Monthly Archives: November 2006

Game Design: Small Steps

It’s been a while since I’ve written a game-design essay.  I’ve had a lot on my mind.

So: Shattered Vistas.  The problem I run into is not a mental block, per se, but a vast empty mental plain.  Perhaps a mental highway interchange.  It’s not that I have no idea where to go next, it’s that I have too many ideas where to go next, and suffer a crippling inability to follow up on any of them.

Am I trying to do too much?

Shattered Vistas has some big goals, and one of them is being a definitive modern work of gamism-oriented gaming.  That’s… a tall order, especially for my first full length game.  Much better I think, to start small.

I’ve *done* five page high-concept.  (Hell, with Kingdom of Bluuud!!!!, I’ve done three page, really-high-concept.)  With Rummy Fight!, I’ve done pamphlet-sized playable.  Council of Magisters is easily PDF-playable, although it lacks refinement.

What I need now, is a Fantasy Heartbreaker, preferably without the heartbreak.

I suspect, given my relative inexperience, that whatever I put out there is going to be an unpolished, but lovable, mess.  Rather than going for a grand opus to change the way I look at gaming, maybe it would be better to make a game more within the lines, and save the showstoppers for an older, wiser, more experienced future-Willow?

I’m pretty sure I have the perfect premise for a decent fantasy heartbreaker:  the Age of Air.

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Holiday ‘Fun’

As a reaction to the ultraconsumerism and ultraculturalism of holidays, I would like to introduce a new holiday, specifically designed to be free of consumerist overtones.

I call it ‘Mandatory Winter Spartan Day.’  (Focus groups found the alternate names of Mandatory Winter Spartan Fest or Mandatory Winter Spartan Jubilee to be too fun.  Fun is not allowed on MWSD.)

On Mandatory Winter Spartan Day, to be held annually on December 30th, we introspectively look back on the previous year, and ruminate on things we did and things we didn’t do.

Entertainment is not allowed on Mandatory Winter Spartan Day, as it distracts one from the ability to properly and stoicly process the previous year.  To stave off boredom, reading is allowed.  So far, Kant, Nietzsche, and Marx are the only approved MWSD authors.  Purchasing of gifts is specifically forbidden, although you may buy a tract by one of the approved authors for use by a loved one; they are required to regift the tract the following year.

The traditional Mandatory Winter Spartan Day foods consist of water, and ramen noodles.  Without the flavor packet.

Try to spoil *that*, you consumerist bastards.

What Does Your Pet’s Name Stand For?

Munkie!:

My Unhealthy New Kitty Is Excitable.

My parent’s pets:

Nala:

Nosy And Large Animal

Spot:

Small Perfect Orange Tiger

Tim’s Cats:

Boris:

Bubbly Obese Rascal Is Stupid

Natasha:

Not Affectionate To Anyone, She Hides Always

Daniel’s Dogs:

Hanzo:

His Antics Now Zestily Occur

Yuri:

Young Unruly Rambunctious Idiot

Towards a Paperless Economy

So get this: I was at Walmart today, buying kitty litter, and I paid with a check.  After doing so, they had me sign an agreement that said they could electronically subtract the funds from my account- and then they gave me the check back, saying they didn’t need it.

Whoa!

I find it interesting that I signed a peice of paper, when they have the electronic signing thing for credit cards.  But it’s a sign that checks are on their way out.

I Hate Reading Burningwheel.com

And it’s because of Luke Crane.

Yes, I love the Burning Games.  But I can’t stand the guy’s posts on his own website.

(Of course, I’m one to spew the vitriol.  There’s probably someone out there who loves some of my projects, like Kingdom of Bluuud!!!1 or something, but hates my rants.)

It seems like everytime someone asks a rules question, his response is either “what do you think?” or “tell me more about your situation,” with little attempt to actually adress the concern.  No thank you, I prefer straight answers.

I also don’t like the vibe I’m getting from the board that BE is expected to be played as a series of unnopposed rolls that randomly fuck people over, but don’t actually have any ‘impact’ on the game.  The creative-disconnect is jarring, and there’s probably some people out there who think it’s genius, but to me, it seems petty, banal, and anticlimactic.  “I make this roll to hull all your family members!”  “Yeah?  Well I make THIS roll to burn down your house.  And kill your dog.”

That came out a lot less ranty than it was supposed to, so I might not be mad enough.  But it seems like everytime I read something in the Burning whatever book, it makes me want to say “booyah!” and everytime I read anything Luke posts to his website, it makes me want to scream “just shut up already!”

Maybe he has really good editors or something.

GNS- Thoughts on Disambiguation

Back in my GNS explaination thread on rpg.net, someone observed that if the most misused words associated with a theory are the ones in the theory’s name, there’s something wrong.

The problem of course, is that Gamist/Narrativist/Simulationist are all adjectives and while meant to define only play, end up defining lots of different stuff.

It’s of course too late to do anything about this, given the terms’ sheer saturation in theory-culture.  But I thought: what if there was a way to adapt the words to a context where the usage is clearer?

So here’s my random idea: Instead of *-ism, you have *-play.

Gamism, is therefore GamePlay.  Narrativism is NarPlay (I’d prefer DramaPlay, but people know what Narrativism and Nar are.)  Simulationism is SimPlay.

And people’s creative-agenda preferences?  *-player.  GamePlayer, NarPlayer, SimPlayer (because people aren’t gamists, narrativists or simulationists!)

A games innate leaning towards one creative-agenda or another?  *-playability.  GamePlayabiliyt, NarPlayability, SimPlayability.

I imagine most people who knew about GNS who saw these phrases without previous context would know what I was talking about (someone with no GNS experience would probably still be clueless, but that’s not the point), making it better than pulling out entirely new words out of nowhere.

What do you think?

Don’t Mess With Me

Ok, so this was wierd.  It happened Monday, but I’ve been mulling it over, trying to figure out just what to make of it.

Monday morning, Coworker #1 enters the building.  I say “hi,” somewhat friendly.  I’m usually cheery in the mornings: I get to go home, and Monday is the start of my weekend.  I love Monday mornings.

What’s her response?  “I know you hate me, Willow, so you can stop pretending to be nice to me.”

How is one supposed to respond to that?  I said, “yeah, ok.”  (However, I didn’t stop being nice to her.  While leaving, I was extra-suggary-fake-nice.)

I tell her it’s nothing personal, it’s just that I hate everyone.  She suggests that if that’s the case, I shouldn’t be working in the hospitality business.  I agree with her.

She goes on to shout at me for fifteen minutes about what a terrible person I am.  I sit there laughing at her, as if to challenge her with a “is that all you got?”  Six months ago, this might have made me depressed.  Two years ago, I might have been driven into a rage.  But when it happened, it was just… minor irritation, with a hint of irony.  And later, a zen calm.  Yeah, my coworker hates me.  Boo friggen hoo.

Some gems from this:  she chides me for being a gossip.  I call her on it: the front desk staff is four women- I know that everyone gossips about everyone else behind their backs.  She denies she does it, and then goes on to badmouth one of our coworkers and my friend.

(Remember, this is the coworker who didn’t know the definition of irony.)

Several guests (including some regulars) AND the cafe/maintenance manager over hear this.  I later remark to said manager “gee, coworker #1 finally snapped.”

So I leave, and I find out that she left property later that day.  But here’s where it gets wierd: my boss is saying she was fired.  Usually, when people leave work without notice, its in the employer’s best interest to treat it as a quit so they won’t have to pay unemployment.  In her case, they’re treating it as a firing.  I can’t help but wonder if her Willow-directed-tirade had anything to do with it.

(Oh, and she later called the cops to ‘tip them off’ that the front desk staff were doing cocaine while on duty, and she was prank calling us.  Officers came by, the manager took care of it, the cops called her, and the prank calls stopped.  The company’s apparently looking into getting a restraining order.)

This Way Indeed Lies Madness

And I love it.

The L5R Crosswinds game has been crazy busy.  We went ‘live’ tonight.  The players have tons of energy, and I’m hyped about the game.

And check this out:  The wiki for my game.

Seriously, I’m having a blast.

Keeping Me Busy

I haven’t posted for a few days.  Here’s why.

Earlier this week, I realized that I have absolutely way too much free time at work, and much of that is spend putzing around on rpg.net.  I run a play by post game, but it has only two players, and they aren’t all that active.

I had an idea earlier for an L5R 3rd ed game where the players are the Winds (not the canon ones, but ones of their own design), and are ultrapowerful, and mostly rival each other.

The response has been amazing.  I’m flooded with posts, and it’s almost impossible to keep up with the character submissions.  There’s some truly out there ones that will get summarized or reposted here.

But I’m *really* looking forward to this.  I mean, one of the players took Nemesis: Kokujin.  So I got to writeup Kokujin.  How awesome is THAT?

This is Really Stupid, But…

Ok, on the radio they have these commercials for Ben & Jerry’s where they have weird ice-cream related fake words.  For a commercial, they’re ok.

Anyway, the word in one of these was “bananalyze.”  Which is, to you know, analyze an ice cream that has bananas in it.  Say it out loud.  Not bad, eh?

Well here’s the problem.  Later on, the word “banalysis” is used.  While banalysis rolls off the tounge, it’s an incorrect extrapolation of the word bananalyze.  It should be bananalysis, which is really darn hard to say.  Trust me, I’ve been trying to say it all night.