Monthly Archives: December 2013

Game Design: Open Puzzles

One of the most immersive ways to offer player experiences comes in the form of open puzzles. As a designer, one of the best things you can offer your players is an opportunity to engage in meaningful play, and open puzzles provide an interesting mix of dynamically flexible content and a capacity for hand-crafted outcomes by allowing a number of solutions to a problem based on emergent solutions rather than explicitly pre-determined outcomes. Continue reading

Table Reflection: Vile Villains

One of the things that I’ve noticed throughout my experiences as a tabletop gamer and game master is that there are often times when villains are really the driving, dominant characters of the players’ adventures. They’re one of the few characters that the GM has almost unfettered power over, and when they’re done right they can become great backbones of an interesting campaign; when they go wrong, on the other hand, they become in-jokes and disparaging references.

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Thursday Review: Sojourner’s Quest

I rated Sojourner’s Quest lower than it perhaps deserves [three stars], but it does have some major issues with it. For one, its editing is, quite frankly, horrible. With a lot of fragmented voice issues and just plain grammatical errors, it’s basically not up to snuff when it comes to reading the way it should. It’s not horrible, but it often detracts from its own points and becomes confusing to read.

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Project Update: Homoeoteleuton Connect and Ostravia Work

This week I’ve gotten a lot done. There’s the Galli System Handbook (see yesterday’s post), but also a couple other big things. One of these is “Homoeoteleuton Connect“, a miniature social network I set up. This is part of my potential Kickstarter fulfillment stuff. However, it’s also a way for me to put updates online more frequently than is appropriate for the blog.

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Game Design: Raising a Point

Games have an incredible potential as ways to tell a message just as easily as they can entertain, but the actual creation of a game that is capable of handling its source material with grace while providing a vehicle for players to form opinions is difficult, and, ultimately rare. There’s a few crucial considerations when it comes to raising a point in games that few people keep in mind. Continue reading

Table Reflection: Growing Roots

One of the most crucial parts of character development in tabletop games occurs, at least chronologically, before the campaign begins. As a form of collaborative storytelling, every character should, at least barring extreme circumstances, have some background with connections, family, and a history. Unfortunately, many games and groups overlook this aspect of play, despite the fact that it can be simple and fun to implement.

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Thursday Review: 13th Age

13th Age isn’t super innovative. Let’s get that out of the way ahead of time. In terms of mechanics, there’s nothing that hasn’t been seen before. The setting is good, but not really anything that we haven’t seen. Where 13th Age succeeds, however, is in its balance of elements. 13th Age is the sort of thing that I love; it takes a game and tears it down to its basics, then reconstructs it. I’m not sure that the d20 system was the best place to apply that, but it’s certainly an interesting take.
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Project Update: Wounds, Infection, and Dying in Ostravia

Today’s not perhaps the least gruesome part of my work on Ostravia, but it’s an important part. Being a somewhat realistic look at medieval life, it’s important for people to be able to meet an untimely and violent end in Ostravia, and this will happen fairly quickly in most cases without the support of allies or the benefit of a moderately merciful foe (i.e. won’t finish you off after you’re down).

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Game Design: Skill Exclusion

Sorry about this article going up late; I’ve been studying for a final and it slipped my mind. Skill exclusion in video games is a common trend; if a player’s skill is below a certain level, they may not be able to play a certain game with players who have a high degree of skill, at least at a competitive level. It’s not necessarily the break-in point for the game, but rather the degree to which skill determines outcome. What I’m going to look at today is skill exclusion in three games that play very similarly at least on a conceptual level, but have different levels of skill required.

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