Friday, April 30, 2010

Game design by idiots

Not a post criticizing existing games or the design thereof, rather a post about my own struggles with concept vs design...

I used to read Melody Maker, back when it existed, and one of the regular sections towards the back was for musicians - it covered how to get your demo tapes reviewed, how to get inspired, how to objectively assess the quality of your own song writing.
One of the criteria for the latter was to determine if you could actually play the songs you've written (which sounds like a no brainer, yet is apparently a common stumbling block). If you found that you could not, in fact, play your own songs, then you should at least take comfort in the fact that your songwriting ability outstrips your own skill, which you can always improve through practice.

So, with that in mind, this post is about realising a concept.

My problem is, I have a lot of concepts. At the moment I am trying to create a game that incorporates as many of those concepts as possible without creating a bizarre ungodly monster that should be culled before it draws breath and lumbers out into the world.

I've been playing with something like a free form resource management system for a while now, the original concept coming from a half hashed LRP idea.
The idea being that the character didn't have a health trait, rather they had a Luck trait, which was used to avoid damage and death, as well as stumble upon advantageous items, people, occurrences or knowledge.
For example, if shot, the player would lose 1 Luck, and the bullet is stopped by their cigarette case / pocket bible / hip flask etc. If the character runs out of Luck, then the next damage they receive either knocks them unconscious or kills them, depending.

I thought this was a great idea, and held onto it for ages (i'm on the 7 year mark, currently), however, I may never see it successfully incorporated into a LRP game, so have been trying to use it in a table-top system instead.

I made some headway with the idea a while ago, then due to the majority of it being written on my Windows mobile, and it exploding after two years use, I lost focus.
I've recently started looking at it again, and have decided to radically overhaul the system, simplifying it extensively and focussing more on player involvement and creative play rather than dogmatic rules.

However, because I appear to be showcasing abandoned experiments, here's my very rough notes and ideas thus far, plus some setting fiction which may or may not see light of day in any other format.

Here's a concept for you. They, scientists, or maybe potters, have discovered that ceramics can retain some of the ambient sounds from when they were on the potter's wheel. It's a similar principle to cutting a vinal record.
Now, let's make an argumentative assumption: God exists. Also, the universe, the Earth especially, sprang into existence fully formed.
So, once there was nothing, and then there was a word, and that word was God.
The word is spoken, and the world is created.
What i'm getting at here is: If we could find a record player needle big enough and stuck it in the Grand Canyon, maybe we'd be able to hear the name of God...

Friday, April 9, 2010

Ghost Britain

Back when I cared so very deepy about LRP, around 2003, I started writing my own system - Ghost Britain - which was envisaged as a moderrn day zombie survival game, mostly so the players and crew didn't have to spend much on kit.
However, around 2004 - 2005 I stopped caring about LRP.

I have recently fired up my old desktop, and found my old Ghost Britain notes, and well, thy're the most complete piece of work i've produced in ages.
Kind of sad, really.

Anyways, I present to you Ghost Britain plus supporting crappy setting fiction. Feel free to use - Just credit me if you do.

Link to fiction

Link to system

Monday, April 5, 2010

Beer, Pizza and Dice

White Wolf released a 20 page pdf book as their April Fool. It's called 'Dudes of :Legend: How to be Fucking Awesome'.
It is awesome.
I now want all games I run or play to be like this.

It has rules for fantastic mounts, such as grizzly bears, pterodactyls and unicorns, special rules for going bare chested (+2 armour and +3 persuasion) and a system for gaining XP for killing people, al a D&D. An extract follows:

Murder Systems

You know what happens when you kill a goblin in every fantasy game ever? You get experience points and phat loot. You know what happens when you stab a taxi driver in the World of Darkness? You probably get a derangement and a carload of cops on your ass, and you probably also pissed off that taxi driver’s vampire master (fact: all taxi drivers are blood-drunk ghouls) and now everything sucks. Good job. Jerk.
Some of those things we can’t erase: the cops, the vampire master. But, let’s make murder more fun. I mean, hell, we’re all miscreants and deviants anyway. We play these games to explore expressions of violence and to direct our repressed gamer rage! (Er, that’s why I play these games. Don’t you? What’s wrong with you?)
Time to bridge the gap.
Every time you kill somebody in the World of Darkness, you gain experience.
How much?
Just to give it some glimmer of moral responsibility, let’s base it off of the victim’s Morality (or equivalent score like Humanity, Harmony, Arete, Faustability, Pants Size, or Viscosity). Check the following chart:
Morality Score Experience Gained

8-10 = 1xp
5-7 =  2xp
2-4 = 3xp
0-1 = 4xp

If the character killed is a police officer, then double the experience is gained.