student 20 Productions

Random Thoughts of a Game Developer

Archive for the month “October, 2011”

NaGa DeMon and the NaNoWriMo rebellion

My brother has been bugging me for years about NaNoWriMo. He wants me to participate. For my part, I’ve never really had the time. I mean, that’s the excuse I keep using. In reality, I’m terrified by the whole endeavor. The idea of cranking out a novel in a single month… There’s no frakkin’ way. I can’t stick with a creative writing project long enough to finish a short story… most of the time. It’s not that I don’t have ideas. I do. I just have no confidence that I can possibly finish. I dislike losing at something I think I’m good at, and I’d like to think I’m a decent writer. I have no desire whatever to face that kind of failure. At least, not this year. Maybe next year.

On the other hand, I am confident that I can design a game – from scratch – in a single month. I can design it, get it all set up, and playtested. In a month. I can do it. And I will.

Turns out that there is something called being a “NaNo Rebel“. Now, I’m not sure what it takes to officially register for that, but to register for NaGa DeMon, on the other hand…  Well, you basically just have to do it.

And I’m going to.

So, starting November 1st, this Blog will be devoted to my NaGa DeMon project. I don’t have a name for it yet; I think it will be based on an idea I had ages ago – essentially a collectible trading card RPG. I don’t know how much of the ideas I have I’ll finish, but there will be enough to play a game by the end of the month.

All of the NaGa DeMon posts will have the NaGa DeMon tag (which you’ll find in the tags for this post) and be in the Development category. That’s all for now, my very, very few readers.

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A Thousand Monkeys are Handing Out Quick Play

So, I know that this isn’t the most read blog in the RPG hobby. It probably has something to do with my apparent inability to maintain anything resembling an update schedule. Either that or I just don’t write about anything interesting, which is a genuine possibility. In either case, since my RPGs (Quick Play and the 16 Bit Heroes – Alpha v0.1 patch 2) are getting me no feedback, I went a-lookin’ for other places to post them where they might find an audience. Lo and behold, I found (or, rather, re-discovered)


1km1kt is a web site devoted to the distribution of free RPGs, along with discussion about them. They also do works of fiction in the fantasy and science fiction genres. For the record, the full name of the site is “One thousand Monkeys, One Thousand Typewriters”, which is a reference to the Infinite Monkey Theorem. My main interest in the site, however, revolves around the almost frantic level of creativity in the role playing games they host. These things range from single page RPGs (kinda like Quick Play) to massive missives and revivals of ancient systems (such as “The System” – a universal RPG from before GURPS made them cool…).

In any case, if you want to see proof that I can get one of my games hosted somewhere other than my own blog, you can find it here. While you’re over there, check out the other stuff they have. The 24 Hour RPG and Game Chef competitions are hosted there, and that stuff is always fascinating (maybe I should participate…). I love seeing it somewhere that’s not here. It’s not much of an ego boost, but I’ll take what I can get in an industry that’s absolutely flooded with indie designers, most of whom are doing great work.

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Trolling is a Good Thing

Image via Wikipedia

I’m not talking about being an asshole in a forum or in someone’s comments section on their blog. That’s never a good thing. Well, except at 4chan.

I’m referring to this:

A fellow by the name of Torben Morgensen over at the University of Copenhagen decided to create what was essentially a programming language for determining the stats on die rolls. He wanted something with which he could easily stat out things like the dice mechanics of the World of Darkness role-playing games by White Wolf Publishing. It’s a great language – very flexible and fairly easy to understand once you get into it. It allows for some amazingly complex dice mechanics, and stats them out quickly and accurately.

The original Troll release was freely downloadable, but it wasn’t for the tech-challenged. Getting it installed on your computer and running was, to put it nicely, a pain. Now, however, there’s a web interface. It’s kinda blah to look at (as you can easily tell just by clicking the link above), but it works, and the output is easy to read and understand. There are several options to help you find the exact stats you’re looking for.

Why am I posting this? I’m far from the first homebrew game designer to point this out, but dice mechanics if your game uses them – is often a pain in the butt to figure out. A lot of things make perfect sense in theory, but in practice, the stats are suck. I had an overly complicated bonus-to-dice conversion system that seemed to work pretty well, but once I stated it, I found out that it wasn’t all that great. I had another overly complicated system that involved exploding dice and drop dice and so on, and that one was better… except for how complicated it was. I came up with it, so it seemed simple enough to me, but trying to get it into Troll helped me see just how complicated it was.

So now I’m “trolling” just about everything.

Dice for various games, especially for rolepla...

Image via Wikipedia

So now, the Essence RPG will be using a very simple Dice + Bonuses system. It’s statistically sound, and has the level of detail I’m looking for without being slow or at all cumbersome. It’s elegant – simple and effective. Of course, it’s not exactly innovative… but that’s not what your dice mechanics are for. Seeing how complicated what I was doing actually helped me understand that.

As a progress update: the Essence book is up to roughly small novel/novella size at 30,000 words. There’s actually enough there at this point to play, but I want to put a few more sub-systems (specifically magic and a rudimentary battlemap combat system, along with  a few lesser things) in before I start early alpha testing.

I have full race descriptions for most of the races I intend to have available when I release the game to the public, although I’m having a little trouble balancing them out for character creation.

I can’t seem to make up my mind exactly how important Race selection is. I keep waffling between “most important choice in character creation” and “essentially a cosmetic choice”. I’ve also worked with the idea of having both possibilities depending on which race you choose (i.e. choosing to be Human or a Storm Equus has a minimal impact on your character; choosing to be an Eth or a Solnyr has a massive impact).

That last option is probably what’s going to happen; the idea of developing a completely new role-playing game for the setting is so that the system reflects the setting, and they can work together as a coherent whole.

Of course, I welcome any feedback, suggestions, or anything else anyone has to say.

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