Saturday, 14 December 2013

Thauma and Louise

Forget about  Louise, today's post is all about Thauma! A sense of wonder and marvel that can arise during gameplay. Thauma is largely engendered by the GM-player relationship and somehow exists in a niche from which it will only emerge if the right conditions are met.

Experiencing Thauma in play and the desire to experience it again is a potent motivator. A recent post on reddit asked what readers want in a RPG blog. A common reply was actual play reports, often specifying that they want the rules interactions minimised. Why? Readers want to share the experience of the gameplay, they want to harvest the Thauma.

Considering that Thauma emerges from the group experience of play, can a designer encourage or enable it in the game itself? I think that the answer is `yes'. I also think that the answer is more complicated than that. Follow the link above and read more about Thauma at What Games Are. Check out the crosslinks on the Thauma page. If you agree that the answer is yes, tell me why?

Monday, 9 December 2013

The Words that ward the paths we tread

Roleplaying is verbal communication. Sure, you can have your maps, minis, diaramas, your sketches, screen shares and printouts. These are all vehicles that can only be animated verbally and translated into the theatre of the mind, the arena and destination for role playing.
So words are important. The words you use when you play and the words you use when you think about how you play.
I bring to your attention; the Glossary You can use it as a guide to help you find your way to the arena. Gathered and corralled by Tadhg Kelly, legendary video game designer and writer. Check it out and learn from the best.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Decisions< Emotional Attachment< Fun.

Yesterday's blog was inspired by this article. The writer, David Hom, finds that mobile game designers expect analytics to explain how to successfully monetise their game. They think Player behaviour will tell them how to get player buy in. He goes on to endorse his theory of emotional monetisation.
The argument stands for tabletop RPGs too. If you are designing content, designing a game or running one as the GM, how do you achieve Player buy-in? 
To quote from the article:
"You need to establish an emotional connection with your players through engaging gameplay and amazing design. By definition, games are series of decisions, designed to create emotional attachment and be fun. Art and science become a game when a developer constructs game mechanics that allows gamers to make their own decisions with skill, strength or luck."
This quote sets the course for my design work on Bandit Country. I look forward to revealing how I have subverted David's advice to achieve my own goals.  

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Is D&D the language of emotion?

One of the spectacular things about D&D is that it shifts people into a kind of emotional super-cruise. There have been Edition Wars, OSR resurgence, the Splintering of the Base. D&D has become a thing that demands an opinion or at least a stance before you can even approach it. It fields a cluttered orbit of clones, heartbreakers and offshoots so dense they often obscure the original heartland from sight. 
All this anger and emulation, factionalism, jealousy, brilliant insight and recurring humour. It speaks one thing to me.
All those stat blocks, setting guides, conversion notes and rules tweaks out there are like screwed up love letters in the school yard. And we keep writing them.

Class + Reward = Fun?

I have said before that the most interesting things that I read that influence how I Design are being written about video games, thus the name of this Blog.
Classifying player types was all the rage a few years ago and usually creeps into the GM advice section of games that haven't realised that it is pointlessly academic.
Except in the case of video games where monetarisation is the wicked drug that is luring good designers from their safe cubes and out into Indi-armageddon.
This article on Gamasutra is worth a read if you are having a hard time linking Players and Rewards in a way that results in a fun game.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Bandit Country: Design Sources

I am currently pursuing two strains of research to realise my design for Bandit Country.
I read the Guardian and New York Times for all things Snowden. The recent big reveal on the scale of SigInt surveillance is one of the boundaries within Bandit Country that the player characters must contend with. A radar if you like that they will want to stay below. 
I read Foreign Affairs because it is a great 'big picture, little footprint' window into the world of nation states. It also has great interviews with interesting people who have stood in the spotlight (and those who more interestingly, avoided it) such as Stanley McChrystal.
I read AllAfrica and Council on Foreign Relations: Africa for setting information. I want to set the initial AEO of Bandit Country in West Africa, a region on the fringe of the next emerging proxy wars.
Finally, I am reading about Operational Risk Management and systems of Project Management. This is fairly dry going but it is helping me shape up the core mechanics of the game. 
If you know of any sources that could help, please comment.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Before the Flood

QTE is now on the RPG Blog Alliance! I  enthusiastically await the flood of new readers. But seriously, welcome.