Game Design

Classic Tools Retrospective: The tools that built Deus Ex, with Chris Norden - by David Lightbown Blogs - 23 October 2018 - 6:07am
David Lightbown interviews Chris Norden about the history of tools development for Deus Ex. Learn about how the team customized the Unreal Editor, developed dialogue and export tools, and created innovative lip-sync technology for this innovative FP-RPG.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Audio Design for Interactive Narrative VR Experiences - by Larry, Yucheng Chang Blogs - 23 October 2018 - 2:02am
Audio design for interactive VR narrative not only directly affects the immersion of the experience, but it also affects how the composer guides the audience’s emotion. This article shares some insights using The Price of Freedom as a case study.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

A Different Approach to Difficulty - by Alex Vu Blogs - 23 October 2018 - 2:01am
A paradigm shift away from the idea that games should find more and more complex ways to serve players with different skill levels. But rather, they should give players with the tools to cook to their own palate, provided it is a meaningful experience.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Antonios S Does Essen Spiel: Spiel 2018: Bigger than Ever

RPGNet - 23 October 2018 - 12:00am
Bigger than ever. Probably better too.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Boyfriend Dungeon’s $272k Kickstarter Postmortem - by Victoria Tran Blogs - 22 October 2018 - 7:26am
A look at the success, failure, and strategies that went into the Boyfriend Dungeon Kickstarter.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Get ready! GitHub Game Off returns November 1st - by Lee Reilly Blogs - 22 October 2018 - 7:19am
The sixth annual GitHub Game Off–a month-long game jam celebrating open source–returns on November 1st.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Combat Evolved: The Encounter Design of Halo 3 - by Tommy Thompson Blogs - 22 October 2018 - 7:14am
I explain how Halo 3 managed to have so many AI characters on screen at once.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

The Case for Videogames as Powerful Tools for Learning - by Antonio Torres Blogs - 22 October 2018 - 6:44am
Not only are video games a great way for children to learn academic skills such as science, math and reading, but video games also have the ability to teach children better social skills and possibly even ethical and moral values.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

On Meaningful Play: Reflective Play - by Mars Ashton Blogs - 22 October 2018 - 6:43am
By exploring the capacity for games to initiate "Reflective Play", often derived from "Walking Sims", we explore ways in which the medium can be formed. Part of a series exploring topics from Michigan State University's Meaningful Play Conference.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Batman: Arkham Design Analysis (Part 2) - by Stanislav Costiuc Blogs - 22 October 2018 - 6:38am
Excerpts focused on design analysis from my video analysis/review series of the Arkham series.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Level Design Tips and Tricks - by Tom Pugh Blogs - 22 October 2018 - 6:37am
A selection of tips and tricks for Level Design development.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Historians discuss Assassin's Creed Odyssey - by Bob Whitaker Blogs - 22 October 2018 - 6:36am
Historian Bob Whitaker talks with Dr. Kate Cook about Assassin's Creed Odyssey. Topics include the Peloponnesian War, life in Athens and Sparta, women in ancient Greece, and the importance of the arts and artists in Athenian society.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Resurrect (But Reinvent) The Three Act Structure! - by David Kuelz Blogs - 22 October 2018 - 6:35am
The Three Act Structure is unloved in games, and there's good reason why, but our distaste for it limits us. Dismissing it out of turn keeps us from understanding what our players need and reinventing structure in a way that works for games.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Multi-Layered Encounter Tables

Gnome Stew - 22 October 2018 - 5:00am

Table… layers… nothing?

Recently I was thinking my encounter tables seemed kind of dull. Taking some inspiration from this great article series from Justin Alexander, (specifically this part) I decided to add some layers to my encounter tables. This is accomplished pretty simply. By making a handful of themed tables that are rolled on simultaneously, it creates a more complicated set of results that are easy to work with and determine.

For my game I kept my standard encounter table as is, and just added another 2 layers: a table for interesting environmental features and a table for small treasures. By rolling on all three at once, I can create any combination of the three layers and make the result more interesting both because it has more interesting parts and because of interaction between the features. For example, if I roll some monsters and a small gem vein, maybe the monsters are trying to dig up the vein themselves. If I roll a water feature and a treasure maybe the treasure is corroded and lying at the bottom of the water, etc…

Here’s an example for exploring a ruined city area:

To check for an encounter, roll a d10 each of the three tables. On a 1-2 that component is present. on a 3-10 it is not. Then roll on the individual tables as needed.

Roll 2d4 Encounter 2 1d2 dust devils 3 1d6 worn skeletons with decayed weapons/armor 4 1d4 small rubble elementals (re-skinned earth elementals) 5 1d6 Treasure hunter NPCs 6 1d4 wild dogs 7 nest of 1d8 rats and 1d3 dire rats 8  giant hunting spider


Roll 2d4 Terrain feature 2 precariously balanced pile of rubble 3 Sinkhole hazard 4 Ruins with vantage point/platform 5 Water filled area (depression, fountain, basement etc…) 6 Overgrown scrub/grass may be edible variety 7 Bit of carving/plaque 8 small 5 room basement/lower level


Roll 2d4 Treasure 2 Map or note 3 piece of art or jewelry worth 10-80 gp 4 Misc interesting object* 5 3d10 lbs of bent and rusty metal salvage 6 Well preserved piece of gear 7 1d10 each loose cp, sp, gp, and pp 8 Dented lockbox with 3d4 small gems of 10-40 gp value each

So we might get any of the following encounters:

  • Nothing
  • The remains of an old garden. It is overgrown and thorny but a few bitter green melons can be harvested from it.
  • A group of 5 treasure hunters. They have recovered a misc interesting object.
  • 3 worn skeletons with ruined gear
  • etc…

A few notes:

  • Because we’re rolling for each table separately, it’s possible to have one or two of the components without the other(s) I don’t have a problem with that. If it doesn’t work for your game, feel free to change your roll method.
  • Also because we’re rolling separately, the chance of “something happens” isn’t .2 even though each table triggers on a 1-2. Instead the chance of “something happens” is 1-(chance of fail 1 * chance of fail 2 * chance of fail 3). In this case 1-(.8*.8*.8)=.488 If you don’t like that rate, change the base rates for the three tables. They also don’t all have to be the same. I used .2 each for simplicity, but you could decide that encounters have a .2 chance, features a .3 and treasures a .1 (which gives an overall chance of .496) or .2 .2 .05 (.392). Whatever works for you.
  • Hey, that’s a lot of rolling. If you like the old school approach, this is a great use for the die ten million. For me, I’ve got most of my notes in Google Docs anyway so I used Google Sheets and the randbetween, if, vlookup, and match functions to roll an entire day’s worth of encounters on every update. Easy-peasy.
  • Of course what tables you find useful and interesting are entirely up to you and depends on your game.

And a shout out:

  • You see the table above has a Misc Interesting object on it. On my tables, that’s just a link to the 100 Filched Items From Picked Pockets And Cut Purses PDF from Fishwife Games but you could just as well use the 5e DnD Trinkets table (Players Handbook page 160) or any other similar table you like. I just find it’s fun to have a big ol’ list of little interesting crap in my treasure tables.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

What is an RPG? - by Caleb Compton Blogs - 22 October 2018 - 12:41am
RPGs are one of the most deceptively complex game genres out there. It's easy to spot a First-Person Shooter - you shoot things in first-person. However, RPGs are not so simple. In this article we get to the bottom of what defines this elusive genre.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

I did everything "wrong": A first-timer's indie game Kickstarter pre-mortem - by Patric Fallon Blogs - 22 October 2018 - 12:20am
When crowdfunding a game, there's practically a formula for success. But few first-time creators can follow the formula with limited time, money, and energy. Should aspiring game devs who deviate from those guidelines not bother trying to run a campaign?
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Less is (Still) Less: AC: Odyssey’s Exploration Mode and Time-Wasters - by Dave McLeod Blogs - 22 October 2018 - 12:04am
Where do we draw the line between bloat and exploration in open-world games?
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Fuzzy Thinking: The Neutron Vortex Plasma Rifle

RPGNet - 22 October 2018 - 12:00am
Fuzzy mass.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Video Game Deep Cuts: The Astro Genius, Redeemed

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 21 October 2018 - 7:16pm

This week's highlights include a rave for Astro Bot VR, why game devs aren't getting Genius Grants, and a delightful Red Dead Redemption recap, among others. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Video Game Deep Cuts: The Astro Genius, Redeemed - by Simon Carless Blogs - 21 October 2018 - 7:08am
This week's highlights include a rave for Astro Bot VR, why game devs aren't getting Genius Grants, and a delightful Red Dead Redemption recap, among others.
Categories: Game Theory & Design


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