the AustralianClassification government website, which has a useful searchable online catalogue. Looking at the applicant gives the company that is trying to get it through the Australian <strike>Censors</strike>, *cough* sorry, Classification. If you’re lucky it will be the local distibutor, such as Roadshow Entertainment or Amalgamated Movies. (They’re the two largest BTW).
However, if they gives you no joy, then there is the Australian Film Societies Federation‘s list of film distributors. They focus on allowing locals to show a particular film as a film society, not commercial cinemas. Although this being the Internet, who knows if they can be trusted. So onwards and the contact information they provide about many distributors is worth investigating. Roadshow Entertainment only had a phone number and email. Amalgamated Movies had a link to the website, and joy oh joy, the website had an online catalogue of the movies they distributed for “Non Theatrical Film Distributors”.
So combining AustralianClassification listing and the list of film distributors form ausfilm, and comparing this with Amalgamated Movies online catalogue. Baring things like data entry error, random transmission malfunctions, acts of god(s), and such, I was able to judge the first to be mostly trust-worthy.
In additional to the list of film producers from above, there is also, Film Distributors in Australia A-Z | International Film School in Sydney, Australia | Participate Film Academy

So to summarize what steps did I follow to conduct this web-search and verify that what I found was any use what so ever?

  1. Engaged general knowledge to look at IMDB, and wikipedia, but (and this is important) did not use them as a source. I can not trust wikipedia because of it’s general nature and multiple editors, and I’m just not sure about IMDB.
  2. Then using google tried a couple of searchers. australian movie distributors, australian film distributors, and the like. Trying to use the keywords to narrow down the pages returned.
  3. Skipping past the ads at the top and side. I investigated the most likely sites from the list looking for government sites, organisations, not for profits, because they are more likely to provide unbiased infromation. A business will usually talk about their products or services and ignore their oppositions, so I can rely on what they say.
  4. Skimmed the site for relevance, and if it was useful then scanned it for the useful data I wanted. (Yes you could say I had a quick look and a guess, but there is more to it than that)
  5. Now the critical step is, I verified the information provided from one website against another. Now my tolerance for looking at this kind of information is fairly high. If it was something like ‘best armies for Warhammer 40K’, or ‘Best place to buy a flux capacitor’, then I would spend more time reading to build up a broader basis of knowledge from which to judge the useful from the cr@p. And the only way this is achieved is through reading many websites to judge the content, its age, relevance, etc.