Game Design

New Hordes Preview From Privateer Press

Tabletop Gaming News - 1 November 2017 - 8:00am
Can you believe that January is only 2 months away? Well, it is, and Privateer’s got another look at one of the models they’ll be bringing you then. This one’s a new incarnation of a previous warlock. Bloody Barnabas has transcended from being a mere gatorman to a force of nature. His new version will […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Z-Man Games Announces Agents of Venice Expansion For The Voyages of Marco Polo

Tabletop Gaming News - 1 November 2017 - 7:00am
The voyages of Marco Polo are legendary. There’s many conflicting tales of what he did, where he went, and what he brought back, simply because it was seen as such a big deal. It’s so mythical that there’s games based on him, such as The Voyages of Marco Polo. That one, in particular, is getting […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Barcelona Games World 2017 Recap - by Barbara Posada

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 1 November 2017 - 6:52am
Barcelona Games World broke all the participation records from 2016, with 35% more companies and 11% higher attendance. It’s only the second year, but the consensus among press is that BGW has a has already become the video game referral event in Spain.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

How to hit deadlines in the games industry - by Lottie Wilson

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 1 November 2017 - 6:51am
The life of a games programmer is hectic and full of ups and downs.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Accents and Dialects in Games—Yay or Nay? - by Marianna Sacra

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 1 November 2017 - 6:51am
Should we write and translate dialects or accents in games? What are the risks?
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Developing Your Original Story - by Leon Daydreamer

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 1 November 2017 - 6:50am
How do you create your original story when your ideas are influenced by the things you experienced and been exposed to?
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Latest Releases Available to Order From Knight Models

Tabletop Gaming News - 1 November 2017 - 6:00am
Honestly, it’d been a bit since I’d heard from Knight Models. I knew they were working away over in their shop, but we’d not seen much from them. Well, they’ve posted up some new releases, and by “some” I mean that there’s 16 new things. So it was certainly well worth the wait. From the […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Everyman Minis: Pumpkin Kami

New RPG Product Reviews - 1 November 2017 - 3:53am
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
Rating: 5
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Everyman Minis clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 4 pages of SRD, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!


We begin with a low-cost, cool class of magic item: Costumed confections are magical sweets that can be consumed to create a regular disguise, which does not modify your clothes (minor nitpick: spell reference not italicized); the second type transforms into a monstrous humanoid or humanoid, as per disguise self, affecting all senses (and no disbelieve). Finally youthful confections transforms the target into a younger version – all effects are polymorph effects and last for 4 hours. Cool!


The main meat of the pdf, though, would be the Kabochahito, the CR 7 pumpkin kami. And no, this is NOT another evil scarecrow/pumpkin monster – in fact, the kami is NG! It is incorporeal and conjure forth confections. Oh, and it comes with a TON of unique abilities: It can swallow beings and transform them into other shapes – the behavior of creatures is then made innocuous to onlookers. This can also be combined with a geas/quest – failure may see the target trapped in that form. Unlike most kami, kabochahitos can switch wards pretty quickly and assume pumpkin/plant-form with stat-modifications included. They can also generate massive growth spurts among plants. Big plus: Unlike many monsters, the kami is properly contextualized within the gaming world, with a lot of inspiring prose.


Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to the nice two-column standard of the series. The nice pieces of art are in full-color. The pdf does not come with bookmarks, but needs none at this length.


Luis Loza’s pumpkin kami are amazing. They are creative, benevolent and fun; they can make for genius Halloween-themed adventures and are a welcome deviation from the well-tread path of evil pumpkin monsters. Interesting, creative – no complaints. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Should ALL Dungeons Be Five Room Dungeons?

Gnome Stew - 1 November 2017 - 3:00am

After having read several great articles on Mike Shea’s blog, I picked up his book The Lazy Dungeon Master. It’s a fast read, and worth the $5.99 asking price, (It’s around 60 pages and mostly about common things DMs spend a lot of time prepping that they don’t need to and how to streamline them, supported by a pretty cool survey he collected about DMing.) In his book, Mike talks about the minimal level of prep required for locations and gives (among others) this example location:

The Saltmines: Former center for the town’s industry, now closed down when they found a dark power buried deep within. Leads from Yellowtop to Ashland Fortress.

What the book doesn’t discuss, and what I was curious about, is how exactly, using Mike’s “lazy” method, one goes about mapping and populating a location like this that has the potential to be the proverbial “twisty little passages, all alike“. So, I emailed Mike and asked how he handled that type of location.  He very quickly got back to me and I asked for his permission to share here. Here’s an excerpt: (Link to his product is mine, not his):

On the Lazy Dungeon Master and maps.

If the characters are going to explore a dungeon-type setting, I’ll usually try to steal and reskin a map to fit the situation. Either that or I’ll sketch a very rough stick-figure map that shows how locations are connected.

Since writing the Lazy Game Master I focused a fair bit of time on the idea of building “fantastic locations”. These are the interesting places that characters discover in their journeys and can be connected by various caves, tunnels, or passages. To me, the overall dungeon isn’t as interesting as the individual interesting locations in that dungeon so I tend not to let them get too complicated.

… There might be five fantastic locations in the cove interconnected by natural water-carved caves. Each location will have a name and three interesting traits (or “aspects”) that the characters can investigate or use if there’s a battle. Here are some examples:

  • The Tentacle Pillars: Huge stone tentacles that appear to pierce out of the ground; sinkhole that leads into the tunnels below; old octopus statue sitting on a pedestal that appears very old.
  • The Weeping Caverns: Stone caverns eaten away by streams of saltwater; carvings of strange symbols on the walls; illuminated shells of phosphorescent mollusks.
  • The Nursery: Submerged oily pool filled with psychic baby octopuses; large channeling crystal piercing down from the ceiling; chained screaming madman on the wall.

Those three come to mind but its early and I can’t think of three more at the moment. Hopefully you get the idea =)

If you poke around on Sly Flourish for more discussions of Fantastic Locations you’ll find more about it including the book of 20 locations I wrote around these ideas.

Hope that answers your questions. …

Mike

The two approaches that Mike offers are good ones: swipe a map from elsewhere, or reduce a big complicated complex to a five room dungeon with “you travel east for a while, through a maze of tunnels until you come across . . . “. I don’t have much to say about the first one, except to point everyone to my favorite site for random dungeon generators. But the second suggestion about reducing a big complex to a five room dungeon with handwavey bits between rooms has made me think quite a bit.

You see, I’m not sure I’m quite ready to give up my twisty mazes full of empty rooms, red herrings, and minor treasures just yet.

Maybe it’s nostalgia for the afternoons of lonely fun (which I have just amusingly learned is now called a game’s “solitaire component“) and gold box CRPGS, maybe it’s just me perpetuating the same skinner boxes of my youth where poking into nooks and crannies of maze like passages eventually resulted in a handful of GP until they could be traded in for a new breastplate, but to me half the fun of RPGs is skulking down damp passageways, ransacking moldering garbage heaps and searching areas where the map is weird in hopes of finding secret doors.

Maybe the answer lies somewhere in between the two. In one of his “MegaDungeon Monday” articles, The Angry GM discusses the “encounter space” which by his definition is a piece of the dungeon in which all inhabitants work as a unit. So if you have the stacks of a great library with study cubbies and there’s a wight in the stacks and skeletons in the cubbies, but engaging with the wight will alert the skeletons and they will open the cubby doors and surround the PCs, that’s an encounter area.

This middle ground definition allows for a bit of both worlds. You can create just a handful of encounter areas, each with something interesting in it, but you still get the nooks and crannies to explore, because each encounter area (most anyway) is comprised of a handful of rooms, some of which are interesting, some of which are not, some of which hold secrets and treasure, some of which don’t etc . . .

But, how much exploring and poking about in otherwise uninteresting space to do is really a secondary concern. Because the trivial answer is that you should do only as much of it as is interesting. Uninteresting exploration of uninteresting space is a waste of time and should be avoided. I have indeed played in games where no one did much exploring and if there was space that wasn’t an active encounter, paused only long enough to say: “I loot the room.”, toss off a search check, and move on. It may just be selective memory, but the reason for this was that exploration in these games was boring. Rooms were just a collection of squares, sometimes from a battle map, tiles, or a software program, description was minimal and there was the feeling that if a room contained a statue or a desk it was because it was filler, not because it may have been something interesting to interact with.

So the bigger question is, how do you make exploration interesting, even of areas that aren’t inherently interesting themselves? While I don’t claim to be an expert, there are a few tips I can give:

  • Grid maps are counter productive: Grid maps are great for combat, but shitty for exploration gameplay, which is good because it implies that there’s not a lot of reason to painstakingly map areas that you want players to explore, only combat encounters (and if one turns into the other that a very simple map with walls and features of interest is sufficient). Players will naturally imagine areas you describe verbally, in ways that they will not when presented with pictures, and it’s very easy to ad lib and add as much detail as you can improvise with verbal descriptions, which is not the case with drawings.
  • Pick a few adjectives: Part of the draw of exploration is immersion, which is enhanced by good description (in fact, a quick search of the stew shows we’ve written articles about using sensory cues to describe things no less than a half dozen times). In this case, I suggest giving a few seconds of thought to the traits of an area (a dungeon as a whole is fine, but you can break it down further if it warrants) and make a back of the envelope (3×5 card) list. Refer to this list often and weave a few of the traits into every description. If that library above is “crumbling” you can describe the collapsing shelves, the piles of tumbled books that fall apart at a touch, the dust in the air. If instead it’s “flooded” you can describe the mold crawling up the shelves, the ankle deep black water with floating piles of mush that may once have been books, and the warped damp pages.
  • There have to be successes,especially early ones: This goes back to that skinner box I mentioned earlier. Even if you explicitly tell your players that searching and exploring will net secrets and treasure, if they meet with no success while doing so, they’ll stop. On the other hand, even a few small successes will have them searching under the cushions of every moldy couch they find. Of course these finds have to be of value. Finding a handful of coins is (should be) of value to low level characters, but the same isn’t true for high level ones. As such, it’s fine to have these caches be money, but it’s equally useful to hide secret paths, maps, clues and items of strange origin, as well as items which do little except establish flavor, all of which will retain value through characters’ careers. Consider having a small table of incidental loot that can be found in each large area so this is easy to do off the cuff.

So I put it to all of you, because I’m not sure what the end conclusion is. Is poking into nooks and crannies, riffling through the pockets of ancient moldering coats, and sifting through dungeon trash heaps a valid and fun play style or am I biased and it’s more fun to hop between big set pieces? If it is a compelling play style, what are your best tricks to keep it fun and interesting? Like I said above, I’m not the expert on this, so I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts and techniques.

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Daybreak gives PS3 version of DC Universe Online 3 months to live

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 31 October 2017 - 4:36pm

The DC Universe Online dev plans to shut down the PS3 version of the F2P MMO game on January 31st, 2018 in order to 'focus our resources on further optimizing the game for PlayStation 4.' ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

V Reich Faction For Punkapocalyptic Up On Kickstarter

Tabletop Gaming News - 31 October 2017 - 3:00pm
Punkapocalyptic is looking to add a new faction. It’s the V Reich. They’re all-inclusive, letting in anyone… as long as you’re not a mutant. That, they just won’t tolerate. The new faction is up on Kickstarter now. From the campaign: Who are the V Reich? No one knows exactly who stablished the V Reich operating […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Gobblin’ Goblins Card Game Up On Kickstarter

Tabletop Gaming News - 31 October 2017 - 2:00pm
I do a lot of cooking. And I try and make things as tasty as possible. Even with that, some people are picky eaters. Goblins, however, are not picky eaters. They’ll shove just about anything into their maw. Just look at Gobblin’ Goblins and you’ll see. It’s a new card game that’s up on Kickstarter […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Lockwood’s Asylum Deck-Building Game Up On Kickstarter

Tabletop Gaming News - 31 October 2017 - 1:00pm
If there’s one criticism of deck-building games, it’s often that players can feel like there’s not a lot of interaction between them. You build your own deck while the other players build theirs. Well, Lockwood’s Asylum looks to change all that. In the game, you’re not only building your own deck, but also your opponent’s. […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

The Widow’s Tear Location Guide and Bestiary for Starfinder Up On Kickstarter

Tabletop Gaming News - 31 October 2017 - 12:00pm
Space is big. Really big. You might think it’s a long way down the street to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space. Listen, there’s all sorts of strange places out there, and it’s best to have a guide to help you along. One such guide is the Widow’s Tear guide as well as […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

EA tweaks Star Wars Battlefront II's loot box drops following beta feedback

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 31 October 2017 - 11:01am

Following a short open beta earlier this month, EA has altered how the game's loot box system works in-game to "help keep everyone on a level playing field." ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Podcast Roundup

Tabletop Gaming News - 31 October 2017 - 11:00am
Happy Halloween, everyone! I’m actually in costume, though you can’t see it. I’m dressed up as “me on Saturday.” Hey, having a set wardrobe for particular days of the week means that putting on a costume is as simple as changing which day I wear which shirts. Though it does make me feel like I […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Free-to-play Fortnite: Battle Royale surpasses 811k concurrent players

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 31 October 2017 - 10:15am

Epic's multi-platform take on the emerging Battle Royale genre crossed 800,000 concurrent players over the weekend, roughly a 300k jump in three weeks. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

PSA: This is your last week to submit talks for the GDC 2018 Tutorials!

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 31 October 2017 - 10:03am

The deadline to pitch talks for the Board Game Design Day closes Wednesday, November 1, while the deadline for the Level Design Workshop the Tools Workshop, or eSports day close Friday, November 3.   ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Mantic Games Posts Vanguard Alpha Rules Online

Tabletop Gaming News - 31 October 2017 - 10:00am
The Kickstarter campaign for Mantic’s fantasy skirmish game, Kings of War: Vanguard, starts tomorrow. But if you know me, you know that I like to know what I’m buying before I put my money down for it. The folks over at Mantic feel that you should also know what you’re getting into before you put […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Modiphius Releases Children of Orion – The Venu Sourcebook For Mindjammer

Tabletop Gaming News - 31 October 2017 - 9:00am
In pretty much any game, you’re going to have the good guys and the bad guys. It’s those two opposing forces that creates the narrative. In Mindjammer, the Venu are those bad guys. Everyone is under the hell of the harsh emperor. The new sourcebook for the game, Children of Orion, gives players and GMs […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

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