Tag Results

Competition Likes Precision

Here’s a simple maxim: Competitive games need clearer rules than cooperative games. The reasons should be pretty obvious: in a competitive game, the participants are motivated to interpret rules differently, because each person wants to interpret the rules in their own favor. In a cooperative game, the participants are motivated to interpret the rules the […]

Ben Robbins | May 10th, 2010 | , | 1 comment

Game Plugin: the Blame Game

Human beings crave cause and effect. When something goes wrong, we try to understand what happened so the same thing doesn’t happen again. It’s a good survival tactic. Taken too far, it means we look for explanations for even the most random events. We don’t want to live in a universe where bad things happen […]

Ben Robbins | July 11th, 2009 | | 1 comment

Solidifying Microscope

I’ve locked down the first playable draft of microscope. There are bits I know are missing and want to investigate later on, but this should serve as a starting point. Getting a playable draft was largely a process of elimination — I’d written lots and lots of stuff about how microscope could/would work, but instead […]

Ben Robbins | March 14th, 2009 | ,

Game Plugins: a Working Definition

Here at the lame mage skunk works we’re always coming up with new ideas. And drinking coffee. Sometimes both at once. Sometimes we come up with ideas that seem like they’d make great games, but making a whole game just to use one cool idea… well that seems like work. If there are already systems […]

Ben Robbins | June 12th, 2008 | | 10 comments

Hornblower: Red-Green Vote

We have this little thing we do. One of us says “y’know, I’d really like a game for genre/movie/concept X” and then someone else says “hmm, well, I’ve never even considered making a game for this idea, but how about this brand new idea I just thought of entirely off the top of my head […]

Ben Robbins | March 4th, 2008 | | 7 comments

My Indie Realization

I wrote the first draft of my first indie game (codename: hicks) on the plane back from GenCon 07. It was the perfect recipe for writing: post-con euphoria, extreme exhaustion, lots of caffeine, and complete captivity in an airplane seat. It helped that my partners in con-crime quite sensibly passed out so I was on […]

Ben Robbins | February 8th, 2008 | , | 2 comments

Flipping Coins: Dice for a Desert Island

If you’re like me, you’ve had those times when you’re at your Grandfather’s for Xmas, and your younger cousin who’s really curious about this whole “roleplaying thing” wants you to run a game for her, but you try to weasel out of it by saying you don’t have any dice, and of course she’s like […]

Ben Robbins | December 27th, 2007 | | 8 comments

Steal This Game

The other day I get an email that says (basically) “Hey, your ideas are great. I’m writing an adventure that I’m going to publish, and I’m imitating a lot of your stuff like Revelations and Action Shticks. Is that okay?” Okay? Not only is it okay, I absolutely encourage it. If I’ve come up with […]

Ben Robbins | May 10th, 2007 | | 1 comment

Playtesting Your Own Games

If you are going to publish an adventure (or whole game system), playtesting is critical. Working out kinks or conceptual flaws during playtesting means that allllll those gaming groups that run it later will have more fun at the table. It takes effort, but it's a huge multiplier of work vs fun: a single hour […]

Ben Robbins | April 24th, 2007 | | 2 comments

Art is Powerful

I’m not exactly breaking new ground when I say art is powerful. Sight is the king of the senses in humans (er, “us humans” I mean), usually riding roughshod over weaklings like touch and hearing — we don’t have both eyes on the front of our head for nothing. Unlike text, which requires an intermediate […]

Ben Robbins | April 19th, 2007 | | 3 comments

Unknown Parties

When you’re preparing a game for your own group, you know who the characters are: Fred is playing the druid with the dire sloth, and Charley still has that annoying ring of invisibility. You know what kind of challenges would suit them and what wouldn’t. But when you’re designing adventures for publication, you don’t have […]

Ben Robbins | April 6th, 2007 | | 2 comments

Writing Game Material: The Audience of My Audience

A published adventure scenario (or “module” as we used to call it in the old days) is not a game. It's a Do-It-Yourself kit the GM will use to run a game. The players will never read the text of the adventure. At most they might listen to canned sections read out loud by the […]

Ben Robbins | January 26th, 2006 | | 4 comments