Top Trumps

Top Trumps
This whole 2016 election cycle was craziness. But one thing that kept popping up in my mind was the classic kid’s card game Top Trumps. It’s a game I have distinct memories of playing as a kid in the UK. Gameplay is pretty simple: each card represents a thing (car, superhero, etc), that have a ...

Pre-Modern Fantasy Cartography

Pre-Modern Fantasy Cartography
If I had oodles of time, I would love to investigate the history of maps in fantasy stories and games. They are such an intrinsic feature of the genre, and seem to have gone through some fashions and styles over the years. Tolkien’s maps set the tone for many years. Early Dungeons & Dragons maps ...

The Tortoise and the Hare

The Tortoise and the Hare
As part of her weekly homework, my daughter brings home a board game from school. She’s 5 years old, “Year 1” in NZ parlance. The games tend to be designed along whatever lines they’re teaching at school — usually simple math — and themed almost at random (“this game is about fish! Help the fish count ...

A Magic System Proposal

I’ve just finished reading the Kobold Guide to Magic, and it’s very good. I’ve been inspired to try my hand at developing a system of magic for tabletop games. A system of magic has different components, and for the purposes of this exploration I’m going to approach development from the standpoints of mechanics and aesthetics. ...

Review: Twisty Little Passages

Twisty Little Passages: An Approach to Interactive Fiction Nick Montfort 2003, MIT Press I grew up on choose-your-own adventures and Infocom text adventures. They’re in my blood. So I’m a little predisposed to liking things that celebrate them. This is such a book. It’s a pleasantly well-written history of the medium, along the way picking ...

In class with Jeff Grubb

In class with Jeff Grubb
Last week my Worldbuilding class had the treat of a guest speaker — Jeff Grubb. He’s one of the grandmasters of tabletop roleplaying, and a prolific author. I was pretty excited that he agreed to come down to talk, as I’ve been playing his games and worlds for almost thirty years. After a pleasant lunch ...

Review: Uncertainty in Games

Uncertainty in Games Greg Costikyan The MIT Press, 2013 This is a good book. It’s short, but I also believe it could be shorter; it has some great information and is a worthwhile read. Costikyan’s basic premise is that a essential feature of games is uncertainty, and that uncertainty originates from several locations: performative, solving, ...

Games as Art

Here is an ongoing list of articles addressing the issue of whether video games could be considered as art. Playing Games with Art An interesting piece, not to define games as art, but on the position of games in art. Brian Moriarty’s Apology for Roger Ebert A very well-written explanation of how Roger Ebert’s statements ...

In class with James Ernest

In October my game design class were fortunate to get a visit from James Ernest, the eminent game designer and head honcho at Cheapass Games. I had contacted him earlier in the year, and was pleasantly surprised to find he was quite amenable to the idea of a class visit; indeed, he was experienced with ...

Captain Bogg & Salty: The Card Game

Captain Bogg & Salty: The Card Game
I just typed up the rules from the scrawled notes I made. I’m still working on designing the cards themselves, but that’s going to take some time. This will do for now. Captain Bogg & Salty: The Card Game Rules