Game Design

Organizing successful competition that doesn't scale - a js13kGames 2017 post mortem - by Andrzej Mazur Blogs - 5 February 2018 - 7:37am
Let's look at the js13kGames 2017 competition from the perspective of those few months that already passed, see why this one was special, and why it have to change.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Evolution of War | The AI of Total War (Part 2) - by Tommy Thompson Blogs - 5 February 2018 - 7:27am
In my second article on the AI of Total War, I look at the rise of modding for AI behaviour, as well as the complete engine rewrite in 2009's Empire: Total War.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Bury Me, My Love: tips for writing a game that feels real - by Pierre Corbinais Blogs - 5 February 2018 - 7:26am
How to write a game based on a sensitive topic such as the European refugee crisis? How to make this game feel real while remaining respectful of the people concerned? Here are a few tips based on my own experience.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Wyrd Previews The Undying For Malifaux/Through the Breach

Tabletop Gaming News - 5 February 2018 - 7:08am
Since both Malifaux and Through the Breach take place in the same universe, Wyrd is able to create products that give content for both at the same time. In this case, it’s their Story Encounter and Adventure Box. It’s got story and adventure for the RPG, while also some cool, new models for the minis […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Team Play Now Available From WizKids

Tabletop Gaming News - 5 February 2018 - 7:00am
Two heads are better than one. It’s an old saying that’s now in game form via Team Play, a new card game from WizKids and Schmidt Spiele. In the game, pairs of players are looking to complete objectives, but they’re unable to directly say exactly what their goal is. Players will have to find other […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

New Age of Sigmar Releases Available to Order From Games Workshop

Tabletop Gaming News - 5 February 2018 - 6:00am
The world of the Age of Sigmar is world where death isn’t the end. While nobody here is 100% certain what happens when you die, in AoS, your body can definitely come back and continue to act and work. Powerful necromancers, such as Nagash, can and will use you as a puppet to do their […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

How to Create When You’re Angry

Gnome Stew - 5 February 2018 - 5:29am


Whew, there’s a lot to be angry about in our current American political climate. That’s not the only reason you might be angry though. If you’re anything like me, your emotions could spike because you got into a stupid internet argument, the local government bureaucracy is inhumanely disorganized, or your chronic pain is high that day. Emotions just happen! So what to do when they’re distracting you from designing an amazing setting or prepping for your PbTA game tonight? I’ve developed some techniques that might be useful for you, too.

Hack Your Brain

I love hacking my brain and one of the most useful hacks I’ve learned is to smile when you’re angry. It will trick your brain into feeling happier, because the brain associates that movement with laughter or happiness. Seriously your brain is that dumb. It’s incredible how we can influence our feelings with the chemicals in our bodies. Do the equivalent of smiling with your creativity. So make something that is silly, or wholesome, or makes you laugh.
I love hacking my brain and one of the most useful hacks I’ve learned is to smile when you’re angry.


Are you really angry? Like Hulk angry? Channel those feelings into whatever monster you’re creating for the PCs of your game to encounter. Write something angry. Focus on venting what you feel and you might even feel better afterwards too. I usually do! It’s also really authentic to use what you’re feeling in whatever you’re designing.

Be Gentle With Yourself

It’s ok if you’re angry you’re allowed to feel that way. Sometimes we focus so much on anger having the stigma of a “negative” emotion that we forget it’s important to feel all emotions and none of them are bad. Write a little then take a break to really stew like one of those anime characters brooding with lines coming off their head. Then make yourself go back to creating that really cool witch teacher NPC that’ll feature in tonight’s game.

Sandwich with Self Care

This one might be my favorite because I looooooooove pampering myself. Put on a face mask with coffee and watch a half hour of youtube to chill. Then write for a few hours. Then make yourself a smoothie and have some cute time with your snake. The care will help you get into creative mode despite the stupid emotions. Bonus, you’ll get a reward after you’ve been designing for a little while.
 Then write for a few hours. Then make yourself a smoothie and have some cute time with your snake. 

Give Into The Anger

Dark side of the force style, you know, like emo shirtless Kylo Ren, only more productive and less evil. Admitting you’re angry is really half the battle. Allow yourself some time to reach out for emo support among your friends and family before you start creating. Usually when I do this I remember the clever amazing queen I am, and it helps heal my heart. With renewed vigor I then go on to create without this anger bullshit weighing me down as much.

Just Do It

I know, I know “but Kira if I could just do it I wouldn’t be here reading this helpful list.” Sometimes when the rest of me is saying nooooo I don’t wanna, it’s the best time to sit down and just do it, because I’ve made it way harder in my head than it actually is. It might be hard to convince yourself to take this route cause too many emotions, but I’ve found this is one of the most effective strategies. If you wanna get it done, just do it.

I hope you can put these techniques to good use, and they help you overcome those angery feels and create some awesome things for your friends or your game designs.


Categories: Game Theory & Design

Fuzzy Thinking: Beware the Hobgoblin Hoard!

RPGNet - 5 February 2018 - 12:00am
Fuzzy signage
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Video Game Deep Cuts: SOS - Bubsy Meets Tetris

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 4 February 2018 - 8:37pm

This week's link highlights include a video profile of SOS creators Outpost Games, an analysis of Bubsy's Japanese translation and a longform Tetris documentary, among others. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Video Game Deep Cuts: SOS - Bubsy Meets Tetris - by Simon Carless Blogs - 4 February 2018 - 8:22am
This week's Video Game Deep Cuts highlights include a video profile of SOS creators Outpost Games, an analysis of Bubsy's Japanese translation and a longform Tetris documentary, among others.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Review Roundup

Tabletop Gaming News - 3 February 2018 - 11:00am
Woo! Saturday! And I’m finally mostly over being sick. You never realize just how much you are thankful that you can breathe through your nose or take a couple breaths without coughing until that’s exactly the opposite of how you’re doing. Ah well. While I groove along to The Guess Who (because why not?), let’s […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Achaean Archers, Libyan Close Fighters + Nubian/Kushite Close Fighters now Available For Hail Caesar

Tabletop Gaming News - 2 February 2018 - 3:00pm
Warlord Games tends to run the whole gamut of times for their games. Hail Caesar is their game that spans the most. Here, you’ve got armies as “modern” as Ancient Rome, but it goes all the way back into almost pre-history. In this case, we’re setting the Wayback Machine for the Bronze Age, with new […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Star Wars: Destiny Legacies Is Available Now

Tabletop Gaming News - 2 February 2018 - 2:00pm
The newest packs for Star Wars: Destiny, called the Legacies expansion, is now available. These new cards and dice span the realm of Star Wars lore, from the Republic to the Rebellion and beyond. You can pick up your starter sets and booster packs now. And, to keep everything together, Fantasy Flight’s also got three […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Steamforged Previews Valentine’s Minis For Guild Ball

Tabletop Gaming News - 2 February 2018 - 1:00pm
I love alternate sculpts for minis. Steamforged does, too. They’ve been coming out with holiday-themed alternate models for a while now, and this Valentine’s Day will be no different. If any Guild would be best for Valentine’s, it might as well be the one most associated with the color red. And they’ve probably had someone’s […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

New Nazgul, Tank Doors Available From Forge World

Tabletop Gaming News - 2 February 2018 - 12:00pm
Two ends of the spectrum over on Forge World’s ordering page this week. On one hand, you’ve got the next set of Nazgul figures for The Hobbit. On the other hand, you’ve got doors for Rhinos and Land Raiders for a whole bunch of different Space Marine chapters. Appearing at Dol Guldur in a very […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Friday Snippets

Tabletop Gaming News - 2 February 2018 - 11:00am
Hello, Friday, my old friend. This has been the first full-week of the year, methinks. Like, ok, I know that we’re already into February, but I think this might be the only week where I’ve been up and into the office each day. Just been that type of year so far, I suppose. What might […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Devil Pig Giving Away 3 Heroes of Black Reach Packs

Tabletop Gaming News - 2 February 2018 - 10:00am
Who doesn’t like getting free stuff? Nobody, that’s who! Devil Pig Games is looking to give away 3 copies of their Heroes of Black Reach set for Drop Zone. If you’d like to get your hands on it, just head over to their Facebook page and put your name in the hat. From the post […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

WizKids Previews Independent Faction Pack For Star Trek: Attack Wing

Tabletop Gaming News - 2 February 2018 - 9:00am
One of the new product lines for Star Trek: Attack Wing that WizKids is working on are the faction packs. For players looking to focus on a particular race or faction in the game, these sets give you a great start, or a way to really bulk up your forces. The next one to come […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

New British Airborne Forces Available For Bolt Action

Tabletop Gaming News - 2 February 2018 - 8:00am
The Americans weren’t the only ones to have airborne forces in WWII. During Operation Market Garden, the British were also bringing troops in from the skies. You can add to your Bolt Action forces with several new British Airborne kits, including some vehicles, artillery, and specialists. From the release: The US Airborne have shown their […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Trello For Campaign Management

Gnome Stew - 2 February 2018 - 7:30am

I’m fairly surprised that Phil isn’t writing this article. He’s my go-to person for organizational and project management tools to use for gaming, since he does it in his day job and project manages many gaming books and projects that I’ve been involved with. He knows his stuff, so I’m kind of proud that I’m scooping him on this.*
(*I’m using Scoop in a very broad way, since I’m sure he’s done this in some form, but it doesn’t look like he’s written an article about it yet.)

So, onto the story. I’m running a campaign that I started at a meetup to broaden my current gaming group and built through the first parts of buying a house, transitioning to a new job, and packing everything and moving. I haven’t been the most organized in keeping my game notes about sessions and planning forward. I’ve got a hundred scraps of notes about things I’ve done in the game, I’ve got 3 bullet point lists of the plot ideas for the next sessions and I’ve got NPCs names and plans written down, but sometimes when I’ve introduced an element on the fly, I forget to add it all in.

Trello To The Rescue

So, I’ve been running the game, 6 or 7 sessions, trying to remember the names of the NPCs or exactly where on the map I put that organization’s base, all while looking through my half-unpacked gaming stuff to see where I threw those notes on that one list, and I finally realize how I should have been doing this all along – Trello. I use it for work, I use it for writing and art direction projects, I use it to organize my daily life, so why the heck am I not using it to keep track of my gaming stuff? I started up a Trello board for my campaign and this is what it looks like:

After a few weeks of use, there are many benefits to using Trello to organize a campaign.

  • A List for every Category – I can make a list for each category of things. I can make one for locations, one for people, one for organizations, one for loot, etc. Whatever is useful to my game structure, I can make one list for that and plan it out.
  • A Card For Every Element – Every element I create can be a card, and can contain useful information about that element (more on this later. In Trello’s framework, the cards I create can be moved between lists, which makes it incredibly versatile for planning and for note keeping. I can create a macguffin card that has all the information I need to know about the element, and I can move it from list to list as it becomes useful to that area. Perhaps the macfguffin is going to be part of the next session, so I can move it to the Current Session list and visually connect it to other elements that I have moved there.
  • Trello Cards Contain Multitudes – A card in trello can have many elements. It can have attachments (like images for reference), it can have a description and a title (the base concept of the element), it can have links (such as to a music file that serves as the elements theme music), and it can have multiple checklists. I find the checklists useful, since I can make ones for properties, ones for GM specific elements, ones for plans that the NPC I’ve attached it to has, etc.
  • Non-linear Visualization – One of my favorite gaming theories is adventure and campaign design through Island Design Theory (I wrote about it on GS and for Unframed), and using a Trello board is a great way to organize based on this. I can set up the elements, add to them as the game goes along, and move them between containers, all without visualizing in my mind what is going to happen, but what all elements are in play and how easily they could change.
  • Session Logging – Trello can also serve well as a session logger. While I keep the bulk of the information for an element attached to the card for the element, I can make a card at the wrap up of each session and type into a checklist there all the things of note that happened. This serves as a great, bullet point list to reference later. I can then open up other cards and add to them as needed, but I have one single log of the session. I can keep all the previous sessions on a list for previous sessions and I can copy and paste those session logs for the players to have a running, broad log.
Trello’s Utility As A Cross Platform Device And Archive For Old Games

I can keep Trello’s app up on my tablet and enter notes or reference things that I set up on my computer previously. I can add a note or reference the image attached to a card and wave my tablet at the players so they can see the image without revealing other elements about the element. I can always enter notes as needed on the cards, then move back to the computer since it is all hosted on trello’s servers.

One of the beautiful things about the Trello board is that it can be exported or saved on the server so that you can reference it at some later point in time. I have folders and binders and notebooks full of old campaign information, mostly for nostalgia’s sake. I also have a half unpacked gaming space and constant questions about why I’m keeping certain things around in physical file formats. Trello, alongside its export feature, means I can store my campaigns digitally and save them to archival quality CDs if I am concerned about the long-term storage of my campaigns, at a fraction of the physical space. While I have no idea how future proofed Trello as a service is, the export format is JSON, which is a very popular format that will likely be readable in some format when we’re all heads in jars at the head museum.

Campaign Organization

I’ve become a big fan of tools that let me organize my campaigns digitally. I’m familiar with Trello due to other ways it intersects with my life, but I’ve used programs like Basecamp, Google Drive, And Slack for campaigns as well. Trello is made to organize projects, and that dovetails nicely with the utility needed for organizing a campaign. The fact that it is free is, of course, a major selling point to being able to test it out and try it. If I want to share it with other people for feedback, adding team members or making the board public is an option. Trello hits a lot of sweet spots for me to keep campaigns organized, but it’s certainly not the only way.

Everyone has a different method of campaign organization, and having the right tool to keep some structure to your plans can help you feel more confident in your improvisation. What is your preferred method of campaign and game organization? Have you used Trello or an alternative? What worked and what didn’t?

Categories: Game Theory & Design


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