25 July 2015

Board Game Review: Panic on Wall Street

I learned how to play another great game at the game club I attend. It's called Panic on Wall Street. It takes all the chaos of being a Wall Street stock broker and makes it an exciting game. Let's take a look, shall we? The ratings:
Strategy and Randomness are rated from 0 to 6. A 0 means the rated aspect plays no part in determining the game's outcome; and a 6 means that it is the only factor that determines the game's outcome. Complexity is also rated from 0 to 6; a 0 means that it's so simple a six-year-old can play it, a 3 means any adult should have no trouble playing, and a 6 means that you'll need to refer to the rulebook frequently. Humour can be rated as 'None,' meaning the game is not meant to be funny, or it may have one or more of the following: Derivative (meaning the humour is based on an outside source, such as a game based on a comedy film), Implicit (meaning that the game's components are funny, such as humourous card text), or Inherent (meaning that the actions the players take are funny). Attractiveness has nine possible ratings. Ideal: the game is beautiful and makes game play easier. Pretty: The design is beautiful and neither eases nor impedes game play. Nice: The design is beautiful but makes game play harder than necessary. Useful: The design is neither beautiful nor ugly, but eases gameplay. Average: The design is neither beautiful nor ugly, and neither eases nor impedes gameplay. Useless: The design is neither beautiful nor ugly, but makes gameplay harder than it needs to be. Utilitarian: The design is ugly, but eases gameplay. Ugly: The design is ugly, and neither eases nor impedes gameplay. Worthless: The design is ugly, andmakes gameplay harder than it needs to be. Average Length of Game Play describes how long an average game will probably last, give or take.
Strategy: 3
Randomness: 4
Complexity: 4
Humour: None
Attractiveness: Average
Expected length of Game Play: 1 hour

19 July 2015

Player Aids

Once, many years ago, I participated in a game of Dungeons and Dragons set in an alternate history version of Middle Earth. I did this primarily at the request of the GM, who wanted an experienced gamer to assist the newbies, as they were having trouble progressing in the plot.

This was  a challenging situation, not only because I dislike D&D, but because after every session, when we received XP and levelled up, there was a protracted period of passing around the one copy of the Player's Guide so that players could choose new skills, acquire new feats, learn new spells, etc. It was a boring time, sat waiting for the book to get back round to me, as all the other players fought over who got to look at it next.

This inspired me to create a booklet that I could easily and cheaply photocopy which contained all the necessary information not only for spending experience, but also for walking the players through the character creation process, step by step. I'd hand this out to players during the chargen session, and let them go, and be nearby if anyone had any questions. Nobody had to wait for the book to get to them, because everyone had their own copy.

05 July 2015

'Where Do You Get Your Ideas?'

Many of the world's creative celebrities have spoken or written about occasions in which they get asked the question, 'Where do you get your ideas?'

Alan Moore (who, just on the off chance that you don't know, is the author of many of the world's greatest comics, including V for Vendetta and Watchmen), said, 'We imply that even to have voiced such a question places [a person] irretrievably in the same intellectual category as the common pencil-sharpener. ... I know it isn't nice. ...it's something that we have to do. The reason why we have to do it is pretty straightforward. Firstly, in the dismal and confused sludge of opinion and half-truth that make up all artistic theory and criticism, it is the only question worth asking. Secondly, we don’t know the answer and we’re scared that somebody will find out.'

Gary Larson, creator of The Far Side, says, 'I've always found the question interesting, because it seems to embody a belief that there exists some secret, tangible place of origin for cartoon ideas. Every time I hear it, I'm struck by this mental image where I see myself rummaging through my grandparents' attic and coming across some old, musty trunk. Inside, I find this equally old and elegant-looking book... embossed on the front cover in large, gold script is the title, Five Thousand and One Weird Cartoon Ideas. I’m afraid the real answer is much more mundane: I don't know where my ideas come from.