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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Project Update: Explicit and Incidental Education

One of the things I noticed about the educational games I used to play as a kid is that they were designed around education. Every last part of their being was educational, except for sometimes a tacked on narrative that served to get players to think that there was a larger objective (Climb Reading Mountain! Rescue the Polygnomials!) in the game while the truth is that there was actually more of a focus on getting as much material to the players as possible in a short amount of time, guaranteeing that the watchful eye of parents saw only educational material on the screen. Not all of these games were bad, at least not from my younger perspective, and there were some that were actually pretty good, but these ones tended to do well in spite of themselves. Continue reading “Project Update: Explicit and Incidental Education”

Game Design: Simple Complexity

I’ve never played The Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall before, but the other day I downloaded and got it set up in DOSBox. One of the things I noticed is how much more stuff there was in Daggerfall than there was in Morrowind, but how little my unfamiliarity with Daggerfall hurt me in terms of how I made up my characters and how I jumped into the game with relatively little guidance.

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Extra: Gamer Guilt

I know a lot of gamers who won’t admit to it, or if they do will only admit to playing things like Portal or other cerebral but less mainstream games. Personally, I don’t go around saying that I’m a gamer either, even though I, of all people, recognize the value of gaming and I make it an important part of my studies, and have generally come to the conclusion that gaming tends to give people certain advantages. There’s a few reasons why I don’t really describe myself as a “gamer”.

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Table Reflection: Playing with Women

Okay, I’ll admit it, I’m a guy (as in male, XY chromosomes, plentiful testosterone). Most of the people I hang out with and run games for are too. I don’t have insight into women from a marketing perspective, so I’m not going to try to talk about how to interest women in gaming. Instead, I’m looking at a simple thing; handling women and men at the tabletop while playing roleplaying games (this applies a little to any community which is male dominated and often perceived or legitimately believed to be actively hostile to women), mostly from my own experiences as someone whose table often includes a woman, written to guys who wonder why women don’t want to roll up a barbarian and join them. Continue reading “Table Reflection: Playing with Women”