CRPG without the dense content prerequisite

I’ve been thinking of making some sort of CRPG world – you might remember a survey from a few posts back (thank to the one soul who did vote ūüôā ).

Now the thing is with content, this is the dilemma – it’s speculative work in regards to actually getting any sort of income from doing it (and hell, I’m not even talking in purely fiscal terms – if I asked for poems from people in exchange for more CRPG content, I might not even get poems – ya know what I mean?).

So what content to provide, that’s engaging? And all my history of RPG gamers is that they always want complicated, dense stuff, or they wander away very quickly. And making complicated, dense stuff with relatively low chance of return? Umm, no thank you. I don’t mind making some stuff, clearly, but doing tons and tons on the hope of a tossed coin or two?

I would like to make something simple, like this thing I made awhile ago. Latter I’d develop it more relative to the amount of interest that was shown.

Possibly I could have some parts of it named or partly decided by readers even before any money transactions, as that give a bit of sense of being in on the project, rather than just another project that wants money. People are more likely to invest when they already have a personal stake (come to think of it, that’s how world of warcraft works…).

But the main issue is:

Effort for low chance of return Vs low interest for non dense and complicated material.

I’m thinking one work around is text, since that’s easier to generate (look ma, I’m doin’ it now!). But I have to figure some simple way of getting around the ‘wall of text’ problem.

Anyway, thinking through the problem out loud…

Philosopher gamer, video games, mmorpg, pieces of string

Video games, mmorpgs, traditional table top roleplaying, more!

And sorry to regular readers*¬†– I’m trying to direct google to spider into that site – it seems to do it for this blog really quick and it occured to me I’ve only linked to the other blog in edits, which the spider might not pick¬†up on.

Traffic, traffic, traffic!

I just want it to start showing up! I didn’t even try with this blog and it shows up on google! Crazy!

* Or¬†am I humouring myself in thinking there are? ūüėČ

High production just makes followers/moth to the flame

I’ve been thinking that most of the games, whether it be video games or even table top RPG’s, have such alot of production and work in them that it’s a bad thing.

Think of it from your own perspective – there are these sparkly games that draw your attention and maybe spark your imagination. But do you have the raw production capacities to actually make one yourself? To various degrees, the answer is no. Perhaps if we rewind to early D&D, or to video games on the c64, yes. But otherwise no.

So your entranced and in love with something you can’t actually make yourself. This throws you into the position of follower only – you can’t lead, because you need to be able to make it to lead. You can only follow.

A mix of sometimes following and sometimes leading is alright, but always following? That’s a bad thing, if you happen to share any values I have on self guidance.

I’m looking at all these things again and thinking wow, all the fancy production just leads me into being a follower. Pah!

Edit: And why on earth can I google this new post I made only an hour or two ago, yet I can’t google my new blog?

Certainty: A game

This is a game for three or four players, or more.

One player becomes ‘The certain’, figure out who in whatever way you wish. The first time playing this with someone, you may wish to only tell them rules 1-4, and say the latter ones have a special surprise if k

Another is the game manager (GM), probably the person who read these rules and initiated the game.

Everyone else are players.

Step #1, The player who is ‘The certain’ thinks up something he or she as a person thinks is definitely wrong. They tell everyone else this thing.¬†

Step #2, The ‘certain’ player¬†then envision some sort of authority figure, like a politician or judge or police officer or¬†such. This authority figure sees what the player thinks as wrong, as being right.

Step #3, The other players now take turns at arguing with ‘the certain’, as his authority figure, trying to convince him that thing is wrong. ‘The certain’, even though as a player he thinks it’s wrong, has to argue that it is actually correct and right.

He does not actually have to convince anyone at the table, perse. He merely needs the other player to be too dumbfounded for words or a gasp, and he gains a point. The person who is dumbfounded or a gasp may continue to argue if they wish, but each time they give a point and after giving two points, someone else has a turn. The game moderator determines if someone was dumbfounded or a gasp.

Turns do not have to go around the group in order (if two people are keen to go at once, flip a coin or such), but all the players get one turn each, before anyone gets a second turn.

Also if anyone can’t think of anything, that’s fine, they can pass on their turn.

Step #4, Every player gets three turns. Remember that anyone who can’t think of anything or does not wish to can simply pass on their turn.

Step #5, The reversal: The game moderator has had enough time (assuming he read these rules in advance) to think of a fictional situation where the authority figures certainty on the matter is likely to cause harm to other characters (children, women, elderly) in the fictional world, or even death. Important: In the fiction, at this stage, it only seems likely that it will. By the rules (based on a certain choice), it certainly will happen latter Рbut in the fiction at this point in play it only seems highly likely.

The game moderator presents this fictional situation to ‘the certain’.

Step #7, The ‘certain’ player now decides if his character goes through with what the character was certain of. HOWEVER, if his character decides not to, each time he goes to declare that, players get turns at returning the arguements¬†‘the certain’¬†previously gave (as best the player remembers them, and twisting the words for effect is valid play).

Each time ‘the certain’ simply repeats a refusal to do it, the players as a group, get a point. Every time ‘the certain’ is left a gasp, the players as a group get a point. The game moderator determines if either of these occurred.

All players get three turns as before (ie, in no particular order except everyone has to have one turn before anyone gets their second turn). if they score two points that’s the end of their turn. They get to present roughly one argument in an attempt to gain¬†each point. What qualifies as one, single¬†arguement is slightly ambiguous and the game moderator can make a call on the player who’s turn it is, to now finish. However, if everyone’s sitting forward in their seats, this doesn’t really need to be done.

Step #8, If the authority figure goes through with it, after all players have had their turn, the thing that seemed likely to happen in the fiction, does indeed happen. If the authority figure does not, the fiction ends there, much as a movie might end upon the expression of a broken man.

Step #9, the points gained by ‘the certain’ and by the players as a group, are a sort of artifact generated by play, there to leave a nagging question as to who wins in a situation like this.


Copyright, Callan S. 2009

mmorpg – death penalties

Ever muse about mmorpg design even when you really know it’s pointless to do so?

The death penalty in mmorpgs. Even the apparently wimpy one in world of warcraft – it’s always a fixed penalty. No matter whether you go ten levels without dying, or die ten times in ten minutes, it’s the same. And there’s no tension involved in it at all – if you die, here’s a penalty.

It’s hard to describe – but I think basically the question rises ‘well, what can I do about all the money I lost?’

Do better next time? ‘Next time’ would be a whole new character. Once your characters died/lost X gold, there’s no way to make up for that mistake. Yeah, you’ll earn more gold, but you could always have been able to be X amount of gold ahead than you are, but now aren’t. There’s no game to it – there’s no way of making up for that error and genuinely getting that gold back and being where you were before. And where there’s no game…well, there’s no game.

I had an idea and I realise now it doesn’t fully address that. What it was is fairly simple – each time you collect gold or whatever, a fixed percentage of it gets stored away. Over time, more and more of it gets stored. If you die, you lose all of this!!! Of course at the start, it was zero, but even after you slay your first monster, you now have something to lose.

The big thing is, when you get to a certain amount, ding! You get to keep all of it! And the amount you can lose is reset to zero…until you slay a monster, etc….

This, you can game. You can nurse your way through to a ding. But how traditional mmorpgs are, you can’t nurse your way through – you will eventually die to something and then your always X amount of gold behind. This idea strictly doesn’t solve that – you can die and always be X amount of gold behind. But it does provide something to game, rather than nothing at all except to eventually take the death on the chin again and again.

Finally, some of you might say ‘not dying is the game!’. No, it doesn’t matter how good you are at not dying – you will eventually die and¬†you can’t ‘not die’ so much that you make up for any previous deaths gold loss¬†(unless you can manage it that you never ever die, in which case I grant your point). I’ll put it this way – you are granted the means to lose(dying/gold loss), but you are granted no means to win. There’s no way to make up for losses from death. Imagine a computer game that only ever recorded your losses and never records your wins. Can you¬†imagine the losses slowly but surely stacking up and…well, no wins recorded to balance that out?

I guess you don’t normally see that when you look at your gold amount. But if the death penalty of X gold is supposed to matter, then yes, all your losses do matter and are recorded while at the same time you cannot win to balance that out.

Also I have sleep debt at the moment…so I’m just cutting to the chase.

Were you trained in school to run off of support…and now it’s not there?

Probably not interesting to anyone, but I’ve just kind of realised that I was making or attempting to make games with the firm impression there was a reward involved. Originally it was peer accolades, more recently money of some level.

I think because I’ve been thinking on the money, I’ve come to the perhaps obvious realisation that no one is going to give me anything for making a game. No ones waiting to do that. With the peer accolades, way back when I first encountered double dragon and wanted to make a game, I thought those peer accolades and pats on the back were on offer. Same goes for a traditional table top roleplay game and making one of those. I don’t think anyones guaranteeing (like any of you who work, are guaranteed to be paid) me any money to make a game, and I don’t think anyones guaranteeing me any peer accolades either. I just had the impression,¬†a naive one, that it was. I wont blame myself for that – it comes from a child like part of me and I wont blame that into non existence in a hurry.

So perhaps that’ll help with my writers block? No ones offering anything. Perhaps after I make something perchance I’ll get paid or a pat on the back. But no ones guaranteeing me something for having made something – not even five cents – no ones giving me any sense of certainty or security/support in that way.

I think I can work that way, but my point with this post is that I think the idea that I was offered certainty on some sort of reward for work was sputtering and bleeding away. And so too was my productivity. I suppose I was stuck in a cycle of throwing effort at something with the idea I would get support – but at the same time I felt no…possitive feeling? I guess this is pretty childish, but this is what they teach you in your early formative years at school – the pat on the head and appreciation from teacher for getting the work done. There will be no pat on the head – at least not of a level that befits me as an adult now (and by befits, I mean not just my due as an adult, but in practical terms of supplying resources for my adult life).

I think I can work and produce without the idea of any such support. A more clinched, tight work, but work done rather than lolling in a sense of non inspiration (that absent inspiration being the absent support). It’s funny, one of my own phrases is ‘Praise subverts agenda’ and here it is again. Waiting on that praise can subvert what your doing.

And I don’t mean praise mayonnaise – I keep several boxes of it stored away in case of any sort of mayonnaise emergency.¬†At 18kg, you can bathe in the stuff! I know I do! >:)

Fun short term risk game broken by long term accumulation

I’m playing legends of zork at the moment, and I quite enjoy how you have a number of action points each day and you can spend them on finding more treasure, or banking the treasure you’ve found. But if you get beaten up whilst looking, you lose all the treasure on you since your last bank. But banking uses up an action point you could have used for treasure finding. See the fun dilemma?

Okay, so that’s fun. But I’ve been playing it and saving up for some armour (because everyone else in the game seems to have a huge armour stat and they keep beating me up in PVP).

The thing is, while that fun dilemma is fun, at a bigger picture level, it’s just slow accumulation. The bigger picture game is boring. There is no game of risking for potentially more reward. So that bigger picture, the way it is, actually spoils the smaller picture.

Of course you could just duplicate the smaller game at the bigger picture level. Like perhaps after you get X amount of gold and¬†Y amount of RL time, you can face some risk and increase it by some percentage, or you can bank it and be safe. That’s a quick, clumsy idea for it.

But the interesting thing is how that bigger picture appears and spoils the game. I think this happens in mmorpgs too – I wasn’t thinking of saving up a whole bunch of coins, but because of item costs my mind shifted to it – and when it shifted, it shifted to a larger picture that spoilt the smaller picture/game.

I think it can sort of explain the love hate thing you can get for a mmorpg, where your attracted to it, probably because of a reasonably fun small picture game, but then your mind drifts onto the larger picture and that spoils it.

Fiction comes first; a dead end in design

I posted this here, and given it highlights a fairly massive divide, I’m putting it here as well

I suppose I’m scratching my head because it seems easy enough for fiction to be prompted by procedure, demonstrated in this account as well, but just about everywhere design focus is on fiction/freeform first. But that doesn’t appear to be able to go anywhere in terms of design – if the rules can’t direct the fiction, new rules designs wont change anything about the fiction produced. In a fiction/freeform first design, any new rules will only be inacted if it seems to fit the fiction – and even if those rules do manage to affect the fiction somehow, they’ll be quickly rejected since the priority is on the fiction choosing the rules and not on the rules choosing the fiction. It seems a dead end, in terms of design (not that it can’t prompt ideas for procedure first games – it’s good at that, I find).

I’m thinking it needs to be a banner, because I’ve had so many conversations that just got complicated and not heading towards any resolution – probably because I am operating from a rules first. And probably the other guy was working from a fiction first position. Except, atleast to me, you can’t go five minutes with fiction first without breaking out of it – if you want to do something, you do something – you can’t leave it up to some fictional idea. You implement a rule. And design, or atleast to me it is, is doing something.

Anyway, I think it needs to be a banner to get rules first discussion out from under fiction first discussion. Because currently if you try and discuss rules first with fiction first people, they go along with it for a little while, then more and more they start critiquing it in terms of fiction first. It’s that ‘going along with it for a little while’ that subverts rules first designing, because it seems to be talking about the same thing, but then those critiques from above kick in … and basically those critiques can never, ever be satisfied until you give up rules first and go fiction first. It subverts the idea of “Hey, with rules I can somehow satisfy the conditions they are critiquing the game on’. Anyone who sticks to that just gets frustrated at lack of progress with these people who appear to be rules first. Anyone who gives up at that frustration and goes fiction first is allowed into wonderful ‘story gamer’ land. A stagnant land where no rule can prompt any new fiction, because rules don’t get to prompt fiction.

Since it’s a blog I’ll just change subject slighting – the weird thing is that the ‘freeform’ play DOES have patterns of repeating behaviour that are much the same as rules. It’s just that they aren’t conciously aware¬†of those patterns. Because whenever they do become aware, they instantly reject the¬†pattern because ‘rules don’t control fiction’. Yet fiction is just a bunch of structures, much¬†like rules¬†– you just can’t conciously articulate them.¬†

Anyway, that’s one post on the matter completed, even if it wasn’t with a great deal of planning and drafting!

Moment to Moment

I’ve got this idea for an RPG, where the teenage characters face a system (perhaps they are child soldiers)¬†which purports to protect and look after them, but generally fails and has abandoned them – leaving them in basically a lord of the flies sort of situation, but without being on a desert island. Also, and this is even more important, it doesn’t appear they have been abandoned.

Further it¬†would go into how that abandonment¬†essentially puts them in bad situation or at odds with each other (or both). But¬†sans any recognition of being abandoned, what it gets into is the responce and idea that they are still being looked after and that they just have to ‘get it right’ or ‘follow the system right’. In this RPG, ‘following it’ will specifically be an invention of players, and yet characters will believe they are indeed following the system. No matter what their acts. No matter what their deeds.

It’ll plot basically a regression into an animal sort of form, which thinks only moment to moment as to how it responds and reacts, as the young, malable characters in question have continually thought themselves as under a system, and yet as they weren’t and often the only reaction was animalistic reflexes, they start to think animalistic reflexes are the system – rather than just like, simply being animals.

Perhaps having some scale of reactions, regressing all the way down. Each character is on the scale and if they choose to go down a notch, they get a strong bonus on dealing with a situation that would hurt or ostracize them otherwise. And so the regression will slowly be charted.