Jan 28, 2014

Blog Carnival – January 2014 – Transitions

Babbling at the Counter #26 – Pen and Paper

Blog Carnival – January 2014 – Transitions

I was reading this month’s Carnival description at Hereticwerks when I stumbled upon this suggestion: “Are you going to take your first turn as a GM, or step back and be a player for a while?” and something made Click! inside my head. I was afraid of leaving the GM chair and becoming a player.

You see, the player’s at my group have started GMing more frequently. After taking charge of a few sessions, they got more comfortable with the idea. And now, I’m facing a few one shots and campaign plans where I’m nowhere near the head of the table. And I don’t like it.

I can’t seem to place the root of this discomfort. It could be I don’t like giving up all the “control” being the GM gives you over the story. Or it may be that I’m afraid they won’t ask me to go back to that chair. It could be that my characters tend to be kind of weak at fighting (and we are fighting a bit more now). Or, most probably, I just don’t like change.

This is what happened in my group, but it could have been anything. A new player changing the group’s dynamic. A setting change that makes some character archetype obsolete. Having to give up the GM chair. Etc, etc. Groups make a lot of transitions, and as soon as I find a way to deal with them, I’ll let you know.

- The Storeman

Jan 26, 2014

Girly, tag team of nonsensical fun

Review #26 – Free Web Comic

Girly, tag team of nonsensical fun

Girly is a rather unique story. This web comic (which is complete, by the way) tells us the weird adventures of a girl and her sidekick, in a world ruled by nonsense and dramatic flair. The drawing style is wonky at first, but it soon evolves into a great cartoon-like form.

It’s hard to tell you about it without giving away important plot points (because of course it has a plot) but I’ll do my best. This seven-years-long epic has an elephant infestation, romance, superheroes, a dance battle, a weird bird thing I still don’t know what is supposed to be, and a big horrible constipation, between other stuff.

The humor is fast, both graphic and with great dialogue. The only requirement to enjoy it is not to hang to tightly to your “logic”. Trust me, living in Cute City is easier that way.

Fair Warning: You may see the cutesy look of the characters and assume this is a harmless comic. It’s not. There are sex scenes (but nothing graphic), and at least a giant dildo hitting someone on the head (who am I kidding, it doesn’t happen only once). Read at your own risk.

- The Storeman

Disclaimer: I didn’t upload any of the content in the following link. I have downloaded and checked it as I always do. I have even executed it in my own computer and did not experience any kind of problems. But I can’t ensure that it is free of virus and/or malware that my anti-virus programs couldn’t find. That’s the author’s responsibility.

External Link: girlyyy.com

Jan 21, 2014

Party Games

Babbling at the Counter #25 – Video Games

Party Games

This overlooked category has a lot of room for development. What do I call a “party game”? Well, and example would be Uberleben, from last week. A simple short game, that can accommodate multiple players and with great replay value.

Let’s see each one of this points and why they are important:

Multiplayer: This one is obvious. In a party, there will be more than 2 players, so a game that can be played by more people at the same time is good.

Replay value: This ties to the “short” part of the definition. You won’t play this game once, but multiple times with multiple people. And it should be fun to play even after you have seen someone else do it.

Short: If the game can’t handle more than two people, you will want turns to rotate fast. And even if it does have room for three or more people, it’s best if each game round is short. So everyone gets a turn, mainly.

Simple: Up to this point, lots of games would qualify for a party game. What sets them apart is this very idea. Fighting games, for example, are multiplayer (two people), with short rounds and with replay value. But they are so complex that an experienced player can go around undefeated and that’s not fun. When designing a party game, keep an eye on this one.

This may be one of the most rambling babbles I have ever written. Some time I could try and organize it better. We will see.

- The Storeman

Jan 19, 2014

Uberleben, which means “Parachute Race” (no, not really)

Review #25 – Free Video Game

Uberleben, which means “Parachute Race” (no, not really)

For those at home keeping score, Uberleben means “survival” (source: internet search for “uberleben translation”). Why? Well, this game is a savage free-for-all between you and up to six friends while falling down through the air and dodging obstacles.

Uberleben is a really, really simple game. You sit everyone together and each player only needs four directional buttons. That’s it, try to survive. If by some weird coincidence all of you have lighting like reflexes, you can add some challenge with the camera spin. Completely random is for pros only.

Now, if you try this game alone, you are missing out on the real idea behind it. Put a few friends in front of this and I promise you, you’ll lose at least an hour before you all notice. It’s like Dungeons of Fayte, both are simple games that can keep even your non-gaming friends hooked.

- The Storeman

Disclaimer: I didn’t upload any of the content in the following link. I have downloaded and checked it as I always do. I have even executed it in my own computer and did not experience any kind of problems. But I can’t ensure that it is free of virus and/or malware that my anti-virus programs couldn’t find. That’s the author’s responsibility.

Jan 14, 2014

The GM as a Ringleader

Babbling at the Counter #24 – Pen and Paper

The GM as a Ringleader

You see, for me, GMing is really about confidence. And like a good con artist, it’s about working on other’s confidence.

I’m not the smartest one at my table. I mean, one of my players is not only ahead of every move I make, but also knows the rules better (both game rules and world rules, like physics). That means, that the game can (and has) easily fallen into his hands.

It didn’t take me long to realize that shouldn’t happen. How did he manage to do it? Simple, I was playing his game, not mine. As GM, you are the referee. Not a “rules” referee, rather a “fun” referee. My main job at the table is not the story, not really. As I said, my players and their theories usually shape the plot as much if not more than I do. No, no, my real job is that of a ringmaster: I make the players shine and balance the spotlight between them.

Being a GM means that, at least to me. I’m not a Mastermind behind nefarious schemes. I’m not the devious Architect of mortal traps. I’m not a Writer weaving a fantastic story. I just make sure the real performers (the players) can do their stuff. And that’s really goddamn satisfying by itself.

- The Storeman

Jan 12, 2014

JourneyQuest & The Gamers

Review #24 – Free Web Series

Zombie Orpheus Entertainment presents: JourneyQuest and the Gamers

Today's review is about two web series and the people that make them possible. ZOE is a group that works with “creator distributed, fan supported” content. Their work is available for free; and even though they use online fundraising right now to finance their series, their goal is to organize a supporter base to work with. You can read more about that and how to participate here.

Now, about the series that caught my eye:


JourneyQuest is about a useless mage, a fighter whose best achievements are madein ignorance, a poor cleric (you’ll see why, I won’t spoil it) and an elven ranger maybe to serious to hang out with this crew. Their story is being chronicled by a bard fresh from bard school (she is the one that comes up with the series’ title) when they stumble upon the plot.
It’s a comedy with characters that are not only actually funny, but really engaging. Most of us have seen the same fantasy “RPG-like” story enough to almost hate it. That’s definitely not what happens here. Check out seasons one and two. I’m eagerly waiting for season 3.

The Gamers:

On the other end of the spectrum, we have The Gamers. Instead of telling a straight fantasy tale, it’s about the RPG players. We start with a pretty frustrated group looking to freshen up their game.
The series focuses on both the “at the table” behavior and “off the table” behavior of the characters; taking us through familiar gaming scenes, good and bad ones, with a funny spin.
Seasons One and Two are about a classic DnD gaming group, while season Three draws upon trading card games and big conventions. It’s like a sitcom, whose main characters are gamers (hence the title).

Don’t forget to check out their main page for more content and more info:

- The Storeman

Jan 7, 2014

The Power of Words

Babbling at the Counter #23 – Pen and Paper

Consistency in Game Design #1 - The Power of Words

The ideas here may seem pretty basic for experienced designers, but my goal is to actually talk about those things so “simple” that most of the time go without saying. If this post is not for you, it’s not for you.

Think of a great RPG you like. Now think of the “abilities”, or whatever they are called, that you can buy for your character. They may be simple descriptors, like “Strong Build”, “Nimble”, or “Charismatic”. They may be classic one liners, like “So crazy it might work”, “Takes one to know one”, or “Wouldn’t hit a guy with glasses, would you?”. They may be anything really, based on anything.

Right now I’m asking you to find the common denominator between all those names in the game you picked. Got it? Then you have just found the game’s “tone”.

Why? Well, players not only will be mentally assembling their characters while reading those names; they’ll also have them written right in front on them, on the character sheet, the whole game. Funny names will get you a more relaxed atmosphere than serious ones.

You may be saying “This is so obvious”. And you are right, naming your abilities has a pretty direct effect. But what about the game actions?

Let’s take a throw of the dice, for example. Some games call them “dice rolls”, some “tests”. One I had once called them “rolling the bones” every time. Is it the same calling it an “opposed roll” or a “challenge”? No, it’s not.

And it’s not just being gimmicky and funny, it’s about making a statement. In Wacky Love (my game), other players could use your personal Foil against you. Even though the Foil entering play was in their hands, those scenes where called “Facing your Foil”. They made you Face YOUR Foil.
These scenes where about you and your character. You had the spotlight. It didn’t matter who made you Face your Foil, that was irrelevant. The moment was for YOUR personal growth. See what I’m talking about?

During your project, give a little extra thought to the names. After all, it’s better to SHOW how your setting works, rather than TELLING people “do this, do that”. Show, don’t tell.

- The Storeman

Jan 5, 2014

Cave Story (Doukutsu Monogatari)

Review #23 – Free Video Game

Cave Story (Doukutsu Monogatari)

This little Shooter/Plataformer/RPG is a real gem. Cave Story is a complete and interesting game, with both challenging levels and a good story full of characters. And to top it all, the controls are simple, the graphics are nice and it’s chock full of secrets to unlock.

One great detail is how, even though you get a lot of different weapons through the game (and can unlock more), you never really “outgrow” them. Not because the game forces you to use each and every one of them, but because each one has its advantages and disadvantages, so, taking into account both the level layout and the enemy’s movement pattern, all the guns you get see some use.

As I may have said before, Cave Story caters both to casual and hardcore players. You may play the story once and that’s all, or you can go at it a few times to unlock all the secrets, make all the possible decisions and get all the endings. Go check it out!

- The Storeman

Disclaimer: I didn’t upload any of the content in the following link. I have downloaded and checked it as I always do. I have even executed it in my own computer and did not experience any kind of problems. But I can’t ensure that it is free of virus and/or malware that my anti-virus programs couldn’t find. That’s the author’s responsibility.

External Links:

Original Developer Page (Japanese): http://studiopixel.sakura.ne.jp/

Pre-Patched Game and other Languages: http://www.cavestory.org/downloads_game.php