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Alex Kierkegaard's Battlegrounds Alpha 2.0 is now LIVE!

Moderator: JC Denton

Alex Kierkegaard's Battlegrounds Alpha 2.0 is now LIVE!

Unread postby icycalm » 01 Jun 2023 16:37

Hello all! Two and a half years after the release of Alex Kierkegaard's Battlegrounds Alpha 1.0 I am ecstatic to announce that Alpha 2.0 is LIVE! Ushering a new era of complexity and fidelity via the power of Cult Engine 2 and its revolutionary dual InfiniZoom/InfiniScreen technologies, among much more new functionality and content, Alpha 2.0 is the direct result of your continued support and—if you're playing the game—your patience. So please check the voluminous patch notes posted below, and look out for more update announcements in June and throughout the summer as Alpha 2.0 was a major tech blocker whose implementation has opened the floodgates for an unprecedented amount of content. No other game can boast such quick and gargantuan content updates as Battlegrounds can, and the industry will be finding that out very, very soon. Thank you!

  • Upgrade to Cult Engine 2 (internal codename: World Anvil) by Cult Games London brings the greatest and most versatile overworld ever in the history of gaming to the Battlegrounds
  • InfiniZoom technology unique to Battlegrounds: Zoom in from cosmic level to the center of a star or planet, and down into the subatomic level, and even across time itself and alternate dimensions; then zoom back out again, all in-game, in-engine (even Star Citizen can't do this)
  • InfiniScreen technology unique to Battlegrounds: Use any number of displays (e.g. adventure screen, overworld screen, lore codex, and rules reference) to immerse yourself deeper into the metaverse, all rendered entirely in-game, in-engine (no other videogame can do this, least of all CRPGs; Supreme Commander can do a mere 2 screens and Planetary Annihilation can do 3 with mods)
  • functional (optimal at 4K)
  • Video integration up to 8K
  • PDF integration: All books and printed matter shared and accessible directly in-game, in-engine
  • Mobile integration: Get overworld updates delivered to your phone in real-time
  • First ever gaming universe that can be followed 24/7 online by non-players as a TV show
  • New rule system: Alien: The Roleplaying Game by Cult Games Stockholm
  • New setting: Stars of the Middle Heavens by Cult Games Stockholm
  • New scenarios: Hope's Last Day, Chariot of the Gods by Cult Games Stockholm
  • New race: Synthetic
  • New classes: Colonial Marine, Colonial Marshal, Company Agent, Kid, Medic, Officer, Pilot, Roughneck, Scientist
  • New vehicles and gear including multiple spacecraft
  • 116-minute Ridley Scott-directed cutscene intro to the new setting (viewable in-game, in-engine in a world-historic first for videogames, not even in Star Citizen can you do this), produced specifically for the Battlegrounds by Cult Cutscenes studios
  • New lore videos: Nüwa City, First 10,000 Days On The Moon lore videos produced by new lore-focused studio, Cult Videos
  • Enhanced crowdfunding features to support continued growth: DLC and blockchain integration, plus two new subscription tiers: Roleplayer for full DLC access, and Game Master for bringing entire groups into the Battlegrounds at a discount
  • Producers and Executive Producers sought
  • Roadmap published charting path to full release
  • Corporate acquisitions: Several studios bought and integrated into Cult Holding Co., chief among them Cult Games Portland focusing on next-level theater-of-the-mind features, and Cult Games Paris rebuilding Cult Engine from scratch to achieve full first-person real-time and VR capabilities as well as full-3D next-level overworld with music and video and even automated worldbuilding features
  • Fully remote-working virtual studio formed: Cult Games Cloud personally headed by icycalm to produce next-level adventures and campaigns fully utilizing the power of 3D VTTs for mass-scale warfare and millimeter-detail city-building alongside deep adaptive roleplaying, with Alex Kierkegaard's West Marches the first planned release
  • Development forum opened (attached to industry-leading critical and theoretical journal Insomnia) to bring the reality of the complexity of Cult Games' operations to the public
  • Web domain purchased ( to finally bring the biggest game developer ever (20+ major studios and counting) out of the shadows
  • Tagline finalized: The Ultimate Roleplaying Metaverse
  • Longest and most detailed patch notes in the entire history of patch notes

Alex Kierkegaard's Battlegrounds Alpha 1.0: Fantasy Grounds DECEMBER 2020 (GOTY 2020)
Alex Kierkegaard's Ultimate Edition APRIL 2022 (GOTY 2022)
Alex Kierkegaard's Battlegrounds Alpha 2.0: World Anvil JUNE 2023

Alex Kierkegaard's Battlegrounds Alpha 3.0: Foundry JUNE
Alex Kierkegaard's Battlegrounds Alpha 3.5: Pathfinder Society EARLY JULY
Alex Kierkegaard's Battlegrounds Alpha 4.0: TaleSpire West Marches AUGUST (GOTY 2023)
Alex Kierkegaard's Battlegrounds Alpha 5.0: Alchemy SEPTEMBER
Alex Kierkegaard's Battlegrounds Alpha 6.0: Menyr EARLY 2024 (GOTY 2024)
Alex Kierkegaard's Battlegrounds Alpha 7.0: Menyr Codex MIDDLE 2024
Alex Kierkegaard's Battlegrounds Beta: Menyr Virtual Reality LATE 2024
Alex Kierkegaard's Battlegrounds 1.0 EARLY 2025

I know you want the link to access the new content, but there is a problem with that. For reasons yet to be determined, the site works very, very, very... slowly. So slowly that it takes a good 20 seconds to respond to any click or even mouse-over. This means that if I give you the link, and you go straightaway, you won't see what I intend you to see. You'll keep clicking everywhere and wondering why half the content seems to be missing.

But nothing is missing. You just have to wait at least 20 seconds (can be up to 30 sometimes) after every time you click on anything, or even merely hover over anything. And then you'll see what I intend you to see.

I can't tell you how frustrating this is to me, not because the slow loading bothers me too much personally—I have infinite patience to spend on this game—but because I know many people won't have that patience, and as a result they won't see what I want them to see. At any rate I have multiple backend engineers working on this, and we might get a solution soon. If we don't, the ultimate solution is a move to dedicated servers, which is expensive. I do plan for this when Cult Engine is upgraded to VR, but that's a year or two out. In the meantime we might just have to live with these slow speeds, unless my engineers can work a miracle. We'll see.

So let me present to you the new engine and overworld here, pictorially, before I give you the link so you can check it out yourselves. This way, I can be assured that, on your first contact with the new features, you'll see what I want you to see.


Frontpage of the game at 4K. If you're running it at 1080p, zoom out with your browser to 50% to see what you should be seeing.

It will take a full 30 seconds for the Alien RPG cover to appear at the bottom-right. When it does, click on it, then wait another full 30 seconds for the next screen to appear.


The start screen of the Alien RPG at 1080p. If you're running it at 4K, zoom in with your browser to 150%, otherwise it won't look as good as what I am showing you here.

In short, the main site is made to look best at 4K, but the overworld is made for best results at 1080p. It's not possible to optimize for both resolutions with our current tech. So for now, we'll stick to this dual strategy. Eventually, everyone will be running 4K, plus engine upgrades will allow us to optimize for various resolutions. Until then, your browser's zoom function is your friend.

Next, click on "Press Start" and wait for 30 secs (you can also hover over "Press Start" to get the same info, but it's best to click so as to see the content expanded on the sidebar in its full glory).


The window that appears on the left contains all the info that you need to evaluate if you want to play in the Alien RPG setting. Scroll down to see all the details including the trailer, links to full reviews, a discussion thread, and even a link to the 201-page Player Section of the core rulebook readable on the site in its entirety!


At this point you might be wondering if this is legal, and indeed it is as long as I am sharing my books with my players. What is not legal is putting them up on the public internet, which is why right after publishing these notes I will make that section private, and all the players will have to register accounts to be given reading privileges. If you are a player, please make your account asap on in the format CULTxusername and "follow" Battlegrounds and you'll be given the appropriate permissions pronto.

Note that different browsers render the PDF reader differently. Firefox's version is ugly, but the interface works well. Opera's is beautiful but the interface is lacking. I haven't tested more browsers, maybe there is one that's both beautiful and functional. At any rate, you can always just download the file (there's a button for that) and use any PDF reader you want. But I think it's especially cool if you can make it work on the site, with the cool header and background and whatnot. And remember, you can use a second display for this.

A lot more work is going into these PDFs than you would think. That 201-page Player Section for the Alien RPG had to be carved out of the 392-page core rulebook, then several spoilery pages from within the Player Section had to be removed, and finally I blanked out half a page of contents so you wouldn't be exposed to the titles of the GM sections of the book, like for example this section on scenario design:


It's not spoilery in the strict sense of the term, as it doesn't give out any specific scenario plot points, but it does something perhaps worse: it reveals how ALL official scenarios have been designed, something which you'd have more fun discovering for yourself by playing the game. And yes I am spoiling this now to make a bigger point, but don't worry: it's just one ruleset/setting among countless we will use. You'll have plenty to discover in my metaverse: more than in any other game ever. But understand the amount of work I am putting into producing these PDFs you will be reading in the game. It is a lot of fucking work. (P.S. Expect similarly edited versions of the Pathfinder First Edition "Core Rulebook" etc. to be uploaded soon, at which point all players should ditch the PDFs they're now using and switch over.)

Now go back to the main Alien RPG page and click on "ENTER ALIEN". You will arrive here (after waiting 20-30 secs, as aforesaid):


This is the main navigation hub for the Alien RPG setting, titled "Stars of the Middle Heavens". Lots of things to click on there already, as you can see: Explications for the various major regions and factions, solar systems of note, space stations, and even a (currently locked) scenario which comes with its intro text, mini-reviews, and even music to listen to so as to get you in the mood! Moreover, there are arrows you can click on to zoom down to specific systems, all the way down to the surface of a moon! Which moon, by the way, hosts the one scenario that is available for play right now. To play it, click on the link titled "FORM TEAM" in its description, which will take you to the forum where you must start a thread to look for teammates to tackle this scenario (you need 5 players in all). When a full team has been formed, I take over the thread and we begin play!

You could easily spend a full day digesting all the content already on the site. The Alien rules themselves can take you half a day, and there are a couple lore videos to watch on top of Ridley Scott's feature-length intro cutscene, plus maybe an hour of music to listen to while you peruse the maps and sights. Not bad for day 1 content, before we've even properly begun! There's even a hint somewhere about what the next content drop will be, if you can find it. Not hard to find right now, but hints like this will multiply, and as the world grows bigger and more complex, I expect most players and viewers to miss a hell of a lot of stuff! But that's part of the game too, and it's up to each individual to decide how deeply they want to be immersed into the deepest metaverse ever.


For those who want maximal immersion, with real-time updates even, I created the #metaverse text channel on Discord. This is a feed that's linked with the game via Discord webhook integration and will deliver updates every time a new article is created, or an existing one updated. This way you'll never miss an update if you don't want to. Or if you take some time off and miss a bunch, you'll be able to catch up easily on your return. In addition, I've split off the #roleplaying channel into an additional channel called #battlegrounds, so there are now 3 update channels:

  • #roleplaying for news on the GMRPG scene in general, new products, articles, discussions, etc. (aka "industry")
  • #battlegrounds for Ultimate Edition updates, plus Battlegrounds campaign news and so on (aka "mechanics")
  • #metaverse for codex and overworld updates (aka "lore")

The absolute MINIMUM required for players to follow is THEIR PERSONAL CAMPAIGN(S)' THREAD(S). That's all you need to play, everything else we'll fill you in on when required. But you have to know what the hell is happening with your campaign. Beyond that, Insomnia will essentially produce an infinity of content for you to follow to your heart's content.

By this point you might be wondering why the first content on the overworld is Alien, which we don't even play, instead of Pathfinder, which we do.

The answer is that Alien is so new, and has so little content, that I was able to add EVERYTHING to the game, making that part of my multiverse COMPLETE AND COMPREHENSIVE. And not only that, but I've even programmed in all the material for the first scenario, meaning that as you play (in Foundry), content will be revealed on the overworld (in World Anvil) in real-time, and you'll be able to alt-tab back and forth between the two for the full Battlegrounds experience as I have been envisioning it. We're not just talking about maps here, we're talking every single character you meet or hear about, every organization, creature, rumor and piece of gear, all of it preprogrammed on the overworld and codex, ready for you to discover it in real-time as you play.

I tried to do this with Pathfinder; I've been trying for YEARS now to do this, and failing. There's just TOO MUCH CONTENT for Pathfinder to be able to do this; every single piece of content you add connects to a thousand others, and you never get to the bottom of anything, once you have started adding stuff. Which means I CAN'T produce a COMPREHENSIVE experience in that setting and ruleset, there'll always be stuff missing, "to be added later", and so on; even if I had only ONE campaign to run. How much more so when I have four! That's why it's taken me forever to launch the overworld: I've been trying to do the impossible, until one day a couple weeks ago I gave up and changed tack. By focusing on such a new setting as Alien, I was able to at last program the full icycalm Battlegrounds experience that I've been dreaming of and spouting about for years to anyone who would listen. It was with THIS level of completeness that I wanted to launch the overworld, and not with something incomplete and halfassed. And now that I've launched this, I can relax and start publishing Pathfinder content without the pressure of chasing "the perfect launch" on my shoulders. So you should see Pathfinder content go up starting in a couple of weeks from now, once I've recuperated from the immense effort needed to get here (I've barely slept in two weeks; I've barely even washed).

Those of you who've been following development for a while will remember another old policy that I am sort-of trashing now: the demand to unlock every new setting from within the game. This still holds for the major settings: Pathfinder Second Edition/Season for example must be unlocked by finishing the First Edition/Season. The D&D worlds can only be accessed via Spelljammer, and Starfinder via the Iron Gods campaign, and Call of Cthulhu via Strange Aeons. But it would make no sense for Pathfinder characters (or Starfinder characters for that matter) to unlock the Alien setting. The Alien scenarios have been made with fragile humans in mind, regular joes with no superpowers, most of whose fate is to be eviscerated by the titular aliens. You're not supposed to be able to fight back here—with some exceptions, in Colonial Marines scenarios, but even there, it's no shoot 'em up. So a Path/Starfinder party showing up and wiping the aliens out would kill the game. The 'finder games are categorized as "heroic fantasy", while Alien is hard sci-fi horror. To enjoy the Alien scenarios to their full potential, only regular human characters will do. So you can't unlock this setting, it must be unlocked from the start (with your wallet! more on which in a moment!), and you just jump into its short and snappy 50-page scenarios whenever you feel like you need a break from the monstrous 600-page Pathfinder campaigns with a 20,000-page metaplot hanging in the balance of every action you take!

Which brings me to the new Battlegrounds mode that I am launching today: Battlegrounds DLC. It's DLC because I am spending an arm and a leg on this stuff, and the current subscription income in no way covers it.


This is just for the Alien RPG, and I'll be adding a new setting every month. In fact June will see two of them, because I was planning to launch in May, but got delayed, so the June setting will still be going live towards the end of the month.

Other major recent expenses were €999 to upgrade my Menyr Kickstarter pledge to the highest tier (which will give us, among other things, unlimited beta player seats, instead of the mere one I had before):


(Alright, I admit it: I just want my face as a marble bust in our lobby. Keep in mind only 40 of these rewards are given out in the entire world, and now I got one. Money well spent in my book.)

And not to forget the $500 I just dropped on the top tier of the Alchemy Kickstarter so that we can play many of these smaller settings in the most cutting-edge theater-of-the-mind VTT that's coming out in September:



Learn more about Alchemy here, it's a godsend for many of the smaller GMRPGs that will be featured in Battlegrounds DLC:


The above btw merely scratches the surface of the kind of money I am dropping on this. The mere ARROW ICONS on the overworld, the up and down icons, cost me $40 on a site that just does icons:


I couldn't just google "arrow icons" and use random stuff. The icons I picked are specifically sci-fi-themed and match perfectly the Alien setting. I spent half a freakin' day looking for them, then another half a day processing them so as to fit them in with the existing World Anvil icons. I'll probably be spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars on hundreds if not thousands of icons to build up this ridiculous overworld over the next few years, and someone has to pay for all that. And it certainly can't be me, because I can't afford it.

In the early days I used to keep a record of all the expenses I was incurring for the game, with the intention of eventually publishing it, but past a certain point I lost track, and now I am just hemorrhaging money on a regular basis on a myriad little and not-so-little things, and I don't even want to think of an accounting as it could get scary. I am definitely spending more than I am taking in, and I've been relying on crypto winnings to make up the difference. But I've no idea for how long I can keep this up. As long as the market treats me well, I suppose.

And I haven't even talked about the big costs yet. When Menyr comes out, that's $250/month just for the server. I.e. what 10 out of the current 17 players are paying per month. Going just for server costs.

Keep in mind that current players are only paying $25/month for Battlegrounds. The other $25 is for access to my sites, the clan etc. This, as I recently realized, is comically underpriced for the professional GM market. Take a look at the kind of prices pro GMs are charging: ... ric-dreams



She's charging $20 PER SESSION, with some sessions being a mere THREE HOURS, while I charge $25 PER MONTH, with many sessions being up to TEN HOURS. Just check our YouTube, we have sessions that routinely run to 8 or 9 or even 10 hours. For that one session you would have paid 50 dollars to play with HER. Instead you pay $25 for at least TWO of those sessions a month with ME, in MY world, with multiple other teams possibly interacting with you. One of my sessions counts like two or even three of other GMs'. In fact I don't think I've ever stopped a session myself in the 200+ hours we've played, it's always a player who says "Let's wrap it up, I have to go". Quite possibly we'd go for half a day if no one ever called time. And I am not even charging by the hour! And I am even paying for a lot of the materials out of my own pocket! That freak's not even spending any money on World Anvil subs, or Hero Forge minis or anything. She's making hundreds of dollars running a single adventure that cost her $20, and she butchers the whole thing too, I have no doubt. And that's more or less every professional GM.

Meanwhile, on top of the insane workload I put on myself, I have to scratch my head and figure out how to come up with the $250/month that my Menyr server will cost so we can roleplay in VR on the best hardware. The other GMs don't even know that a VR VTT is coming! You think they will know how to use it once it arrives?

"But icy you don't need a dedicated server, you can just run the server on your computer."

Yes, but then the overworld and codex wouldn't be online 24/7, thus it wouldn't feel like a metaverse to me. I want to do this right, I want to do this at the maximum possible level that current technology allows, and that means a dedicated server is a must! And I can't afford it right now, which is why when we were done with the Planetary Annihilation events and Ciaróg stopped backing the server (he was paying for almost all of it for a full year), I had to give it up. But I will need to bring it back in about a year, and then I can never give it up again as long as I am running the game. And I want to be running the game forever!

The only game with exclusive multihour Ridley Scott-directed cutscenes is "Alex Kierkegaard's Battlegrounds Alpha 2.0"

Merely for Hero Forge miniatures I've spent $300 in the last couple of months. And I'll be spending even more for custom-made boards. No one has even seen any of this yet. And no one will ever see any of it unless I can find a way to sustain this level of expenditures, because I am not going to launch something that I will be forced to shut down a couple of months later. So my solution to this problem is DLC.

Ultimately, once it had dawned on me just how much money would be needed to deliver this project to the level that I want to, I took a long hard look at what Star Citizen has been doing, because it's basically the same game with mine, the same genre at any rate: a metaverse game. And CIG too have the same issue with me: that the game costs an insane amount of money, while very few people are interested in it. Star Citizen has only sold about 1.5 million copies, which for modern gaming is a pittance. And these 1.5 million players have to somehow sustain no fewer than FIVE gaming studios totaling nearly 1,000 employees for a decade and more! So how did Chris Roberts solve this problem? He solved it by leaning on his wealthiest and most passionate players to pull not only their own weight, but everyone else's too. These aren't broke F2P Fortnite players who are supporting this game: these are middle aged professionals with prestigious jobs and financial investments who don't balk at spending a couple thousand dollars on spaceships that MAY AS WELL be literal given how absurdly detailed they are. And it is THEY who are funding the game, not the dude who paid $45 for it. In fact, the dude who paid $45 is being subsidized by the rich dudes, even though he has no clue of it, and, quite possibly, even detests them (calling them "whales" etc.; the well-known tired slurs).

So let me do a quick detour here to explain to you how the Star Citizen crowdfunding model works: the most successful such model yet. The problem with supporting a project as ambitious as Star Citizen is that, as a supporter, you have no idea what kind of support is needed, and you need some GUIDERAILS to guide you. Imagine for a second that Chris wasn't charging for the ships or anything else. Imagine that every item and perk in the game was available to earn inside the game, and nothing was offered outside. After all, that was the original vision, and that's how games have traditionally worked before the modern era, including all of Chris's older games. So imagine he comes out and says, "Look, I am only going to charge you $45 for the game, but please donate more because otherwise the game will have poor features and low fidelity. The more you donate, the better I can make the game!"

But then... how would I figure out how much to donate? Would $500 do the trick? Would $1,000? Should I send half my paycheck every month to him? Should I mortgage my house?

Exploring the 22nd-century Sol System in "Alex Kierkegaard's Battlegrounds Alpha 2.0"

The worst part is that I wouldn't be able to see any direct correlation between my donations and the improvements in the game caused by them. It's not as if doubling my donation would produce any discernible change in the game due to it. So I would get no feedback.

IN SUCH A SITUATION, HUMAN BEINGS ARE GENERALLY PRIMED TO CONTRIBUTE THE MINIMUM POSSIBLE, which in this case is the $45 cost of the game. Human beings are goal-oriented, and we need to feel that we're accomplishing something in order to feel good about ourselves and our actions. If I can't tell the difference between donating $100 or $200, my brain basically tells me to donate nothing, because it feels I am not getting anything back. There ARE some people whose brains are wired differently than this, and God bless them because several of them have supported me for years on Patreon with outsized donations without seeing anything extra back for their support, and this support has been vital to me. But in general, people don't function this way (I certainly don't), and our reptile brains need constant incentives to urge us to open our wallets further and unleash the FULL extent of the support that we are capable of, and that we WANT to give.

Which is where Star Citizen ship sales come in, exclusivity windows, wipe protection and the like. Now I know EXACTLY what $40 more is getting me for my money! I still don't know what difference my money is making to the game's development, and I can never know that because it's too much data for a 1,000-person company to share in detail with the public (not to mention that even they themselves don't know what $40 more contributes to the game...), but it doesn't matter to me as long as I can see the game improving every month and week and almost every day! As long as the game is growing, that's all I need to know to rest assured that my money is being put to good use, and beyond that I am incentivized to spend on the game as much as I can afford by the construction of an elaborate program of rewards—the most elaborate in the history of gaming, with moreover the very best rewards! And THAT'S why I've spent upwards of $1,000 on Star Citizen since the start of the year, and closer to $2,000 since last summer, when I started playing. I would never in a million years have donated all this money to Chris for no rewards, EVEN IF ALL THE REWARDS WERE EARNABLE IN THE GAME BY DEFAULT with no exclusivity periods and the like. And yes, this behavior MAKES ZERO SENSE, which is why Chris is forced to hire marketing psychologists to figure out how to extract the maximum amount of funding from his playerbase using every FOMO-inducing dirty trick in the book that no other game dares to use. He's not doing it because he's evil, he's doing it because there's no Star Citizen without this, and certainly no $600-million Star Citizen metaverse with millimeter-detail and astonishing depth of aesthetics and mechanics.

And keep in mind his game is almost laughable compared to mine. He WISHES his game had roleplaying. In fact if you read what he says, his ultimate goal is to allow a TINY BIT of roleplaying in his game. But he will never have full real roleplaying, because his engine is real-time. Real roleplaying requires a real-time-with-pause engine (because only a human brain can run such a complex game logic, and human brains work slowly), which only Cult Engine can deliver at this level of mechanical complexity and aesthetic fidelity (we're not making Baldur's Gate here). That's why he's forced to advance his metaplot OUTSIDE of his actual game, via singleplayer "campaigns" accessible on an OUTSIDE menu, while MY metaplot advances INSIDE the game in full multiplayer and even multigroup glory. In fact, practically every adventure/scenario in my game advances the metaplot, while absolutely nothing that happens in his game does. That's why he needs Squadron 42. He wouldn't have a story without it. And even this story that he has is of '90s complexity: singleplayer, non-interactive, with canned lines and invisible walls all around as far as the eye can see. Pathetic, really, for 2023. And that's why his game is an action game and not an RPG. He would like it to be a roleplaying game, and he'll push his engine and mechanics as far as possible to get nearer that goal, but he'll never reach it, because neither his engine nor his mechanics were built with it in mind. They were in fact built for the exact opposite of roleplaying, which is action (think about this for a second: can you roleplay an ace fighter pilot with real-time mechanics? No, because then you'd have to... basically BE an ace fighter pilot, thus utterly negating the roleplaying, the pretending, the art in the whole thing; the ultimate result in this direction being "eSports", which, unlike other videogames, aren't art, and for precisely this reason).

Modern settings coming to "Battlegrounds" DLC

All this to say that Chris and his Star Citizen have nothing to teach icycalm and his Battlegrounds in terms of game design, EXCEPT this one thing: their funding model. If I could learn from him—the premier expert in the world in funding cutting-edge modern artworks—how to increase my game's income, I have a real chance of making my game viable at a level of scope and detail that I can be happy with and proud of.

Ergo, this past year of playing Star Citizen extensively while diving headfirst into its intricate backer reward mechanics (explained in great detail in the greatest thread on the web on the subject on this very website [ > ]) has, I believe, taught me a tremendous amount about how to replicate what Chris is doing in order to cover my similar needs. So an intelligent and detailed multi-tiered reward structure is required in order to sufficiently motivate every player to contribute as much as he can, and so that every player can measure the level of his contribution to the project and take pride in it and enjoy it due to the regular rewards and constant feedback the system gives him.

People want to give more, they just don't know when, or how much. To give just a couple of recent examples, Rory offered to pay for about $150 worth of video material that I needed for a trailer I am making, and Chev paid $180 for a yearly Hero Forge sub, so we could get a bunch of extra minis. I didn't ask them for these contributions, they offered of their own accord when they heard about these expenses. But while I greatly appreciate their generosity, I can't depend on it, because, from my perspective, it's random. When I am paying $2,000+, as I did for GMRPG stuff in total in the last couple of months alone, I need to know I'll get it back. So I need regular contributions, and therefore I need a plan.

Hence I introduce DLC content so that instead of Rory and Chev giving me charity, they can purchase DLCs and get something measurable back. That incentivizes everyone to contribute more in order to get the cool rewards, and it gives me a clear view of how much DLC offered at what intervals and priced at what levels will net me how much additional income. I can do some math and plan my expenditures, and the players themselves feel better because that's how our lizard brains function. I would never have given CIG $2,000 if the ships had been available in-game without exclusivity windows, and no wipes to take them away twice a year. And that is DUMB, because that would have been A BETTER GAME, and I am basically REWARDING CIG FOR MAKING A WORSE GAME. But it's not my fault, it's how my lizard brain works—I want to see a tangible reward for my contribution, and some nebulous "Thank you for your support" rhetoric just won't do the trick I am afraid—and since our brains aren't changing any time soon, we must adjust our business and marketing policies to account for it. Is that manipulative? Are CIG's FOMO-generating tactics, limited-hull numbers and the like, predatory? Yes they are, BUT THAT'S WHAT IT TAKES TO FUND THE BEST REAL-TIME ARTWORK EVER, so do you want the damn sausage or are you going to obsess about how it's made and starve to death because of it?

"Hope's Last Day" is the first DLC scenario now live on "Alex Kierkegaard's Battlegrounds Alpha 2.0"

I want the sausage and I don't give a shit how it's made—I even think it's kind of cool how cutting-edge artworks must employ cutting-edge psychological marketing techniques merely to stay afloat—and I look forward to spending thousands of dollars buying apartments and base resources in Star Citizen, while at the same time spending the money my players send to me for my Battlegrounds, to grow it ever bigger, deeper and more complex.

So I am glad CIG figured out how to get more money out of me, as every dollar I have spent on this game has been a pleasure to spend. When I see their swanky new offices, their new hires, their stunning trailers, and of course their ever-deepening mechanics and aesthetics, I know my money is being put to good use, and I can't wait to send them more, as my finances allow. (And btw, if you're inclined to say "icy just stop buying Star Citizen ships and all your funding problems with Battlegrounds are over", I will reply that buying Star Citizen ships IS MY JOB. The only reason I can give you cutting-edge gaming analyses is because I am neck-deep in cutting-edge gaming, and right now Star Citizen is where cutting-edge gaming's at, at least as regards full-real-time play, as opposed to roleplaying.)

That by the way is the only aspect of development they'll never show you on Inside Star Citizen because they (rightly) believe that the public isn't mature enough to handle it. I, on the other hand, am telling you frankly: These techniques are psychologically manipulative, and are intended to extract the maximum contributions from the players. And that's what I have to do too: I would have offered my DLC material as part of the base game—that was the original plan—until I realized that this would increase my costs without a corresponding increase in income, which would have made zero financial sense, and over the long term prove disastrous for the project. Ergo the shift to DLC. I WANT to add more and more content. I cannot do it without additional income.

In short, these are the changes to the subscription model and reward structure (and there'll be more in the future, as I add more—and more complex—rewards):

  • DLC adventures cost $50 a pop payable by Monero (XMR) to the following address:
  • New unlimited DLC subscription tier for $100/month: play as much DLC as you want, including multiple adventures simultaneously
  • New Game Master tier for GMs wishing to bring their entire group to the Battlegrounds at a discount: $250 for the GM and 4 players, with extra players charged at $50 per player

In addition to the above, I am selling Producer credits for $1,000, and Executive Producer credits for $5,000. Your name (or username/pseudonym/whatever) will be right at the top of the Battlegrounds frontpage, plus included in the epic credits video I am making, plus all trailers in which it makes sense. If you prefer to be even more anonymous, you can make an XMR donation, and there will be a donation button on the frontpage, same address as the one given above.

You can email me at after you've sent something so I know who to thank, or you can fire and forget and never contact me at all, whatever you prefer.

If you have friends who might be interested in the game, and can afford it, please tell them about it. Every extra player helps, both because it helps bring more life to the world, and because of the extra funding.

A fully modeled alien world stands ready for your characters to explore in "Alex Kierkegaard's Battlegrounds Alpha 2.0"

If you want to raise your pledge but can't afford to jump a full step, any increase will help, even $20 or $10 or $5, as long as you can afford it. Don't make your life uncomfortable to support a game. Yes, it is the greatest game and artwork ever, but you need to be comfortable to enjoy it, so think about that first before you think about the game. If $50 is what you can afford, you can stick with that forever, no worries. I wouldn't have a game without you, and I know it, and I won't forget it. Your patience while the game was stuck for months on multiple occasions kept me going. I would have given up if you had given up. You can't make a roleplaying game if no one's going to play it. You certainly can't make alone anything as complex as what I am making. What I want to emphasize after this entire orgy of analysis on money, is that people are contributing a lot more than that. We probably would never have played anything if danjiro hadn't built 16 Pathfinder characters for us, taught me to use Fantasy Grounds, and ran our first session for us. I'd still be procrastinating without that massive kickstart. And people are still contributing skills and time behind the scenes that no one will ever know. recoil for example spending hours in GIMP obsessing over one-pixel differences because I am asking him to in order to help me deliver my next trailers. That would have cost me a lot of money if I had had to pay for it, not to mention I probably still wouldn't have got it as exact as I want because the cheap workers I can afford wouldn't have had the patience for it.

Ultimately, even with the increased DLC cost, I don't think my game is expensive for what you get with it. It IS expensive in absolute terms, it is the most expensive game in history because the minimum buy-in is $600/year. So fuck yeah, it is expensive! But on the other hand, when I ask for $50 on top of that for a fully interactive DLC scenario when Final Fantasy costs $80 and it's just bad anime with no mechanics, my game seems cheap. And you haven't even seen the TaleSpire, Menyr or virtual reality content yet. Just stop buying crap you'll never play on Steam, and you can afford my game no problem. Star Citizen ships are also a joke in terms of value compared to what I am giving out. You can earn all of them in the game, and every other player can too, but you can't earn a unique Battlegrounds scenario that interacts with and shapes the entire world. You have to pay for that, and it'll be the best gaming experience of your life, because the most interactive one.

To speak specifically about the first DLC offering, Alien, we're talking about an RPG where in most cases the entire group dies, and merely surviving these ordeals the designers have crafted is an accomplishment you'll remember for the rest of your life. Not to speak that these scenarios have been made with PVP in mind, with usually at least one "traitor" in the midst, plus other conflicting goals. If you land the "wrong" character, you are basically expected to be evil! And ranked on precisely how evil you were! We're talking about a game that features scenarios AT THE BACK OF FULL-LENGTH NOVELS, so you're expected to FIRST READ THE ENTIRE FUCKING NOVEL, and only THEN play the scenario to fully appreciate it.

I am not shitting you, the last 3 Alien novels featured Alien RPG scenarios in the back.



What other game forces you to read a whole fucking NOVEL before handing you a 2-hour scenario? I've never heard of such a game system before, and I think it's worth trying. If nothing else, it will cement the Battlegrounds' reputation as "Reading: The Videogame" (also, "Writing: The Videogame"). The entire GMRPG world is raving about the game and the scenarios, as you will see with all the quotes I have adduced at the relevant places on the overworld, plus of course the full-length reviews I've featured on the site. It's the hottest RPG of the last few years, so spending an extra $50 on it instead of on yet another infantile Japanese game or Western one with mechanics that haven't been improved in decades, doesn't sound unreasonable to me.

At any rate, this setting and these scenarios are now up on the overworld, and the system is in place for anyone to form a team and tackle them, if they wish. Later in the month I'll have something up even cooler—if such a thing is possible—(though, for that reason, even more expensive...), and from then on you can expect to see a brand-new DLC setting and introductory adventure on the world roughly once per month, running the entire gamut of possible settings and experiences. A "roleplaying Steam", if you will, featuring truly interactive games, but selectable INSIDE the game world, and ALL of whose consequences ultimately interacting with those of all others!

I don't think anyone can understand how wild that concept is yet. I can barely grasp the ramifications myself, but I am eager to explore them, and the overworld I just delivered with Alpha 2.0 is the technology powering this new metaverse of roleplaying possibilities.

And btw, there are no player character limitations for the DLC, as there are in the main Battlegrounds settings (where it is 1 character per player, with some exceptions). Most of these adventures can be completed in 3-4 sessions, and many of them even in a single session, so you aren't committing to year-long campaigns when you build a DLC character, or, perhaps more often, just picking a pregenerated one. The mechanics are far simpler than Path/Starfinder/D&D as well, so you can fairly easily jump between systems/characters/adventures.

Dystopian settings coming to "Battlegrounds" DLC

Battlegrounds DLC is ultimately an opportunity to play a different RPG. To try a different setting, theme and style of roleplaying. An opportunity to expand the metaverse, to make wild connections between settings and characters. An opportunity to form parties with players from other teams that you don't normally get to play with, and to play at times that we wouldn't normally be playing (the sessions will be planned for slots when no regular team can meet, so they shouldn't take significant time away from our main campaigns). An opportunity for more experimentation with less pressure. No epic 600-page campaign to ruin. No decade-long metaplot to worry about. Even the sizes of the teams will often be non-standard, starting with Alien's 5-player teams, as opposed to the 4-player ones we've been used to up to now. You'll be able to see how much more fun the game gets with every extra player, and how much more complex the scenes and interactions between characters, especially in a game such as Alien which fosters intraparty conflict.

If you aren't interested in the DLC settings, on the other hand, or simply can't afford them, forget they exist. The base settings will give you all the roleplaying you can handle for the rest of your lives, guaranteed. And, ultimately, Pathfinder is the best rule system and setting, and even has the best adventures ever, so your experience will be second to none even without DLC. But if you feel like taking the occasional little break from Pathfinder to explore a myriad of wild worlds, systems, characters and scenarios, Battlegrounds DLC is your thing, and it's only just begun.

All this and more is coming soon to Alex Kierkegaard's Battlegrounds: The Ultimate Roleplaying Metaverse.
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Unread postby icycalm » 08 Jun 2023 12:19

Heads-up: The loading issue is fixed and the site loads fast-ish now. It COULD be faster, but at least now it's usable. Instead of having to wait 20-30 seconds for every click to load, you have to wait for maybe 2 seconds or so now. Check it out:

Congrats to my engineers. They get to go home now, and keep breathing.
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Alex Kierkegaard's Battlegrounds Alpha 2.1

Unread postby icycalm » 18 Jun 2023 21:59

Alpha 2.1 brings one much-requested feature—spell effects—and one DLC feature: dice effects. Take a look at the brief demo videos we put together to see how these work and how players and GMs use them.

FG Spell Templates Preview


Fantasy Grounds Unity Damage Types Linked to Custom Dice


The spell effects are provided free of charge, but the dice effects will set you back a few bucks. In my opinion they're a bit overpriced, but I don't make these decisions, my business department does, so it is what it is. In Europe, the whole bundle will cost you €39,50, and I think it's a bit cheaper for Americans.


Dice Pack Bundle ... ack_Bundle

Note that ultimately all dice will be useful to all players because even martial characters get magical weapons with for example fire or lightning effects etc. later in the game. Plus, everyone will make a spellcaster eventually, no?

If you think the price is too much, don't buy them, they aren't mandatory, no worries.

So that's it for now, not a huge update by any means, but it adds quite a lot in my opinion, especially the spell effects, as you can see from the video.

On a side note, I love how Doug Davison does instructional videos. Short, to the point, very pleasant speaking voice, and you can tell he knows the game and his engine inside-out. So glad I hired that guy, he's been with Cult Games since forever.
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Alex Kierkegaard's Battlegrounds Alpha 2.2

Unread postby icycalm » 16 Jul 2023 00:11

Alpha 2.2 brings a brand-new in-house developed ambient music player and associated custom-built Discord bot that can be employed across campaigns and engines. The various YouTube-playing Discord bots we'd been employing for years have been taken offline by YouTube one by one until it got to the point where we had to develop our own application that YouTube can't take down because of how good we are at coding. So I assigned this work to our two Melbourne summer interns, Mitch and Nicola. Our Cult Games Melbourne CEO, ChevRage, oversaw their efforts and within a few days we had the best censorship-resistant YouTube Discord bot in the world, which the kids dubbed with the internal codename Kenku FM. They even set up a website about it (I love this kind of initiative in interns, I'll probably hire these kids):

Here you can see the bot in action in our Discord, decked out in stylish Battlegrounds graphics:


The app's interface is far superior in ease-of-use than any Discord music bot we've ever tried:


Moreover the kids even made a plugin for the Elgato Stream Deck with which to trigger and control sounds!


I'll definitely be looking into integrating this into our setup when I have a moment.

All in a few days' work at Cult Games Studios Inc. And by mere interns no less.
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Re: Alex Kierkegaard's Battlegrounds Alpha 2.0 is now LIVE!

Unread postby icycalm » 12 Aug 2023 11:24

FYI for those who are thinking "What patch notes, you have no patch!", it is a BRAIN PATCH, morons. Because my game runs ON HUMAN BRAINS. Of course programmers can't understand this because they have no brains. They can therefore only patch their simplistic programs.
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