Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Streamlined Combat for OpenD6 Solo Gamebooks

I’m developing a solitaire D6 Space gamebook, a programmed adventure in the spirit of the numerous solo “tutorial” scenarios I’ve written over the years and have enjoyed in other games. I’m having fun with it, incorporating science fiction tropes I admire, going off to explore entertaining tangents, offering a few seemingly outrageous options, and (hopefully) providing an engaging adventure with plenty of meaningful player choices. Along the way, however, I’ve discovered a particular drawback to using OpenD6 in this programmed solo gamebook format: the combat system isn’t really conducive to providing players with an adversary’s stats and letting them resolve the fight on their own...a staple of many gamebooks and solitaire adventures. It’s not as much a factor in the scenario I’m writing now – it’s not particularly combat-heavy, though it contains a few fights at pivotal moments – but it’s given me cause to think about and develop a better system for more combat-oriented solo gamebooks using OpenD6.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

A Game that Will Live in Infamy

I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant
and fill him with a terrible resolve.”

Admiral Yamamoto

In my spare/parenting time I’m preparing a Wings of Glory scenario for Pearl Harbor. My son, the Little Guy, now eight years old, has discovered that his ability to read means he can explore different books that interest him, both fiction and non-fiction. Earlier this year he and a friend developed a fascination for books about the Titanic disaster they found in the school library. I shared with him a few Titanic books from my own library. Then he discovered a book about Pearl Harbor. He started asking me questions. I encouraged his curiosity and we both undertook some research, exposing him to some historical events for the first time and allowing me to revisit them. Ultimately it led him to ask me if I had any games about Pearl Harbor we could play, one in which he could play the Japanese. I took it as a challenge, one to enhance his knowledge and fuel his curiosity. And I’ll admit it’s put me in an odd bind I’ve faced before: how do we feel about wargaming events in our nation’s past that evoked – and still evoke – deep feelings.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Evolving Periodical Content

In a world where everyone is a publisher, no one is an editor.
And that is the danger that we face today.”
Scott Pelley

The announcement of Google+’s eventual demise prompted many users to migrate to other social media platforms, a movement I explored in my last Hobby Games Recce post. Some have re-dedicated themselves to blogs – some faithfully maintained, others neglected over time – instead of or in addition to their engagement in social media. Part of my satisfaction with Google+ came from others sharing links to blogs to further inspire my own interest in adventure gaming. I likened my Google+ feed to old-style gaming magazines, like Dragon or Challenge, beloved print publications whose passing I frequently lament. Although I’m still building and exploring contacts through my MeWe presence, I find the platform lacking in providing easily noticed updates to my old favorites and interesting possibilities for new ones to follow (understandable in this period of nascent gamer communities there). So I’m focusing on re-evaluating my current browser bookmark folder for game blogs, combing my old Google+ feeds for interesting blogs to add, and reorganizing it for more efficient access.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

(Re-)Forging Gamer Communities

We fear change.”
Garth, Wayne’s World

The announcement that Google is shutting down Google+ by August 2019 has sent shock waves through the gaming communities that found refuge and flourished there in recent years. Many users are migrating to other platforms – MeWe seems to stand out for me, and I’ve joined – but others seek to retreat to their blogs and no doubt some might withdraw from this kind of social media engagement altogether (goodness knows I’ve considered it). Amid all the social media turmoil I look back and examine how essential platforms like Google+ have been in forming gamer communities that share inspiration, give us voices, and connect us through a common hobby.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Playing at the Fair

We recently visited the Maryland Renaissance Festival and it brought back memories of how much I used to enjoy the playful immersion in the renfest environment. My adventure gaming hobby stands at the confluence of many inspirations during my youth. I’ve discussed the role music, books, films, and even family vacations played in fostering in me an appreciation of elements that would fuel my gaming activities (“Early Fantasy Gaming Inspirations” and “Early Musical Influences on My Gaming”). Although I went to my first renfest well after I’d discovered Dungeons & Dragons, the experience enhanced my appreciation for roleplaying games, history, music, and literature. Our recent trip back to the Maryland Renaissance Festival reminded me how renfests still provide inspiration for gaming. I also realized how closely renfests mirror roleplaying games (or games in general) in that they provide an immersive experience and a relatively “safe” space in which to play.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Boxed Worlds & Focused Locales

I peer over at my wall-spanning bookshelves (well, one wall of them, anyway) and see a chunk of my Dungeons & Dragons shelf occupied by several thick boxed sets crammed with fantasy world settings. Their names ring boldly in the annals of fantasy roleplaying games: Dark Sun, Raveloft, and Forgotten Realms. Lately I’ve been thinking about getting rid of them. Virtually unseen nearby sit several thin, saddle-stitched D&D modules, some of which provide more localized settings for fantasy adventures beyond the actual scenario material. Some of their names – notably B2 The Keep on the Borderlands and X1 The Isle of Dread – also stand tall in the annals of D&D. I’ve spent more time adventuring in these smaller locales than the vast expanses of the boxed sets and their numerous support supplements. Perhaps these more compact modules offered a young gamer both examples of solid settings as well as the invitation and inspiration to expand upon them. Perhaps I didn’t immerse myself in the larger boxed settings because by the time they were released I’d moved beyond my carefree, younger days of after-school and summertime gaming into a professional life that put a premium on free time.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Boldface Highlights Adventure Essentials

Tim Shorts tried something different with his recent, Patreon-supported micro-adventure, Into the Ruins. He used bold type to highlight “things of note” within scenario entries. Certainly boldface type has its traditional place in paragraph formatting, most notably as an introductory paragraph subhead labeling the subsequent text: “Chamber 3: Guard Post. Five orcs cluster around a wooden table, tossing dice and drinking ale....” But reading Tim’s micro-adventure and then perusing some classic modules from my youth demonstrated that peppering adventure text with notable boldfaced words has been a layout convention since the beginning of the roleplaying game hobby. I suppose I’ve always been subconsciously aware of this, but it took Tim blatantly pointing this out to bring it to my attention and kindle my interest in how it was used in other published work, particularly modules supporting my earliest immersion in Basic/Expert Dungeons & Dragons and Advanced D&D.