Table Reflection: Challenging versus Punishing.

“Your torch illuminates more of the dungeon past the cobwebs.”

“I lunge onward, ready to bring the goblin king to justice!”

“The ground gives way underneath you, dropping you into a pit of spikes. You had 20 HP left, right? Yeah, you’re dead.”

Most veteran roleplayers will immediately see what’s going on in this exchange-the Game Master has just killed a character with relatively little justification. Today’s Table Reflection will look at creating a gaming experience that is rewarding and challenging at the same time. Continue reading “Table Reflection: Challenging versus Punishing.”

Thursday Review: Shadowrun Fifth Edition

Today I’m starting a new weekly article, the Thursday Review. It’s a weekly thing where I’ll review something new, old, or plain interesting in terms of gaming. And today I’m starting off with the fresh-off-the-press Shadowrun Fifth Edition. It’s a great installment in the venerable Shadowrun series of tabletop games, and has a lot of new content and features that make it one of the best places to start in the wonderful world of runners and corporate infighting. Continue reading “Thursday Review: Shadowrun Fifth Edition”

Project Update: Why Stencyl?

When working with Defender of Azekal I had a few criteria other than it simply being an educational game. I’m a long-time supporter of free software, and though Stencyl itself isn’t FOSS it has a number of things that are very enticing from that perspective.

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Game Design: Free-To-Pay Games and Microtransactions

I’ve had a lot of friends ask me about what I think about free-to-play games, especially since I’m one of the few people I know who is willing to actually spend money on them. Admittedly, I come from the perspective of someone who grew up playing shareware games, so when I see a free-to-play game I consider them through much the same criteria, but here’s what I look at and the things that worry me about some modern free-to-play titles.

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Extra: Planetary Annihilation Alpha Impressions

I’m in the alpha for Planetary Annihilation; I’ve mentioned Total Annihilation here before, and I was a pretty easy sell on a spiritual successor, especially one in which planets can be weaponized. Since I have alpha access, I think I’ll post up some of my impressions here; nothing too far on the technical side, but some stuff that I found interesting.

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Table Reflection: Genre and Style

I’m a featured reviewer at DriveThruRPG, and while I haven’t been reviewing a lot of games recently because of schoolwork, I’ve been getting ready to get back in the saddle, so today’s writing will be about what I’ve noticed when playing games, namely the difference between genre and style.

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Project Update: Deciding on Genre

As a game designer with a focus on the educational, one of the important things to consider is how to best present content, not only in terms of the educational aspects, but in terms of density and continuity, and how believably I can work in the elements to the game.

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Extra: The Importance of Earnest Questions

I don’t spend as much time on Stack Exchange as I used to, but I used to frequent the sites, and one thing that I noticed very quickly was the amount of loaded questions being thrown around. Questions like “My friend said this, but I think it’s this. I’m right, right?” came up more often than one would hope. Disregarding the fact that this directly undermines Stack Exchange’s purpose, it’s also plain dumb, since instead of hearing the actual answers presented by the majority of posters, they accept whoever purports their position first as the “proper answer”, regardless of the facts. Continue reading “Extra: The Importance of Earnest Questions”

Table Reflection: The Weakest Link

One of the things that I often run into as a GM is that there’s a lot of skill required to make a good game. My players tend to like my games, but the truth is that they tend to fall a little flat, and there are a number of reasons for this, and part of the reason is that I often get over-ambitious and put my energy into the wrong places. Put simply, the important thing for running a campaign is to pay attention to one’s weakest link.

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