Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The new SJW front

Having lost the #GamerGate battle, SJWs in the game industry are now "resisting fascism". One guess as to how they define fascism?
Resist Jam Info

It’s time to make games, resist fascism, and meet some friends along the way.

Resist Jam is an online game jam themed around resisting fascism in all its forms, organized by a group of experienced game developers. Our objective is to get as many people making games as possible, with online workshops before the jam and around-the-clock support from expert mentors in all fields of game development. Diverse and inclusive gamedev is the best gamedev.

We’re pushing positive change to make the world a better place.

We want to empower people to resist fascism through the power of interactive media. Not everyone can march, or be a figurehead of a movement, but we can all find ways to resist the oppressive hegemonic fascism that pervades modern society. This is one of them.

Upon completion of the jam, we plan on providing the games on itch.io through a pay-what-you-want bundle, with all proceeds split between a number of global and US-based charities. Fascism is a global issue and our giving should reflect that.

Here’s what you need to know.

DATES: The game jam will run between March 3rd and March 11th - right between GDC and SXSW.
WHERE: Online. We’re using itch.io’s excellent game jam hosting system, with support from itch.io staff.
GAMES: We’re aiming to support at least two hundred participants, and are encouraging jammers to create games about diverse and nuanced topics.
QUESTIONS: Direct all your questions to Damon (de@coy.ninja) or
Tyler (tyler@retoragames.com)
Get ready for GG Round 2.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Battle Report: 2nd Divine Right Vassal Game

This past Saturday we played our second game of Divine Right on Vassal, this time joined by the great Were-Puppy. It was my turn to get good early rolls, and succeeded in allying myself to two nuetral kingdoms. This was good, because I spent the rest of the game fighting a war on two fronts. HereAndNow executed an audacious head fake with his mobile seaborne units around my peninsular forces, but I was able to protect my valuable real estate nonetheless. Were-Puppy forgot to move his units his first turn (we're all getting used to Vassal), and I performed an effortless siege on one of his castles with one of my early allies.

The only hitch in the proceedings was realizing about 2/3rds of the way through the game that we were each reading from a different set of rules. Oops! It didn't really matter until my monarch was captured, but it was a valuable lesson. We concluded we'll have to confirm with Mr. Spudbox, producer on this project, about which ruleset we're using for the project. Good thing we discovered this now!

As the understanding the game, I'm starting to get a sense of what to expect. While it seems like the game swings wildly based in luck, it takes a lot to really damage your opponent, and along the way he might catch a lucky break and things will swing in his favor. Therefore it's important to realize that the game isn't quite as swingy as it appears. How that knowledge changes my approach to the game is not yet clear, because I haven't seen enough situations play out. But I can already glean from a game design perspective that the changing situation requires the players to react a lot as the game unfolds, and that the game does not steamroll uncontrollably. So if an opponent catches a break it doesn't mean you're suddenly way behind, but you do need to be ready to play differently. I would call that economical design. We'll see, though, because I don't understand the game well enough to anticipate the second order of decision making.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Method Acting

This past weekend a couple members of the Divine Right team got together and played a game of Divine Right on Vassal. If we're lucky, it might even become a regular thing. It's a good way for everybody to get a feel for the game during pre-production and bounce ideas off each other in an informal atmosphere.

So how did I go? Well, it was me versus one of the artists and I got completely wrecked. 100% blow out. I made basically every mistake available while my opponent played competently and got a couple good early rolls. The upshot is I need to learn the rules of the game better so I can exploit my options more. And this is good, because now I'm motivated to understand the rules.

I'll have my revenge!

As composer and artist we're also thinking about the pacing and vibe of the game as revealed through play, and how it informs our art and music. I don't have any particular insights yet, but this the kind of thing that doesn't always occur through a conscious process. In a way, we're just sort of living and breathing the game outside of development hours. It's a bit like method acting.

I am become Eater of Wisdom.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Hex Crawl Flow Chart

When you play a dungeon crawl, you know what to do: go to each unexplored room, kill monsters, search for traps and secret doors, and collect loot. Keep going until you've visited every room in the dungeon. Do more if you feel inspired, but this modus operandi will never fail.

I'm trying to achieve the same clarity for my hexcrawling game. I wrote about this earlier, but sometimes a picture is worth 1000 words.

Basically, if you can't figure out a problem yourself, you'll have to find an expert who can give you information. If you can't persuade him or her to help you, you may have the perform a side quest. 

Meanwhile, factions are making moves "off camera." This diagram helps me estimate how often a faction move should occur. If the PC's can make a successful knowledge roll, they should should be rewarded by outpacing an enemy faction. If the PC's can't persuade an expert to help and have to perform a side quest, they should be outpaced themselves.

Skills are written in blue. As you can see, exploration and gather information are critically important, whereas influence and search are used less often. Yesterday's playtesting revealed that search needs a more interesting fail state than "you don't find the clue," but otherwise the structure is working as intended. Soon I'll add faction moves and it will get very interesting.

As an aside, rolling a 1 (on a d6) when you gather information may draw unwanted faction attention. Players were far more careful about what questions they asked and where they asked them than I anticipated. It was fun.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Map Tiles Update - Lighter Colors & New Water

The next tile proof has arrived. Santiago mellowed out the water and lighted the jungle, forest, and organ swamp tiles. The glass desert is now purplish, so it stands out from the water. I ordered the new tiles without UV coating so they wouldn't glare.

This first photo shows the new land tiles with the old water tiles, producing a larger map.

This next photo shows the contrast between the old water and the new water. There is some reduction of detail in this photo as a result of merging them into one image.

As it turns out the tiles produce glare even with the UV coating, but are now vulnerable to water spillage and fingerprints. They also have residual soot marks from the laser cutting process. The mellowed out water photographs better, but appears grayish and dreary to the naked eye. I may ask Santiago to produce a more lively ocean color - so it feels more joyful. The boundary between land and sea is certainly more clear with the mellower water, so there's a tradeoff to consider.

Here's one more with the new water so you can see it with more detail. Again, props to Santiago for the great work.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Japanese dev philosophy

Map Tiles - First Proofs

The map tile proofs have arrived. Now we see how the illustrations, which looked great on a computer screen, translate to physical printing.
One mistake: I selected "glossy finish" for the production process. Too much light and the tiles give off a glare. Too little and the details are hard to see.
Too much light:
Too little:
Santiago and I concluded the glossy finish needs to be removed and some of the darker colors in the darker tiles need to be lightened up a bit. We're also going to make the "glass desert" (top left in the above photograph) design red tinted so it stands out from the blue ocean tiles. We'll see how the next proof goes.
In the meantime, the mountains look 3D. It's uncanny.