Game Design

[DevLog] Rotten Escape - by Thiago Oliveira

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 12 March 2018 - 7:23am
Kicking off development for a new side project from Idiocracy, Inc., creators of Jumanji: The Mobile Game, Pirates War and Dice Brawl.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Sponsored: Defining the next generation of user interfaces

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 12 March 2018 - 7:18am

Noesis Technologies discusses the mandatory characteristics that any modern user interface middleware must offer, and explains how its own solution, NoesisGUI, addresses them. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Cycle 28 Devlog Round-up - by Dave Towsey

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 12 March 2018 - 7:12am
A round-up of all the Cycle 28 Devlogs on the eve of release!
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Real-Time Dynamic Cover System for Unreal Engine 4 - by David Nadaski

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 12 March 2018 - 7:12am
Create a robust cover system in Unreal Engine 4 (UE4) that updates itself at real-time, responds to dynamic changes in the environment, uses multi-threading to parallelize computation and octrees to store data. Works with any kind of game.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Trump may want to regulate violent games, but can he? - by Scott Kimsey

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 12 March 2018 - 7:12am
In the wake of the Parkland, Florida shooting, President Trump has called for a summit on violent video games. But the First Amendment protections enjoyed by video games means he and his conservative allies are likely wasting their time.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Pacific Rim: Extinction Kickstarter Running Now

Tabletop Gaming News - 12 March 2018 - 7:00am
River Horse has launched their Kickstarter campaign for Pacific Rim: Extinction. Jump into your Jaeger or take on the role of one of the massive Kaiju as you battle it out over the fate of the planet. Using huge, pre-painted miniatures, fight it out in one of the numerous scenarios. From the campaign: Pacific Rim: […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

New T’au Codex Available To Order From Games Workshop

Tabletop Gaming News - 12 March 2018 - 6:00am
You know, I remember when the Tau first came out. The joke was that their battlecry was, “AH! Not the face! *cowers and covers face*” Mostly because they were one of the better ranged threats in the game, but couldn’t quite handle melee so well. It’s been a while since I played 40k, so I […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

The Edition Wars Inside My Brain

Gnome Stew - 12 March 2018 - 2:00am

Nerd Wars always feel a little like kids arguing about whose hand makes a better laser gun…


Did you hear the big gaming news last week? Paizo announced they’re working on a second edition for Pathfinder. Cue the Sturm und Drang of the conflicting excitement and irritation that the announcement of a new edition always elicits. Have they released another wave of the endless Edition Wars upon us?

I am avowedly polygamerous. My passion for superhero RPGs is almost legendary, you can pry my science fiction games from my cold, dead hands, and don’t even think of trying to stop my monster hunting inclinations in modern paranormal games. While not every indie game hits my interests, I’m always excited to see what developers are coming up with. Thing is, though, when it comes down to it, D&D still provides a solid backbone for my gaming life. I never seek it out at conventions, but it and its variations are still a staple of my regular group. Currently, one of the less experienced GMs is running a 5e game, and we have several other 5e and Pathfinder games on seasonal hiatus.

For the new or the sheltered, what are the Edition Wars? Essentially, it’s the conflict that happens between the people who are excited for a new version of a game and the discontent of those that are perfectly happy sticking with what they already play. The extremes of both sides often get vitriolic and adamant that their preferred edition is the only correct choice.

Before I go any further, let’s talk a little bit about the history of the editions of D&D, as these are momentous events in the history of the game:

    So many editions…

  • In 1977, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons was released. While the original version of the game arrived in 1974, a large number of gamers in the late 70’s and 80’s experienced AD&D as their first taste of the game. There were a variety of ‘Basic’ versions that came out in the intervening years, but AD&D seemed to be regarded as the main version of the game. By the time I started playing in 1986, there was even edition-war-like grumbling about the changes introduced from Unearthed Arcana the year before.

  • 1989 saw the arrival of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition. I was still new to the hobby, but this was huge. Do you have any idea how excited I was to be able to play a bard without having to go through the ridiculous path laid out in 1e materials? My group even converted our characters from 1e to 2e so we could play with the new hotness. Beija Tavelar, my scrappy, red-headed, lute-playing mage-thief became the bard I had always wanted her to be. Then she died in a stupid pit trap with everyone else in the party and we had to make new characters anyway.

  • TSR, D&D’s original publisher, was struggling financially in the 90’s and was bought by Wizard of the Coast in 1997. It would take three years, but Wizards finally released Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition in 2000. This was BIG. If you want a more detailed look at the impact this edition (and its OGL – open game license) had on the industry, I highly recommend diving into Designers & Dragons entries on TSR and Wizards of the Coast. At the time, it had been way too many years since I’d been able to play regularly but even I heard about the arrival of 3e. While the d20 boom was changing the lives of many game companies and designers, it helped me realize that I needed gaming in my life and I couldn’t wait around for my old gaming group to suddenly find time and motivation to game again.

  • In 2003, things took a left turn as Wizards abruptly released Dungeons & Dragons v 3.5. The edition addressed a few different problems that existed in the previous edition while still retaining the same core concepts. Unfortunately, it caused a huge problem for many of the third-party creators of d20 products. Again, take look at Designers & Dragons entries on Wizards. It’s a fascinating read. This was also around the time I found a new group to play with and it doesn’t take a genius to guess we started playing 3.5.

  • Only five years later, Wizards released Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition. Edition Wars had existed since the grognards of old complained about 2e back in the late 80’s, but 4e almost instantly developed a troubled relationship with the fanbase. While the bones of the game were still D&D, some of the concepts and mechanics went in a different direction meant to attract a new generation of player. The feel was often described as being more ‘video game’ than anything like previous editions. I actually thought 4e was fun. One of my favorite campaigns was run in the system and it actually did make it easier to introduce new players to the hobby. That said, there was still a lot of animosity towards this edition. I’m still irritated at some of my friends who would gleefully make fun of the game every time I mentioned a 4e game I was playing in. Not cool, folks.

  • At the same time as 4e was being released, Paizo released Pathfinder, a fantasy game based around the OGL of 3.5. Calling the game D&D 3.75 isn’t completely out of bounds. It tried to fix a few different rules problems from the original edition and worked to make the classes interesting at every level, but the game was still obviously an evolution of 3.5. Many of the players who were irritated at 4e flocked to Pathfinder helping the game become a huge success. In late 2011, when I started my Eberron campaign, the group was a bit tired of 4e, so we decided to use Pathfinder. The SRD available online provided most of the material I would need to run the game.

  • In 2014, Wizards released Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition and quietly let 4e fade into the background. Work on the new edition was announced in 2012 which raised some eyebrows, but they did some serious playtesting and player surveys before they released their final results two years later. Honestly, the results of their work showed. While plenty of folks stayed loyal to Pathfinder, 5e rejuvenated interest in the D&D brand and has proven to be super successful. My group jumped into 5e headfirst (as we do with any game that catches our interest). We have one beloved 5e game we’ve been playing in seasons and I’m about to start a 5e game with the teens I’ve been GMing for once a month.

  • I can’t even get into all the OSR (Old School Renaissance) retro clones that exist out there. They’re not exactly in my wheelhouse, so I haven’t had an opportunity to play any of them (which I would with a GM I trust), but they’re out there. Everything from Dungeon Crawl Classics, Labyrinth Lord, OSRIC, Swords & Wizardry, and many, many more.

To tally up, there were 12 years between 1e and 2e, 11 years between 2e and 3e, 8 between 3e and 4e (with an intermediary road bump with 3.5), and 6 years between 4e and 5e. Paizo waiting ten years to announce they’re working on a second edition isn’t really that extraordinary. Even if I can remember when Pathfinder was shiny and new, it has been a mainstay for a decade now.

Anyone that gets all pretentious about which edition is best gets an eye roll from me. Play what you want and what makes your group happy, but don’t be a dick about what makes someone else happy. 

I have my thoughts and preferences on the various editions, but I’ll mostly play whatever the people I want to game with want to play. Mostly. Anyone that gets all pretentious about which edition is best gets an eye roll from me. Play what you want and what makes your group happy, but don’t be a dick about what makes someone else happy. You won’t find me participating in any battles about which edition is king other than to tell people to chill out and stop telling people they’re having bad-wrong-fun.

That said, I do experience type of Edition War, but this one happens solo, inside MY BRAIN.

I’ve been gaming with a regular crew for close to 15 years now and in that time, we have started, finished and abandoned multiple games of at least four different versions of D&D (Pathfinder included). There’s only so much room for rules in this head of mine and I imagine it’s the same for most of us. It’s not that unusual for us to suddenly pause as we confuse the specifics of various rules between editions. Does flanking matter in this edition? How long does that spell last in this version? How many dice do I get to add to my sneak attack?

What do we do about the limited rental space for rules in our brains while playing multiple different variations of D&D? (Or any game system, really.)

  • Cheat sheets of the major and common rules is your friend. There are plenty of these out there if your google-fu is strong enough, but I always like creating my own when possible. It helps cement the info into my brain and is usually laid out in a way that makes sense to me. GM Screens often provide a great resource even when you don’t really feel the need to hide your rolls from your players.

  • Keep pertinent rules to your characters handy. Whenever I play a spell caster, I always keep a full list of available spells handy so I can quickly know the rules of whatever spell I’m about to use. The same goes for any special ability you’re going to use. Say what you will about 4e, but the ability cards the character builder created were damn handy.

  • Relax and just roll with it. Sometimes you or someone else at the table gets a rule wrong, and that’s okay. As long as no one is abusing the confusion to benefit themselves over everyone else, it’s okay to just roll with the mistake keep going with the game. No one wants to play a game constantly interrupted by rules lawyers, so unless everyone is cool with pausing the game to discuss a rule, just go with the GM’s call and discuss the issue after the game is over.

The confusion does get a little annoying, but in some ways, it’s a problem with an abundance or riches. We have a vital, thriving hobby with a version for almost everyone. I’m honestly looking forward to seeing what Paizo comes up with in their next edition of Pathfinder, even if I know it’s going to add a whole new set of rules to the jumble already in my brain.

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Fuzzy Thinking: No One Took the Diplomat Prestige Class?

RPGNet - 12 March 2018 - 12:00am
Fuzzy diplomacy.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Video Game Deep Cuts: A Jump Scare Soda Machine

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 11 March 2018 - 7:49pm

This week's best longform articles & videos include devs on the effectiveness of jump scares in horror game, a unique in-game soda machine documenting project, and lots more. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Video Game Deep Cuts: A Jump Scare Soda Machine - by Simon Carless

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 11 March 2018 - 7:30am
This week's best longform articles & videos include devs on the effectiveness of jump scares in horror game, a unique in-game soda machine documenting project, and lots more.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Review Roundup

Tabletop Gaming News - 10 March 2018 - 11:00am
Ah, Saturday. The start of the weekend. For many of us here in the states, though, it’s an hour shorter. To be honest, I already went ahead and moved my clocks ahead an hour. It’s not like I’ve got anything other than this scheduled for the day. I mean, It’s Saturday! But I also need […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Princes of the Apocalypse Module Now Available On Roll20

Tabletop Gaming News - 9 March 2018 - 3:00pm
I have friends all over the world. I’m sure most of you do, too. The Internet connects us with people from everywhere, instantly. But it’s kinda hard to bring in Henrix from Sweden or Halfi from Wales or Jyggdrasil from Kuala Lumpur for a gaming session. That’s where Roll20 comes in. They’ve teamed up with […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Alas Vegas RPG Now Available

Tabletop Gaming News - 9 March 2018 - 2:00pm
We all know of stories of Kickstarters that funded, but then the person behind it seems to vanish. Delivery dates are missed. Updates come slower and slower. Many backers write the product off as lost… Thankfully, that’s not the case with Alas Vegas. Despite having funded nearly 5 years ago, the game has been sent […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

The Awful Orphanage Adds Alyce to Their Lineup of Miniatures

Tabletop Gaming News - 9 March 2018 - 1:00pm
One thing that sets Kickstarters apart from just buying a game regularly is the amount of exclusives and promos you can end up with. Some Kickstarters even throw in special extras if you join in early. That’s what they’re doing with The Awful Orphanage. Those that sign up within the first 24 hours will get […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Darkness Strategy Card Game Up On Kickstarter

Tabletop Gaming News - 9 March 2018 - 12:00pm
In a remote spot in Northern Europe, druids and witches are all looking to control a set of powerful artifacts. However, each of these items will only be wielded by a single master. Performing complex rituals, each druid or witch looks to prove they have what it takes to obtain these items. That’s what you’ll […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Stones Break Bones Card Game Up On Kickstarter

Tabletop Gaming News - 9 March 2018 - 11:00am
“Sticks and Stones may break my Bones, but words will leave me with regret and doubt about myself as an individual and a scarred psyche…” Whoah, that got dark fast… I think I need something a bit more light-hearted. At least the sticks bit is straight-forward, as is stones. Stones Break Bones. Oh, hey, that’s […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Knight Models Switches To Pre-Order Instead of Kickstarter

Tabletop Gaming News - 9 March 2018 - 10:59am
Usually, we’re all about telling you a new Kickstarter will be launching soon. And for Knight Model’s Harry Potter game, we’d done just that. However, we’re now here to tell you that the Kickstarter’s been cancelled. But the game hasn’t. Instead of a Kickstarter campaign, Knight Models is going directly to pre-orders starting next week […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

TGN Review: The Bestiary of Equestria

Tabletop Gaming News - 9 March 2018 - 10:00am
I’m an unabashed fan of the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic series. I’ve seen all the way through Season 7. I’ve got the movie on Blu-Ray. And I’ve done multiple reviews for the Tails of Equestria products in the past. So, it seems only fitting that I continue on. I recently managed to get […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

IGDA: Blaming gun violence on games is a distraction, but a chance to educate

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 9 March 2018 - 9:58am

Jen MacLean told MSNBC that blaming video games for gun violence was 'clearly a distraction,' but that the reopened discussion presents an excellent chance for the industry to educate the public. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

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