20 October 2015

Tech Week: The 3D Printing Revolution

For a while now, 3D printing has been, while not affordable, within the budgets of many enthusiasts. This year we have seen the debut of machines as low as $350. This price range put it as a prime gift under the holiday tree this year.

If you do not know, a 3D printer is a device that takes a 3D computer generated image and prints it out bit by bit out of plastic (commercial ones can also do metals). A bit of time (depending on complexity anywhere from 10 minutes to a few hours for a miniature), and voila, you got a nifty thing to add to your game. It also has plenty of other applications, but let's stick to the good stuff.

For gaming you do not need a large unit if you are building 28mm objects, which the lower priced machines tend to be small. You can design the objects yourself in a 3D modelling program, but for those of us lacking the ability there are repositories on the web with plenty of models ready to go, and more being added everyday.  Some cost money, usually not a lot, and there are tons of free models as well. Models can be miniatures for RPG and wargames, markers, terrain, just about anything you can think of. Also, they are easy to resize, so you can print larger or smaller as needed.


The future of gaming and 3D printing is approaching fast. As you can see, the price is hitting the right mark, models are available, and the pros are beginning to enter the market. The first is Fat Dragon Games, known for their download and print paper terrain has a Kickstarter for their new product: Dragonlock. These are pay once/print all you want terrain pieces for your 3D printer. The models will be available through DriveThruRPG.

Other companies are soon to follow, and I am sure it will include the big boys. Reaper is in a good position to enter the market as they have been 3D modelling their minis for a while. Other companies do as well, and miniatures not is software can be 3D laser scanned with relative ease. Who will be the big breakout company? Reaper? Warlord Games?

There will be holdouts. I cannot see Games Workshop entering the field until it has no choice, and that choice may not be their standard competition. Entering the digital realm means the chance of piracy, and with their price point, GW will be hit hard, IMHO. With 3D scanning, expect to see their miniatures on the web sooner than later as 3D scans.

Note: I am not advocating this. It is just a fact- it will happen. Soon.

It will be hard on these larger companies who have their business model and their resources tied to the physical product. They will be slow to adapt and losses are inevitable. Also in danger are the FLGS, as they are already losing sales to online books. The next few years are going to see some big changes in the gaming industry.


Here are a few places to download 3D models. Some are free, some are paid, all are interesting to peruse.

Time Portal Games ($12 for 75 28mm minatures. Good deal)
Shapeways (mainly a print service, but has models for download as well)
Printable Scenery
Makerbot's Thingiverse

19 October 2015

Tech Week: Quick Dice Roller

I have been looking for the best dice rolling app for my Kindle Fire, and finally have found one: Quick Dice Roller from Ohmnibus. 

My search has had me download many dice apps, but it has been hard to find one that handles my needs. Most have been 3d dice programs that let you roll D&D dice by shaking. They look nice, but are slow and frankly if I wanted to roll realistic 3d dice I would roll... actual dice!

Most apps are aimed at the D&D player, offering the polyhedral set, but with no options for other games. You might find a roller that does another system, such as a World of Darkness dice pool app, but nothing else. I play a lot of Savage Worlds and found only one dice roller for it, but it was difficult to use, and kind of ugly to look at. All I want is a flexible roller that has a roll history, and is simple in design and fast. Free would be good as well.

Enter Quick Dice Roller. It handles dice for lots of games. Shadowrun, new and old World of Darkness, D&D, HERO, Dystopian Ward, and a bunch more. It can be adapted to other games. This is because it uses a programmable dice model. You build the die and how it works from a number of functions. Oh, BTW: It's free!


To use it you open up a new dice bag to hold the dice for your game. Next, define a die. To do this you give the die a name and description, and then enter in the function to make it work. Functions can be as easy as:


That rolls a d20. Want to add a modifier, you can do that in the formula. Perhaps your attack with a longsword is d20+4.


To roll a six-dice pool in New World of Darkness, with a target of 4:


See, easy. It does get a little bit more complicated for other die rolls. I made a dice set for Savage Worlds that rolls a die (such as a d8) and a wild die at the same time, explodes them as necessary, and then tells me the biggest result. The formula is:


All of this is explained on their wiki, with plenty of examples. Also, if you join the Google+ group for the app you can get help on how to write a formula, ask questions of the developer, and suggest new features to him. He seems like a good guy.

Get the App from the Google Play Store, or from the Amazon App Store.