Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Yakuza Ishin and packed lunches

Okay, GTA like run around with swords murdering the hell out of folk sandboxy kinda game.

But here's the thing - I hear it has this 'another life' mode.

Where you pack lunches, plant vegetables and adopt stray dogs.

And I wonder if the extremeness of the violent side has suddenly made them go 'Is this the only way we can imagine living???'. And in a bit of horror at what they've made, they make an alternate mode with a really different lifestyle?

I wonder if it'll get released in the western world?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Parpuzio's dilemma

This is a good recording. But in regard to roleplay, I like it at about 9:20

How you don't see someone so much as angry as a configuration of muscles on their face.

It ties into the recent Parpuzio stuff and probably either baffled readings of my saying it's always happening in roleplay, or alternative 'omg, his play must be like that!'. Actually the recording goes into an idea of attributing to others before attributing to oneself, but anyways...

I think some people figure that when they say their character grabs the can of peaches (that someone else has spoken some fiction about being on a table), much like we think we see anger when we actually see a  configuration of muscles on the face, they think they actually interact with that can of peaches they are thinking about. The number of interactions, like the facial configuration, slips past us. We short cut. Just like the recording gives the example of, if in the distant past a lion jumped out at us, would we pause to consider maybe this is a false possitive and it's something else, or do we scream lion? Even as the latter is a short cut?

To get the can of peaches, it's all parpuzio.

You can dial down the amount of parpuzio.

Dial it down to zero and you have a boardgame.

I swear, 5 to 6 years ahead and you'll be onboard with this anyway. You'll use different names, say it in your own words. But you'll be on board anyway.

I'm offering a shortcut.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Rifts RPG : High cost of armour repair isn't scary

It strikes me, also having played alot of Rifts recently, that a PC with 60 Mega Damage Capacity armour just does not get any fear from an enemy who does, say, 1D6 - even though that's 1D6x600 credits in repair cost.

But the repair costs aren't scary.

This is what struck me. Because to get money to pay for them, you are still going to have to get out there amongst enemies. You can't get scared and shy away from doing that.

So it ends up at being no big deal. So small time damage (once you have tough armour) is not made thrilling by repair costs.

I'm tossing up the idea of some kind of additional 'magic damage' dealt by supernatural creatures, in a fixed amount (something like 10 Mega Damage or 20 Mega Damage) on top of the creatures paltry 1D6 or 3D6.

This damage can't wreck your armour, but it can disable it. It dissipates at one point per hour (you can pay for a faster dissipation).

This promotes the 'Well, I think I'm going to shy away from combat now!' thing which shakes play up a bit and makes for a loss condition in combat. Ie, you got beat up so bad you want to go hide in a corner for awhile. When you have to pay for repairs though, there's really no room for that as you still need to get out and make money (to pay for repairs or make up for money lost in paying for repairs).

You have to make a place for being scared in.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The negative reviews that actual challenge in games earns

Ran into this twice, recently. The first is here. It's a review of the latest adventure time mechanic and it mentions that you can only get back to town after every five levels.

To make matters worse, you can only return to the surface after every five floors, so if you happen to lose all of your health before you reach the next checkpoint, tough luck--you’ll be dumped back above ground without any of the loot you’d accumulated. Worse still, there’s no way to quick-save in the middle of a floor, forcing you to continue playing until you reach the next checkpoint (or die trying).
Tre sigh!

And the next is of a review of might and magic in PC powerplay, where they say that whenever you rest, you use up supplies and can only carry six at a time. This is then described negatively as having to cut short the adventure instead of continue exploring.

It's so incredibly wearying to hear things that provide difficulty as being things which actually reduce the score a game is given. Perhaps unless they dark souls-like cram the 'this is tough!' meme down their throat, it's all exploro land to them?

Okay, caveat - Lord of the Rings, war in the north had checkpoints where if you died you'd lose your previously found gear. Which annoyed me greatly.

The thing is, it didn't announce when the next checkpoint was, unlike the adventure time game, where you can see how many levels you are away from the checkpoint.

Without stating where the checkpoint is, it's not a challenge that you're facing, I'd say. It's just struggling to 'not lose'.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The 'Creative' dungeon

I posted this here first, but it warrants repeating (and yes, once again I'm in the habit of posting elsewhere then treating my own blog as the secondary place for my material - nuts, eh?)

I used to try and make gameplay about 'creative dungeons'. It burns you out when the entirety of the fun rests on your shoulders, with the game not carrying any of the effort of being fun itself. Sure it's great to add creative things, but it's not great to add it simply because if you don't there wont be anything fun at all. When a system kinda focuses on XP, levels and gold, it's best if you have players who enjoy collecting XP, levels and gold. That way they enjoy play whether you add a creative thing or not (being creative adds to the game, rather than makes the game). It's just the advice I wish I'd run into years ago.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Dragons Crown: Should have an aftermath story, after main story completion

I'm not quite sure how the story would work out, assuming it ends in the first dragon being defeated again (maybe it wasn't quite down the first time - well, if you play again, assume that's because a hero must rise because it wasn't quite down the first time)

What am I talking about? I'm talking about not repeating the original story for every single character. Because that story event happened already. Lucains bones were found - why am I finding him again?

No, an aftermath story would be a whole new story to play through, which takes into account the first dragon being defeated. Maybe Lucain went out to check on some troubling rumours and again his mage tower is empty - so you go find him in the aftermath story.

Replaying the first story is jarring? Anyway with me on that? You mash X to get through the dialog, not just because you've seen it before, but because it makes no sense! You DID all that stuff already. Count Dean is DEAD! No, I am not going through the idea that he is a douche, but in the end an okay douche, omg he's gone off and been killed...I did all that. It's over with! Please!

An aftermath story would be events which could be repeated several times. Instead of repeating where formerly dead characters are again alive but then again made dead again, and formerly dead characters who were made alive are back to being dead - but then being brought back to life.

Which would just be more enjoyable - and I think not that super hard to do.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

TTRP; Answering the Air: Always parpuzio?

From here
As a secondary point, is non-mechanics outcome authority always parpuzio?

The issue is that parpuzio is somewhat like giving a name to a food that is far too spicy hot for ones own tolerance, let alone taste.

Ie, a misleading name, if one enjoys a certain amount of spice. Because the naming given is simply a result of an overload of spice - thus it damns all spice use.
Depends on what you mean by "mechanics." Some of the games we know have rather sophisticated speaking-distribution rules which impose mechanics constraints without fortune mechanics.
Sophisticated enough speech/speaking distribution rules basically are board game mechanics. May as well be passing around cards and tokens.

If they don't become full on board game mechanics, then they are 'parpuzio'.

But again the question is: How much spice do you want to use?

Traditionally the question is take that there's 'persuade the GM' and there's 'good GM'ing' where the GM is just 'running the world'.

On reflection I'm not sure I parallel Moreno's position
but that kind of "play to convince the GM" somewhat returned to be felt during the sessions.
I'm not sure if it's a translation thing, but the way it's put, it's as if there can be a point (in non board game play) where there ISN'T convincing of the GM. Rather than simply considerably less of it/play does not soley revolve around convincing the GM.

I'd answer in the thread, but I'm waiting. I'm pretty sure I don't have a place there, as yet. More in the 'say it for yourself' stage.

Edit: Okay, call BS on me. In regard to one of the topics, I replied

Table Top Roleplay: Crouching suggestion, hidden legislation

Ran into this post by Eero Tuovinen
To me this distinction seems pretty arbitrary: as per the Lumpley principle, the only difference between those "rules" and "suggestions" is whether the group actually allows you to get away with it when you go against them. I've often felt the impossibility for a designer to actually make his text somehow authoritative, and this is very much more so when we're discussing game moves you make according to artistic judgment.
AW could not make the parts it leaves up to MC consideration any more legislatively constraining without also removing the freedom of artistic choice inherent in those choices.
 My estimate is that it's contradictory - if you take it that A: rules can only be suggestions, how they can at all B: become legislatively constraining enough to remove freedom of artistic choice.

How does something which is mere suggestion somehow do that? Or is it not mere suggestion?

Table Top Roleplay: The backseat, and the steering wheel that was put there

the rules should take a backseat to whatever is happening at the game table. Rules are guidelines, not laws. And they should never dictate the game/story flow
This is the classic mantra. Most recently run into here.

If you think of the rules as being like a steering wheel (and brake/accelerator), it's hard to make sense of these - you have to put them to the backseat? Where you can't reach them?

It's the strange starting part - why have them to begin with? Is it a need to simply identify with a certain game - gotta have the book, or you aren't a real player of RPG X (whether X==D&D or some other RPG)?

It's like an urgency to both draw them close, but then also push them away.

I suspect it basically comes from gamers who have never, ever encountered rules that do what they actually want to do. They just keep encountering encumbrance rules, or weapon vs armour charts, or even to hit rolls and...it's like way, way, way over there in group B. And what they want to do is in group A.

And they've never encountered a rule that helps or adds interesting things to group A.

So they assume rules really have nothing to do with what they like. Or parochially, rules have nothing to do with roleplay.

Side note: Somehow I spelt parochially right the first time, but not encumbrance! Bad gamer!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Tabletop Roleplay: The Coin Principle

This is a simple exercise in psychology.

Take anyone and do the usual roleplay stuff (whatever that is), but about every ten minutes a player is to declare their PC flips a coin in the fiction. The GM has to say which side a fiction coin lands on. The GM isn't allowed to keep a record of his past declarations.

Further variations are that players will lose a large number of HP on tails, while gaining a small sum on a result of heads.

As well as players being somewhat annoying to the GM, or in other variations, buying the GM pizza.

The question is, will the coin always come up 50/50 on each result?

Or will a bias show?

This is the uncomfortable 'persuasion' argument the adept press 'your stuff' forum went through recently.

Really I think we all know a bias will show up. To what degree and in what direction depends both on the GM involved and the circumstances they find themselves in, so the bias is fairly unique each time.

Yet for some reason we have to keep a black screen us and that when it comes to 'How Epidiah decided range to target in Dungeon Crawl Classics' or '[D&D] Is the dungeon real?'

For some reason some of my posts on this had a higher traffic rate than my dragons crown posts - so I write on the idea there may be interest still.

Is it some sort of uncomfortable final disenchantment? I can't find Moreno's example of him recounting how he said his character hid amongst bodies so as to elude the zombies chasing him.

But the thing is I can see the persuasion lines in that - the bias. And I can still enjoy it! It seems possible, if certain variables went Moreno's way. To me that's all the fiction ever was - the idea that if certain variables were to just happen to go in someones direction.

Though as I've said before, a GM can, in varying circumstances (say if you bought him pizza, or if you've just said he's a great guy) can become quite easy to persuade. Ie, alot more variables will just happen to fall your way than usual. That 'easy' is a problem in gamism.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Taking the idea of 'extending' to table top

A problem I have in a classic dungeon exercise is that really the players could simply back off and heal often at any time (generally nothing in the game world (atleast as I envision it) naturally stops this - only if I force an event to stop it from occuring, can it be stopped)

However after playing dragons crown, they have a mechanic where every dungeon you do after the first has an increase in gold and XP gained. If you were to go back, this resets back to the default.

I'm really liking this. In the past I've considered having enemies remove treasure from the dungeon if the players withdraw. But that's kind of missing out on something - don't gain for being bold, you just miss out if you are not bold. Of course the opposite is quite simple - have it possible to gain more treasure. Of course a bit of a simulationist attitude blocks this idea from being cognised. Because why would more money appear? But having played it, I know it's fun! So the reason more money would appear is that its fun (it's a particular type of fun and delivers it nicely).

Monday, November 18, 2013

Dragon's Crown (6/6)

There's also a weird power you can get for the dwarf which is eagle dive - the higher levels have you dropping bombs as you glide across the screen after a double jump. The more skill points in it, the more bombs. Not sure where the heck this comes from - it seems like an unholy mix of warhammers dwarven flying steam helicopters and D&D.

Anyway, that's my current look into the game - entering into the hard mode now, still with the dwarf. Haven't played the other characters much yet still enjoying it just on the one character...but then again, maybe the wizard needs to step boldly into the dungeons, yet again...

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Dragon's Crown (5/6)

Not sure about the toughen up power. You have to stand there for a period to do it. I presume it's like the wizard having to recharge - except they coded it that if you hold down the recharge button after using it for another attack, the wizard will start recharging, while the dwarf ignores the button if it was also held down during another attack. Which is annoying.

Also it's duration - I really have no idea. The visual indicator is so subtle it's really impossible to tell amongst the leaping and flying bodies and beatings when it ran out. Still, it's something you can do to prep before a battle and if you are doing really well, do so inside a battle as well!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Dragon's Crown (4/6)

And the wrestle mania!? The dwarf does a lot of crowd control (compared to the archer, who seems more attuned to boss killing). Grabbing enemies above his head - if you jump he takes them with him and you can throw them down. Buy into a skill for that and they create a blast radius when they hit, no matter if it's a great big lizard or a tiny fungi guy, boom - damage all the other enemies. If you can get into a sequence of making half the screen get slammed by a falling body then go to the other half, grab somebody who was just getting up from the last slam you did and knock them all down again, you can just make the screen shake with thrown bodies! A rare few enemies can't be picked up, but they are pretty rare - even in hard mode, it seems. Though it is annoying when the old grab 'em and throw em reflex kicks in but they stay resolutely on the ground!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Dragon's Crown (3/6)

The funny thing is is how much of Dragons Crown captures D&D style tropes - yet it utterly ignores one of them completely. It even has you drag along a thief to open doors and chests (instead of the main characters kicking them open - but it is fun to have a comedy relief character (whom you can trick into walking into geysers of fire!)).

But there are no clerics! Where are the clerics!?

Well, probably because it doesn't really work so well as a brawler. Sure, you work together, but you independent characters working together, not dudes who cannot do anything unless a cleric is patting you on the back through the whole thing. Which is probably fairly like D&D in a way, as you could go in sans cleric. Though mostly you didn't. So DC slips in on the edge case, with that one!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Table Top Roleplay: The Persuasion Factor

I think there is going to be a factor that is pretty much going to remain invisible to alot of roleplayers. That play rests upon persuasion and that at various times the GM can be very open to persuasion. And importantly conversely, at times he can be very hard (but not impossible!) to persuade.

Some will go on about how much effort they put into checking the accounting on every single fictional transaction ( [D&D] Is the dungeon real? ). But unless you watch out for how easy it is to persuade the GM, then that variable is left to the wind. Sure, I get it, they don't think it's even a relevant variable. That's the state of the divide I'm outlining.

Some will say they just get the GM to make decisions ( How Epidiah decided range to target in Dungeon Crawl Classics ). The thing is, unless the GM works like a old text based adventure game program, only giving certain, very fixed responces to certain input, this isn't true. The program works by decisions - people work by empathy and caring. It's our nature. Hell, that's why so many roleplayers so hautily say 'this isn't a boardgame/computer game!', even as the distinction eludes them (as so many 'what is an RPG?' threads attest). And while I think they should be more self aware of how it works, I largely agree. For sim, the very core of it is a GM AND players who are very much able to be persuaded by each other to give responces that they both want and the other person wanted them to give. I'm not sure it's an issue in Nar, particularly, as the moral problematic isn't really screwed over at all by people wanting the same fiction. It's only gamism that gets a mickey slipped in it's drink.

Anyway, I get that this is invisible as a factor. The GM just makes decisions - that's all he does - I get the perspective. The difficulty of play based upon such decision does not appear to fluctuate at all. Hell, it doesn't appear to fluctuate to me either, from direct observation! But nor does sleight of hand appear as sleight of hand upon direct observation. And here's where it goes sour, because folk hear that, they think malicious intent - in fact they want to ascribe malicious intent to that, because then they can say their GM never did that.

But it's sleight of hand without any party intending to do sleight of hand.

How is that possible, you might ask? How can you do something without intending to?

I could get lazy and ask how did you just process all the pixels on this screen in front of you - how did you do that, even as you did it to read this post and this sentence as it unfolds and heck, what is the very point of unfolding (define 'now' for me?). But it's lazy. Too up in the air. Too abstract.

But sure enough your heart beats without you intending it. You walk without monitoring every single joint movement of your legs and hips. Your liver processes various things in ways still kinda mysterious to science. You do alot of things without knowing how you do it. It stands to reason you do things without even knowing you do it. But now it's too basic - we know our organs, but treat our mind as different somehow. Too basic or too abstract. Too hot, too cold. Ever Goldilox, spoiling the porridge because 'the porridge is spoiled!'.

All of this is a stretch, I know - for the frustrated by all the particularness of such discussion. But in the end, assuming were hitting the emperic in this (maybe you'd disagree its emperic, which is fine), what the fuck does that matter? Yes, the emperic is full of fiddly particulars. How is that any kind of point but to treat your own frustration as if the other guy has somehow done you wrong enough to shut up shop on conversation. Yeah, you don't wanna talk about it? Just say so, be honest - yellin' at the other guy is just passive aggressive intellectual dishonesty.

It's not the other guy who's pushing you to respond at all. It's your own sense of intellectual honesty. Not the other guy. Take it up with yourself.

Dragon's Crown (2/6)

The dwarfs power strike - oh yeah, is that a fun button! They've done well on that one - I think you are invulnerable during the wind up. Which is great when a zombie just decided to do it's grab rush in your direction and instead you see it slide around your charging up character, then get pounded by the hammer strike

I think I probably use it fairly inefficiently - you are probably supposed to beat 'em up (as if this game was some kinda beat 'em up!) a bit first, then drop the hammer. Since you will lose the weapon right after doing so. Though I improved unarmed attacks for precisely this reason. In fact I got unarmed attacks to 100% damage - really I should buy it up further. But again I'm still not sure what it does.

Anyway, love that one smashing button - and the way you watch a bosses health bar suffer during it!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Table Top Roleplay : 'Is the dungeon real?' wrap up. One perspective.

Pretty disappointed with how the following threads went, with a trend toward using hard words in regards to personal crusades (amongst the choir) but not really facing mild words against holy cows.

[D&D] Persuasion in the Middle, or GM Fiat at the end?

[D&D] Is the dungeon real?

How Epidiah decided range to target in Dungeon Crawl Classics

Basically the refutations enter the model of advertising - they already solve anything anyone raised and to question the solutions is to incite yelling. In bold.

So yeah, you have people who are ready to take on holy cows...other peoples holy cows. Granted, they can't see their own cows and instead just see the other guy as being X, Y or Z (all of which are negative). But in the end it's always aimed away.

I'm not even sure what sort of bogeyman the word 'persuasion' conjures in their mind. It's a horrible world though, apparently. Just dreadful and just simply couldn't be the case. I guess if you demonise something enough, it just can't be true.

Okay, I'm walking the perimeter here - I haven't gotten into evidence and argument. But frankly the wounds seem so raw, what would the point of that be? It's like that guy who somehow got authorities to try and drag Australian backpackers back for murdering his brother - because his brother came to him in a dream. I mean, how far do you think reasoning will go with that? Taking it his brother suicided, it's a hell of a thing to have to face Vs simply having some very clear cut enemies instead. We like familiar enemies.

In the end you have people unwilling to look at how they have actively influenced the supposed impartial GM. Maybe if they did they might have another word for it which is more apt than 'persuasion', who knows. But that isn't going to occur.

When we influence each other all the time - it's just part of the whole social thingie! To think social influence somehow stops when we roleplay?

Speaking of, atleast I'm outside of moderation used instead to preserve certain ideas, in writing here. Oh, could be wrong, could be wrong! Maybe there is some kind of way those ideas are founded on very solid ground. But even humouring a 'you could be right' rather than 'you are right' ends up in yelling, as far as I can tell.

Dragon's Crown - Who let the Dwarves out? (1/6)

* I've played the side scrolling brawler 'Dragons Crown' a fair bit, recently. Decided upon the Dwarf mostly, though I dabbled in the arts of wizardry for brief while (which was good but whoa, you get weak when your mana runs out and you can't get the few seconds you need to recover it!). Called him Braddock - I was playing AD&D a little while back with a dwarf called Murock, so I don't know if that was a call back to him. It's funny sometimes when you take a table top character you didn't get to play out fully into a CRPG! Anyway, it's a great game in many respects. It gives you points if you don't die at all during a stage, but on the other hand if you use up your lives, you can spend gold to recover and to me the amount wasn't that much per revive. So you both strive to do well, but at the same time you can just push through with accumulated points if the going gets tough (and that boss really does just need to be killed! Stupid 'Gazer', I'm looking at you, you Beholder with the serial numbers filed off!!). The magic gate in the game becomes randomised after awhile, while unlocking the stable - so you can choose to go to a random stage for free, or pay to go to a specific one. And after doing a stage, you can press on to another random stage. And you can buy more bags to hold more supplies for these extra long excursions! It's actually a very nifty design, meaning you don't just need to find one good weapon, but instead it's beneficial to find several, to put in other bags, because doing several dungeons in a row gets higher gains, cumulatively.

More about it in the following five parts on Dragon Crown!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

This 'scientism' thing...

I can't really keep up with the lengths of the posts over at rants within the undead god. Not that that means much, but for context its worth noting.

But there's this recurring notion of 'scientism'. Quoting the article:

“Scientism” has a nonpejorative core meaning, but also pejorative connotations. According to the core definition, scientism is the belief that the sciences are the only disciplines that supply us with knowledge. Scott says that “humans are theoretically incompetent, and that science is the one institutional prosthetic that clearly affords them some competence.” This seems scientistic in the core sense, although he also says that true claims can “drift about” in nonscientific philosophy. So if “scientism” is tweaked to mean that science is the only reliable source of knowledge, Scott’s view is scientistic, for whatever that nonpejorative characterization is worth.

The reason the word is usually read as pejorative, though, is that philosophers have reached some consensus that scientism refutes itself. After all, scientism is a philosophical rather than a scientific proposition. Just ask yourself, then, whether the claim that science is the only reliable source of knowledge is itself reliable. If not, we needn’t trust that all knowledge comes from the sciences, and if so, we have the paradox of knowledge that comes reliably from a nonscientific discipline (philosophy). Either way, scientism is unstable.
Sound neat and tidy?

I'd swear this is a functional limitation of the human mind in general. The fact that as soon as we take any skin out of the argument, we get to here - philosophy central, where suddenly things are utterly self cancelling.

But the fact is, take a basic science experiment, like some sort of test of whether there is a capillary motion that occurs when fabric is dipped in fluid. Now lets put in the skin - if it does occur but you don't agree it will, you get smacked over the back of your hand with a ruler (or lose $50, if you prefer).

Are you going to say it wont occur? Are you going to say 'Well, that's scientism. And scientism is a philosophical rather than a scientific proposition. And that's just the paradox of knowledge that comes reliably from a nonscientific discipline!'

But see, really that is the theoretical incompetence itself! Once we retract skin, we can talk like that all day long - because were theoretically incompetent in that way! Once were away from the outside world, once were away from having skin in the game, our wheels spin in the air, perpetuallyy. Neither making contact with anything, nor being contacted by anything.

No matter how many nukes or literal scientific raising from the dead (people who are legally dead are revived), it this very theoretical incompetence that lets us, sans anything to lose, go right back to complete indifference or refusal.

Or, from the alternate side of the fence position, I guess its all actually very self conflicting as science isn't proven, etc - all said from the non risk of an arm chair.

It may even indicate a dread dichotomy in the brain - perhaps even supporting the notion of there simply being a rationalisation module in the brain, itself fairly distinct from the rest of the brain. Because basically where there is nothing to lose, the arguments against 'scientism' just flow. But when there IS something to lose, suddenly that dries up! It suggests that the part that is talking is not in charge and that the rest of the brain, when it detects it could lose something, literally cuts the crap! The practical brain and the rationalising brain. The former lets the latter off the leash when the latter might vaguely benefit. But when you stand to lose something by letting the latter off the leash - zip!

I speak from the notion that this might aid in navigating the world. A practical concern. Skin involved.

Or we can recede to the skinless world.

Empty bones.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Dust 514: Proto Stomp Romp

In dust there are top of the line armours and weapons called prototypes.

Supposedly there's a disincentive to use them in public matches (as opposed to planetary conquest), because they cost alot to replace (when you die, you lose all gear on you. You can buy replacements, but they cost money/isk).

Today I ran into someone who had said public matches don't matter. To which I said, 'yet you bring the proto'. Turns out I guess right - they say they have an f' ton of money and still make money in proto. Presumably it's more powerful therefore they lose it less in battle.

So, there's another entry in this blog apparently becoming a 'look at the ugly welts and lumps of Dust 514'. It's kind of a wierd game - perhaps not even qualifying as 'game' in some respects.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Dust 514: Unlock the gun game at operation 4, sharp shooting 3?

In games I'm used to (which granted are often the single player persuasion), when you add skill points, you get better at shooting.

In Dust 514, with the assault rifle and using a dual shock controller, it feels more like you can actually hit guys once you get your operation up to about 4 and sharp shooting to about 3. You see little shield and armour bars actually slide down.

I'm not sure I've gotten that much better at aiming with the dual shock - I'd say this comes from statistics only, not from player skill.

Granted it may be like this for many weapons. But if you go for the overall workhorse that is the assault rifle, it seems to unlock the potential to hit about here.

I guess that's why they start you off with about 500,000 skill points - so you sink it all instantly into one type of weapon.

But if you don't (and nothing stops you from doing this), you might find you pretty much hit nothing at any range.

Though if you find there's a particularly good newbie weapon (the mass driver, maybe? I haven't tried it yet), feel free to comment!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

X-box / Playstation Consoles - they just follow each other?

Despite all the concern over Microsofts attempts to implant absolute borg like control over 'their' property (basically you pay for it, but they still own it), I haven't seen much in the way of how Sony will make their playstation network a subscription system - ie, after differentiating themselves from Microsoft by being subscriptionless, they simply follow suit on the next console. So, playstation 5 will have online 24/7 requirement?

Basically the corporations can simply wait - they will bring in all the bad stuff - they'll just do it incrementally. Not quite as fast as they would have liked. But ten years from now say they'll have brought in some muted forms of online validation already - then because people are conditioned to those, they'll then raise the idea of a 24/7 online requirement again - and protests will be less than they are now because the company used salami tactics (one slice at a time).

Monday, July 1, 2013

Dust 514 tip : Heavy from the start

I just kind of realised you can use a heavy suit right from the start of play!

Go to dropsuit fittings, make a new fitting, go to market for the drop suit and find the militia amarr heavy suit.

You don't need to fill the heavy slot of it with a heavy weapon - you can use an assault rifle or whatever. Or you can stick a militia forge gun in there - kind of found them to be cool if someones covering your back. They do alot of damage and seem to have a wide hit circumfrence (and can also be used to destroy turrets). But if you're sitting there with one charged up and someone runs

If you're using a controller and/or have a slower connection, the extra protection will give you more time to learn how to play - instead of dying in an instant and learning nothing, you'll die in a few instants - but atleast you'll learn where your enemy came from.

It's not actually a fitting that's given at the start, yet it may make the game alot more fun for alot of people when they start play, if they knew about it.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Dust 514: Meaning crushed into a first person spread sheet manipulation program?

There's a weird see-saw of values in Dust 514. Maybe it applies to alot of PVP first person shooter games, I dunno.

But like being killed is supposed to be a big deal.

And yet even in a heavy suit you are essentially paper thin and will just pop at the slightest breeze of bullets (never mind how you'll get behind a corner but lag means you're actually still out in the open (ie, you started running behind cover maybe a half or quater a second latter than events seem to depict)).

So when it gets to the point where the other team (because they actually team up) keep blasting you and then they park a sniper over your side so you spawn, run out, then die anyway - well, what is it? Are we supposed to think it's a big deal to get killed? If so, it's so big a deal that actually it's just shit gameplay.

Or we retract - say it's not a big deal? Well then the whole thing becomes an esoteric exercise.

It's like it could really do with some in between ground, instead of being a hard binary between continuing and dead. Like maybe some kind of retreat option (maybe at a certain level of damage a retreat button becomes available) - it'd still count as a defeat inflicted by the other guy. But your character wouldn't have actually died - thus preserving the idea that continuing to live matters.

Maybe you'd say that respawning is like a retreat - but you are depicted as dying to do so.

Maybe you'd say it doesn't matter - except it does. Drain all the 'big deal' out of it and the whole thing is essentially a first person spread sheet manipulation program.

Oh wait, spread sheet manipulation....Eve....

Maybe you have a point....

Monday, June 24, 2013

Is 'cloud' the new executive speak to justify any old thing?

They tried it with sim city, saying 'it uses cloud functions - can't just do single player!'. And yet someone showed it could do single player off line.

What's up with microsoft and X-box "oh, were doing the AI in 'the cloud'! So need to be online all the time". Seriously no, you aren't doing AI in the cloud. AI processing is far easier to run than processing polygons.

Say 'cloud' and pretty much everyone will just take whatever you say next as having to be the case.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Dungeons and Dragons Next: Here cometh the incoherance

There's an interesting nuance in D&D next - they've included coup de grace rules (which really only apply to PC's since most monsters die at zero HP), probably out of legacy design habit/simulationist habit.

The thing is, it intersects with clerics being able to heal team members for one HP as a swift action, basically for free.

This further intersects with monsters probably not wanting PC's to keep getting back up on one HP and hitting them.

IF monsters actually use coup de grace on downed PC's, it makes a huge difference to how combat pans out. Win Vs TPK, different. Just try running the one combat with monsters doing coup de grace and monsters never doing CDG.

And WOTC seem utterly clueless of this discrepancy.

I presume WOTC want to make a combat system which, whilst emulating genre a certain amount, is also fun in a wargame/boardgame like way.

If they keep playtesting their boardgame design as if coup de grace isn't there, it's a major design fail. It's massively incoherant. Imagine tucking a rule away in chess that, just because it makes sense, rooks can also move on diagnals. But then running all your playtests based on rooks moving in straight lines? Your playtests would be failing to actual test the game you've written!

It reads as a major suck - I can imagine it - go to a game, knowing the monsters could have picked off a PC here or there, maybe killed the whole party because of it. But nah, were supposed to ignore the coup de grace rule and also tell ourselves it was a battle played to the fullest of the rules and the enemy didn't fight with one hand tied behind their back.

Why bother rolling dice when you just ignore significant enemy powers, eh?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Dust 514 : First mil' sp is the deepest...

Okay, I heard this said on their forum and maybe to a degree it's true - the first million skill points (after you leave battle academy) is the hardest. After that you've probably invested in both the armour skills (unlocking the slightly better basic armour plates and basic repair) and shield skills, as well as maybe putting assault rifles to three or so and using the GEK rifle.

You'll still run into tough stuff, but it's probably mostly a co-ordination thing - the other side actually uses mikes and keeps together as a group, heals the heavies, etc. When your own side likes to run in various random directions at once, you are usually fodder for a co-ordinated group.

It's also worth going into the explosive tree if you want to try out anti shield grenades or AV grenades - which are really just anti vehicle landmines which apparently float toward vehicles (but are useless against people).

Also I enjoyed a bunny hopping enemy today who bunny hopped into the path of his own grenade and died. Mostly dudes stay on the ground in this game, thankfully.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Stutter Dust 514 - crappily shaken like a polaroid picture

This just in - a character being able to move from left to right faster than I can move my own hand (let alone my whole body) from left to right so as to screw up sniping aim is crap. It's crap when you try to drop a whole lot of other physics principles in (eg, your car hits the merest bump and has to spaz out everywhere) and make it all look serious, then have this really, really bad physics screw up what the game is really about!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Dust 514 / Eve seems to be under DDOS attack

Dust 514 resides on the same server Eve - that server seems to be suffering a DDOS (distributed denial of service) attack at the moment.

I wonder if such an attack is still in the area of amateur theatrics, or has moved on to organised extortion from various criminal groups?

Even their front pages are gone, unable to provide that service. Still able to get updates from the developers through twitter.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Slender Dust 514

It doesn't matter if you have a shot gun. If you shoot, he will yet live and your second shot will miss. If you try to aim for the head, he will sense you and move, spotting you! He will kill you - his back is your death, not his! The horror is in the not understanding!
So, they brought out a new slender game - that was quick! And this one is set in space, with guns! The guns are there to break your spirit, of course, because like the goggles, the guns, they do nothing!

No, you will stand two meters away and shot gun the slender man as he types things on the interwebs. He will simply sidle backwards and although you will plant another half of a shotgun blast, he will end you like the slender man ends everything!

Oh, they pretend these are other players. But that's just part of it - this is the future, and the future is multiple slender men, all able to kill you as soon as they can see you! Oh god, don't be seen!!!1!

Sometimes when the slender man kills you, you don't die straight away. There's a mechanic there that lets you call for help from the not-slenders (your team). And...you guessed it, it's there to break your spirit! It'll even say that someone with a revival unit is near you - and then they go away. You call for help and nobody comes - this is how much the slender man kills you! Right inside!

It ties in to the whole hunting around for scraps of paper - here you find yourself hacking various pieces of machinery, some which are objectives, others which help your side of not-slenders. You 'hack' them because that's to remind you of what the slender man will do to your body if he sees you.

At first the game seemed a fairly uninteresting excursion to death land (even at the academy stage) and I had assumed you probably need to be elbow deep in the skill system before you can hack. But no, everyone can hack. And the thing is, you get the same points for hacking (or more!) as you do for when the slender man lets you think you killed him! This is a game changer! Clearly the who gun thing is what we all knew it was - there to raise your hopes, simply to dash them to the ground! No, you are instead to go to various pieces of machinery and if you have the skills to hold the circle button down for a period of time and watching a progress button, you can get just as many points as if you managed to pretend kill the slender man! 50 points! 50 of what, I do not know? I have no idea - but 50 sounds good!

So, dash on through, find various machines that will put your heavy thumb skills to the test! And lose the scenario anyway! It's okay, you get a fair wack of cash and skill points even if you lose - because the slender man wants you to know, you're not going anywhere!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Weird agenda gear shifts in some peoples roleplay

I'm talking to some guy on the 5E playtest forum. He really wants there to be an unconcious state so players can be captured, but as is the cleric will keep quick healing PC's to 1 HP, so he thinks the monsters will have to coup de grace PC's to stop them from popping back up again.

It's really odd how insistant he is about this capture option being available - then when I assume the only point to it being always available is to capture them every time the party loses a battle, he says 'oh no, capture is only a possibility!'?

Well, 99% is a possibility as well. But ignoring that and trying to read 'possibility' (since it was highlighted to me in bold) as being a rare event, lets say 10% is a rare occurance.

So he's arguing against missing out on an edge case?

What I suspect, if one looks at his gaming history (in games that have an unconcious state and no quick heal issue as outlined above), is that the ratio of party defeats that lead to capture Vs the ratio of party defeats that lead to the monsters killing the PC's is a 1 to 0 ratio, or a 100 to 1 ratio. Ie his 'possibility' is actually a near certainty.

But he keeps trying to tell everyone, including himself, that it's a mere possibility that you'll be captured.

That, or he's arguing to keep something that very rarely happens? (oh yeah, keeping that means that players who go unconcious need to stay that way (because being captured is so important) and so can't do anything else during the combat (unless a proper heal is used up on them))

Actually I just realised - why doesn't this happen with normal healing spells - those make the PC's rise up again. Why don't monsters CDG fallen PC's to make normal healing spells (not just the one single quick heal a cleric can do in addition to swinging a mace) not work?

I think he's got this gamist thing going on during combat where he has to be all optimal in their attacks - but che-CHRdddd, he shifts gears the instant combat ends and it's some other agenda.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Your die roll most likely was just busy work

I was reading this, and in time honoured tradition I'll ignore the larger subject and bite at a subject it raises as absolutely true (or it seems to be depicted that way).

The passage in question is this.
Sometimes all an Owlbear really wants is to be scratched behind the ears or to share that bag of Twizzlers you’ve got in your pocket; you just need to roll the dice to find out.
 What I kinda hate is the false legitimacy rolling a small, multicided piece of plastic apparently lends. It's like this post, except that guy can actually state its all dice rolling for show. I'll quote from it
A surprising number of people need a die roll to add authenticity to narration, even if there's no set DC and the DM is basically just gonna tell you that you succeed unless the die comes up really low. To be honest, I'm one of those people sometimes -- it's as if the trappings of mechanical support make it seem like you're actually doing something impartial, rather than just bullshitting.

Psst, it's the GM just saying you can! Were all acting like were not voting ourselves a payrise, but that's what's happening - were all just voting ourselves a payrise. We roll a dice, pretend that matters somehow, then we all just pat each other on the back for being awesome.

This will seem horrible to some (and with it, an impossible conclusion to make) because that's all that roleplay can be.

Okay, we can go traditional or newer stuff - for traditional, death. For newer stuff, a player defined loss mechanic: maybe the player states their character has a picture of their loved one (they can't easily replace) and that's at risk.

Right - now lets say the roll to determine if the owlbear just wants to be friends could, on a set series of numbers, involve death or loss of something important to the PC.

Now things are heating up!

Or no, you just roll something and then maybe the GM just says yeah, the owl bear is totally your friend - I'll indulge myself since it's my blog. No, your play sucks. It's a dead, cramped thing. It's totally great for you to give excuses to give your friends pats on the back (which is fine if you can admit that's all you want out of coming to the table). But your play is a dead, withered thing that looks like it stickily fell off the sole of someones shoe.

Your play sucks. But you've been patted on the back enough about it, you really genuinely actually think it's bigger and better than 'hitting some buttons'. No, the person hitting the buttons has gone through something far more arduous than your delusion that you 'used the power of imagination!!1!'.

Again, I don't mind if people just want an excuse to pat each other on the back and can admit to that.

But when they really encourage someone to think they are doing something they aren't - what is that?

Monday, May 6, 2013

RPG culture and stone soup, ie 'Don't be stupid, you make all the fun yourself (now buy the book!)!'

Ran into this delicious...idea, would you call it, in naked glory. Of course the fun bit that from, as far as I can tell, the rediculous position the person, they start saying anyone in a normal position is rediculous. Link is here.

Me:  If so, I'm disinterested in it - I'd rather just write my own RPG than pay money for a boring framework that I then have to make exciting.

Them: Ah, a fresh start to reading ridiculous things on the internet today.

D&D is about making your own excitement. You'd better go find a video game if you want it all spoonfed to you.
It seems a recurring pattern in roleplay culture - the stone soup fetish.

I mean, I'm taking the guy at his word - he has basically pardoned the game rules from being interesting (let alone exciting!) - the game rules can be as dull as dish water. Because guess what, it's up to you to bring the excitement.

100% of the excitement.

You can argue he doesn't mean 100% and instead means the book maybe brings 10% or 20% of the fun or some percentage.

I don't think he meant that though.

So he wants to PAY for books, books which are utterly boring. Then he wants to do all the work to bring ANY excitement to the game table. And for some reason he needs to buy a book to do this?

Internet guy, the world is upside down rediculous because your head is upside down, stuck in the sand. Is is thou who is ass backwards.

And of course a strawman at the end in wanting only to be spoon fed.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Thoughts today:

Of how businesses in the capitalistic system, as much as you might not like the bosses and CEO's, those businesses are like animals backed into a corner. Well, perhaps not all of them - banks seem to get bailed out by governments.

But the system overall is that we leave businesses to the dogs - they run out of money, they fail, they go bankrupt and die.

Then we complain about business people only caring about money.

When we support a system that leaves them to the wolves if they don't get money.

I'm not supporting bailing out of businesses here. Just saying that its a bit of a set up - condone the repeating scenario of people getting into a position where they face losing all that stuff they've built up - you're essentially making desperate people.

The best bit is, you have those desperate people in charge of other peoples supply of food and shelter.

Or to be more accurate, those people are in charge of your job (or whether you get one, if you are unemployed and looking for work).

But hey, blame them rather than the corner we set up for people. And the society we base upon people (ie, to provide jobs) who are backed into corners, snarling.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Moral Goblemmas

Made up a couple of cute moral dilemma situations. As usual I made them up elsewhere, and now bring them here to my own corner, second hand...

* Goblins have stolen chickens from the local village and taken them to their cave. However, after traversing some traps, the PC finds that the goblins children are starving. If any attempt to arrange a food supply is made, evidence shows up that the goblins used to hunt and forage around the surrounding area (for insects and mice - yuck! But goblins love 'em (them and Bear Grylls)) until the village took over their lands for pasture. Who is the invader?

* A giant beast is rampaging around the outer perimeter of the town, wrecking barns and fences and killing sheep that graze out that way. On encountering the beast, the PC finds it can talk - it has a barb in it that it can't remove but the PC can. However, it informs the PC that it looks forward to removal, because then it'll be strong enough to smash that village that done it wrong so long ago. So, leave the beast in pain? Or kill it - even though it can talk as much as you can? Try and talk it out of smashing the village, knowing that if it lies and you remove the barb and it then it goes on to smash the village - well, that's kind of your fault? Or is it?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Racial Profiling

Well, the laws a game, in more ways than one...

Note: I waited quite awhile for some transcripts from the 7:30 report but since this was an interview and not a story, I don't think any will be available from what I can tell - I'm working from my human memory of the interview.

So, I'm watching an interview where the police chief is saying something like 'Well, there were a number of complaints from area X, and the suspects were African. But there wasn't any racial profiling.'

It's amazing how it was right there, yet not even the journalist picked it up.

You don't have ANY suspects yet - you have a description. Along with clothing, shoes, etc, you have a skin tone (and perhaps facial configuration)

You have no suspects yet.

But it's right there, out in the open in the interview - that 'the suspects were African'

If someone was reported commiting a crime and part of their description was that they are caucasian, would you say you have any suspects?

No, because there's a hell of alot of caucasians in this country.

But when it comes to a minority - that's how the human brain gets lazy (it's part of all our brains to be lazy like this) - that there's less of them and...we have suspects who are African.

No, you have no suspects at all. You have a description - work from the description, looking for a person.

Because either A: you have no idea who the perpetrator is and need to filter through a bunch of people to try and find them or B: You think you have begun to nail down who is the perpetrator, just because you have a description that includes an African background. No, you have made no progress at all - HERE is your racial profiling! The sense that you've somehow achieved something already, just by hearing the guy is African. No, you haven't!

If there was only one African person in Australia, I might pay this line of thinking as working.

Otherwise no - you've made zero progress on determining any suspects - having a description that they are African has done nothing towards determining one or more suspects.

It's the lazyness of the human mind that jumps upon A: Their minority status in Australia as a B: Clever narrowing down of possibilities. Ha, there's so few! So now we've cut down on who it could be, that means we have suspects!

No, that means you have a standard human brain which is prone to such lazy short cut thinking.

Technically even if there were only two people of African descent in Australia, you still wouldn't have any suspects.

But I'm sure you'd bring them both in for questioning anyway.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Borderlands 2: Using all those guns, idea 2

Can't help but think this idea while playing. Because it'd be great if all those guns weren't just vendor trash!

Okay, say guns have a 'potential' rating. It's like a certain number of points more damage they could do.

You charge them with, oh, lets make up a name and call them tech points! 100 tech points equals one more point of damage on a gun! When you use tech points in your inventory (they don't use up a slot though), it improves the weapon you're currently using.

Various guns in your inventory becomes charged and you can temporarily switch to them by holding down the grenade button. This wont spoil your normal equip system. Anyway, if you hit an enemy with the gun you get a tech point! If you empty the clip you get like a 50% chance at a tech point (chance reduces for guns below your level)! Best to do both! Guns in your inventory become charged, randomly, once every two minutes or so.

Also when you sell a gun at the vendor you have a 50% chance of getting a tech point. Yeah, you can still buy them back after doing this, but selling them again wont gain you another chance.

Installing 100 tech points (to gain one point of extra damage) also costs, say, $1000. This price always stays the same, but higher level guns have higher potential levels. Money actually matters...

Now every gun you find is treasure, because it all slowly increases your power!

Because we all love opening a chest which makes us more powerful.

But opening chests which just provide trash loot, which sells for money which isn't really useful at all (past level 10, who doesn't have more money than they need?)

It'd be more fun.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The claimant/questioner judo flip

There's a lovely little move on the internet. You might be aware of the idea that the onus (always a fun word) is on the person who makes a claim to prove that claim, it's not on others to disprove the claim. Thus if someone claims some being called god exists, the onus is on them to prove that claim, there is no burden on others to disprove that claim.

But here's the judo flip - what if you simply shift the claim maker roles around.

"I am simply questioning your claim as to the existence of an absence of god!"

Ta da! Now you are the claim maker! JUDO! FLIP!

It's torturous english, of course, but hey!

My guess is simply a counter semantic karate move*, which is to say "Well, if all you're doing is making that claim, then you aren't claiming the existence of this being you call god - so there, neither of us are claiming that existence!"

The origin of this post was where I'd said a RPG lacked a complete procedure - but then that was flipped to not them claiming it does have a complete procedure, but merely questioning my 'claim' of the existance of an abscence in that procedure.

Gamers. The rationalisations need never end!

The prince of nothing series has a theme of watcher and watched that both underpins it's magic system and apparently everything else. Sometimes I think what would be more apt is simply a hot potato game of shifting claims back and forth - claimer and questioner, with no one admitting to the former role because JUDO! FLIP!

* I went from judo to karate - god this is inconsistent and bad!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

There is no 'negotiate' button

I see a blurb for the upcoming 'the last of us' game describes having to kill other opposing survivors 'even as they sometimes beg for their lives'.

Uh, why does the player have to do that?

Hey game devs who aren't reading my blog anyway, get ready for some difficult concepts that'd put you off reading further even if you weren't not reading already!

You're concept of mind is shallow. You can't imagine a player doing anything in your game that you wouldn't want to do. You want to kill all opponents so...that's what everyone else wants. Because your idea of everyone is pretty much a xerox of you.

No - why on earth do we have to kill them? Not only does this put a certain demographic off of buying games (have a look at Deus Ex and Batman Arkham Asylum/City - non lethal is either the option or the default), it's appaling at a story level, because you just can't let go of story - no punch them in the face and hold a gun over them till they zip tie themselves? Or till they roll over and knee against their spine you tie their hands?

Part of it is that it requires more code to have an enemy not just '0 hp=die'. Part of it is you think you're being edgy 'oh, these players with a bottomless hunger for murder - we'll show them - by really supply a bottomless supply of murder to them'. Oh grow up! The game 'Spec Ops - the line' did more to sour that bottomless hunger by being a mediocre shooter than in trying to gross it out by being super satisfying. It's like that simpsons epsiode where satan tortures homer by forcing him to eat endless donuts - uh, grow up, it's not any kind of torture.

This is like in farcry 2. The bad guys would actually go and help their friends, run out of cover, expose themselves to carry a friend to safety. But hell, could you negotiate with these dudes who clearly have some compassion and courage - no! It's like this broken artistic concept designers have, where they have promoted themselves to making a statement about morality - but they do so by taking the players capacity to make a moral statement away from the player (or to be exact, they never give the player a negotiation button).

I wouldn't mind if by random chance blunt force trauma eventually see's the non lethal take down target latter die of an anurism or something. Just sometimes, not every time (see: Grow up).

But you insult our intelligence by having brutal take downs and enemies who beg for their lives, WHEN IT IS YOU WHO ARE KILLING THESE DUDES, NOT THE PLAYER! You've set it up as nothing else being possible - actually the lesson against loving murder and violence - YOU need to learn the lesson first! Not the player, you! You're juvinile, trying to dictate a moral all you do is force someone else to commit what is your lust for video game murder!

Thanks for reading. I'm glad to have had this chance to ingratiate myself into the development industry!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Borderlands 2: Is the Assassin the weakest character - because it's skill based?

As opposed to the commando, who's turret is a computer aimed monster, the assassin seems to have a design brief to be as skill based as possible. You get a better zoom, but no auto aim. Maybe your hologram distraction explodes, but that's if you drop it near enemies. It's kinda like a polar opposite.

More satisfying gameplay - in single player. But I'm not sure what it's like to struggle while the commando drops a turret, throws a homing grenade and then sits behind a crate and lights a smoke.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Rifts: Tying power increase to abstract exploration

I'm thinking of adding a particle beam underbarrel attachment.

The idea is that the device powers up over time as the user figures out ways of increasing it's power. As they explore the world ways of increasing its power come to them in dribs and drabs. The way this works is the device does 3D6 MD base damage, but has a percentage chance (starting at 50%) of doing an extra 2D6 damage. You roll during initiative - if you pass, it does the extra damage for the rest of the combat (until it's ammo runs out - it can do four shots a day. Costs 50 credits a shot). I'd go 1D6 extra damage, but I don't think 1D6 is terribly impressive.

Anyway, so now instead of having to put some kinda new weapons in every nook and cranny they explore, or somehow giving them a new weapon for figuring out stuff in the world, I can tell them that percentage increases by one or two points! Thus slowly making the weapon more powerful!

When it gets to 100%, it resets back to 1% and the weapons base damage increased by 1D6 (3D6 goes to 4D6).

Though this kinda means a step backwards in power as when the percentage is 90%+ they'd probably be getting the +2D6 extra damage, well, over 90% of the time. But when it upgrades, it's as if they go down by one die because at the start your going to have a very low percentage and rarely roll it.

Not sure what to do about that. As said, I could just make the bonus 1D6...but it doesn't seem alot. I'm certainly not having the base damage increase by 2D6!

I guess a mitigation (but not solution to that) is to not have it reset to 1% on upgrading, but to 50%. But I want this mechanic to stretch, giving about 2% every ten minutes of play. It'll cut back on that alot if I do that and it still doesn't really solve the problem.

Monday, March 11, 2013


Irritation: An inflammation of attitude commonly caused by the abrasive nature of good intentions.

A fun tweet feed here, with more gems like the above.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Borderlands 2: What if those whites actually did something?

Like imagine if over time your character 'charges up' a white gun in their inventory. Takes about a minute to charge one. Once charged, you can switch to it and it'll do blue style damage for one clip. Then it can't be charged up again for around 20 minutes.

Charged guns are accessed, say, by holding down the grenade button - it'll switch to the gun and when you reload or empty the clip, it'll go back to the weapon you were using before.

The thing is, then every gun you pick up you'd actually use!

Instead of them being pointless busy work trash items to sell.

Because that's what they are - pointless busy work.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

D&D 5E: Badguys just don't survive to do very much?

Between the golden grain inn and recently the temple of the lawbringer, really the badguys seem to drop so quickly they don't do anything much?

Perhaps monsters could regularly have a power like the possessed Sir Moonbrook did earlier in the module and on a natural 5+ or 10+ they do 1 or 2 damage even on a miss? Or even they can only do this once each - once they have applied this damage, they can't do so again that fight?

I don't really enjoy running absolute cake walks for the PC's. Why set up a combat roll when you have little to no chance of having any effect? Could just as much narrate that they won splendidly, over and over.

I originally posted this over at the D&D playtest forum.

Borderlands 2: What if one battle actually affected another one?

I think borderlands could really do with some long term effects of battle and your own finesse.

For example say that you can gain 10% more shield strength, shown in a slightly different colour on the shield bar. The way you gain it is it gives you a point after each battle, if you aren't too badly damaged in it. The more damage you take, the less likely you'll get the point. Once you have, say, 10 points, it gives you the 10%. You can collect up to say around 30 points in storage. Because if you take heavy damage you'll lose the extra 10% shields.

This means even a battle against just one guy matters, because it gets you points that keep you tougher. You'll treat that battle as important, even though it's just one guy, rather than just sort of kludging through it because he'll never kill you and so what.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

DriftWurld Traders: Lot's of escape, no surrendering to 'Players always win fights'

I'm working on this game with the premise that the monsters are really tough and there's just no way you can afford the weaponry that can get through their toughness.

So it's a matter of when encountering them, running away to an escape point!

On top of this you can build up your armour over time. It's an armour that takes damage, but you can also repair it over time as well. So you're trying to have this bulk of armour.

And I'm surprised but I'm REALLY jiving on it!

In retrospect, with the traditional model you HAD to provide the players the capacity to BEAT the enemy. JUST to continue playing!

I mean, it's basically forced - the monsters often can run faster than you and there are no real rules for escape hatches, let alone them existing in dungeons, let alone the capacity to craft them.

Never mind that a supposedly random system of rolling a D20 multiple times essentially isn't random - it comes down to a hard average after awhile. Either your average is high enough to beat monsters, and obviously so (so you can predict the fights conclusions in advance) or it isn't and you'll never get to the end.

And when the odds are stacked with you, how is that really a fight rather than just plain old butchery?

Alot of times I tried to dress that butchery up to try and make it more than that by making it HARD - making complex challenge mechanics for players.

But even then - I'm sick of constant killing just to advance a game!

Of course, I was really just hooked around the notion of 'no escape, fight to the death!'

While in this game, I started coding it all around escape (not deliberately, sadly!). And it works so much better! You can get better at escaping (ie, gain more armour so as to be able survive longer whilst getting to an escape point). You don't have to be able to kill every enemy, just to keep playing. And I really like it! It's just so much less a stretch of suspension of disbelief! So much less a stretch of morality (ie, the idea you're a, but you pick on things you stack the odds against). So much less a contradiction of scaryness (oh, monsters are scary - yet you HAVE to have the ability to beat them, and once you beat them it shows you shouldn't have been scared. Therefore monsters aren't scary and none of this is terribly compelling)

I actually feel excited about this concept, rather than the sort of picking my way through the tropes of combat trying to find something exciting to get at. Here I'm already at something exciting to work with, and am looking forward to more exciting ways to implement it!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I can't find older posts (I bad at tags!) where I've noted the lack of D&D having any lose condition except for character death or total party kill.

So I'm surprised today to find a couple of people pointing it out on the wizards 5E playtest forum! Okay, massive post, but I'll quote the relavant bit.

Now he also have another point, that without some things a TPK is the only way to lose in recent editions.
 Exactly - the person refered to wants characters who go neg HP to stay down instead of popping back up from heals. Thus its a kind of 'losing' that doesn't involve the character actually dying.

It's one method of trying to put in losing without PC death - not the only method. It's interesting to see the 'you can't lose without a TPK/PC death' being stated by others as well.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Borderlands 2: Not sure what the slot machines are for...

Really kinda wish the slot machines in Borderlands 2 had a ten spin option. Standing there pressing the button over and over on each - that's not really gameplay. If you had an option to spin ten times and take the best results (along with any bombs), it'd be more akin to gameplay instead of - well, whatever using slot machines is classed as.

Otherwise I've finished the game and it was quite engaging even in single player, right up to the end. Not sure how they did that/what math they used that's different from last time. But it seems even guys who are lower level than you, if you run in they will chew your shields apart. Maybe apart from bullet spread over distance, they do more damage closer up? Not sure.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Roleplay games, goal based sessions and working structure

Okay, you have to go get the Mc Guffin!!! It's done alot in RPG games, so let's look at it. Also, there's a short version down the bottom of this post!

The thing is, as a player you have absolutely no idea how to. You're trying stuff, but it seems to arrive at dead ends. Or maybe what you're trying to do takes a really long time to do in RL playing time - kind of a dead end by the slowing down of how long the act takes to execute in the fiction in RL time.

This is an issue with most traditional RPG's - there is no fail condition. No explicit point jumps out and says 'well, you can't try anymore, it's too late, you've lost'. So you keep trying this or that and they don't work, but neither does the game. Thou art in limbo!

A primary issue is that yeah, the fiction tends to give no fail condition. If you're standing in front of some puzzle door, unless the ceiling was coming down slowly, there's nothing that says that once you've tried something and it didn't work, you are that much closer to failing or have failed.

Which results in a sort of RPG blue screen. A limbo.

Some traditional RPG advice is to have the players be able to move onto something else. Indeed in classic AD&D, if you can't find the hidden treasure in dungeon room...well, the players can just shrug and say they go to the next room. Which works out great.

But you/the players have to go get the Mc Guffin!

About the only solution is to explicitly make clear that it is valid for the players to just give up.

Let's not treat "Well, we've gotten to near the end of the night soooooo....we'll just have what the players just did in the last thirty minutes solve the issue, even though if they had done that at the start of the session it wouldn't have worked!" as if it's a perfect solution. If the play session is four hours, that means pretty much any solution works, as long as you sit out the four hours and just suggest anything in the last thirty minutes. Well, I guess I can only argue from my own preferences, but as much, that's not something I desire anyway.

Of course the problem with players giving up is what if some do just want to admit defeat, but others just gotta try more things, and more things, and more!

I really am not sure. Perhaps players who have given up can head out early, or they can sit in at the game table but they don't have to try and wrack their brains anymore, they can just watch the other players. Basically you don't want someone to feel they are stuck unable to know what to do next, but also unable to simply give up and move on.

The other problem is, potentially, session time. You might have four hours to play, yet what if the players give up two hours in?

At that point the whole 'well, their actions can't make them fail' probably starts to look attractive, as if the RPG blue screen actually is how you play, since it will indeed fill in the time. It's just a question of what it fills it in with.

I would suggest a secondary optional goal, that you don't introduce at the start of play but merely hint at the possibility of ("There may be an extra mission to perform latter on - they'll send a message if there is"). If the primary goal has been completed, failed, or the players have given in and admitted defeat on it, then you can bring in the secondary optional goal to pad out the session time.

Lets be explicit though - this is an optional goal. If the players don't want to take it up, then they don't. If they have to play it, it doesn't escape the RPG blue screen problem really, as the players are now stuck with another problem because they couldn't solve the prior one.

Short version
1. Tell players they can simply admit defeat on their pursuit of the Mc Guffin. Those who do can retire from the table or sit and watch the others, but they no longer have to run their PCs (whether they can offer suggestions to any players who continue is up to you - I think there's benefit in that. On the other hand, they did give up already and that aught to be acknowledged)

2. Have a secondary optional goal they can move onto. They don't have to take it up, but it benefits them somehow (even if just in a sense of increased PC prestige!). This goes by rule #1 as well, as they can just let it go. If really concerned you could make a third optional goal, probably the second is enough to fill out the extra session time (if filling out that time is a concern).

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Green, Blue, Purple - but how does it matter? Borderlands 2 fuzzyness

I'm not sure how green, blue or purple actually matter in borderlands 2?

Is every weapon level a kind of tier? So a blue level 9 is quite rare and powerful for level 9, but it explains why if you find a level 10 green weapon that outranks it considerably, that's why? Because it's only blue for level 9? It's not like a blue from level 9 is actually more powerful than level 10 stuff?

I don't quite get it and...that just kinda takes the shine off colours. Oh, so it's coloured blue and...I'll keep using my green rocket rifle because it's just better?

May as well all be white, in a way.

Borderlands 2, The Respawn Ecology of Bandits

No, new bandits don't just rock up five minutes latter to the ruins you cleared out. Why would they do that? "Hey, let's go live where everyone else was just killed!"

No, what happens is that the bandits have their own respawn system! Albiet not as neat and efficient as a Hyperion respawn unit!

Bandit Masks
This is why bandits wear masks - so as to (attempt to) protect their brains. Because they have cybernetic oxygen cells and a flash hybernation system implanted in them to keep their brain alive in case of their body shutting down.

Regrowth Units, Midgets and You!
This is why you get so many midgets! Because they are regrowing their body, obviously you get alot of bandits in the early, formative stages of growing a new body!

Psycho Melee Guys
And this is also why you get psycho's who just use melee weapons - all the chemicals and hormones from growing a new body are swirling around in them, driving them fairly insane! Like a teenager...just multiplied by ten! They just can't get it together enough to obtain and look after a gun. Sadly this can be a vicious cycle, where since an individual can't complete their growing cycle, they are time and again 'killed', repeating the psychotic hormone cycle. Eventually these long bouts of madness engrave their way into the bandits synapses, creating

Psycho Grenade Guy
Utterly mad and full of growth drugs, these guys can be conned by other bandits into simply weilding a grenade and running at you. Bandits both fear falling into this tragic situation, yet also glibbly exploit those who do. It's said it's possible to return from being a grenade guy, but most examples seem to be from word of mouth.

Crazy Bandit Attitude
Overall the bandits are affected by the hormones, even once they have completed the growth of an adult body. This, in conjunction with a sense that they can't die, makes their methods somewhat eratic and insane. Some may even suffer from dementia, as even though one might assume one is fighting bandits who are in their early twenties, some of them are actually seventy or eighty years old!

Growth Systems aren't just for People!
This is why you find so many guns in bandit toilets - the components are actually being grown by special bacteria! They gather and fuse molecules of metals in various ground up scrap fed to them. The toilet actually makes an ideal growing spot, being moist and...fed a continual supply of nutrients! Oh, sorry, if you were grateful to hear that the toilets aren't actually used in their traditional sense anymore, sorry! Indeed, quite the opposite!

As to why Hyperion, as run by Handsome Jack, the Handsome Jack who wants to kill you - as to why THAT Hyperion will keep respawning you????

I got nuffin'.

Imagination only runs so far...

Monday, February 4, 2013

Borderlands 2, Mini Review (and Rhymes Too...)

I think borderlands 2 is an improvement. For a start the single player mode actually offers some challenge in game play. Even though the split screen option is there on the PS3, it's a relief to know I can enjoy playing this solo.

There's a touch of darksouls there in that you start to learn the various positions of enemies in certain areas (but after awhile you'll be moving around following the story quests so much that that begins to reduce). Though this fades out latter as you don't cover the same ground as before. It seems a missed opportunity to have a puzzle like landscape you can learn, instead of zipping through new areas and just fumbling your way through instead of finding elegantly profitable paths through them. That'd be another thing that'd be interesting to pick up from dark souls - if you die, have it possible to pick up the money lost somehow. Have it sitting at some further point. Granted when you die the bad guys don't come back in borderlands 2 like they do in dark souls, so the mechanic can't be perfectly replicated without an even larger change being made.

Aesthetics wise, the returning of bandits bugs me - this sort of thing bugs me like clipping graphics bug alot of people. Why do the bandits just keep coming back? I'm gunna write a post about the respawning ecology of borderlands, simply to make my self less tooth grindy, in the next post.

Monday, January 28, 2013

5E - going for fast combat is admirable, but misses the issue?

I notice 5E is gunning for fast combat.

In itself though, this really isn't enough.

The issue really is the over arching design of play itself - if you have a session which is like starting at location A, then combat, then location B, then combat...combat becomes fairly pointless. You can only go from A to B then to C and so on. Generally GM's who use this sort of format start to choose really weak enemies, have the enemies use dumb tactics, and finally if the group is going to be killed, they simply fudge to preserve their A to B to C adventure notes. The party then fudge escapes, comes back and does the combat, so they can go onto B. Thus the combat is pointless - it's idle number crunching, since once of it's results (TPK) will be ignored, and apart from winning, the option of running away rarely works without fudging or simply generous readings of the rules/slip straight over to supposed drama based resolution (which is really just stating fiction that gets the PC's to escape that no one will balk at as too much of a dues ex).

Making fast combat just doesn't untie this knot in itself! It just reduces the time spent on rolling for a pointless activity. It's like saying to someone roll 15 or higher on a D20 - but if you roll lower, we'll just say you rolled higher. Why. Bother. Rolling? "But we've halved the time it takes to do it!"

The need a system where
A. Combat can be lost without a TPK happening and either without the GM having to fudge/simply narrate the escape, or just be upfront in the rules and say 'To stop a TPK, the GM can narrate most or all of the party escaping (preferably all)" and make it clear that fights really aren't to the death. You can roleplay the characters to think they are facing life and death, but as players lets stop pretending characters really can die. You think that, but when rather than one PC death looms and instead it's a TPK, the GM just folds and narrates your escape. So let's be honest about that. If one of you is likely to die, probably the whole party is about to TPK. Therefore the GM will narate an escape, therefore no ones going to die.

B. Give instructions for building stories where retreat actually makes a difference. Maybe because you were beaten back, the princess gets a curse put on her before you can rescue her. Heck, maybe she even just gets sacrificed? Make combat matter - be honest with yourself and don't really believe that you could die and that's what makes it matter. Your GM will fudge, so no, that doesn't matter.

Of course, in the end as you can tell from most WOTC modules, their own modules are A to B to C affairs.

So it's not going to change. It's going to shorten pointless combats and condition people to think it somehow matters to do these (since such a hullabaloo in the text is made about combat).

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Dark Souls - Wandering Around, Lost

Kinda just wandering around now - which is an inadvertant grind (though it's also a grind you can lose, if you screw up twice in a row).

Kinda fought some guy who was chopping a piece of meat, who left a kinda bag to wear on my head. Thinking it might be a disguise option, but...not going to experiment.

Did drop down a hidden hole in the wall behind him, shot a giant rat who could not reach me and merely flinched in facing it's arrow filled fate, then slid down a ramp as well to a place where I was freaked out because I had about 10k of souls and no way of getting back and so I'm creeping around, freaked! Oh wait, homeward bone (must buy some more of those!)! NM! Saw some weird rooms first, though, one with a grey mist door, so some kinda boss there.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Dark Souls : Capra Demon - not that big a deal?

Heard this guy was ultra tough? Did die to him three times, but on the fourth, after working up to just throw a firebomb as soon as I pass through the portal (just bash the button, you don't need to aim/lock on to anything), that kills one dog automatically. Then I do a bit of fencing with him, a few slashes and once I'm hurt, I ran up the stairs and across the arch of a door. A dog followed me but he stayed below. Managed to kill off the dog and switch to my estus flask and drink, then dived off and...missed him! Then ran up the stairs, dived off again with a downward stab attack and...he died to the first one? Heck, I had to down stab the Taurus demon more times than that?

Capra demon - unless I've hit him way latter than I should have - not a biggie.

Game Definitions: Mortgage

An example of game theory blurring into philosophy - a quote from the devils chirp

Mortgage: Breakthrough psychological discovery that slaves will work harder if you let them whip themselves. 

Putting the Mort and gag back into mortgage...

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Dark Souls - Moonlight Butterfly

Not even sure why I took this on - I guess you peek through the grey mist for curiosity. Then for revenge, after being killed!

Ended up upgrading my crossbow to max, buying 100 heavy crossbow bolts and kindling the nearest bonfire so as to have ten flasks (I had some miracle healing, but it's kind of slow, the flasks are the fastest). If you have a couple of points of humanity, probably better to spend two of them to kindle the bonfire above the blacksmith (the one who just keeps hammering - shuddup!) rather than die to the butterfly, then possibly lose them to a slip up trying to get back to it.

Also I upgraded my shield a bit as well. Though the butterfly will tempt you to fire one to many times (probably because it wobbles up a little bit and your shot sails past it) and your guy seems to think he's in a happier, huggier game and when you hold down the shield button, he should just keep reloading his crossbow and thus take various spike blasts the butterfly pumps out on a regular basis.

Regardless in the end I recommend just shooting early and shooting often (from the far end of the walk way though, to let the spikes dissipate a bit). Some of that insects attacks just seem unavoidable - when I did kill it, it was from shooting it. Shooting it lots and lots. Till it died. Didn't let it get to that stage. Still, seems a chancy way to kill it - there's probably a more elegant method. On the other hand it worked!

Not sure if the thing at the top of the castle further on is always dead, or dead cause I let some guy out of a cage awhile ago. Curious.

* Good luck * * Praise the sun! * * Try rolling! *

Thursday, January 17, 2013

D&D hit point whittling - simulationist mechanic?

You know, go into a dungeon, some goblins scrape a few HP off you, you press on.

It's a stupid move, when you could just go back, rest up, return at full health. Smartest to go back and rest after every fight.

And I know, it jars to think of it!

But it's true.

So here's the proposition - that hit point whittling is essentially a simulationist mechanic - and I mean that in that it will draw you towards simulationism. Because gamism wise you are playing really badly, whilst at the same time you are stubbornly not retreating, fretting about your lowered HP and so playing right into the hands of emulating a certain genre. Simulating it.

Now on the other hand I have played in games where say there's a magical barrier and once you pass through it, you pass back - you have to find some other way to escape. Or you go through a portal and it deposits you somewhere and the portal closes behind you. In these cases (assuming you can't rest in the dungeon), I say and grant it's still gamism - losing a few HP here and there is a big deal. It's a death of a thousand cuts - and here's the thing - not a simulated death of a thousand cuts (as is the above example of pressing on with reduced HP - when you could just go back and rest), it's potentially a real death of a thousand cuts!

It's the thing to ask about your game - as you wander through the halls of a dungeon at less than full health, is is a frightening trek into the unknown, or is it a simulation of a frightening trek into the unknown, supported by a stubborn disinclination to go back to town and rest?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Approaching game coding

Over at indie resource they've a game writing comp going on where people are encouraged to give updates. I've given one which gives a look into getting it done (based mostly around a text based PHP game) which you might find inspirational. Originally posted here.

I've layed back in bed with pencil and paper to figure out some of the programic structure to the game. I used to just try and jump in front of the computer and hash it out as I go, but mostly this just blurs the feeling of having accomplished something, as you might set up an array structure and...that's all you get done, before you tire, but you sat down to write out a whole game - which you didn't accomplish. Also if you sit down to your coding language, you can't just write notes - you write code or write nothing. Well, I guess you could write pseudo code, but that's another subject. When you sit down to pencil and paper, you can write out notes and code snippets and it doesn't matter if you write them sideways, you've still gotten something done in how much you fill up a page with your crazy writings! :)

Anyway, at first I'm going to test the game using session values to store the data, loading values from the session as if from a DB. I just prefer this as you don't have to juggle a database around at the same time and can feel free to add or remove session values without much concern. You just need a reset button somewhere that reinitialises all the session values.

And then I got onto breaking down the subject of the game. This is where you take the fuzzy wuzzy fiction of the to be game you have in your head, and start drawing connections from the fuzzy wuzzy to actual lines of code and memory systems.

Here I had trails. So what does that involve? Well you might have several trails leaving one place - so...probably an array with a start location and an end location. And perhaps when you are at a place, the code can search through to see if you are at that start location. Then it'll list them as selections.

So the first thing I'll code wont have any game like conflict at all - it'll be just the capacity to choose a path, walk along it, arrive at another spot from which you can choose a path again. No conflict, but the capacity to do so is necessary for something to conflict with. Gotta have something you can do before something else can get in the way of it!

Okay, that's enough for now as I feel writing more would get in the way of further development - after all, I've only written this in pencil so far. I haven't actually coded it. Ironically such would involve less description, but probably the greater effort!

See ya!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Dynasty Warriors: Gundam

Strange game this - on normal difficulty, the enemies sort of stand around not doing much of much. In their defence, soldiers on your own side don't do much of much either. I think it'd be better if they fired alot of bullets at you which are easy to dodge and which only damage a regenerating bar, so you can shrug them off - then they'd appear to be trying to be threats (but you are just that tough) rather than kinda standing around doing nothing. Perhaps they fixed this in the latter Gundam games?

And then you get to the fourth mission of a character and fail over and over again, after about twenty minutes of play. Eventually I took up the two player option, still failed the once but then beat it! Nice to bring in a ringer!

It does have that 'well, I beat you, but I want to one shot you - and your friend, and your friends friend!' to it, as you can level up pilot and Gundam.

I got it for around $20, so it's engaging for that price.