26 August 2017

One-shot, Short Term, Long Term: Campaign Length

I find myself rereading some of my Order of the Stick books again. Because, well, it's such a great story. There are five volumes of printed comics, plus two prequel books and a bonus book of strips that ran in the ill-fated Dragon Magazine and other assorted sundries. In addition, there are (at the time of this writing) 147 online strips that haven't yet been collected into printed volumes. Once it gets to the end of the current story arc, that will be volume 6. I predict there will likely by 7 total volumes, with a small chance that the total may end up at 8.

In Volume 3 of the printed books (War and XPs), author Rich Burlew wrote in his prologue that he used Babylon 5 as a model for how to write an epic-length story. He mentions the way that little bits of at-the-time seemingly irrelevant details that turned out to be super important bits of foreshadowing in the series' final episode. He refers to that show extensively as a guide for how to map out a long-term story.

On the other end of the spectrum, I will be running a one-shot tabletop RPG tomorrow. I expect it to last a few hours. In those handfuls of hourglass sand, there will be a complete story, with all the necessary elements: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement.

21 August 2017

Board Game Review: Kingdom Builder

A close-up view of a game after it has ended. There are four sections of the game board, each placed together to form the play area. Each one is made up of a grid of hexagonal spaces, coloured to represent grasslands, forests, flowers, canyons, mountains, lakes, and deserts, with a fancy space representing a city. On most of the non-water spaces is a wooden house token in one of five colours: blue, white, black, red, and orange.

I've been able to play this game a few times now, and though at first I didn't think much of it, my second play through caused me to realise that it's actually a really good game. It has all of the best elements of a good game that I described in my article on good games. There's no player elimination, it has a lot of player agency, it's relatively simple, it ends decisively, it allows for upsets, and best of all, it's fun to lose. So let's take a look at it.

We start with the numbers, just like always.

12 August 2017

Expanding my Corner

I have decided that it's time to start trying to grow my little media empire (ha!). This decision was motivated by several factors. One of these factors is the fact that PinkFae appears to be defunct. This makes me sad, but such is life. More importantly, there is the fact that only the first two to four paragraphs of the six most recent articles are accessible at all. I don't want all that writing to be lost, so I'm seriously considering reposting those articles here.

Furthermore, I had an idea some years back. I've been active in my local chapter of PFLAG for some time, and one day, I was wearing a PFLAG shirt which featured some rainbow-coloured stick figures. A friend saw that and told me, 'For a second, I thought those were meeples, and I was about to ask where I could get a shirt like that.' Well, such an idea can't go unexplored! So I threw together a design and tried to get some organisations to use the idea.

Well, nobody would. So I decided, 'screw it, I'm going to do it myself.' So I've created a more advanced Game Dork brand, and have created a store on cafepress where I am selling shirts with these designs.

05 August 2017

What makes a game good?

I found myself sitting around with a few friends last night talking about games. This is not surprising, as we had gotten together for the specific purpose of playing some games. In between games, we talked about gaming, gamers, conventions, and some specific games.

There's a sentiment that I hear often when talking about games. I heard it last night, and I've heard it many times before. We'll be discussing a particular game, and someone will say some variation on:
  • I have a great time playing that game even when I lose.
  • That's a game I love to lose.
  • I don't care if I lose this game, because it's so much fun to play.
I've found it to be true for me in many cases: The Red Dragon Inn, Dominant Species, and The Resistance: Avalon to name just a few. 

Now, I will readily admit that these games are not perfect. The Red Dragon Inn, for example, features player elimination. Dominant Species can be pretty intense, complicated, and lengthy. The Resistance: Avalon is difficult for people who are not good liars.