Friday, 24 October 2014

From the news: Four hour siege

Just this week there was a siege situation that reached the news. Here's a snippet.
Three people from the same family were shot dead and a man was arrested after a four-hour siege in central Victoria following a "minor neighbourhood dispute", according to police. (full article)
The police have become involved only after the first victims were killed and in this case they haven't used lethal force. This is unlike the basic setup for the Siege story game. The game always assumes that none of the Hostages are dead.

If you want to use a setup like this in your next game of Siege, you will need to change the special rules for the Police. Rather than a rule which authorises them to use lethal force when the Captor has started using lethal force, the Police can only use it in self-defence or if further deaths happen.


I also want to say that even though I use stories from the news to trigger games of Siege, I'm doing so with a purpose. When you play Siege, you are involved in desperation. "Being reasonable" might not be an option for someone who feels desperate. When guns become the means of persuasion, someone's world has spun out of control.

Siege is a game that puts you in that position. From there you have the opportunity to understand the dilemma, the predicament, the desperation - all without the actual tragedy that comes from these events.

If you've played Siege and it's taken a turn to the tragic, I'd love for you to leave a comment. Tell me what happened and how your gaming group responded to it.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

The game grows and grows

Some quick notes on my latest game development activity.

It has a name
The more I wrote, the more I realised that this game is set against the intersection of power and religion, for society and for the individual. Religion is a commitment; a life-changing devotion. With that in mind I've taken to calling this game SacredVows. The player characters are monks and monks take vows. Keeping and breaking those vows will be part of the games' rules, and will drive story. Vows are restrictive. Vows liberate.

I'm writing it with a dodgy layout
A few years ago I was talking with Nathan Russell about how he designs games. At the outset he creates a layout template and writes it in that. With the rudimentary layout and art he is always looking at something that encourages the feel of the game. In turn, that influences his writing and keeps him on track.

Sadly, I'm crap at layout. However, I've taken a default template from Apple's Pages and am typing in that. I've even peppered it with some art from It's having an interesting effect; one that it not far from what Nathan said happens to him. Having a picture in sight, and a layout that roughly resembles a gaming book… it's remarkable. It feels like I'm writing a game. Three cheers for the dodgy layout.

More play testing
Once more to the table! Yes, it's play test time again. This Friday night I'm taking the lessons from the previous session and running this thing again. I hope my players don't get sick of my play testing. We have only a few more game sessions left in the year so I want to make the best of them. This might be the last play test for 2014.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

gamewithnonameyet Play Test Report

The play test went well. I managed to test all the things I wanted to test.

But what's the result? Well, the basic rules work nicely. Characters can interact with the world and with each other and an uncertainty is introduced. Some challenges weren't actually challenging, so I need to work the maths to make it harder. Some consequences weren't threatening (in fact, that was the word one of the players used… such good feedback).

I call that a successful play test. I went in with specific things to test and I came out with answers.

Now, back to the lab.

Also, I've almost settled on a name for the game. Won't take long to finalise that now.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Car Wars 6th Edition

I'm so excitement! There's a sixth edition of Car Wars in the works!

I grew up on this game. Finding players was tough and I think I spent more hours designing than playing. Oh the spreadsheets! Oh the miscalculations! This was the height of my crunchiness in gaming. Nothing has ever been quite like Car Wars.

To compare it against something like GURPS, for example, would give you an idea.

GURPS has a point-buy system. Everything has a point value. Physical attributes. Relationships with key individuals. Memberships in guilds. Its creation economy has a general equivalent: the point.

Car Wars has dollars. There's a limit for each event. Every item on the car costs something.

Car Wars has weight. It's an encumberance system that affects acceleration and collisions. Almost everything has a weight. My favourite overpriced weightless object was the advanced targeting computer. That +2 didn't seem like much at first.

Car Wars has space consumption. Every vehicle has limited space to fit in all those guns and ammo. Thankfully armour doesn't have space consumption. Just dollars and (oh noes!) weight.

Should we talk about ammo? Lots of games have that. In Car Wars even the ammo has weight. I don't remember designing anything that was so borderline as to warrant a recalculation part-way through a duel, but I'm sure it's possible.

What about fuel? Duels never lasted long enough to run out of gasoline, but if you wanted to burn your opponents with laser fire, you needed to count the Power Units per shot.

So crunchy. Designing for and playing that game was well and truly down the rabbit hole for me.

Can't wait to see what sixth edition will have!

Thursday, 9 October 2014

newgamemumbletitlenothingyet Playtest!

It's time to test the basic rules. My usual design process has that first step of bullets. Almost as many bullets as the NRA. What's the game about? When do you roll dice? What are key elements in the setting?

Besides all that, this playtest is likely to be disjointed. I have some specific targets in mind.

1. Character creation.
Seems like an easy one. I'm trying to find out how easy it is to create a character. I want to know how easy it is to present an interesting character - especially one which can be created in a short enough time for a convention. I adore convention gaming but it needs rapid character creation. The information has to be simple, meaningful, and quickly understood so that the players can decide without delay.

2. Individual conflicts.
At first this will be just some simple tests between characters, probably between PCs and GMCs. If things go well, I might even try some PvP. It'll be important to test all the attributes so that I can see how each one drives story. Fighting is easy (punch! success! broken nose!). Let's see how the rest go.

3. Team conflicts.
This is a game that takes team efforts into consideration. Just like the individual conflicts, I'm hoping to run several team conflicts.

4. Gaps in the setting.
The players will undoubtedly want to do things in the setting. They might decide to visit the shaman, or skulk about on the docks. But are there any shaman? What kind of sailing vessels are used? It's hard to see what's missing until someone pokes at it. Let them poke, I say!

Looking forward to it.