Friday, February 10, 2017

Priority First

I have been slacking. I know this. But, there's a lot of things happening for me right now, including a new job and getting married... two HUGE life changing events haha. So, I'm taking it easy where I can, and that includes hammering out designs.

I'm looking forward to a variety of PS4 games this year, as well as the Nintendo Switch. But, after the wedding in June, I should have things settled down enough to start really rocking again. In the mean time, I plan on continuing working with my artist(s) and other designers to hash out some of the small stuff before I hit the hard work again.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Epic of the Wild West

Hell On Wheels is a great show. Watching is has reminded me a lot of what I wanted to capture in Hostargo; that wild west adventure, with its danger and never ending hardships. But its people endure, and have shown me true Wit, Grit, and Spirit. If you haven't caught it on AMC or Netflicks, I would highly recommend checking it out.

We also live in a wild west age. Only our age is one of technology, power, and cyberspace. Like it or not, our internet networks are only a paper thin barrier against a whole universe of cyber threats, and the more we trust in it, the more we open ourselves to both it's wonders and horrors. And that's exactly what the west is about: risking everything, in return for something. Following the dream, and riding the wave of challenges that - might - get you there.

I believe tabletop RPGs are one of the best mediums for capturing this feeling. Gambling is the built in mechanic - risking your character's life against all manner of danger. Every time the die hits the table, the stories changes, and the epic unfolds in ways we can never expect. Unlike books, there is no predetermined fate. Unlike video games, there's no saves or retries. Once that die is cast, there's no turning back.

The trick, of course, is actually making a game that fully expresses that awesomeness. I will keep this in mind with every step forward; with classes, items, abilities, and most importantly, story hooks.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Simplicity vs. Depth

Over the New Year holiday I got a chance to run a couple games that I've grown to love: Dr. Magnet Hands and All Out of Bubblegum. These are excellent party games where you can literally just sit down and play (okay, AOB requires a story, but we have plenty of those). These "micro-games" are so much fun that I am often left baffled on why we would ever need more elaborate rules.

But then I'm reminded of many conversations with friends and designers alike where we talk about the difference between a good snack and a full meal. Sometimes, we just want some salty potato chips - and that's exactly what micro games provide. A short, but delicious burst of enjoyment. The problem is that it doesn't actually fill the roleplaying need that a lot of us feel. For that, we turn to our super in depth and crunchy games, like Shadowrun or The Burning Wheel. These games, with their thousands of pages of printed material, provide us with deep, rich roleplaying experiences that micro games rarely give us.

Swinging back though, we're now all busy adults, with very little time to game, much less prep for said games that will give us the rich experiences we desire. Instead, it's much easier to turn to professional video games, that gives us hours of carefully constructed content in a relatively short amount of time. Alas, these games take their toll too, eventually, as we realize how we're stuck in our basements instead of spending time with our friends.

So the target that I suppose a lot of us are aiming for is that perfect balance of streamlined gameplay and depth of content. Some would say it's a fools quest, but damn it we're proud fools. I can't play micro games forever; they just don't stand up to the test of time for a campaign. Yet at the same time I can't push myself to commit to huge games of Shadowrun when I know easier games like D&D exist.

For Hostargo, a design goal that I have is to create a game with enough campaign content, adventure hooks, and interesting things to play with that both the players and the GM can have fun without having to pour tons of their precious time into it. I have a long way to go, but I'm willing to climb the mountain.