28 June, 2011

Unexploited Resource #5: Music

Looking through my old posts, I see a few ideas that really need re-addressing.

One of those is the "Unexploited Resource" series.

So to resume the concept, here's an idea I've been thinking about for a while. Music in games.

I remember a few years ago, actually it was the mid to late 1990s. It was the traditional "end of convention" trip to the pub...a common occurrence that still happens at Australian RPG conventions. A friend of mine was sharing an idea over a drink. He had recently placed a computer game in a regular CD player on a whim,and he found that the background tracks and theme music for the game were readable as music files on the CD player.

This game him a few key music loops that might have proven useful as introductory fanfares for specific NPCs, but more interestingly, the game included a heartbeat.

In the computer game, the heartbeat soundtrack sped up as the character became nervous, excited or stressed, and it slowed down when the character achieved a more peaceful state of mind.

The friend was discussing the idea of having this track on constant single-loop throughout a game, when player characters became more agitated in the game he'd ascend to the next track and loop through this, gradually getting faster with each track progression, or moving back through the looped tracks when things were calming down.

I don't know what game it was (I vaguely think it was something in the "Battletech" game line), I can't remember who suggested the idea, and I don't even know if the idea was put into practice.

What I do remember thinking was that the concept sounded awesome to me at the time. Especially if used in conjunction with other soundscaping ideas.

I did run in one convention game where a GM used music to great effect.

Vietnam War setting, so he used the movie soundtracks to "Apocalypse Now", "Good Morning Vietnam" and a few other great period songs to set the tone for the game.

In this way, music isn't really a way to mechanically change things up, instead it's a tool for characterisation and mood.

I ran an infamous Sabbat Game for White Wolf's Camarilla around 2002 (where I spent a bit too much hiring a pair of high-class strippers for the gamers...the strippers were more freaked outthan the gamers...but that's another story). In this game I went through my MP3 collection and picked as many death related songs as I could, gradually building up the intensity over the course of 3 hours. Then finishing off with the classic disco song "I Will Survive" for the ritual climax at the game's end.

A few people remarked on the song choices, most didn't even notice them, but it was a great way to add a bit more texture to the game, beyond the specific events occurring physically around the players.

I've been wanting to use music more in my games, and It's certainly something I've haven't seen used enough in a roleplaying context.

18 June, 2011

New Job

I've been posting away at this blog for a while now (since early 2008) and have had a variety of jobs. The blog actually started off early with a string of posts about my dissatisfaction regarding the corporate world.

In the time since I've been writing this blog, I've been an IT specialist, a printer, a bookseller, a freelance game writer, a layout artist, a student and a web designer...Most of those roles I've been paid for.

For the last few months I've been struggling to make roleplaying books my primary source of income. It's not been easy, especially when other issues keep cropping up. I'm probably earning enough money through RPGNow that I can adequately sustain myself on packet noodles and a few cheap cans of food...certainly not comfortable, and not even enough to pay the rent, but it's a start.

So that's meant I've had to look for more substantial work (the job-hunting has cut into my game design time immeasurably).

On the positive side, I have now found a job that I can really sink my teeth into.

I now design companies, corporate identities and retail environments. It's like designing insidious factions for a cyberpunk game, but it's real, and people are paying me to do it. AWESOME!!!

13 June, 2011

Taking it back for my people

According to a number of people within the Facebook group Wenman Family Reunion, it appears that I could be related to gypsies.

I find this hugely ironic, when a number of people told me not to pursue my ideas for the game Brigaki Djili. My most vocal opponents decried my work as an act of "cultural appropriation", but now it seems I can counter their arguments by saying that I am actually exploring my ancestry and cultural roots through my work on this game.

I realise that if anyone traces their family tree far enough, they can justify almost anything, but this gypsy/traveller connection only stretches back a couple of generations, and it seems that there are still a high proportion of travellers who bear the Wenman name.

In fact, one of the origins of the surname "Wenman" is said to be "Wain-man" or "Wagon-man".

Maybe it's time to start working on that project again.

08 June, 2011

New Goblin Tarot Images

Just to show that I'm still ploughing away on the Goblin Tarot Deck, here are a few more images to entice and enthral.

At this rate I should have the full deck knocked out in a few weeks.

Have a look at my Deviant Art profile for more updates on this project.