Types of Games

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In my last post, I talked a lot about what roleplaying is, and – surprise! – it wasn’t just one thing! That is part of the beauty of roleplaying, it’s full of options. What are these options?

Well, first, we have the three qualities talked about before:

Roleplaying, Storytelling, Mechanics. To keep in line with the existing literature on Gaming Theory, I have slightly renamed the categories I used in the previous post. I have renamed ‘Mechanics’ as ‘Competition’ (it goes by ‘gaming’ in GNS Theory, but I find that to be a bit ambiguous of a term); it essentially refers to how much of the experience of the game is rooted in competition. Storytelling will be referred to as ‘Narrative’, and Roleplaying will be expanded slightly to ‘Simulation’. Simulation refers to how much of the setting goes to recreating system-internal realism. Note that this realism does NOT have to be actual realism. For example, many unrealistic things happen in Star Wars, but there is an assumed set of rules which governs things like lightsabers. Any given game will have a balance of the three, like so:

Game-Qualities

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Movie Review: Mad Max trilogy

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Growing up I am relatively sure that I was introduced to the Mad Max movies in reverse order.  Like many people the first one I saw starred Tina Turner and featured the line “Who run Barter Town!”  This also happens to be the one which most people have seen if they have seen any of the three films (at least that’s what I have observed in my own experiences).  Next I saw The Road Warrior and learned to “just walk away from the gasoline.”  Of the series this is the one that people either haven’t seen, or didn’t realize it was a Mad Max film until later.  Finally I saw it.  I saw the original.  I heard the gospel of the Night Rider, and I saw Mad Max.  Now that I’ve built up some drama I’m going to go ahead and ease the tension with a simple categorized review.

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Controllers: Interfacing With Your Audience

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When discussing game mechanics we need to remember that there is more to gameplay than just the on-screen interactions.  There is a real-life interaction happening during every single game you play, and it occurs between you and the controller.  When designing a game you can’t just take this for granted, and it is actually an interaction which deserves a lot of thought.  How you want your player to interact with the game world can determine exactly what system your game should be released for as well as whether or not you will need an extensive controls tutorial to educate your players.

Before getting started on your game you should ask yourself, “What control systems do I have access to?”  This is an important question because each controller type places hard limits on potential player actions.  By this I mean that every controller has a different number of buttons which players can press (or nobs/joysticks to fiddle with, but we can pretend they are just a bunch of buttons), and that number of buttons acts as a ceiling value for how many actions you can offer to the player.  On one end of the spectrum we have the single-button, single-joystick Atari, with the Xbox 360 controller being somewhere in the current middle, and near the end the current rendition of the computer keyboard.  To be more specific:  A Nintendo controller has eight buttons (A, B, Select, Start, four directions on the D-Pad) while a computer keyboard can have around 84-102 buttons.  This means that if you were to assign a single action to a single button that the Nintendo can support eight individual actions where the computer can support at least 80 different individual actions.

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How I Run a Game

Much like with Jason’s article, this is not meant to be an exhaustive discussion of how to run a game.  It also isn’t meant to be prescriptive.  Like it says on the tin, I want to share with you how I go about running games these days.  Curious about success through brainstorming and improvisation?  Keep reading.

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Lord of the Isles, by David Drake

I had always thought of David Drake as a military sci-fi author.  He has a long history of writing exactly that, with Hammer’s Slammers and Northworld being the examples I’m most familiar with.  So when I came across Lord of the Isles while browsing his wikipedia page, I was a little surprised.  A renowned sci-fi author tries his hand at epic fantasy?

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What is Roleplaying?

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If you’ve never been exposed to roleplaying, it can be hard to understand exactly what it is. Thankfully, pop culture knowledge has progressed from the point where roleplaying is no longer linked with satanic ritual, and is instead linked with socially awkward nerds:

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How I Make a Character

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As a person who is primarily a player in roleplaying games instead of a storyteller (game master, dungeon master, etc.) I figure the best place to start is where we all start: character creation.  Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to character creation, so in no way will this to be taken as a “how-to” guide.  This article is merely a sort of stepping-stone and perspective-setter.  The three approaches I take to creation I will call Who, Stats, and Hybrid.  In this article I will do a quick overview of what each of those approaches looks like, but I will save delving into each for later articles.

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The Wheel of Time: A Late Eulogy for Robert Jordan

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For my first review, I was all set to review a book by Brandon Sanderson. I outlined what I liked about the book, what I thought Brandon Sanderson brought to the table, where his writing felt flawed, and so on. And then I tried to introduce Brandon Sanderson. I couldn’t do it. To talk about what Brandon Sanderson does right and wrong was something I had only ever learned to do in contrast to Robert Jordan, and anything I could write about Brandon Sanderson would be overshadowed by my 5 paragraph intro about Robert Jordan. Brandon Sanderson is a spectacular author in his own right, and deserves to be written about on his own, without a page of intro about somebody else. So instead, I find myself writing about Robert Jordan.

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Short Story: Paying the Tab

I wrote this first draft of a short story over the course of one week, as a morale-boosting project.  You might think of it as fantastical historical fiction.

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Andre sat with his back against the tavern’s wall, his legs draped down the length of the bench.  They didn’t go very far down the bench, since he only ever reached four feet three inches on a good day.  The portion of the bench that he did cover he clearly dominated with his muscular bulk, as might be expected of a healthy dwarf of his respectable age.  He and his drinking companion were a study in contrasts.

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The Beginning

We are now live! Stay tuned for more short stories, reviews, articles on game design, roleplaying advice, and eventually, recordings of rpg sessions!