Monday, 29 June 2009

Fight Scenes

I watched the new Transformers movie on the weekend, taking the time to treat my wife and I to one of the lounge-style cinemas. We ordered some nachos and a couple of hot drinks to come in a little after half-way through the movie. Now nachos aren't the easiest things to eat, and it takes some hand-eye coordination to get the food with the right balance of ingredients, and put that food in the mouth. It's just tricky enough to force me to take my eyes off the screen.

I had to make a choice: watch the movie so that I don't miss anything, or watch the food so that I don't drop anything.

And this is the moment when I realised something about stories and plots, and how it has now affected the way I watch stories and the way I run roleplaying games. I remember, quite clearly, thinking, "It's just an action sequence. All that matters is who wins and what happens to the characters after the fight."

For the theorists out there, this is a case of Scene Resolution rather than Task Resolution. For me (in the here and now), the only importance of a fight scene is how it impacts on the plot, so much so that I can look away from the Michael Bay extravaganza of Optimus Prime battling half a dozen Decepticons by himself... just so I can each nachos, and I don't feel as though I've lost anything.

This is how I like to run games these days, but I hadn't expect it to have such an impact on the way I watch movies.

(By the way, if you liked the first Transformers movie, you'll like the sequel. Enjoy!)

Thursday, 25 June 2009

John Hodgman

This is, quite rightly, doing the nerdly rounds. Watch and enjoy.


Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Gencon Oz 2009 registrations are open

Just like the heading says, registrations are open for Gencon Oz. This time last year, they were about to close and there was a little panic around the place that events wouldn't fill. Still, the indie games explosion filled, and so did Michael Wenman's Eighth Sea. One of the workers at the registration booth made a comment to me on the Thursday that there were no RPG spaces left anywhere.

For 2009, I expect that the hall will be a little smaller and will have a feeling of being more densely packed. Even if the same number of attendees are there, the smaller space will increase the atmosphere. That's a good thing, for sure. The high ceilings, even though they carry away the odour of thousands of sweaty gamers, make the whole thing seem under-attended. But that's a trick of the eye. Thousands of people made their way to the con.

And dozens of them came to play indie games. I'm excited about it again this year. And this year the indie gamers will be much easier to find.

And no, I'm not going to tell you why I say that. You'll just have to register for gencon and see for yourself.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Freudian Slips are Intentional

I've said before that games make moral statements, right down to the design mechanisms. In fact, it's in the mechanisms themselves that the moral statements are made.

So I'm glad to see that it's also in the setting. Go read it for yourself and then reconsider why you want the orcs to be evil.


Monday, 15 June 2009

Indie Day

The fine people of Every Gamer's Guild are hosting their monthly game day on July 4th. In America this is Independence Day. In Newcastle, it's indie games day.

This is too good an opportunity to have an indie game with some people I haven't seen since Gencon 08, so I'll be going and running games. The sessions are only 2 hours long, so the games have to be punchy. At the time of writing, I intend to run Spirit of the Century and either Agon or Burning Wheel (perhaps The Sword).

SOTC will get a slight revision, though. I think I'll try it with only 5 aspects per character. I've found that in most convention games, about half of the aspects aren't used. Either they're not great aspects, or there are too many aspects for players to grasp in a short timeslot. I'll figure it out closer to the day.

And lastly, there is the potential for some after-hours gaming with a Secret Project I'm working on. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

New Gamers Make My Heart Sing

I spent a lot of time over the weekend with non-gamer friends. Well, I say "non-gamer" only in the sense of RPGs. Most of them like board games and other tabletop games. I saw an opportunity here and brought Munchkin out of the cupboard.

OK OK, so it's not a roleplaying game, and most of the jokes in it are aimed at the RPG crowd, but I have to say that it worked. After a little wobbly start, the new gamers found their feet and got into the spirit of the game very nicely. After two games, the score is:

Andrew got to play something more gamer than Pictionary: Win!
Andrew gamed with two more people: Win!
Andrew's friends discovered a new type of game: Win!

Three wins makes for a good weekend.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Mutant City Blues and CSI

Robin Laws has a new game out for 2009 - Mutant City Blues. It's been described as CSI: Gotham. I like superheroes and buy a couple of comics each month, but I've never really watched CSI or any of that genre. To figure out whether I'd like the game, I started to watch CSI. My timing couldn't have been better. Laurence Fishburne had just joined the cast and his first episode was to be aired a week later. Now, after watching about half a dozen episodes, I've reached my verdict.

Fishburne good. Endless repetition of grisly murder cases, tiresome.

So what does that mean for Mutant City Blues? It means that I'd probably like it as a one-shot, or a short series, but it's unlikely that campaign play would suit my preferences. Am I wrong? Should I just try to find someone else who's running the game and have a go at it? Was my experiment flawed in the first place; that is, should I really judge Mutant City Blues on a TV show?