A War of Attrition

Gnome Stew - 21 September 2018 - 12:00am

What you hope to see when you take out the big bad…

Roleplaying games are this sometimes weird mix of game and storytelling. In old games, story was almost a reluctant side effect of the game’s mechanics, so trying to recapture the magic of certain types of stories in RPGs could be a struggle. Over the years, RPGs have gotten much better about designing mechanics that facilitate the style of story the creators intended, but there are still some areas that struggle to seamlessly merge the line between game and story. For this particular article, I’m pondering on damage mechanics and how they work against the heroes’ last-minute triumph in the final fight.

In many of the stories that inspire our games, the climactic battle finds the heroes getting a severe beatdown from their antagonists, but just as it looks like the villain is going to win, they suddenly find it within themselves to do something spectacular to win. Whether the hero has an epiphany about why they do what they do, or they realize if they fail everyone they love will pay the price, or perhaps they suddenly put together how they can use the villain’s weakness against them, or whatever the reason, they dramatically dig down into themselves and find the reserves to save the day.

Thing is, most RPGs handle damage as attrition of resources. Either you’re losing points off of some kind of health meter or you’re losing the ability to do the things listed on your character sheet. In D&D, you lose hit points. Mutants & Masterminds saps at your ability to stay in the fight by piling up negatives on your roll to resist damage. Savage Worlds also piles on the negatives and leaches away your precious bennies. Various PbtA games use one variation or the other. Masks piles on the negatives as the characters get emotionally battered. Dungeon World essentially has hit points. By the time you reach that pivotal, climactic moment in an RPG, the chances of the character being able to actually land a spectacular finishing blow are often minuscule and not nearly as dramatic as the stories we’re trying to emulate.

This isn’t to say that this type of dramatic moment never occurs in games. Many of the most memorable games people have in their repertoire of gaming war stories involve moments like these. But they tend to be happy accidents rather than purposefully crafted by the mechanics of the game. Share1Tweet5+11Reddit1Email

This isn’t to say that this type of dramatic moment never occurs in games. Many of the most memorable games people have in their repertoire of gaming war stories involve moments like these. But they tend to be happy accidents rather than purposefully crafted by the mechanics of the game.

Now, not every fight in a game needs to or should follow that style of story trope. Sometimes a fight is just a fight and whatever happens is fine. Also, not every player or GM cares about capturing the essence of story as much as I do. I’ll admit it is kind of an obsession on my part. Most of the mechanics we have for damage in games work fine, I just get a little frustrated during those final boss fights when the damage mechanics discourage players from leaning into the drama of the story and going for those big, bold moves.

I don’t really have a particular solution in mind to this issue. I could stick to strongly narrative games where the rules encourage leaning into the drama of the story, but to be completely honest, I find myself sitting in the middle between indie narrative games and traditional playstyles. I’m trying desperately to make some sort of mash-up between the two into my preferred style of game.

I do have a little bit of advice for anyone else pondering these things too:

Players, recognize the tools the game offers to help you along the way and try saving those for the big moments of the game. Many games have some kind of mechanic in place to get a boost or a reroll, so as a player, the key is to just recognize the right moment to utilize that mechanic. It can be tempting to use it on your first failure, but they’ll be more satisfying to use when the stakes are at their highest. The dice might still be fickle and still stymie that awesome moment, but at least you stand a better chance than if you’d spent them on something trivial.

GMs, if you’re interested in encouraging this type of drama in your big boss fights, there are things you can do to help your players go for the big finish. You know your game and campaign better than anyone, so you’ll have the best understanding of when a fight has dramatic importance to the game’s story. Throw yourself into narrating the set up and emphasize the importance of the fight. Heck, pretend you’re backed by dramatic music and you’ll probably get the right feel. In addition, don’t be afraid of rewarding your players for creative thinking or dramatic roleplaying. It’s not going to break the mechanics to toss them a bonus to the roll, another inspiration point, or more bennies. That last minute reward can be enough to make the player throw their character into the fight with renewed vigor.

Damage mechanics may be a war of attrition on character resources, but you can still find ways to make those final fights dramatically worthy of movie’s climactic scene. What methods do you use to try and encourage that big, bold finale?

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Restrict Delete Used Terms

New Drupal Modules - 20 September 2018 - 11:54pm

This module restrict users from deleting the terms that are being used by the system.

  • Download, install and enable the module
Categories: Drupal

Play Don't Show - by Gregory Pellechi Blogs - 20 September 2018 - 11:13pm
Games are a storytelling medium and in storytelling there's a rule - show, don't tell. For video games it's evolved to "play, don't show". But how feasible is that really to implement in a game from a design or writing stand point?
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Twitch abruptly blocked in China & delisted from local iOS App Store

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 20 September 2018 - 4:45pm

Video streaming platform Twitch has suddenly hit a wall in China, as the Twitch website is currently inaccessible in the country & the Twitch iOS app has been removed from Apple's regional App Store. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Ex-BioWare GM Aaryn Flynn is now Improbable's North American GM of games

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 20 September 2018 - 3:01pm

Former BioWare GM Aaryn Flynn has joined up with the folks at British tech firm Improbable, makers of the SpatialOS game server platform, to serve as their North American general manager of games. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Chocolate Lily: Managing Shared Configuration Part 5: Updating from Extensions

Planet Drupal - 20 September 2018 - 11:29am

This is the fifth installment in a series presenting work on shared configuration that comes out of the Drutopia initiative and related efforts. To catch up, see Part 1, Configuration Providers, Part 2, Configuration Snapshots, Part 3, Respecting Customizations, and Part 4, Configuration Alters.

In this installment we'll start to pull it all together.

Paraphrasing a bit from Part 1, we described a key problem this way:

How can I update my site so that I have all the latest configuration changes from a distribution--while still retaining any customizations I made?

In Part 1 we mentioned Fabian Bircher's widely used Configuration Split module and its enabling API module, Config Filter, returning in Part 3 to give a more detailed introduction. In Part 2, we summarized the API and accompanying user interface that core provides for staging configuration. Here we'll take a deep dive into how we can merge in configuration updates from installed extensions through an approach that's built on Config Filter and closely parallels core's configuration staging.

Categories: Drupal

PlayStation Now begins offering downloadable PS2 & PS4 games

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 20 September 2018 - 10:57am

PlayStation is expanding its pay-for-access streaming game library PlayStation Now to allow subscribers to download PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 2 games directly to their consoles. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Mediacurrent: The State of Drupal in 2019

Planet Drupal - 20 September 2018 - 10:27am

As we enter the month of September and start planning for 2019, it’s a good time to take stock of where Drupal is as a project and see where it’s headed next year and beyond.

Dries Buytaert, founder of Drupal, recently wrote his thoughts around the timeline for Drupal 9 and “end of life” for Drupal 7 and 8. We will look at current Drupal 8 adoption and assess where we sit in 2019 as well.

An important part of this discussion that deserves attention is the rise of Javascript as a programming language, in particular, the rise of React.js. This technology has put CMSs like Drupal in an interesting position. We will look at how React/Javascript are evolving the web and assess what that means for the future of Drupal.

Finally, we will wrap up with thoughts on what these changes mean for both developers and organizations that use Drupal today or evaluating Drupal.

Drupal 8 Adoption

As mentioned previously, Dries has offered his thoughts on the proposed timeline for Drupal 9 in a recent blog entry on his website (see below).

In early September Drupal 8 released version 8.6.0 which included major improvements to the layout system, new media features, and better migration support. This is in addition to many other improvements that have been released since Drupal 8.0 was first unveiled in late 2015.

In terms of adoption, Drupal has picked up steam with 51% growth from April 2017 to April 2018.

Dries Keynote Drupalcon 2018

As encouraging is that news is, it’s still should be noted that Drupal 7’s popularity still far exceeds Drupal 8 both in current usage (800k compared to 210k+ sites) and in terms of growth year over year. 

Drupal’s weekly project usage from August, 2018

Drupal 7 will reach its end of life likely around November 2021 with paid support extending the lifetime with commercial support (as was the case with Drupal 6). Will Drupal 8 reach the level of usage and popularity D7 has? Perhaps not but that is largely due to focus on more robust, “enterprise” level features.

Drupal as a CMS sits largely in between Wordpress and enterprise proprietary CMSs like Adobe CMS and Sitecore in the marketplace. With the release of Drupal 8, the project moved more into the direction of enterprise features (which could explain some of the fall-off in adoption).

Pantheon had two excellent presentations (also at Drupalcon Nashville) that dive deeper into Drupal’s position in relation to other projects, most notably Wordpress. I would recommend watching WordPress vs Drupal: How the website industry is evolving and What's possible with WordPress 5.0 for more information on this topic.

According to, Drupal still has a sizable chunk of Alexa’s Top Million Sites. It should also be noted that Drupal does better the higher you go up the list of those sites which underscores the project’s focus on the enterprise.

CMS market share (


Drupal usage statistics (

With the release of Drupal 8, Drupal’s target audience started consolidating more towards the enterprise user. In the future Drupal’s success as a project will be tied more closely to performance against platforms like Adobe CMS and Sitecore in the marketplace.

React (and Javascript) Take Over the World

The thing about Javascript is that it’s been around forever (in tech terms) but recently has taken off. I won’t detail all the reasons here. Seth Brown from Lullabot has one of the best write-ups I have seen from a Drupal community perspective. In short, the ability now to run Javascript both in the browser and on the server (Node.js) has led the surge in Javascript development. Github shows us that more projects are built with Javascript than any other technology and Stack Overflow’s survey tells us that Javascript is the current language of choice.

Stack Overflow 2018 survey results

Github projects 2018

Dries recognizes the importance of Javascript and has spoken about this recently at MIT. In a bit, we will look at some of Dries’ ideas for the future in relation to the Drupal project.

A few years ago we saw several Javascript frameworks pop up. These became very popular for single page applications (SPA) but also had broader appeal because they could make any website feel more interactive. React.js & Ember.js were both released in 2015 and Angular.js is older but has started getting more attention around the same time.

A big issue that needed to be solved with these frameworks was how to address SEO. Initially, these frameworks only rendered the page in the browser which meant site content was largely hidden from search engines. For SPA’s this was not necessarily a deal breaker but this limited the broader adoption of this technology.

Only fairly recently have we seen solutions that are able to use the same framework to serve pages both in the browser and on the server. Why do I bring this up? Because this has been one of the more difficult challenges and React.js addresses it better than any other framework. There are many reasons why React.js adoption is exploding but this is why I believe React is king.

The State of Javascript report from 2017 is often referenced to illustrate React’s popularity (see below):

John Hannah also has some great graphs on that demonstrate React’s dominance in this space (see below).

Npm downloads by technology (1 month)

Npm downloads by technology (1 year)

Finally it should be noted that Facebook’s technology, GraphQL paired with React.js is also on the rise and intertwined with the growth of this technology. GraphQL will come into play when we look at how CMSs are adapting to the surge in Javascript and Frontend frameworks.

React and the CMS

Is React compatible with CMSs of ‘ole (e.g. Wordpress, Drupal, etc.)? Well, yes and no. You can integrate React.js with a Drupal or Wordpress theme like you can many other technologies. In fact, it’s very likely that Drupal’s admin interface will run on React at some point in the future. There is already an effort underway by core maintainers to do so. Whether or not the admin will be fully decoupled is an open question. 

Another example of React admin integration is none other than Wordpress’ implementation of React.js to create the much anticipated Gutenberg WYSIWYG editor.

Gutenberg editor

In terms of websites in the wild using React with Drupal, there have been solutions out there (TWC, NBA, and others) for many years that use Drupal in a “progressively decoupled” way. The “progressive” approach will still exist as an option in years to come. Dries wrote about this recently in his blog post entitled “How to decouple Drupal in 2018.”

The problem I have with this type of solution is that sometimes you get the best (and worst) of both worlds trying to bolt on a Javascript framework onto a classic templating system. The truth is that Drupal’s templating theme layer is going to have trouble adapting to the new world we now live in (addressed in detail at Drupalcon’s “Farewell to Twig”). 

The real power of React is when you can combine it with GraphQL, React router and other pieces to create a highly performant, interactive experience that users will demand in years to come. To accomplish this type of app-like experience, developers are increasingly looking to API’s to address this dilemma, which we will examine next.

CMS as an API

The last couple of years there have been many Cloud CMS-as-an-API services pop up that have been generating some attention (Contentful might be the most popular). At this time it doesn’t appear that these API’s have disrupted market share for Wordpress & Drupal but they do signify a movement towards the idea of using a CMS as a content service. 

The “Decoupled” movement in the Drupal community (previously known as “Headless”) has been a big topic of conversation for a couple of years now. Mediacurrent’s own Matt Davis has helped organize two “Decoupled Days” events to help the Drupal community consolidate ideas and approaches. Projects like Contenta CMS have helped advance solutions around a decoupled architecture. Dries has also addressed Drupal’s progress towards an “API-first” approach recently on his blog.

While cloud services like Contentful are intriguing there is still no better content modeling tool that Drupal. Additionally, Drupal 8 is already well underway to support JSON API and GraphQL, with the potential to move those modules into core in the near future.

As I look at the landscape of the modern technology stack, I believe Drupal will flourish in the enterprise space as a strong content API paired with the leading Javascript Frontend. React & GraphQL have emerged as the leading candidates to be that Frontend of record.

Next, we will look at a relatively new entrant to the family, JAM stacks, and see where they fit in with Drupal (if at all?) in the future.

JAMStacks - The Silver Bullet?

The popularity of Netlify hosting and static generators has created some buzz in the Drupal community, particularly Gatsby.js, which we will examine in a moment.

Netlify provides some great tooling for static hosted sites and even offers its own cloud CMS. Mediacurrent actually hosts our own website ( on Netlify. runs on Jekyll which integrates with a Drupal 8 backend so we are well aware of some of the benefits and drawbacks of running a static site.

Where Drupal fits into the JAM stack is as the ‘A’ (for API), with ‘J’ being the Javascript Frontend (i.e. React) and ‘M’ being the statically generated markup. Back in 2016 we liked this idea and settled on Jekyll as the tool of choice for our rebuild as it was the most popular and well supported project at the time.

Since then Gatsby.js has risen dramatically in popularity and has a robust source plugin system that enables it to be used as a Frontend for many platforms including Drupal and Wordpress.

The creator of Gatsby, former Drupal developer Kyle Matthews recently spoke on the subject at Decoupled Days 2018. While it’s hard to know if JAM stacks like Gatsby having staying power in the years ahead they do have a lot of appeal in that they simplify many of the decoupled “hard problems” developers commonly run into. The question of scalability is an important one yet to be answered completely but the upside is tremendous. In a nutshell, Gatsby provides an amazingly performant, React/GraphQL solution that can pull in content from practically any source (including Drupal).

Do JAM stacks like Gatsby have staying power? Will these close the complexity gap that blocks more sites (large or not) from decoupling? We will have to stay tuned but the possibilities are intriguing.

Looking Ahead

We have examined the state of Drupal as a project, future release plans and how it is adapting towards a future that is “API First” that also fits well with the React world in which we now live. 

The main takeaway I would offer here is that Drupal, while still an amazing tool for managing content, is better suited as a technology paired with a leading Frontend like React. With the web evolving from monolithic systems to more of a services-type approach, it makes sense to use a best-in-class content modeling tool like Drupal with a best-in-class FE framework like React.js. 

What does that mean for the average Drupal developer? My advice to Drupal developers is to “Learn Javascript, deeply.” There is no time like the present to get more familiar with the latest and greatest technology including GraphQL.

For organizations evaluating Drupal, I do think the “Decoupled” approach should be strongly considered when planning your next redesign or build. That being said, it’s important to have an understanding of how the pieces fit together as well as the challenges and risk to any approach. This article attempts to present a high-level overview of the technology landscape and where it’s headed but every organization’s needs are unique. At Mediacurrent we work with clients to educate them on the best solution for their organization. 

Have questions or feedback? Hit me up at

Categories: Drupal

Palantir: Workbench Tabs in Drupal 8

Planet Drupal - 20 September 2018 - 9:04am
Workbench Tabs in Drupal 8 brandt Thu, 09/20/2018 - 11:04 Bec White Sep 20, 2018

Workbench Tabs is here to help "Edit" tabs and Drupal messages into the Toolbar.

In his blog post outlining the roadmap to Drupal 9 published last week, Dries Buytaert states that “if you are on Drupal 8, you just have to keep your Drupal 8 site up-to-date and you'll be ready for Drupal 9.” The maturity of Drupal 8 and its solid upgrade path make this the time to migrate your site to Drupal 8.

We’re excited to announce that the Palantir team released a new Workbench module this month for Drupal 8 called Workbench Tabs. We have used this module to improve editorial usability on nearly all of our Drupal 8 projects, and it has been public on Github for a while now, but now it's available on!

What is Workbench?

Workbench is a suite of modules released by Palantir to help solve common editorial problems in Drupal. The core Workbench module is largely a collection of custom Views that create dashboards for content editors. Its widespread use by organizations in government, higher education, nonprofits, and media is a testament to the module suite, and its capabilities have been helping editorial teams manage workflows and permissions since Drupal 7.

What does Workbench Tabs do?

Workbench Tabs integrates local task tabs and Drupal messages into the Toolbar. What exactly does that mean?

  • Editorial usability is improved by placing the "Edit," "View," "Revisions," and "Delete" tabs in a consistent location
  • Custom themes don't need to place and style the local task tabs
  • Drupal messages will be separated from the content layout


++ to the Palantir team members that made this happen: Patrick, Ashley, Ken, Avi, and Bec.

Want to learn more about Workbench in Drupal 8? Drop us a line through our contact form, or reach out to us on Twitter @Palantir.

Community Development Drupal Workbench
Categories: Drupal Responsive Images with PatternLab and Drupal - the easy way

Planet Drupal - 20 September 2018 - 8:39am
Responsive Images with PatternLab and Drupal - the easy way

Responsive images in PatternLab get a bit of a bad rap sometimes, because they are tricky to have in PL and Drupal. Here's my "easy way" of achieving it.

markconroy Thu, 09/20/2018 - 16:39

This came up today in the DrupalTwig Slack (join it). A user wanted to know how to use responsive images with the Emulsify Drupal theme. I don't use the Emulsify theme (yet - I will soon), though Four Kitchens, the geniuses who created it, have responsive images built in. Recently I created my own - simple and rudimentary, but it works a treat.

I first create a "Responsive Image" pattern. In this I have two files - responsive-image.twig and responsive-image.yml. Here's the contents:



    - ' 500w, '
    - ' 1000w, '
    - ' 1440w'

image_sizes: '(max-width: 600px) 100vw, (max-width: 960px) 100vw'

To use it in another component, I just call a variable and set that variable in the YML file.

For example, to call the hero image as a responsive image in my event component, I'll print this: {{ hero_image }}. Then in my corresponding event.yml file, I'll define the hero_image item like so:

    - include():
        pattern: 'basic-elements-responsive-image'
              - ' 500w, '
              - ' 1000w'

Then in my Drupal template I just swap my image field variable for the responsive image one, like this:

{% if node.field_hero_image.value %}
  {% set hero_image: content.field_hero_image %}
{% endif %}
{% include ... usual path to component stuff ... %}

Drupal then renders the image field using whatever settings I have given it in Drupal - presumably responsive image ones.

This post might not help you if you are using Emulsify, but it might help others who stumble upon it.

Categories: Drupal

Default content import moderation state

New Drupal Modules - 20 September 2018 - 8:04am

Extension to the module to import contents moderation state.

Moderation states (exposed by the core Content Moderation module) are correctly exported by Default Content for D8, but it fails to set the correct state when importing contents (see

Categories: Drupal

A tale of two bugs - by Niklas Gray Blogs - 20 September 2018 - 7:05am
A detailed account of hunting down two bugs in The Machinery alpha.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

EU Approves Copyright Directive - What You Need to Know - by Brandon Huffman Blogs - 20 September 2018 - 7:01am
The goal of the Copyright Directive is to hold platforms with user content, like YouTube and Facebook, liable for copyright infringement. Or in the video game world, sites and communities like Roblox, VR Chat, Minecraft and others might be impacted.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Gameplay Ramps in Spiderman - by Nathan Savant Blogs - 20 September 2018 - 7:00am
A critical analysis of gameplay ramps when compared to narrative ramps in the Fisk Tower sequence of Spiderman PS4.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

The Order/Chaos Spectrum - by John Nelson Rose Blogs - 20 September 2018 - 6:49am
A look at games from the dual processes of bringing order and wreaking chaos.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Part 2, Narrative bridging on testing an experience - by Katarina Gyllenback Blogs - 20 September 2018 - 6:45am
Follow the building a framework on how to approach the testing of an experience that concerns engagement, emotions and learning, pacing and control, from a narrative and cognitive perspective beyond structures and templates.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Game Changer: How Ragna Cycle Turned Into All-Star Troopers - by Kelly Hornung Blogs - 20 September 2018 - 6:31am
A look into how Norsfell's latest mobile game, All-Star Troopers, started out as a very different project called Ragna Cycle. This article details how design plans evolved as a result of feedback and the changing mobile marketplace.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

maplestory reboot analysis: player psychology & systems design - by eldwin cheung Blogs - 20 September 2018 - 6:31am
a digest about the design philosophies that went into nexon's design of maplestory's Reboot server world and its positive consequences for nexon's business in subsequent years
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Specbee: The Experts Speak - What makes Drupal 8 so appealing?

Planet Drupal - 20 September 2018 - 6:12am

Drupal 8 is not just packed with features that alleviate digital experiences for the end user but is also making life easier for developers, content authors and site builders. So here are some insights from some of the top (and passionate) Drupal experts and developers on Drupal 8 and how it has significantly refined and eased the way they work.

Categories: Drupal

Gnomecast #49 – Wrath & Glory and Iron Edda Accelerated Interview

Gnome Stew - 20 September 2018 - 5:56am

Join Tracy and Wen in this episode of Gnomecast featuring two gnomes interviewing each other! Learn about Wrath & Glory—the new Warhammer 40,000 roleplaying game that Wen worked on—and Tracy’s new game Iron Edda Accelerated! Will all this awesome game design keep them out of the stew?

Download: Wrath & Glory and Iron Edda Accelerated Interview

Iron Edda Accelerated has finished its Kickstarter campaign and will be published soon from Encoded Designs. You can get production updates at the campaign page.

You can follow Tracy at @TheOtherTracy on Twitter, check out his website, and listen to his actual play podcast TheOtherCast.

Wrath & Glory is currently available in PDF from DriveThruRPG, and will be available soon in retail. Check out Ulisses North America for updates!

You can find Wen at his Facebook page or at @WendelynReischl on Twitter.

Keep up with all the gnomes by visiting, following @gnomestew on Twitter, or visiting the Gnome Stew Facebook Page. Check out Gnome Stew Merch, and support Gnome Stew on Patreon!

Follow Ang at @orikes13 on Twitter or find her in the Misdirected Mark Google+ Community.

Categories: Game Theory & Design


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