One thing I have had a number of compliments about are our posters, our website’s appearance and all of our design. Honestly, whenever I hear good things about these, I actually chuckle and shrug a bit. “Nah, you’re just saying that,” I’ve often said to myself. Well today, I thought I’d share with you why our scheme is black, grey, red and white. These four simple colours, or shades, are each hugely important to our identity. Here’s how and why.
I was recently a guest in a podcast. It’s nice to be asked, and Roll On The Adventure piqued my interest.
In the podcast, the panel create, playtest, discuss, and publish a quick role playing system. It’s a great little quick-fire collaborative effort with bad singing and excellent
Dave is a figure of no small renown in the role-playing event circuit, Dimitris is a published designer and gamer, and Chris – in addition to being a prolific player – will be joining me to host a panel at Amecon this year. The first arc of the series created a game called Temporal Stereotype Zoo, a game about time travel, kidnap and/or abduction, and stereotypes throughout history.
The call for this series was for player-vs-player action, and Dimitris suggested going down the fantasy route to keep things classical, Dave suggested players taking control of an entire fa (more…)
Last week I took a handful of classic D&D creatures and proposed new uses for their stat-blocks, something to lend a bit of diversity to the current roster with minimal need to create, change or modify. If your campaign has a flavour that the Monster Manual simply doesn’t cater for, there are ways and means of accommodating to your tastes. This week I’ll approach from the other side of the coin, declaring what I need for my campaign and using the tools at hand to make a solution.
Once again I’ll be using D&D 5th edition because it’s what I know best… (more…)
Wizards of the Coast have broken some of their former habits. No longer does their release schedule include Monster Manual after Monster Manual, catalogues and folios, instead they’ve turned their focus to stories, campaigns that spark the imagination and drive creative thought, each coming with a range of monsters, player options, magic items and ideas for Dungeon Masters and players alike. And it seems to be going rather well.
But if you’ve grown tired of recycling the same old classics and staples from the Monster Manual, and even grown sick of the additions from various extra sources like Volo’s Guide and the campaigns, here’s a few ideas on re-skinning a few of those monsters you’ve done to death. (more…)
The more I play and study games, design, and ludology, the more I notice the little things and enjoy going overly in-depth on little details like ambient audio, set-dressing, and camera positioning. Your choice of camera style changes the nature of play rather radically alters how you play, your involvement and your experience of the game. Can you imagine playing Mario from first person? Or Halo as an Isometric hack and slash?
Although they both sound pretty cool…
Here’s a short run down of camera types in games: (more…)
Let me pick up from where I started last march by saying that a palette swapped creature in a game needn’t simply be a conservation of resources, and can be representative of something notably different or important, something made distinct by a change of colour.
For example, revisiting The Fallen from Diablo: (more…)
With a few noteworthy exceptions, most games tend to have a fairly homogeneous progression, usually going from lush green grasslands and becoming progressively more wild, desert, jungle, and usually ending with freezing cold, winter perhaps, snowy tundra, or soaring mountain range. Some examples:
Diablo 2 progresses from the temperate plains around the rogue encampment, straight into the desert of Lut Gholein, forests of Kurast, and finally hell itself. The expansion then takes the hero to the barbarous wastes of Harrogath, a land filled with massive, destructive beasts and hellspawn.
Borderlands is almost exclusively deserts and salt flats, being the more common terrain on Pandora. The finale however takes our Vault Hunter to a snow-capped mountain in the Eridium Highlands.
Bastions journey leads the Kid from the ruins of his old town through the drifting chunks of Jawson’s Bog, forests and jungles, ending in the ice blocks of Urzendra Gate, Zulten’s Hollow and the Tazal Terminals, dripping with icicles.
Castle Crashers, Titan Quest, the masterpiece edition of Myst, Grim Fandango when you think about it, Skyrim’s fairly snowy all over but the difference from Helgen to the Throat is a marked difference, Pokemon Gold/Silver ends on Mt. Silver, and I’m sure if you think on it you’ve already conjured a few examples yourself. Why do so many game designers take their story along this path?
There’s a literary device known as Pathetic Fallacy, you may be familiar with it. The sun shines on happy days, it rains when everything’s sad, it’s tragic, but some people still do it, and if it’s done well enough you’d never even notice it was happening. The same thing can also apply to the seasons, they follow a fairly natural progression with all the metaphors to go with them, spring is a time of rebirth and new beginnings; summer is filled with life, growth and joy; autumn is a period of decay, when everything is undone and falls into decline; finally winter is the season of darkness, and death.
The progression of a game follows a like-for-like path, and often the terrain and weather reflect it. A game usually begins with the birth of a hero, the call to action that takes the normal person into a story. The action builds, intrigue rises, suspense and activity grows, driving the hero to develop and achieve things he/she never thought themselves capable of. Finally the real conflict is ahead, seemingly insurmountable, friends fall behind, the world crumbles, the hero is faced with an impossible decision or heartbreaking revelation. They overcome at last to stand before the end, victory or defeat, life or death, pivoting on a single moment.
A less heroic analogy, a decline in weather follows the decline of Prince Arthas in Warcraft 3, from the young hero of springtime, and the madness he pursues takes him into winters death, which then follows him everywhere he goes.
Keep your eyes peeled for this particular quirk of media, and how weather can influence emotions as part of narrative, and particularly look at how it can change your perspective on an area. It may not be the very last segments of the game, occasionally they are the very beginning (Metal Gear Solid, Borderlands 2, Rise of the Tomb Raider), but they’re frequently pivotal, memorable, tough, or some mixture of all three. If you’ve ever felt daunted at the sight of snow then you’ve already fallen victim to pathetic fallacy.
“The Dream” for me is to write flavour text.
How many of us actually take the time to sit and read a book in Skyrim or Dishonered, or follow the exchange of emails between colleagues in Shadowgrounds or Alien vs. Predator. Do you take the time to read the info about the new item set you just picked up, the nation you just occupied, or the wondrous monument you just built? If so, thank you, and you can stop reading this and go read this instead, it’s a lovely bit of narrative starring the major Planeswalkers in Magic: the Gathering and really shows you how their respective mana-colour forms their personality. (more…)
BIMP stands for the Batch Image Manipulation Program, which is a specific addon for GIMP, the GNU Image Manipulation Program. It’s worth noting that BIMP is free and has to be my favourite time saving tool, whether I am creating a GeekOut Bristol Meet gallery like this past Monday, or if I just want to reduce the brightness of an image like I did in my AmeCon Cosplay Masquerade gallery. I have been using BIMP for over a year and I don’t know what I would do without it. It’s become a part of my work life during GeekOut Media activities, so it’s not surprising that I have a lot to say about it.