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Showing posts from November, 2013

So tempting

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In case I don't get around to writing up a series of modelling and terrain tutorials, it looks like there might be another option available.

Some talented Spanish designers have launched an Indiegogo project for a beautifully illustrated book about figure modelling and terrain building. If I can fit this into budget before the funding project closes, I might try to get this added to my Christmas stocking.

Modeling Stories In Miniature

At the time of writing, they've already reached a couple of stretch goals. It's certainly worth a look.



Possible Terrain Building Tutorials

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The map drawing tutorials were generally well received. There are plenty more of them ready to go, as soon as I have a scanner working again.
One of my other game related hobbies covers the field of miniatures. I've been building terrain for years, but a move of house caused me to lose a decent amount of my terrain, and I haven't been playing miniatures for a while, so the desire to build new stuff hasn't been a high priority. In recent weeks, the house has gotten back into skirmish games and tabletop miniature scenarios...that means new terrain is in order. 
Would anyone out there be interested in a semi-regular series about building terrain for effective use with miniatures? These would possibly be a weekly thing (one article describing the creation of one terrain element). 



Sanity and Insanity

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Warning...this is going to ramble a bit...

What is sanity?
What is insanity?

If we hide behind a wall of "faith" are we still sane? Is this a method of legitimising insanity, in such a way that it becomes socially acceptable (at least within a certain segment of society)?

(A post from an old schoolhood acquaintance in my facebook feed)
If I was to walk down the street claiming that I was hearing voices I'd probably be treated as an outsider, certainly as someone who needed to stop believing in imaginary friends and childhood fancy. If I made mention of hearing these voices while in a doctor's office, I could probably expect a quick psyche assessment...if I stuck to my story, a visit to a special hospital might be in order. As long as I kept the belief about voices hidden within my head, and it didn't impede my ability to interact with society...everything would be fine. But it's the whole interface between our mind and our world where things start to get messy…

50 Years of Dr Who

This kind of stuff is all over Facebook and Google+ at the moment, but maybe that's just due to my circles of friends in both social networks (one of the girls at work was complaining today that all she ever sees on Facebook these days is pictures of penises and other forms of porn).

I'm a fan of well told stories, and Dr Who has its share or great stories...it has also had its fair share of bad stories, but for a show that's survived 50 years that's to be expected.

We're running through a marathon of the most recent season as I write this, in preparation for the 50th anniversary special. It makes me think of the elements necessary to a good Dr. Who story, it needs genre elements from two sources (from the Dr. Who mythos, and from the setting currently being explored by the Doctor and his companion), these genre elements need to come into conflict early in the story and then they need to combine into an elegant solution as the story reveals its inner workings. The …

Bug Hunt Works

Despite submitting the board game "Bug Hunt" as a university assignment over a month ago, the game didn't get a proper playtest until tonight. I'm glad to see that the game works as well as I had hoped. It takes the abstractness of Zombie Dice and grounds it in a more interactive format that keeps more players interested in the proceedings of play.

With this in mind, it might be time to take the game toward the next stage of development (getting a formal playtest prototype created), or considering twists to the game (such as genre twists using goblins or other settings I've developed over the years).

12pm-2pm Pocketmod Conversion

I've run the game through the pdf to pocketmod converter.

But now I've been called in to work, to cover someone else's shift.

So I guess this is it.

The Mandala of All Things is also finished...between that and the indicated components required, the game should be good to play.

It's outside the 24 hours, but the game will be uploaded to 1km1kt when I get back from work.

10am-12pm Preliminary View

Here's what I've been working on.

I might try to do a bit more tweaking, but this might be it.

The Bodhisattva's Smile pdf

8am-10am Playing with Graphics and Layout

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I think I'm generally in a good place with this game. The simulated runs have felt right, I just need to hope that I've explained it well in the rules.

So I've spent the last hour or so engaging in some basic layout. Nothing too fancy, just enough flavour to inspire, but not enough to detract. It's a balance I am for in many of my games, sometimes aiming for a bit more flavour when the setting is a bit obscure, sometimes aiming for more simplicity when the setting is obvious.



I've got a good title-page image, now I'm currently looking for a good title font.

I've also spent half an hour or so posting my updates on 1km1kt since that's where the competition is focused...I should have done that earlier.

2am-8am Actually slept and had breakfast

I've actually had some sleep now, I'be had some breakfast and I've looked through my notes from last night.

I'm about to start reorganising the notes into a specific play sequence. It's looking very structured and regimented at the moment. I'm not sure if that's a good thing. Let's see how it looks in a couple of hours.

12am-2am Can't Sleep

There are ideas floating through my head that I have to get out. It's turning into the Bodhisattva's smirk.

New structure of the game splits each pilgrims journey into three steps. The first step assigns the pilgrim a bodhisattva. One play takes on the role for the pilgrim, another takes on the role of their spiritual advisor, and the other players take on the role of the pilgrim's troubles. This make the bidding a bit more competitive.

The second step is a question and answer session, in which the bodhisattva tries to offer advice as they delve to the heart of the pilgrim's trouble (while other players act as a distraction).

The third step determines how successful the pilgrim has been in their quest for Nirvana.

To pull in the mandala, I think we need different types of problems. 4 or 6 types, named not numbered. These are general ways for the pilgrim to ground in the world, and give ideas for the types of problems the pilgrim might seem to possess. Perhaps two layer…

10pm-12am Testing and Retesting

I think the bidding mechanism is basically sound.

Every player gets a range of tokens in a variety of colours from a limited pool. They offer their to tokens for the right to address the pilgrim. All tokens go into a central pool once the bidding is complete, then they are evened out and passed back.

If everyone has 3 tokens of 3 colours (9 total)

Player A bids 6 tokens (left with 3), Player B bids 4 tokens (left with 5), Player C bids 2 tokens (left with 7).

Once the bidding is complete, 4 tokens are distributed back to each player (A ends up with 7, B with 9, C with 11).

In this way the tokens fluctuate around the group, players might choose to play strategically, offering a low number of tokens for the chance to build up...then launching a massive bid when they see a pilgrim they really want to interact with.

I'm now thinking of a single bidding phase for each pilgrim, because a bid for each question is slowing things down in the test runs I've done so far.

It's getting…

8pm-10pm Refinement Stage One

The basic ideas still seem to hold...

...but now I'm running at twenty pages of background notes and five solid pages of game ideas.

To fit the whole thing into a pocketmod, I'm going to need to strip this back down to three or four pages of specific game instructions...perhaps even two pages with a third page dedicated to world building data. Or I could overflow this stuff onto another booklet.

I'm really trying to keep to the single pocketmod format this time.

There is a bit of a dilemma in my head about how players address the pilgrim. I think there should be some kind of bidding mechanism in place, but I'm really not sure about the best way to do this.

Perhaps this is where the tokens come into play.

Time to do some simulations.

6pm-8pm The Basic Ideas

I like cards...but the 24hour RPG challenge says no numbers.

I like communal storytelling, so that works.

I like tokens.

I look through my old posts on unexploited RPG resources and find sme fun ideas. Notably the one about magic eight balls. I seriously consider how to get some of these ideas into a game.

I google a few images relating to Buddhist and Hindu mandala, because this could make a really interesting centrepiece to the game.



The basic idea for the game at this point involves a group of players inquring about the problems in the pilgrim's mind. They take turns trying to help the pilgrim overcome these issues and achieve nirvana.

The player who helps the most, gains the opportunity to achieve nirvana also (or simply gets a step closer).

...perhaps the pilgrims answers are defined by the magic eight ball.

I've started compiling notes on bodhisattvas, buddhism, and nirvana from around the web in a hope that there might be some inspiration.

Basic gameplay notes are in fl…

6pm Live Design Begins

It's now just after 6pm (6.30 because I've had some internet troubles...not an auspicious start).

I've had two ideas floating in my head.

El Casador and The Bodhisattva's Smile

The next 24 hours will be dedicated designing a pocketmod game about the latter.

The basic theory...a group of highly enlightened, nearly-divine beings live in a cave that is horrifically difficult to reach. Only the most dedicated pilgrims attempt the journey and only the most worthy reach the sacred grotto.

This is the story of those beings, the bodhisattvas. They hear the tales of the approaching pilgrims, carefully consider the truth of the situation and offer advice to help in the attainment of nirvana.

These mercurial beings are generally benevolent, but to them life is a game. Some pilgrims are worthy of nirvana, some need to spend more time facing samsara before they are ready to ascend.

Drawing Maps the Campbell Way (part 1)

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Here's my first map drawn in a style inspired by the thought process chart of +Kevin Campbell.



It was a ten minute map. A bit of fun while the scanner is still down.
It has inspired a few new ideas (one of which is a crystalline structure floating through the astral plane...perhaps some kind of transdimensional prison or stronghold).

Other Mapping Techniques

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I've been running a few tutorials on mapping techniques, and they seem to have gotten a bit of attention. If you've been following RPG mapping lately, you'll probably also be aware of +Dyson Logos and his work (Have a look at his Patreon project here).

But there are plenty of other folks producing some great maps.
One of whom is +Kevin Campbell, who has been kind enough to let me show an image of his mapping process here on the blog.

It's really different to my regular design process, so that intrigues me. I think I'll try out this technique to produce something. It's only fair that I try mapping according to other techniques now that people are linking back to me with maps they've drawn based on my tutorials.

Sneak Peak part 3

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I've actually been given permission by the commissioner to show images of the work in progress...
...so here's the next one.




Just fixing up the planes and runways, then I need to find an eraser to get rid of the pencil lines, and a scanner to digitise it before shading and colouring can be applied.

I'm pretty happy with this one.

Sneak Peak part 2

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Here's the update for the work I've been doing.
More detail than I've put on a map for a long time...
...and more to go.

Sneak Peak at a Map

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I don't know how much of this I should be showing, but it's turning out to be a really fun project that I'm pretty excited about.



It is one of the commission maps that I've been offered through the exposure gained from the tutorial series. I won't say anything else, for fear that I may have said too much already.

Crazy idea for a game

Outside of time and space, an entity exists...if something can be said to exist in a void without place or temporal measure. But as soon as the entity of the void comes to underrstand its existence, it also understands that there is something beyond it. It is not everything, and thus it begins to perceive the outside world. Perception brings definition, the observer defines reality. Reality coalesces into a stable form at the speed of sight and imagination.

The vast infinity of the entity means that it views things on a macro scale, it understands galactic forces like gravity, atomic action and reaction, magnetism, geochemistry, the fundamental principles for building self replicating organisms.

With each thought, the entity fractures it's concentration. Avatars spin off in fractal form, each an observer and definer of reality in its own right, each subservient to the original entity. These Avatars were not created consciously by the entity, and thus their identities were not dist…

NaGaDeMon is looking good this year

Thanks to the 1km1kt contest this year, there have already been some good things released this month. If I get a chance I might review a couple of them...

...especially that one with the bullets.

The 24hr Design Challenge

1km1kt is running its annual 24hr game design challenge. It runs with an honour system, with participants making a general sportsmanly promise to complete their entry over the course of one full solar day.

I'm going to do things a bit differently. I've got a couple of full days available in the next week or two...so I'll dedicate one of them to designing a 24hr game. Over the course of the day, I'll blog my progress live. Hopefully 5 or 6 entries over the period. The first one setting the starting point for the challenge, then a post every two hours or so to provide some ideas on my progress...no posts while I sleep...but then the posts will resume the next day.

It will be an interesting experiment to show how my brain thinks while I'm thinking about a game design and refining it rapidly.

Does anyone think they'd be imterested in reading this sort of thing?

A change of pace

One of the things I hate about my Epson multifunction centre is the fact that when it runs out of ink, it not only doesn't print...it also doesn't scan. That means no new tutorials until I get a new cartridge for it or until I find an alternate method to get images digitized clearly (cameras keep giving me blurred images).

So, it might be time to start posting some NaGaDeMon work.

Map Drawing Tutorial 15 (Part 1): Isometric Mapping

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This one's a bit more complex, so it's time to up the ante a bit and move to our first two-part tutorial.

A lot of people use formal grids when they draw up isometric or perspective maps. You may note that drawing maps "the Vulpinoid way" doesn't use proper grid paper at all (there will be another tutorial addendum coming soon with some ideas along these lines). For this style of map, we draw a basic grid with pencil to get the placement of buildings basically right...then we basically ignore it, and erase it at the end of the drawing process.

An isometric or perspective map can be used to give players a better sense of place, sometimes providing details that a flat plan simply can't portray, sometimes adding elements of depth in a more meaningful way that spatially-challenged players might have problems visualising, and other times just because it looks cool. This style of mapping really starts to blur the line between cartography and scenic illustration.

Map Drawing Tutorial 14: Small Castle or Fort

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I knew there would come a time when the tutorials started slowing down. Now we've reached that time.

It's not that I've run out of ideas, it's more a case that I've had to start fulfilling some other tasks, and my map tutorials have seen me offered a couple of commission pieces. Paid work comes first.

This tutorial is a bit of a follow on from previous ideas. Once again it builds on a lot of the concepts previously described, it doesn't go into minute detail about specific rendering styles, instead it just jumps over those aspects of the drawing.

Castles and forts are a common setting for adventures in a fantasy game, so it seemed appropriate to designate a tutorial to them. One of the first role-playing resource books I bought (and one I still own), is Palladium's "The Compendium of Weapons, Armour and Castles"; and some of the fortress illustrations in it are beautiful. Some aren't so great, but the good ones have really inspired me to draw…