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Archive for the ‘Developer Rants’ Category

12 ways to improve turn-based RPG combat systems

In my last opinion piece, I provoked a certain subsection of the world of RPG enthusiasts by slaughtering a particularly sacred cow: the D&D-style combat system. A surprising number of people wrote in agreeing with me. Predictably, however, others responded in one of two ways: (1) “So you think a…

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The battle system I wish RPGs would stop using

Dungeons and Dragons, son of Chainmail, is the great granddaddy of the modern role-playing game. Its importance cannot be overstated: not only was it revolutionary for its time, it has also directly inspired many of the early computer RPGs on which the genre is now based. Because of D&D’s power…

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The advantages of shattering your game

Sometimes, in order to save something, you have to shatter it. Making Telepath RPG: Servants of God has taught me some hard lessons about the importance of modularity in designing a larger game. I’ve finally reached a point where, in order to finish creating the game, I must break it…

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So you created an action RPG. Stop congratulating yourself.

A recent Gamasutra interview with Matt Findley has caused a firestorm of debate to erupt across the internet concerning the continued vitality of turn-based RPGs. Findley is an alum of the now-defunct development studio Black Isle, which produced legitimately brilliant turn-based RPGs like Fallout. So you can understand why an…

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What makes an RPG an RPG: a universal definition

The human brain is a categorization machine. Cognition as we know it is made possible only because of this fact. By putting things into categories, we understand that those things share certain exclusive qualities. This is as true with games as it is with anything else. Game genres are categories…

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Against narrow game development

As we usher in the new year, we traditionally look forward and decide how to be better people. As a game designer, I want us all to make better games. Accordingly, I want to address an unfortunate intellectual current I have seen coursing through the indie community as of late.…

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Overcoming the sound and fury of the internet

It’s hard being an indie game developer. Not because of money pressures, and not because of lack of exposure, though both of these things certainly take their toll. No. I’ll tell you why it’s hard to be an indie: it’s the emotional strain of being continually subjected to the internet…

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Say what you want: when trees just aren’t enough

Writing nonlinear RPG dialog is a challenge. It is no simple matter to provide conversation options that simultaneously feel satisfying, are diverse enough to let the player role play, and which still fit well within the dialog tree itself.

Judging art via the artist

“What are your religious beliefs?” I’ve gotten this question a few times now from a small number of people who’ve played the Telepath RPG: Servants of God demo. Some of them are just curious fans looking for hints as to the direction the game is going. Others have skin in…

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