Looking Off-Camera

Trying New Things

Hey, gang:

If you're a regular reader here, you're no stranger to the fact that I like to mess around with layout and options and that sort of thing as they pertain to this blog. Of late, I've been entertaining the idea of switching to Squarespace. I've got a new entry on that blog, so if you don't mind, take a quick trip over there and have a look. Comments are on, so have at it.

Aquinas

That'll Cost Ya

In game design, "too powerful" is a myth. The actual design should reflect "It needs to cost more." A power or effect should remain pretty true to its original design. Mind control needs to feel like mind control -- you can't take a little bit away from it and hope to elicit the same in-game effect or the same player enthusiasm. A lightning blast needs to be a levinbolt that electrocutes its target, not a wee spark that sizzles foes for a li'l bit of damage. Hyper-speed needs to be fast... no, faster than that. David Bowie's cone of frost breath weapon needs to crystallize targets caught in the blast radius.
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Detritus

Not Drowning, Waving

If you've been paying attention to the Internet for the past 48 hours, you've probably heard about Google's upcoming Wave project. Wow! What a breakthrough.

I'm utterly in love with the creative ethic that the internet has fostered over its comparatively short life. While I certainly don't profess to be a fan of every bit of art, fiction, or other expression published to the web, the fact that it's encouraged people to make is magnificent. Now, with Wave on the horizon, the limits of asynchronous communication aren't going to be a barrier any longer.

The challenge is this, people: Let's do something together. Let's pick a night of the week to all get together and bang out an idea for a game. Then, when we're done, let's play it. No more of the developer in his ivory tower, trickling games down to the plebes below him in a one-way pipeline of you'll-play-what-I-give-you. Let's do this together, and let's have a blast doing it.

This'll probably be a good place to dust off One Hundred Kingdoms, which is as good a place to start as any. I'll post more here as Wave becomes available, so if this sounds like something you'd be interested in, consider yourself invited. 
Aquinas

Uncomplicated

I’ve been watching the old British Robin of Sherwood series on DVD and it’s got me sort of nostalgic. I remember watching these back in the late 1980s on PBS and fell in love with them. Sure, the production values are a pretty dated, but the patina is part of why I think it's so endearing. I even enjoy the dated soundtrack, which must have been performed on the cheapest synthesizers the band could find. My wife mocks me ruthlessly when I watch them, and she can't make it through a single episode. Watching them brings me back to a time when I had far fewer responsibilities — not that I’m complaining, but there’s a certain sense of bittersweet innocence lost when I watch them.

Some amount of that has carried over into my gaming habits of late, too. I certainly wouldn’t say that I’m one of the new old-schoolers, but getting my hands dirty with the same reckless abandon I had in middle school really scratches an itch for me. No epic storylines, no massive characterization, no commitments is how I’ve been playing recently, and it’s pretty refreshing. There are times when gaming can be a chore, and that’s the last thing I want after a long day at the office building immersive and characterized. Don’t get me wrong, because that scratches another itch that’s maybe less frivolous. Then again, maybe the problem is that I’m too itchy.

So maybe the show didn’t age well, but being able to just enjoy it is a real pleasure, just like being able to put aside the velvet and absinthe of Vampire for a while is a refreshing change of pace. There are other Robin Hoods out there — the new BBC version seemed a bit glossy for my tastes and I’m tentatively looking forward to the new Russell Crowe production — but I have a soft spot for this one and the maybe “unsophisticated” but undeniably fun game philosophy of my early years.

(If you ant to get really nerdy with me about it, I much prefer the Michael Praed episodes to the Jason Connery ones, but I think the opposite might have been true when I was younger.)