Game Design

More Crucible Guard Releases Available From Privateer Press

Tabletop Gaming News - 20 July 2018 - 3:00pm
Warmachine’s latest faction, the Crucible Guard, are hitting battlefields the world over. The starter army and a little more was released last week, but it’s time to bulk up your forces some more. The new Heavy Warjack kit, as well as a new unit and command attachment are ready to head to war. Source
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Harn Christmas in July Sale Happening Now

Tabletop Gaming News - 20 July 2018 - 2:00pm
Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas in July! I’m Santa Paws and I’m here to give gifts to all the good little gamers out there. In this case, it’s a special sale on everything Harn. You can get 25% off your order by using the special coupon code. From the announcement: HârnWorld: Christmas In July – […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Fray: The Restless Sea RPG Up On Kickstarter

Tabletop Gaming News - 20 July 2018 - 1:00pm
Yo ho, yo ho, a sailor’s life for me. Take to the oceans with Fray: The Restless Sea, a new RPG setting and system that’s up on Kickstarter now. Two coastal city-states are on the precipice of war. Into this, you find your PCs. Will you favor one place over the other? Try and avoid […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

New French Releases For Team Yankee

Tabletop Gaming News - 20 July 2018 - 12:00pm
When it comes to World Wars, the French have had a rather tough time at it. Usually one of the first countries singled out for attack, they’ve had to twice fight off enemy troops from within their borders. They’re looking to make sure that WWIII isn’t a repeat, and have the arms, equipment, and troops […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

The challenge of designing Overwatch maps when players can get 'literally everywhere'

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 20 July 2018 - 11:45am

In an interview with VG 24/7, Overwatch lead designer Geoff Goodman looks back to early conversations he had with the team about designing future-proof levels. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Friday Snippets

Tabletop Gaming News - 20 July 2018 - 11:00am
Happy Weekend Eve! As always, I’m excited that it’s Friday. I’ve got D&D tonight and then a weekend of cleaning. But hey, there’s still some gaming in there. But before I pretend I’m a blue dragonborn and then go all domestic on my domicile, I need to fill up on some bite-sized gaming stories. Today […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Defiance 2050 developer Trion Worlds lays off 15 staff

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 20 July 2018 - 10:03am

Trion Worlds, known for multiplayer online games like Rift and ArcheAge, has laid off 15 developers, seemingly across multiple disciplines. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Latest Issue of Irregular Magazine Now Available

Tabletop Gaming News - 20 July 2018 - 10:00am
The lines at San Diego Comic Con can be really, really, really long. So, what do you do while you’re standing in line (or, you know, if you’re not one of the people there and just have some time on your hands)? You read a gaming magazine! And Irregular Magazine has their latest issue now […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Renegade Game Studio Running Outbreak: Undead Survival Scavenger Hunt at Gen Con

Tabletop Gaming News - 20 July 2018 - 9:00am
Ok, I have to admit, this sounds pretty cool. Renegade Game Studio, to celebrate their upcoming Outbreak Undead Survival Guide, is running a special Outbreak Undead Survival Scavenger Hunt at Gen Con. It’s part Assassin, it’s part Scavenger Hunt, it’s part Augmented Reality. From the announcement: The world is overrun with undead. Humanity has turned […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Building a Home: How to Construct a Card Game - by Nicholas Kinstler

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 20 July 2018 - 8:11am
With a card game set featuring anywhere from 80 to 200+ cards, documentation and organization is incredibly important. In this article, Nick Kinstler explains what a card file is and provides an outline of the card game development process.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

The Appeal of the Shop Simulator Genre - by Josh Bycer

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 20 July 2018 - 8:10am
The Shop Simulator Genre has grown among Indie and Mobile developers over this decade, but many designers still fail to understand what makes the genre's mix of combat and shop management so endearing that we still remember Recettear.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Level design: Tricks of the trade - by Jonathon Wilson

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 20 July 2018 - 8:01am
In this post, I look into some of the various level design techniques that can be used during the level creation process, that can help to communicate your design intent and direct the player through a level.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

New Way of the Fighter Pack Available From Ninja Division

Tabletop Gaming News - 20 July 2018 - 8:00am
Any good fighting game is going to have a large variety of fighters to choose from. You don’t want to end up facing off with just the same 3-4 time and time again. That gets old. Well, Way of the Fighter is adding to its select screen of fighters with a new pack, bringing two […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Textual Procedural Generation and Narration: Generalities, Opinions, Tips and Perspectives. - by Fibre Tigre

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 20 July 2018 - 8:00am
After reviewing basic techniques for narrative writing in games and less basic ones, such as the use of AI, we propose the idea of a narrative and lore design emerging from the actions of the players.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Designing and implementing a pool allocator data structure for memory management in games - by Mateus Gondim Lima

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 20 July 2018 - 7:57am
A Implementation of a Pool allocator data structure in C++ for memory management.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

John Kovalic’s Charity Bike Ride Fundraiser Going On Now

Tabletop Gaming News - 20 July 2018 - 7:00am
Every year, John Kovalic, artist extraordinaire who has done work for projects like Cash ‘n’ Guns, Munchkin, and his Dork Tower series of comics (along with many, many, many others) does a charity bikeride event. The event raises money to bring healthy food to underprivileged people around Kovalic’s hometown. It’s a good cause, you can […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Z-Man Taking Pre-Orders For Pandemic 10th Anniversary Edition

Tabletop Gaming News - 20 July 2018 - 6:00am
Hard to believe, but Pandemic has been around for 10 years. A full decade of sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy heads, and fevers. With this milestone being reached, Z-Man Games is coming out with a special 10th anniversary edition of the game. Pre-orders are being taken now, and those that are lucky will get a […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Actual Play, Character Death, and Fan Toxicity

Gnome Stew - 20 July 2018 - 12:00am

The two parties from Critical Role’s two campaigns, as drawn by @GalacticJonah. Used with permission.

An interesting RPG related convergence happened this week. The incident brought into alignment the burgeoning spotlight of Actual Play entertainment, the continuing specter of character death, and the rising levels of toxic fan behavior. Yeah, I’m going to talk about some spoilers for a recent episode of Critical Role and the reaction it received, so spoiler warnings for any Critical Role fans that aren’t up-to-date.

Mollymauk and Yasha by @rachebones. Used with permission.

In full disclosure, I do not regularly watch or listen to Critical Role. I’ve taken in some of their one-off episodes, but I haven’t had the time to take in the full series, either of the original Vox Machina campaign or the new Mighty Nein campaign. I do, though, have several friends who follow the show at varying levels of devotion, so I am peripherally aware of the show’s current events. I do know that I admire Matthew Mercer’s abilities as a GM and how he brings the game world around the players to life.

So, those that aren’t in the know are probably wondering what I’m going on about. Critical Role’s episode that dropped on July 12th included the death of one of the player characters. Most fans took to Twitter in shock and grief at the loss of a beloved character, but a large enough segment of the fan base decided this character death was justification to declare war on Mercer and the guest player, Ashly Burch. Thankfully, most of those attacks seem to have been drowned out by the support of fans, but it was enough of a problem that several cast members asked people to chill out and Mercer himself even commented on it from his own Twitter account.

Actual Play podcasts and streams are an interesting development in the hobby and Critical Role is probably the farthest-reaching example of the medium. For those unfamiliar, Actual Play refers to live or recorded game sessions that are then served up as entertainment. I’m sure that game sessions have been recorded as long as gamers have had access to video recording equipment, but it’s only in the last few years that this particular type of entertainment has started rising in popularity. The level of editing on Actual Play shows can vary from show to show, with some going for the authenticity of the game play to others editing down to just the narrative. Our very own Senda and Chris are both involved in Actual Play podcasts, with Chris being part of the Wednesday Evening Podcast All-Stars, while Senda is one half of She’s a Super Geek (where you can listen to the session of Masks I ran for the show last year).

Critical Role has been running since 2015 and the GM and the players are all professional actors, so the quality of roleplay and improvisation takes the entertainment to a different level. Their episodes are aired live, so get no editing, but with the level of acting talent the cast has, that almost doesn’t matter. As of their 100th episode last summer, the show had hit 68 million views. Whatever you think of the show, it’s done a great deal to spread awareness and interest in 5th edition D&D and RPGs in general. It’s brought the hobby to a far wider audience than I could have possibly imagined ten years ago.

Of course, the growing popularity of Critical Role and Actual Play podcasts brings up an interesting dilemma as strangers are invited to ‘watch’ a game being played as if it were a scripted show or movie. As much as I love being true to the narrative and leaning into the cinematic qualities of roleplaying games, we all know that games don’t always work out as neatly as a scripted show can. But if you’re recording your game as entertainment, your audience has expectations and that’s where things took a turn for the ugly for some of the fans of the show.

Another image of Mollymauk by @rachebones. Used with permission.

Character death, especially when it’s dramatic and tense, can be tough to deal with. Back in the day, I saw immature players have total meltdowns when a character unexpectedly died, and I’m sure others have similar stories. Even if you are mature enough to deal with it, it can still knock the wind out of you as you say goodbye to a beloved character you’d carried through so many other adventures.

Now take those emotions and give them to thousands upon thousands of fans watching/listening as the scene is being played out. They’ve become just as invested in that character as the player. If you want to see how deeply this affected fans, just take a Twitter stroll through #mollymauk and you’ll see the mourning of fans through both words and amazing artwork.

But add in a dash of toxic fandom. Take that sense of ownership fans develop for their favorite properties and combine that with the anonymity of the internet, creating the freedom to be a troll. You end up with a small, but not insignificant, portion of the fans attacking the very GM that has guided something they’ve loved for hundreds of episodes. Or attacking the guest player of the character they felt screwed up and didn’t do enough. Welcome to the internet age and the way toxic fans destroy that which they love.

Fandom devotion to the things they love is nothing new and doesn’t have to be destructive. At the dawn of the last century, letters from devoted fans helped convince Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to write Sherlock Holmes out of his previously established death and into more stories. In the late 1960’s to the early to mid 1970’s, Star Trek was saved by fans creating a thriving community around a canceled TV show, eventually convincing Hollywood the property might still have life left in it. In May of 2007, concerned fans sent 20 tons of various nuts to CBS in an attempt to save Jericho from cancellation. The studio begged fans to stop sending them nuts and renewed the show. I don’t think it had anything to do with peanut allergies, but who knows.

 It’s as if a whole wave of people saw or read Stephen King’s Misery and decided Annie Wilkes should be their role model on how fans treat the creators of their favorite thing. Share414Tweet73+11Reddit1Email

Entitled and obnoxious fans have always existed among the hordes, but the digital age of social media that we live in now has given these jerks an opportunity to have their vitriol heard in ways they never had before. Now we end up with things like Ghostbuster ‘fans’ forcing Leslie Jones to leave Twitter after a barrage of attacks. Or Kelly Marie Tran and Daisy Ridley from Star Wars both deleting their Instagram accounts because dealing with the trolls was getting to be too much. Or the whole Szechuan sauce debacle from Rick and Morty fans. It’s as if a whole wave of people saw or read Stephen King’s Misery and decided Annie Wilkes should be their role model on how fans treat the creators of their favorite thing.

While we definitely have some problematic corners of the RPG hobby, it’s weird seeing this particular type of problem of toxic entitlement happening here. Thankfully, this particular incident has been drowned out by waves of support from fans. You have to really dig to find some of the nastier tweets or posts about the topic, so most of what you’ll find are the cast or fan reactions to the hate.

It’s a weird place to be in, where a roleplaying game’s character death created a backlash from people who weren’t even playing the game. My final takeaway from this is to just remind people to not let your friends be this toxic type of fan. Remind them that ‘We don’t do that here’. And even if you’re upset at the direction something you love is going, don’t be that jerk. Don’t be an Annie Wilkes.

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Skirmisher Publishing Releases Men & Monsters of Polynesia

Tabletop Gaming News - 19 July 2018 - 3:00pm
All around the world, different peoples have their various tales and legends. Strange monsters, mythical heroes, lost civilizations, fantastic locations. Skirmisher Publishing looks to bring those to your tabletop. Their latest release heads to the islands with Men & Monsters of Polynesia. From the announcement: One of the most fascinating regions of our own world […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Looney Labs Announces Two Star Trek Fluxx Games

Tabletop Gaming News - 19 July 2018 - 2:00pm
Fluxx is boldly going where no Fluxx has gone before! Looney Labs has announced the release of two new Fluxx games, based on the acclaimed Star Trek franchise. One gives you classic Trek, while the other delves into The Next Generation. Want to play them together? There’s the Bridge Expansion for that. Just might want […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

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