Posts Tagged ‘rpgs’

Uncontrollable Mutation

July 1, 2010

I’m a big fan of the basic idea of super-powers in one form or another — it can make a great play mechanic in a lot of settings, and provides a lot of interesting opportunities. I’ve made several uses of White Wolf’s Aberrant RPG for these types of games (the original d10 version, not the d20 edition they printed later), and with a few modifications (and an entirely new setting) it works really, really well. But there’s one thing in the base Aberrant setting/system I’ve always really liked that I’ve never had the opportunity to properly explore: eruptions.

For the uninitiated, Aberrant is a X-Men style super-hero setting, where some humans have experienced a miraculous mutation that gives them their powers. The initial onset of the mutation is a violent presentation of those abilities, normally preceded by a week of migraines and then triggered by a stressful event, called an eruption. It a very cool basic idea, which suggests that the character’s powers are normally selected based on their personality, and the nature of those events. (more…)


Quick Post: Solutions to Grinding

June 18, 2009


Not a lot of time this early morning, but I thought I’d take a minute to talk about one of the biggest problems in gaming ever since ‘leveling’ became common place: Grinding.

Grinding is easy to define; it’s the repetition of a mundane task for minimal (but guaranteed) gains, at usually little or  no risk. Grinding essentially started from CRPGs where some battles would be a slightly jump in difficulty beyond what players were otherwise experiencing, requiring them to spend more time killing easier enemies in order to rise to that challenge. Of course, RPGs aren’t the only guilty parties; I can remember spending time grinding in old Mega Man games, hunting for free lives or health.

The reason it’s a problem should be immediately obvious: it’s boring as hell. While it’s not always required in the games where it’s prevalent, it usually becomes common because it’s advantageous. As designers, we shouldn’t be encouraging our players to bore themselves (that seems counter productive to me), so what can we do?

Really, this boils down to two options: Take away the advantage, or add in fun. (more…)

BBR Project: Better World 1

May 20, 2009
The world!

The world!

It’s been a while since I’ve written on the Build a Better RPG project, but it has not been forgotten. Last time we talked about combat — beyond that, however, the second most major element in most RPGs is the world.  It’s tied in to the story, usually (though often only trivially) and acts as a backdrop to allow various types of characters and enemies to appear.

In a great majority of RPGs, the world exists on exactly two scales; a virtually barren world map, and then (somewhat) detailed cities. This is the result of the usual mimicry of the earliest genre entries, and it’s one a lot of people think are still vital today. The reason for the split is pretty clear — in the World map, there are three elements; locations you can enter, obstacles, and encounters. The world is a fairly empty place, however, usually consisting of a dozen cities around the globe with a few more dungeons or other dangerous locales. (more…)

BBR Project: Better Combat 1

April 16, 2009

Combat in Chrono Trigger

Combat will almost always be a part of RPGs, console or otherwise. In Pen & Paper games, combat is often the most complexly ruled affair, and indeed, this is what was most clearly adopted in the early days of console RPGs. I enjoy combat in my games, but I find that it’s overused and often boring — let’s try not to be that.

So, one of the first things we should be considering when it comes to building a better RPG is combat. Without combat, we won’t intrigue the major RPG audience. Without good combat, we won’t show them that there’s something better, or intrigue people from other genres.

The main reason why I want to explore combat first, though, is because it is the primary reason for disappointment in RPGs. They make you spend a lot of time doing it, but it’s normally not all that fun; thus, fixing this is a good step forward for the BBR Project. (more…)

Let’s Build a Better RPG

April 9, 2009

So, I’ve ragged on Console RPGs a lot in my life; they represent to me a great deal of unfulfilled potential. But it’s one thing to bitch about how much you dislike something, and another thing entirely to try and fix it.

So! Right here, on the Art of Game, we’re going to build a better cRPG. Now I say this with the hopes of audience participation; if you disagree with what I have to say, or have a suggestion, question, or comment along the way, speak up! (more…)

CRPG in Basic: The Linear RPG

April 8, 2009

The Linear RPG, from Sophie Houlden

This is an adorable little 48-hour project, from the talented Sophie Houlden, which personifies console RPGs down to their barest parts.

It features:

  • A linear, text heavy story
  • Linear gameplay
  • Save Points
  • Combat
  • Levels

While adorable, the reality is, this is what I see when I play most RPGs. Combat in the Linear RPG has been stripped down to taking small, semi-random amounts of damage as you travel between save points, which accumulates EXP. If you run out of health, you get thrown back to the last save point, without additional penalty. If you’re having trouble, wander around near a save point to safely level up.

Let’s talk about RPGs

March 27, 2009

Role playing games are an interesting animal. They got a very clearly recorded history and a strong impact on gaming today, though there’s really two basic kinds of RPGs out there now — traditional, pen and paper games, and computer/console RPGs. Despite notable similarities, they’re functionally very different.

First, similarities. Both kinds of games generally use a series a statistics to determine the abilities of the characters. RPGs usually place a heavy emphasis on story, often of a sprawling epic saga of some sort. RPGs usually employ a turn based system to resolve combat, and often lack any other kind of major conflict governed by the game’s rules.

That’s about as specific as I can get. RPGs are a broad genre. But the major species have substantial differences; let’s talk about them any why. (more…)