Monthly Archives: November 2013

Project Update: Ostravia (Lots of Housekeeping)

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to do a whole lot on Ostravia this week. I’ve been pretty busy with a lot of stuff, and I’ve mostly come down to getting correspondence about doing it as an honors thesis and stuff like that, and not so much to the actual work on Ostravia itself. Still, I’ve had some progress.

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Game Design: Managing Scale

One of the easiest ways for a game designer to damage their games is to pay too little attention to the methods by which they design the mechanics of the game. The flaw that comes up the most when I see it is a failure to correctly scale games’ mechanical structures in relationship to each other. Often, developers get lazy and use exponential or even linear scaling in their games and don’t realize the impact that their actions have on the difficulty and balance of their work.

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Table Reflection: Dealing With Indecision

One of the things that can bring a campaign to a halt is when the players are all divided on their goals and cannot make a constructive decision to handle their progress through the campaign. It’s a problem that can plague even a good game, and it frustrates everyone in the group equally. Fortunately, someone who knows what to look for can navigate their path past indecision and continue the game constructively without causing hard feelings or ruining the narrative.

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Thursday Review: Prowlers and Paragons Core Rules

Prowlers and Paragons is a tabletop game that attempts to make everyone think it’s a D&D retro clone but is actually a superhero game with an original, if not terribly innovative, system that is more than worthy of standing on its own merits. As a superhero game, it does a good job of providing a framework for highly-narrative adventures and, while it may not have the boon of a major comics publisher’s licensing deal it is, in my opinion, still as good as any of the alternatives, if not better in certain ways.

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Project Update: FAULT: Free, Advanced, Unambiguous Licensing (for the) Tabletop

Ostravia’s something that I’ve been working on for a while now, and while I plan for it to be relatively freely released, it’s also something that I want to look at from the perspective of someone who is severely dissatisfied with the way that licensing works. FAULT is my answer to a couple major problems, and attempts to freely and openly satisfy the various intricacies of copyright law.
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Game Design: Fun Complexity

One of the things that we’ve seen recently is a wave of games that I like to call “dumb fun”, games which cater to the lowest common denominator and sell widely, like Call of Duty and really just about anything EA makes, barring The Sims and its ilk. However, I think as game designers it’s important to consider that while simplified and streamlined explosion presentation devices are certainly a pathway to commercial success, it is possible to receive just as much enjoyment from a game that requires a little more thought. Continue reading

Table Reflection: Allowing for Fun

One of the important balances a GM must strike at his table is the difference between a game that follows conventions and expectations, and one that is very spontaneous. As a narrative experience, tabletop roleplaying requires a particular mindset and flexibility, even when it focuses more on numbers than on people. An important element of this is to figure out what players will enjoy, and offer them an appropriate experience; games are not fun by default, they must be made fun through the events within them.

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Emergency Review: Ender’s Game

So I just got back from the theater and watching Ender’s Game. I should likely preface this by stating that my review is perhaps a little informed by the fact that I didn’t really enjoy the book all that much; it had some good ideas and concepts, but my memory grew less fond of it as I’d sort of mulled it over and thought about it again and felt like it just felt less consistent and well-written. The movie, however, was somewhat different than I had expected.

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