Game Design

Indies Need a Coop - by Greg Costikyan

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 14 December 2017 - 6:57am
The cooperative system of business organization is >100 years old, and ideally suited to improving the prospect of indie developers.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Gaming Without Barriers: Why we need to include Accessibility in the concept phase of game development - by Zein Okko

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 14 December 2017 - 6:56am
Accessibility in gaming is gaining more awareness, but there's still a long way to go. I want to share my experiences with making our game accessible and provide a few tips and links on the topic.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Version Control Commit Comments (Aug 29th to Nov 22nd), Paralysis by Analysis - by Jake Jollimore

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 14 December 2017 - 6:53am
My struggles with UI design and some version control commit comments so you can see what I've been working on in a nutshell.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Work on animation - by Konstantin Bulatov

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 14 December 2017 - 6:42am
We added animation to the main character and the enemy
Categories: Game Theory & Design

D00M 4 Intro: the nihilist scenario - by Léonard Bertos

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 14 December 2017 - 6:40am
D00M is one of my favorite games because of its unquestionable efficiency. But as a scenarist, I'm tired to hear the "D00M has no scenario lol" everlasting platitude. Let's end this predjudice, here and now!
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Privateer’s 12 Factions of Christmas Available Now

Tabletop Gaming News - 14 December 2017 - 6:00am
Nobody likes to be left out when it comes to getting gifts at the holidays. It’s not fun to see someone else open up something cool and all you’ve got is a monogram pencil set. Well, Privateer Press is making sure there’s something for everyone this December with their 12 Factions of Christmas. All their […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

CMON To Publish Victorian Masterminds

Tabletop Gaming News - 14 December 2017 - 3:19am
CMON has announced a new game that they will be releasing next year. Originally announced by Space Cowboy, CMON has entered into an agreement to make Victorian Masterminds. In it, players will be some of history’s most evil masterminds, who are seizing on the opportunity created by Sherlock Holmes’ disappearance. But there’s still the Secret […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

A Computer Security Approach to Changing GMs

Gnome Stew - 14 December 2017 - 3:00am

I’ve been working in computer security, in some fashion, since the early 1990s. One of the key concepts in this field is to separate processes on computing systems, so they can’t talk to each other or read/write data between each other . . . unless done so in an explicit manner. This can be done via one of three methods: physical, temporal, or virtual. I won’t delve deep into these approaches of computer security because that’s not the point of this site. We’re here to talk about gaming advice, after all.

Now that I’ve set the stage, let’s get to the gaming advice. These three approaches of separating processes and data can be used when changing GMs within the same campaign. It’s difficult to create a smooth flow between a GM change, even when planned, so hopefully what I have to say here can help keep the waters calm and the players engaged.

Physical

 In the gaming world, each GM should “claim” a particular section of the world. In the computing world, this would mean Client A is on computer A, and Client B is on computer B. Likewise, you should run your web server on one server and your email server on a different one. This is an over simplification, but it sets the stage.

In the gaming world, each GM should “claim” a particular section of the world (or continent or city or planes or whatever) and keep their gaming sessions isolated to the part that they’ve laid claim to. The trick here lies in getting the PCs from one part of the world to the next when a different GM jumps behind the screen. This can be done with interludes (Savage Worlds anyone?) or a brief transitional story told by the GM to set up why and how the PCs have traveled to a different part of the world.

The more closely tied the sections of the world are in physical and story space, the easier it is to make this transition. Try to keep the adventures swapping between regions of a single nation or neighboring nations. Even using two different cities that are relatively close to on another is an option.

By allowing each GM to have their own part of the world, this allows each GM to bring their own flavor and style to the game, which is one of the reasons to change up GMs. The trick is to make sure the various GMs work with one another to maintain a continuity in the world.

Temporal

 When swapping GMs, a time gap can occur. In the computing world, there used to be a concept called “time sharing” back when there were a few mainframes in the world. Basically, Client A would “rent time” on a mainframe for a few weeks and then their data would be archived and purged from the mainframe before Client B took over the mainframe. With the ubiquity of cloud computer and “always on” services, this has fallen out of favor.

However, these same concepts can be applied to a game. When swapping GMs, a time gap can occur. Again, the incoming GM can give a brief tale about what happened over the past 2-3 months to set up what the next adventure will be about. Instead of moving the PCs across space, the GMs will work together to shift them forward in time. Of course, the world will change around them, and this can allow each GM to bring in their own story ideas and flavors.

An alternate to having the GM dictate what happens during the “downtime” is to seed the PCs with a few events that are happening, and then ask them what they are doing with this time of non-adventure. This allows for spell research, magic item creation, training, building a stronghold, growing their congregation, and other activities that adventurers (especially the higher level ones) never seem to have time to accomplish.

Virtual

 These two characters under a single player should be related somehow via backstory. With computers, you can easily run web, email, DNS, FTP, shell servers, databases, and other services on a single computer. You can also easily run both Client A and Client B services on a single computer by using virtual segregation to ensure A never touches B’s data and vice versa.

To apply these concepts of virtual segregation in games, I would approach this by having each player control a character for each GM, but only one character at a time. There could be a higher level character and a lower level character in each player’s portfolio. These two characters under a single player should be related somehow via backstory. The easy option that I’ve seen used is to have all of the characters, regardless of which GM is in charge, be part of a single organization. This allows for the story to center around the organization.

By virtually separating the characters between GMs, this allows for the GM that is now a non-player to not have a character for that group. This resolves issues along the lines of, “But what is Gorgash doing while the rest of the party is out adventuring?” Of course, Gorgash would be the current GM’s character in this question. The GM simply doesn’t have a character in the group when she is running the game.

Combining Approaches

As some astute readers have probably realized by now, it would be very easy to shift things physically and temporally in one fell swoop. This is perfectly valid. Feel free to mix and match the various segregation tools at hand to find what works best with your group.

Conclusion

I’ve seen all of these approaches used to good effect when changing GMs. I’ve also seen them when the GM needs to or wants to provide a different flavor to the game. I’ve also seen temporal shifts happen when the entire group consisted of elves, and the PCs universally decided to hang out for a decade or two and then jump back into the fray.

One thing to keep in mind is that the world is a living, breathing character as well. Anytime you shift the PCs around, the world is going to shift around them. This doesn’t mean world-shattering changes happen each time, but there will be shifts and subtle changes going on around the group as they move about.

Has anyone out there tried one of these three approaches? How about combining them? I’d love to hear your stories and further advice in this area.

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Superseeds: Songseeds, Volume 2

RPGNet - 14 December 2017 - 12:00am
Superseeds inspired by songs.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Battlegrounds' PlayerUnknown argues for better protection against copycat games

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 13 December 2017 - 5:15pm

Creator of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Brendan Greene discusses his frustration over copycat games in an interview with the BBC. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Issue #2 of Spellcaster Magazine Now Available

Tabletop Gaming News - 13 December 2017 - 3:00pm
When you want to fill up your day with gaming, a great way to do so is via gaming magazines. And if you’re a fan of Frostgrave, you’ll want to check out Spellcaster magazine. Issue 2 is available now for your downloading and reading pleasure. Included in it, as you can tell from the cover, […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Loka Card Game Now Available From River Horse

Tabletop Gaming News - 13 December 2017 - 2:00pm
This holiday season, many of us will be meeting up with friends and relatives who might not really be gamers. So grabbing one of your more-complex board games might not be the best. However, having something that’s easy to learn and teach would be good. For this, you might think about picking up the Loka […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Crytek sues Star Citizen devs for copyright infringement, breach of contract

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 13 December 2017 - 1:32pm

UPDATE The complaint stems from a number of incidents surrounding the development of Star Citizen, the devs' online space exploration game which used CryEngine for the bulk of its development. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Print Edition of Conan the Thief Now Available

Tabletop Gaming News - 13 December 2017 - 1:00pm
While e-books are nice, I still prefer having a physical copy for myself. I like flipping through the pages and just coming across interesting bits in the book. Well, for those that are like me, you can get the physical version of Conan the Thief from Modiphius. That guy sure did have a lot of […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Ahead of FCC vote, Twitch CEO speaks on importance of net neutrality

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 13 December 2017 - 12:08pm

"[Net neutralitly] repeal could have a serious impact on our community, especially for our creators who do so much to make Twitch the unique place it is." ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Fuel Injection Games’ Nuclear Winter Sale Happening Now

Tabletop Gaming News - 13 December 2017 - 12:00pm
We all like getting a good deal. It’s fun to save money. And the folks at Fuel Injection Games want to help out with that. From now until January 10th, they’ve got their Nuclear Winter Sale happening over in their webshop. So if you want to head over and pick up anything for their Broken […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Midweek Snippets

Tabletop Gaming News - 13 December 2017 - 11:00am
I just realized this morning that this upcoming weekend is the last one before Christmas. Ok, so, technically Christmas has one more weekend before it, but since it falls on a Monday, it means this upcoming week is the last one before the holiday. As such, I’ve just now realized how much baking I need […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Dance of the Fireflies Card Game Available From Ninja Division

Tabletop Gaming News - 13 December 2017 - 10:00am
I do love a well-tended garden. Honestly, I love going to the Botanical Gardens, hedge mazes, and well laid-out floral arrangement. So games that simulate such certainly have my attention. In Dance of the Fireflies, players are trying to create a beautiful arrangement of flowers by bidding their fireflies on different plant cards. In the […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Tails of Equestria Movie Sourcebook Now Available From River Horse

Tabletop Gaming News - 13 December 2017 - 9:00am
Sad news: my MLP RP that I’ve been running here at the office is on hiatus until the new year. Things are just too busy and since we played on Mondays, and the next two major holidays are on Monday, we’ll pick back up the second week of January. However, that does mean that I’ll […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

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