Game Console Photo Spread

Think you know game consoles?  Then take a walk down memory lane with Sande’s presentation at the IGDA NYC’s Pecha Kucha night!

For Pecha Kucha night, each slide lasts 20 seconds.  There are 20 slides in all.  Are you ready? Here we go!

Did you manage to guess any names or dates?

This post brought to you by Writers Cabal, a game writing and design partnership.

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Published in: on February 19, 2009 at 4:39 pm  Comments (2)  

Bartle versus MMOs, but solutions are in sight

I cannot believe I missed this.  Our new ION buddy Scott Jennings, who’s working on an unannounced MMO, posted a link on his blog to an interview with Bartle.  It spawned a lengthy conversation in comments, with Bartle himself weighing in several times.  Here’s the crux of Bartle’s argument:

  1. MMO designers don’t have the interest or ability to improve on the MMO genre in general
  2. MMO designers don’t give any reason or meaning to the worlds they create

Commenters immediately went to town on Bartle, condemning him for only being a consultant among other issues.  In the interest of full disclosure, we are actually consulting on an MMO where Bartle is also a consultant.  That said, having both consulted and worked on a number of MMOs, I have to agree that if you’ve worked on more than one, you get an idea of what is innovative and what isn’t.  If you happen to work on more than one during the course of a year, you really get to see what’s going on currently in the world of MMOs.  As for Jennings and Bartle’s assertion that designers don’t have knowledge of game design history, here’s a quick refresher from a game story perspective.

On the second issue, I can’t claim to know what is going on in the minds of all MMO designers, and neither does Bartle.  However, assuming Bartle is correct, starting with a unique vision, then setting up your world and gameplay to convey it is a step in the right direction.  It’s not enough to say “sci fi world” or “fantasy world,” because this type of world could fit into any game of the genre (not for nothing, but we presented a panel on Writing for Fantasy Worlds).  The worlds of Warhammer, Age of Conan, and World of Warcraft all take place in fantasy worlds, but fantasy worlds — and fantasy games — shouldn’t be interchangable.

Hop on over to broken toys and throw your comment into the mix, or drop your comment down below and tell me if you think Bartle’s dim view of MMO innovation is right or wrong, especially when it comes to MMO game story.   

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Published in: on June 25, 2008 at 11:24 pm  Comments (3)  

Game developers: Since you’re voting…

Since you’re busy voting for the Writers Cabal’s South by Southwest panels (Voting ends tomorrow at 11:59pm CST. Click here to vote now!), we thought you’d like an oldie but goodie: Steve Ballmer’s “Developer’s” rant. Warning: may frighten you.

Vote and enjoy!

Question Mark Guess that game dialog! Today’s line: “Don’t run away, you’ll just die tired.” Check back next week to find out where it’s from.

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Dungeons & Dragons, the essential RPG, turns 4

To round out our impromptu RPG week, we’d like to point out the latest news from GenCon: Dungeons & Dragons will put out its 4th edition coming next year. While not a computer game, of course, D&D has spawned quite a few of the essential computer RPGs. After more than 30 years and now four editions, what keeps D&D popular? Aside from the obvious social aspects, I’ve come up with a few ideas.

1. Supported: Current editions of D&D are supported with errata, additional books and characters, modules, and events.

2. Replayability: I have played the Village of Homlet module more times than I care to count, but each time I’ve played a different character and had a different experience. Part of this is due to design, and the other, of course, is due to fellow players.

3. Game worlds: While many DMs do create their own worlds for players to explore, I’d say the majority of games take place in the old standards, like the Forgotten Realms. The game worlds have depth in both design and story hooks that make the worlds familiar and exciting.

Combine a good business model, good design, and good writing with a whole lot of beer and chips with your friends on a Friday night, and you have a great recipe for success. In this case, it’s interesting to note that good writing isn’t just about telling a good story; it’s about hinting at stories your players can run with.

So, how do you feel about the new edition? Surly or hopeful?

Question Mark Guess that game dialog! Today’s line: “There have been multiple reports of malfeasance in the neighborhood.” “That’s my second favorite feasance!

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Published in: on August 17, 2007 at 1:44 pm  Comments (2)  

On the subject of fantasy RPGs…

… thought you might be amused by this nod to the granddaddy of RPGs, D&D. Watch for Jami Gertz!

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Published in: on August 16, 2007 at 8:50 am  Comments (1)  

Essential RPGs: A list in progress

We’ve got a list of the essential RPGs making the rounds, from Rampant and Scorpia (check out those comments). We wanted to create a list of essential RPGs based on story/writing as well as gameplay, building from Rampant’s original list. Of course, we haven’t played everything, so… what are we missing?

#1 – Fallout
Nuff said.

#2 – Ultima IV and VII
IV and VII seem to be the big winners of the series. Ultima VII’s story ensured great sales despite few innovations in gameplay.

#3 – Final Fantasy VII and VI (aka III)
The gold standard for linear storytelling that gets you into the characters. Of course, we tend to see this kind of story often in the FF series, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun.

#4 – Baldur’s Gate I/II
Included perhaps the first opportunity for romance quests with branching options. If you got the hack, you could even have a gay romance. I’m just sayin’.

#5 – Pool of Radiance (Gold Box Series)
This game wins point for being true to its IP, and I believe it was the first great D&D translation. I also loved Curse of the Azure Bonds.

#6 – Chrono Trigger
Per Rampant: “Strong, memorable characters, a twisted time-travelling plot, and low-tech but high-quality graphics made for a game that is perhaps the best example of the ‘jRPG’ subgenre to date – even twelve years later.”

#7 – Starflight I/II
As the last remnant of old earth, you encounter “multiple alien civilizations, space exploration of a galactic sector, planetary exploration, mineral recovery and bio-sampling, interesting aliens, tactical ship-to-ship combat, and many RPG story threads on only two 5.25″ floppy disks.” Is this an essential RPG? Who knows, but players swear by it!

#8 – Suikoden 2
Fantasy series that took characters to the next level with over 100 unique characters to recruit from.

#9 – Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines
Per Rampant: “If your evaluation of RPGs is based upon how well it immerses you into its world, then this game deserves to be in the top ten of anyone’s list.” The story did deliver the Masquerade pretty well, though they fell into the virgin/whore dichotomy with the love interest that always drives me nuts.

#10 – Deus Ex
An FPS with a chewy RPG center.

#11 – City of Heroes/Villains
Okay, maybe good writing/storytelling doesn’t jump to mind when you think of an MMORPG, but CoX has a lot to recommend it. Destroyed cityscapes immediately put you in the story without you having to read text, you habitually feel like a hero when someone thanks you, and getting a cape at level 20 is more a rite of passage than an opportunity for new gear. And, if you can actually get around to reading the text (which is a bit wordy, I can’t lie), there’s good stuff in there!

#12 – The Witcher (coming soon)
Fantasy RPG with meaningful branching narrative. Just thought we’d mention it 🙂

Question Mark Last week’s game dialog came from Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers. More Guess that Game Dialog to come this week!

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Published in: on August 14, 2007 at 11:13 am  Comments (13)  

Q & A from Writing for Fantasy Game Worlds

More from the Writing For Fantasy Game Worlds panel, presented by Writers Cabal and IGDA NYC:

Part 1: Player Death in RPGs
MMO death/consequences, earned death, computer vs. human rules

Part 2: Moral Choices in RPGs
Moral choices, breaking into industry as a game writer, teaching moral ethics

Part 3: Future of Story-Driven Games

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What is Lacking in Fantasy Computer RPGs?

More from the Writing For Fantasy Game Worlds panel, presented by Writers Cabal and IGDA NYC:

How do we engage audiences on a visceral and psychological level? What lessons can we take from storytelling in pen’n’paper RPGs and LARPs? How can we use the strengths of the computer and overcome its weaknesses?

Ultimately, is it the computer or banal game design that’s hindering our experience?

Why do we need compelling stories in computer games?

Question Mark Guess that game dialog! Today’s line: “Perhaps the ending has not yet been written…

Check back next week to find out what game it came from!

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