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Messages - madunkieg

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16
I'll agree that Vampire was able to be played by many people new to gaming. I think Vampire's success with new players is a good example of how it's not about the complexity of the rules (though I have a few good things to say about dice pools), but about how the game appealed to a certain fashion, literally, clothing and music and all the cultural messages woven into those things.

17
As Stuart says, boardgames rule this aspect of gaming, and the most basic ways they do it is by simply cutting down on the number of modifiers and by cutting down on the size of numbers. One other thing they do is provide items that list the modifiers that are used (cards that say, "roll an extra die" and such), instead of having to keep a list of 50 possible modifiers in your head.

But boardgames also get very inventive. Boards allow spatial metaphors, like the variable size of buildings in Elaslund, or having different sections of board like in Talisman.

Cardgames play some fun tricks, too. Brawl, from Cheapass Games, penalizes some decks by making them more complex than others. Citadels ties initiative to chosen special actions (if you think of the roles as special actions), and going first is a sort of modifier.

It might not be a bad idea to head over to boardgamegeek and start looking through what they talk about. Better yet, get together with some friends and have some fun playing a few boardgames and cardgames.

18
Quote from: Stuart
Here's another bit of advice:  Math is BAD.  BAD bad BAD.

d20 +2 +3 +1 +3... or was that +2... better look it up...  what was the target number?  17?  So what did you roll?  No, you added it up wrong.  Did you make it?  Okay, roll for damage now...


Is it really the math that's the problem here, or is it having to keep track of so many modifiers?

19
Let me introduce the 2 cardinal rules of making something for non-gamers:

1. What you like and want doesn't matter.

2. What they like and want does.

Hopefully there will be a connection between what you like and what they like, but when in doubt, they win.


Now, to break down the process:

1. Listen to non-gamers: listen to what they do for entertainment, listen to their complaints about entertainment (and not just, "it sucked" complaints, look for complaints about scheduling, organization, travel, and anything else peripheral to the entertainment experience). Look for a spot where a roleplaying game might be able to do something better than another medium. Include some non-storytelling mediums (e.g. social networking sites, fashion, etc.).

2. Do some market research: What sorts of stories do they watch, read, listen to and play? What genres? What themes? What brands (if you're going that route)? Where do they look for advertising about entertainment? This may involve checking statistics (tv ratings, book sales, etc.), doing focus groups, and all that jazz.

3. Make a roleplaying game that matches the stories they like and fits the constraints (and freedoms) of their lives.

4. Playtest with non-gamers who are your target audience. Let's face it. We gamers often try to steer rpgs towards what we're familiar with. We can check the math pretty well, but we're not the target audience. And "non-gamers" are not a target audience. You need to be more specific than that.

This is all pretty general, basic business practice, and it glosses over all the places where you can go wrong in the details. How to manage those details fills books, so do some reading, and talking to successful businesspeople often helps, too.

20
Going back to an earlier question, "What would the setting be like?"

I think that something from popular culture really is a good idea (though running around attacking monsters may be joining that category thanks to videogames).

But the more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that we're going about it backwards. Right now we're trying to get people to play our games. What we should be doing is asking what do non-gamers want, and only after that, try to figure out how to redesign rpgs to match that.

To take a videogame parallel, casual games (e.g. PopCap) have found an audience because people wanted entertainment they could fit into short (4-30 minute) time slots between other life activities, especially if there are kids in the home.

21
Design, Development, and Gameplay / Levi's Heresy
« on: April 11, 2008, 09:21:31 am »
I don't think Levi is onto much at all.

Do designers ever say, "Check out my advice"? Yes, particularly in ashcan publishing where it's fashionable to include design notes, but play advice has occured in many rpgs, big and small (many descriptions in D&D's Monster Manuals, for example).

Do designers ever try to guide play in non-system ways? Yes, with background, fiction, and, more commonly these days with indie publishing, artwork, layout and font choice.

So, while I don't think that game designers are not necessarily obsessed with system, I do think game design forums are. In particular, both the Forge and this forum focus on this more than other forums, which shouldn't be surprising. It's common for opposed groups to share many traits and differ on only a few.

Why? The heavy theory work done at the Forge and elsewhere has given the game design community the language and structures to assess game systems. It was developed by gamers for gamers. Other aspects of design work (fiction, layout, artwork) already had language and structures for assessing them, but it developed in non-gaming fields (crit-lit, graphic design, art criticism), and are less common to gamers. We tend to discuss those things we can get the most and best feedback on.

22
Design, Development, and Gameplay / Designing Monster Stat Blocks
« on: April 04, 2008, 09:10:44 pm »
My suggested minimum: 2 pages, mostly description.

I can do a lot more with a few monsters well described than with a lot of monsters poorly described over the same page count.

If you remember the "Ecology of..." articles from Dragon magazine, that's a good starting point. On top of what those articles gave, I'd also include one or two adventure ideas involving the monster, plus suggestions on how to vary the monster's attributes a bit.

23
Design, Development, and Gameplay / Brett's Design Projects
« on: April 02, 2008, 07:46:50 pm »
6 projects on the go. That's even more than me.

I'm curious about Warcosm. What scale are you looking at (how many ships per player)?

24
Design, Development, and Gameplay / Basic Dice Mechanic
« on: March 30, 2008, 11:45:21 pm »
Hmmm, there's an odd shift in the probabilities as the number of dice changes.

Extra dice make a low initial roll more likely, and also increase the number of steps to get a high die. That means more dice reduce the odds of success, but that may be just what you're looking for as you look at allowing up to 2 raises from each type of raise. You'll have a smoother probability curve with the raises, too. I'd suggest 5 dice.

It's an odd system, but workable, I think.

25
Design, Development, and Gameplay / Read Aloud Text in Adventures
« on: March 26, 2008, 11:29:53 pm »
The story has to be pretty much railroaded for read aloud sections to be useable, and that's generally a sign that your adventure isn't very well built. There are a lot of other little reasons why they rarely work, but that's the big one.

26
Quote from: droog
I have multiple points!
Then make them.

For example, kickers and bangs have three flaws that I can see:

1. They are tied to particular characters, but don't necessarily encourage the group to get involved with one another (and can even discourage it, if they are badly done).

2. They are a means of classifying plot hooks based on the gamemaster's perspective, but they seem to be designed by players, which is clumsy (though I could be misreading this).

3. They only seem to set up the start of the story. Many other games include things like enemies, dependents, patrons and driving goals (to steal some examples from GURPS) to help create plot hooks. These are superior because they can reoccur throughout the story much more easily.

27
I'm not sure what you're wanting to discuss.

Are you wanting advice on how to do this with your game or your players? Are you wondering if story hooks are necessary, or even a good idea? Are you wondering if this sort of thing should be codified into the rules or left to participants to describe?

28
The Zocalo for Babylon 5.

I do a lot (entire game designs) of gaming around life beyond combat. The Zocalo is a reminder of some of the different categories of things that the world may be filled with. I've never had the urge to pick up the game itself, though.

29
Design, Development, and Gameplay / Need a Kid's Cardgame to Adapt
« on: March 17, 2008, 09:06:35 pm »
Quote from: Silverlion
As in "no magic at all?" or "no accessible  player-character magic?"

As in, "no magic at all." The illustrations by Imperial Boy mostly depict an alternate modern world that seems almost enchanted, but is really very mundane. Take a good look at this one and this one I think you'll start to understand what I mean.

While I can't replicate all of Imperial Boy's techniques (such as lighting), there must be other ways to communicate the same sort of atmosphere that could be worked into a game. I've got a couple ideas already (odd subcultures that tend to hang out in semi-hidden places, rituals as a method of recovery), but I'm looking for more.

30
You know, I can understand that every forum has its own flavour. I don't agree with the "landmarks" as described, but that's okay. I joined up here because I wanted different viewpoints. I can easily avoid discussing GNS and alternative player/gm paradigms, even if my games don't always conform to what you call "legitimate" roleplaying.

Unfortunately, the argument came across as being the very same sort of attitude and superiority complex that likely inspired it. After reading that first entry I had real second thoughts about being involved with these forums. Venting your anger is fine now and then, but it makes for a poor first impression.

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