by Steven Hammond

Gen Con was a blast this year. I played a few games, talked to people I only see at Gen Con, and spent several hours helping out in the Pelgrane Booth. I had fun chatting with all the GUMSHOE and Black Book fans that stopped by. If you picked up a flyer in Indy, the discount codes on it will work until October 1. If you missed Gen Con, we love you too. The discount code WeDontAllFitInIndy will give you 20% off a 1-year Player subscription and it’s also good until October 1, 2019.

Summer wasn’t all play though. A couple of interns joined us and we cranked through the GM tools to get them ready for beta testing, which launched this week.

What are the GM Tools? They are a set of tools designed to help the GM offer a more immersive experience. Modeled after the GM matrices in the back of most GUMSHOE games, they

  • Help the GM keep track of characters’ ability ratings and pools, updating in real time as points are spent.
  • Remind the GM of character connections like Sources of Stability, Bonds and Network contacts.
  • Show the GM who’s been getting spotlight time recently, helping to keep the fun moving around the table.

Below is a short video that shows how the GM tools work in play.

 

The Tools currently support Trail of Cthulhu (and Bookhounds of London), Night’s Black Agents (and the Dracula Dossier), and The Fall of DELTA GREEN. The Yellow King RPG is coming soon with support for Shock and Injury Cards — we still have a couple tricky things to work out there.

Participating in the beta is easy. All Player level subscribers have access to the GM Tools via the “Campaigns” link on the left. Click that, then click “New Campaign” at the top menu to get started. Now you can invite anybody you want to play with. Anybody with a Free account can use the Play mode features when connected to a campaign.

Anybody who provides helpful feedback during the beta will get a free 1-year upgrade to the GM level. You can use our contact form to submit feedback. We are not only looking for bugs and usability issues, we are also looking for feedback on parts you like and new features you’d like to see added.

Take a look at the video and let us know what you think in the comments below.

by Steven Hammond

It’s been two or three months since we published an update on the new Gumshoe character tool. I lost a little time to an Olympics related project, but we’ve been cranking away all of March, and I think we have some great stuff to share.

Addressing Your Input

First, I want to talk about what we did with the character sheets and surveys you sent in. The number one thing we heard was that you don’t want to see the huge list of possible abilities during play. Instead, you want to focus on your character’s abilities. Several you also asked for a straight list of abilities rather than the category lists found on the print sheets.

To implement this, we gave Black Book character sheets 2 modes — edit for creating or updating characters, and play for use during a game session. Edit mode, looks like a normal Gumshoe character sheet. All the abilities are visible and grouped into their categories. In play, you choose to view all abilities, or just the ones where your character has ranks. You can also have the visible abilities grouped or in a single, alphabetized list.

The other common thread was that Health, Stability and Stamina were hard to read in the grid boxes. We’ve addressed this by making those abilities large and prominent, while keeping the grid to make updating these often changing values easy.

The video below shows these features in action.

 

Alpha Test Starts This Week

What, does Alpha Test mean. The app is not feature complete, nor are all the features there polished. There is enough there to play with it and giving us feedback on how things work, find bugs, measure real-world performance, etc.

You should know things won’t be stable, servers will crash, and we don’t promise you will be able to keep characters from one release to the next. We are still moving too fast to spend time migrating data as our format evolves. If this sounds a little wild for you, then you might be happier waiting for Beta to start. At that point we will be feature complete, stable and polished. Once Beta starts, we will commit to preserving characters between releases.

A number of people volunteered to test the Black Book. We will email the first 10 people on that list with an invite code they can use to join. You cannot register without one of these invite codes. Every week or so, we will invite 10 additional people to participate. This will help ensure that we can keep up with the feedback and that there are always fresh perspectives giving feedback. There isn’t a scheduled start date for Beta yet that will happen when we are stable and feature complete. If you want to get in on the testing, go to https://theblackbook.io and submit your email address.

This is a project, I’ve been planning about for a long time and I am super excited for you all to finally try it out. Let me know what you thought of the video below and watch your email for those invite codes.