Monday, March 21, 2005

Massive Time Sink

Remember that Matrix web puzzle? This is annoying like that, but from what I can tell goes on considerably longer.

And the hints/general instructions are wrong/misleading. Don't say I didn't warn you.

I would start a discussion about what sort of challenges are valid in creating a game- how far is too far in terms of in-game challenge, but I'm too busy being embroiled in this damn thing.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Virtual Worlds are Works of Art

That's my starting point in thinking about campaign worlds, adventure settings, and MMORG design. The first time I encountered this claim (in Richard Bartle's Designing Virtual Worlds), I thought it was utterly ridiculous, but it has since become the cornerstone of how I think about virtual worlds.

It's easy to see that virtual worlds require a certain amount of artistic craft to pull off. The game setting for World of Warcraft, for example, involved incredible set design, animation, and texturing. A good campaign setting requires some good writing and creativity to pull off. But that's not the same thing as saying that a virtual world is a work of art.

Consider the world of Middle Earth. While the novels themselves comprise a great artwork in their own right, does the world deserve to be considered as art in its own right? If we leave aside for the moment the fact that the world can't be separated from the works, we could admit that Middle Earth has the power to inspire, that it has nuances, that there are compelling ideas there which we can discuss and debate.

The problem is, with a novel, you don't have full separation of the world from it's development into a particular story. But with a virtual world, you can.

A great virtual world is potentially beautiful, nuanced, and thought provoking. Like a painting or text it has static elements that can be considered in isolation. But like a movie or a drama, it can also have dynamic elements that simulate an action.

I think that the artistic possibilities of virtual worlds have barely been touched. If virtual worlds are works of art (and I emphatically beleive they are), then it should be possible to create virtual worlds that aren't only great fun to play, but stimulate the mind and the soul.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Little Pythagoras

Found via Little Yellow Different, a blogger named Ken says he's "learning RPG maker and re-creating Little Pythagoras, a game I made in high school as a final project for my calculus class," and writes:
"I often do wonder about the ability of games to teach teach math or other subjects. Really, what are most RPG's but a series of complex algebra problems? Rather than reading a textbook with word problems in it, wouldn't it be more interesting to present them in a loose narrative and be able to actually visualize the puzzles with interactive help? Many K-12 students might find the game medium a little more familiar than a textbook."

Also, although it's not directly related, this gives me a chance to point everyone back at Tony's post from two years ago, the game concept Mathematica.

(Ken's original post is linked through this post's title.)

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Follow Up To Conflict Resolution

Vincent lays it out all nice and plain in his recent post at anyway. Here it is:

Conflict Resolution Revealed

If previous readings about how task resolution = GM fiat were confusing, you need to check out that there link.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

How In The Name Of Heaven Does This Happen?

When has this sort of thinking ever been justified? How many people are so enamored of Tom Hanks in that masterpiece "Mazes & Monsters" that they think all gamers are incoherent freaks? Who did we, as a hobby, piss off so badly?

How has this type of thing made it difficult for you to run games? I know it took me 10 years to get some of my best friends just to try gaming. What sort of opportunities have been lost to this logic based in vapor? I might have thought it was getting better, but the above article suggests the opposite.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

How do you learn what gaming is?

John and I recently spent a little time revisiting a topic we discussed before and posted about on the forum: how do people learn how to role-play? Or rather, how do they learn what a role-playing game is?

The first time we discussed this, we looked through the various games that I happen to own, and we discovered that of all the games and editions, only the 1980 "red book" edition of the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Rules explicitly described the basis and goals of the game in any detail. The very first part of the Introduction is titled, "What the D&D Game Is All About," and even in the Foreward, the editor of that edition (Tom Moldavy) states, "This edition was designed to be easily read and used by individuals who have never before played a role playing [sic] game."

Most of the other games I own are predicated upon the idea that everyone already knows what role-playing is and how to role-play. Some of them give a cursory overview of the concepts, but even then, it seems expected that the players will really learn what role-playing is by participating in a game. That is to say, they are taught through an oral tradition, brought in as new players by long-time gamers who lead them through the "rites and rituals," as it were, of gaming - and, incidentally, pass on all of their particular prejudices, quirks, and preferences regarding what the game is and how it should be played.

On the one hand, role-playing does seem to be the kind of activity that is best introduced through participation. On the other hand, the "oral tradition" perpetuates the vague conceptions and misconceptions about RPGs that lead to frustrations and misunderstandings among players. Would it be enough for more games to follow the lead of the 1980 "red book" D&D Basic Rules, and spell out the concepts and goals? Can games afford the page count to do that? Can games afford not to?

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Ouroboros Cluster

Ouroboros Cluster
"These worlds are ours according to ancient treaties with the Majestics. Interfere at your own peril.'"

Turn 7 of my experimental sci-fi strategy/RPG game has been posted - lots of action going on in the universe this turn.