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softyell

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A member registered Apr 28, 2016 · View creator page →

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uhhhhh Mostly Pokemon and Sailor Moon and Utena OSTs.

With an occasional sprinkle of Bug Heaven

I used to loathe websites with light text on black backgrounds. It's terribly painful to look at. Dark text on light backgrounds is much better. But then, I talked to other people and learned that not all eyes work the way my eyes work. That things that are painful for me to look at, aren't painful for everyone to look at. And things that aren't painful for me to look, are actually painful for some other people.

So to get around this, some apps and social medias and websites and other things tend to have a Day Mode and a Night Mode. Dark text on light backgrounds and light text on dark backgrounds. Offering choice since one size cannot fit all.

Do RPG rulebooks need to come in pairs? A Day Mode PDF and a Night Mode PDF? Is that something that could make texts more readable?

Well Dungeon World is certainly an excellent example of how NOT to rewrite D&D in PbtA. (I love Dungeon World by the way.) So there's a lot to go off of there on that subject.

Vincent Baker is very on board with the fluidity of PbtA. He gladly lets people use PbtA to describe games that have no resemblance to Apocalypse World. And he's even said that his own non-AW games like Mobile Frame Zero Firebrands are PbtA games because they are building on game design theory first presented in Apocalypse World. I'm paraphrasing a bit, but he's pretty insistent that PbtA is a school of game theory and not a system. 

I have no idea if Avery Alder approaches Belonging Outside Belonging the same way? I haven't read Dream Askew, so I don't know if this specific thing is addressed in the book. Mx Kit has mentioned that there is talk about how you can change things but that's sort of different. Does Alder consider BoB to be a system? Or does she consider it another thesis on game design to be further developed and built on by community?

Either way, my favourite PbtA games are the ones that don't even remotely resemble Apocalypse World. Like Wizards Aren't Gentlemen for example is absolutely bloody fantastic. So yeh, make BoB games that don't resemble Dream Askew.

Well I certainly want to be a pokemon. And I'm not as interested in playing my own trainer. I think two players working separately creates better tension/harmony.

Of course, other players might want to be both a pokemon and a human in the same scene.

I think if you try to allow for both of those things, then you lose focus. You risk making a less polished less well made game in favour of trying to do too much at once.

Strong moves focused around play. Weak moves focused around naps. 

Wait no, that's if the PCs are pokemon. The PCs are humans right?

Strong moves where pokemon let you get close (like when you bathe them or trim their claws) and weak moves where pokemon don't let you get close and anything you need to do you need to do while keeping distance and respecting their space.

*Runs into this thread meowing loudly because this is a subject matter that I am emotionally invested in*

So there are already a number of tabletop RPGs based on Pokemon. Majimonsters. Familiars of Terra. There's even a Pokemon fangame! Thing is, all of these games are really your bog standard fantasy adventure game where every player is the Ranger Class and has an animal familiar who works very much the same way animal familiars do in any old fantasy adventure or dungeoneering game.

Are you hoping to make another one of those? Or something different? What would or wouldn't work really changes based on those kinds of decisions I think.

I'm really interested that you mention 'focused around a bestiary' in particular. Because the 'study' aspect of Pokemon and other collectible monster shows and games is really underutilised in my opinion. 

And you mention that a game where you play as a monster trainer would probly have to have the most amount of bookkeeping. I don't think that's necessarily true. It definitely is if you want to have a pre-written list of monsters with all the qualities and abilities they have, and you want to create an immersive open ended play experience that allows players to explore any and every aspect of being a monster trainer. But not so true if you focus it down. Center play on one specific aspect of being a monster trainer. Or go the Let's Go route and give the players one specific starter monster that the game centers around.

Honestly, I'm a bit disappointed that Pokemon Sword and Shield is bringing the three starters back just because it means we now know that there will be less interacting with the starter pokemon! I think the same applies to tabletop design. If you give the players fewer monsters to choose from, then that might appear more limiting on a surface level, but it allows for greater scope of play with less design work from you and less rule management/setup from players.

Jose Esteban Munoz in his book Cruising Utopia: the Then and There of Queer Futurity (2009) originally asked readers to consider that "queerness hasn't happened yet".

I've not read the book. No idea if my use of this quote is very appropriate or very inappropriate.

Indulgence. Wish fulfillment. Healing.

I want to be the Lisa Frank of game design.

Not aesthetically. I don't want to make the game where you rainbow unicorn until you do something risky then roll a d20 to see if you succeed or fail. I want to make the game where you unicorn until you rainbow then you roll rainbow dice to decide how many unicorns you are.

BUT ALSO I wonder if I can make queer games. Is it enough to make games that stuck up cishets will look at and find too cringeworthy. Or is a game only a queer game when its design actively rejects gaze of patriarchal values and gender norms. But the insidious nature of patriarchy is such that its gaze is forced over all regardless of rejection. The Wachowski Sisters made an entire film about coming out as a trans woman, and violently misogynstic cis men appropriated its mythology into an extremist right wing political movement. Estrogen pills somehow became a symbol of men rekindling their masculinity.

Maybe the problem with the Matrix was that it was never explicit. Well how about our own darling, Monsterhearts? A game that explicitly tells you, your sexuality is not your own. That anyone can roll to turn you on. But even here, patriarchy is reinforced. Time and again I hear people praise Monsterhearts as "it's like Twilight but good". "I heard it was a game based on Twilight and to my surprise I actually enjoyed it". Monsterhearts does nothing to deter people from weaponising the game itself to draw a clear line in the sand of 'this femininity is good and that femininity is bad'.

(Twilight is deeply racist and misogynistic and spawned that dreadful 50 Shades. But more often than not, that's not what people mean when they say it's crap and certainly nothing of value can come out of 'cringing' criticism.)

Is it possible to make games that challenge people's bigotry? Is that a worthwhile goal to strive for, is it not enough to simply make games with queer content for queer players and simply not fight against audiences coming despite queer content? That we don't make games that challenge people's bigotry, is that evidence that the bar is too low? Should we have been doing that already? The Big Publishers have set the trend of putting a gay NPC in an adventure module or rulebook illustration and then creating a play experience that completely contradicts that anyway. Should we choke the life out of the Big Publishers before they choke the life out of us? Have we gone too soft subsisting on the breadcrumbs off the table of mainstream media?

What does it mean for a game to be queer and how can I make my games about cute baby monsters into queer games? How can any of us make queer games?

I can't remember who originally said this. But "queerness has not happened yet". How do we make it happen?

This sounds kind of delightful. Even though I've come across a few solo RPGs and solo larps, I don't think I know any solo actual plays?

And the idea of some kind of epistolary actual play where you leap through one game and another in a single interconnected story, that sounds fun if done well but over ambitious. Are you experienced in podcasting at all? Do you have good sound setup? Feel like bad sound setup could easily kill an idea like this. Sounds delightful but also overambitious.

The only thing that bothers me about your pitch is I feel like you're trying to justify why magic can happen in the scifi world? "a quarantined world in a Stars Without Number setting, magic is real and functions for unknown reasons so on that world I can play things like Monsterhearts or Urban Shadows,"
I suppose this might be just me but I feel like when you cross different things together, you don't really have to justify it. You just do it. I love Carmilla, the youtube series based on the novel. I love JP the library ghost AI. Until that point, there's no evidence to suggest that AIs exist in the world, let alone AIs made from library ghosts. There's no context internal or external to the fiction on which we can infer such an idea. But a few episodes into the show, after simple honest vampire horror and raunchy drama, boop! Robot! Carmilla kept doing stuff like that. Throwing in not vampire stuff into the vampire show. But it stayed a vampire show at its core. It just had all this other stuff revolving around it.

You don't have to explain magic's intrusion into a non-magical world. So long as magic's role in the story remains consistent and coherent and interesting, you don't have to explain anything. People will pick up what you're putting down, and the science fiction or whatever will still be there when you want to go back to it. Undisturbed by the magic.

Vampires in space doesn't have to be explained. Does that make sense? Am I making sense?

Dungeons & Dragons is a perfect example. The narrative of that game is colonisation. You kill people. You take their stuff. Once you have more stuff, you can kill more people. You can then take their stuff. Once you have more stuff, you can kill more people. You can then take their stuff. And so on, and so on, until players want to start a new campaign. The power scaling taps out around the point the average campaign stops. (Hence why we hit 20th Level under WotC and silly stuff like 50th Level under TSR.

In the fiction of the game, the people you kill are backward savages. If you don't kill them now, then they will eventually come and kill you. So in the fiction, your character is not some wanton murderer. They are noble. The fact that this was the cultural justification for real life colonialist genocides and atrocities is not a coincidence. You couldn't possibly tackle colonisation as a theme in storytelling without engaging with the ugliness of it.

Unfortunately, this is a game that doesn't tackle colonisation for critique. The colonisers in the game are heroes because the creators of the game believed the real life colonisers to be heroes. Gary Gygax agreed that the hobby suffered from male domination, but he handwaved the issue with biological essentialist rhetoric, saying that women don't play D&D because their brains are lesser developed and unable to keep up with the complexity of the game, not because men create unsafe and hostile environments for women. When one of the early creators had biological essentialist views, is it any surprise that the game features race science as a basic mechanic? Orcs get a penalty to Intelligence. Elves get a bonus. It's literally called "Racial Traits".

Gygax is long gone. Now we have Mike Mearls. A man who is widely known for having carried out surveillance for a serial rapist. Wizards of the Coast could easily release a 6e that doesn't heavily feature race science. Just you watch. They won't do it. Because it still aligns with their political values.

They want the games to be more diverse and inclusive. So the rulebooks and supplements have more artwork and illustrations depicting black adventurers, right next to the lore and text dumping racist slurs uncritically on the fantasy setting. Gygax and Mearls both want marginalised and oppressed communities to come to D&D despite hostility, instead of wanting to actively create a safer community. These values then are reflected in the game design.

Sandy Pug Games, you're right. What I was talking about was implicit narrative tools. What you were talking about was explicit narrative tools. But I didn't raise the issue out of mere pedantry. Here in this very thread, we can see a full polemic being carried out on a dichotomy that doesn't exist. 'D&D without narrative' versus 'D&D with narrative'. Trad gamers versus story gamers.

It's true that D&D lacks explicit narrative tools. But adding them would not look like adding a chapter to the rulebook teaching players how to recreate Critical Roll or Adventure Zone. It wouldn't be a new chapter at all. It would be a simple and straightforward honesty with the theme of colonisation. Just change 'adventurer' to 'coloniser', and that's it. You've done it. That's D&D with explicit narrative tools.

*Comes in gently banging a small tupperware box with a wooden spoon*

Mechanical tools are narrative tools.

Yeh sure if rulebooks specifically tell readers what themes their play should be embodying and what tropes they should play out in any given scene, then this will really help players create the narrative that the designer intended. But the structure of an encounter and how much a thing costs innately pushes players towards certain themes or tropes. If combat's in your game, then fighting is probly a good thing that players will be rewarded for actively seeking out. (Some games have combat without making it A Good Thing To Do. That's rare though.) So certain tropes and themes will innately come out of that, and others will be innately locked off. It's impossible to tell a story about how violence is never the answer when categorically it actually is the answer all of the time.

Games are the interactive medium. They speak the interactive language. The narrative emerges organically from play. It doesn't have to be tacked on.

So, basically every game comes with narrative guidance tools. I can't think of a single one that doesn't. (Otherwise I completely agree with everything being said in this thread and I'm eager to see where it goes.)