Game Design

Coriolis: My Favourite Sci-Fi TTRPG

Gnome Stew - 18 July 2019 - 5:00am

For years, I’ve raved endlessly about Coriolis, a science fiction RPG by Fria Ligan (Free League) co-published with Modiphius Entertainment. It’s my favourite science-fiction tabletop roleplaying game of all time. Scratch that. It’s maybe one of my favourites irrespective of genre. There is something in the game for everyone. That’s why I rave about it at any given opportunity. Here’s why.

Choice. Character creation is one of my favourite parts of any tabletop RPG. PbtA playbooks read like branching stories – with your narrative changing directions as you select new moves and abilities. They differ from other styles of tabletop RPG in that playbooks come in different forms for a single game. In D&D, character sheets are not individualistic in structure. You’re led along a linear path of new abilities, with the narrative having little effect on how your character class changes. Meanwhile, Coriolis sits right in the middle. I very much enjoy the wide variety of character “concepts” – Artist, Data Spider, Fugitive, Negotiator, Operative, Pilot, Preacher, Scientist, Ship Worker, Soldier, and Trailblazer – presented to the reader. Now, unlike PbtA character sheets or D&D classes, your initial concept is more like a springboard into a unique creation of your choice. When you begin character creation, the loose concept you pick only has a mechanical bearing on certain skills you are particularly talented with and the strongest attribute you start with. But that’s really where it ends. You can pick any skill. Have any weapon. Be anyone. Like the idea of being a space archaeologist? Let the Scientist guide you in the beginning as you determine who you want your character to be through play. Want to be a corporate bodyguard? Pick the Operative if you want a more low-key background, or a Soldier if you want the military to figure heavily in your backstory.

Structured growth from freeform roleplaying. In many ways, tabletop roleplaying games are like real life. Like us, characters in tabletop RPGs encounter challenges, experience failure and triumph, and experience the world in a unique way. If we’re particularly lucky or insightful, we learn and grow from these experiences. In popular games like Dungeons & Dragons, player characters “grow” by obtaining “experience points” earned from overcoming challenges commonly taking the form of a combat encounter. See the antagonist. Kill said antagonist. Grow in ways unrelated to the mass murder you’ve just committed. In Coriolis, players improve their characters’ quantifiable skills and abilities in a much more self-reflective manner. The game system rewards players “experience points” by facilitating a structured debrief and discussion between players and the GM at the end of every gaming session This is based on the overall narrative actions of each character and not necessarily what they killed or how many challenges they overcame. Some of the questions asked include:

  • Did you participate?
  • Did you overcome a difficult challenge and help your group reach their goals?
  • Did you learn something new about yourself?
  • Did your personal problem(s) put your group at risk?
  • Did you sacrifice or risk something for a member of the group to which you share a close bond?

Especially when playing tabletop RPGs with strangers or family members, systems like D&D and Pathfinder causes players to become preoccupied with “doing things” to level up their characters. Games generally descend into, sessions of “if we kill this many _____, we’ll gain this much experience.” Experience and growth are reduced to the consequences of death. Learning becomes a task. A game like Coriolis can be used to encourage more self-reflective (yet, goal-oriented) roleplay. The structured end-of-session debrief and discussion is a great way to have players recognize the weaknesses and strengths of their characters, mediate their own problems, and identify how their actions and behaviours can positively and negatively affect others.

I do, however, have mixed feelings about the “Arabian Knights in space” description attached to this product. While on one end there are clear undertones of Orientalist themes. But on the other, it presents a fictional Islamic world in a way that doesn’t problematize religion or depicts Muslims unfairly. As someone who’s spent a lot of time living and working in a Muslim country, I can very much appreciate what this game does for fair and positive representation. Perhaps I’ll discuss this in a future post on its own. Needless to say, the freedom to which you are able to create characters, the emphasis on storytelling and complications, and an easy to learn, yet highly tactical combat system makes Coriolis a unique game. It lets you be what you want and do what you want, all while providing a scaling degree of structure. It’s accessible and highly reflexive, and that’s what’s really important when assessing the value of a tabletop RPG.

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Imperfect GM: The Art of GMing War Part II

RPGNet - 18 July 2019 - 12:00am
A Castle Battle.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Odyssey and Siege push Ubisoft to a better-than-expected quarter

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 17 July 2019 - 10:34am

Ubisoft credits Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Rainbow Six Siege for that performance, two games that notably released before Q1 even began. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

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Categories: Game Theory & Design

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Categories: Game Theory & Design

Guessing the Future with Patents - by Ryan Ward Blogs - 17 July 2019 - 7:39am
Andrew F. Pratt and Ryan T. Ward of Venable LLP examine patents from three major companies within the gaming industry to predict what new technologies they are researching.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Hyper Light Drifter Special Edition: additional content through channeling the main character - by Miguel José García Corchero Blogs - 17 July 2019 - 7:37am
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Categories: Game Theory & Design

China Game Market Recovers from Government Policy Changes [Report] - by Mantin Lu Blogs - 17 July 2019 - 7:36am
iResearch recently released their new China Online Game Industry Q1 Report. First, let’s highlight some of the key game industry data revealed. Then towards the end of this article, I’ll share my thoughts about what they mean.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Deep Management #4: Aristotle Ruminates on Game Dev Part II - by John Bible Blogs - 17 July 2019 - 7:32am
Ever wondered how Aristotle would run a game company? In this second part, we consider Aristotle's middle way, building on our discussion of ultimate and subordinate goods. Our purpose is to convert the travails of game development to serene calmness.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Gaminiscing 101 – Recording my grandmother's childhood memories to turn them into a video game - by Bob De Schutter Blogs - 17 July 2019 - 7:32am
Recording a loved ones' memories for use as in-game audio is not as straight-forward as it might sound. In this article, I look into the challenges I faced when doing so, and the methods that I used to overcome them.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Boost your Mobile Game Downloads in 3 Simple Steps - by Marcus Kay Blogs - 17 July 2019 - 7:29am
Through countless hours of hard work and research on app store keywords, I learned many techniques to “get my app off the ground”. At last, I managed to increase the app downloads by more than 10 times! Here are the 3 steps that I used...
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Steam Diving Bell: a tool for "wikipedia binging" Steam games - by Lars Doucet Blogs - 17 July 2019 - 2:37am
Designing a tool for browsing Steam games "Wikipedia binge" style
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Gearbox wants crossplay in Borderlands 3, but it won't launch with it

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 16 July 2019 - 1:39pm

Gearbox wants Borderlands 3 to be one of a growing number of games that have bridged the console gap for online multiplayer, but the feature won't be in the game on day one. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

PSA: Upload your resume to Gamasutra's job boards!

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 16 July 2019 - 10:03am

Here's a friendly reminder that Gamasutra's job boards are the best place to find your next job in the game industry - upload your resume and land the job you want! ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Ubisoft's Uplay+ subscription library launches this fall with 100+ games

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 16 July 2019 - 10:00am

Ubisoft has offered more details on the games that will be available under its Uplay+ subscription service when the service launches this fall. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

GDC 2020 opens call for 'Core Concepts' submissions!

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 16 July 2019 - 8:58am

Are you doing great work in game dev? Answer the GDC 2020 call for submissions to present lectures, panels & roundtables in the rebranded 'Core' line of talks, now open through Thursday, August 15th! ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Game Design in the Age of Climate Change - by Justin Reeve Blogs - 16 July 2019 - 7:49am
The landscapes in Metro Exodus are all in a certain sense broken. Why are they depicted in this way? This article takes a look at how game design can be used to make a statement about climate change.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Video Game Composers: How Music Enhances Virtual Presence (The Theory of Flow) - by Winifred Phillips Blogs - 16 July 2019 - 7:47am
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Categories: Game Theory & Design

Crowdfunding and Tabletop Games: 2019 Mid-Year Update - by Thomas Bidaux Blogs - 16 July 2019 - 7:43am
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Categories: Game Theory & Design

Show, Don’t Tell: How a Few Tools Can Give Your Store UX a Big Boost - by Henry Fong Blogs - 16 July 2019 - 7:41am
With an understanding of what makes players want to buy, you can enhance the experience and increase your IAP. But how do you find out what works? We used our in-game platform to test the impact of in-game product videos—and the results surprised us.
Categories: Game Theory & Design


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