Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Rogue-Like Games Demonstrate Grinder/Heroic Dichotomy


In my need for escapist entertainment lately I’ve fallen back on computer games, including several in the “rogue-like” genre. Yes, those solo, dungeon-delving games based on Rogue from 1980 with dungeon elements defined by ASCII characters. Seems like everyone’s making their own version (much like the Old School Renaissance); I happen to like Pixel Dungeon for its upgraded graphics and interesting magical item uses. Just a few clicks and I’m exploring a random dungeon with monsters, magic items, and plenty of opportunities to meet a horrid end. I don’t care, it’s fun, caters to my interest in fantasy gaming, and doesn’t require me to invest too much time, energy, or focus. I juxtapose this play style with the kind of tabletop roleplaying game session that satisfies my needs in my middle-aged years: heroic characters taking on epic challenges in my favorite genres, where they stand a decent chance of survival despite seemingly insurmountable odds. This illustrates to me the vast differences between “grinder” style games and heroic play, and reinforces why I prefer the latter in my full-fledged roleplaying game endeavors.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Returning to the Solo Adventure Format


I’m wrapping up one project – finalizing layout and waiting on artwork for a system-neutral, medieval fantasy setting – so I’m starting to look toward the next concept to bring to publication. I have a long, oft-revised list of gaming ideas for development. I prioritize these on a number of qualifications, including their level of development and completion, size of expected complications, ease of acquiring artwork and other graphic elements, and suitability for various gaming markets. But I’m easily diverted from what might seem the next logical project, preferring to channel my immediate enthusiasm for an unexpected, exciting idea rather than slog away at something that doesn’t quite engage me at the moment. Right now I really should be reviewing and polishing material for an Infinite Cathedral Patreon (something I’ve considered for quite some time). So I’m naturally disappearing down the rabbit hole of an entirely unrelated project to capitalize on my immediate interest: a science fiction D6 solo adventure. Where the heck did that come from?

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Hermitage at the Edge of Oblivion

I’m stepping away from Hobby Games Recce for a while to concentrate more on long-neglected game projects that require the time, focus, and energy regularly sapped by the blog. I’ve been blogging weekly from November 2010 until 2017, when I cut back to posting every other week or so. Unfortunately it has distracted me from other gaming endeavors, though I suppose it’s kept me more visible among and engaged with a small segment of the online gaming community. I’m grateful for readers who’ve stayed with the blog faithfully all this time and those who’ve discovered it later and followed anyway. In my absence I’m leaving the blog in public mode for now so people can read my past missives about various aspects of adventure gaming, a few of which might offer some small measure of entertainment or enlightenment. At some point I intend to post again – though not on a regular basis – as the muse and my own interests inspire me; I’ll cross-post to my Google+ followers and Griffon Publishing Studio’s Facebook page when I do.

But right now I need a break, so it’s off to the Hermitage on the Edge of Oblivion to meditate in cloistered seclusion and immerse myself in work on other gaming projects.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Resisting the “New Hotness”

Some gamers thrive on industry news and the acquisition of new releases that engage their interests. Others remain content to explore games of whatever type at their leisure, trying a new game now and then, returning to old favorites, even exploring older releases discovered in newly remastered PDFs or used bookstore shelves. The more we stay attuned to the gaming industry and community the more we’re exposed to the excitement of new releases, especially when reinforced by gaming friends, convention promotions, and activities at the Friendly Local Game Store (FLGS). The concept of getting the “new hotness” as soon as it releases is a cornerstone of marketing, one further reinforced by the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) cultivated in our faster-than-light Internet Age. Some find resisting the new hotness easier than others; I’ve occasionally succumbed to it but find it easier to hold out and be my own gamer as I’ve aged (matured?) and changed my gaming group.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

How Do We Support Creators?

Patreon’s quite sudden change in its fee structure – shifting fees more to patrons than creators, inciting outrage and exodus from both groups – inspired me to not only re-evaluate my own support on Patreon (and my own potential to use it as a creator) but also to look at how we as game consumers support those who design material to inspire us and enhance our games. Patreon isn’t the end-all-be-all means to support creators in the adventure gaming hobby. Sure, it’s a pioneering platform in the ever-changing Internet Age, but I’ve come to regard the interwebzes as a fickle mistress where little if anything remains the same (or reliable) for long. Creators and their patrons have many ways to connect online, both for interaction and appreciation.


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Themed Gaming Gift Ideas for Non-Gamers

It’s the holiday gift-giving season again. Goodness knows I’ve rambled on enough over the years about the magic of the holidays, how this is a great time to indulge in fantasy and gaming, and what gifts can best entice non-gamers and kids into gaming. I suppose I just can’t stay away. This year I’m recommending gifts for non-gamers that focus on a theme they enjoy. I’ve discussed the relationship between game mechanics and theme before in “Introducing Newcomers to Games: Theme & Mechanics.” The gist is that, while the turn sequence, player choices, interaction mechanics, and other systems of play are just as important in providing an entertaining game experience, often just getting new players to the table requires an enticing theme. “Do you want to play a game where you fly X-wings against TIE fighters?” sounds a lot better than “Do you want to play a starship miniatures game with maneuvers, special combat attacks, and upgraded ship abilities?” So I’ve perused my library shelves for board games I own or have played with interesting themes appealing to fans of certain genres. Most of these buck my past recommendations: they’re not necessarily the best games for introducing newcomers to gaming; few are kid-friendly; and the price points often soar past the $25 threshold a past “survey” indicated is the optimum cost of games to risk as gifts for non-gamers. Few of these are ideal starter games for newcomers to the adventure gaming hobby, so if you give them as gifts, expect to take the lead in introducing them to the rules through an actual game. I’ve listed them according to which fans might most enjoy each recommendation:

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Gather at the Table

Life must be lived as play, playing certain games, making sacrifices, singing and dancing, and then a man will be able to propitiate the gods, and defend himself against his enemies, and win in the contest.”

Johan Huizinga

It’s that time of year again. We make plans to visit friends or family. Someone prepares a meal, others bring drinks and snacks. Hopefully we don’t have too much anxiety that everyone gets along and carefully laid plans come together. Time to clean the house and prepare the table as everyone gathers. We set up our rulebooks, scenario notes, gamemaster screen, favorite dice. Wait...are we here to celebrate Thanksgiving or play games?

The typical Thanksgiving holiday and gaming share many similar elements. We gather together around a table or similar shared space for a celebration, one of thankfulness and another of play and imagination. Each has a symbolic purpose grounded in some form of play: the recreation (to some degree) of the mythical first Thanksgiving, the immersion in an interactive game that mirrors some reality, however fantastic. One provides an opportunity for reflection, the other for entertainment, and both for taking a break from the normal, often tedious routine of our everyday lives. Both require some degree of preparation – of food, game material, cleaning the house for guests – sometimes fraught with anxiety: will we all get along, will the food be just right, have we forgotten anything, will the overall experience be satisfying? Often everyone brings something for the table, whether a main dish, a host of indulgent snacks, drinks, and dessert. Games even form part of the Thanksgiving tradition as many people sit down afterward to watch their favorite football teams compete...or those of us who aren’t into sports might actually break out some of their favorite adventure games to play or introduce to non-gamers (something I plan on indulging in during my Thanksgiving observance).