Game Design: The other authors grass is always greener?

I was playing apache overkill today.

I’m thinking, perhaps it’s not just the difficulty of a game that can attract me. I can be attracted by the care and effort put into its craftsmanship. Or in a perhaps more immersed way, how the world grabs me.

I’ve focused for years on making really good difficult mechanics. But while I’ve enjoyed alot of other authors games, even the easier ones, I always flounder in terms of making a game that grabs me.

Perhaps that’s because I’m instinctively interested in other people/other authors. Of course that interest doesn’t apply to my own creations. Of course I can’t make something that has the same grab these other authors ‘have’, because a large part of that grabbyness is my own interest in other peoples works. I can’t make a game as good as theirs, because a large part of what makes games good for me is that I find out about someone elses creation. My own creations can never provide that! It has to be someone else!

Perhaps I should be more narcissistic? How do you get over this? Can you?

How much do you see in your own eyes, that your mind invents?

Have you ever stood in front of a mirror, and tried to see your eyes as merely geletinous, moist orbs? Like, without meaning, like you might look into the lens of a camera without seeing meaning in its glass?

It’s quite hard to do and kind of unpleasant (I didn’t sustain it for more than a fraction of a second) – but it gives you a peek at something. I put a picture here to give a vague impression of it.


The picture is pretty mild, but trying in front of a mirror is pretty strong stuff to try. It shows how close some strong stuff is, in our mundane everyday lives.

And no, I don’t recommend it for cheap thrills. Do it with a mind to form a conclusion at some point, don’t just do it to titilate your sense of horror or whatever. Of course reality will seem pointless if you go into it without a damn point in mind.

“I don’t like it” “Don’t be mean!”

Today my son said at school some kids were talking about the cartoon ‘Chaotic’

He said he didn’t like it.

They told him not to be mean.

He said he was just saying he didn’t like it.

They said not to spread it round the whole world. He’d only told them.


Sooooo…it starts that early and doesn’t seem to get better in alot of cases.

They were friends of friends, apparently, which makes it a bit hard to simply step away from.

Warcraft gamer with 36 accounts ‘It’s a hobby!’

I noticed this in wow threads first and I would post there ‘cept for the moderator sanctioned bullying/stalking.

Here’s a link to an article about a guy with 36 accounts.

There’s this concept that if they call it a hobby, that justifies it.

Now fair enough, pretty much anything can be called a hobby. Walking around a local park each day could be called a hobby, and that’s fine by me.

But by the same token, if anything can be called a hobby, then there are no particular practices that are tied to the word. That other people spend more money on their hobby doesn’t mean money has to be spent on a hobby at all (ie, the local park walk). That it’s a ‘Hobby’ doesn’t justify what you do to perform that.

But it’s like this escape clause for them ‘Hey, it’s a hobby, and you think hobbies are okay, therefore you think me playing for hours and hours is okay…cause that’s part of the hobby and you saiiiiid is okay, mmmkay!’

It’s like people play for hours and hours…and then decide they need something to justify this devotion “Oh, yeah, I think of it as a hobby!”

Sorry, when did you start thinking that? After the 200th hour? What was it before that, for 200 hours? Not five minutes, not thirty minutes…after around 200 hours of doing something, you then your doing a hobby?

You’d have to excuse me for thinking, whatever it was for all those hours, it still is. It isn’t a hobby, it’s whatever it was during those hours. And it continues to be that rather than what you’ve just decided to name it.

What name someone might give that, I dunno. But whatever it is, it’s practitioners will name it one thing when it’s another. Whatever it is, it’s provokes a certain denial or dishonesty.

Thrown together game, using D&D mini’s and some of their rules.

Based on my recent post “Do the events of the game inspire creativity from you, or do you get creative just to keep the game going?“, I wrote up a small game session.

It was a small one so as to make it a small gamble. Basically I got some old board sections from the first D&D basic game, got some of the D&D minatures game I’d bought, and then looked them over, to see if they inspired anything (so I put them to work, to a degree, to inspire creativity, rather than just draw upon myself in whole).

I’d also envisioned what I wanted to do before that, and had decided there would be searching spots – look in the right spot, and it gives you information against the enemy. This gives you ‘Add’ points…that’s all I have as a name for them. It’s just a pool of points and after you’ve rolled, you can take points from the pool and add it to the roll. You search after a battle, getting two tries per room, each giving you 7 Add.

But otherwise there was no AOO, most special abilities/attacks were removed, so it was just roll, roll, roll. Yes, that’s not amazing to think about…and? If I invest creativity to make it more interesting, the game has to pay back that back in inspiration. I’m rather tired of gambling like that.

Also I designed it so it could/would be run multiple times (the monsters just pop back/respawn afterward). That way I could get more out of it, in terms of any inspiration to be found.

I played it with my eight year old son – I liked it alright. I’d written it so I was a player too. It was a bit like snakes and ladders with more handling time, but in compensation, with much cooler figurines and boards involved. And the searching was good (though I didn’t do any, because I determined them).

In other words, I’d play it every so often, but it’s not terribly compelling. I’d say it gives a little inspiration over time, in recalling it. Not a big payoff, but a bit of a pay off.

In terms of spending that inspiration, I was thinking as well as the search spots, I might also have something where the player can, once per room, describe how something in the room helps the villains plans. I’d either, GM style, give this a reward of 1 to 3 Add points, or perhaps something else? Perhaps it gives 1 point by default, but as a player I can opt to risk one of my add points to give him another. Like say I roll 1D20 and if it’s a 1, I lose my add point and the other player gets nothing. But if I roll anything else, he gets another add point and I keep my point too.

That’s a tricky way, because it still rewards trying to do well on the description, because who wants to gamble on a weak description. I think I’ll use this!

‘Make the game your own’

This came up on the forge recently in a T&T thread, but it’s advice I’ve heard in reference to all roleplay games, it seems.

Make the game your own.

This is what I said, in part and with fewer spelling mistakes!

Terrible, horrible person here asking, why would you make it your own, when you don’t even know if it’s any good yet?

Is this like choosing what sports team you barrack for – it’s not a matter of their past performance, it’s more about just believing in one? Fair enough I would say, if that’s the case. I don’t knock peoples passion for a team, whether the teams behind or ahead. I respect that passion.

But if your not choosing that way, then going straight to making it your own is skipping any qualitative evaluation of the product and going straight to making it your own, as if the product is inherently good somehow and already deserves to be made your own.

If you want to run a qualitative assessment, I would suggest that if it’s intended that to play the game you choose what rules components you employ, then choosing those components is actually gameplay itself, even before your sketching out a dungeon, let alone rolling dice against a monster in a particular room of it.

Since the start of play is choosing components…if you want to do a qualitivie analysis, is finding all the components you can, fun? If so, choose some components, then see if that felt fun to do so. If that’s fun, move on to the next steps, and so on. I think that’s one way of evaluating it.

Qualitive assessment or believing in it like your loyal to a sports team. Either is a good choice. I’m not sure if there’s a third way to come from or not.

Which way are you coming from, or does neither seem applicable?

Do the events of the game inspire creativity from you, or do you get creative just to keep the game going?

It’s all in the title.

I was responding to a post on the D&D forums, because I think I suffer from writers block/burn out and was interested in someone elses thread on the topic. And I think this is the reason – I ‘spend’ more creativity than play actually ‘pays’ me. Creatively, I’m broke!

What about for your game? Is it paying off?

Oh, and for writers of normal books, this might be useful too – is your creativity being stimulated more than what you spend in actual writing?

Illusionist GM’s – do they fake tension?

I was fine tuning a small computer game today. In it your searching amongst a forrest fallen branches to use one as an implement. Your score goes up by 2D6 for every stick you run over, the comp has a ‘Wilds Bite’ score which goes up by 2D6 every five seconds, with a 10% chance of getting +20 on top of that. Wilds bite kind of represents fatigue and wearyness building up while traversing a forrest.

Anyway, after running a game, I started messing with that 10%, because it had just ‘critted’ me several times in a row, and that wasn’t the tension I was after, so I bumped it down to five.

It was then that I realised I was screwing around with tension. Just like those illusionist GMs who want to give the impression a TPK is possible (for the tension it gives), but not make it so evident that it can indeed actually happen (oooh, I read one of these guys on the D&D board just yesterday – I should have recorded the link? Or would that be sad?).

Anyway, I was essentially doing the same thing – adjusting the tension of play.

But that’s not fair, because you can lose in my little game. It’s not just the impression of being able to lose – it is there.

There’s something more to this – it isn’t just that the illusionist GM is trying to just fake a certain level of tension. I was adjusting tension in my game – you can adjust tension in a game with a win/lose condition, and you can adjust tension in a illusionist game…both tension adjustings are the same in either case. I wonder what that something more is? I thought it was the emotional betrayal…someone makes you feel tense about an outcome, when really that outcome is fixed and no tension is warranted. Hmmm….

System matters, but is it the system you’ve got in your head?

I was watching Catalyst the other night, and it had a segment on gambling and why people get addicted to it. One study they mentioned concluded that small, frequent small rewards at irregular pacing got people addicted. And that gamblers would believe there was a pattern or some lucky way of playing that would give a win.

My take is that it goes way back to when we forraged to live.  When forraging, you might find a root here, a berry here…it’s all small stuff, without any set pace to recieve it at, while with luck you might find and kill some large animal (but that would rarely happen).

Essentially the same as gambling. But the thing is, with forraging, there might very well be a pattern, because ecologies do have certain patterns and rules. Believing there’s a pattern might very well have you discover the actual pattern involved. Someone who believed there was a pattern, was the one most likely to live. And we are their descendents.

But with gambling, on a slot machine, there is no pattern. Its purely random. Indeed, with problem gamblers it takes their belief theres a pattern, and uses it against them.

Which takes us to roleplay.

If system matters…

How much of the system you believe is there, actually is there?

With foraging, one can point to the rules of ecology to prove the belief there is a system.

What rules can you point to, to prove your belief that all of the system you think is there, is actually there? What actual, physical structure can you point to?

Or has it elevated to the point of religious belief? It need not be proven?

What if your like the gambler, who has their system of a lucky car parking spot, or a lucky machine, when really it’s an entirely different system (in the gamblers case, an entirely random one)?

I found ‘Inquisition’ at 1KM1KT and played it

I left the following comment there and thought I’d put it here as well

I tried it and got to LOC 6.4! Had a rough start, then a sequence of health packs. But it wasn’t enough and a daemonette chewed me down until I killed her. Next room a chaos marine sealed my fate!

It’s a really nice base. There might be some way of getting an element in which uses the imagination, into it. But that’d probably take it to a two page thing.

It’s entirely gamble based, so I don’t have alot of enthusiasm for another go because I can’t really do anything to change where I lost last time. But it was fun to play through!

What’d be interesting is if you record where certain monsters die, and it affects the next play. Like say the daemonette corpse rots, and when you play again and come across the room the body was in, the bodys parts can be used to make a medi kit. Or made into an extra weapon to add a point to attack until a one is rolled. Or something like that.