Friday, November 26, 2010

Let's play a Blog Game - You know you've had a good game session when ...

Since I'm in the middle of getting a couple of projects finished I don't usually have much to say on this thing.

To keep the momentum going, let's play a Blog Game. I'll give you the first line and then you can fill in the rest. That is if anyone else wants to play.

So, "You know you've a good game session when ..."

You look outside and realize that the sun is starting to rise again

Monday, November 22, 2010

Something Cool - Handcrafted Dice

Someone just posted this over at the Self-Promotion page at the free rpg forums and I thought I'd share.

It's someone who does specialty dice. Holy crap they look cool.

Check them out. They even have an "open source" how to guide on how to do things yourself.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Geasa - Da Layout

After many, many, many, many, many false starts Geasa is finally in the layout stage.

What does that mean?

It means I've got a cover to show you.

There have been some updates, like putting my name on the front cover and the URL of the website on the back, but ultimately this is what it's going to look like. I'm pretty stoked.

EDIT: Note, I've updated it so that it has all the stuff that people commented on that I agree with.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Game Chef 2010 - Playoffs!

It's that kind of atmosphere here folks. We're in the thick of things and it's going to go all the way!

Just kidding. The playoff format for Game Chef 2010 were just posted up on the site and we've got until December 5th to crown a winner. There is a complete list of games that made the finals, go check it out. However, to make things easier for me I've gone and posted the list of games I think people should play.

There will be one glaring omission here. I'm not really endorsing Over The Wall as a game to play. If people want to play it, sweet tell me how it doesn't work and how the setting inspires you to play it with system X, Y or Z. Hell, it might give me some ideas on what to do with it when I have a free moment ... in 2012.

Danger Mountain! by Jason Morningstar - Played it in October, which doesn't count for the contest. Have fun, cut out the cards and glue them on card stock, or foam board. Have a good time.

Long Shot by Nick Wedig - I just think that the theme, the rules and the character gen is rather amazing. It's already got a play, so that's awesome.

The Hand of Gulliver the Man-Mountain by Mike Pohjola - Two Words ... FINGER LARP!

Chronicles of Skin by Sebastian Hickey - Just make emblems for hours, that what I would do.

Cosmic Journey by Krista White - You must play the game, or else the Adversaries have already won.

Deserting Paradise by Joe Mcdaldno - I want to play the Man and the City, let me tell you. Seriously, awesome antagonist rules

Going Home: An Urban Power Fantasy by Mikael Andersson / lachek - You should because of the question map, the resolution system and because Mikael is freakin' awesome.

Man-of-Letters, Man-of-Wars by E. Tage Larsen / Double King - More Two Words. Sea Shanty!

Action City! by Mike Olson - Any Game that requires an explosion at the end of a major scene is worth playing in my book.

Bridge Across Eternity by Tamara Persikova - Again, the deserters and the feel and look of this book make me want to play it.

My completely made up prediction:

The Winner is everyone who gets a good game out of this. Is this a cop-out? Most certainly.

See you all December 5th.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Game Chef 2010 - Finalist?

Well my review is up over on the Game Chef but I'll reprint it here as well.

Over The Wall by Jonathan Lavallee

Concept: You play cloned human youth raised to be the hope and future of the denizens of a dystopian robot city in which flesh is currency and everyone wants some, because you have to be part human to make it over the wall to the paradise beyond. Very cool.

Execution: The designer made the really interesting choice, when writing up the rules for this
game, as including them in the setting description. It makes the text very difficult to skim, but is a cool approach overall as it really lets even the rule descriptions carry the feeling of the game. Still, it would have been nice to have a summary somewhere – preferably before or after each section – that stated the basics (for example: Run and Hide are the universal skills and characters get other skills for being a Roboticist, Trader, or Bully). As far as resolution is concerned, the ability to remove elements from other players’ narration strikes me as one that could lead to social problems in the group, so it should probably be handled with additional care than is shown in the current guidelines, where it seems more like a throw-away line, something easily ignored. Resolution is deterministic rather than random (“karma” rather than “fortune” for those familiar with Jonathan Tweet’s breakdown in Everway), with the player deciding whether the youth or opposing side has the advantage in a scene (similar to determining refresh scenes in Bliss Stage, perhaps), but then the youth has the opportunity to invoke skills if they are at a disadvantage. This use is capped by the level of the skill. Once you overuse a skill, you can still invoke it to succeed, but begin to suffer negative consequences, including damage. The rest of the game is full of cool setting information and scene generation guidelines, which include randomly drawing elements from a deck.

Completeness: There is a lot to like here. However, the premise of the game seems to demand that a major focus be on how well the youth (creche-kids) are about to save their own skin (literally) in a city full of robots looking to become more human. Unfortunately, I don’t see any mechanics or guidelines that really hammer on this theme, including guidelines for slowly adding more and more robotic “bits” in exchange for giving up your human flesh. So, while there’s the chassis of a relatively solid game here, it doesn’t fully deliver on the promise of its premise. Additionally, as with some of the other games that build on Polaris and have rotating protagonist, antagonist, and support roles, I feel like this responsibility-distribution framework is kinda half-heartedly slapped onto the game, rather than really fully worked into the game. I mean, Polaris is great, right? We all recognize that. But it’s been 5 years! There are other methods for making GMless play work and, even if Polaris is maybe still the first GMless or “rotating responsibly” game people think of, these techniques have been around long enough now that designers should be developing their own unique guidelines for shared “GM” responsibilities, based on what you want your game to do. Ultimately, you can’t assume that you can just tack on something as important as the way the players approach the game. That doesn’t work for GM guidelines and especially doesn’t work for GMless guidelines because even hippie players typically have their own house style of sharing control rather than doing what the designer wants.

Cookery: Perhaps the best use of skin so far (as a unit of currency), even if it’s underdeveloped.

Conclusion: This is another close call. The lack of emphasis on the theme of becoming more robotic is troubling, but there’s enough here that you could probably playtest it. I imagine that quite a few changes would need to happen immediately, though, which means it’s probably more ready for local playtesting than outside playtesting. However, since this is the last review I’m doing and I’m feeling magnanimous, I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt and call it a Finalist.

Now, I'm pretty surprised. I really did think that the tacked on system would cause it to sink, and had it not been last it would have. There is something to be said for being at the end.

Does this make me want to go back over it? Yes, it does. Do I have the time to do that? No, I don't. I've got a whole pile of projects that need to get done before I can get back to Over The Wall.

What does that mean? Well, if anyone wants to do anything with it right now, go for it. If not, this might not see any much change for a while. Of course, I may just freak out and change things for an afternoon.

My favourite part is that he's assumed I've read Polaris. ^_^

Friday, November 12, 2010

CyberGeneration - Combat Speed

There are a couple places that most RPGs tend to bog down and the speed goes from entertaining to boring for quite a lot of people. One of those places is combat. Combat, for all the fact that it happens quickly in real life becomes hours of agony as everyone plays everything so cautiously that they painstakingly map out every possible scenario before they commit to any action. It's one of the reasons why 30 seconds of game play can take 2-3 hours.

Saturday Night Skuffl (SNS) has this problem too but on through different means. There aren't a million special rules that you need to be aware of. There aren't all these Feats or Skills or Traits or Abilities that you have to consider when you're going to use. Instead what SNS has is a throw back from Friday Night Firefight (FNFF), a defense roll. When dealing with melee combat what slows down the game is the fact that the game has a defensive roll. It is a roll that does absolutely nothing other than to negate someone's attack roll.

This can make a battle go on forever, especially if two characters of equal skill are involved in the fight and they keep rolling high on their opponent's turn.


Time to follow one of the design philosophies and speed things up. We're going to change combat so that whenever you attack or defend against a roll, the winner will do damage in combat. That way combat will go twice as fast because now there is guaranteed damage to happen on every single roll. Well, not including armor, but at least it will be faster than it was before.

This isn't a unique concept, many other games have implemented this kind of combat style, I just think it's particularly fitting to CyberGen.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hammercon II - Wrath of Con

On Saturday, when a lot of people were at Neoncon in Vegas, some of us people in the GTA and further went to an awesome spot called Hammercon in Hamilton which is about 45 minutes outside of Toronto going West on the QEW. Now, this is probably not the same party scene but there were a whole pile of people who make games there. You'd find me, Darcy, Corey and a host of other people there running our stuff and having a good time.

The game of Gaesa that I ran went off really well. We started out slow, working out of Louis XIV's France with a Musketeer, a Shepherd, a Server at the Palace, the English Diplomat and the Revolutionary Innkeeper gathered around a table to tell a story. By the end of it we had discovered where the King of England's illegitimate child was behind held and the Innkeeper was the first one there and he manage to squirrel away the child with the French army and our intrepid musketeer on his heels. The big winner was the shepherd who managed to play both sides against the middle and come out richer than he had ever imagined. It was a good time.

The other key thing I wanted to talk about was Speed Gaming. Wow, that sucker was hard. It was 32 people in a room with 9 designers. Each Designer gets 15 minutes to pitch their game and play it with the people involved. It was great for generating buzz, out of 9 tables at least 7 asked for more information and wanted to hear more about the game later. There was one table that didn't really get the concept until the 15 minutes were up, and the last table was just as beat as I was. I think this is something that more cons should do, because it was really a good way to get a lot of things done at once. The first is that you got to expose your game to 32 different people in the span of about 3 hours. The other one was that you got to refine you pitch to a point, there was no time for any extra talking. It was just go, go, go, go, go, which is a damned good thing to have under your belt.

Not only did I get to hang out with people I had met before, but I got to meet a couple designers that I hadn't yet. I got to meet Francois Valentyne from Face up Games which has a game being published by Zev at Z-Man Games. I also got to meet a couple that has a new CCG. Jey Legarie from Gifted Vision with their Dungeon Crawler CCG. Check it out and let them know what you think.

I love this con. I can't wait to go back next year and you should go too damn it!

Friday, November 5, 2010

CyberGeneration - Sponsors?

Someone over at the Firestorm Ink forums, a barren wasteland where very few people gather to talk about CyberGen and hopefully other stuff when I get that released, there was a discussion about maybe setting things up so that there is a Sponsor program. This Sponsor program would be something like Kickstarter, though I don't think that there would be a time limit other than when we get the book out, where you pre-order + extra and you get some cool stuff.

There are a couple of questions that come with this. What would you think would be a viable price point to get things. We're looking at making the book at the $20.00 point. What would be things people would be interested in seeing?

- Name in book as a Sponsor
- Special Cover
- Alt Cover Art
- Signed Copies (some people put stock in that)
- Personalized Copies
- Cool junk from my house prizes?

Suggestions? Ideas? Help me out here folks.

CyberGeneration - Design Philosophy

Well Blogger ate the other post so this one goes up first! Yay!

With the new release of CyberGeneration in the works I think it's a good idea to put out what my personal design philosophy is in regards to this book. That way I have something that I can refer to if I feel that I get stuck or that I'm playing with the fiddly bits too much.

I really think every project should have a Design Philosophy, and I regret the fact that I haven't really done one before now.

Anyway, here we go:

1. CyberGeneration's Rules need to be Fast:

The resolution mechanic is a straight forward one. It's Stat+Skill+d10 vs Target Number. However, it's the other things that really get me. Combat can take forever because it has a attack vs defense roll where nothing happens on the defensive end. It's got a lot of little bit rules in the evolved types that make you have to know tables and stuff that makes being Evolved kind of a chore.

The net. Oh goodness the net. It's still better than most nets out there, but that needs to be cleaned up something fierce.

2. CyberGeneration need to be immersive:

One of the things I love about the game the most is the setting. It's what really drives the game and is the inspiration point for some other games with dystopic teenage angst. Make sure that gets driven home every chance we get.

Also, I want to make sure that when people make yogangs they actually make yogangs. It's not, "I'm a Guardian" but "I'm a member of the Brickyard Boyz." Immediacy helps with immersion.

3. CyberGeneration needs to be darker:

Some people might say we're living in the world right now, just without the cybernetics and even that that's slowly becoming a reality. Hell with Kinects (nee NADAL) and Sixth Sense virtuality is clearly on the way. Make sure that this helps drive how much control there is around the players.

4. CyberGeneration needs to have more fight:

The big driving force behind 2.0 was the Cabal. The Cabal is not going away, but I want the game to help the players feel that there is a fight going on even if they aren't playing in the Cabal. Sometimes this shit is worth fighting for.

That's what I have so far. Any suggestions?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Geasa - Speed Gaming

This Saturday we're going over to Hammercon which is a great time in Hamilton. Seriously, if you're in the GTA I can't recommend that you go there enough. Hell, it's worth a day trip from Buffalo.

I'm going to be running two events there, the first being a game of Geasa first thing in the morning. That might be a little hard for some people, but thankfully it doesn't require any prep on my part. That's going to be a full game which means that character creation is part of the game.

The problem I'm going to deal with is the fact that there is an event called Speed Gaming. This event basically gives me 15 minutes in which I can try to make people interested in the game. Give them a feel for how it works. My big problem is that the game has two big features, the part where you build your characters and the part where you tell the story. Both of these features are great by themselves and when they're combined they produce a great experience as you care about your characters and the relationships that they have. However, one round of each can take up at least 15 minutes.

The dilemma. What to do? I think my solution is going to be that I have to focus on the storytelling with just a little bit on the character creation side. Basically give them characters to play and let them choose their own goals but provide the rest of it.

The kicker becomes what stories do I want to tell. I might just get lazy and redo some of the really great games that I've played of Geasa.

1. The Circus - GenCon 2010
This was a great game where I could expend from the 4 characters that were played to 6 by filling out some of the memorable NPCs.

2. The Gunslinger - Dexcon 2010
Another fun game played at Dexcon with a couple people I know who hadn't played the game before. We ended up with one of the better endings to a game I had ever seen. Seriously awesome.

3. Pirates - GenCon 2010
This game devolved quickly but I figure throwing out a game where I have control of the characters this time might make it work. There was attempted mutiny, a drunk captain and a rowdy crew.

4. Steamvents - Origins 2010
This was a game played with the Slugfest crew at Origins. It wasn't an official game, it was a Jonathan is falling asleep on the couch game, but it was pretty sweet regardless.

5. Victorian Murder - Anime North 2010
Another con game that was basically a Doylian mystery wrapped up with a bunch of fistfights and faeries. I'll have to try to recreate it because again it was late and I was asleep on my feet ... or under the table.

Yay for crimping. I'm also going to be interested to see where these stories go with other people in them.

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