Game Design

Opposing Viewpoints of Virtual Reality - by Ashlye Kaczmarek

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 4 December 2017 - 7:01am
Virtual Reality is still new to our world and there is still things that need to be worked on. The virtual world is growing, but not everyone is so supportive of its breakthrough. This paper discusses the opposing viewpoints of the every growing VR world.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Best Freelancing Platforms for Developers - by Michael Smith

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 4 December 2017 - 7:01am
Ways you can earn as a freelance developer
Categories: Game Theory & Design

New Bolt Action Releases Available From Warlord Games

Tabletop Gaming News - 4 December 2017 - 7:00am
Tanks! You’re welcome. No, I mean Tanks! And also Tank Destroyers. And a new edition of the Pegasus Bridge and Ham & Jam sets. What I’m saying is that there’s new Bolt Action releases available over in the Warlord Games webshop. There’s also dice, because we all love dice. The vital operation held in the […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Reynald's Expedition: Designing A Hero - by Andrew-David Jahchan

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 4 December 2017 - 6:43am
In this article, we share the creative process we went through when creating Reynald, our first game's main character and eager archeologist!
Categories: Game Theory & Design

A Quick Breakdown of Self-Determination Theory - by Travis Meador

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 4 December 2017 - 6:43am
I was extremely interested in Self-Determination Theory (SDT), as a whole because of the way video games have impacted my own life. This was done with a few classmates and we really got into it.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Game Industry Blockchain Technologies Should Be Humble to Survive - by Vadim Bulatov

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 4 December 2017 - 6:43am
Among the many blockchain solutions proposed for the gaming industry, the most popular have been those that create marketplaces for in-game purchases used in free-to-play models.These model however, excludes the role of game developers and publishers.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Design your creative team like a game - by Levi Engel

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 4 December 2017 - 6:43am
Creative people just want to perform at their best and see the team succeed in finding the best solutions to the problems at hand. Formulate the rules of evaluation of the propositions as clearly as you would explain the rules of a game.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

New Blood Bowl, Blood Angles, and Hobbit Pre-orders Available From Games Workshop

Tabletop Gaming News - 4 December 2017 - 6:00am
Games Workshop’s a little bit of all over with this week’s set of pre-releases that you can order now. The biggest one is probably the new Blood Angels codex, as well as a bunch of units for them, including Primaris Marines with Blood Angels insignia. Second would be the Blood Bowl items, which includes a […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Leavers are ruining Overwatch and Blizzard is doing nothing about it - by Ivan Fortunov

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 4 December 2017 - 3:21am
I loved the game, but now Leavers are ruining Overwatch. Why Blizzard won't solve these problems when there are so many ways to actually do it? Let's take a closer look at the current situation.Why Blizzard won't solve these problems when there are so man
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Constraints And Creativity

Gnome Stew - 4 December 2017 - 3:00am

 

Several years ago while I was working on my fundamentals before I started my stat degree, I took a creative writing class as an elective*. For one of the assignments, the professor had a local poet visit and speak to us about his craft. I remember his readings being very interesting despite the fact that I’m not really a poetry guy, so I wish I also remembered his name so I could link him here. However, one of the things he said during his question/answer session came back to me recently and it struck me how important it is to my own, and I suspect many people’s, creative process. Asked to comment about his choice to use various structures of poetry, he said something akin to (and this is me paraphrasing from memory, not an exact quote):

“I know a lot of people like writing in free verse because it’s easier than having to deal with all the rules of for example, iambic pentameter,  but to me the reverse is true. I like choosing a structure and a subject and then knowing exactly how I have to write my poem to fit the structure. It allows me to focus on less things. I actually find writing in free verse harder because there are so many more things to consider.”

It’s pretty obvious that what he was talking about is the concept of option paralysis: having so many options that you find yourself unable to make a choice. The other night when I remembered this, I suddenly realized that this is the fundamental conflict I’ve been trying to deal with for years. I’ve written articles about templates, articles about how-to guides, articles about random generation tables, articles about limiting your prep, all in service of making creativity easier by adding constraints. Heck, it even helps explain the article I wrote a few years back about how I love minecraft but hate drawing maps. In construction games your crafting list sits right there on screen like a checklist. Have you made a library? You can build bookshelves and an enchanting table, so you probably need one. Have you made a bathroom? Well, you can’t construct a toilet and you don’t poop, so you probably don’t need one.** In addition, the limited blockset and game physics are both constraints that make construction choices, if not simple, at least limited.

This also explains some of the complaints I have about certain, to be unnamed, RPGs that have endless book after book of race options and endless books of class options. Ironically, several pages of point buy system provides more options than 10 books of races and classes, but causes less option paralysis because everything you can choose is in one central location and follows a simple formula. (It also doesn’t sell dozens of system bloating, unnecessary, expensive books though, so I know why publishers might choose the books over the purchase point system.)

It also explains, for those of us who are old enough to remember 1e and Basic, why the time it takes to do anything with RPGs has ballooned. Not only have the options for each component in your system increased but so have the types of challenges, the play styles, the genres, etc . . .

If you’re unsure that addition of constraints makes creativity easier: Make an adventure using the following constraints – Use one of the 9 forms of the 5 room dungeon. Your rooms are only allowed to be 20’x30′ rectangles or 30′ diameter circles. Your enemies are 3 types of orcs or orc allies and you get one trap. It does damage and adds a status effect. Go. Takes like, 5 minutes, at most, right? Of course everyone who participated has results that look similar, but each is going to be different. There are still nominally 288 dungeon layouts before you flavor it up, you still have dozens of types of orcs and orc allies (warriors, archers, scrubs, shamans, goblins, worgs, bugbears, ogres etc . . .), and dozens of types of traps (darts with slow poison, falling rocks that create difficult terrain, barbed nets, etc . . .) that meet the criteria. In addition, this is just a factor of the chosen constraints. If I had said: Make a village of 5 small buildings populated by were-cats and their animal spies with one hidden dark shrine, it would take the same 5 minutes but be completely different.

So what’s the takeaway? How does this help us? Simple: If you’re staring down a blank sheet of paper at a loss***, start writing constraints on it until you have something manageable enough that allows your creativity to just flow out of your pen (or screen and keyboard – whatever, you get it.) Remember that while it may seem limiting to add constraints, all you’re doing is pre-selecting large swaths of choices to NOT use, and you can constrain differently next time. Here are some easy constraints to add:

  • Large scale
    • Books: For the love of god, constrain books. Don’t go digging through 50 books to find your monster of the week. Don’t hit the internet and dig through a million character builds for your NPCs. Just pick a few books (I’m a fan of just using the core necessary ones) and use only what’s in there.
    • Genre: This is often implied by system, but especially if it isn’t, pick a genre. Even if it is specified by system, you can usually narrow it down a bit. This often greatly constrains your options.
    • Gygaxian Unnaturalism: Pick a reason for Gygaxian Unnaturalism and run with it. Say goodbye to worrying about what monsters eat, why they poop and if they can be reformed (they can’t).
  • Monsters
    • Books again: Lots of systems have monster book after monster book. They’re quick cash-ins. But you don’t need more than the base one. When was the last time you used most of the monsters in the core monster book anyway?
    • Choose a handful: Back in 2009, Martin wrote an article about the Decamer (roughly: ten turds) Campaign. In this concept, your campaign contains only ten monsters total. You don’t have to pick ten awful ones, but constraining yourself in this way makes picking monsters pretty easy.
  • NPCs
    • Generators: Pick a random generator for NPC name, race, class, personality etc. Stick with it.
    • Templates: Alternately, pick a template you like and stick with that instead.
    • Monsters: Need an NPC in combat, reskin a similar monster from the one monster book you allowed yourself. Done.
  • Maps
    • Generators: Find an online map generator. Run it and run with it.
    • 5 Rooms: As linked earlier, there are only 9 (or 3 depending on how you count) forms of the 5 room dungeon. Grab and go.
    • Geomorphs: Plenty of geomorph sets are available. Pick one and use it exclusively.
    • Symbol sets: Pick a symbol set and only use it. For dungeon maps, you may want to also restrict yourself to a handful of room sizes/types.

 

* Only sorta, but the full story isn’t relevant here.

** Ironically, in Ark you can poop but can’t build a toilet. In 7 Days to Die you can build a toilet but can’t poop. In both games you need poop to make fertilizer though.

*** In a recent blog article on scope and scale, The Angry GM called facing a blank piece of paper “the most powerful, most insurmountable obstacle in the entirety of GM-ing-dom”

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Fuzzy Thinking: Heavy Metal

RPGNet - 4 December 2017 - 12:00am
Fuzzy guns.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Video Game Deep Cuts: Dream Of A Million Onions

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 3 December 2017 - 12:40pm

This week's best articles and visuals around games include a podcast about Dream Daddies, a wonderful video profile of Million Onion Hotel creator Yoshiro Kimura, and lots more. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Video Game Deep Cuts: Dream Of A Million Onions - by Simon Carless

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 3 December 2017 - 12:35am
This week's best articles and visuals around games include a podcast about Dream Daddies, a wonderful video profile of Million Onion Hotel creator Yoshiro Kimura, and lots more.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Review Roundup

Tabletop Gaming News - 2 December 2017 - 11:00am
It’s Saturday. Usually, that would mean gaming. But Friday meant gaming for me, as a friend came over after work and we played some Guild Ball, Bunny Kingdom, and Apotheca. Great way to spend a Friday. So, what am I up to Saturday? Well, I’m in the CMON Offices, helping pack orders for the holiday […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Battlefront Posts a Look Inside the Stripes Book for Team Yankee

Tabletop Gaming News - 1 December 2017 - 3:00pm
WWIII is not currently happening. Let’s do our best to keep it that way, eh? I don’t really want Team Yankee to turn into a modern game, as opposed to just post-modern-sci-fi. So, for the meantime, these are just figurative, uh, figures. And in the Stripes book, Battlefront expands the U.S. options. Take a look […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Video: A year's worth of lessons learned from growing a F2P mobile game

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 1 December 2017 - 2:07pm

N3twork's Ethan Levy speaks at GDC 2017 about the studio's success with its F2P mobile game Legendary: Game of Heroes, sharing the top 5 lessons its learned during 12+ months of steady growth. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Conan the Mercenary Sourcebook Now Available

Tabletop Gaming News - 1 December 2017 - 2:00pm
Conan wore a lot of different hats over the course of his long career chopping people in half. Barbarian, King, and in this instance, Mercenary. Modiphius has added a new book to their Conan RPG line. This one is Conan the Mercenary. It gives players many more options for their characters, as well as rules […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Battle of Golems Board Game Up On Indiegogo

Tabletop Gaming News - 1 December 2017 - 1:00pm
The digital world is becoming more and more important in our everyday lives. Hell, I work online. You’re reading this on some electronic device (unless you have someone print out all these articles for you and then hands you the hard copy, which just seems odd…). All of these items run using programs. So having […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Genesys RPG Now Available

Tabletop Gaming News - 1 December 2017 - 12:00pm
Most RPG systems are very specific to a time or place. Medieval fantasy. Interstellar sci-fi. Pulp-noir Earth. The Genesys system isn’t like that. This new set of rules gives you the ability to play anywhere, anytime, anytheme. It’s now available from Fantasy Flight. From the announcement: Aim a rocket launcher at a group of supernatural […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Friday Snippets

Tabletop Gaming News - 1 December 2017 - 11:00am
I’ve almost run out of Thanksgiving leftovers. I still have some turkey and some sweet potato casserole, along with just a touch of one pumpkin pie left. BTW: the sweet potatoes still being around are a case of “Save the best for last.” Not to sound haughty, but trying some of it, with a bit […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

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