Rod Humble’s Chaphat Reveal Details Behind Cult & Daggers Game

I’ve talked about Rod Humble’s Chaphat more than once, most recently a week before Christmas when I noted that their game, Cults & Daggers was scheduled for a January release.

As January comes to a close, official news about Cults & Daggers has started to be unveiled. A press release on Steam has appeared :

As the Old Gods plot to destroy a planet they can no longer rule, you are tasked with creating your own religious faith to fight a secret war for the soul of the world. Recruit loyal disciples throughout the Mediterranean in order to spread your faith by preaching to the masses and converting noble families. Along the way, you’ll have to deal with spies, assassinations, martyrs, occult forces, prophets and blasphemers, all while battling the Old Gods and other rising cults for the hearts and minds of the world.

The press release also includes a quote from Rodvik himself :

“With Cults & Daggers, I sought to explore beyond the traditional strategy game model of ‘build and fight’, and offer up a more cerebral experience,” said Humble, CEO of Chaphat. “At the same time, I wanted players to challenge themselves by navigating the chaotic web created by corruption, religious avarice and betrayal as rival factions vie for power.”

Rod Humble’s name still carries quite a lot of weight in the gaming community and this can be seen via some articles that have appeared about the game.

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Has Rod Humble Gone Techno?

When Rod Humble left Linden Lab he did so with a statement on Facebook that said in part :

I am starting up a company to make Art, Entertainment, and unusual things! More on that in a few weeks.

Since then, many many weeks later, we haven’t heard a lot. Puzzled by this I decided to do some investigating but could only really find links to articles about Rod Humble leaving Linden Lab. I had heard a whisper that I should be looking for a chap in a hat, but that really didn’t take me far. I did find one or two odd links, links that left one saying “No, that can’t be him.

I was about to call for assistance, I was halfway through writing a telegram to Inara Holmes when a certain odd link cried out to me :

Can I pimp my own stuff? I just released a techno / EDM album on iTunes & Amazon, woot!

My bands name is Chaphat and my Album is Outsurge.

This leads to an album on iTunes called Outsurge by a band called ChapHat.

Now you may be wondering what on earth stood out about that link, well it was the user who posted it, a certain Rod Humble, AKA Rodvik, from the San Francisco Bay area who also happens to be a fan of Aston Villa. Coincidence? Identity Theft? Neither can be ruled out, but there’s more.

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The Humble In The Jungle

Rod Humble’s departure has created a buzz, which is rather bizarrely being aided and abetted by Linden Lab’s lack of communication. This is one of the rare moments when their lack of communication may actually be useful.

Hamlet Au over at New World Notes has a post about what Rod Humble achieved during his years at Linden Lab but teases his readers with:

I haven’t received any official word from Linden Lab about the departure of their CEO Rod Humble …. but my guess is we’re about to get such a word (along with even larger news, perhaps), very soon. 

I don’t know what to make of that at all but it certainly piques the interest. The Opensim crowd have been quick to have their say on Rod Humble too, although many seem to want to pick up on issues that happened long before Rod Humble was at Linden Lab, such as interoperability and going back to the days when a proof of concept was made between Second Life and Opensim. Maria Korolov of Hypergrid Business has a post along these lines but which is presented in such a way that it’s well worth a read: An Open Letter To The Lindens.

The post discusses more than just teleports, it talks of business models, platforms and missed opportunities. Some will agree with large parts of the letter, others will disagree but there are some really well made points in there.

The Second Life Marketplace doesn’t need to be limited to Second Life. Right now, there is no viable multi-grid content marketplace for OpenSim, though Kitely Market is expected to open up to other grids in the next few weeks. But even if it does, the Second Life Marketplace would still overshadow it in terms of the amount of content available, even if only a fraction of merchants opt to enable the multi-grid delivery.

I can recall making a similar point to Pink regarding the potential for the Second Life marketplace selling to other grids, she didn’t shoot the suggestion down in flames. There could be potential there but with the recent tax and account issues I think Linden Lab are likely to shy away from selling content or trading virtual currencies anywhere but their own backyard.

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Rod Humble Years By Use Of Statistics And Tables

In this post I’m going to use tables to take a look at some statistics during the Rod Humble years. Allegations that this is just an excuse for me to remind myself how to do tables in HTML will be vehemently denied. I’ll be taking data largely from Tyche “Statto” Shepherd, which can be found at SLUniverse or from Tyche’s wonderfully useful site at

I’m basing the following tables on Tyche’s reports on January 16th 2011 and January 19th 2014.

Region Numbers

Type 16th Jan 2011 19th Jan 2014 Change
Estate 24,756 19,205 -5,551
Linden Owned 6,673 6,986 +313
Overall 31,429 26,191 -5,238

This is quite a painful table. A loss of over 5,500 private estate regions during three years, which comes in somewhere close to 22.4% by my reckoning. My reckoning may be out of course but that looks about right.

The loss in private regions had started before Rod Humble came onboard and although they certainly seemed to accelerate under his reign, the losses were slowing down by the time he left. I posted on January 4th that net private region losses were slowing down. During 2012 the net loss was 2,865 (12.0% during the year), in 2013 the net loss was 1,719 (8.2% during the year). I’m not sure what anyone can do to stem the loss of private regions at this stage.

Regions By Maturity Rating

Type 16th Jan 2011 19th Jan 2014 Change
Adult – Estate 2,043 4,074 +2,031
Adult – Linden 346 346 0
Adult – All 2,389 4,420 +2,031
General – Estate 3,047 1,931 -1,116
General – Linden 1,492 1,622 +130
General – All 4,539 3,553 -986
Moderate – Estate 19,663 13,196 -6,467
Moderate – Linden 4,835 5,018 +183
Moderate – All 24,498 18,214 -6,284

As we can see, during the three years Mr Humble was in charge, Second Life appeared to get more adult. Over 2,000 more Adult rated sims now furnish the grid than when he arrived in 2011. Adult rated private regions have almost doubled.

This seems to have come at the expense of moderate and general rated regions. Moderate region net losses were well over 6,000 and not far off 33%. General fared worse in terms of a percentage loss, at around 36.6%.

The usual caveats apply here, I don’t know why Adult ratings have risen so much but I do know that many an adult sim is not dedicated to full on adult activities. Some people just prefer to have the highest available rating to give them the most flexibility. This is why Moderate rated sims score so well, in the old days there were only two ratings and moderate (then known as mature) was the higher rating and therefore gave the most flexibility.

I’m sure someone somewhere may be able to delve further into the reasons for Adult becoming so popular, but it would be a painful task.

As one would expect, there’s not that much change in the numbers of Linden owned sims but there clearly were some additions.

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The Rod Humble Years- Improved Technology Combined With Poor Communication

As revealed yesterday, Rod Humble has departed Linden Lab after three years at the helm as CEO. Who the new Linden Lab CEO will regenerate as is not yet known, but Rod was the third or fourth regeneration of the Linden Lab CEO. This depends upon whether you count Bob Komin’s temporary stint as CEO. Fans of the franchise are divided upon whether Bob Komin was a legitimate regeneration.

Linden Lab announced Rod’s arrival in December 2010, although it is my understanding that he officially started work in January 2011. There was also a blog post in January 2011 when he arrived in Second Life in a toga. Early in his tenure he gave an impressive interview with Rock,Paper,Shotgun in which he explained some of the positives of Second Life:

What makes Second Life so intriguing to me is its hard to define nature. I have heard people call it a virtual world, a game, the 3d internet, a social media platform.. the list goes on. I like that kind of unresolved ambiguity, I think it shows something that is not yet fully evolved and has exciting new roads to discover. 

That interview also revealed that Rod had worked at Electronic Arts for six and a half years, which was the longest period he had worked anywhere, this is worth bearing in mind considering the recent news. Just shy of a couple of years into his tenure Rod gave another interview, this time to Giant Bomb, which shed light on this reasons for joining Second Life in the first place:

“When I was thinking about leaving EA,” said Humble during a recent meeting. “I was going to do my own company, and it was going to be around creative spaces–games that emphasize creativity tools more. When the opportunity came up and Linden Lab got in touch…first of all, Second Life? Is that still around? [laughs] I looked, and it was really, really healthy. Also, it was a company that was ready made to do a whole bunch of other products, which I wanted to do.”

This is also worth bearing in mind as Hamlet’s blog post on Rod’s departure includes his Facebook announcement about his departure in which he says:

I am starting up a company to make Art, Entertainment and unusual things! More on that in a few weeks!

Which sounds like he’s doing the sort of thing that he wanted to do before joining Linden Lab, the sort of thing he thought he could do with Linden Lab. Rod’s time at Linden Lab looks, on the face of it, to have been very good. He expanded the Linden Lab empire and put the Lab back into the Linden. However there were downsides during his reign.

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