All posts by nagi

Are We Having Fun Yet? (Part 1)

A generational gap that divides opinions on what makes a game worth playing

My first roleplaying game experience takes me back to when I was 12 years old. I stepped out of a December snowsquall into Phoenix Games, a hole-in-the-wall game store squeezed into a strip mall five minutes down the road from my house. After purchasing the 3.5 DnD Player’s Handbook there, I joined a game group made up of kids who would become my closest friends for the next six to fifteen years. The game was run by the owner of the store, a late gen-X geek in his mid-twenties who got paid either nothing to way too little to put up with all of our teenage bullshit for the next few years. It was a seminal time for me, is the picture I’m trying to paint here.

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Dev Log 3: What are “Communal Action” RPGs?

I described Stars Fall Up as a “Communal Action” roleplaying game in the launch post. It’s a term I came up with myself, so I figured I should elaborate a bit more. In a roleplaying game that uses the Communal Action model, all players share equal power in creating the world they’re playing in, and determining the consequences of the actions their characters take. Many would recognize similarities to improv theater or collaborative writing.

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Fireworks vs Castle Narrative, Pt.1

Identifying the differences between stories that build up and stories that burst brightly

I have an issue with some stories that I don’t have with others, even when the pieces of media are relatively similar in aesthetic or narrative scope. I wondered about it on and off for years, trying to figure out the “X factor” that switched the paths in my brain between “I’m thoroughly engaged in this” and “I can’t figure out if I’m only watching this ironically now”. And while my analysis is far from complete, I feel confident enough in my results to write this post, which I’m hoping will be the first in a series of thoughtpieces on this topic.

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Xed by Design: Breath of the Wild and TRPGs

Welcome to Xed (Crossed) by Design, a new article series in which I’ll be examining a game feature that two different creative mediums have in common. In this inaugural post, I’ll be looking at the dynamics of puzzles and player interaction in Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and table-top roleplaying games like Dungeons and Dragons.

Here I’m going to make a case that we can study Breath of the Wild to learn how to make better puzzles and encounters in table-top roleplaying games.

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Dev Log 2: Stars Fall Up (redesign 2.0 finalization)

This is the second Dev Log for Stars Fall Up. One good piece of criticism I got about the last Dev Log was that it was more about my personal philosophy on game design, rather than focusing on my process or the mechanics. It’s true, and the latter is where I want to be focusing with these Logs.

However, I’m also letting myself write about what’s buzzing about in my mind most, so a balance may have to be struck. This Dev Log is more about “game writing” than “game mechanics”, and I’m fine with that.

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Kamen Primer 101

The Unofficial Read-First Manual

So, I like this show called Kamen Rider. A lot. If you’ve been within proximity of me for a good amount of time recently, I have probably tried to convince you to watch it. And while I’m sorry about me, I’m not sorry about spreading the glory that is this four-decade-old live-action martial arts drama. I can (and probably will) say a whole lot more  in future posts about what Kamen Rider is, is not, tries to be, etc., but for newcomers I like to boil it down to “a bunch of super-pretty Japanese boys become superheroes and deal with their ANGST by beating up thematic kaiju cosplayers and/or other super-pretty boys”. If this description seems lacking in some crucial details, here’s a more objective explanation.

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Dev Log 1: Stars Fall Up (redesign 1.0)

So, I’m writing about working on my game while I should be working on my game. Great.

For those who haven’t seen it on our Current Projects page, Stars Fall Up is a TRPG I’m working on—or, more descriptively, a mini-RPG for Us Damn Millennials.

A design factor that’s been on my mind a lot with this project is simplicity. That’s the word my brain goes to, but the full concept has more facets than the word “simplicity” can portray. I’m talking about simplicity in the way of “stripped of non-essential fluff and mechanics”. It’s the minimalism of game design. To be honest, this kind of simplicity is my modus operandi for creating games; I want to make games that other people who have little to no knowledge of TRPGs can pick up and be encouraged, not daunted, to try them out. I want mechanics that don’t feel like they have to be comprehended like the rules of a board game before any kind of fun can begin.

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It All Links To The Past

30 Years of Games Manage to Justify the Amnesiac Hero Trope

Y’know, I would be astounded to find out that I was the only person who is quite over amnesia-based plots in shows and video games. For those who need a refresher (cuz you forgot? Cuz amnesia? Do you get it) here’s the TV Tropes page for the Amnesiac Hero. As you might know, the latest Legend of Zelda game, Breath of the Wild, has the non-titular hero Link awakening to find he’s lost all of his memories– he has no idea why he woke up in a tank full of glowing goo wearing nothing but some stylin’ boxer-briefs. And only recently, after about 50 hours of gameplay, I feel like I’m actually able to appreciate the Amnesiac Hero trope, maybe for one last time.

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Big Eyes, Pink Hair and Rural Economic Stagnation

Sakura Quest is Unexpectedly Pragmatic for a Slice of Life Anime

A few weeks ago there were signs around my neighborhood that spring had finally sprung. Warmer weather and flowers and probably some other stuff, I wasn’t looking because more importantly, spring means new anime. During spoiler season, P.A. Works’ Sakura Quest made it to my “I’ll give it a couple episodes” list. The slice-of-life concept intrigued me, but it also had the flags of a squishy moeblob anime (a cast of hyper-saccharine girls doing cute things for the sake of being cute; for some people that’s their jam, but I had a near-fatal overdose of it circa 2008 with K-ON! and Lucky☆Star).

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