Monthly Archives: August 2013

Table Reflection: So You Want to Play 1 (Etiquette and Basics)

I can still remember a good deal of my formative tabletop roleplaying experiences, and since I essentially self-discovered the hobby they were pretty bumpy, and it wasn’t until much later that I actually read the sort of things that help with getting started playing. Today marks the beginning of my So You Want to Play series, intended to help beginners break into tabletop roleplaying with a minimum of inconvenience for both you and the group you join, primarily focusing on starting out as a player. Continue reading

Thursday Review: 44: A Game of Automatic Fear

Normally I try to keep my reviews pretty up-to-date, but recently I’ve been running with a hectic schedule and a release log that doesn’t give me the flexibility I’d like to do long reviews, so I’ve been going through and reading some of the games that have been recommended to me but which I never really gave enough attention or never really gave my thoughts about. This week it’s 44: A Game of Automatic Fear which has fallen under my microscope. Continue reading

Project Update: ABACUS

For those (few) people who were familiar with the original version of Orchestra, it used a system I called ABACUS-PH; this was when Orchestra had more storytelling inspirations than realistic ones, and the prior system was very different, but the core attributes are going to be rather similar. The core ABACUS system is a measurement of any character’s intrinsic attributes: Agility, Brawn, Awareness, Cunning, Understanding, and Sympathy. When combined, these form a basis for providing a framework for further character development. Continue reading

Game Design: 7 Core Tenets (Player Inaccessible Mechanics)

Player inaccessible mechanics are a major part of any game; the things that players have no control over regardless of what they do are defining elements of only a few titles, but there are a few things that must be considered whenever a game is being made, because although these things may seem to be inherent to the game, creating a game in which emergent gameplay is extended by the use of background activities will result in a much more immersive experience. Continue reading

Sunday Extra: Eclipse Phase: Transhuman Reviewed

Eclipse Phase is one of my favorite games, but I’m not beyond admitting that it has its faults, some of them pretty serious. For one thing, although there was a great range of morphs and the game really felt like it vibrantly embraced the question of not only transhumanism but the practicality of a diverse and exotic range of morphs, it didn’t really feel like the rules did. Transhuman, which could best be described as their player’s guide, does a great job of fixing a lot of those issues, and introduces a lot of new content. Continue reading

Table Reflection: The Three Cores for Houseruling

When running a game, I find it handy to figure out what the goal of it is so that I can figure out how to adjust the rules to fit my group’s needs, and also in order to better derive my own explanations for things that fall outside of the rules but which may come up in play (for instance, if a certain roll result normally fails, but defense is an active skill, and both parties come up with a, what happens?). These are the sort of things that understanding helps create a more consistent response to, and consistency in rules interpretation is important. Continue reading

Thursday Review: Learning Stencyl 3.x Game Development: Beginner’s Guide

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been using Stencyl to work on Defender of Azekal, an educational video game project, and the folks over at Packt sent me an e-mail asking if I’d like to review their latest guide to learning Stencyl. Naturally, I was interested, and they sent me a copy so I started going through it pretty quick. Continue reading

Project Update: Orchestra and Degrees

So this week I’ve been getting a lot of stuff done on Orchestra, and some of it is really figuring out how to handle certain things that would be very complex and need to be simplified in a way that can work well. As I’ve mentioned before, the combat system was originally going to calculate hits based on recoil versus bullets; this is perhaps the most realistic method of tracking this, and it’s incredibly hyperlethal, but one of the major downsides of it is that it doesn’t translate to other things very well, meaning that it’s a new mechanic to learn that means nothing in other cases. Continue reading

Game Design: 7 Core Tenets (Player Accessible Mechanics)

One of the biggest pitfalls a game can come up with is creating an environment in which the player feels overwhelmed by the sheer number of things that they can or must do throughout the course of play; whether it’s a 600-page rulebook for a tabletop game that forces every roll through four different complications or a video game which requires players to adapt to a variety of different control schemes on the fly, it’s important to look at the mechanics of a game from the perspective of intelligent design decisions. Continue reading

Sunday Extra: The Void Reviewed

I know I’ve been doing a lot of reviews recently, but I’ve had a lot of family issues going on and I’ve been reading in the downtime between stuff going on, so I’ve just been voraciously going at anything that I can get my hands on that looks interesting. The Void looked pretty interesting to me when I first saw it, and it wasn’t disappointing. The fact that it’s Creative Commons licensed and available as pay-what-you want was particularly interesting, as I’ve always been a fan of open licensing, and even though in the past such games as Eclipse Phase have done major releases in CC they haven’t made themselves widely available for free. Continue reading