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Third and final part of my article spam for today, felt like this could be of interest to game designers etc:

Don't like twisting your neck while wearing a virtual reality headset? You're not alone.

Google has discovered that most people who watch VR videos rarely bother to turn their heads to view the full 360-degree experience. Research into how users view virtual reality videos on YouTube has shown that users spend most of their time looking at what is in front of them. Google has created heatmaps showing where in videos people focus the most.

Looking at the analytics for 360-degree videos posted on YouTube, Google found that people spent 75% of their time looking at the front 90 degrees of a video.


My main thought is "how often do humans actually change their viewpoint in real life"? I feel like someone ought to have done some studies on this; moving and looking forward most of the time and turning comparatively rarely *feels* like it ought to be the expected norm anyway, but I'm not sure.


Article link:
How does a duck change its sex?

Basically, female birds with ovarian problems can literally naturally change sex, because they stop producing oestrogen, and this can actually lead to a bird with full male secondary characteristics and the capacity to father offspring. I hadn't even really realised just how different the sex hormones are in other vertebrate species, I'd assumed that X/Y was actually common among vertebrates, and I certainly didn't know that the primary inhibitor hormone is oestrogen in birds whereas it's testosterone in humans. It's rare that an avian natural FtM sex change happens succesfully, primarily because the change is started by some sort of major ovarian problem, but it's fascinating that they can do it at all in the first place.


The Egyptians used to believe that literacy was divine, a gift from baboon-faced Thoth, the god of knowledge. Scholars no longer embrace that theory, but why ancient civilisations developed writing was a mystery for a long time. Was it for religious or artistic reasons? To communicate with distant armies?

The mystery deepened in 1929, when a German archaeologist named Julius Jordan unearthed a vast library of clay tablets that were 5,000 years old. They were far older than the samples of writing already discovered in China, Egypt and Mesoamerica, and were written in an abstract script that became known as "cuneiform".

The tablets came from Uruk, a Mesopotamian settlement on the banks of the Euphrates in what is now Iraq. The ruins of Uruk and other Mesopotamian cities were littered with mysterious little clay objects. Uruk was small by today's standards - with only a few thousand inhabitants - but in its time was huge, one of the world's first true cities. "He built the town wall of 'Uruk', city of sheepfolds," proclaims the Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the earliest works of literature. "Look at its wall with its frieze like bronze! Gaze at its bastions, which none can equal!"

This great city had produced writing that no modern scholar could decipher. What did it say?

I found this pretty fascinating and well worth the read - basically detailing how early counting methods may have led to writing as an accounting and organisational technique in the first instance :)

The Boozer / Happy Solstice!
« on: June 21, 2017, 02:09:03 PM »
Happy solstice, everyone :)

I thought I'd make a thread about this partly as wondering out loud if anyone here marks/is interested in the solstice as a celebration. I guess the solstices and equinoxes have always appealed to me as festivals given that they have some fundamental underpinning rather than being essentially arbitrary/based on commemorating an unconfirmed and unconfirmable date as most major dated festivals are.

Anyone got any thoughts?

So this is pretty fascinating - what may be the first ever circumnavigation of the globe in a Polynesian voyaging canoe!


A traditional Polynesian voyaging canoe has returned to Honolulu in Hawaii, completing the first-ever round-the-world trip by such a vessel.

The boat, the Hokule'a, took three years to journey around the globe. Its crew navigated without modern instruments, using only the stars, wind and ocean swells as guides. They aimed to use the same techniques that brought the first Polynesian settlers to Hawaii hundreds of years ago.

« on: June 16, 2017, 11:51:35 PM »
Right, closed beta is now a thing! If you want a copy, drop me your email address and I'll send one over :)

The Town Crier! Announcements! / Exilian is at UK Games Expo!
« on: June 02, 2017, 10:54:43 AM »
Exilian at UK Games Expo 2017

We're at UK Games Expo, on stand J7, today and sunday - do come along and say hello! We're promoting the full range of Exilian's tabletop projects, including our co-exhibitor Utherwald Press, the orky madness of Fox Box minis, the Greek underworld adventures of Hetairos, the wild fantasy world of Norbayne, and much much more. It looks like being an exciting day and we're hoping to meet plenty of potential new members - see you there!

Issue 13: May 2017


Hello there, and welcome to Updates from the Forge, Issue 13!

There’s plenty of news from around the site this month. We’ve done some significant overhauls to the organisation of the forum, condensing to fewer top-level forums to make the board structure easier to navigate and removing some smaller subforums that were no longer being used. We also have an ongoing programme of visual and technical improvements to the site – some invisible, like our new backup systems, some more so like clipping images to page sizes and pretty new “E” symbols that show new posts instead of the standard SMF paper. Particular thanks should go to new tech volunteers Koobazaur and Florp, and to the webmaster of the chiark webservers who is kindly providing hosting for our new backup capacity. There are several more changes planned for June, so stay tuned and expect more announcements in June’s Updates!

Exilian is also going to be present at UK Games Expo next week – there’ll be a separate newspost soon giving the full details of how you can find us if you’re there.

On top of all that, of course, we’ve got this month’s updates – from regular appearances like Bigosaur and Utherwald Press to new projects like WarpDogs’ Village Monsters and Jubal’s Magician’s Labyrinth, there’s plenty to get excited about! Do read on and check out the great stuff we’ve got in this issue…


  • A rather Monstrous Village...
  • My Mom Is A Witch - Mods and More Content
  • Dare you enter the Magicians' Labyrinth?
  • Editing and Expos at Utherwald Press
  • Come and join in with Exilian Poetry!

Welcome to a rather Monstrous Village!

New member WarpDogsVG has been bringing dev diaries and of his in-production game Village Monsters, in which a once-played computer game world has settled down into peaceful village life and monsters have relaxed into pastoral harmony… which, for the first time in an age, you enter as a human player! You will be able to discover a great deal about the world, take up hobbies like critter collecting – and also take advantage of the ways that the game has degenerated since the monsters were at their prime all those years ago, with “glitch powers” that let you turn bugs to your advantage! It’s all looking great, so do head over and have a chat about what’s going on.

My Mom Is A Witch - Mods and More Content

Bigosaur’s My Mom Is A Witch continues to go from strength to strength, and there are plenty of recent updates, including the new crystal wizard boss and many bugfixes and balance tweaks such as faster and more powerful archery becoming available. The game also has two additional skin-packs that you can download made by our very own Jubal, both of which are Doctor Who themed – one that turns the standard wizard character into Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor, and one that turns the goblins into Sontarans. You can find those in the Bigosaur forum at the link below.

Most importantly, though, June is likely to see the release of the dungeon level, the next  major part of the game. We’ve been seeing a range of great new screenshots for that, including the one above of the deadly Simerian Butcher boss who will face the players as they reach the end of the fourth level. There'll be new enemies and new traps, and a whole new set of rooms to explore - and we can't wait! If you want to keep getting fresh updates on this great game, do keep checking the main thread in Bigosaur's forum, and follow @Bigosaur on twitter.

Dare you enter the Magicians' Labyrinth?

A new boardgame from Jubal with a free PDF of downloadable rules, the Magicians’ Labyrinth is a simple boardgame where each player is a wizard trying to rush to the centre of a maze and out again. There’s only one problem – the labyrinth doesn’t have any doors or corridors, just a set of walled-off rooms. The players must use their spells to forge a path to the centre, block off their rivals, gain additional magical powers, and potentially duel their enemies in mortal combat. Take a look and try it out!

Editing and Expos at Utherwald Press
Frozen Skies, the Savage Worlds sourcebook from Utherwald Press covering the background and rules for the ice-cold dieselpunk setting of Aleyska, is rapidly taking shape. As well as the book going through its editing phases, recent discussions have included tweaks to the coinage system and an early release of the map in the Press’ May Update. Showing the sweep of Aleyska from the tough eastern metropolis of Gravenburgh to the wild, terrifying Wulflands in the west, you can really see Aleyska come to life in it:

Discussions have also started on the possibility of Utherwald Press producing setting documents & rules for a range of Cold War conflicts, which you can check out and discuss in their forum – there’s lots going on. And also of course, if you’re at UK Games Expo this weekend (2nd-4th June), do check out Utherwald Press at stand J7!

Come and join in with Exilian Poetry!
The Exilian poetry section is always a great place to read, write, and relax. If you ever feel like writing and want to get feedback, or just want to express yourself, do come along and join in. Whether you're planning to be prolific or less frequent, whether you write blank verse or sonnets, there's a warm welcome waiting for you. You could well get your poem featured in a future issue of Updates - we're every bit as keen to promote indie writers, academics and artists as game developers - so do head over and take a look. And we'll leave you with this little poem, added this month by Jubal:


Perhaps there's a land where the bluebells grow
In song and silence shadowing, in hope and hopeful flowering,
Where soft are the summers and brief the snow,
In leaf and root meadow-grown
In Tarasthalay

Perhaps there's a land that is over the sea,
Past great grey sails billowing, and breeze and zephyr following,
Where the harbours are sound and there's light in a window
In welcome and kindness
In Tarasthalay

Perhaps, o perhaps, there too shall go I,
And never more a-tarrying where cold gales oft are harrowing
I shall build the world found in my mind's quiet eye
And on earth and in hope-song
Build Tarasthalay

So that about wraps it up for this month: of course as usual, if you want to help with writing or you have a story we should be covering, please PM me (Jubal) or email to get in touch. We try to cover a wide range of projects and we're always interested in more whether it's game dev, art, writing, or any other sort of geek creativity!

That's all the updates from the Exilian forges for now - there'll be lots more to talk about in Issue 14!

Tabletop Design - The Senet House / The Magicians' Labyrinth
« on: May 31, 2017, 11:42:36 PM »
I wrote this on the train a month or so ago, made a few tweaks to the board and now PDF'd the rules for people to look at and use.

The basic theme is that it's a boardgame where each player is a wizard, with a set pool of "spells", and it's a race to get into the middle of the board and back out again. The maze, however, is constructed as the players go, creating doors and placing blockages as they try to create a path for themselves and block off opponents. Despite this potential complexity it's only a page of rules and should hopefully be simple enough to play - do let me know if you get a chance to try it :)

Bigosaur / Jubal's Sontarans Skinpack
« on: May 26, 2017, 10:27:00 PM »
Jubal's Sontaran Skinpack

To go with the 12th Doctor skinpack found here, I've finally finished my Sontaran skinpack! This is a five file mod that will replace the main goblin variants (shielder, clubber, axer, shaman, and bomber) with Sontarans from Doctor Who. The clubber and shielder are armed with glowing laser-batons and laser-swords, the axers have redesigned sci-fi translucent axes, the bomber still of course wields bombs, and the "shaman", now the orbital strike controller, has an antenna for summoning orbital bombardments. Hope you enjoy!

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Right, so Exilian is co-holding a stall with Utherwald Press for the Friday and Sunday (and technically the Saturday but I won't actually be there then) of UK Games Expo (which is a tabletop games event) this year.

Beyond flyers for the site (I've ordered a thousand), what should I bring along to show to people? We obviously don't have much of our "own" stuff as we're a facilitating website not a game publisher etc in our own right. On the other hand I need some conversation pieces/not to have a completely bare stand.

  • I'd really like to get some stuff on all the tabletop projects we have - Utherwald will be there, I can do stuff for my own projects, if we can get Norbayne and maybe Fox Box stuff that would be super good too.
  • I can actually set out some of my own games, especially smaller ones, the stuff for Botolph Lane or Empedocles' Stones is easy to cart around.
  • There's also the historical boardgames option, which I feel is good for us because it bridges this into eg history sections, though I don't know if that would be boring or if people would know Senet/Royal Game of Ur/Zatrikion etc already at a big boardgame convention like that?
  • I really don't know what other options I have but all thoughts welcome

Questions and Suggestions - The High Court / Board descriptions
« on: May 25, 2017, 03:23:23 PM »
So down the index, we have text descriptions of some boards and not others below the board title. Are these descriptions useful? I think we should either have them on all boards or no boards, ideally.

Rome - Total Realism / RTR & Forum Changes
« on: May 24, 2017, 11:56:07 PM »
We've just done a big forum index change that's moved most modding to lower-level forums: we still want to fully support mod projects, but so few are active that it didn't seem like the strongest use of index space to have separate RTW/M&B/General mod areas. I've left RTR as a second-level forum, outside the other RTW mod areas, as it's still broadly "active" and I wanted to keep it easier to access, but if you'd rather it moved down to where the other RTW mods are I can do that too :)

The Town Crier! Announcements! / Board changes and recent downtime
« on: May 24, 2017, 04:44:51 PM »
Hi all,

As anyone who looks at the index will doubtless notice, we've done a big "crunching" of top-level boards to make the main site index less cluttered. There are still places to discuss everything, and any posts you might be looking for from the older forums will be available to view in the site archive.
 Please let us know what you think of the new arrangements/order, whether there are any thread you think need retrieving from the archives, and whether you'd like to see any further simplifications in future.

You may also have noticed an hour or two of downtime earlier today. This happened as a result of a mislabelled security patch for our SMF software that required a higher version of PHP than our hosting providers give us access to. We are looking into what can be done in order to get future SMF patches, and we have rolled back to a backup version. The backup installation is a complex and somewhat tricky process, however, affecting many of the site's core files - if you find any forum functionality that appears to have stopped working or gives you error messages, please let us know in the forum discussion thread or by email at as soon as possible.

Many thanks and best wishes,

Jubal (Megadux)

Discussion and Debate - The Philosopher's Plaza / UK Election 2017
« on: May 24, 2017, 01:22:57 PM »
Yup, the UK is having a general election.

Major catch-up for non-Brits:
  • Going in to the election, Conservatives (governing right wing party) had a big ol' lead over Labour (left).
  • Election was called probably partly to take advantage of this to knock a load more seats off Labour's vote tally, and partly to smooth over any complications with a set of potential electoral fraud cases against the Conservatives from 2015 (though in the end those didn't lead to any prosecutions, as the law requires proof of fraudulent intent to prosecute).
  • UKIP, the harder-right nationalist party, collapsed as soon as the election was called - their vote has halved in a matter of weeks and the Conservatives have picked up almost all of it, reaching nearly 50% of the national vote. This is probably due to the poor approval ratings of Labour's leader Jeremy Corbyn, and to people trusting Theresa May more to deliver a firm Brexit deal.
  • Labour's vote has also shot up, however, probably taking some votes from all the other parties and certainly squeezing the Liberal Democrat and Green vote. Whilst the Conservatives are still extremely dominant, Labour have narrowed the gap so it may be less of a landslide than expected a week or so ago.
  • The Liberal Democrats are fighting on a mostly anti-Brexit platform, but Brexit hasn't turned out to be the main election issue, the party is small and struggles for air time, and it's unclear that the public have taken to Tim Farron as their leader. The LDs have thus slipped a point or so in polls back to about where they were in 2015. They may still be able to take some more seats in places like south London where Theresa May's quite nationalist/populist style of Conservatism goes down less well.
  • The biggest furore so far has been over care costs, where Theresa May's government wanted to include the value of people's homes in the amount they could be liable for when working out care for the elderly. This would have made it a lot harder for middle-income pensioners, especially those with long term needs like dementia, to pass their houses on to their children (and still wouldn't have dented the wealth of the highest-wealth pensioner groups). It's thus been very unpopular with just about everyone, put May under a lot of pressure, and the government has U-turned and announced that there will be some cap but aren't saying what.
  • Most recently, we just had a major terrorist attack which has shaken up the campaign and led to a temporary campaigning freeze which is now slowly being relaxed. We've got troops guarding major buildings (very unusual in the UK) and the probable coming focus on security issues may provide another boost to the Conservatives (both because they're the incumbent government and because they're traditionally seen as "tougher" than Labour). It's unclear how much this will affect the election still, though.
  • Everything is different in Scotland, where the SNP have almost all the seats but are finally on the back foot and may lose some seats to the Conservatives (and possibly 1 or 2 to the Lib Dems if we're lucky).

My prediction is that the Tories will sleepwalk home but probably not quite hit landslide territory - I'm going to guess around 370 to 380 seats for the Conservatives. Though I may be wrong and they may sail up to 400+ of course, especially if Labour crumple worse than expected in the midlands and Yorkshire. (I'd say 390 or so is about the landslide mark). I don't think my (Lib Dem) party will do that well, I'm hoping for a handful of net gains but we may well stay pretty static if it's a bad night for us. Labour will stay as main opposition, and might do well enough for Corbyn to stay leader which could create a whole new mess after the election.

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