Friday, March 27, 2015

Teaching a Game: Mythender's Tutorial, Part 2


It's time to follow up on last week's post, where I started breaking down the (incredibly awesome) Mythender tutorial battle. It's a tool that Ryan uses to teach players how to play a very mechanically intense RPG. In Part 1, I talked about how the tutorial begins by very clearly defining foundations. You're going to start to see something else in the battle: a layered instruction system where the most important parts of the game come into play one at a time...

Friday, March 20, 2015

Teaching a Game: Mythender's Tutorial, Part 1


It's a game that's over-the-top, wonderfully excessively metal, and it mashes its hyper-edgy attitude with some surprisingly thoughtful character beats. You play as characters imbued with the power of the mythic beings you're trying to destroy, and as you get pulled further towards an inevitable tragic end, you start to learn more about the human half of the Mythender, because they're trying to hold onto it. But that's not the main reason I'm singling out the game this time: this week, I'm talking about the way that Mythender eases new players into the game...

Monday, March 16, 2015

Game Stories: Yomi and the Story of Fighting Games

Whether you're a button-masher or skilled in the art of cancels, bursts, supers, and Dragon Punches, you've probably at least heard of arcade-style fighting games like Streetfighter, Marvel vs. Capcom, Killer Instinct, and Guilty Gear. At the very least, you've likely played or watched Super Smash Brothers, which shares a lot of DNA with these frenzied but also mentally intense games. Yomi is a card game designed by David Sirlin, a veteran of these games, carefully crafted to not only feel like them but also to tell its own type of tense narrative.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Five Commandments of Intuitive Game Rules

This post got spurred by my readthrough of Hillfolk, as I lamented some of the decisions made in explaining the game. I made a bit of a fuss on G+ about it committing a large number of the cardinal sins of rules-writing, so now I'm going to discuss this in a bit more depth. Rules are important to get right, especially with roleplaying games, but the hobby hasn't had a good history of rules that explain themselves well...

Monday, March 9, 2015

Game Stories: Keeping Tempo

This week, I'm talking about two games that I've enjoyed immensely: Star Realms and Hearthstone. They're both card games (although Hearthstone is primarily digital) There's a lot of little things that come together about these games, but there's one particular storytelling area that they both touch on: the concept of tempo. "Tempo" refers to the fact that, in a turn-based game, one player will be the aggressor, while the other player attempts to respond to them. If that player can turn the tables with their response, they seize tempo. So how does that work out in these games?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Game Stories: Sunless Sea and the Rhythm of Tension

Sunless Sea is quite a novel game. Sold with the tagline of "Lose your mind. Eat your crew.", it's a game where you explore a tranquil gothic ocean dotted with wonderfully weird islands. You need to ensure that your ship has enough fuel to sail successfully, that your crew has enough supplies so that they don't start starving, and that everyone stays calm and doesn't start freaking out because you've been zailing for days and days in the middle of the dark waters that lap at your boat again and again with a practiced dripping glassy precision...

Well. That's Sunless Sea, and it's a game that does a spectacular job of illustrating a particular sort of tension in its gaming narrative: the tension of survival.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Game Stories: Mechanical Hares

This week, the topic shifts to a negative aspect of narrative in some games. It's a concept that I'll be calling "mechanical hares", and it has to do with how your objectives in a game aren't necessarily meaningful objectives. In the interest of exploring game narratives, I'll talk about how these "mechanical hares" show up in some games, and are averted by others. Read on to find out just what that means...