Game Design: Fun Complexity

One of the things that we’ve seen recently is a wave of games that I like to call “dumb fun”, games which cater to the lowest common denominator and sell widely, like Call of Duty and really just about anything EA makes, barring The Sims and its ilk. However, I think as game designers it’s important to consider that while simplified and streamlined explosion presentation devices are certainly a pathway to commercial success, it is possible to receive just as much enjoyment from a game that requires a little more thought. Continue reading “Game Design: Fun Complexity”

Table Reflection: Allowing for Fun

One of the important balances a GM must strike at his table is the difference between a game that follows conventions and expectations, and one that is very spontaneous. As a narrative experience, tabletop roleplaying requires a particular mindset and flexibility, even when it focuses more on numbers than on people. An important element of this is to figure out what players will enjoy, and offer them an appropriate experience; games are not fun by default, they must be made fun through the events within them.

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Emergency Review: Ender’s Game

So I just got back from the theater and watching Ender’s Game. I should likely preface this by stating that my review is perhaps a little informed by the fact that I didn’t really enjoy the book all that much; it had some good ideas and concepts, but my memory grew less fond of it as I’d sort of mulled it over and thought about it again and felt like it just felt less consistent and well-written. The movie, however, was somewhat different than I had expected.

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Thursday Review: XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Enemy Unknown is a reboot to the X-COM series that attempts to modernize the gameplay and graphics but keep the things that made the series good. Being a modern recreation of an older game series serves it well, but also has some major flaws. All-in-all, the game’s pretty good, despite some noticeable differences and gripes. Continue reading “Thursday Review: XCOM: Enemy Unknown”

Project Update: Ostravia Progress October 2013

I figure that since I’m getting increasingly detailed on Ostravia (and I keep posting about it again and again), I should give people some idea of where I am. I’ll be keeping it pretty simple this month, because I’m quite honestly not at the point where anything is set in stone, or even particularly thick paper, but there are a few things that I can keep working from and developing.

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Game Design: Characters as a Route to Immersion

One of the major gripes I’ve had as a games reviewer is that a lot of the time games just don’t get a passable story down. The main root cause of this is poor writing, but not necessarily even with regards to the narrative. I’ve seen incredibly complex narratives, such as Dishonored’s, fail not because the core narrative failed but because the characters as individual parts of it did.

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Table Reflection: Dealing With Frustration

As a Game Master or player, you’ll likely encounter a lot of issues when it comes to the actual roleplaying experience. Obviously, there are the times when the mechanics come out against you, but there are also times when you run directly into an issue with other players, the GM, or the story as it has unfolded. In order to promote a great table environment, there are some things you should consider that will greatly improve the gaming experience of not only yourself but also everyone around you.

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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”