Showing posts from 2010

One more post for 2010...

Two quick things in this post... First a link to a post on someone else's blog. I read it and instantly thought it might be useful for those people who come here looking for design advice. I agree with the sentiments in this post, I've had game ideas in the first stage that have been sunk through option paralysis when other contributors have had great ideas to contribute, but haven't offered a decent way to integrate them into what has already been defined...and I've had just as many projects sink when other people who claimed early interest simple disappeared when the call for playtesting or constructive feedback was announced. The most important thing when designing a game is to give it your enthusiasm and don't let others demoralise you. My second part to this post... When did Storygames come back online? I've been looking at it once or twice a week for over a month now and have always been getting a page indicating that Storygames is suffering database

Last Post for 2010

This may be my last post for 2010, it's been a pretty wild ride. Loss of a job that I thought was going well, moving house, declaring bankruptcy, meeting new friends, getting disillusioned by old friends. My thoughts on Vector Theory have been refined somewhat through the posts I've made. The games I've written throughout the year have started receiving some positive attention, and that's always good. My comic is getting ever closer to completion. It's generally been a year where unfinished projects have been worked on and exploration in the left field has proven useful. I had hoped to get a few more projects completed this year, but that just didn't prove to be. Sometimes life just gets in the way...and if you worry about this too much, you forget to live life and just enjoy it while you've got it. Let's see what happens next year.

Alternatives for Hit Points

I've been thinking about the idea of hit points in games. They appear in computer "RPG" games, and they've been a staple in tabletop games since the beginning of the hobby. I've discussed them a few times in old posts, and ways that they might be looked at. Alternate suggestions in other games have included a standardised range of "health levels", or penalty levels incurred for different degrees of damage. But what I'm more interested in today are the alternatives for damage. In a social game you might look at political penalties that make it harder for you to accomplish social activities, or a pool of reputation points that absorb the insults and treachery of your opponents. In a digital "Tron"-style setting, you might have a pool of energy points that fulfill the dual purpose of absorbing incoming effects while being used to fuel attacks of your own (a precedent for this might be blood points in Vampire: the Masquerade/Requiem). I'

A New Design Collective

Just a quick post to see if any readers out there might be interested in joining a design collective. A group of designers who are interested in cross promoting their games and game ideas, who will help each other out with industry ideas and game design advice. This group will probably also work on a few communal projects, as well as getting the support they need to get their own games going. There are a few core members, and the finer details are being worked out. I just thought I'd share this news to see if anyone else was interested. Reply to this or send me an email if you'd like more information.

Project Death Race

Seems that my "Babes and Bitumen" idea already has someone designing something similar. Project Death Race can be found here. It's associated Kickstarter project is here . It's similar to the concept I was going for, but I was thinking of developing a bit more story around the cars and the teams that support them.

Babes and Bitumen

I've been thinking about some alternate ideas lately. It's an annoying habit that I have. When I'm meant to be working on something, I inevitably start thinking about something else. When I tried to create Bunraku nights for the Cyberpunk Revival Contest, my mind spontaneously generated FUBAR as a side project (which has now reached over 1000 downloads)...and now that I should be refining Walkabout, my mind has taken a wild turn into a completely different genre. What would roleplaying be like if it developed from slot cars and model race tracks rather than wargaming with toy soldiers? Instead of stories about dungeon exploration, a game might centre around a big race. Buying gear in town might instead become upgrading a vehicle, and haggling with the thieves guild might become negotiation with corporate sponsors. The intrigue would still be present with different race teams developing animosity toward one another. Relationship maps could be drawn up for the individual

Post Apocalyptic Instructions

If you knew the end was coming and there was nothing you could do about it, how would you prepare? I just read this article on Wired's a couple of years old as I write this, and it discusses a mystery that is decades older still. But reading it really made me think of my game WALKABOUT, and some interesting directions where it could be taken.

Table Consensus

In my readings and podcast listening, I’ve noted a few people discussing the idea of collective GMing, especially in regard to the notions of dividing up responsibilities such as narrative framing, awarding experience and determining if a character is “being played correctly”. Each of these is a very different topic, but the last one has seen some controversy. So that’s where I’ll be turning my attention. GMing is a delicate art of maintaining a collective dream (that mysterious thing that many people refer to as a “Shared Imagination Space”), and by keeping a degree of authority imparted to them by the gaming group. In traditional roleplaying games, a group might impart virtually limitless control to their GM. They allow the GM to frame scenes, tell them when to roll dice, and then tell them how the results of those die rolls manipulate the unfolding narrative. Often, in this type of set up, the players don’t even mind when a GM fudges die rolls just to ensure their story unfo

Theory From The Closet

With over 50 episodes under it's belt, " Theory from The Closet " (referred to hereafter as TFTC for this post) seems to have become one of the heavyweights of unconventional/non-traditional/independent roleplaying podcasts. After being referred to a recent episode in regard to my Game Chef entry, I decided to download the entire back catalogue. I figured that I needed a bit of context before I just sat and listened to a new podcast, and I can be a bit obsessive so I just went whole hog and downloaded the lot. It's not like Here Be Gamers which I started listening to from close to the beginning (besides, I know Nathan from GenCon Oz, so I understood a bit more where he was coming from in his podcast)....but I digress, this post is about TFTC. I've been plugging away at listening to the whole thing, in my spare moments and when I'm writing away at my assignments and own gaming projects. Trying to listen to the whole thing in chronological order where possib

NaGa DeMon

Crackpot genius Nathan Russell has come up with a bastard variant of the National Novel Writing Month . He has called it the National Game Design Month...(or NaGa DeMon for short). Participants basically spend a month writing a game, getting as much done as possible. Hopefully turning out a complete product by the end of the month. I'm going to be refining Walkabout over the course of the month. I've done a little so far... A progress report shortly.

The Myth of Cultural Appropriation

This is a rant, it's designed to stimulate thought. It is something I’ve been thinking about for a while, because there are certain people on the periphery of the independent roleplaying community who get very vocal about the topic. Cultural appropriation is argued vehemently by a number of people who have very strong opinions on the topic, but in many cases when I’ve tried to nail someone down on the subject they get very ephemeral in their responses. The more I look into it, the more I feel like this should be a topic for the Penn and Teller television show “Bullshit”. As far as I can see (based on the rhetoric and histrionics), cultural appropriation is the taking of a cultures elements and the use of those elements to pigeon-hole or even belittle the culture. If you take the stereotypes of a culture and use them to engage the typical stereotypes of the group, then it seems you are engaging in cultural appropriation. If you are prejudiced toward a culture, d

Hopefully time to settle down (and a bit of FUBAR)

The move has been completed, rubbish has been thrown away, rooms have basically been sorted. We've actually unpacked boxes that were never unpacked after our last things are seeing the light of day after six years or longer in careful packaging. Some stuff had to go, there simply isn't as much room in the new place as we had in the old place. I had the luxury of an empty double garage to use as a workshop/storage area in the old place, and now the range of ephemera once locked into that "warehouse" has had to integrate into the house, justify it's continued existence or be thrown away. With this in mind, I've done a little bit of work on my first genre supplement for FUBAR. I'll hopefully have it out on RPGNow by this time next week. The aim will be to generate a supplement each month for the foreseeable future, I've got enough ideas to keep going in this regard for a couple of years. The genre supplements will follow a basic pattern: An

House Move Finished

I've finally finished moving house. Now my biggest issue is getting some kind of internet connection back. Hopefully that shouldn't take too long.

Walkabout Page Updated

It cam as some surprise that half of the Walkabout page was missing. There must have been some issues during the last update. Maybe the server got disconnected halfway through the process. As a result of this, the Walkabout Page on the Vulpinoid Studios Website has now been updated. It can be found here.

The dangers of Commitment

The annoying thing about committing to impending projects is the fact that inevitably, things will occur that you haven't planned for. I've been preparing for moving house for two months now...which has left me in a flux state for an indeterminate period, living off borrowed internet (because we shut our accounts down, not knowing when the move would actually hit), throwing myself into computer based activities (because the laptop is unpacked while most of my art supplies, DVDs and other amusements are packed), and other disruptions to the normal routine. I had hoped for a weekend of release over the past few days, but even that didn't work put right. I was aiming to play a few sessions of FUBAR at Sydcon, to iron out some bugs and seriously put it through it's paces with a variety of people. But things went catastrophically wrong for two reasons. First, the real estate decided to give an open house viewing of our property, right in the middle of Saturday. The house

My Game Chef Review Criteria

As I said yesterday, I've been plugging away, reading the Game Chef Entries. A long slow train trip to my parent's house gave me time to take some notes as I read. I figured that I'd try to be pretty transparent in my review criteria and my reasons for liking some games and not liking others. As a result I've come up with a general scoring system based on the things I think are important in a game and the things that I think should be sources of challenge in a contest like Game Chef. Game Chef Review Criteria: 0-5pts: Use of Ingredients and theme in an appropriate manner +0.5: per ingredient used in a cursory manner (either a flavour addition or a throwaway mechanism name) +1.0: per ingredient integrated into the game through flavour and mechanism +0.5: if the game has a cursory connection to the theme. +1.0: if the game resonates with the theme at a deeper level. 0-5pts: Clarity of Rules 0.0: The rules are an absolute disgrace; I can’t even fill in the ga

Game Chef Reviews (In Progress)

I'm still living the life of an internet nomad at the moment. We've luckily got a neighbour who is tech-savvy enough to have a Wi-Fi network, but not quite tech-savvy enough to have a password protecting it. Depending on where the laptop is in the current house, there might be good reception, poor reception or a signal so weak that it doesn't actually allow signals through. When I work on my laptop in bed, I can't get any signal at all because we have metal security shutters on the window, and the winder snapped...thus a thick metal plate barring any signals from getting to me. So I find myself typing in a room filled with packing boxes while most of the other rooms in the house are bare, or packed similarly. The good news is that we've secured a new house, the bad news is that it's a bit of a distance out of Sydney. Our broadband network supplier doesn't have cables or ADSL boards installed in the phone exchange that far out...and most of the service pr

Game Chef 2010 Critiques

Now that Game Chef 2010 is over, I've looked through a few of the games produced and have been generally impressed with the diversity and quality of the games produced. 9 Days isn't a lot of time to generate a professional quality piece of work, but a lot of people have produced some finely polished pieces of semi-professional writing and game design. Quite a few of them could probably do with a good read-over and like all new games I'm sure they need a bit of playtesting to iron out the bugs. But, all in all, there are some great games in there and quite a few I'd like to play if I wasn't in a limbo state of trying to move house, and caught between groups of roleplaying friends. I don't know how many of the games would hold up well under a two person play scenario (I can probably rope in a third, but only for short periods of time). As a result, I'm going to give a general critique on the games that stuck out to me as being interesting. My criteria of int


In case anyone's interested in downloading my entry for Game Chef can be found at a new page on my website. After getting 400+ downloads of Walkabout from the shopfront on RPGNow, it was fun to see how well I could twist the fundamentals of the game into a new setting and story style. I think it seems to have turned out relatively well, but now it could do with a few weeks of fine tuning and some good playtest sessions.

Game Chef 2010 ideas

This has been cross posted to 1km1kt and the Forge. Awesome list. I'm really tempted to do something along the lines of Dark Sun, but a lot of people have already suggested this as a possible inspiration. Mechanically, since hacks are allowed, I think I'll try a twist on my own recent game FUBAR . Instead of a revenge tale, I'm going to twist the rules to reflect a post-apocalyptic road trip, or perhaps a chase across a shattered desert landscape. That's the intention for the surface layer of the game, but I like things to have a bit of depth to them. With that in mind, I'm thinking of the alchemical journey of the soul...a progression from initiate to adept to master...and beyond A single session will be about a physical journey between places or the pursuit of a quarry. The campaign play will be about the enlightenment achieved by engaging in the metaphorical journey multiple times. These are my initial thoughts prompted by the ingredients. But like norm

Deathwatch Collector's Edition

I've long had a passing interest in the rich mythology surrounding Games Workshop's Warhammer 40k. The Space marines with their almost Nazi zeal aiming to eliminate the other races of the galaxy, the ancient Eldar who are a vague mask for the normal elves in a fantasy setting, the inhuman Tyrannids, and the other races that make up the milieu. They've been pumping away at this stuff for decades, and they've had a dedicated following...but it's only recently that they've had a proper roleplaying game within in the setting. I never really got into the setting as well as I could have because I didn't want to paint up hundred of figures just to get into a game. I liked Necromunda, and I had a couple of teams for that came close to role-playing, but with a story guided by the exploits of a small team...the scope didn't cover the breadth of the Warhammer 40k universe though, and the other races simply weren't represented (not in the same way th

Off Kilter Globe

I had an idea a while back... There are a few theories about the shifting magnetic poles, and how the world might shift off it's axis and rotate in a new way if they become too far out of alignment. The movie 2012 touched on this a bit, and at least one theory about Atlantis uses this as a hypothesis. As a result I've considered the idea a few times. What would the map of the world look like if you pplaced the north pole at an arbitrary point on the globe, placed a south pole diametrically opposite, and then spun the world on a new axis as defined by these points. It either of the pole locations was on land then it would become locked in polar ice (much like Antarctica), if it were close to land then there would probably be an ice-shelf packed with glaciers along the shoreline. Much like the northern coasts of Russia and Canada. A map of the world drawn from the perspective of this new spin would probably look vaguely familiar in places, but dramatically different in


I now have products available through RPGNow through two distinct stores. Avalon Games has put up it's first piece of work by me... How to Make a Great Dungeon . Hopefully there will be a few more of those going up on a monthly basis. And more importantly (to me anyway), Vulpinoid Studios has established a web store on RPGNow. In the first 12-hours, I've sold 4 copies of the Eighth Sea pdf. Sure it's only $1 for the pdf, but that's more copies than I've managed to sell in the last few months. I hope there will be some feedback on the game from at least someone who has purchased it. The new version will hopefully be made available before the end of the all those other projects I'm working on.

Alt 1977 - Retro Funk

As a child of the disco era, born in the heady days of the mid 1970s, I spent my earliest years listening to the dulcet tones of Tom Jones, the experimental sounds of Led Zeppelin and the smooth sounds of old-school soul and chunky bass of funk. I looked in wonder as amazing techologies like the Atari 2600 were purchased by aunts and uncles, the Vic-20 was plugged in by a friend's family, and another uncle broke into the modern world with this first CD player (while my parents didn't have any need for such things, until I moved out of home and suddenly the money for toys and gadgets increased exponentially). Looking over these advertisements is like a trip back to a world that should have been. It's a great inspiration for a game....someone may already be working on that game . But it doesn't mean that other people can't draw inspiration from the same well. Edit: While adding in the links, I've just realised that the game is in development by Contested G

Vector Theory #29.5: Object Oriented Design Methodology (Part 2)

Hmmm... I guess I forgot to actually link my post back to Vector Theory. I don't think everything needs to feed back to Vector Theory but since I titled the blog post "Vector Theory #29", it probably should. What are design objects from the perspective of Vector Theory? Any aspect of the narraton's path can be manipulated by design objects. The wavelength of the narraton can follow a certain pattern (a specific array of stats, or a group of traits), and this can be defined as a design object. The nodes themselves can be design objects. If I want to handle combat the same ways that they do in " Riddle of Steel ", I take the design patterns that form the combat system and I know that my narraton will follow through a certain set of procedures every time I get into a combat sequence. If I love the magic system in " Mage: The Ascension ", I take the nine spheres, the concepts of Arete, Coincidental and Vulgar magic, and I find a way to interlock

Vector Theory #29: Object Oriented Design Methodology

Object Oriented design is a concept that has swept across computer programming over the past twenty years (probably longer), but it seems to be something that has been restricted to the computer world, and hasn't really spread much further to my knowledge. That's not entirely true, but I'll explain a bit more later. Traditional computer programming looks at developing an outcome, then works toward designing a solution to fulfill that outcome. In traditional methodologies, each program develops independently. They may achieve something similar in the end and they make take a number of similar steps along the way, but the development process is discreet for a particular project. For example, if you need to develop a program that will print out facts about a person, you create a series of specific routines that gather information about the person, consolidate the specific information into a specific format, then print the specific information. Object oriented programming fo

250 POSTS!!!

When I first started this blog, I didn't think that I'd reach 100 posts. But now that I've past the quarter millennium it really feels like I've been getting some interesting ideas out of my systems through this blog. Thanks for reading, and hopefully there will be plenty more interesting topics and discussions to come.

Game Chef 2010

It's time for Game Chef again. Awesome. It will be running from September 11th through to the 19th. From the anniversary of the World Trade Center attack, through to annual " Talk like a Pirate " day. Or if you're Jewish, this post on 1km1kt shows the coincidences from that perspective. I like Game Chef because it always ends up challenging my ideas about what a roleplaying game can be, especially when I start looking at what the other contestants have produced. It gets me feeling experimental, sometimes producing absolute train wrecks, but on other occasions producing something that acts as the kernel for a new track of design thought. I recommend any game designer give it a try at least once in their design lives. I don't know what it will have in store for us this year, but it's going to take all of my mental restraint to prevent myself from rewriting my entry and editing it into pirate prose on the final day. At least I can share the day after th

Unexploited Resource #4: Rosary Beads

What the... Yes. Rosary Beads. The kinds of beads that form chains used for Catholic prayers. Buit this could just as easily be extended to other forms of prayer beads, such as those used by Buddhists, Sikhs, Assorted Orthodox Christian denominations, and numerous other religions around the world. I got the idea the other day when driving behind someone who had a sticker of rosary beads on the back window of their car. To use Daniel Solis' coined phrase, they'd make a great "mechaphor" (a mechanically present metaphor) in games where faith is an issue. Especially if you wanted to make some kind of mechanism related to the vagaries of faith, rather than simply leaving these issues addressed by a fruitful void. A quick look at Rosary Beads and Prayer Beads in Wikipedia shows that there are many different types and variations within the theme, so it would make sense to have some kind of balancing mechanisms present between different types of beads, or simply assu