Gaming My Way

11 Jan

Gaming Article Roundup 2

Life Could Learn from Roleplaying Games is a reimagining of how life would work if some handy features from roleplaying games were added. Whether looking for a job or a girlfriend, everything you need to know to finish a particular quest is told to you from the outset. This way, you know if you have a chance, or if you should train up on easier challenges first. An amusing concept, and the post is definitely worth a read if you like these kinds of comparisons.

In a similar vein, here is a review of Real Life: The Game. This tongue-in-cheek review points out that while Real Life has an excellent feature package, including high definition graphics and excellent surround sound, the effects themselves, not to mention the gameplay, are fairly lackluster and there’s not a lot to do that you couldn’t already do on your own. More importantly, this article makes the point that realism can be just as much a detriment to a game as it can be a good thing, and it’s important that developers remember games are supposed to be fun. If realism adds to that, then cool, but otherwise, it’s just not necessary.

Next up is Sirlin’s Balancing Multiplayer Games, Part 4: Intuition. While most of his articles on balance talk about the logical choices made in game balance, this one moves in a different direction, explaining why intuition is important in making a balanced game, or in fact, accessing many facets of knowledge we have. There’s a fair bit of psychology and analogies used in making his points, but that keeps it interesting, as do the various stories of other people who made some use of their intuition to help in solving some difficult problems. It also gives a good look at how he went about balancing Kongai and rebalancing Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix.

Here’s yet another opinion on PC Game Piracy, once again trying to explain some common sense steps that could be taken to reduce piracy, instead of the currently failing DRM methods that many companies are so fond of. It is a bit of a rant, and uses strong language, so if that kind of thing bothers you, steer clear, however, the author does make many good points. One point that really grabbed my attention is the download time to play time ratio of most demos compared to pirate releases, which is, at least according to his research, quite abysmal for the typical demo. Moreover, most developers include disclaimers stating that the demo may not be indicative of the final product, which completely misses the point of what a demo is supposed to be. Naturally, this doesn’t make piracy right, but it does help to show that when people say they pirate a game to decide if it’s worth buying, they may in fact be telling the truth and there is more that can be done to convince this group to go for a demo. Specifically, make the demo representative of the game, and make the download time to play time ratio reasonable. For all his other points, you’ll read the article. It’s good.

LittleBigPlanet Used to Create 36-Cell Computer, Game of Life at Ars Technica has video of a user created level that has a computer to play the Game of Life made using parts provided in game. Moreover, the parts used are spread throughout the level so you can see the materials used in making the computer as you walk towards it. Check out the post to see the video, as well as for the rules of the Game of Life.

Philotomy’s OD&D Musings is all about the way Philotomy plays Original Dungeons & Dragons, and exactly what he means when he refers to OD&D. While people who play OD&D stand to gain the most from reading his site, many of the things he writes about could just as easily be applicable to other systems. Two sections in particular that could apply to many games are Abstract Combat and Spell Special Effects, though the second might need to be modified in certain systems. Abstract Combat is useful in any system using hit points when the players or GM want combat to have a realistic feel to it. Spell Special Effects allow spellcasters to create minor, usually inconsequential but cool effects, without wasting resources to do so. In effect, it helps bring out the magic of magically inclined characters in roleplaying situations. For those looking for ideas about older styles of gaming, or a loose, more story driven and less mechanical model of playing games, this is an excellent site to look through, especially if you’re interested in OD&D.

The last site I’ll be pointing out today is also for the old school roleplayers. A Quick Primer for Old School Gaming is another look at the way games used to be played before skill systems became prevalent. They have a bunch of “Zen Moments” listed: namely, things you need to realize if you want to have fun with an old system of gaming, particularly since they tend to be so different from new systems of gaming. My favorite one is rulings, not rules, because it emphasizes that with fewer rules, play can move along more quickly since it’s simply up to the GM to make a reasonable ruling and move on with the game. Moreover, this makes game balance less important, since it’s up to the GM to make rulings that allow everyone to shine as long as they show the skill needed to get through a situation.

So there you have it, some suggestions of articles to read to scratch that gaming itch or to look for new sources of interesting news. Hopefully you’ll find some of them interesting, helpful, or both.

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