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Speaking Engagements in Jan/Feb 2023

January 5, 2023

So 2023 is getting off to a busy start and I’m booked into to speak at 2 events so far:

PG Connect London on 23rd/24th Jan 2023. Main site is here. Details on my contribution to follow.

Then in Feburary, I’m talking at Bristol Game Lab. Here’s the info:

Save the date! On Friday 24 February, The Bristol Digital Game Lab is delighted to be hosting a public lecture by Dr Tomas Rawlings, Studio Director of Auroch Digital. 

Dr Rawlings will speak about ‘Authenticity in Game Development – Mars Horizon and the experience of working with real space agencies when making a game about running a fictional space agency’. 

The lecture will be held in the Reception Room, Wills Memorial Building, University of Bristol, and is free to attend. It will run from 17:30-19:00. There will be a Q&A as well as a drinks and networking session facilitated by the Lab, which will also be hosting the first UK Digital Game Lab Summit that day.  

Full details and booking link to follow. You can also find details of other upcoming Game Lab events on our website

Hope to see you there!

Mars Horizon screenshot

Our Games Workshop Themed Podcasts

December 20, 2022

Here they are, to date!

Getting into nerd-history: Warhammer Quest

November 30, 2022

I’ve been getting into a bunch of videos/books that dig into the history of various nerd things that I’m into and one of them I’ve enjoyed has been a three part YouTube series on Warhammer Quest. (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3). Warhammer Quest, if you’re not sure what it is, is a hybrid dungeon-crawling RPG/miniatures wargame from Games Workshop. I’ll not say much more as the videos do a great job of that history. What I will note though is this little nugget from Part 2 at 17.32 in;

Nugget from Part 2, 17.32 in.

Which noted that an origin of the great Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Game’s classic campaign, The Enemy Within, which in-turn is referenced in Warhammer Quest: Shadows Over Hammerhal, was in-turn riffing of the classic RPG, Call of Cthulhu. Apparently GW wanted some RPG adventures that had more of a horror/investigation type vibe that the more hack’n’slash of D&D.

Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun – announced!

June 2, 2022

Very, very excited to announce a new title – Boltgun! Trailer below and some commentary here.

As ever, please do wishlist the game!

Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics Podcast Episodes

July 15, 2021

Back in 2018 we worked with the good people of MODIPHIUS and Ripstone to adapt the TTRPG & tabletop wargames, Achtung! Cthulhu into a digital version. I was very pleased with what we created! Here’s the Sony blog announcing the project:

Anyhow, as part of this, we did a series of podcasts about the game and I wanted to collect them all here:

Hope you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed making these!

Mars Horizon has launched! Some links, podcasts and resources.

November 21, 2020

So proud & pleased to say that Mars Horizon has finally launched. The game is now out on PC, PS4, Xbox & Switch. You can grab it here. Here’s a quote from me:

“I’m extremely proud of all the team at Auroch Digital – from development right through to marketing – for the resoundingly successful launch of Mars Horizon.

I’m also extremely grateful to all of our partners in the project without whom it would not be the success it is; our publisher, The Irregular Corporation, who have been steadfast in their support for the project and brought considerable marketing and production resources and expertise into the mix.

Also the European Space Agency – ESA and the UK Space Agency who have been able to give us a level of expert input that completely lifted the authenticity of the game, and in the process have engaged so many more people with the actual work of space exploration.

This project hit on two key pillars of the work we do at Auroch Digital; it showed our commitment to connecting gaming to real world events and also the simultaneous cross-platform release demonstrated our development capacity to bring games to console as well as PC. We hope you all enjoy our game!”

If you want to know more, here’s the trailer:

The game’s FAQ page is here. If you’re enjoying the game, always great to get a review!

Over the years of development, we’ve put out a number of podcasts on the game, listed here in chronological order, newest to oldest:

(There is an index of other podcast episodes, indexed, that we’ve done before, here)

So #DigitalTabletopFest has completed!

October 26, 2020

A few months ago, I pitched Steam the idea of doing an online festival looking at the interesting space where physical games (board games, card games, miniatures games etc) meets video games. This event is about a form of gamign we can call ‘Digital Tabletop’ which I define as;

  • Games that are either digital versions of tabletop games (e.g. Ogre, Terraforming Mars, Bloodbowl, Gloomhaven)
  • Games that have an experience that crosses from digital to tabletop (e.g. Plague Inc, Crusader Kings, Mars Horizon, Sniper Elite)
  • Games that have a strong tabletop aesthetic (e.g. Lord of the Rings Adventure Card Game, For The King, Slay the Spire, Kards)
  • Games inspired by a tabletop game. (e.g. Dark Future, Vermintide)
  • Gaming Platforms with tabletop aesthetic (e.g. Tabletop Simulator, Tabletopia)

Steam were very interested (we cover all this in our podcast in more detail) and so we got going to organise and run the event. Fast forward a few months and it launched on 21st October 2020!

And so over the next few days we saw a whole host of let’s plays, streams, interviews and panels on the festival’s theme. Here’s a few that I had more of a hand in;

The curated streams are all online now, here. What was also interesting is that, as part of this, I got to do interviews, informal zoom chats, text chats and more with a whole host of people connected to this area, which has been a hugely valuable research tool for us as a company interest in this area in a way that it would be hard to replicate in any other way.

If you took part, as a player or participant and have any feedback, do let me know! Thanks.

Sunday Podcast Recommendation – 28th July 2020

June 28, 2020

A bit of listening for today if you’re doing things that give you space to have a podcast on. This episode is part way though a series but it is such a powerful moment in history (and one related to and notable in today’s politics/events). It’s the 4th Episode of the Revolutions Podcast series on the Haitian Revolution, which charts the history of revolution, starting with the English Civil War. In this episode the host notes, “We are now seeing actual slaves rising up against actual tyranny.” This is when the slave uprising actually happens. Note that the language used to describe the various factions has a context, explained in the first episode, and I’d recommend the whole series.

(There’s an index of all the series/episodes here)

On the subject of politics, we did an episode looking at a brief history of democracy and gaming.

Sunday Listening…for 21st July 2020

June 21, 2020

Might I suggest a couple of listens for this Sunday? (I listen to a lot of them, especially when doing chores or painting miniatures or playing (some) games..(mostly ours for play-testing – I find it helps me to focus on the gameplay and details)

  1. This Radiolab episode that follows the translation of a 1000 year old Viking recipe and how it connects to a new antibiotic. Fascinating!
  2. One of ours; A brief history of non-Warhammer Games Workshop Games. I loved recording this as I got to be really nerdy about GW stuff and go deep on the topic.

Have a great day 🙂

I’m still amazed by the rise in popularity of pen & paper RPGs

June 20, 2020

Amazed and pleased. I should note that I was a huuuge D&D (as well as Stormbringer, Runequest, Call of Cthulhu and a few more) fan in my youth. Discovering D&D was transformative to my life. As well as giving me a lifelong love of gaming (of all forms) it also put me on the path to becoming a games designer. But while back in the 80s, D&D became huge, it didn’t last as competition for the ‘mind-space’ of kids arrived via technologies such as video games, as well as business woes of some of the main players in RPGs such as TSR (the company founded to publish D&D) who went bankrupt and was sold to Wizards of the Coast (WotC), who in turn was sold to Hasbro. What is interesting is back then during the sale D&D was not at all what Hasbro was interested in:

In 1999, Hasbro bought WotC for Magic the Gathering and the Pokémon card game. The waning profits from D&D’s second edition certainly didn’t help the acquisition. Like many folks in 1999, Hasbro executives probably wondered if people had to dress up to play D&D. Would remnants of the satanic panic stain Hasbro?

The same fall in sales and waning interest also hit other then big RPGs such as White Wolf’s Vampire: The Masquerade games. I’m in a way emblematic of that loss of players during that period, I was now playing video games more than RPGs. When I did play an RPG it was Call of Cthulhu. I remember in the early 00s in Bristol going along to an RPG gaming group, asking what all the other people played, it was almost totally Pathfinder (a D&D-like fantasy RPG that did while D&D struggled). I didn’t really get back into RPGs much then.

Back to our story; So while D&D bumped along as part of Hasbro, now a small fish in a big pond, watch what happens as the 2010s get underway;

So the question becomes – what happened in 2014 to see a rise in sales? 5th Edition is released and to cut a long story short, the developers got lots and lots of things right with it. Then in 2017? On July 15th 2016, Stranger Things debuted and with it’s nostalgic love of D&D put the hobby in front of many, many more people.

What is interesting about the re-rise of D&D and RPGs is that now technology, far from killing these games, is giving them a new life. People play games using video-chat systems like Roll20, the connectivity of crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter (I mean this campaign for dogs in D&D grossed over £350K!) has allowed creators to make a whole bunch of new, re-born and odd RPGs that explore every possible niche of the hobby. Meanwhile D&D just gets bigger – one count being that there are more than 13.7M players worldwide. (This podcast episode does a good job of showing the range of RPGs around) We’ve seen a return to form of classic titles such as Call of Cthulhu, new editions of Runequest as well a new titles that explore very different worlds such as Tales from the Loop.

RPGs are back and are only going to get bigger.