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Reference Table Formatter

New Drupal Modules - 24 January 2015 - 8:25am

Reference Table Formatter allows you to render a table of fields on the target entity of a variety of different reference field types.

Currently support reference fields are:

The field formatter supports the following options:

Categories: Drupal

Commerce Stocked Default

New Drupal Modules - 24 January 2015 - 4:13am

This module has no UI, enable it to ensure that the default product shown to users on the add to cart form is an in-stock item. This is helpful for e-commerce stores with a large number of low stock product variants.

Categories: Drupal

User Picture Initials

New Drupal Modules - 24 January 2015 - 2:55am

This module replaces the "Default user picture" with the user's initials. So when the used didn't upload a picture, the website displays JD for John Doe, or simply A for Admin.

Using the module

Simply enable the module. That's all. No settings needed. It even comes with default CSS (see screenshot) and Views integration.

Categories: Drupal

cs_shadow: Tips for Google Summer of Code

Planet Drupal - 23 January 2015 - 2:41pm

Google Summer of Code 2015 is approaching and few people started asking me about how to get selected in GSoC 2015 and where to start. So I though to go ahead and write a blog post so that others can also benefit. This post targets students who have never participated in GSoC before and want to know how to get started with the application process and open source in general.

What is Google Summer of Code? How it works?

The GSoC FAQ page should suffice to answer most of your queries and I strongly suggest to go through it before looking anywhere else for answers.

Google Summer of Code is a program that offers student developers stipends to write code for various open source projects. We work with many open source, free software, and technology-related groups to identify and fund projects over a three month period. Since its inception in 2005, the program has brought together over 8,500 successful student participants from over countries and over 8,000 mentors from 109 countries worldwide to produce over 55 million lines of code.

So, basically this is how it works:

  • Different orgs (open source organizations) submit their applications to be part of the program and Google chooses about 190 of those based on their application and past record.
  • Once the orgs are selected, the list will be available on Melange. Each org will have an ideas list and a homepage.
  • You need to choose one of the ideas from the list on the ideas page and submit your proposal. (Details on this below)
  • Then you wait for Google to announce the list of selected proposals. If you find your proposal there, then the hardest part is over and now you code with your org for about three months and complete the proposed project.
  • If everything went smoothly so far, you'll get a handsome paycheck for your contribution and you'd have learnt a lot about your project, org and open source.
There are so many orgs, which one do I choose?

This is probably the single most asked question every year around this time. The answer is pretty straightforward if you're already involved with any open source organization and want to continue work with the same org, then go for that one. If the answer to the previous question is no (which might be the case for most of you reading this post), then you need to choose a few orgs from the list of all accepted orgs. Although you will finally work with only one org, it might be a nice idea to select 1-3 orgs to which you may submit your proposals. You can shortlist the orgs based based on tags, for example if you're familiar with C++, you can filter the orgs which have the C++ tags mentioned on Melange.

If the org list of this not out yet, you can look at the list of orgs which participated in GSoC last year. For instance, you can take a look at the list of orgs which took part in 2014 and 2013. Filter the orgs based on the tags you're either familiar with or want to work on. Orgs which participated in previous years and took in more than a couple of students are more likely to get accepted again this year. Based on this and your favorite tags, you filter out 1-3 orgs.

After this, the next task is to go through the idea list for those orgs and decide what ideas interest you most. If you don't fully understand the ideas, it's completely fine and the next step will be to get your doubts cleared up by contacting the org and/or the mentor of the task (more on this in the next section).

Okay, I've decided an org and project idea, what do I do next?

Once you've decided what project idea interests you most and some parts of the description are either unclear to you or you want to clarify a few details, you should get in touch with the task mentor and the organization in general. All the orgs have a contact section on Melange which will tell you how to contact the org. Most orgs prefer communication either via IRC or mailing lists so you can get in touch with the org. You can also ping the task mentor in IRC or mail him to clarify any doubts that you might have regarding the project.

Although its not compulsory, its usually a good idea to contribute to the org before sending your proposal. In order to that, you can ask questions like "Hey I'm new here, can anyone help me get started on how to contribute." either on IRC or the mailing lists. Since orgs get asked such questions very frequently, many of those have a 'Getting Started' page and if it'll be very helpful if you find that page and follow the instructions. If you've any doubts don't hesitate to ask those. Mentors are generally nice people and will help you through.

How to start contributing

Contributing to an org means either helping to fix bugs (issues), writing documentation or doing testing etc. All the orgs use an issue tracker to keep track of their issues/bugs and most of those orgs have a novice/beginner/quick-fix tag which lists tasks which are easy to fix for beginners. You can get more info on that by contacting the org. Contributing to open source is fun and if you're not having fun, you're doing it wrong.

Writing a good proposal

Once you've finalized the project idea, and have got started contributing to the org, the next and the most important step is to write a proposal. Many orgs have a application template of sorts and if your org has one, you need to follow that. Otherwise, you can start by specifying your personal information and then moving on to project description. Following are a few tips for writing your project proposal:

  • Include a detailed timeline based on how you intend to complete the project.
  • Make sure to list any bugs you've worked on and/or links to your contributions.
  • Double, actually triple check for spelling mistakes.
  • Don't forget to mention your contact info.
  • Last but not the least, don't forget to update Melange with your latest proposal.

Once your proposal is ready, you can ask the task mentor (and/or the org admin) to review it before you submit it finally to Melange. Ask them if you could explain any parts of it in a better manner and follow up on their feedback. The most important part is really understanding the project idea and reflecting that in your proposal.

Some Do's and Don'ts

Following are some miscellaneous tips for communicating with your org in a better manner:

  1. Don't ask to ask: Don't hesitate to ask any questions and its much better than asking something like "Hello! I ran into an isuue, can anyone help me?" Instead you're more likely to get a helpful answer by asking your real question instead of asking to ask your question.

  2. Be patient and don't spam: Once you've asked your question, wait for some time for someone to answer it. Its not a good idea to spam the channel again and again with the same question at short intervals.

  3. Mentors are humans (and volunteers): After mailing a mentor, at least wait for 48 hours for them to reply. You need to understand that they are humans and most of them contribute in their volunteer time.

  4. Use proper English language: Its really not a good idea to use SMS language while communicating on IRC or mailing lists. Also, note that excessive use of question marks is frowned upon. Although you need to be respectful, but addressing mentors as Sir/Ma'am is not such a great idea.

Final words

If you follow the steps mentioned above sincerely, you'll have a great chance of getting selected into GSoC this year. If you have any doubts, feel free to ask those in comments below.

PS: A little background about me

I was a Google Summer of Code student with Drupal in 2014 and org admin for Drupal in Google Code-In 2014.

Tags: Google Summer of Codegsocgsoc2015Drupal Planet
Categories: Drupal

Drupal Association News: India – Embracing a Contribution Culture

Planet Drupal - 23 January 2015 - 12:25pm

While we know there are over 33,000 Drupal developers around the globe, I had no idea how strong Drupal was in India until I was there with Rachel Friesen, scouting locations for a possible DrupaCon Asia. By meeting with the community at camps, meetups, and dinners, we saw first hand how strongly India is innovating with Drupal and contributing back to the Project.

When it comes to geographic referrals, India is second in driving traffic to However, they aren’t second in contributions, but things are changing. I was especially impressed with the relationship between Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Pfizer, a $51.5B life sciences company. Pfizer allows TCS to contribute their code, which is often not allowed for legal reasons. Since contributing back is a one of Pfizer’s top values, they asked TCS to make contribution part of their culture - and they did. At TCS, Rachit Gupta has created contribution programs that teach staff how to contribute and gives them time during work hours each week to contribute code. With a staff of several hundred developers, this can make TCS become a mighty contribution engine for the Project.

I’m equally impressed by other Indian web development consulting agencies that I met like Axelerant, Blisstering Solutions, Kellton Tech, and Srijan, who also have a contribution culture in their organizations. They even set up KPIs around staff contributions to make sure they are keeping this initiative top of mind.

While India celebrates its 68th birthday on January 25, it’s a time to celebrate its growth as a nation-- and, in its own way, Drupal has a hand in the country’s prosperity., a Drupal job search site, shows there are over 15,000 Drupal jobs in India.  All of the companies I talked to are growing their teams to meet that demand. Imagine if this contribution culture is fully embraced by Indian web development companies? The impact on the Project will be significant.

Individuals are also stepping up to support the Project and there is a passion for contribution that is spreading. I keynoted DrupalCamp Delhi, where over 1,000 people registered and 575 people attended. I saw first hand how dedicated the organizers were to make the event informative and fun. Several sprint mentors were on hand to lead more than 75 people through a full day sprint. Plus, the following weekend was Global Sprint Weekend and sprints popped up all over India in Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Hyderabad and Pune.

Not only are Drupalers in India helping the Project, but they are also using Drupal to create change in India with leapfrog solutions that give Indians access to more digital services. For example, many villages don’t have access to products found in major cities due to lack of infrastructure. The village stores simply can’t scale to buy and hold large quantities of inventory.

Iksula, an Indian eRetail consulting agency,  created a headless Drupal solution for Big Bazaar, India’s largest hypermarket, which provides lightweight tablets for store owners throughout India. Using those tablets, villagers can go into their local store and buy their goods online. The products are delivered to the shop owner, who hand delivers products to the consumer, giving people easier access to goods that can improve their quality of life.

As another example, we can look at IIT Bombay, India’s top engineering university, which uses Drupal at the departmental level. Professors P Sunthar and Kannan are taking Drupal to the masses by creating a MOOC in conjunction with MIT’s EDx. The work is funded by a government initiative called FOSSEE (Free and Open Source Software for Education), and through it, Indian university students can watch videos on several open source technologies, including Drupal.

The initiative bridges learning divides by providing the trainings in several languages found throughout India and provides low cost tablets for students who do not have a personal computer. This well thought-out program can help students learn the tools faster to meet the needs of of future employers. 

India has clearly embraced Drupal. They are making innovative solutions with the software and they are learning to contribute that back to the Project. Its for these reasons we want to host DrupalCon Asia. It will be a chance to highlight India’s Drupal talent and accelerate their adoption of a contribution culture.

A huge thank you to Chakrapani R, Hussain Abbas, Rahul Dewal, Jacob Singh, Mayank Chadha, Parth Gohil, Ankur Gupta, Piyush Poddar, Karanjit Singh, Mahesh Bukka, Vishal Singhal, Ani Gupta, Rachit Gupta, Sunit Gala, Professor P Sunthar and all the other community members who helped organize our trip to India. I’m personally moved and professionally inspired by all that you do.

Image credit to DrupalCamp Delhi

Categories: Drupal

Numbers in games: What they say about us

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 23 January 2015 - 10:01am

"Clearly I seem to be drawn to games about numbers going up. But the truth of the matter is the numbers in games mean things -- they represent complex systems, whether ecosystems, economies or relationships." ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Rappan Athuk 2014 Expansions Pathfinder

New RPG Product Reviews - 23 January 2015 - 7:52am
Publisher: Frog God Games
Rating: 4
An review

This massive book of expansion-levels for Rappan Athuk clocks in at 165 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC,1 page back cover, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 159 pages of content, so let's take a look...

...but before, let me say one thing - this review is my Razor Coast. This review crashed and burned (!!!) times, with all data gone; Once on my laptop, once due to my mobile HD being stolen and once due to my desktop PC's HD crashing. I've literally written this review 3 times, only to have it crash before I had the chance to back it up. So let's get this posted before my desktop PC dies...again.

This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion. Got that?


So, after a brief introduction we receive the first of 4 new wilderness areas, Castle Calaelen. Situated west of Zelkor's Ferry and north of the mouth of doom, this locale makes for a good starting adventure in case your players are not hardcore enough for the dangers that lurk below the surface - the base of operations for a few goblins and their gnoll mercenaries. The castle itself sports relatively meager defenses and breathes a sense of a world that has turned onwards, that has left its heyday behind - with grim traps like trapped goblin tea parties, an infernal raven and finally the option to save an innocent gentleman (of half-orc stock), the level did remind me of the starting modules of old and is probably as close as Frog God Games gets to providing an easy introductory module. Bits and pieces that can turn nasty are here, but overall, the castle probably is the easiest thing to have been released under the Lost Land-banner. And generally, I wouldn't complain here - it's a nice place. When compared to the challenge that Crucible of Freya (nowadays collected in the Stoneheart Valley-anthology) posed, the attention to detail with light sources, shifts etc., I can't help but feel that this castle is meant to ease new players into the feel and playstyle. What I'm trying to say is - don't expect this chapter to challenge your players too much.

The second new wilderness area would be Hell's Hamlet - and scarcely has a moniker been so fitting. The town of Mitchrod is firmly in the hands of the forces infernal, with multiple examples of devils existing among the predominantly hobgoblin populace. Now here's the catch - no one like apocalyptic demon cults, not even the devils. Hence, this village may be tackled in two ways - on the one hand, your players could well opt to scourge the opposition, rooting this taint from the land. On the other hand, less scrupulous characters may well opt to throw in their lot with the village - after all, legendary Demonbane was wrought in the smithies of hell... Personally, I consider non-hostile interaction to be the more rewarding option here, mainly because this city and its inhabitants and guardians are unique in all the right ways - from the delightfully odd tin-man guardian golem to the kyton that may very well resurrect your allies to hallucinogenic mushrooms, there is a lot cool stuff to discovered - and in the vast depths of Rappan Athuk, there are plainly enough creatures for your PCs to jab their pointy sticks into...a bit of social roleplaying won't hurt them, especially if sprinkled with a healthy anxiety at the practices of their...hosts?

The third "encounter" is perhaps the oddest herein -assuming the PCs venture towards Rappan Athuk by sea, their vessel is attacked and they, by some means or another, are deployed into pirate captivity, only to be able to escape their bounds and into the wilderness. This may sound some alarm bells - and indeed, as the introduction acknowledges, this section may well seem contrived and forced if not handled properly. However, the good thing here would be that the main meat of this section is NOT about the somewhat railroady event, which imho can be potentially skipped, but rather about the survival action in the middle of a vast forest - from odd food to a variety of disturbing daemonic entities with unique tricks, guided by a malevolent will, the PCs will have quite a lot of exploration to do to toughen them up before they can return to the "safety" of civilization. That being said, while I do really, really like this survival aspect, the encounters, scavenging tables etc., I have to admit that I consider the tie-in to Rappan Athuk, both in theme and execution, to be almost non-existent. My advice is to run this as a stand-alone - it probably works better than beating PCs expecting a dungeon-campaign over the head with such a module. It's a good module, though not a perfect one and the glaring tactical errors the evil entity executes, while explained and rationalized by the author, might come off as DM-fiat to some players - experienced DMs can pull this off and make it very memorable and awesome, though.

The 4th wilderness encounter/following dungeon levels would be the Tunnels of Terror, situated in a ruined keep and guarded by bandits - and believe me when I say, these levels are on par with what one would expect from Rappan Athuk - the first level's map spans three whole pages. On its own. Level 2C and 3D would be the extensions of this massive dungeon. (Well...massive in relative terms when compared to other FGG-dungeons, but you get what I mean...) If you want to mince no words, make no false pretensions of Rappan Athuk being anything but deadly - well, here we'd have a neat example why a dungeon like this ought to be feared. Stone Ropers at CR 6, level 7 priests (yes, the channel energy WILL kill the party if they are not VERY careful...), death traps - while not as nasty as big ole' RA itself and terrain-wise, relatively conventional, this place is a challenge. On the downside, at least in my opinion, it does not add that much to the overall myth of Rappan Athuk. Hidden very powerful demons? Tsathar, bandits? Yep - you know the drill and unlike other examples of the Tsathar being their awesome, froggy selves, they may be the lesser of the evils in this case...which somewhat detracts from and diminishes their antediluvian demon-god/great-old-one crossover flair...but that may be me just being a fanboy for them. The tie-in regarding actually working for them may make for a hideous twist of fate near the end-game...after all, FGG has a module called "Against Tsathogga..."

Level 2C, as mentioned, contains the second level of the tunnels, and is not smaller - the temple of Tsathogga, blind albino frogs, magic mirrors - a nice example of an evil temple underground, though honestly, I considered the temple to be somewhat disappointing regarding terrain - some more unique hazards, flooded passages, unique traps etc. would have helped setting this temple further apart from all the Orcus-temples in main RA: The level also contains the Rainbow Vault and its riddles - pity that a tie-in/synergy with the Hall of the Rainbow Mage has been omitted here. One note - while I do love the puzzles on this level, I'm not a fan of ROYGBIV being a part of a puzzle's solution - that's mostly meta-gaming convention and knowledge and furthermore makes me flash back to Sam and Max Season 1. (The game, not the animated series..) Note that this is me being nitpicky, though - after all, there are the prismatic spells.... Speaking of puzzles - the final section of this level sports multiple statues that can be turned. to turn them, though, certain pillars have to be unlocked and rotated, but there also are pillars that activate traps - THANKFULLY, a massive sidebox explains this puzzle. As much as love complex puzzles like this, I do not advocate the way it is presented - it's a matter of taste, but I'm not a fan of Myst-style puzzles where you have a complex mechanism and then essentially guess what you're supposed to be doing. While not absolutely required to progress in the overall scheme of things, a general, cryptic clue, a visual abstraction of the level, which then can be identified by the players if their mapping-skills are up to par - some clue where and how to tackle this one would have been appreciated by quite a lot of players. Now don't get me wrong - in my book, we need challenges like this more often...but some hints to prevent trial and error would be more than welcome.

The final level of the tunnels contains another temple of Orcus (One more? So what does this one do if you deactivate it?), which generally feels a bit out of place. Oh well, at least the opposition, making ample use of Tome of Horrors 4, is pretty unique and the option to save a djinn is nice as well. Also a pity - this place is supposed to be created by an advance force from Tsar - so where's the optional tie-in to that place? Lost chance here. And yes, I'm complaining at a high level here, I'm aware of that. Now the second section of this dungeon-level is once again up to grisly lethality - golems, vampires, uncommon undead - all you'd expect from Rappan Athuk, yet still in a fresh guise. Nice!

Level 6B would present the PCs with perhaps the most lethal of adversaries possible - adventurers. undead ones at that. In their home-turf, with plenty of servants. And unique puzzle-creatures that are smart...and a nice nod towards Silent Hill 4's ghosts. Have I mentioned the friendly undead dragon wishing to chomp on your PCs? GLORIOUS.

We close this pdf with various encounters/NPCs to be inserted at your whim into your game, as well as an appendix that depicts the Disciple of Orcus PrC and the new monsters.


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to FGG's printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard, with plenty of neat cartography and high-quality original artworks, though there are no player-friendly versions of the maps, which constitutes a detriment in my book. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience. Inexplicably, an index listing at one convenient glance the danger levels and exits/entries of the respective individual levels has been omitted - a pity, since RA already requires a lot of book-keeping on the DM's side and help like that would have been appreciated.

Bill Webb, Alex Clatworthy, James Redmon and Skeeter Green have woven more Rappan Athuk...but can it hold up to the original? Yes...and no. On the one hand, this tome is an example of excellent old-school adventure-craft - each and every piece of content breathes the spirit of what is great and awesome about old-school modules. On the other hand, though, the different voices show. I've been struggling quite a while with myself for this one. Why? Because I am honestly not sure whether it's just me. It might be very much possible that I'm burned out on Orcus-priests and their undead minions after Slumbering TSar and Rappa Athuk. On bandits occupying a ruined fortress as well. I can't be sure. It does feel like, at least partially and at least to me, though, as if I've seen some of the tricks herein done better Rappan Athuk. Does every level herein have some part of that old-school magic? Yes! How could one NOT like gold-pooping, purring, fungus-shaped dwarf-affine pets that pose as rocks to avoid detection by certain races? How could one not like actual riddles that challenge one's mind beyond just rolling dice? This compilation offers quite a few examples of what is awesome about old-school adventuring.

To give you an example, the wilderness-survival module, in spite of its problematic beginning, is modular enough, with all its cool daemonic critters, to incite one's imagination. The puzzles are glorious, if not always perfect in their hint-distribution. Evil undead adventurers groups? Heck yeah! On the other hand, getting YET ANOTHER shrine of Orcus (sans bearing on the metaplot), getting a Tsathar domain that simply isn't as alien or partially, as interesting, as it could be...feel disappointing on a very high level. This expansion is best in the cases it truly enhances Rappan Athuk - by providing social encounters, a whole hamlet to interact with, by its distinct challenges. Alas, not all of this expansion is devoted to that - there are examples I'd consider derivative of the main module. This may be intentional. Perhaps it's just me after reading and purchasing 3 iterations of the dungeon + Slumbering Tsar...but it takes more to wow me than a couple of named NPCs, acolytes, undead and demons on a level devoted to Orcus to blow me away. Is it thematically coherent when it happens? Yes. Is it stellar? Alas, no.

Heart of the Razor - while not perfect, provided thematic, culturally relevant expansions to the main book. This one does so as a couple of cases. In others, it fails to deliver them. In the superb wilderness module, for example, some kind of permanent boon would have most definitely been appropriate. Is this worth being purchased for Rappan Athuk? Yes. As a stand-alone? Yes. Is it required or perfect? No. This is a fun book, a good book, but falls short of the level of quality delivered in the new levels of PFRPG's iteration of RA - the level of awesomeness of a certain level with planar awesomeness as an organic, fitting change of pace, is absent from the book.

I really like components of this book, ESPECIALLY the fact that it demands that your players use their brains. But it also has some components that left me underwhelmed at a very high level. In a context that was not Frog God Games, I'd probably be singing praises on how this module is almost on par with Frog God Games' mastery of old-school modules. So what's my final verdict? Honestly, I've been somewhat underwhelmed by a couple of levels, but at the same time, I've really, really liked several ideas herein - hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars - a good compilation to have, but not a must-have.

Endzitgeist out.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Get community management tips from MMO experts at GDC 2015

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 23 January 2015 - 7:00am

At GDC 2015, veteran online game developers Raph Koster, Richard Vogel and Gordon Walton will team up to discuss smart, effective community management practices. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Getting Comfortable With Uncertainty

Gnome Stew - 23 January 2015 - 3:00am

I just recently started a Night’s Black Agents campaign and while prepping for my first session, I found that what I prepped was far less than I normally would write out. When I looked at what I was leaving out, I saw that it was all the contingency material; all the “if they do this, then this happens”. It was then I realized that I did not need that anymore, because I would react to what the players came up with and roll with it. I had become comfortable with uncertainty.

What’s Happens Next?

From the start of the hobby there has always been uncertainty in RPGs. The nature of the collaborative storytelling in RPGs means that as a GM, we are only in control of a small fraction of the game. Once we describe the room, what happens next falls to the players and the choices they make. We then react, the GM reacts, and then it’s back and forth until the scene is complete.

Depending on how comfortable you are with uncertainty will determine how smoothly that back-and-forth with the players will be. If you have a low level of comfort, you will consciously and unconsciously steer the players into the areas you have prepared. At higher levels of comfort, you will wait to see what the players come up with, and then react.

I speculate that dealing with uncertainty is one of the reasons that some people do not want to GM. There is a fear that they won’t know what to do next. The truth is that we are often better at this than we give ourselves credit. Also, this is a learned skill, so even if we are not adept when we start, we can grow into a higher level of comfort.

The Pitfalls of Overcompensation

When you have a low level of comfort with uncertainty you tend to overcompensate. There is a need to create certainty so that the game remains in a comfort zone where you, as GM, can perform. Not that there is any wrong-bad-fun, but when take to an extreme you run the risk of compromising the fun for yourself or worse, for the entire group. Here are some common ways that overcompensating can go wrong:


I am betting that this is the most common case. Over-prep is when a GM documents numerous contingencies in their prep, preparing for anything the players can think of during the session. The obvious downside to this is that its time consuming for the GM, and raises the dangers of GM Burnout. For the group, its the least invasive because the GM shoulders the burden for their lack of comfort, and in most cases the players are oblivious to all the work their GM has done.


The dreaded R word! When you have a low level of comfort, you want the game to stick with the stuff you know; be it your written notes or the prepared adventure you are running. So when the players take an unexpected turn, you are forced to get them back into your comfort zone.

This can be subtle, such as giving the illusion of choice but behind the screen steering encounters into the players path to get back into the comfort zone. Done at this level, this is mostly harmless, but its not a true experience. (Confession, I was a master of this and did it for years, and had many good experiences.)

Or, it can be overt, by shutting down players ideas, or making the outcomes of their actions meaningless; the truest form of railroading. This is far more obvious to the players, and leads to player resentment, which can collapse a game.

GM Boredom

It took me years to understand this, but when you keep the game in your comfort zone and either prep for everything that can happen or herd the players, it’s boring always knowing what will happen. When you are a player, an RPG is exciting, you don’t know what is behind the next door, or what will happen next. When you are GM, especially one with a low tolerance for uncertainty, you always know what is going to happen next. Over time, it’s not exciting and leads to boredom. Once bored, a GM’s passion for the game wanes, and then it is only a matter of time before the campaign dies a slow quiet death.

I Wasn’t Always This Comfortable

There are two forces that create uncertainty: your skill, and your trust in your players. If you have a low level of comfort for uncertainty, you need to address one or both of these areas. Here are a few quick tips for both.

Your Skill

If you want to be able to handle uncertainty better, you need to sharpen your ability to run the game.

  • Know your game – learn the rules and be comfortable making rulings, finding obscure rules, etc.
  • Discover your weaknesses – reflect on what parts of a game make you more anxious than others.
  • Prep for your weaknesses – bad at names? Get a name generator app or print a list of names.
  • Learn story structure – the more knowledgeable you are about story structures and storytelling the easier it will be for you to come up with something on the fly.
  • Learn improv techniques – even if you don’t play small-book, write-sad-things-on-index-cards games, you will benefit from learning improv techniques (see Unframed).
Trust In Players

Since your players are going to be the ones responsible for taking the game into the uncertain, you need to have trust in them. Here are ways to build your trust:

  • Create a shared vision – when you are setting up your campaign framework (see Odyssey), make sure players know what the campaign is about and the role of the characters.
  • Understand you are all in it together. Make sure that everyone at the table understands that this is not a GM vs. Player endeavor but rather a group effort to tell a great story.
  • Debrief – when the game is over, take time to go over what happened, talk about what worked, where it could be smoother.
  • Tune your team – some people are not team players, some people are chaos makers, and when given the trust to drive part of the game, they run it into a wall for their amusement. You don’t have to play with those people if they are working against what you and the group are trying to play.
Cozy Up To Uncertainty

Looking back, I was not always comfortable with uncertainty in my games. I would say my rising level of comfort is something that has evolved over the last five years. If you want to know more about my own journey you can read about it in Unframed. The short version is that out of boredom, I started to give up my control of the game and found great joy in the excitement of not knowing what was going to happen next. Today, my prep is less, my games are more fluid, and my groups are having more fun.

Uncertainty is a scary thing, but it is also an integral part of our hobby. Rather than tightly gripping onto your campaign, learn to let go and embrace that uncertainty, to make the game more enjoyable for yourself.

How comfortable are you with uncertainty in your games? What do you do or have you done to mitigate uncertainty in your games? What things would you like to let go of to embrace uncertainty?

Categories: Game Theory & Design


New Drupal Modules - 23 January 2015 - 2:53am

Will be uploaded shortly, after initial code reviews are complete.

Categories: Drupal

Commerce Default Product Variant

New Drupal Modules - 23 January 2015 - 2:21am

A very simple module that helps the end users set the "default" product variant, that shows up on the Product Display page.

Categories: Drupal


New Drupal Modules - 23 January 2015 - 1:38am
Categories: Drupal

OpenLucius: Drupal REST Web Services - What, why and how

Planet Drupal - 23 January 2015 - 1:06am

So, here at Lucius HQ we are planning on building a RESTful API (web services) on top on Drupal distribution OpenLucius.

We want to do this so all 3rd party programmers, thus 3rd party applications, can integrate with OpenLucius. And not only Drupal developers and Drupal modules. 

Categories: Drupal

Iron Kingdoms Unleashed: Map Tiles and Tokens

RPGNet - 23 January 2015 - 12:00am
A look at the other components of Iron Kingdoms Unleashed.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Sales Figures for FREEDIVING HUNTER: A Unique Underwater Shooter for iOS - by Carlos Suarez Blogs - 22 January 2015 - 11:01pm
Indie game developer Carlos Suarez gives an informal post mortem of his iOS game, Freediving Hunter, including sales numbers.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Unity3D Issue Fix – Timestamps and assets maps out of sync - by Wajahat Karim Blogs - 22 January 2015 - 11:01pm
After opening Unity3D to start working, when you see that there is not a single asset and game object in the scene, you will know that all the hard work of your game development have been gone due to minor Unity bug and you don't know why.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Is your mobile game or website complying with this new California law? - by Zachary Strebeck Blogs - 22 January 2015 - 11:01pm
Game lawyer Zachary Strebeck discusses a new California that may apply to website and mobile app developers who direct their services toward minors.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Global Game Jam 2015 in Reunion island... Time to celebrate Creation! - by Thierry Brochart Blogs - 22 January 2015 - 11:01pm
It's GGJ15's day in Reunion as in the world! Reunion, a french island lost in the indian ocean, and well know for it's mixity of cultures and religions, which we are so proud of... Today, no more sorrow, let's celebrate Creation!
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Postmortem: Starpoint Gemini 2 – Living the dream… - by Mario Mihokovic Blogs - 22 January 2015 - 11:01pm
Dust settled down a little bit, we have survived a crunch time and killer release...what did we learn already?
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Table Migration

New Drupal Modules - 22 January 2015 - 7:14pm

When migrate from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7, there are several tables in Drupal 6 which is the same as Drupal 7.
What I need do is copy it from Drupal6 to Drupal7. So I decide write a general module base on migrate to solve this issue.

If I migrate uc_addresses from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7, base on this module, it is very easy:

Categories: Drupal
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