Game Design

Destiny goes free-to-play as Destiny 2: New Light

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 6 June 2019 - 12:18pm

New Light aims to entice new players by offering an appealing place to start playing Destiny 2 without needing to play a pricey game of catch-up. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Stadia 'Founder's Edition' launches in November, base version in 2020

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 6 June 2019 - 10:19am

Google has finally offered more details on the Stadia game streaming service it announced earlier this year, shedding light on pricing details and the platform†™s game offerings in a pre-E3 stream today. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

1 Year of Gamdev, and Making Games Should be Fun - by Craig Robinson Blogs - 6 June 2019 - 7:18am
Craig shares 1.5 years of learning game development while working a full time job. He talks about the summer leading up to creating Buttery Games and starting LUMEN: Lost Passages as a way to escape.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

The Idol of Bala

New RPG Product Reviews - 6 June 2019 - 6:28am
Publisher: Aegis Studios
Rating: 5
This 'dungeon crawl' for 2nd-3rd level characters opens with the standard overview of the setting, useful for those who don't have any other *Odysseys and Overlords *material - it works with any OSR ruleset, but best with *The Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game*. We then get on to the background for this adventure, being a discussion of how people turned to worship other deities when the local mob decided all-out war between themselves was a good idea. One such was called Bala, who was mildly popular with creative folk for a few years before falling out of favour again. However centuries later a rumour arose that Bala's followers had discovered the secret of eternal life, only by then nobody could remember where any temples to Bala were. The hunt was on...

... and this adventure begins with the discovery in the Untamed Gauntlet of a tablet whose inscription, according to a priest called Dendefsha (who worships another deity), contains directions to one hidden deep in the Gauntlet. He wastes no time in hiring a party of adventurers to go and take a look. Of course, other interested parties are also looking for the temple. Who'll find it first?

The adventure proper begins with the party standing on the doorstep of the temple. Actually finding it is an adventure you'll have to provide or, if wilderness adventures aren't your thing, just give the party sufficient background and start the game here. The first trick is figuring out how to get in, and it doesn't get much better thereafter: there are tricks and puzzles galore as you explore onwards. As well as rivals for the idol, which is said to be carved with Bala's secrets, there are some creatures to contend with as well.

Although small - there are only three main chambers - the temple is well-described. Details of all the traps or effects are explained clearly, with notes on relevant mechanics, saves to make, and so on, and all monsters come with a stat block to enable you to run them effectively. Player and GM versions of the map are included. The conclusion assumes that the party is successful, but does give the possibility of future allies and enemies that can be woven into further adventures.

This is a classic 'delve' adventure, with monsters to kill and loot to acquire... being short and sweet it could be a good filler or one-off adventure, or even an introduction to OSR play. It's nicely-done, however, and there are concepts here worthy of expansion should it suit your campaign to do so.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Character Class: Winning the Metagame: Explaining the Rules

RPGNet - 6 June 2019 - 12:00am
When NOT to Explain the Rules.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Zynga launches Snap Games-exclusive battle royale game

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 5 June 2019 - 3:21pm

The prolific mobile developer is one of the first to land games on the game platform Snap launched inside its Snapchat social messaging app. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Report: Destiny 2 is coming to Google Stadia

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 5 June 2019 - 12:00pm

Multiple sources speaking to Kotaku say that Bungie†™s online space shooter is launching on the cloud-based game platform, ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Exteneded Fiction in Game Deisgn: Hotline Miami, Spec Ops: The Line, and Bioshock - by Austin Anderson Blogs - 5 June 2019 - 7:50am
This is the final section of my honors thesis on extended fiction in game design, it discusses games that utilize ludoethical tension in a different and darker manner than previously discussed. It also contains the conclusion to my thesis.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Things to Know About Creating a Turn-Based Strategy Game - by Chris Fernholz Blogs - 5 June 2019 - 7:44am
Some tips and tricks when developing an RTS game. This article will give you an overview of some key factors for development, design, and gameplay mechanics.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Evolving Achievements with Trophy Room Design - by Josh Bycer Blogs - 5 June 2019 - 7:43am
Today's post looks at the use of achievements and how there are ways to evolve their use in games.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Sell our souls to the devil. The risk of debt for equity deals. - by Simon Bailey Blogs - 5 June 2019 - 7:42am
We all love ‘Diablo’ but would we sell our souls him?... Last week my colleague Anthony and I gave a presentation of our latest game to a potential funder. We managed to get the opportunity and the game USP across well.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Gambling in GTA - more than an afterthought - by Lauri Ronkainen Blogs - 5 June 2019 - 7:36am
Rockstar Games - the company behind GTA and RDR game series - has included some elements of gambling in most of their hit games. Let's take a look at all the options to make an easy buck in the entire Grand Theft Auto Saga.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

The Indie Game Shelf: Legacy: Life Among the Ruins (Second Edition)

Gnome Stew - 5 June 2019 - 5:00am

Welcome to The Indie Game Shelf! Each article in this series will highlight a different small press roleplaying game to showcase the wide variety of games available. Whether you’re a veteran gamer looking for something new or brand new to the hobby and wanting to explore what’s out there, I hope The Indie Game Shelf always holds something fun and new for you to enjoy!

Legacy: Life Among the Ruins (Second Edition)

Legacy: Life Among the Ruins from UFO Press and Modiphius Entertainment is a Powered by the Apocalypse game designed for one Game Master (GM) and 2-5 players to tell the epic, era-spanning tale of rebuilding society after a cataclysmic fall. Apocalypse World, the progenitor of the Powered by the Apocalypse movement, is a game about surviving the harsh post-apocalyptic wasteland. In its wake arose an army of games based on similar design principles but exploring different settings and themes from classic fantasy like Dungeon World to imaginative futurism like Headspace. When Legacy first emerged in 2015, a game about surviving the harsh post-apocalyptic wasteland, I mused that we’d come full circle with a Powered by the Apocalypse game that was once again about…well, the apocalypse.

Legacy is a different game from Apocalypse World, though, with a different focus and a very different style. In this edition of The Indie Game Shelf, I’ll be focusing on the second edition of Legacy, published in 2018. The second edition is an update of the first, as opposed to it being a different set of rules. The core of the game remains, but gameplay is improved and material expanded by the second edition, so I recommend the second edition over the first.

The Story

Legacy is a game squarely set in the post-apocalypse genre, but where the game differs from most others is in the scope of the narrative. The stories told in this game span generations, truly living up to the game’s premise of world-building. Players in this game do control characters as in other RPGs, but the main interface between players and the game world are the Family playbooks, which represent whole groups of people across the duration of the world’s development. The framing of the game’s fiction zooms in and out between the two perspectives, with some stories being personal to Characters and others taking a wider, more epic view of the activities and relationships of Families. In this context, a Family is not necessarily a group of people related biologically; they can be united by ideology, culture, circumstance, or anything that forges a bond of loyalty between people. Families grow and change, are driven by various purposes, have relationships with each other, face threats, and can pursue grand, world-changing events in the game called Wonders.

Like in many Powered by the Apocalypse games, the rules present a style of play more than a detailed setting. There is assumed to have previously occurred some great disaster that tore civilization down, and the game’s story is meant to take place in the aftermath, but the details of the world and its history are left to each game group to decide. However, Legacy provides rules for determining these details through playbook choice and configuration. The selection of a playbook can describe aspects of the game’s world, but the choices made within that playbook refine the setting’s history.

 The game mechanics of Legacy drive toward changing the in-fiction world during play, from character death to the mechanics of Wonders, both of which create huge narrative and mechanical changes to the game which are felt for the rest of the campaign. Share1Tweet1Reddit1EmailFor example, choosing the Family playbook “The Order of the Titan,” which describes a group dedicated to hunting, fighting, or scavenging gigantic alien beasts called Behemoths, means that you now know that Behemoths are a part of your game world. Once a playbook is chosen, however, then a stat line must be selected, and the choice of stat line might dictate “your studies woke the Behemoths and set them loose” or “the Behemoths brought the Fall to the world.” In this way, Family and Character setup also result in setting up the world, not only historically but also geographically with the building of a collaborative world map. (I love games that use collaborative map-building!)

In addition to a Family playbook, players also begin by selecting a Character playbook to represent an exceptional member of the Family who will serve as one of the protagonists of the story. These playbooks start with an archetype (the Elder, the Scavenger, the Firebrand, etc.) and are customized from there. A campaign of Legacy spans generations, so Characters come and go as the game progresses. While players control one Family to usher through the rebuilding of the world, they’ll get the chance to play many different Characters over the course of the campaign.

The focus of the stories of Legacy lie in the building of the world. This is only partially due to the pre-game or start-of-game “worldbuilding” as I use the term in discussing other games. The game mechanics of Legacy drive toward changing the in-fiction world during play, from character death to the mechanics of Wonders, both of which create huge narrative and mechanical changes to the game which are felt for the rest of the campaign.

The Game

As a Powered by the Apocalypse (PbtA) game, Legacy sports core mechanics familiar to anyone who plays Apocalypse World or any other games of that design family. Playbooks have stats which modify 2d6 rolls triggered by the fiction and resulting in different outcomes defined by rule packets called moves. Legacy also adds an advantage/disadvantage mechanic to die rolls (replacing the usual +1 or -1 forward or ongoing), but the biggest structural difference from other PbtA games is the concurrent use of multiple playbooks by each player.

Players in Legacy control two different playbooks at any given time: a Family and a Character. The Family is the focus of the “zoomed out” epic view of the world’s story, and a player will generally control and evolve a single Family over the course of a campaign. Characters, however, both advance and retire at a faster pace, starring in the “zoomed in” views of the fiction, telling their stories and then moving on to be replaced. Families have one set of basic moves for their fictions, and Characters draw from a separate set.

Family playbooks have stats and playbook moves. They also have Traditions, which is basically like the Looks section of other PbtA playbooks, the relationship mechanic is a currency called “Treaty” (as opposed to things like “Hx,” “Bonds,” or “Strings” in other games), Doctrine and Lifestyle provide mechanical tweaks based on a Family’s ideology or attitude and their population’s geographical arrangement, and Resources and Assets decide what a Family needs to survive, what they have to offer, and what special equipment they can offer their Characters. Each Family playbook also comes with an Alliance Move governing how they gain Treaty, and Inheritance, which confers benefits to that Family’s Characters and also contributes to quick character creation, a valuable tool for adding side characters to many stories.

Character playbooks similarly have stats and playbook moves. They have Looks and Backstory as well, but it bears mentioning that there is no Character relationship mechanic as there is for Families. Characters also have a Role which broadly describes their place in their Family’s society. A Character’s Role changes during the game and serves as both a character advancement marker (in place of XP) as well as a source of additional mechanics. The Harm track contains descriptors and mechanical effects unique to each Character playbook, and finally the Death Move describes how the Character leaving play affects the world after they’re gone.

The overall story of the campaign is divided into Ages. At the end of each Age, a time-passing move is triggered which describes affects to each Family, the world map gets updated, and Family playbooks are updated to suit the new fiction. During play, Families also have the option of devoting their surplus Resources toward Wonders, world-changing events on a massive scale. When a Family completes a Wonder, it is a special kind of advancing an Age, and it guarantees at the very least a change in the world map and mechanical effects felt by every Family in the game. A variable amount of fictional time passing between Ages means that the world can have changed very little or quite a lot before the next Age begins. The game allows tremendous opportunity for the complete exploration of the rise (and perhaps fall) of an entire world.

The Shelf

The second edition of Legacy: Life Among the Ruins is available for purchase in print and PDF. You can also check out Titanomachy (free PDF download or purchasable print-on-demand softcover), the quickstart for Legacy which contains core rules, pregenerated characters, and a setting starter so you can jump right into playing. If you’re looking for expansions, the Worlds of Legacy collection offers a variety of alternate settings and new playbooks and moves you can bring to the game, like the political sci-fi of a new planet colony in Worldfall or the evolution of sentient species at the dawn of time in Primal Pathways.

If you’re looking for similar games, there’s certainly no shortage of post-apocalyptic RPGs to be found, from classics like Gamma World (all 30+ years and seven editions of it) to more recent offerings like INDE’s dark fantasy-style Shattered or Hebanon Games’ intersection of zombies and economics, Red Markets. The big noise is, of course, Apocalypse World, and Legacy is solidly rooted in the Apocalypse World Engine, so if you’re looking for games with similar rules, you can have your pick of the Powered by the Apocalypse catalog. If you’re more interested in the zooming-in and zooming-out style of play, definitely check out the story game Microscope from Lame Mage Productions. If you’re particularly interested in the society-building aspect, Lame Mage also offers the game Kingdom, and you could also take a look at Ziapelta Games’ Wrath of the Autarch.

If you’ve got something on your shelf you want to recommend as well, let us know in the comments section below. Let’s fill our shelves together!

Categories: Game Theory & Design

PSA: Tomorrow's your last day to save by registering early for XRDC!

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 4 June 2019 - 2:31pm

Heads up: The deadline to register for premier AR/VR/MR dev event XRDC at a discount is tomorrow, Wednesday June 5th, at 11:59 PM PT! ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

The Institute of Play is winding down after 11 years

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 4 June 2019 - 12:47pm

After over a decade of supporting programs that use video games as tools for education and social development, the Institute of Play is winding down operations. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Marketing an upcoming Steam game - by Burak Tezateser Blogs - 4 June 2019 - 7:39am
This is a collection of guidelines for building a marketing plan of upcoming Steam Games. I am not an expert on this area but I gathered some resources to guide myself and others about the topic.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

7 Key Steps in Game Development - by Daniel Jones Blogs - 4 June 2019 - 7:38am
Game Development is a bigger task than ever these days. It is easy to see the phrase development hell and wonder how studios get themselves into such difficulties. A Quick look at the long drawn out process of game development illustrates this.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Is there life after Fortnite? An emerging trend in game design brings novelty - by Pascal Luban Blogs - 4 June 2019 - 7:36am
While the game industry is swamped by the battle royale tsunami and its exacerbated individualism, a game genre is slowly emerging: Cooperative games where players should not compete but must cooperate to win.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Extended Fiction in Game Design: Life is Strange and Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice - by Austin Anderson Blogs - 4 June 2019 - 7:33am
Part of my series of blog posts containing sections from my honors thesis on extended fiction in game design, this section discusses ludoethical tension and how it's used as extended fiction in Life is Strange and Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Admiring the Game Design in Hyper-Casual Games - by Chirag Chopra Blogs - 4 June 2019 - 7:32am
Game Designers - here's what you can (probably) learn from hyper-casual games, no matter how much you hate seeing them on App Stores.
Categories: Game Theory & Design


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