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Showing posts from February, 2006

Gamism in the digital age

Introduction

I think it would make little sense for designers of pen and paper roleplaying games to try and create types of games that work better on computers. If some kinds of roleplaying game are consistently more fun in computerised version than when played around a table with pen, paper and dice, then we should play other types of games when we are sitting around a table. In the following reflections I will try to find out whether such types of roleplaying games exist, and if they do, what they are.

Taking our cue from the crude but still useful GNS-distinction, it is very easily seen that if computers have an advantage, it must be in the realm of Gamism. At least at this stage of their evolution, computers have no 'feeling' for dramatic issues and thematic situations, nor can they adequately respond to the different directions a player might want to take the 'dream'. What computers are good at, though, is keeping track of variables, manipulating them according to s…

The D&D boardgame and 'Monsters we Slay'

Yesterday I played the Dungeons and Dragons boardgame with Jasper Polane and two friends of his. I believe this game was never released in the United States of America, so those of you who live there may not have heard of it; and I don't think the game was a commercial success.

The game turned out to be a more complicated version of HeroQuest; though I found it somewhat lacking in style compared to its predecessor, the fact that it had more tactical options probably makes it a better game overall. Each player (except for the Dungeon Master) gets to play one or more out of four heroes (a fighter, a cleric, a rogue and a wizard), and then you embark on a classic dungeon crawl. You open doors, meet monsters (all of which are represented by small plastic miniatures), hack or blast them to pieces, amass piles of treasure and try not to fall into traps. For a more detailed overview of the system, you should consult this excellent RPG.net review. We completed the first two quests, and the…

[Shades] A designer's joy

I am a happy man. Two friends of mine playtested Shades last night, and I just got a report by email that ended with the following lines:

Bedankt voor het mogelijk maken van deze fantastische sessie. Ik kan me op dit moment niet indenken een intenser, dramatischer rollenspel mee te maken.

Translated:

Thank you for making this brilliant session possible. At the moment, I cannot conceive of experiencing a more intense, more dramatic roleplaying game.

I mean, wow. Wow.

I had a dream

No, seriously, I dreamt about The Shadow of Yesterday last night. Don't ask me what the context was (I have no idea), but there was a guy talking about how this game sucked. He had just been playing his first session, along very traditional lines, where the first thing he did as the GM was give the characters a mission to perform, which he had prepared for them.

Why did The Shadow of Yesterday suck, in his opinion? "It's really stupid; how could you take the Key of the Mission during character creation, because at that point the characters don't have a mission yet!"