Thursday Review: Hitman: Absolution

Hitman: Absolution is the most recent game in the venerable Hitman franchise, and it prides itself on offering a modern assassination game that is somewhat unbound by the rules of reality, the things that made the past games great, and the fact that it manages to succeed as a game in spite of these, then fall flat in the middle of the story for no good reason.

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Project Update: Designing ABACUS’s Event Philosophy

ABACUS is built to be an ultralight system that allows for a high degree of detail and flexibility. Put simply, it attempts to do everything for everyone without becoming too much of a burden, in part due to modularity and a universal design principle that focuses on parallelism and an easy to understand structure inspired by grammar and linguistics.

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Game Design: Rewarding Play

Games have the unique function of being a learning experience that is self-driven; few games can really teach us anything outside of a moral lesson or point entwined with the narrative, but yet people will play a good game even if they must acquire new skills to do so. A major cause for this is the ability of games to reward play, exploration, and participation in a variety of ways, which means that players create an intrinsic value for the game without having to rely on any other system. Continue reading “Game Design: Rewarding Play”

Table Reflection: Avoiding False Choices

One of the things I notice a lot of GM’s doing when they’re making a game is providing false choices. That is, they assume that they know how every character will react in a context, and they fall into the trap of intentionally leading decisions. Unfortunately, this can backfire quickly; if a player gets stuck in the middle of a situation where there is no good choice left, they make “false choices” under duress, and then the whole process is likely to continue to spiral toward an increasingly dissatisfying experience. Continue reading “Table Reflection: Avoiding False Choices”

Thursday Reviews: Rogue Legacy and Blender 2.6 Cycles: Materials and Textures Cookbook

Today I have two reviews for you all, mostly because I couldn’t help myself and bit off more than I could chew, but also to celebrate Packt’s Columbus Day sale (see details below). Rogue Legacy is a “roguelite” Metroidvania styled game, whilst the lengthier titled work that I am also reviewing is a cookbook for materials and textures within Blender 2.6 (still compatible up to 2.68, I am happy to point out).

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Project Update: Ostravia in Historical Context

Ostravia is somewhat unique in terms of the games available on the market in that it is alternate history with an eye to history; unlike most games out there which are either familiar alternate history (e.g. any of the dozen or so WWI plus zombies games out there), or fantastical history (Legend of the Five Rings), Ostravia is true to history and builds its narrative around it, rather than building a history around its narrative. Continue reading “Project Update: Ostravia in Historical Context”

Game Design: Consistent Pacing

Not too long ago, I talked about padding in games, and how it’s not always beneficial to stretch out experiences for players just so that you can say that your game has “100 hours of content”. This week, I’ll examine one of the core reasons why; pacing. Pacing is crucial to any gaming experience, tabletop or digital, and it’s really one of the things that is heavily dependent on the designer of a game’s careful and deliberate design. Continue reading “Game Design: Consistent Pacing”

Table Reflection: Encouraging In-Character Play

One of the number one issues I’ve seen when at the tabletop is that players don’t actually roleplay. They have no qualms with the general concept, but they don’t actually put themselves into a character’s shoes; there’s a disconnect between the player and the character, and to a certain degree this is to be expected-even roleplayers who do method acting level character development will have roles they just can’t get into. However, this becomes immediately destructive to a narrative environment when characters don’t act the way you’d hope or expect them to and stuff fizzles out, or characters take unnecessary and unbelievable risks. Continue reading “Table Reflection: Encouraging In-Character Play”

Thursday Review: Legends of Aethereus

Legends of Aethereus is an interesting game; I backed it on Kickstarter, despite my skepticism, in part out of interest and in part because my brother kept bothering me about it. And, to be honest, I really do enjoy it. It has a unique system, which comes with its benefits and pitfalls, but it’s a genuinely enjoyable game and I’ve spent a pretty hefty chunk of time with it. Continue reading “Thursday Review: Legends of Aethereus”

Project Update: Ostravia and Social Combat

Ostravia is a game set in 1202 near the geographical intersection of Poland, Hungary, and Bohemia/Moravia (modern day Czech Republic), and as such it has to consider several political structures, namely the fact that there really is a fair degree of social stratification in European society at this time. While it makes no claims to be incredibly solidly researched, Ostravia does care a fair degree about providing an authentic feel, and some of that is managing the social environment as such. Continue reading “Project Update: Ostravia and Social Combat”