Showing posts with label You Tube. Show all posts
Showing posts with label You Tube. Show all posts

Monday, June 12, 2023

A Conversation with Steven Schend about Super Hero Role Playing Games


A while back Geoff Engelstein wrote a 2-part series on his GameTek newsletter about game balance. The discussion primarily focused on different types of balance in table top board games, but it inspired me to think about the different types of balance in table top role playing games and how that focus has moved around over the years. I’m in the process of organizing my thoughts and doing a lot of background reading. This reading has ranged from Glen Blacow’s article in Different Worlds #10 and Robin Laws’ Robin’s Laws of Good Game Mastering and includes a lot of additional reading in rpg game design theory.

The tl;dr version of my thoughts is that table top role playing games have a number of types of game balance that ought to be considered when designing the game and that these kinds of balance tend to line up with different styles of play. The most obvious type of game balance is “combat balance” where the various kinds of characters are balanced mechanically with regards to their combat capabilities. You can see the evolution of the importance of this kind of balance in D&D from one edition to the next. Earlier editions had tremendous imbalance in this category, but more recent versions have much more “balanced” classes in combat. The first real step in this direction was when D&D 3rd edition gave Wizards proficiency with the light and heavy crossbow. This gave Wizards much more effectiveness in combat and much more to do in combat situations.

This was a break from D&D’s traditional balance focus. Prior to 3rd edition, the main thrust of balance between character classes had been an “activity” balance. John Eric Holmes, the author/editor of the first D&D Basic Set, discussed the vitality of this kind of balance in his book Fantasy Role Playing Games when he discussed how D&D’s game balance was expressly designed to promote moral behavior.

I’ll save further discussion of this topic for later, but I mention this because these thoughts were all in the background when I sat down with game designer Steven Schend to talk about super hero role playing games. I’ve got a deep love of super hero role playing games, and at one time could say I owned every game in publication, and Steven worked on the old Marvel FASERIP system. In this YouTube chat we talk about a lot of different elements of super hero rpgs, but one thing I mentioned a number of times was “role” balance. Super hero rpgs have a number of design decisions to make with regards to balance, and one is to abandon combat balance and focus on activity or role balance. One of the best, and Steven’s personal favorite (FASERIP), does exactly that.

Watch the video. Like and subscribe and feel free to comment on what we missed. We missed a lot, so I’ll be wanting to chat more about super hero rpgs in the future.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Allie Goertz is Better than Rebecca Black -- D&D Tonight is Better than Friday!

The internet is filled with many wonders and perils.  It is a place where one can find beauty and horror, and one doesn't even have to look to far to find either.  It is also a place where a person can inexplicably go from moderately talented high school student to pop music sensation in nanoseconds.

The most famous case of this phenomenon is Rebecca Black, whose Autotuned voice can be heard singing two songs that are so cliche that they border on being a parody of modern pop music.  One can listen to Rebecca Black's song "Friday" back to back with Katy Perry's pop hit "Firework" and wonder where the real difference is.  Both are products of a pop-industrial machine that produces things that have a pleasant sound, but are almost completely lacking in "heart" -- even when they are attempting to be inspirational.

While Rebecca Black has been successful in promoting herself on the internet, she has also been the target of much scorn.  This is partly due to envy, and partly due to the trivial and formulaic nature of the songs she sings. It is also because there are people of greater talent, but less exposure, who put forth their artistic creations on the internet in the hopes that others will appreciate their efforts.  We aren't talking about people seeking to make a dollar, rather those who wish to share their creations.  It takes a lot of courage to promote yourself on the internet -- this applies to Rebecca as well -- it can be a cruel place.

While I was flying toward that wonderful -- and geeky -- annual celebration of hobby gaming called Gen Con, another young voice was being uploaded to the internet.  It is a wonderful voice.  Where Rebecca Black's song is formulaic with industry-esque production values and Autotuned vocals, this new artist's song is recorded by a microphone attached directly to the computer with a video recorded by a webcam.  Where Rebecca Black's song was written by professionals and sounds as if it were programmed by a "pop song writing machine," the new artist wrote her own song about something she enjoys.

That new artist is Allie Goertz.  Her voice sounds like a combination of Xenia and Dia Frampton of NBC's "The Voice."  Her lyrics combine her own love for Hobby Gaming with a touch of Tom Lehrer.

So give a listen to Allie Goertz's song "Tonight."  She's an artist so humble that she apologizes for sounding too pretentious when she says the word "essentially."  Though I think that's just her being a little "punny" regarding the latest edition of Dungeons & Dragons.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Axis of Awesome vs. Greyson97

Which is more remarkable?

Is the Axis of Awesome right in positing all pop songs use the same four chords? 

Does knowledge of a "mere 4 chords" explain Greyson97? 

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

PSN and XBLA Retro Gaming Remakes

The game for Playstation Store Network and XBox Live Arcade releasing this year that I am looking most forward to is the remake of Bionic Commando Rearmed. No, not the next gen game that will be coming out shortly, but a graphical and gameplay upgrade of the NES classic. Behold!

I got this game in 1988 when it first game out for NES. I was a kid at the time, but I remember this was one of the most challenging games that I owned for the system. I played the heck out of it, even though I wasn't any good at it. One of my favorite memories in all the time I played my NES was the day we, my brother and our best friend, managed to get past a level that had been puzzling us for a whole year. We finally got to beat the game and save Super Joe. The sense of accomplishment and triumph after hours of playing this incredible game is still fresh to this day. I am certainly looking forward to the new Next-gen Bionic Commando, but it's this remake of the classic that I am looking forward to the most.

Retro games sell.

Nostalgia sells.

Why else do companies constantly roll out 2D platformers for the Nintendo DS, like Contra 4?

The NDS is perfectly capable of rolling out awesome 3D games, like Legend of Zelda
Phantom Hourglass. My favorite NDS game, a game I played a bunch last year, was Final Fantasy III. It's an old game from 1990 originally designed for the NES. One of our favorite PSP games here at Cinerati was last year's Final Fantasy Tactics: The Lions War, a redo of an old PS1 game from 1997.

This type of graphical and gameplay overhaul has already been executed on another awesome 2D side-scroller for XBox Live Arcade. The game was Prince of Persia and here is a cool side by side comparison of how it looked in 1990 on PC and on Sega Genesis in 1993 and how it looks now now on XBLA.

As long as they keep doing these amazing upgrades for the classic quality games and not overdo it with bad retreads of awful games I will keep buying these downloadable and portable gems of old. These games work well for both the handheld systems and for the downloading networks of the Next-gen systems.

Nintendo is also in on the trend, selling old games from their old platforms as emulation software on the Wii, via Virtual Console.

All I want to know is; Where is my Galactic Super Mario Bros., Nintendo?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Ah, Sweet Nostalgia.

I want my...I want my...I want my YouTv...

I remember the early days of Music Television. You remember right? Back when they still played music and videos. One of my favorite songs was the Buggles "Video Killed the Radio Star." Watch the above video and you might see why.

Thanks to Jackie Danicki for pointing this one out.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Is Stop Motion Photography Animation?

I remember reading an article, or hearing a radio interview, about the nature of music manipulation and its relation to copyright protection. Moby was talking about how djs give added value to existing music, either altering an existing song sufficiently to give new meaning or using such small clips that the resulting mix was an entirely new song. The crux of the conversation was that the turn-table could be considered a musical instrument. I think there is some merit to that position, but that the added value needs to be significant for any given song to be a truly new creation.

I was reminded of the above conversation when I saw the video below. It looks like Lasse Gjertsen has managed to find a way to turn stop motion photography into an animated song. All the music is original, but what struck me was Lasse's claim that he didn't know how to play a piano or a drum set. Even if he is not lying, he is obviously quite proficient at manipulating sound editing software, and video software, to create an intriguing video. But is stop motion animation of a real person animation? If this animation? Discuss.