Game Design

The process of remaking the UI art for Conflict0: Revolution - by Ricardo Bess

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 5 November 2018 - 6:43am
This post presents the process behind the remaking of the UI art for Conflict0:Revolution.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Video Game Deep Cuts: Diablo's Deltarune... To The Stars?

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 5 November 2018 - 6:21am

This week's highlights include the top news from Blizzcon around Diablo and other devilish titles, Toby Fox's Deltarune & his radical transparency, and Marty O'Donnell talking 'The Music Of The Spheres'. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

PixelFest 2018, David Hernly (Starship Horizons, Mythric Mystery Master) - by Jeremy Alessi

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 5 November 2018 - 5:49am
David Hernly is a long-time indie game developer focused on a combination of hardware control systems and starship simulations. Somehow, his journey has taken him to the escape room space? Watch to learn more!
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Rapid XR Content Creation, from Reallusion, Pixologic and Noitom to Unity - by Gaspar Ferreiro

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 5 November 2018 - 5:48am
A super-fast and easy way to prototype animated characters for Unity, using Reallusion, ZBrush and other common tools.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Multi-Platform VR takes a bold new step with the Mixed Reality Toolkit beta launch - by Simon Jackson

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 5 November 2018 - 5:48am
Reimaging and redeveloped from the ground up in to a true multi-platform / Multi-vr framework, the Mixed Reality Toolkit releases it's first stable beta. Enabling Mixed Reality experiences with the least amount of effort to get started.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Life is Strange and the Power of Subplots - by Nicole Barelli

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 5 November 2018 - 5:47am
This article discusses the function of subplots inside the structure of a story - only by understanding it we can decide if it really improves our narrative or exists only as decoration.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

AI detecting player from vision using camera and shaders - by Kévin Drure

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 5 November 2018 - 5:46am
In this post I will explain how I gave my AI a real vision using a camera and a compute shader to detect player with more accuracy than ray casts.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Craft Free Magic Items In 3, 3.5 And Pathfinder? Yes Please!

Gnome Stew - 5 November 2018 - 5:00am

I was reading the Pathfinder item creation rules recently and I was struck by one piece of the RAW. Aside from some exceptions, creation of magic items requires “materials” equal to half of the end market value of the item produced. These items are specifically left vague. One presumes this is for several reasons:

  • So the rule books don’t have to be a grocery list of items required for magic item creation.
  • So that reasonable substitutions can be made. Do you really need Medusae venom for ink for your scroll of flesh to stone? Can you not use distilled Gorgon Breath?
  • So that you can flavor items depending on materials. A magic sword created from iron ingots, obsidian chunks, or the trophy teeth of a great beast will all look very different and might lend themselves to different secondary enchants.
  • So that I can explain why the RAW explicitly allows for free item creation… Whaaaa? Yeah really. (but seriously, as GM you don’t HAVE to allow this any more than any other rules loophole but I think it’s kind of cool personally and would allow it.)

So according to the magic item creation rules you need half the market value of the item to be created in unspecified “materials”. And creating the item takes time based on item value (and in 3, 3.5 also xp). But since “materials” is left vague, there’s no reason at all that those materials can’t themselves be magic items as long as they are also appropriate materials for crafting the item in question. So magic ingots of metal, magic wood, magic silks, magic crystals, magic nuggets of pure elements — if you can imagine it, you can make magic items out of it. Again, that’s part of the goal of the system. Making a magic greatclub from any of the above makes wildly different items, each of them interesting and cool in their own way.

But here’s the catch: You can make a magic sword worth 16000 gp from 8000 gp worth of magic iron ingots and magic crystals. But how much does it cost to make 8000 gp worth of magic iron ingots and magic crystals? 4000 gp of “materials”. But can those materials be magic? Why the heck not? So you can make 8000 gp worth of magic ingots and crystals from 4000 gp worth of magic ore and uncut gems. But can those be magic? Hell yeah! You see where this is going, right? Start with a nearly worthless commodity and enchanting it into “unspecified magic version of itself” doubles its gp value. Rinse and repeat, doubling each time. And there is even historical precedent in fiction. You are literally spinning straw into gold there, Rumpelstiltskin.

You can just trust me and leave it at that. Kind of hand wavy but it clearly works and is RAW. As a GM you can deny it to your players, that’s up to you but that is the way the rules work. But if you don’t want to leave it there, let’s codify it a bit:

Ingot of Crafting
Price: Varies; Slot: None; CL: 1; Weight: Varies; Aura: Transmutation
Description
These gold ingots come in a variety of sizes and values. Any Crafter can concentrate on any number of them while crafting which causes the ingots to transform into an amount of materials appropriate to the craft the user is creating equal to the value of the ingots used.
Construction Requirements:
Cost: Varies; Feats: Craft Wondrous Item; Special: Caster must have access to the transmutation school of magic

So if you wanted a 500 gp ruby to use in your staff you could gather 500 gp worth of Ingots of Crafting, concentrate on the pile and poof! Ruby!

Clearly the market value of these Ingots of Crafting is equal to the value of materials they produce. First, it says so right in the item description. Second, if the Ingot was worth more, no one would pay for them over just buying the materials themselves. If the Ingot were worth less people would buy up all the ingots selling for LESS than the value of materials they produce (thus driving up the cost of Ingots to material value), turn them into materials and sell those materials. So: obviously market value equal to what they produce.

Note that this seems weird but absolutely works and has been borne out by many discussions about how DnD and Pathfinder magic works off market value in the past. The classic example that you can find discussed ad nauseam online is the 3, 3.5 pearl. If you crash or rig the pearl market, you STILL need a 100gp pearl for identify. It doesn’t matter if that pearl is a seed or a monstrosity. It only matters that it’s market value is 100gp.

Note: In Pathfinder, this may seem to be in opposition to the 3rd party Artificer’s Salvage ability, but it’s really not. The Salvage ability lets you turn a magic item that is not an appropriate material for an item you are crafting into half its value of materials that are appropriate to any crafting attempt. In effect it is making explicit that universal magic materials that are useful in crafting any and all magic items do in fact exist.

So the catch is: if you have an Ingot of Crafting you could use it as materials to make: an Ingot of Crafting worth twice as much (because it has half the market value of what you’re creating) and you could use that one to double again, etc… etc… until you have the value you need to make whatever item you want.

Doesn’t have to be exactly this. You could create enchanted iron ingots or ensorceled silk that give you a bump to your crafting roll when you use them as materials or whatever. The Ingots just are a simple obvious example.

BUT of course it’s not quite that simple. The additional crafting steps still take time, and in 3, 3.5 also xp. In order to make an item of value X, you need 1/2X in value. In order to make the 1/2X of value you need 1/4X etc… etc… and since crafting takes linear time (and xp), making the components for an item worth half it’s value takes half the time (and xp) the item does, and making the components for that item takes half the time (and xp) again, 1/4 the original etc…

This is a classic geometric series 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8+ 1/16… = 1
So according to RAW you can craft any item you want for essentially free, but the catch is in order to do so you have to spend twice the time (and xp) making it. This means that rushed crafting of items still takes money/materials. It also makes sense that to create magic materials you would need the Craft Wondrous Items feat and perhaps access to certain appropriate spells, meaning that creating free items has additional prerequisites.

QED

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Fuzzy Thinking: Warming Up ...

RPGNet - 5 November 2018 - 12:00am
Fuzzy magic-users.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Movement Prediction - by Bartlomiej Waszak

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 4 November 2018 - 7:44am
The article is a deep dive into three different scenarios of movement prediction in game programming.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Video Game Deep Cuts: Diablo's Deltarune... To The Stars? - by Simon Carless

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 4 November 2018 - 5:15am
This week's highlights include the top news from Blizzcon around Diablo and other devilish titles, Toby Fox's Deltarune & his radical transparency, and Marty O'Donnell talking 'The Music Of The Spheres', among many other great stories & videos.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Visual tweaks hit Rainbow Six Siege ahead of release in Asian countries

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 2 November 2018 - 12:59pm

The minor visual changes made to bring Rainbow Six Siege in line with regulations in countries like China will be present in the Western versions of the game as well. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Blizzard's long-awaited World of Warcraft Classic releases next summer

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 2 November 2018 - 12:26pm

The revamped World of Warcraft MMORPG captures a version of the game as it was 14 years ago before various updates and expansions changed the landscape of the online world. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Survey: Teens spend an average of $184 on video games a year

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 2 November 2018 - 11:28am

Based on its past 15 surveys, the investment firm Piper Jaffray says that the average teenager spends $184 on video games, though 2018†™s average expected spend alone is $215. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Never trust the client: simple techniques against cheating in multiplayer and SpatialOS - by Trond Fasteraune

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 2 November 2018 - 9:07am
Most cheats are easy to prevent - we run through the best techniques.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

PixelFest 2018 Jean Simonet (Skyrim, Fallout, Bomb Squad Academy) - by Jeremy Alessi

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 2 November 2018 - 7:21am
Jean Simonet is a AAA developer turned indie. In this talk, Jean runs a counterstrike on every piece of indie gaming advice you've ever been told.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Kliuless? #10: Epic Dreams & Fortnitemares - by Kenneth Liu

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 2 November 2018 - 6:52am
Each week I compile a gaming industry insights newsletter that I share with other Rioters, including Riot’s senior leadership. This edition is the public version that I publish broadly every week as well. Opinions are mine.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Ad Fraud in Gaming — Scalarr at Gamesforum Seattle’18 - by Yura Yashunin

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 2 November 2018 - 6:52am
Gamesforum is one of the biggest B2B conferences about the business of games was taking place October 23-24. The conference was full of insights from publishers, ad networks, analytics firms, marketing experts and all the other major industry players.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Pathfinder Playtest Review, Part 4

Gnome Stew - 2 November 2018 - 5:00am

This is part 4 of my review of the Pathfinder Playtest from Paizo. You can see part 1 here, part 2 here, and part 3 here. In this part of the review, I’ll finish up my comments in this series with Game Mastering through Appendices.

If you’re interested in reading along with me during the review, you can pick up the free PDF of the playtest rulebook at Paizo’s site: Game Mastering

The section starts off with six bullet points to give overall guidance to the GM. I think the guidance misses the mark a bit, but it’s a good start. Unfortunately, the advice given out in that brief segment makes it appear as if the bulk of the work for the world, characters, events, and storytelling land firmly on the GM’s shoulders. This is, to some extent, true. However, I feel that this was a grand opportunity to let the GM know that they are not the driver in the storytelling effort, but a participant with the players in the storytelling. The advice given is solid, but the tone here sets the stage for making new GMs think they are in charge. Any veteran GM will certainly tell you that this is not the case once the players start rolling with their own ideas.

Starting a Session

The segment that covers how to start a session is fantastic! I hope to see this expanded a bit in the final book, but this is a wonderful set of advice. I even learned a few new tips and tricks in this area. Well done, Paizo!

Adjudicating the Rules

This area gives great advice about not looking up specific rules and gives guidance on how to “wing it” when necessary. This is something every “core” rulebook for every RPG should have.

Sharing Responsibilities

This section is given in a brief sidebar. I have a problem with this because quite a few readers of RPGs will skim those areas thinking they are not important. This is a perception thing because if it were important, it would be in the main text, right? I think the six bullet points I mentioned above could be combined with this sidebar to create a new approach to collaborative gaming that excels at great fun and excellent storytelling. Merging these two concepts, I think, would lead to a more powerful statement.

Modes of Play

Just as a refresher, modes are split up into encounter, exploration, and downtime.

The encounter section is too brief. This is the most technical part of the game, and this can lead to it being the hardest to adjudicate properly because of the number of rules, feats, spells, skills, powers, items, monsters, and characters involved. I know. I know. Many books (and articles!) have been dedicated to this very topic, and I don’t expect Paizo to replicate what’s already been covered. However, I think a deeper dive into encounters would be best.

The exploration and downtime modes are covered very well. These two sections are lengthy and solidly give the GM the right information to execute what is a new concept for Pathfinder. The guidance and tips found within these two sections will make running them go very smoothly for an experienced or fresh GM.

Now that I’ve read the entire “Modes of Play” section, I think I figured out what is bothering me with the encounter section beyond its brevity. The encounter section was written for experienced GMs. The exploration and downtime sections were written in a manner that targets new GMs. I feel that Paizo needs to take a fresh look at the encounter section and rewrite it (and expand it) as if they were attempting to teach a brand new GM (as in, brand new to RPGs, not just Pathfinder) how to run an encounter. If they revisit and expand the encounter section with this in mind, I feel it would be a much stronger contribution to the GM section of the book.

Difficulty Classes

I’m going to be brief here. These three pages are well thought out, clear, and give some great examples on how to come up with target numbers on the fly or apply adjustments where necessary. Paizo’s team did an excellent job on this section.

Rewards

I’ve been looking forward to hitting this section ever since I learned that each level requires an even 1,000 XP to obtain instead of an upward-climbing slope of more experience points for the next level than the current one.

Unfortunately for me, the “kill a monster” XP is listed in the supplemental bestiary, which I haven’t taken the time to flip through the PDF yet. I guess that’ll be next on my list of reading (but not reviewing). On the flip side, the XP awards for minor, moderate, and major accomplishments are laid out as 10, 30, and 80, respectively. Even though they call it “group XP” it’s not divided between all the characters. If the group accomplishes a moderate goal, then all the PCs involved gain 30 XP.

There’s a sidebar for “Story-Based Leveling” that is in this section that calls for the GM to decide if and when the characters level up. This puts a sour taste in my mouth. It’s a personal opinion here, but I really don’t like these approaches at all. The players should see the steady gain of XP for their characters (even if they don’t level yet), so there is a sense of accomplishment in that area. Having the GM suddenly decree, “You go up a level.” feels too much like the GM is controlling things. Of course, this could just be me and my experiences with GMs wanting to have too much control. Your mileage may vary in this area.

Environment

There are several pages dedicated to terrain, climate, and hazards. While the lists aren’t complete (I’m assuming they will be more comprehensive in the final, larger book), what is listed there and how the various environmental conditions impact the game are well stated. I like what I see as a set of building blocks toward more content.

The hazards section is very well done. A hazard is the generic term for traps, pits, dangers, and magical effects that can harm or impede the PCs. There are ways to find, trigger, disable, destroy, and/or dispel various hazards depending on their nature. The playtest book came with a sample of three hazards. I had kind of hoped for a few more, but I’m assuming they didn’t want the playtest book to bloat up too much. I’m looking forward to seeing what the final product (and the various expansion books and adventures) have along these lines.

Treasure

The loot! We’re finally at the gold and shiny and magic and wonderful stuff portion of the book. Yeah, I’m a little excited here because I’m interested in seeing how things change up in this section, if at all.

This section opens up with the usual text explaining what they’re going to be talking about, teaching some keywords, and generally laying out the approach to treasure.

After this comes all sorts of tables outlining (almost proscribing) what treasure different level parties should (must?) receive for a fair and equitable game to be run. The fact that the treasure allotment is so heavily proscribed makes me extraordinarily sad.

No more random treasure.

Yeah. You read that right. There are no more dice rolls involved in generating treasure with Pathfinder. This breaks my heart, to be honest. As a GM, I always loved rolling up treasure because it would spark new ideas, thoughts, plot arcs, and cool stuff in my brain. Yeah, if I happened to roll up a majorly disruptive magic item for a low-level group, I’d probably shift things around a bit (or re-roll). However, randomly creating magic items for folks to find is gone. I’ll be over here in the corner shedding a tear for days gone by.

Okay. I’ve had my cry. I’m mostly better now. Looking at the new approach at handing out treasure is fair and balanced. It will assist new GMs from overloading their group with disruptive items while keeping the party well-equipped for future challenges. This is super helpful for new GMs, and I can appreciate this approach at handing out goods. I just wish they’d kept gems, jewelry, and/or artwork as a form of gaining wealth because those can, once again, inspire stories and side plots, not just a gain of wealth. Now, the party will just gain some gold from the hoard and move on.

If I ever run this version of Pathfinder, I’ll most likely break out my 2nd edition AD&D treasure generators (or the first Pathfinder versions) and run with those. They’re more fun than hand-picking treasure, to be honest.

After the list o’ treasure tables ends, the book delves into materials, which is one of the best write-ups of “non-normal” materials I’ve ever seen. Excellent job here. Obviously, the list isn’t complete, but I expect it to expand in the final version.

While flipping through the treasure section, I hit the sections for snares (crafting, detecting, triggering, etc.) and I was baffled here. I’m not sure why these were listed here under treasure, instead of above with the hazards. Did the wrong pages get dropped into the layout in the wrong place?

After snares, comes the alchemical items. This is a cool section. I highly encourage everyone to check this part out. There are oodles of examples, tons of ideas, and great information about how they play in the game. Loud applause for you here, Paizo.

Runes come next, and this is the part of enhancing weapons and armor with special powers. I love how weapons and armor must now be etched with cool-looking runes to become super special. This adds flavor to the world and storytelling options (as well as some neat intimidate/perception uses when someone wearing a well-etched suit of armor walks in the door) to the whole feel of the game.

Last come the details of the various magic items that don’t fall into “weapons and armor.” This comprises the bulk of the treasure section, and I’m not going to detail each item or neat thing. I do want to say that I really want to play an archer (preferably with the elven ancestry) with an Oathbow.

Appendices

This is probably going to be my shortest write-up of any of the sections in the book. The appendices simply are: traits and glossary.

The traits are all of the capitalized keywords (such as Strike) used within the book. The glossary is a good collection of phrases, terms, and things found within the book that may not be readily known to every player.

Final Thoughts

I think the most telling part of “is this a promising product” would be to answer the question, “Would J.T. play this game?”

The answer is, “Yes.”

This is a good foundational book for what promises to be a pretty cool system. There are some rough edges (as there are with any playtest document), but I figure Paizo is wise enough to listen to the feedback sent to them (and hopefully this series of articles) to improve the game.

There is another question looming, however. That question is, “Would J.T. play this version instead of the original Pathfinder?”

The answer is, “No.”

There are a few reasons for this.

The first is that I’m already heavily invested with knowledge, money, habits, and familiarity in the first version of Pathfinder. I have too much “edition inertia” going on to abandon Pathfinder 1.0 for Pathfinder 2.0. If the shift were more subtle between the two, I could see picking it up. However, everything will require major conversions to get from 1.0 to 2.0.

The second is that I’m extremely concerned with the lack of random treasure. Yeah. It’s that big of a deal. I feel it’s a departure too far from the “source material” that was created way back in the 1970s. I don’t like that one bit.

The third is that I don’t see anything drastically improving the game that much. There are tons of incremental improvements and quite a few major changes in the playtest document, but none of them really blew my socks off. There are some new concepts and ideas in here that I think I could shift back into a Pathfinder 1.0 game, but that now leaves me with Pathfinder 1.0 and some house rules (which I already have).

Final question is, “If J.T. were completely new to RPGs and presented with both versions, which one would he pick?”

I’d probably go with the playtest version, to be honest. It’s a better game, and my prejudices built up from playing RPGs for decades (and my Pathfinder edition inertia) would not be a factor in choosing which game to go with.

I know. I know. I’m giving a mixed message here, but there are different angles to look at things.

Paizo put out a solid effort here. I’m impressed with the amount of thought, care, effort, and experience that went into developing this game. They’ve certainly evolved the game. There are some high points in the evolution and some low points as well. I think the high drastically outweighs the low.

I’m very much looking forward to the final version of the game. I’ll take a look at it then and reevaluate things at that time to determine if my stance on moving forward to the new version will change.

Thanks to the Gnome Stew readers out there that stuck with me through these very long articles!

Categories: Game Theory & Design

TI Media donates $1.3 million as apology for leaking internal Take-Two documents

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 1 November 2018 - 10:31am

As part of the settlement over the publication of details from a "confidential corporate document," TI Media†™s $1.3 million donation was split between three charities selected by Take-Two. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

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