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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Jamicom #3: Psycho Soldier

Voices in video games are something we take as a given now, but they were much more of a special thing back when storage space was a carefully-managed commodity. The voice clips in games like Altered Beast may seem hokey today, but their clarity and frequency was impressive at the time (if, yes, still pretty hokey in their delivery). Thus, Psycho Soldier,  released for arcades in 1986 by SNK, is of some historical significance for being one of the first video games to feature a fully voiced song that plays during gameplay:


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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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Twenty Goblin Fruits

Goblin fruit grows in the Feywild and the Hedge that seperates it from the world of humans.  Whithin these hypnagogic realms, there are millions of varieties of local flora ready to bring ruin or respite for anyone willing to pick them, but because of the dangers involved, and the mercurial nature of the lands of the Fair Folk, attempts to catalogue them have proven futile.

Here are some goblin fruits that your players might find in faerie realms or other magical verdant places.  5th Edition D&D rules are given, but hopefully it’s a hop, skip, and a jump to port them over to Changeling or any other system you please.

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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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Dungeon Days: The Haunted Manor

Prince of the Apocalypse, one of the official campaigns for 5th Edition D&D,  has a side trek wherein your party travels to an abandoned house to negotiate with a black dragon. Cool, right? Well, in theory. When your adventuring party has eight people in it, “talking to a black dragon”, no matter how big it is, translates to “killing a black dragon and taking its stuff”. There was no amount of spooky foreboding that was going to divert this party’s urge for big-game hunting.

So, I had to redesign the encounter. In fact, I redesigned it on the spot. It helped that I had finished reading through Kiel Chenner’s The Hell House Beckons a few days before. Today, I went back to my notebook, transcribed what I’d written, cleaned it up a bit, added some stuff, and redrew the maps. Here’s the result.

Rundreth Manor was once a grand estate—a little remote, but when you’re wealthy, a little remote goes a long way. Something horrible happened here, though, and the manor fell into disrepair. Here’s how it stands now. All doors are made of wood and unlocked unless otherwise noted. Areas 6 and 12 through 16 are pitch-dark unless characters have fallen into them. Other rooms are lit by daylight.

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Jamicom #2: Kirby 25 Anniversary

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, Kirby is one of my favorite long-running game series. It may not carry the gravitas of some of Nintendo’s A-listers, but its core platformers are consistently fluffy fun, and the weird spin-offs are often great and always interesting. The Kirby series has also produced tons of wonderful music over the years, and not just the energetic sugar-pop you’d expect. So, in honor of the pink puff’s big birthday, here’s a few of my favorite tunes from throughout the main series.

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