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Archive for the ‘Developer Rants’ Category

11 differences between Telepath Tactics and The Battle for Wesnoth

“We already have The Battle for Wesnoth; what makes Telepath Tactics different?” I’ve gotten this question a few times now. The short answer is, “So many things that I would have to write an article to list them all.” And the long answer is…well, this article. Why the comparison with The Battle for Wesnoth in the […]

Unpredictability and control in turn-based combat: an examination

Unpredictability makes art interesting. Twists of plot, unconventional characterizations, and surprising character development engage a reader’s imagination; unique instrumentation, sudden shifts in time signature, or an unexpected chord progression delight the ear. So is it with games. Exploration, experimentation, discovery: all of these depend upon unpredictability, on gaps in the player’s familiarity with the game. […]

On the challenges of a guy writing “strong” female characters

I read this extremely interesting article yesterday courtesy of Erin Robinson. It is helping me to work through a particular issue I’ve been facing in writing the story for Telepath Tactics. So here’s the thing.Women are traditionally underrepresented in RPGs (and when represented, are represented in stereotypical roles where they nearly always avoid front-line fighting, […]

What makes a game indie: a universal definition

I’ve been content to stand on the sidelines of the “what is indie” debate for a number of years now, satisfied that whatever the outcome, it wouldn’t really matter. I no longer think that. When a multi-million-dollar game with a team of nearly 50, created with the backing of a major publisher, can get into […]

6 more ways to improve turn-based RPG combat systems

Almost exactly one year ago, I discussed the four virtues of a good turn-based combat system and shared 12 techniques that RPGs commonly overlook for achieving those virtues. Today, after a year of contemplation and careful design work, I feel ready to expand the list. What follows are 6 additional techniques that RPGs should start […]

Reasons to Support Indie RPGs, Pt. 4

Diablo 3 has been pulling a Darkspore since its release yesterday, thanks to Blizzard’s bizarre decision to prevent people from playing the game in single player mode without a constant internet connection. Even those who were able to get through to a server, like John Walker of Rock Paper Shotgun, had the delightful experience of […]

Game immaturity and the journalism that can fix it

I was all ready to post a new Developer Rant about skill-based character creation systems. I was ready, but then John Walker changed my mind. (The writer, not the whiskey—that would be a whole ‘nother article.) Mr. Walker, for those of you who don’t know of him, is one of the founding fathers of the […]

Meanwhile, in real life…

I’ve tried to keep posts on this website limited to two topics: (1) the games I’m making and (2) general issues in game design. But sometimes real life intersects with game design in strange ways, and I’ve occasionally faced the temptation to post about current events. This spring, for instance, I was tempted to post […]

2 big reasons for an indie to be thankful this year

Thanksgiving is a peculiar but wonderful American holiday. What originated as a harvest festival has become a time to gather with family and close friends and share the many things we’re thankful for over the prior year. Forget the aprocyphal tales of Native Americans sharing turkeys with pilgrims: this is a holiday about meditating on […]


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