Game Design

Praxis: Black Monk RPGs Up On Kickstarter

Tabletop Gaming News - 1 November 2017 - 3:00pm
For those that know him, Postworldgames Jim Pinto is one of the most prolific game designers out there. If you ask him, he’ll tell you he’s got like a billion games that he’s designed (might be a slight exaggeration on my part there). But he has certainly created a few in his time. And up […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Operators RPG Up On Kickstarter

Tabletop Gaming News - 1 November 2017 - 2:00pm
If you’re a fan of action-thriller movies, you’ll want to check out Operators. Do you want to have your own Mission: Impossible-style chases? Maybe some techno-thriller action like The Pelican Brief? Some spy-game sequences like the Bourne series? This is the RPG for you. The game is up on Kickstarter now. From the campaign: Operators […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Video: How game developers define 'success' for themselves

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 1 November 2017 - 1:51pm

At GDC 2017 researcher Dana Ruggiero gives a talk (based on interviews with over 50 notable game makers, from Brenda Romero to Davey Wreden) on how game developers define success for themselves. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Rick and Morty: Close Rick-Counters of the Rick Kind Deck-Building Game Coming November 15th

Tabletop Gaming News - 1 November 2017 - 1:00pm
I mean… I’ve seen games with long names before. But I think this one wins the overall record. Cryptozoic has announced that their new deck-building card game will be available on November 15th. The name of the game? Rick and Morty: Close Rick-Counters of the Rick Kind Deck-Building Game. Yes, I’m copy/pasting that, because it […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Achtung! Cthulhu – Zero Point – Code of Honour Available From Modiphius

Tabletop Gaming News - 1 November 2017 - 12:00pm
Pre-made adventures make the life of the GM just soooooo much easier. Just open up the book and get your players going. That is, as long as your players are willing to at least somewhat stick to the script. Thankfully, if they are, you’ve got your next couple sessions planned out ahead of time with […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Midweek Snippets

Tabletop Gaming News - 1 November 2017 - 11:00am
Alright. Playtime’s over. All the spooky kiddie stuff is done with. Time to get the real holiday prep going. Thanksgiving is a mere 4 weeks and 1 day away. This is not a drill. Prep work starts now. I need to start collecting together gear and ingredients for all the fantastic things I’m going to […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

New Beyond the Gates of Antares Releases Available From Warlord Games

Tabletop Gaming News - 1 November 2017 - 10:00am
Warlord Games is making their way through their 10th year as a company. They’ve come a long way since they started out. One of their more-recent games is Beyond the Gates of Antares. We’re seeing regular releases for the game, and now that their website’s articles are starting to flow again (after a nasty cyber […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

GDC 2018 to host a special 20th anniversary Ultima Online Classic Postmortem!

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 1 November 2017 - 9:15am

To mark its 20th anniversary, Raph Koster, Starr Long, and Richard Garriott de Cayeux will be presenting a Classic Game Postmortem on their trailblazing game Ultima Online at GDC 2018! ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Seven Worlds Sci-Fi Book For Savage Worlds Up On Kickstarter

Tabletop Gaming News - 1 November 2017 - 9:00am
Savage Worlds can be easily adapted to just about any setting you really want. In the case of Seven Worlds, it’s being adapted to a hard sci-fi world… or, I guess, seven worlds. If you’re wanting starfaring adventure, you’ll want to check it out. The setting book/campaign guide is up on Kickstarter now. From the […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

New Hordes Preview From Privateer Press

Tabletop Gaming News - 1 November 2017 - 8:00am
Can you believe that January is only 2 months away? Well, it is, and Privateer’s got another look at one of the models they’ll be bringing you then. This one’s a new incarnation of a previous warlock. Bloody Barnabas has transcended from being a mere gatorman to a force of nature. His new version will […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Z-Man Games Announces Agents of Venice Expansion For The Voyages of Marco Polo

Tabletop Gaming News - 1 November 2017 - 7:00am
The voyages of Marco Polo are legendary. There’s many conflicting tales of what he did, where he went, and what he brought back, simply because it was seen as such a big deal. It’s so mythical that there’s games based on him, such as The Voyages of Marco Polo. That one, in particular, is getting […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Barcelona Games World 2017 Recap - by Barbara Posada

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 1 November 2017 - 6:52am
Barcelona Games World broke all the participation records from 2016, with 35% more companies and 11% higher attendance. It’s only the second year, but the consensus among press is that BGW has a has already become the video game referral event in Spain.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

How to hit deadlines in the games industry - by Lottie Wilson

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 1 November 2017 - 6:51am
The life of a games programmer is hectic and full of ups and downs.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Accents and Dialects in Games—Yay or Nay? - by Marianna Sacra

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 1 November 2017 - 6:51am
Should we write and translate dialects or accents in games? What are the risks?
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Developing Your Original Story - by Leon Daydreamer

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 1 November 2017 - 6:50am
How do you create your original story when your ideas are influenced by the things you experienced and been exposed to?
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Latest Releases Available to Order From Knight Models

Tabletop Gaming News - 1 November 2017 - 6:00am
Honestly, it’d been a bit since I’d heard from Knight Models. I knew they were working away over in their shop, but we’d not seen much from them. Well, they’ve posted up some new releases, and by “some” I mean that there’s 16 new things. So it was certainly well worth the wait. From the […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Everyman Minis: Pumpkin Kami

New RPG Product Reviews - 1 November 2017 - 3:53am
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
Rating: 5
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Everyman Minis clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 4 pages of SRD, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!


We begin with a low-cost, cool class of magic item: Costumed confections are magical sweets that can be consumed to create a regular disguise, which does not modify your clothes (minor nitpick: spell reference not italicized); the second type transforms into a monstrous humanoid or humanoid, as per disguise self, affecting all senses (and no disbelieve). Finally youthful confections transforms the target into a younger version – all effects are polymorph effects and last for 4 hours. Cool!


The main meat of the pdf, though, would be the Kabochahito, the CR 7 pumpkin kami. And no, this is NOT another evil scarecrow/pumpkin monster – in fact, the kami is NG! It is incorporeal and conjure forth confections. Oh, and it comes with a TON of unique abilities: It can swallow beings and transform them into other shapes – the behavior of creatures is then made innocuous to onlookers. This can also be combined with a geas/quest – failure may see the target trapped in that form. Unlike most kami, kabochahitos can switch wards pretty quickly and assume pumpkin/plant-form with stat-modifications included. They can also generate massive growth spurts among plants. Big plus: Unlike many monsters, the kami is properly contextualized within the gaming world, with a lot of inspiring prose.


Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to the nice two-column standard of the series. The nice pieces of art are in full-color. The pdf does not come with bookmarks, but needs none at this length.


Luis Loza’s pumpkin kami are amazing. They are creative, benevolent and fun; they can make for genius Halloween-themed adventures and are a welcome deviation from the well-tread path of evil pumpkin monsters. Interesting, creative – no complaints. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Should ALL Dungeons Be Five Room Dungeons?

Gnome Stew - 1 November 2017 - 3:00am

After having read several great articles on Mike Shea’s blog, I picked up his book The Lazy Dungeon Master. It’s a fast read, and worth the $5.99 asking price, (It’s around 60 pages and mostly about common things DMs spend a lot of time prepping that they don’t need to and how to streamline them, supported by a pretty cool survey he collected about DMing.) In his book, Mike talks about the minimal level of prep required for locations and gives (among others) this example location:

The Saltmines: Former center for the town’s industry, now closed down when they found a dark power buried deep within. Leads from Yellowtop to Ashland Fortress.

What the book doesn’t discuss, and what I was curious about, is how exactly, using Mike’s “lazy” method, one goes about mapping and populating a location like this that has the potential to be the proverbial “twisty little passages, all alike“. So, I emailed Mike and asked how he handled that type of location.  He very quickly got back to me and I asked for his permission to share here. Here’s an excerpt: (Link to his product is mine, not his):

On the Lazy Dungeon Master and maps.

If the characters are going to explore a dungeon-type setting, I’ll usually try to steal and reskin a map to fit the situation. Either that or I’ll sketch a very rough stick-figure map that shows how locations are connected.

Since writing the Lazy Game Master I focused a fair bit of time on the idea of building “fantastic locations”. These are the interesting places that characters discover in their journeys and can be connected by various caves, tunnels, or passages. To me, the overall dungeon isn’t as interesting as the individual interesting locations in that dungeon so I tend not to let them get too complicated.

… There might be five fantastic locations in the cove interconnected by natural water-carved caves. Each location will have a name and three interesting traits (or “aspects”) that the characters can investigate or use if there’s a battle. Here are some examples:

  • The Tentacle Pillars: Huge stone tentacles that appear to pierce out of the ground; sinkhole that leads into the tunnels below; old octopus statue sitting on a pedestal that appears very old.
  • The Weeping Caverns: Stone caverns eaten away by streams of saltwater; carvings of strange symbols on the walls; illuminated shells of phosphorescent mollusks.
  • The Nursery: Submerged oily pool filled with psychic baby octopuses; large channeling crystal piercing down from the ceiling; chained screaming madman on the wall.

Those three come to mind but its early and I can’t think of three more at the moment. Hopefully you get the idea =)

If you poke around on Sly Flourish for more discussions of Fantastic Locations you’ll find more about it including the book of 20 locations I wrote around these ideas.

Hope that answers your questions. …

Mike

The two approaches that Mike offers are good ones: swipe a map from elsewhere, or reduce a big complicated complex to a five room dungeon with “you travel east for a while, through a maze of tunnels until you come across . . . “. I don’t have much to say about the first one, except to point everyone to my favorite site for random dungeon generators. But the second suggestion about reducing a big complex to a five room dungeon with handwavey bits between rooms has made me think quite a bit.

You see, I’m not sure I’m quite ready to give up my twisty mazes full of empty rooms, red herrings, and minor treasures just yet.

Maybe it’s nostalgia for the afternoons of lonely fun (which I have just amusingly learned is now called a game’s “solitaire component“) and gold box CRPGS, maybe it’s just me perpetuating the same skinner boxes of my youth where poking into nooks and crannies of maze like passages eventually resulted in a handful of GP until they could be traded in for a new breastplate, but to me half the fun of RPGs is skulking down damp passageways, ransacking moldering garbage heaps and searching areas where the map is weird in hopes of finding secret doors.

Maybe the answer lies somewhere in between the two. In one of his “MegaDungeon Monday” articles, The Angry GM discusses the “encounter space” which by his definition is a piece of the dungeon in which all inhabitants work as a unit. So if you have the stacks of a great library with study cubbies and there’s a wight in the stacks and skeletons in the cubbies, but engaging with the wight will alert the skeletons and they will open the cubby doors and surround the PCs, that’s an encounter area.

This middle ground definition allows for a bit of both worlds. You can create just a handful of encounter areas, each with something interesting in it, but you still get the nooks and crannies to explore, because each encounter area (most anyway) is comprised of a handful of rooms, some of which are interesting, some of which are not, some of which hold secrets and treasure, some of which don’t etc . . .

But, how much exploring and poking about in otherwise uninteresting space to do is really a secondary concern. Because the trivial answer is that you should do only as much of it as is interesting. Uninteresting exploration of uninteresting space is a waste of time and should be avoided. I have indeed played in games where no one did much exploring and if there was space that wasn’t an active encounter, paused only long enough to say: “I loot the room.”, toss off a search check, and move on. It may just be selective memory, but the reason for this was that exploration in these games was boring. Rooms were just a collection of squares, sometimes from a battle map, tiles, or a software program, description was minimal and there was the feeling that if a room contained a statue or a desk it was because it was filler, not because it may have been something interesting to interact with.

So the bigger question is, how do you make exploration interesting, even of areas that aren’t inherently interesting themselves? While I don’t claim to be an expert, there are a few tips I can give:

  • Grid maps are counter productive: Grid maps are great for combat, but shitty for exploration gameplay, which is good because it implies that there’s not a lot of reason to painstakingly map areas that you want players to explore, only combat encounters (and if one turns into the other that a very simple map with walls and features of interest is sufficient). Players will naturally imagine areas you describe verbally, in ways that they will not when presented with pictures, and it’s very easy to ad lib and add as much detail as you can improvise with verbal descriptions, which is not the case with drawings.
  • Pick a few adjectives: Part of the draw of exploration is immersion, which is enhanced by good description (in fact, a quick search of the stew shows we’ve written articles about using sensory cues to describe things no less than a half dozen times). In this case, I suggest giving a few seconds of thought to the traits of an area (a dungeon as a whole is fine, but you can break it down further if it warrants) and make a back of the envelope (3×5 card) list. Refer to this list often and weave a few of the traits into every description. If that library above is “crumbling” you can describe the collapsing shelves, the piles of tumbled books that fall apart at a touch, the dust in the air. If instead it’s “flooded” you can describe the mold crawling up the shelves, the ankle deep black water with floating piles of mush that may once have been books, and the warped damp pages.
  • There have to be successes,especially early ones: This goes back to that skinner box I mentioned earlier. Even if you explicitly tell your players that searching and exploring will net secrets and treasure, if they meet with no success while doing so, they’ll stop. On the other hand, even a few small successes will have them searching under the cushions of every moldy couch they find. Of course these finds have to be of value. Finding a handful of coins is (should be) of value to low level characters, but the same isn’t true for high level ones. As such, it’s fine to have these caches be money, but it’s equally useful to hide secret paths, maps, clues and items of strange origin, as well as items which do little except establish flavor, all of which will retain value through characters’ careers. Consider having a small table of incidental loot that can be found in each large area so this is easy to do off the cuff.

So I put it to all of you, because I’m not sure what the end conclusion is. Is poking into nooks and crannies, riffling through the pockets of ancient moldering coats, and sifting through dungeon trash heaps a valid and fun play style or am I biased and it’s more fun to hop between big set pieces? If it is a compelling play style, what are your best tricks to keep it fun and interesting? Like I said above, I’m not the expert on this, so I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts and techniques.

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Daybreak gives PS3 version of DC Universe Online 3 months to live

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 31 October 2017 - 4:36pm

The DC Universe Online dev plans to shut down the PS3 version of the F2P MMO game on January 31st, 2018 in order to 'focus our resources on further optimizing the game for PlayStation 4.' ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

V Reich Faction For Punkapocalyptic Up On Kickstarter

Tabletop Gaming News - 31 October 2017 - 3:00pm
Punkapocalyptic is looking to add a new faction. It’s the V Reich. They’re all-inclusive, letting in anyone… as long as you’re not a mutant. That, they just won’t tolerate. The new faction is up on Kickstarter now. From the campaign: Who are the V Reich? No one knows exactly who stablished the V Reich operating […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

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