Game Design

Monday Terrain Corner

Tabletop Gaming News - 9 July 2018 - 11:00am
It’s Monday and I’m back in the office. It was a good, restful time away, all the annoyance with my computer and connection on Friday aside. Anyway, as we’re getting back into the swing of things, we need to make sure your gaming tables look good. Today in the terrain corner we have: Brigade Models […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Nexon and EA cancel Asia-exclusive Titanfall Online

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 9 July 2018 - 10:33am

Nexon and EA have ended development on the team-up project that would've brought an entirely online Titanfall game to Asian markets. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Sponsored: A practical way to make more money from your mobile games

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 9 July 2018 - 10:02am

Amelia Zins from Facebook Audience Network takes a deeper view into the field of app bidding, which is causing app publishers and game developers to pause and take notice. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

RESOCARD Game Cosplay Card Game Up On Kickstarter

Tabletop Gaming News - 9 July 2018 - 10:00am
Cosplay is one of those aspects of the hobby that’s always intrigued me, but I never really got into. I know it takes a lot of time, effort, patience, and can be somewhat expensive… all attributes that I don’t possess. So those that do it should be looked upon with awe. Well, they’re getting their […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

GCT Studios Posts New Minimoto Preview

Tabletop Gaming News - 9 July 2018 - 9:00am
GCT Studios’ Bushido is getting a bear clan. Yes, I am excited. Thank you for asking. They’re the Minimoto Clan, and we get another preview of what they’ll be all about over on GCT’s website. From the post: Raiko is one of the Unblessed, while technically an Ashigaru he has not yet earned the right […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Privateer Press Previews Crucible Guard Releases For Warmachine

Tabletop Gaming News - 9 July 2018 - 8:00am
The Crucible Guard is the new faction coming for Warmachine. They’re technologically advanced and full of alchemical wonders. They’ll be hitting tabletops soon, and Privateer Press wants to make sure you get a good look at what’s coming, including the new starter box. From the website: WAR IS A CRUCIBLE! The sizzle of acid eating […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Amazon Lumberyard: A Scream of Anguish - by Irina Zamogilnaya

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 9 July 2018 - 7:41am
Video games are among the most popular software products. Now a new game engine, Amazon Lumberyard, has joined this huge industry. The project is currently in the beta phase and still has time to get rid of the bugs and improve.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

CMON Previews Cthulhu For Cthulhu: Death May Die

Tabletop Gaming News - 9 July 2018 - 7:00am
Gee, what a big miniature you have there. So, in a game called Cthulhu: Death May Die, you’d expect to have a Cthulhu miniature, especially for a game coming from CMON. Well, it does. Though, at this point, I’m not sure if “miniature” is really the right term for it… From the preview: Something big […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

New Blood Bowl Pre-Orders Available From Games Workshop

Tabletop Gaming News - 9 July 2018 - 6:00am
Ready! Set! Hut! Hut! Omaha… Hike! The gridiron knows no downtime on the tabletops of the world. The Blood Bowl pitch is always ready for a game. But what teams will play on it, and which pitch will they play on? Games Workshop is taking pre-orders for a new Dark Elf team, as well as […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Adventure and Campaign Design By Checklist

Gnome Stew - 9 July 2018 - 5:24am

The Question from DC comics. (Image from Justice League Unlimited)

As my 8 month campaign was beginning to wrap towards its conclusion, I started to plan things a little differently than I had when it was just beginning. When the game was new, I was using Trello to plot out and organize story arcs, character options, and connect different cards to each other to make a complex spiderweb that would be worthy of a conspiracy theory developed by The Question. As I was beginning to wrap the various story arcs to their conclusions, I began to think of the important notes I wanted to hit in different ways. I became very goal oriented, wanting to make sure certain things occurred for each player before our time together ended (due to travel and changing life situations). One feature of the Trello boards began to spill over into all of my game prep, and by the time I was done, everything in my game was resting on one solid foundation – checklists. Trello’s feature letting you create checklists was super useful, and as it bled over into my prep mindset, I started to see the beauty of thinking with the end result first. Starting game prep with the end result in mind could lead you to railroading, but if done correctly it can focus you on what really matters – the players.

Designing By Checklist

Designing by checklist is really just about focusing on what could happen and less on exactly how you get there. I used checklists in two primary ways. First, every character had a checklist of things that enabled player fun. What the player liked to do, what the character liked to do, what unique things the character had that I could incorporate. With this checklist in place, I could quickly parse it before the game and see if there were any elements I could incorporate into that game session. Knowing that Mayte had a magic goat and liked to hit things (two very true things about her character), I could decide that a race/fight might be a good idea to let her use her mount and get some good combat. I hadn’t really planned for that before, but the character option checklist reminded me of things her player would find fun and that I could incorporate, rather than just having a simple battle.

The other primary way I used checklists for game design was creating plot “armatures” of things I wanted to happen for a particular session. Much like my Island Design Theory of game design, this focused more on elements than how to navigate between them. A simple checkbox could contain “vital NPC betrays party” and if it doesn’t happen in one session it can be moved to another. I can check the elements off that occurred, or make small notes next to them to note something that changed, and because of the minimal amount of work I did in planning the setup, I wouldn’t feel bad about missing out on something.

Here are some of the checklists I used during the game.

In essence, using checklists as the main organizing structure of a game or campaign forces you to look at what happens, and not fret the details of how to get there. You still focus on what you want to occur, but rather than plot building in a linear fashion, you check things off the list in the order they occur. This helps keep the spotlight on the players (if you use player goals or player focused items) and it breaks the linear mold, even if you write down what you expect to happen. In one of the sessions above, we knew what was going to happen. The group would get to meet a council of mages in Limia, a character would return and replace their doppelganger in the party, and their eventual mission would play out with them going to hell. That sounds pretty cut and dried, but it occurred in a very different way. The players opted to go directly to hell, spent way more time dealing with the reconciliation with the real Salazar, and their time talking with the council was minimal. The story still moved along, just focusing on some elements rather than others.

That session was a setup session to prep for the finale, and it required certain elements that were the culmination of their previous actions and approaches. The other sessions had more openness, so the checklist items were more general approaches and options I could bring in. In session 2 of the finale, they knew they were traveling through hell to find a knot connecting two worlds. How they moved through hell and what approaches they used were totally up to them, but the one definite was that one of the characters would find the knot being guarded by a demon she had a personal vendetta against. Those two things were all that was on my checklist and based on how the characters approached the challenges, I could redo the connecting elements in whatever way made sense.

How did it work?

My last game sessions had something for everyone, and if I realized we didn’t get to something for a player in one session, made sure their checklist was start of next session. The checklists were goals I wanted to accomplish, even if I didn’t know how. They kept my last few sessions structured, but malleable. They kept me focusing on characters and their individual goals. I’ve written a lot about designing and planning games to be malleable, and anything that helps move you to a different headspace and envision your game in a different way is going to be useful. I think the checklist idea worked incredibly well, especially when focusing on character goals or elements I wanted to happen but didn’t NEED to happen to complete a story.  All of the players seemed to walk away with a sense of satisfaction and completion. I think, as a campaign design ideology, it’s worth trying out.

What do you think about paring down your campaign prep to just checklists? How much would you hold yourself to completing them? What methods do you use to organize your prep?

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Fuzzy Thinking: Telegraph of Cthulhu

RPGNet - 9 July 2018 - 12:00am
Fuzzy calls.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Heart of Darkness | Behind the AI and Storytelling of Spec Ops: The Line - by Tommy Thompson

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 8 July 2018 - 11:45pm
2012's Spec Ops: The Line is a cult classic third-person cover shooter by Yager Development. In this article I explore how the horrific story of Spec Ops is held aloft by smart AI systems and designers exploiting them to full effect.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Localization Project Manager Boot Camp - Part 1 - Project Kick-off - by Mark Timmins

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 8 July 2018 - 11:44pm
Part 1 of 10 in a localization series for aspiring Localization Project Managers (if such people exist!). Here, I will share my knowledge of localization having worked for Activision and Sony on over 100 games. In Part 1 I detail the project kick-off.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Retro Games as a Revivalist Movement - by John Nelson Rose

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 8 July 2018 - 11:42pm
Revival movements in art have a long history, and retro game development can learn a lot from them. Let's consider retro games in the light of two important architectural movements, Neoclassicism and Gothic Revival, and see what shakes loose.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Retro Games as a Revivalist Movement - by John Rose

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 8 July 2018 - 11:42pm
Revival movements in art have a long history, and retro game development can learn a lot from them. Let's consider retro games in the light of two important architectural movements, Neoclassicism and Gothic Revival, and see what shakes loose.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

The Future of Halo: From Monkey Nuts to Infinity Part 2 - by Roman Tolstykh

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 8 July 2018 - 11:40pm
This could come in the form of class-based warfare in which each player inherits a role not unlike what we have seen in Battlefield or Destiny. For the sake of simplicity, imagine a mixture of Halo, FarCry and The Division to get an idea.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

How “My Lovely Daughter” Saved Our Studio - by Dodick Sudirman

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 8 July 2018 - 11:40pm
The development journey and post-mortem to our third game published for PC - Steam, My Lovely Daughter. The story of how we really focused on delivering the game vision and the first time we are working with a publisher.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Visualizing StarCraft Replays with R - by Ben Weber

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 8 July 2018 - 11:38pm
Using the R programming language to create interesting summarizations of expert StarCraft gameplay.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Different Ways Of Shaking Camera In Unity - by Vivek Tank

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 8 July 2018 - 11:22pm
The main objective of this blog post is to give you an idea about Camera Shake in Unity3D.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

The most common types of behavior when playing video games - by Herbert Llanas

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 8 July 2018 - 10:59pm
Since the video games industry is growing faster than ever, let’s take a moment and think a little bit about the impact that these games have on our behavior.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

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