Friday, October 31, 2008

Big Winner

This past week I found out through one of the podcasts I listen to that I was the winner of a $25 credit to be used at Noble Knight Games. The contest was hosted by a set of podcasts. Each had a secret code in an episode. Long story short, I just got an e-mail from Noble Knight saying my books just shipped. I can't wait to see them.

The loot:

Houses of the Blooded by John Wick (creator of Cat)
Spirit of the Century by Evil Hat

The podcasts:

Atomic Array
The Tome Show
OgreCave Audio Report
Brilliant Gameologists
The Podgecast

They are all great podcasts so check them out.

As a side note, I am in the middle of typing up what I have for Islands of the Sun. I'll post how it's going when I have more ready to show.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Islands of the Sun

Okay, I just took some time at lunch to come up with a title for my game that I like better. It seems to suit the feel I'm going for. The flavor of the game is intended to be a fusion of the Inca, Aztec and South Pacific cultures. Structure, beauty and brutality are a major part of the game and honor is it's core. It's a place where people struggle amongst each other just as they struggle against an environment that actively pushes back. All the people know are the powers of the wind, waves and sun while struggling to live on the islands they call home.

Having that decided I then asked what exactly my game is about. With the people living in such a struggling world they impose order where they can. They live by an honor code that governs every aspect of their lives. So, honor is the core of the game. It's what will be used to measure how the characters are doing as they use honor to measure the status of others around them.

The following is my power 19 for Islands of the Sun. It's not intended for anything other than a guide to keep me organized and heading in the right direction.

1.) What is your game about?
It is about honor in the face of adversity, which comes not only from other characters but also from the world itself.

2.) What do the characters do?
The characters are tasked with maintaining and improving their honor while accomplishing things for the beliefs they hold dear. These beliefs come from their pasts.

3.) What do the players (including the GM if there is one) do?
There are both players and a GM who play the game. The players each have a character. They push their characters through challenges to better them. The GM is the adversity the players put their characters against. He is not supposed to play against the players but he is supposed to challenge the characters for the fun of everyone playing.

4.) How does your setting (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?
The setting is an idyllic set of thousands of islands. With the beauty of the islands as they are the environment is just as brutal to those living there. In addition to the environment being challenging there have been a few settlements that have gained dominance and hold sway over the places around them.

5.) How does the Character Creation of your game reinforce what your game is about?
One thing I want to include in character creation is a structure to build some past into them. This lifepath system will build the beliefs the characters rely on for their honor. Characters also have aspects that mimic the environment around them for their strengths and weaknesses.

6.) What types of behaviors/styles of play does your game reward (and punish if necessary)?
I want to encourage play between the players. If they feel a need to play antagonistic to one another that needs to be a decision they made to increase the fun of the game for all playing. Whether the players choose to cooperate or be antagonistic they should be playing to their beliefs and aspects. Everything should work toward the honor their characters need to improve.

7.) How are behaviors and styles of play rewarded or punished in your game?
As long as players are using their beliefs they are able to increase their honor. When their honor goes up it allows them to better their aspects and talents. When they let their honor bottom out or they are defeated in a contest they take scars of shame. When they gain too many scars the characters leave play in disgrace.

8.) How are the responsibilities of narration and credibility divided in your game?
The GM is responsible for the stability of the world. He is there to run the opposition to the characters and describe a consistent setting. The players are responsible for their characters. They get to narrate the outcomes of contests they go through with moderation of the GM.

9.) What does your game do to command the players' attention, engagement, and participation? (i.e. What does the game do to make them care?)
By using the honor scale to regulate character improvement the players are encouraged to work toward their character's beliefs. By allowing the players to narrate the outcome of contests they will be able to flavor the action/intensity of those contests.

10.) What are the resolution mechanics of your game like?
Contests are resolved with opposed rolls. To win a contest the victor pushes the loser's aspects further than their thresholds allow. Also, the players are encouraged to use differing aspects in their contests to think outside the box. For example, an NPC could be pushing with strength but the PC could push back with intelligence or with their social acuity to defeat the NPC. They do not have to go strength against strength.

11.) How do the resolution mechanics reinforce what your game is about?
They are intended to push the player to use their character's beliefs to increase honor and better them.

12.) Do characters in your game advance? If so, how?
The advance through pushing their honor to the top of it's scale. That will allow die increases on their talents and attributes. When players use their character's beliefs they can, through those contests, improve them. Through play they can even add new beliefs.

13.) How does the character advancement (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?
Advancement is intended to increase the stakes for the characters. When they advance they do better and thus they can take a bigger bite off the challenges they go for.

14.) What sort of product or effect do you want your game to produce in or for the players?
I want the game to push the players to try something new. I want the players to take an active role in the flavor of their play sessions when they describe outcomes of contests.

15.) What areas of your game receive extra attention and color? Why?
The conflict between the character and everything around them is what I want to be the focus of the game's color. I want them to feel like small fish in the ocean. I also want them to feel they have something they have control over, their honor.

16.) Which part of your game are you most excited about or interested in? Why?
The thing I am most excited about is putting the flavor in the hands of the players. I feel giving them that opportunity increases the excitement of game play. When they can take that extra control of their characters they should feel just as excited describing failures as it is to describe successes. Beliefs are also things I like to see in a game. They help lead the motivations of the characters for their players.

17.) Where does your game take the players that other games can’t, don’t, or won’t?
This one I'm not too sure about. Other than the setting having a different cultural twist I hope the honor system gives the game some more tension during play.

18.) What are your publishing goals for your game?
I don't intend on anything that will blow off the shelves but I do want to have a game that is very professional looking and solid in rules.

19.) Who is your target audience?
My audience is the RPG community in general, but I want to aim more for those gamers of the traditional RPGs who are looking for something where they, as players, can take more control of their characters. I want more story to come out of play. I want the game to sit in that snug middle ground between traditional RPGs and the indie games that have drastically different rules. Hopefully it can be a transition game between the two extremes.

So, that's about it for now. I'm not too sure if I hit the mark completely with those answers but it's my attempt at the moment.

By the way, I had to pick a different name for the game because I didn't want to use IE as an acronym for it like my earlier idea would have done. This title also, hopefully, has a better feel.

More to come later.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

YouTube Game Design

It's been a while since I've posted but the other day I found this really great game design seminar by John Wick on YouTube. He's the guy behind a bunch of really cool indie press roleplaying games along with materials for 7th Sea and Legend of the Five Rings by AEG.

Last night I watched a string of his videos and was really impressed with the practical info he relates for game design. Though I haven't put much into my game so far I feel it's just spinning wheels, but John Wick's videos have really given me some inspirations. I think I'm going to take another stab at creating a solid foundation for my game starting with the theme. Sure I can come up with mechanics but starting with a cool mechanic seems to get in my way. Maybe starting with theme will get it going in the right direction.

Here's the first video John Wick posted on game design. You should also find practical game play advice in his set of play dirty videos. Have a watch. I hope your gaming grows because of it.

Hopefully I will have another post up here soon with better results on kicking off my game.