Archive for January, 2006

January 23, 2006: 7:02 pm: Miscellaneous

The question is, do I want to drive up to Boston and pay $20 (the one day registration fee) for this?

Panel: Game Design
Guest event run by Michael Von Korff
Time: Saturday, January 28 beginning at 2:30 PM and running until 4:30 PM
Location: Sever 102 (Guide to Locations)
Short Description: Vincent Baker, Luke Crane, and Jared Sorensen talk to us about designing role-playing games.
Details: They’ll rant and discuss. They’ll answer questions. It’ll be awesome.
Availability: Open event—show up at the start to participate.

January 21, 2006: 11:17 pm: Game theory (or close enough)

Apparently the start of 2006 is an especially fertile time for new RPG theory jargon to arise. Over on Fair Game, Meguey explains in comments on this post that:

Here’s another example of what I mean by IWNAY.

Jill has a hard line at kids-in-danger. Robin says “The victim is a child.”

Jill says “Please don’t make the victim a child. I really don’t want the victim to be a child.” Robin says “I know you don’t like it, but the victim is a child.”

Jill says “You *suck*, Robin. And I’m still not going to abandon you.” Robin says “I know you think I suck. I know this is sucky of me to do. And I’m still not going to bail on you and your reaction to me being a sucky person right now.”

This strikes me as sounding more like a therapy session than a game, and while I get that part of the idea here is that conflict that cuts close to the bone makes better stories, it’s not an idea with which I necessarily agree.

While there are writers and other artists who create great works of fiction by confronting dark and terrible issues, there are also those who do a brilliant job of finding conflict and meaning in things that seem more mundane. By the same token, a game doesn’t need to push past all of a player’s lines in order to create a great story. There are plenty of great stories to be told in that grey area between comfortable and horrible, even if some of them aren’t as obvious.

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January 16, 2006: 10:36 pm: Game systems, GMing

I asked this over on The Masters’ Council, but I’ll ask here too:

For some time now, I’ve been planning on running a Buffy campaign with just one player, who would be playing the Slayer.

The whole thing was put on hold for a while, and now that I’m thinking about it again, I’m wondering if there is some system other than the B:tVS RPG that might work out better. Maybe something that puts more authorial power in the hands of the player, possibly something that’s more of a Narrativist/Sim blend.

Any suggestions for what that system might be? Indie games would be preferred, but it’s not a requirement. Non-D20 is a requirement.

January 15, 2006: 11:13 pm: Game theory (or close enough)

Brand makes an attempt to better explain the whole push/pull thing that’s been talked about on several RPG theory blogs lately:

First, let me say that a lot happened with push/pull in a very short time. Mo started talking about it in terms of social dynamics: the way that players approach the process of making decisions in game. It then quickly morphed to become partly about techniques, ephemera, and ideas around how this may be codified in game and the ways in which games may have already mechanically reinforced one or the other. Some people hooked onto the social angle, some to the ephemera, some to the mechanics and some to he theoretical possibilities. So when they all started talking to each other there was a lot of miscommunication because they weren’t all talking about the same thing anymore. Maybe I can take a small step towards fixing that.

After reading his explanation, and discussions of the topic on other blogs, I’m still not past just having a general idea of what it all means.  Apparently I’m among those who isn’t going to really understand until someone designs a great game that illustrates the principles involved, at which point the whole thing will just seem stupidly obvious.

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January 9, 2006: 10:50 pm: Game theory (or close enough)

Vincent Baker goes mad. Again.

You remember how big a deal it was when we smashed open the GM’s power over everything-but-the-characters? We were like, “this thing where the GM creates and controls everything-but-the-characters, solely and exclusively and all by his lonely, this thing is broken, plus stultifying, plus it’s not even true.” You know how good the games are that came – and keep coming – out of that?

My dangerous idea for 2006 is: we should do the same to the player’s power over the character. It’ll be just as good.

The comment thread that follows gets rather argumentative, in part because people are trying to figure out just what the heck Vincent is talking about, but it’s still worth reading through if you want to understand what he’s getting at. I don’t know that I agree with him, but it’s certainly an interesting idea.