LARPtronics at LARPcon 2017

Sleep has happened after what was a truly humbling weekend.

The LARPtronics part of us has evolved in the last four years and we have worked on a lot of projects that are not LARP orientated over the last eighteen months. We decided about nine months ago to go to LARPcon this year and thought it would be a good idea to agree to Ian’s request to do something in the line of an escape room. Although we wanted to do something a bit different and wrote a Crucible Room instead.

It didn’t feel like enough time at all and at Christmas we ran the first test (not demo) of the room for the fine people of the Rising of Chaos system at their Christmas Banquet. I say that we ran it when in all seriousness we were still perfecting the props at the site some two hours after we were supposed to start. What had we done? What were we going to do? 

Still.

Five people did the Christmas test and despite the fact that we considered it a failure they were wowed by what they saw. We had finished three props: The Ghost Box, The Nordigan and the EMF Reader, and off of the back of that they commissioned a whole new sequence of kit for a game they were running. We were learning a lot!

We went back to the drawing board and the scriptwriter threw away all of the old writing and that was a big thing. We realised how much we could actually achieve with the Ghost Box and the EMF, so he added new dimensions with another Cryptex and the design for a pillar.

The pillar was built and we picked up a few more members of staff including a photographer and media expert who created some short footage that the pillar would tell a screen to play if the room players were successful.

Some amazing people were involved in voicing the six ghosts of the ghost box, then there was editing and filming and we were completely blown away by what we were suddenly involved with and what we were achieving: To have completed three pieces of kit that were capable of governing a room without any other interaction; A Crucible room, a refless room basically was something of an accomplishment for us.

Then we tested it again. We asked Rising of Chaos again and they happily said yes. This time it went off really well. Sure some of the kit threw up some problems, it was a test, but it all behaved in the right way and after a bit of reassessment and repair the room was solvable and the only thing we really had to proxy was the internet.

So we had a working and exciting Room with some kit that we were happy with and a week to iron out any kinks as well as  prep our table and get ready to talk to people. By Friday the three main team members were on around 350 hours of work and the rest weren’t far behind but we had a lot to show for our efforts.

Once we were set up and in, we really kicked off and despite the fact that our working product was mainly in the Crucible Room we generated a whole load of interest; especially with the final incarnation of the Rune Sword. “It’s LARP safe!!!” was one of most commonly spoken phrases of wonder that we heard.

It was a great weekend for us with some great memories: Someone physically trying to get out of the Crucible Room, not because they were unhappy or stressed but because they had just used the Knock Knock box for the first time and wanted to tell their friends. Or getting the chance to talk about really big projects with Curious Pastimes and Barbwire and Roses. It was a knock out weekend.

When we got home we realised how much of the weekend we had spent talking through completely plausible ideas that people have now been messaging us about and that we are actually going to get to build them.

We took eleven people to LARPcon. ELEVEN. Speaks a lot about how far we have come. We also ran two seminars regarding our kit and a Crucible Room all weekend. On top of that there was the stall, the selling and the demos, the plans, the endless toast and the fact that the Chinese Mafia stole Jay’s hair.

We have branched out and spent the last two years, more or less, working on projects that aren’t LARP related. There was definitely a lot of emotion behind coming back to the LARPing scene and the welcome we received was wonderful.

It was good to come home.

 

 

How Big Dreams Get

We haven’t said much in a while and there’s a reason for that:

Last year we worked with quite a few people and capitulated to the facts: That our outlet was much larger than just the LARPing community. Yes, we worked on several big props and projects for LARPing  but we also got involved with Cosplay, Stage Production, Escape Rooms, Smart Homes and Airsofting to name but a few. When we looked at what we were capable of we realised how much more we wanted to do.

Next month we are heading to LARPcon  where we will be showing off the fruits of our continued labours alongside the insanely talented Jay Cooling from Dragon Armoury. This will be our last foray into the industry as LARPtronics. It’s time to change, it’s time to move forward, it’s time to start making a difference.

LARPtronics will still exist as a brand, and we will continue to develop the props and code to bring new elements to your game. In the past year, we have taken on more staff and forged ties with other companies, settling into a pattern which will bring us to a much better position to deal with specific customer wants; making the right props for you.

Our little company has grown and will soon be a part of The Crucible which is definitely somewhere we want to be.

So. LARPcon:

We missed last year because we had other commitments but this year we will be back with a vengeance.

In the next few days we’ll be showing you what we have been up to and what you can expect from us this year:

We’ll be talking at you on Friday from 18:00-18:30 – Expect to see some demos, play with our junk…..and listen to us talk you through the rise of technology and how it applies to LARP including that dreaded taboo – Cost.

For even more excitement we will be running a stall where we will be entrancing you with LARPtronic wonders and Dragon Armoury (DA) finesse. Examples from our new interactive environment line will be there for all to see, as will the new weapons and armour that we have developed with DA.

We will also be introducing a Crucible Room  which was written by the guys at Crucible and outfitted by us – It’s an Escape Room but fully interactive. Go and buy a ticket

From now on we’ll be back to updating all our channels as we get closer to LARPcon.

It’s good to be back.

Our first Prize Draw – Results

Good day good folk,

It’s time for us to announce the winner of the October Giveaway but before we do we are going to add some extra special shininess to this post: Firstly our thanks to everyone that had so many inspiring and humbling things to say about this, the first of many products. We didn’t expect such a large number of people to be involved and so much enthusiasm from the community in general. So. Cam and Stephen have decided to add a surprise second and third prize to the pot in the form of two 10% discount vouchers on our products.

We gathered around lunch after printing, yes printing, all your names and put them all in a snazzy bowler hat loaned to us by another larper (cheers Matt). Then we press ganged two independent larpers into fishing around inside to pull out the three names. (See pictures below for the theatrics of it all.)

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And from that hat came forth the following

First Prize – The small Crystal set goes to…………

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Debbie Starbuck

Congratulations to you!

Second Prize – 10% Discount Coupon goes to………..

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Natasha Vucak

Huzzah!

Third Prize – 10% Discount Coupon goes to………….

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Darren Hosein

Brilliant!

So if you winners want to send us a message we will gather your addresses or simply send you the winning code .

And there you have it – That was our first Giveaway and we will be doing more, winners; we would love it if you could get some shots of the gear in use that would be lovely!

Ok that is us

Take care of each other!

 

A First Giveaway and thoughts for the Future

A few weeks ago we launched the first of our lines; the Crystals, Lightboxes and surrounds. We have had a lot of feedback regarding product, mainly people want us to make the Gauntlets and Monocles but we realised that we would need the Lightboxes because our other products benefit from having a device that responds to them. Equally the Lightboxes with the wands are a standalone product that can be developed further if you choose to invest in the later products as they come into play.

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One Small Lightbox set

We have started to receive orders for the Lightboxes and equally customisations of the same tech for different projects but we also read all the posts and e-mails that we receive. The feeling that we have from them is the enormous sense of baited breath that there is among our potential clientele. Everyone seems to be waiting for someone to bring our tech into the field to see if it is worth all the hype that, in all fairness, that same clientele has generated through the generous comments made on both Facebook and Twitter.

Assembled

Assembled

So we have opened up with our first promotion; you can find it here:

LARPTRONICS COMPETITION

Finishes Friday 16th at midday GMT

We are hoping that the lucky winner will be able to provide you all with some much needed in the field feedback for you all.

All together and on

All together and on

It’s worth a look; just remember that the lucky winner could be you!

The Crystals have Landed

Our first plan, when we created LARPtronics, was to create an environment that supplemented the current world of LARPing in which emersion is difficult to achieve when a ref is describing tracking skills or sixth sense abilities. A lot of games have scaled down, removing rules that they simply can’t phys rep or bring in without disrupting their game world, jerking it back to reality. We looked long and hard at ways that removed the need for that kind of ref call but that returned skills without being obtrusive. We’re quite clever so our heads spilled out with thoughts and we got a bit carried away, we made props that emulated the Whovian regeneration sequence in the middle of the night, it worked beautifully – Mythlore will set you straight if you don’t believe us! We made lanterns that lit in sequence as Kings processed by them and resparkled into life as they returned because they KNEW they were there with no ref to tell them

 

 

We have developed LARPtech that explains to magical swords, which light up because they are told, when the Daemons/Orcs/Undead/Monkeys or whatever arrive. Kit that tells a canny scout when a foe is hidden nearby because they have the skill to know that, with no ref pointing at a bush and announcing to the entire group “There are three people hidden in this bush, I think? What’s your skill?”

Monocles that layer their lenses in the presence of magical doodads or monsters from the pit and generate lighting patterned effects that describe that magic and what it is to the pre-briefed mind. But it was all buggy, held together with tape and wishful thinking; we weren’t giving it a chance to work before we discarded it and moved on to the next shinier thing.  We did all of these things and many more and we realised that we weren’t actually progressing in any sensible fashion, we aren’t THAT clever and we decided to make a plan.

Cam and Stephen larping together - A very rare occurrence!

Cam and Stephen – Not THAT clever –

We were also under a huge amount of demand for everything, not only from the LARPing world but also from the cosplay world, the theatrical and film industry,  and pub owners that wanted interesting lighting in their kid’s bedrooms. So we started with the Lantern sets, for Larping at least. We took the lanterns, in the main, to the Larp Awareness Party and they were well received and then they travelled to five independent systems across Europe and a few local games as favours and were used in remarkable ways. We redesigned them from the ground up, bought a 3D printer and regenerated them with proper modelled cases all drawn from input by “the people”! There were a lot of development issues but they are done and now we can offer you, for the first time ever, the Thaumaturgic Lantern and it looks like this:

 

 

Our first offer is the standard package; that’s 1 Large Crystal, 1 of our Mark Two Surrounds, 1 Lightbox and 1 wand Controller

These will be £140 for the full set but as we are introducing them and we have received so, so much support from the community in general we will be plugging them out for £120 till the beginning of next year. Is there more to it than that? Yes, we’ll be introducing bigger packages and the individual items that make them up as we build up to October. Alongside that we will be running one of those Facebook giveaways where people like our stuff and we send you one of these basic sets and you can have a picture taken looking all smug. Is that all? Well no, alongside that anyone who purchases from us this year receives one full year of Phase Two cover which means:

  • As you are our most eager customers, we will seek your thoughts on future developments and enhancements for the products that you have purchased. You will be able to guide our hands as we recode, redesign and augment the product that you already own. Free of charge,
  • We will provide firmware updates for free whenever we meet on event and we WILL be out and about. Wherever you find our banner you will find us happy to upgrade your kit.

Do you have to buy them? Well yes but also no – If you are running an event or we are at an event we will be happy to lease them to you and those prices will also be materialising on these pages soon.

Will we be stopping at lanterns? No, we will not. Our current projects that are nearing the same state as the Lanterns are: The Gauntlets, the monocles and LARPtronics enhanced clothing are also on the way. We are continuing with any custom projects that we feel the current technoclimate and we are capable of and are still working with folks like Dragon Armouries and Mark Cordory Creations. So skin those peelers and we’ll keep the updates coming; LARPtronics is properly in business and we are looking forward to the challenges that brings.

The futures bright and comes with a Magic Wand in a variety of colours.

Next on the drawing board

Next on the drawing board

LARP Awareness: Our first Fayre

So this weekend Cam and I made our way to the LARP awareness party full of trepidation and concerned that we were about a hundred miles away from being ready. This was, after all, our first foray into the world of trading, LARPtronics is brand new to the market and we weren’t exactly well known faces at these kind of events. With a growing sense of preparedness, however, we made our way to the awards in high spirits despite the weariness of the 4am finishes that the previous week had bought. We were given even more time to get up to speed by the awful traffic that battled us all the way to the larp awards. We had, like puss in boots journeying off from the Marquis de Carabas, expected streets paved with gold. It was not so. We arrived tired, hungry and with but moments to get our stall set out and the demo ready for the gathering crowd of worthies that waited in anticipation of our wares.

Our intention was to run a very fixed and “by the book” demonstration for what we expected to be a handful of people as it was early o’clock for the Friday evening. We didn’t really know what to expect on layout and after a brief tour by Ian of Having a Larp fame we ended up in the breakfast bar surrounded by a much larger group than we expected. A lot of folk were also crafters of Larp kit of many years and the many expectant faces looked far too keen. We were nervous. As it turned out all of the kit worked well, there were lots of OOoh’s and AAaah’s and people were extremely keen to join in with our demonstrations: The Beast Boxes worked perfectly: Showing us how people using them can make things react to certain types of “Beasts” and particularly how exciting people found the responsive props specifically the “Daemon Hunters” Monocle and the “Undead Detecting” Lanterns.

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Giving our lecture

What people seemed to find most eye opening were the props behaving differently based on external influences: The Monocles second lens coming down when a Human form Daemon entered the room and then popping back up and “going banana’s” was soundly applauded as was the lanterns changing to different colours, when surrounded by four Undead, dependant on which Undead was closest. We watched, we talked to the audience and we learnt. Then we bought out what was our pinnacle achievement in the Gauntlet. The gauntlet as a piece of armour was made by Dragon Armouries and is a particularly nice piece but we were there to show off the internals, how it was built to interact with other devices, and to show how sophisticated our firmware could be..

The tech performed well – though hilarity ensued when it became clear that although Cam had defined the gestures and written the code, he couldn’t remember them at all..  Also, this audience was our first attempt to teach others the gestures, so a learning process was involved which we got much better at as the weekend progressed.  Bringing individuals up to the front to have a go did have some successes though, with several spells cast:

“Light” which resulted in a bright strip of light on the far edge of the arm for illuminating surroundings, and a duller “reading light” facing the caster.  Casting it again turned it off.

“Shield” which created a shimmering blue pattern across the gauntlet for a period of time,  which in future could protect the caster from “strike” effects.

The balance between “making the spells easy to cast” and “not accidentally casting the spells when you are doing other things” is something that we will continue to work on for future firmware releases of the Gauntlet, though it was demonstrated that once aptitude with the gauntlet was achieved and you had the knack, the sequences worked very well. The Gauntlet worked seamlessly with the rest of the kit. The strike pattern rippled down the gauntlet and as it “left” the hand of the controller the lanterns and other devices flared up. The same principal worked for “detect magic” which could be cast by the monocle or the gauntlet resulting in all devices that are marked as “magical” responding with a yellow glow/flicker

Post demo we were swamped by questions and individuals talking about how the tech could evolve their game and quite frequently discussions on building an entire game around it. This became the feature of the weekend, wherever we went and whatever we were doing there were people wanting to talk to us about how to involve the tech in their game and more importantly for us every single person representing a game that spoke to us said more or less the same thing: “We need this in our game”. We got really busy, really quickly, but what’s more; we were made to feel very welcome by everyone and ended up chatting the Friday night away with lots of folk, sharing a few beers and postulating on where the hobby could go next and we don’t just mean LARPtronics.

We got watch Roy Smallpage’s excellent short video titled “10 seconds before” with popcorn supplied by Mark Cordory, whilst enjoying the company of the Scourge and relieve some Mythlore memories whilst talking about all the games that we have played in the last thirty years. And that was about all we had time for until after the LARP awards had actually happened. We climbed into bed on Saturday morning at about three and were up by seven for breakfast, a shower and onto the stall. We had never demo’d before and we were not ready for the onslaught that came. Six o’clock and the awards ceremony were on us before we knew it.

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With Mark Cordory and his creation “The Scourge”

Throughout the day the demo’s went down pretty much as they had done the night before with all who saw the kit and spoke to us full of the froth for the new world of possibilities before them. I suppose our crowning moment was when Johnny Ball came to the stall and expressed his excitement at meeting fellow science chaps. We may have come over all school boyish and accepted his kind offer to participate in our demonstrations although he was not, we suspect, expecting to be portraying a Daemon and hilarity, as is often said, ensued. Our final part of the day was to have a visit from labyrinthe who had equally had a busy day. We have been talking for a while and it was a chance to meet up and have a run through what we do which has led to our first meeting with a system to talk about installation of kit at their site.

Tired and weary we stumbled into the hall for the awards and then stumbled back to cannibalise our stall for tables and chairs to sit at.  The week and the day had left us pretty pooped, so much so that Cam went to bed exhausted, but then couldn’t sleep due all the exciting new ideas bubbling in his mind. Stephen stayed up and watched the show and thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing.  Ian did an outstanding job throughout the weekend: The hotel was a great choice, Johnny Ball was an inspired guest, the Hall layout seemed good, in fact our only complaint was that we just couldn’t find the time to get away from the stall to meet the systems and other traders. Stephen ended up staying up till 4 trying to emulate the meeting of traders and took a lot of orders for kit so it seems we walk away from the weekend calling it a success.

To take it one step further we learned a lot from all the people that took the time to sit and talk to us, so much so that the journey home in the car had a lot less talk about traffic and a lot more animated talk about what we could do next.

In our next blog we will be telling you all about where we are going next, and what our focus will be for products and new developments and it is just around the corner. Until then: Thanks to all involved in running the weekend and to everyone that we met, we had a Foxes and Crows time and are looking forward to the next time we can make a fair or convention.

All at LARPtronics

 

The endeavors of February

So we thought that January was busy we obviously weren’t ready for the results of the last post! Between LARPtronics and Dragon Armories the Dreams of January have not only been realised but have dragged us along behind them whilst they ran rampant through the streets, drinking, gambling, participating in karaoke competitions and attending all night cafes. When we stumbled home in the morning we discovered that alongside the usual sundries (traffic cones and the like) we had picked up a whole new gang of other dreams who joined in the party and then moved in. They have even started phoning friends like inspiration and ingenuity who have agreed to grab some beers and head straight over. Mainly we have been telling them about the projects that we started in January and where they have taken us:

The Rune Sword

We spent a lot of time working on the methods that will be used in future weapons, armour and shields so that they could be tested to destruction levels. These methods were employed in the development of Prototype one which was put together over the course of one final week:

Once finished we decided to put the sword through its paces in a local LARPing system called the Rising of Chaos based in Southampton. They run EVERY weekend of the year for a minimum of two days each over each one. Last year they ran 150 events blending incredibly in depth story with economics, politics and high fantasy but above all they do like to fight. It is the perfect place to see how long kit will hold up under pressure.

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From the first week of testing RoC reports that the weapon is fine under weapons testing/safety check conditions. The Dragon Armory build is excellent the non-tear design works perfectly and the blade was sufficiently wowed by all involved. The electronics in the blade functioned all day without a hitch although there were a few problems with the power regulation from the pommel. That minor problem is being redesigned for prototype two already but I suspect that the main thing people want to see are some sequences of the blade:

As you can see the Dragon Armory design is itself elegant with a new technique employed by Jay in the crafting of that beautiful filigree on the blade. Alongside that gorgeous work the gems that provide the source of light will be carved with specific runes for different systems or individual characters to give the blade a sense of completeness. Finally of course the penultimate picture shows the blade in the pub still working after its first work out. Thanks to RoC we will continue to push prototype one whilst we develop its replacement until we have learnt what we can.

So what’s next?

We are developing quickly and days spent in discusion are leading us in new directions. A cornicpopia of ideas are on the horizon several of which we have pioritised to get to several of the big Rising of Chaos events in March and April:

The Rune Blade

Differing from the first sword in that this model will be a one handed weapon we will be incorporating a number of changes to the sword:

  • Moving to a more powerful micro controller
  • An integrated battery charger
  • More control with driving the sword animations
  • A purpose build enclosure to house the electronics in the pommel.
  • A more robust mounting mechanism to attach the pommel to the sword whilst allowing it to be removable.
  • More LEDs on the blade
  • More sophisticated lighting animations
  • Sword will automatically go to sleep when put down, and wake up when picked up.

As with the previous projects we will be working with Dragon Armories and for this model the Death Knight Sword will be the base. We are already foreseeing the eldritch light spilling from the mouth of the skull on the hilt! Here, for those unaware are some snaps of that blade.

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This is proposed to be put through its paces in a Napoleonic Fort in the early part of March, again we will be on hand to record this event!

The Light Gauntlet

Just for a quick update on this project: We hope to have the gauntlet done to the same deadline, it will function as already stated in a previous blog although we are considering 6 rows of gems individually controlled for varying patterns responding to movement. The electronics, animations and moulding are well underway with the preliminary shots of the Gauntlet looking like this:

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Additional Projects

Alongside the Rune Blades we are preparing the line of weapons that will support them: Staves and Hammers with light emanating from their core’s and, of course, rune axes have all been discussed.

We have also designed an Archway that we want to be active around April time that will illuminate (among other planned effects) when passed through and also light orbs (that we will be taking to Empire) that will increase in their brightness and colouration when users of Arcane Power and type get closer to them.

Our final project starting this month will be the “magic items” that function as detectors, that will be amulets or sword pommels that begin to glow, getting brighter and brighter as a type of monster, Undead or Daemon for example.

Other News

The project as a whole is rolling forwards well with continual messages through most mediums and hits from all around the globe. We would like to take this early opportunity to thank all who are supporting and following us for such a great reception and all of the heartening words that we keep receiving. Keep on liking, tweeting and sharing our bits and bobs and by all means keep commenting and asking us questions; filling our heads with even more ideas is probably for the best.

Here in England we have begun to speak to various systems, including the larger ones and have, in the main, received very positive feedback for us, our kit and its use at these events. We will certainly be out on the field at Empire and probably the Gathering this year and by the end of next month we will be creating a list of systems and events in which LARPtronics kit is accepted.

When we will be able to buy your wonderful toys?

Our plan is to be giving you a choice of product in the second half of the year with a variety of weapons, props and sundries that will enhance your LARPing experience.

And that is me done for today. Until next time people, have a Foxes and Crows time.

The Dreams of January

LARPtronics has had a busy month. I think it is fair to say that at the beginning of December, when we were planning to make a handful of props and see where that took us, we were not expecting to have ended up where we are.

A breathless few days before Christmas saw us hook up with Dragon Armouries and a visionary new LARPing group in America called Arcane. Initially we covered a lot of ground at the end of the year, easily running before we could walk, but as we entered into 2014 plans and discussions have led us to very clear goals.

The first blueprints for our primary projects have been finished and construction of the uprgraded prototypes are underway. At the moment we have two direct projects nearing completion with plenty more pinned to the wall of progress.

The Runesword

The runesword prototype is entering final stages of development. The model is a Dragon Armouries Great sword with 6 runes carved down each side of the blade and a rune gem in the center of the crossguard. The runes are backed by LED’s controlled by a microcontroller and accelerometer which trigger different animations based on the movements of the weapon, such as drawing, swinging or striking with it.

Dragon Armouries Sword – Components – Detail

Proto-Sword OneProto-Sword Two

 The technology for running the blade will be tucked away discreetly in the pommel of the weapon which will be attached to the sword with a sprung bayonet system. This ensures that the tech can easily be reached and that the pommel will not accidentally detach during a combat situation.

LARPtronics Sword Electronics

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The LARPtronics and Dragon Armouries tech and blade combined

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Future variations to the design include:

  • Different Weapons

  • Pommel LED reacting to such things as external life, grip, being drawn or the presence of specific creatures (Undead etc)

  • Customizable animations

The Light Gauntlet

The original light gauntlet was designed with 24 LED’s along a cloth gauntlet that covered the forearm and hand. The gauntlet responds to the gestures made by the wearer with different animation sequences based on the current operating mode of the gauntlet. . These are designated Aggressive, Defensive, Utility, it also has a universal lighting function that provides light over an area that allows sight. The illumination provided by the gauntlet dims and brightens depending on how dark the environment is.

The new gauntlet will come in two models: Soft; which will be reinforced fabrics or Hard; This will be a moulded forearm and hand gauntlet moulded by Dragon Armouries in various forms. Each of the models will come in simple, standard and deluxe designs for both the model and the function allowing the product to be as sophisticated or simplistic as the owner desires.

Gauntlet development at this time revolves around making the animations, modes and gestures of the gauntlet as seamless and intuitive as possible
Stills of the Original Gauntlet

 

And that is us for January. We’ll try to blog more frequently in January as we finish the Runesword and bring the new light gauntlet into play along with some plans for the March and April projects.