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Archive for the ‘Developer Rants’ Category

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…

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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,…

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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,…

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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…

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Reasons to Support Indie RPGs, Pt. 3

Word has it that the DRM inside EA’s hack-and-slash action RPG Darkspore has prevented anyone from playing the game for a week and a half now. We’re talking about a single player game that paying customers have been prevented from playing on their own PCs since October 18th due to…

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Some Thoughts On Gamification

I’ve found myself wondering about “gamification” with increasing frequency these last few months as various articles appear online to denounce it. What is it, exactly? And is it really as bad as they all say? What follows is a brief exploration of the concept and a look at its applications. …

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In Defense of “Gamification” in RPGs

Last week we had a double-barreled shotgun blast of opinion pieces advocating for RPGs to hide or drop some of their core conventions and abstractions. Tom Bissell, writing about Dead Island, complained about pop-up damage numbers in a real-world zombie RPG and landed a glancing blow against leveling and statistics-based…

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Imagined conversation and character-building

Looking back on my last developer rant, I’ve decided that I was a little bit too scattershot in my approach. I wanted to cover a multiplicity of areas where detail tends to get overlooked in RPGs, but in doing so I skimped on solutions. In particular, I want to revisit…

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Using Details to Craft a Coherent Game World

The RPG is an inherently inelegant creature. It is something of a Frankenstein monster, a suite of different gameplay systems stitched together into a shambling chimera. Character creation, simulated markets, item management, navigation, combat, stealth, dialog, puzzles, class and skill trees–as a developer, it is difficult enough simply to make…

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