One of the things that I’ve been thinking about as velotha’s flock goes into product line expansion and maintenance and the core game is essentially finished is how to design a good combat system, not the least of which because Hammercalled needs one that works.
From fairly early conception of velotha’s flock, when it went from being a four-page novelty to a full-fledged game as it were, I decided to make it into a multi-part affair. I want to talk briefly about the reasons why, especially since as a free game I don’t think anyone’s accusing it of being a money-grubbing move.
This was originally going to be a velotha’s flock post, but I decided that some of this should be a stand-alone thing. One of the issues with game design, I feel, is that most of it doesn’t really go down the road of storytelling. Even more narrative-focused games often do so with a focus on “story over rules” rather than following any sort of storytelling praxis.
I think that there are a few reasons for this, and I’ve got a brief breakdown of what I think GMs and designers can do to prevent mediocre storytelling in their games.
One of the things that I wanted to do with velotha’s flock is create an interesting world that people haven’t seen the likes of before, to make something that challenges their conceptions of what many of the basic tenets of the game’s world are.
Of course, I put a lot of the elements of the game down in tradition too, because I don’t want to explain anything and I want to reward readers and players who have a strong interest in intellectual pursuits for doing what they do best and finding connections between things.
One of the things that we often forget to do when we design games is to really put some of the mechanics through a practical run, and sometimes we design it without really giving voice to why we do things and stuff gets thrown in and kept even after its intended purpose is done.
With velotha’s flock, I wanted to do a quick overview of what makes a character unique and interesting with a character system that may, on its surface, seem to lead toward similar characters.
I’ve been really awful at updating this blog, and I think it’s because I insist on doing articles. I’m still probably going to finish up Breathing Life at some point, because I have a fair amount of stuff written for it already (and I’ve had a lot more drafted and planned, awaiting me having more free time).
Some of it’s because I keep starting new projects.
The most recent is velotha’s flock, a free-verse game about were-ravens caught in a struggle between God and the devil. Bit of a niche audience, but it draws me to an important point: the cycle of literary characters.
I’ve been a GM and game designer for years now, and one thing that’s always struck me about the process is how much skills overlap there is in the process, and how many nuggets of wisdom carry over from one to the other. I’ve been thinking about some key points now that I’m working on two projects that should see the light of day relatively soon.
It’s been a long, somewhat harrowing week, but I’ve still found a little time to work on The Legacy of Eight and that interest survey I sent out. Sleep is for the weak, after all. As I move on with the project, I want to make sure that I’m increasingly transparent: I don’t have incredible readership, but I want to make it clear that I think about things before I do them, dangnabit, even if they turn out worse on paper than they did in my head.
And man, is post-scarcity economics in games a difficult thing to do well.
Today I’d like to give the world the first glimpse of the behind-the scenes detail of non-core mechanics in The Legacy of Eight. Some of these things are related to the Empire System that powers the game, some of these are specific to The Legacy of Eight itself. Nothing here is final, but I don’t see huge alterations being made from these basic principles between now and when serious playtesting begins.
One of the underlying trends of modern game design (at least since I last reacquainted myself with the buzzwords) has been narrativism versus simulationism. Typically, these games have certain associations with them; narrativist games have a weak point of often falling into mechanical vacuums where characters never develop across sessions or where they fail to be distinct from each other, and simulationist games fall into a pitfall by becoming too heavily dependent on their own systems to allow flexibility and freedom, especially with regards to tabletop roleplaying. However, video games often offer a great example of a way in which all the traditional tabletop game design ideas have broken down over the years and ways to reinvigorate them.