Extra: John Smith, The Awesome

Now, this one is perhaps going to be best known by American readers, but the first English colonies in the New World was led by a man named John Smith. At first glance, looking at him through history, we don’t know very much about him. The truth? He was his era’s James Bond.

His accomplishments include: Continue reading “Extra: John Smith, The Awesome”

Table Reflection: Learning to Roll With It

Get it, because tabletop games usually involve dice?

Sorry, I figured I’d break the ice with a pun.

Moving on into more serious matters, tabletop gaming is one of my major hobbies-it’s cheap, entertaining, and social. Even though a lot of people who do it are often falsely labeled as anti-social (after all, who gets together to celebrate oft-violent narratives?) and some are rather accurately labeled as anti-social, I know a lot of great guys through the hobby, some of whom I’ve met online and some of whom I’ve met in person. Continue reading “Table Reflection: Learning to Roll With It”

Skyrim Versus Oblivion: A Game Design Perspective

Let’s quick get this out there: I love both Oblivion and Skyrim, and I’ve spent about an equal amount of time in each (I won’t throw out a number, but let’s just say that I could’ve made a lot of money by being productive in that time). The Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages has a more mechanical list of these things, which can be found here: Differences Between Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim. Of course, I look at things from a slightly different perspective than just the mechanical, and look to see if any of the mechanical changes really had an impact on core play. Continue reading “Skyrim Versus Oblivion: A Game Design Perspective”

Learning from Dungeons and Dragons Online Part 3: Financial Model

Dungeons and Dragons Online, as I’ve said before, is my favorite MMORPG, and there’s several things I like about its business plan that really help me as a player who isn’t willing to subscribe but is willing to buy content on occasion (though that might change; I’m not planning on subscribing forever but I might pick up VIP for the months when I’m off school next summer). Continue reading “Learning from Dungeons and Dragons Online Part 3: Financial Model”

Switching the Model

Some people may have noticed that I’ve been doing daily posts. This is really nice, but it’s not terribly sustainable, especially as full-time school starts up again and I need to worry more about writing massive essays and working on my honors thesis. I’m going to switch to a three-post per week system, and here’s what you can expect:

Dust Watch: Filling the Void

One thing I’ve been doing with Dust Watch is trying to fill a market void-that is, the fact that there aren’t many great sci-fi games that are easy to play and offer engaging, deep settings. There are enough to make things difficult for me, but I’ve still got to look at some of the other things in the market, especially when you consider Dust Watch’s elevator pitch:

An exotic science-fiction setting where faith and technology come together on a planet divorced from the rest of mankind. Continue reading “Dust Watch: Filling the Void”

Learning from Dungeons and Dragons Online Part 2: Story and Presentation

I really wrote a lot of nice things about DDO, and now I’m going to get less nice.

DDO, while an exceptionally good MMORPG, is still somewhat lacking in storyline. I don’t mean this so much in the small scale as in the large scale; Korthos Island, for instance, gives you a short, simple plot, and you wind up liberating the island from the Sahuagin. This is good, but the truth of the matter is that there’s not much in the way of a “You’re an epic hero sent out to save us” thing, unlike, say, Oblivion or Skyrim (though, with Skyrim’s final bossfight *grumble grumble*) where the player is the definite protagonist. Continue reading “Learning from Dungeons and Dragons Online Part 2: Story and Presentation”

Learning from Dungeons and Dragons Online Part 1: Mechanics

My favorite MMORPG is Dungeons and Dragons Online; and I think that it’s because we can look at it as an example of a very different approach to a massive multiuser gaming experience.

Traditional MMORPGs tend to be pretty stereotypical-you picture a guy in armor running around clearing out dungeons full of foes and purging the land of wickedness. DDO does exactly the same things. It does them, however, in an incredibly different way. We won’t really be looking at the free-to-play model here (though DDO has gotten me to have my worst case of alt-itis ever, courtesy of trying to save up for adventure packs as a non-VIP), but rather at the gameplay; for MMO designers DDO’s model is perhaps a great starting point, but I’m looking at it from a more general design perspective. Continue reading “Learning from Dungeons and Dragons Online Part 1: Mechanics”

Dust Watch: Dabble And Dip

Dust Watch is a game that attempts to emulate a classic D&D experience for a solo adventure as well as a party-based adventure, and part of this will be obvious from the game design.

Unlike pretty much all of the D&D mechanics-modeling video games, Dust Watch is a solo endeavor-one does not encounter companions, because the Watchmen are too few and desperate to send a whole team for every last thing.

In this way, Dust Watch draws inspirations more from roguelikes-the player has to have a way to do everything in a single character. A locked door may require a Stealth roll (Stealth doubles as the general larceny skill), but it could also be opened with a Hardiness check. Continue reading “Dust Watch: Dabble And Dip”

We’re Back!

Sorry about disappearing for a while, I went on an unplanned hiatus due to school, but I should be able to contribute more regularly for at least the next couple months.

  • Here’s the stuff I’m working on:

Dust Watch (I decided to switch the focus over to being an old-school d20 game [albeit on a homebrew system]) on StoryNexus as well as in a standalone tabletop format. The two will be compatible.

Rise of the Tenno, a Warframe fan-game that is a test of an experimental die system as well as being a really interesting experiment in combining influences from a ton of games, both simulation and action focused, into a single coherent game. (For those who don’t know, Warframe’s a free-to-play MMOFPS with space ninjas.)

  • Stuff that’s been temporarily or permanently put on hold:

1-800 Regime Change (This one’s temporary, I want the experience from simpler projects before getting back into some of the more technically demanding things here.)

Orchestra on StoryNexus (This one is permanent-ish; I’ve decided that Orchestra is an example of stuff growing too far away from both what the platform supports and the original design decisions-it’s still hovering up there, but it’s not going to be quite as major.

  • One last thing:

I’ve started working in Blender on a variety of things; feel free to check back here from time to time to get a glimpse at it, or you can follow me on my YouTube channel.

Here’s the url to get to my channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/kaw19atlas