Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Blog Watch: Huffy Bikes, Gross Negligence, and Uber-powerful Cripples

“Guilford” at PrezCon 2014

Stuff Gamers Know (PAXsims) Elkus on video games and war — “A skilled Team Deathmatch or role playing game player—unlike many defense analysts and military men—intuitively understands that combined arms is the only way to win. An imbalanced World of Warcraft party that has too many close combat specialists and not enough ranged weapons will lose to one that better balances capabilities. Playing as Zerg, Terran, and Protoss in Starcraft allows the gamer to truly grasp the choices available to anyone who plays as any one of the three factions. Sadly, in Afghanistan we did not listen to those who produced detailed analysis of our own allies, and further ignored those who produced detailed assessment of the enemy.”

Cult of the New (Board Game Geek) Playing a Game to Death — “There’s an apocryphal story about the American bicycle manufacturer Huffy, and why their bikes suck: Their market research showed that the average customer rode the bike for fewer than two weeks time, either all at once before losing interest or here and there across the lifetime of ownership. After that it was stored in the garage until sold or scrapped. So they cut costs by making a bicycle designed to withstand little more than a month of sustained use.

“I often wonder about this concept as it relates to game design in current BGG culture—if most games are played just once before moving on, and people have a hard time racking up even 10 plays across a lifetime of ownership, then it all becomes about that initial flash (theme, art and components) to make the sale… The mechanical design needn’t be any more robust than what’s required for a handful of ‘learning’ games.”

Design (Unexamined Premises) Irish Diary: Top Ten Things Creative Folks Do ‘Alot,’ Plus Phony ADHD! — “Rules are not arbitrary edicts, but standards that evolve over time based on what works. Only amateurs break them without knowing them — and it shows. The creation of any work of art requires a knowledge of structure, which is why writers and other artists — such as architects — learn how to build from the ground up.”

COIN (Ludic Futurism) A Distant Plain Sold Out! — “I don’t know what the production run was, but for a hefty wargame like this to sell out after only six months on the market is notable.”

The Traveller Effect (Board Game Geek) Shortest. Game. Ever.  — “…..U-857 received orders direct from HQ, Admiral Donitz, to proceed to the waters off the British Isles, overruling the recommendation of the base commander. The inexperienced and arrogant KapitanLeutnant ignored imminent warnings of aircraft in the area and set sail in total disregard to the safety and welfare of his ship and crew. Had he survived the encounter his political connections would not have saved him from being charged, and in all likelihood, executed for his gross negligence…..”

Power Gaming (Armchair Gamer) Things I Learned From Champions: A Power Fantasy Has A Cost  — “There’s a famous article in an old Adventurer’s Club magazine concerning uber-powerful cripples that were clearly built to abuse aspects of if the Champions system: powerful beings lacking arms, legs, and sight; dangerously insane; hunted by everyone and their grandma.”

Ouch (The Onion) Find The Thing You’re Most Passionate About, Then Do It On Nights And Weekends For The Rest Of Your Life — “What if I had just gone after my dreams during those brief 30-minute lunch breaks when I was younger?”

Role Playing (Gothridge Manor) The Gamer that I Once Was — “Most of the time I was the one that helped keep the group in a cohesive unit. When I DMed it turned into a Donnybrook. Every man for himself. Players killing one another. Back then I didn’t have the skill to go with it. I’d get frustrated. I’d spent a lot of time on creating a cool adventure and I felt they shit all over it and couldn’t control themselves for a few hours to see what I made. I always went out of my way to see how they wanted their adventure explored, and they couldn’t return the favor.”

Adventure Design (Dreams in the Lich House) Puzzles and the Dungeon — “If a puzzle is a blocker, make sure it’s logical and fairly solvable; reserve the arbitrary puzzles for areas that can be bypassed. Let the players learn about the problem before they encounter the possible solutions, so they’re asking the right questions about the environment. Finally, the table top medium allows a degree of lateral thinking and player creativity unsupported by computers, so don’t design puzzles with only a single pre-formed solution in mind.”

Game Mastering (Roles, Rules, and Rolls) Take Only Treasure, Leave Only Footprints — “As explorers go deeper into the dungeon, as you roll wandering encounters for them, also roll encounters for any “disaster scenes” they have left behind them. If an intelligent monster turns up at that scene, make a morale roll for them. If they pass, they will go off in search of the wreckers, following any tracks that may have been left behind, otherwise going randomly. If they fail morale, they will make excuses to find something better to do.”

Will Blog for Food (Patreon) Support Courtney Campbell creating Blog Posts — “None of the blog posts made on this blog since January would exist without Patreon. Circumstances would have forced me to devote my writing time to something with the hope of profit, rather than continuing to blog.”

Adventure Design (Known World, Old World) Weather tables?! I don’t need no steenking weather tables! — “I love the way in which they can succinctly, and without the confusion of poorly written prose, tell a Referee about the types and frequencies of weather that a region (a region that might be quite alien to our ‘real world’ knowledge) might experience in any given season.”

Player Psychology (Heroes & Other Worlds) What’s in the bag? A d66 table  — “I’ve never had that kind of stuff ‘wow’ or intrigue a group as much as hitting them with something small, odd, and unsettling like, ‘You find a bag with a greasy hand shaped object in it. Each finger is a partially burned candle and a pulsing black mass seems to shimmer and writhe in the palm of the hand.’ Step back and watch the player sit and debate all the odd stuff it could be and as the Referee hearing the players debate and talk about it, THEY will toss out a better idea of what it could be then I could possibly write!”

Star Wars (Tower of the Archmage) My Ten Favorite RPG Products of All Time — “Before the prequels, before the expanded universe, West End Games published over 140 adventures, supplements, and journals expanding Star Wars in all sorts of interesting ways, all the while keeping true to the feel of the universe and keeping the rules set remarkably unencumbered with unnecessary bloat.”

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