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Top 6 Ways App Developers Use Cohort Analysis - by Peter Dille

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 25 August 2015 - 10:07pm
Cohort analysis lets mobile app developers analyze user behaviors to improve their app’s engagement, retention and monetization metrics. Here are some of the more basic yet powerful ways of using it to understand and take action based on in-app activity.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Modules Unraveled: 146 Drupal Update Automation and Drop Guard with Manuel Pistner - Modules Unraveled Podcast

Planet Drupal - 25 August 2015 - 10:00pm
Published: Wed, 08/26/15Download this episodeUpdate Automation
  • I’d like to talk a little bit about automation processes in general before we jump into Drop Guard, if that’s okay. What types of things are we talking about updating? Server configuration? Drupal projects? Deployment?
  • What are some of the technologies you were using before developing Drop Guard? Maybe the underlying pieces that make up the Drop Guard architecture.
Drop Guard
  • What is Drop Guard?
    • Simply put, Drop Guard is a service to automate Drupal updates with seamless integration into development and deployment processes. Drop Guard helps Drupal shops and other Drupal support and service providers to automate their update work. In case of critical security updates Drop Guard will update the site automatically within 1 hour. This makes the operation of a site more secure and reliable and makes Drupal updates a full part of the development process.
  • You said it’s “integration into development and deployment workflows.” What do you mean by that?
    • Drop Guard works simply as a dedicated team member that is responsible for applying updates in the development as well as in the maintenance and support life-cycle of a project. You can configure Drop Guard to work with any hosting provider and with any team workflow. Drop Guard can execute different Rules-Based commands to trigger deployment actions just as a real team member would do it on manual update work.
  • How granular can you get with updates? Security only? All updates?
  • How does Drop Guard actually work? Is there a module to install? Server setup?
  • What happens if a bug is introduced with an automatic update? Is there a process to notify the developer?
  • Who is Drop Guard designed to be used by?
    • Drop Guard is designed to help Drupal agencies and freelancers to deliver Drupal update services automatically. Every Drupal shop can use Drop Guard as a white label service to deliver update services to their clients as part of support contracts. For end users that don’t understand the processes behind deployment and developement deeply enough, the service is too complex but Drupal shops will definitely benefit from additional developer time that they can save for their project business.
  • What prompted you to start building the Drop Guard service? And when was that?
    • We started with the base technology in 2012 to build a system for our internal support contracts. We had the need to automate recurring things and ensure that our SLAs for security patches are processed reliably. When Drupalgeddon shocked the Drupal world and many sites had to be patched in a very short period of time, we already had the benefit of automated updates for our supported projects. At this point I realized that the system might have a benefit for other Drupal shops. So Drop Guard has its birthday with Drupalgeddon :-)
  • Do you have any insights of the roadmap of Drop Guard?
    • Sure! Currently we are in an internal Beta phase. That means we harden the service with some trusted users and we will add more beta users each week till the end of September.Then we will open Drop Guard for a public Beta version where everybody that is interested can start using the service with the help of our support team. I am sure that there are many usability issues we will face as the high flexibility results in a more complex configuration processes. But thanks to our current beta users we were able to address and fix many of them till now. Also the Feedback from Drupalcon Barcelona visitors will be an important milestone for us.
  • Does this work with all hosting providers? (VPS, Pantheon, Platform.sh, Acquia cloud etc.)
  • What does the pricing structure look like after the beta period?
  • You mentioned there’s an incentive for people to get involved with the beta now. Do you want to talk about that?
Episode Links: Manuel on drupal.orgManuel on TwitterDrop Guard on TwitterDrop Guard WebsiteDrop Guard WebinarTags: Automationplanet-drupal
Categories: Drupal

Globals

New Drupal Modules - 25 August 2015 - 9:13pm

Globals solves the problem of providing user editable configuration properties by giving developers an API for providing these properties.

Categories: Drupal

OSTraining: Drupal Error: More Than 5 Failed Login Attempts

Planet Drupal - 25 August 2015 - 5:22pm

If you've forgotten your Drupal password and try unsuccessfully to login, you may get this message:

Sorry, there have been more than 5 failed login attempts for this account. it is temporarily blocked

The image below shows how the message appears. I'm going to show you how you can fix this error.

Categories: Drupal

2bits: Re-Indexing your content to Solr, the fast way ...

Planet Drupal - 25 August 2015 - 3:00pm
There are rare occasions when you want to re-index all your site's content in Solr. Such occasions include: Major Drupal version upgrade (e.g. from Drupal 6.x to Drupal 7.x). Changing your Solr schema to include more search criteria. Upgrading your Solr server to a new major version. Moving your Solr server from an old server to a new one.

read more

Categories: Drupal

Drupal.org Featured Case Studies: Wight & Company

Planet Drupal - 25 August 2015 - 1:41pm
Completed Drupal site or project URL: http://www.wightco.com/

Wight & Company (Wight) is an integrated architecture, engineering, and construction services firm with offices in Chicago and Darien, Illinois. Wight has expertise in key markets including corporate, commercial, federal government, higher education, local government, PK-12 education, and transportation and infrastructure. 

TOKY Branding + Design created a website that sets Wight apart from the all-too-common aesthetic and functionality of competing firms. TOKY specializes in digital and print work for clients in architecture, building, and design, as well as the arts, education, and premium consumer products.

Key modules/theme/distribution used: Advanced MenuAPC - Alternative PHP CacheEntity APIEntity cacheField collectionImageAPI Optimize (or Image Optimize)Memcache API and IntegrationMetatagRemote stream wrapperSpeedyTaxonomy access fixTaxonomy displayOrganizations involved: TOKY Branding + DesignTeam members: Daniel Korte
Categories: Drupal

Google squares off against Twitch tomorrow by launching YouTube Gaming

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 25 August 2015 - 1:12pm

Google is launching its YouTube Gaming venture this week alongside a dedicated mobile app as part of its previously-announced plan to challenge Twitch for the title of premier provider of games-focused video. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Developers take to Twitter to share pithy game design tips

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 25 August 2015 - 11:24am

An interesting smorgasbord of game design advice is accruing on Twitter today under #ShareAGameDesignTip as developers of varying experience levels, backgrounds and projects offer lessons learned. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Shitiz Gag's Blog: [GSoC 2015: Hawk Authentication] Week 14: Concluding Summer of Code

Planet Drupal - 25 August 2015 - 10:07am

This would be my last weekly update as far as Google Summer of Code 2015 is concerned. The long road is coming to an end as the season closes on Friday, 28th August 2015. This week I tackled a bug in core of Drupal which I discussed in my last week’s update.

Fixing WWW-Authenticate

This issue is #2553531 on the Drupal bug tracker. Previously when a user was accessing an area which required them to be logged in without logging in, Drupal would call authentication providers for a “challenge”. This challenge allows Basic Auth to specify it’s WWW-Authenticate header and send a HTTP 401 unauthorised error telling the user that they need to be logged in and can use Basic Auth as a means to log-in. This was good, as basic was the only protocol which would communicate via WWW-Authenticate until Hawk came along.

WWW-Authenticate can have multiple values, a server sending WWW-Authenticate: Hawk, Basic for example is saying that the client can use hawk or basic auth protocol. This wasn’t possible in the current code base as Drupal did not allow multiple Auth providers to specify the challenge. I modified the code to allow multiple auth providers to send their challenge which gets compiled by the authentication provider manager into an exception. Previously, the auth provider would send an exception itself which is why multiple auth providers could not specify their own challenge.

This fix is still to be accepted into Drupal core, although I hope it would get accepted soon.

Concluding Summer of Code

This would probably be the last coding I will be doing during Summer of Code, but it’s not last related to Drupal or my project as I plan to continue it’s development after GSoC as well and hopefully I get to stick around Drupal for a long time.

I had a lot of fun during the summer, and I got to learn a lot of new things as well as got introduced to Drupal and it’s community. I worked on implementing a new protocol within PHP, developing a general purpose library which can be used by anyone willing to use the protocol with PHP and implemented the protocol as a Drupal module. All things that I have never done in the past, and the things I struggled with at times but ultimately learned them and managed to succeed to the best of my abilities. I also improved my understanding of concepts such as Dependency Injection, unit testing, composer, authentication and authorization as well as security concepts related to them, encryption, hashing and general Drupal architecture and development.

For students participating in the future, don't hesitate to ask around the Drupal community via the forums or IRC if you get stuck doing something as they are very helpful. Drupal is a complicated beast and there are a lot of people apart form your mentor who are willing to help, it would also be faster at times when your mentor might not be available. I took a lot of help from the community during my project and the community really helped around.

I’m glad to have taken part in this year’s summer of code and I will remember this experience forever. A big thanks to my mentor Jingsheng Wang (skyred) and the Drupal community for their support as well as Avantika Agarwal for proofreading my blog and documents related to Summer of Code. I will continue with what I started this summer of code and try to learn and share as many things as I can.

Thank you!

Categories: Drupal

Commerce Brightpearl

New Drupal Modules - 25 August 2015 - 9:24am
Brightpearl

Brightpearl an ERP system that exists to help SMB multi-channel on and offline retailers accelerate their growth and profits.

It allows retailers to manage orders, inventory, customer data and accounting in a single, reliable retail management system.
Brightpearl provides real-time reports on inventory, cash flow, profitability by SKU and channel, customer purchase behaviour and more.
It allows retailers to focus on what they love - merchandising and growing their business.

Categories: Drupal

Tim Millwood: Versioning in Drupal

Planet Drupal - 25 August 2015 - 8:59am
Currently Drupal has naming conventions for branches and tags in git for contrib module. These are...
Categories: Drupal

How to prioritize features and user stories

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 25 August 2015 - 8:55am

"A development team's time can be wasted if they select the wrong user stories or features for a sprint or a release. Here are some techniques to take the guesswork out of prioritization." ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Technology won't replace collaboration among students

Virtual Reality - Science Daily - 25 August 2015 - 8:50am
Students heading back to school can always count on one thing: Technology will be a little bit more advanced than it was last year. After all, 21st century learning experiences are increasingly enhanced by gadgets and software, and the ability to plug into worlds beyond the classroom. Even so, technology is no substitute for everyday student engagement and collaboration among students, researchers find.
Categories: Virtual Reality

gamescom 2015 - media coverage analysis - by Thomas Bidaux

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 25 August 2015 - 6:45am
The dust has settled and it is time to have an in-depth look at the media coverage that gamescom received this year.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Digital Distributors vs Open Web: who will win?

Dries Buytaert - 25 August 2015 - 5:25am

I've spent a fair amount of time thinking about how to win back the Open Web, but in the case of digital distributors (e.g. closed aggregators like Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, Flipboard) superior, push-based user experiences have won the hearts and minds of end users, and enabled them to attract and retain audience in ways that individual publishers on the Open Web currently can't.

In today's world, there is a clear role for both digital distributors and Open Web publishers. Each needs the other to thrive. The Open Web provides distributors content to aggregate, curate and deliver to its users, and distributors provide the Open Web reach in return. The user benefits from this symbiosis, because it's easier to discover relevant content.

As I see it, there are two important observations. First, digital distributors have out-innovated the Open Web in terms of conveniently delivering relevant content; the usability gap between these closed distributors and the Open Web is wide, and won't be overcome without a new disruptive technology. Second, the digital distributors haven't provided the pure profit motives for individual publishers to divest their websites and fully embrace distributors.

However, it begs some interesting questions for the future of the web. What does the rise of digital distributors mean for the Open Web? If distributors become successful in enabling publishers to monetize their content, is there a point at which distributors create enough value for publishers to stop having their own websites? If distributors are capturing market share because of a superior user experience, is there a future technology that could disrupt them? And the ultimate question: who will win, digital distributors or the Open Web?

I see three distinct scenarios that could play out over the next few years, which I'll explore in this post.

This image summarizes different scenarios for the future of the web. Each scenario has a label in the top-left corner which I'll refer to in this blog post. A larger version of this image can be found at http://buytaert.net/sites/buytaert.net/files/images/blog/digital-distrib....

Scenario 1: Digital distributors provide commercial value to publishers (A1 → A3/B3)

Digital distributors provide publishers reach, but without tangible commercial benefits, they risk being perceived as diluting or even destroying value for publishers rather than adding it. Right now, digital distributors are in early, experimental phases of enabling publishers to monetize their content. Facebook's Instant Articles currently lets publishers retain 100 percent of revenue from the ad inventory they sell. Flipboard, in efforts to stave off rivals like Apple News, has experimented with everything from publisher paywalls to native advertising as revenue models. Expect much more experimentation with different monetization models and dealmaking between the publishers and digital distributors.

If digital distributors like Facebook succeed in delivering substantial commercial value to the publisher they may fully embrace the distributor model and even divest their own websites' front-end, especially if the publishers could make the vast majority of their revenue from Facebook rather than from their own websites. I'd be interested to see someone model out a business case for that tipping point. I can imagine a future upstart media company either divesting its website completely or starting from scratch to serve content directly to distributors (and being profitable in the process). This would be unfortunate news for the Open Web and would mean that content management systems need to focus primarily on multi-channel publishing, and less on their own presentation layer.

As we have seen from other industries, decoupling production from consumption in the supply-chain can redefine industries. We also know that introduces major risks as it puts a lot of power and control in the hands of a few.

Scenario 2: The Open Web's disruptive innovation happens (A1 → C1/C2)

For the Open Web to win, the next disruptive innovation must focus on narrowing the usability gap with distributors. I've written about a concept called a Personal Information Broker (PIM) in a past post, which could serve as a way to responsibly use customer data to engineer similar personal, contextually relevant experiences on the Open Web. Think of this as unbundling Facebook where you separate the personal information management system from their content aggregation and curation platform, and make that available for everyone on the web to use. First, it would help us to close the user experience gap because you could broker your personal information with every website you visit, and every website could instantly provide you a contextual experience regardless of prior knowledge about you. Second, it would enable the creation of more distributors. I like the idea of a PIM making the era of handful of closed distributors as short as possible. In fact, it's hard to imagine the future of the web without some sort of PIM. In a future post, I'll explore in more detail why the web needs a PIM, and what it may look like.

Scenario 3: Coexistence (A1 → A2/B1/B2)

Finally, in a third combined scenario, neither publishers nor distributors dominate, and both continue to coexist. The Open Web serves as both a content hub for distributors, and successfully uses contextualization to improve the user experience on individual websites.

Conclusion

Right now, since distributors are out-innovating on relevance and discovery, publishers are somewhat at their mercy for traffic. However, a significant enough profit motive to divest websites completely remains to be seen. I can imagine that we'll continue in a coexistence phase for some time, since it's unreasonable to expect either the Open Web or digital distributors to fail. If we work on the next disruptive technology for the Open Web, it's possible that we can shift the pendulum in favor of “open” and narrow the usability gap that exists today. If I were to guess, I'd say that we'll see a move from A1 to B2 in the next 5 years, followed by a move from B2 to C2 over the next 5 to 10 years. Time will tell!

Categories: Drupal

Dries Buytaert: Digital Distributors vs Open Web: who will win?

Planet Drupal - 25 August 2015 - 5:25am

I've spent a fair amount of time thinking about how to win back the Open Web, but in the case of digital distributors (e.g. closed aggregators like Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, Flipboard) superior, push-based user experiences have won the hearts and minds of end users, and enabled them to attract and retain audience in ways that individual publishers on the Open Web currently can't.

In today's world, there is a clear role for both digital distributors and Open Web publishers. Each needs the other to thrive. The Open Web provides distributors content to aggregate, curate and deliver to its users, and distributors provide the Open Web reach in return. The user benefits from this symbiosis, because it's easier to discover relevant content.

As I see it, there are two important observations. First, digital distributors have out-innovated the Open Web in terms of conveniently delivering relevant content; the usability gap between these closed distributors and the Open Web is wide, and won't be overcome without a new disruptive technology. Second, the digital distributors haven't provided the pure profit motives for individual publishers to divest their websites and fully embrace distributors.

However, it begs some interesting questions for the future of the web. What does the rise of digital distributors mean for the Open Web? If distributors become successful in enabling publishers to monetize their content, is there a point at which distributors create enough value for publishers to stop having their own websites? If distributors are capturing market share because of a superior user experience, is there a future technology that could disrupt them? And the ultimate question: who will win, digital distributors or the Open Web?

I see three distinct scenarios that could play out over the next few years, which I'll explore in this post.

This image summarizes different scenarios for the future of the web. Each scenario has a label in the top-left corner which I'll refer to in this blog post. A larger version of this image can be found at http://buytaert.net/sites/buytaert.net/files/images/blog/digital-distrib....

Scenario 1: Digital distributors provide commercial value to publishers (A1 → A3/B3)

Digital distributors provide publishers reach, but without tangible commercial benefits, they risk being perceived as diluting or even destroying value for publishers rather than adding it. Right now, digital distributors are in early, experimental phases of enabling publishers to monetize their content. Facebook's Instant Articles currently lets publishers retain 100 percent of revenue from the ad inventory they sell. Flipboard, in efforts to stave off rivals like Apple News, has experimented with everything from publisher paywalls to native advertising as revenue models. Except much more experimentation with different monetization models and dealmaking between the publishers and digital distributors.

If digital distributors like Facebook succeed in delivering substantial commercial value to the publisher they may fully embrace the distributor model and even divest their own websites' front-end, especially if the publishers could make the vast majority of their revenue from Facebook rather than from their own websites. I'd be interested to see someone model out a business case for that tipping point. I can imagine a future upstart media company either divesting its website completely or starting from scratch to serve content directly to distributors (and being profitable in the process). This would be unfortunate news for the Open Web and would mean that content management systems need to focus primarily on multi-channel publishing, and less on their own presentation layer.

As we have seen from other industries, decoupling production from consumption in the supply-chain can redefine industries. We also know that introduces major risks as it puts a lot of power and control in the hands of a few.

Scenario 2: The Open Web's disruptive innovation happens (A1 → C1/C2)

For the Open Web to win, the next disruptive innovation must focus on narrowing the usability gap with distributors. I've written about a concept called a Personal Information Broker (PIM) in a past post, which could serve as a way to responsibly use customer data to engineer similar personal, contextually relevant experiences on the Open Web. Think of this as unbundling Facebook where you separate the personal information management system from their content aggregation and curation platform, and make that available for everyone on the web to use. First, it would help us to close the user experience gap because you could broker your personal information with every website you visit, and every website could instantly provide you a contextual experience regardless of prior knowledge about you. Second, it would enable the creation of more distributors. I like the idea of a PIM making the era of handful of closed distributors as short as possible. In fact, it's hard to imagine the future of the web without some sort of PIM. In a future post, I'll explore in more detail why the web needs a PIM, and what it may look like.

Scenario 3: Coexistence (A1 → A2/B1/B2)

Finally, in a third combined scenario, neither publishers nor distributors dominate, and both continue to coexist. The Open Web serves as both a content hub for distributors, and successfully uses contextualization to improve the user experience on individual websites.

Conclusion

Right now, since distributors are out-innovating on relevance and discovery, publishers are somewhat at their mercy for traffic. However, a significant enough profit motive to divest websites completely remains to be seen. I can imagine that we'll continue in a coexistence phase for some time, since it's unreasonable to expect either the Open Web or digital distributors to fail. If we work on the next disruptive technology for the Open Web, it's possible that we can shift the pendulum in favor of “open” and narrow the usability gap that exists today. If I were to guess, I'd say that we'll see a move from A1 to B2 in the next 5 years, followed by a move from B2 to C2 over the next 5 to 10 years. Time will tell!

Categories: Drupal

Call of Catthulhu Book III: WORLDS OF CATTHULHU

New RPG Product Reviews - 25 August 2015 - 4:30am
Publisher: Catthulhu.com
Rating: 4
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2015/08/25/tabletop-review-call-of-catthulhu-deluxe-book-iii-worlds-of-catthulhu/

One of the most popular games in my household is Call of Catthulhu. Even my wife and her friends, who do not roleplay, love the game and find it creepy and adorable at the same time. I reviewed the basic version of the game nearly two years ago and the first two books of the deluxe version (The Nekonomicon and Unaussprechlichen Katzen) in Q2 2014.

Worlds of Catthulhu is very different from previous Call of Catthulhu releases. This book is not needed to play the game by any means. Instead, it is a collection of nine different worlds or settings to play in. Think of it in the same way Dungeons and Dragons has Ravenloft, Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, Planescape, Spelljammer, Dragonlance, Dark Sun, Mystara, Birthright, Maztetica and other very different settings in which you can use the core rules. Eight of the settings in Worlds of Catthulhu are very brief, only containing six to ten pages of background and fluff each, meaning you as the Cat Herder (DM) will have to do a lot of prep work to fill in in the blanks. The ninth of these worlds (actually the first in the book) is a very different story, clocking in at seventy-two pages (more than half the book!) so you might get a bit of information overload compared to the brevity of the other options. Of course, the most detailed setting is by Joel Sparks, creator of Call of Catthulhu, while the other eight were Kickstarter stretch goals, so this explains the difference in length. Let’s take a look at all nine campaign settings now and show you how they differ from each other.

First up is “The Cats of Fuiry.” This setting is essentially the classic Fae courts of British folklore, but with cats instead of hobgoblins, faeries, and the like. As is common with Call of Catthulhu, there are a lot of cat name derived puns, such as the Seelie Queen Titania being Catania here and Queen Mab becoming Queen Moab. This setting has far less to do with combat or detective works than any of the others featured in this book (or the core releases). Instead, the setting focuses more on Court intrigue, social/status climbing and political machinations. As such, if you’re more of a dungeon crawl fan, “The Cats of Fuiry” will probably be too “talking heads” for your liking. If, however, you like games such as Vampire: The Masquerade or Birthright, then this will be right up your alley. Now, that’s not to say “The Cats of Fuiry” can’t have physical combat or mysteries to solve – just that the FOCUS is on improving your position at court. A good Cat Herder will be able to tailor this setting to their players’ preferences, all while staying true to the core idea for the setting.

“The Cats of Fuiry” also contains five roles that define your cat’s role at Court. These do not replace the “character classes” from the core rules, but are merely a new facet specifically for this setting. You have Aerialist, Changeling, Knight, Sorcerer and Courtier. All are pretty self-explanatory and get two or three pages devoted to them, except for Sorcerer, who gets about ten due to rules for different kinds of spells. “The Cats of Fuiry” also contains mechanics for social climbing, ideas for potential stories, lists of influential NPCs the PCs can befriend or antagonize and a full glossary to help you remember jargon and vernacular.

There are also two Catventures for “The Cats of Fuiry.” The first is “The Dragonfly Ball.” This is a fancy dress ball where every cat must dress up in a dragonfly costume. A good portion of the adventure is trying to wrangle up a costume for your PC so that they can attend. Then, once at the ball, the characters may discover an Unseelie plot to assassinate a high ranking (Grand) cat of the Seelie Court. The second adventure is “A Night Under Arms,” and it is here where combat fans will get to have some fun. It’s a short look at how combat is done for this setting, and it is geared primarily for Knight characters. It’s cute but limiting. Still, it’s a good way to showcase how different combat is here than in other settings.

The second setting in Worlds of Catthulhu is ” Iron Edda: Claws of Metal and Bone.” It’s essentially a cat version of Iron Edda. This setting uses Norse Mythology in terms of time frame, geography and gods as the cats deal with the oncoming of Catnarok. There are is an interesting story/adventure seed generator in this section, but other than that, what is here lacks any real substance or detail. It feels like more of an attempt on the author’s part to sell his own game rather than contribute anything of merit to Call of Catthulhu, which I personally find distasteful. This is easily the worst/weakest offering of the bunch.

Setting #3 is “Swords of Catthulhu.” This is a cute high fantasy setting revolving around Castle Felsmark. Although the section is only six pages long, it’s pretty in-depth, featuring many locations for PC’s to visit and for Cat Herders to set catventures around. Speaking of catventures, the section ends with a one page adventure where the PCs have been brought in as castle mousers but may eventually uncover a plot by Hatspurr of Catcosa to influence the kingdom in malevolent ways. It’s a nice piece rounding out an excellent section.

Next up is “Gatos De Los Muertos.” This takes place in 1892 in Arizona, which didn’t achieve statehood until 1912, but was owned by the US since the late 1840s, so that makes the setting one of a border town. I’m not sure why the book constantly refers to this section as “1880s Mexico,” though. That would be like calling a 1920s adventure in Alaska “Early 20th Century Russia.” Anyway, this section is actually more of an adventure than a setting, because only one page is devoted to the actual background. Locations, humans, other cats and the like each get a sentence at most devoted to them, while the other four pages are pure catventure. Here, undead cats (and dogs) are returning from the grave with vile intentions. The PCs must seek out the reason why and put the dead to rest once more. Again, it’s a cute little piece, good for a one shot, but little more due to the lack of setting depth.

“Galaxy Warriors Vs, the Robot Cats” is setting numero five. This is blatantly a Star Wars meets old school Battlestar Galactica homage, but it’s a cute one. Again, this is far more adventure than an actual fleshed out setting for people to use, but who doesn’t know Star Wars (or Sci-Fi tropes in general), right? This is a pretty easy piece to flesh out. The adventure starts off on Cattooine, featuring an attempt to warn the Hero’s aunt of killer robots, meeting up with a wise man and his lightstick, and so on. My favorite part was the Empurror (Purrpatine?). There’s a lot of great puns and family friendly fun abounds in this one.

“Big Cats” is next, and this allows you to play as jungle/savannah cats. Tigers, lions, jaguars, leopards, panthers, cheetahs, cougars and more can all be found here. There are no stat changes or extra health levels. You’re just big cats; no scaling. There are a few adventures seeds and one full Catventure when the PCs are a pride of lions trying to save their cubs from mysterious kidnappers while also dealing with the local chimp population. Another fun piece.

“The Great Catsby” is next and with only four pages devoted to it, this is the shortest setting in the book. It’s Prohibition-Era America and the cats are living it up in the Roaring Twenties, just like their human counterparts. Parties, booze and drugs run rampant, but where did all this corruption come from? Could it be that something sinister is behind the scenes making humans dance to their tune? The cats know something strange is going on and it is up to them to save the day! It’s an interesting, albeit bare bones entry, but since it’s close to the usual time period one plays Call of Cthulhu, it’s probably the easiest of the settings to fully flesh out.

Our penultimate setting is Catthulhu: Gaslamp and Gearbox. Think of it like Call of Cthulhu‘s Cthulhu By Gaslight setting for Victorian-Era gaming. This is not the happy Victorian time period you see glamorized in books and movies; no, this is the Industrial Revolution, where grime, soot, homelessness and greed are dominant. You have different “character classes” from the core game for this setting (eight in all) and most will be homeless or ferals rather than purebreds or the like. There are a couple sample locations (although there is a noticeable editing error in that the locations are numbered 1, 2, 4, 3.) and a cute adventure where cats have to stop the machinations of some rats.

We now come to the final setting in Worlds of Catthulhu, “The Catthulhu Code.” It’s not really a setting as much as it is a long list of Catbals – secret societies of cats dedicated to unlocking the mysteries of the universe. The primary mystery is trying to find a way back to The Garden, or Eden as we would call it, while also preventing the followers of Catthlhu and/or the Serpent from succeeding in a myriad of evil schemes.

Overall, Worlds of Catthulhu is a cute book. It’s not one you actually NEED to play Call of Catthulhu. You can just get by with the core two books or even the basic game. Worlds of Catthulhu is fun to read though, and one of the nine settings it contains may be just what you are looking to use in your own game. If you primarily homebrew your games, you shouldn’t feel obligated to purchase Worlds of Catthulhu. If, however, you prefer published adventures and campaign settings, this is pretty much up your alley. Either way, Worlds of Catthulhu is a fine addition to the Catthulhu line, and I know I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next for the game.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Signature Permissions

New Drupal Modules - 25 August 2015 - 3:41am
Synopsis

The Signature Permissions module provides the 'Allow Signatures' that allows users to update the signatures in user profile.

Requirements

This module requires none.

Known problems

None

Pledges

Signature is a field in the Drupal 8.

Credits

Naveen Valecha (naveenvalecha) - https://drupal.org/u/naveenvalecha

Categories: Drupal

Annertech: Case Study - Performance Testing a Drupal Website

Planet Drupal - 25 August 2015 - 3:02am
Case Study - Performance Testing a Drupal Website

At Annertech, there are three things we take very seriously: website/server security, accessibility, and website load times/performance. This article will look at website performance with metrics from recent work we completed for Oxfam Ireland.

We use a suite of tools for performance testing. Some of these include Apache Benchmark, Yahoo's YSlow, and Google's PageSpeed Insights. Our favourite at the moment is NewRelic, though this does come at a cost.

Categories: Drupal

Factions as Characters

Gnome Stew - 25 August 2015 - 12:00am

Today’s guest article was written by Gnome Stew reader Mark Kernow, and it tackles a nifty topic: taking existing rules for characters and stretching them to encompass entire groups. He uses d20 System games as a reference point, but the concept is easily extended to other systems. Thanks, Mark! — Martin

What if you treated factions like characters? You could easily introduce new factions into your campaign by giving them statistics and backgrounds similar to characters and monsters. You could build on existing rules and simplify bookkeeping. You could even give each faction ‘character’ an ‘activity’ as part of downtime between adventures.

I was playing around creating factions in a game with a fairly detailed faction system [1]. As much as I was getting excited, I was getting frustrated by having to learn all these new rules and by constantly having to go back and look stuff up. So I started to list out what a less crunchy, rules light faction system would need to cover: faction resources, goals, maybe backgrounds, a few key abstracted statistics, some sort of simple combat or interaction model perhaps. Then it hit me, all roleplaying games already have this built into their basic rules for characters. Why invent a whole new system for factions? Why not just use what is already there, and abstract it a little?

Let’s think about the advantages of this approach. No additional rules to learn, and easier bookkeeping, just use the existing character sheet (or monster stat block). Factions would have a built-in set of rules for combat, and for interacting with each other (the latter usually via ability or skill checks). But it doesn’t stop there. You could use character background or goal systems for your factions. If you are using a game with classes and levels, why not use them for factions too? Another advantage is that you can use existing electronic character generation tools to speed up the process of creating factions as characters. You can even make-over an old favorite NPC and translate them into a faction (or give them a faction to head up based on their existing stats).

So how would it work? The mental shift required here is to think how the existing rules can be applied to a bigger scale. You also need to accept that you are sacrificing some fidelity and detail for a usable approximation. At their most basic, factions will need hit points and defenses, backgrounds (or alignment) and goals taken from your game’s character generation system. They will also need at least one attack and a damage value. You can add abilities and skills to this if you wish. When it comes to fighting or interaction, this will be in a much slower timescale. Typically, a round, a turn or an action will take a faction, say, a game month. If you want to scale hit points between factions and your player characters, then use 1 to 100 or 1 to 1000, so that say 1 faction hit point equals 100 player character hit points. But it is usually better to avoid this, and keep things abstract.

At a minimum, active factions should get in one or two actions each between every complete adventure. This could be an attack or an interaction using a skill or ability. They could be reacting to each other, the actions of the PCs, or carrying out an activity in pursuit of their goals. The starting point is whatever a character can normally do on their go in combat, but it seems neat to allow factions both a proactive action, and a bonus or quick reaction to others as part of a single sequence. You could then build the results of faction combat and interaction into an in-game gazetteer or newsletter that lets your players know what is happening in their part of the game world.

When factions fight each other, you will need to think what damage or resulting conditions mean to the faction. Have they just lost the use of an important base, or has one of their key NPCs been put out of action? Generally, you will find most things translate from your existing ruleset and have a potentially useful meaning when applied to factions. Factions can be poisoned, incapacitated, knocked prone etc. It just takes a bit of translation. And if factions are not interacting directly with player characters, my advice is to save your efforts and keep it abstract.

To give you an example, I’m going to work up a snake cult for my d20 game of ‘Primeval Thule‘ (a great campaign background from Richard Baker and Sasquatch, think Conan meets Atlantis meets Cthulhu).

My cult is pretty powerful, so since this is a level game, I am going to make this faction a 5th level rogue. It has 5d6 = 20 faction hit points. That represents its temples and cultists in my game world. It is fast moving, in faction terms, and has basic protection measures and fortifications in place, plus most cultists wear leather armor. I am going to give it a faction armor class of 17. When fighting other factions, it has a faction attack modifier of +5 added to a d20 roll to score a hit, because it is a 5th level faction with high faction dexterity (a 17). It does 1d6+2 (for its dexterity modifier) faction damage per hit. And in certain circumstances, it can do an extra 3d6 sneak attack damage.

The snake cult’s faction alignment is lawful evil, since it operates successfully within human society in the many cities and settlements in Thule. Its goal is the domination of humankind by the snake god Set. Its flaw is overconfidence. Its trained or proficient faction skills are stealth, knowledge (religion), intimidation and insight (it is good at finding out people’s secrets and motivation). It is opposed by the heavily armored 10th level fighter faction of the Warriors of Mitra, a lawful good faction.

You can see how I’ve been able to use the existing d20 rules to model and describe the faction without needing much additional effort at all. I think this should hold true for most if not all d20 games or indeed most game systems which use some statistics to define the player’s opponents. And an indie game like Fate with its approaches and aspects seems tailor-made for this.

When you start using the monster statistic blocks for factions in your game, you can really get creative. Interesting monster templates to use for factions include: hydras and other regenerating monsters, shape shifters, monsters that can phase or become insubstantial, and the undead. Let’s think about what these mean in game terms. A faction that can regenerate clearly has some means of easily spawning or recruiting new members. Or maybe it has a cell structure with a hidden leadership concealed behind some false fronts. Perhaps the leaders are clones? For a faction with phasing powers or the ability to become insubstantial, is this simply that members are good spies using infiltration tactics or are they using technology or magic to pass through obstacles. Shapeshifting factions could be simply be made up of aliens, doppelgangers, or lycanthropes who can change form. Alternatively, they could be ordinary people using some sort of device or simply beings posing as one thing in the game world but secretly another, a variant on the false front approach. However you play it, there’s lots of rich story possibilities in how these character combat powers translate to faction abilities in your campaign.

I’ve also been experimenting with the idea of a player faction character. This is a character stat block that represents the combined might of your players at a faction level. It takes all their resources, their influence, contacts and the minions and followers under their sway and presents them as one simple stat block. It is a good way of tracking the PC’s ability to affect your game at a campaign level. So, for example, say you want to determine the consequences of your last session when the PCs smashed their way into a faction’s base and reduced it to rubble. How much damage did they inflict on the faction overall? Well, simply have their player faction make an attack and role some damage. This works especially well if you are using a level game, as you can easily increase the player faction character’s level to match the increase in PC level. Between adventures, you could let the PCs choose downtime actions for the player faction character. Say they want to keep an eye out for cultist activities in their home town. Then have their player faction character make a perception check against the stealth check of the faction concerned.

You may not want the extra work that comes with that last idea, but hopefully I’ve convinced you that presenting factions as characters works as a concept and brings good things to your game. I’m going to keep working on it and hopefully report back some time on what else I’ve discovered.

[1] I’ve just picked up the latest free version of the ‘Stars without Number‘ roleplaying game and I think it is pretty cool. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. It was the jumping off point for this article.



Categories: Game Theory & Design
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