Monthly Archives: September 2013

Game Design: Creating Immersive Antagonists

AI. NPC’s. Enemies. The majority of games do not put players into a truly solitary environment, rather favoring interaction between the player’s character and characters, and this usually involves interpersonal conflict. It’s important for designers to figure out ways to engage the player when working against these foes, because otherwise a main source of conflict would be moot. The creation of a solid antagonist really requires three main considerations; narrative, mechanics, and presentation. Continue reading

Table Reflection: Rewarding Judgment

One of the most difficult things to do as a Game Master is to make sure that you are treating players fairly; in an experience as interactive and open as tabletop roleplaying it is critical to ensure that there is still a degree of equity at the table; not necessarily of outcome but certainly of opportunity. Outcomes, however, cannot be equitable in mechanical and narrative practice all the time, because some players will make better decisions or contributions than others, and to attempt to balance the players’ standing too closely will result in a lack of reward for clever or prudent play. Continue reading

Thursday Review: Dungeon Siege 2 (Part 1)

I’m doing something a little unusual this week because I don’t really have time, but I’m going to go back and review a game that’s pretty old that I just finally discovered, and actually do a case study on it as much as write a review of it. Normally I’d make this a game design thing, but that’s not going to happen right now.

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Project Update: A Brief History of Educational Video Games

I have a pretty significant thing to put out there this week. For one of my classes I’ve been working on a Moodle e-class on the topic of video games and education, and it’s finally ready. I’d write more about it, but it pretty much will speak for itself. It’s not entirely finished yet (the core presentation I’ll be giving in class is, but about 20% of the secondary content is not), but it will be later today. You can find it through the following link:

Using the guest access feature will show all the content for the course.

Game Design: Challenging Multiple Players

One of the core parts of being a game designer is presenting challenges to players within the environment of a game; few games are designed without any challenging elements, because they are what adds a lot of the feeling of interactivity to games, allowing players the chance to change the story in which their character will fail into one in which they succeed. However, special concerns must be made in order to facilitate a challenging experience in multiplayer games. Continue reading

Table Reflection: Running Responsive Non-Player Characters

Whenever a GM goes to run a game, one of the things that is pretty much a universal measure of success or failure is the amount of important NPC’s and their role in the game. Having no significant NPC’s means there’s no context for the players’ actions, while having too many will detract from the player characters’ abilities to stand on their own in the world. Similarly, it’s important that NPC’s be responsive and placed on the same level as the players, at least on a narrative scale. Continue reading

Thursday Review: Dishonored

I went into Dishonored with high expectations, and found them matched. However, I discovered quickly that while I truly enjoyed the game, it ran into some pretty major issues before too long in. Quite frankly, when I made it through the first three levels, I was thinking “This game reminds me a lot of Deus Ex, in a good way.” and by the time I got to the last my thoughts had been shifted to “Well, some of these textures do look like they’re from 2000″. Continue reading

Project Update: So You Want To Play’s Progress

Right now, I’m working on So You Want To Play, a nine-part course on running a tabletop roleplaying game intended for complete novices to the hobby. One of my major goals is to try to condense as much of my experience and passion as possible into a small, online package that delivers a substantial amount of value and serves as a jumping off point for others to get into a hobby that I really enjoy. Continue reading

Game Design: Creating Discoverable Experiences

Nonlinear and emergent gameplay is a goal that generally benefits game design, should the developers have the necessary resources. Making an open, vivacious world presents players with a lot of options and opportunities to find ways to enjoy the game, as well as letting them experience the joy of discovery without needing constant guidance. Continue reading

Table Reflection: Handling Player Character Death

Most tabletop games take place in a world where death is a daily or weekly risk; they are glimpses of adventure, action, and risk rather than merely consisting of experiences with safety and security of an organized and regimented society. As such, characters tend to die, and many of these characters will be important. Some are meant to die, and others are not, but there’s a few general rules for the death of player characters that will keep GM’s and players happy. Continue reading