Words in the Sky Devblog 01: Inception

Words in the Sky is one of my current work-in-progress game projects. It’s an auction style word game where players take on the role of competing astronomy labs racing to explore the galaxy. On their turn, players will spell words using the letters in the constellations present during that season for prestige and expertise. At the end of the year, the most prestigious lab will be recognized at the international astronomy convention.

I’ve been working on Words in the Sky for a couple of months now, and now that I’m fairly sure I want to keep going with it, I felt like this was a good point to start talking about its design. So let’s jump right in!

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Review: Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms

Find the game on Steam here.

The core innovation in Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms is the party composition system. Many of the heroes have abilities that improve the damage of allies or themselves based on the formation they are marching in the party. Further, as the heroes progress, they can choose new abilities to acquire, often with mutually exclusive conditions for their benefits. This changes the core gameplay of the game from passively acquiring progress to managing a party in order to optimize the rate of progress, which helps immensely with getting more entertainment mileage out of  a smaller number of mechanics.

It’s also worth noting that separating the progression into campaigns allows for resets that add different constraints such as formations or level goals to keep that aspect of the game novel as well. As more heroes are added through events and updates, the game is poised to become more interesting as experimenting for better party compositions for each type of formation gains more potential options.

Game Design Misconception 3: Planning Stifles Improv

Welcome back to my series on game design misconceptions! Today’s topic is the idea that if one plans too much it can get in the way of being spontaneous and in the moment.

I started noticing this misconception a handful of months ago when I started acting as Game Master (here forth contracted GM’ing) in Dungeons & Dragon (5th Edition). It’s been pretty exciting (especially as a new way to put game design skills to work in a very immediate sense), but whenever I start up a conversation with an experienced player about GM’ing I always get this advice:

Don’t overplan.

and it always struck me as a little strange.

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Review: Vertiginous Golf

Vertiginous Golf is a digital mini-golf game. Real world golf is a game all about a player knowing how to hit a ball to get it to a destination. Players weigh how much strength, which direction, and moment by moment to attempt to get the best result for each swing. Those that train or practice, do so in hopes of becoming more consistent in their swings, cleverer in their routing and more accurate in their timing.

Considering these three skills, digital golf games are at a disadvantage when it comes the the pursuit of a consistent swing. To compensate, most digital golf games attempt the increase the depth of engagement with the other skills. For example, a filling power meter doubles down on timing skill checks, and adding more ways for wind and terrain to influence the ball adds to spatial skill checks.

Vertiginious Golf, on the other hand, embraces the digital medium and adds unique elements and level designs only possible there. For example, players can rewind their shots to attempt a different angle or timing or by using the influenza bug, they can influence the movement of the ball remotely even after they’ve made their swing.

Thus by adding skills of its own, Vertignious Golf succeeds at being its own game instead of a shadow of a real world game.

Economics in Games featuring Armand Domalewski!

This Saturday (July 22nd) at noon (PDT), I will be bringing a special guest on stream to talk about the interaction of economics and games! Armand is a good friend, who in addition to knowing a lot about economics, also has expertise in debate and respectable nerd cred himself including Pokemon Go training for Sen. Scott Wiener.

Follow Armand on Twitter: @ArmandDoma

Octalysis Level 2 Certified

Hey all, this is gonna be another quick self-promotion post. So I’m now Level 2 Octalysis Certified, but instead of this just being an achievement announcement, I felt like this would be a good excuse to talk about what gamification is and how it’s thought about. So let’s talk about the prompt and skills tested by Octalysis Level 2 certification.

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