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“If you could make any game you wanted, and were guaranteed not only enough money to build it to your precise specs, but even guaranteed that it would be a success (in other words, setting aside all financial considerations), what would you make?”

This is part 4 of a 5 part series exploring some of the pen-and-paper settings which have come to my mind as a result of contemplating that question.  Note that, unlike most of my other posts where I refer to PnP RPGs, in this series of posts I’m talking about setting, not system.  I’m not presenting in any particular order, either… just posting them as they come to hand while I scan across my bookshelves.

Call of Cthulhu

 Call of Cthulhu 2nd EditionCall Of Cthulhu 3rd Edition

The Cthulhu Mythos of H.P. Lovecraft is one of those settings that you either love or loathe, it seems.  The stories themselves are masterworks of otherworldly horror, and many of the fictional places and names HPL created have worked their way into the mainstream of trivia knowledge: Miskatonic U, Innsmouth, and the Necronomicon in particular are names that many have heard, even if they don’t realize the original source of the name.

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“If you could make any game you wanted, and were guaranteed not only enough money to build it to your precise specs, but even guaranteed that it would be a success (in other words, setting aside all financial considerations), what would you make?”

This is part 3 of a 5 part series exploring some of the pen-and-paper settings which have come to my mind as a result of contemplating that question.  Note that, unlike most of my other posts where I refer to PnP RPGs, in this series of posts I’m talking about setting, not system.  I’m not presenting in any particular order, either… just posting them as they come to hand while I scan across my bookshelves.

Space:1889

Space 1889 Cover

The Victorian Age, the mere half-century, give or take, from the 1860s to the start of the Great War (WW1) has always been another setting that has intrigued me.  It was a time of remarkable advancement and creativity: many of the technologies we take for granted today went from sideshow curiosity to commonplace acceptance in this period.  It was also a time of adventure and exploration: the farthest reaches and darkest corners of the globe, from equatorial jungles to the poles, were explored and mapped, their wonders revealed for all to see.  Discovery and transformation were the watchwords of the age.

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“If you could make any game you wanted, and were guaranteed not only enough money to build it to your precise specs, but even guaranteed that it would be a success (in other words, setting aside all financial considerations), what would you make?”

This is part 2 of a 5 part series exploring some of the pen-and-paper settings which have come to my mind as a result of contemplating that question.  Note that, unlike most of my other posts where I refer to PnP RPGs, in this series of posts I’m talking about setting, not system.  I’m not presenting in any particular order, either… just posting them as they come to hand while I scan across my bookshelves.

Star Frontiers

Star Frontiers CoverStar Frontiers Knight Hawks cover

The Star Frontiers setting, from the game of the same name by TSR published in the early 80s, is one of those that I find intriguing less because of any specific element of the setting, but rather because of the overall perspective it tries to accommodate.

The key word here is essentially “frontier”.  No millenia old Empire, no sector-spanning Federation: just a handful of inhabited planets, some not yet fully explored themselves, huddled in a tiny cluster and surrounded by utterly unexplored (and relatively densely distributed) systems of unknown peril and promise.

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This is to be a series of posts (5 to be exact), and was prompted by a question from Kendricke this past weekend.  He asked, “if you could make any game you wanted, and were guaranteed not only enough money to build it to your precise specs, but even guaranteed that it would be a success (in other words, setting aside all financial considerations), what would you make?”  Being a pen-and-paper RPer for, well, forever, my mind automatically went to past exploits and experiences in that hobby, and two of my suggestions made at the time are in the list to follow (Call of Cthulhu and Gamma World).

After some reflection, I decided that there are 5 such settings that I’d truly love to make and explore, all primarily inspired by pen-and-paper RPGs.  Note that, unlike most of my other posts where I refer to PnP RPGs, in this series of posts I’m talking about setting, not system.  I’m not presenting in any particular order, either… just posting them as they come to hand while I scan across my bookshelves.

And so, without any further ado…

Gamma World

Gamma World 1st EditionGamma World 3rd EditionGamma World 4th EditionGamma World Alternity version

Maybe it’s just a result of growing up in later part of the Cold War Era, but I’ve always loved this setting.  The gritty black-and-white first edition of Gamma World, as cobbled together and spotty as the rule system was, really intrigued me for some reason, and I’ve been an avid fan of the setting ever since.  To wit: you may have noticed an omission in the middle of the set of covers above… I can’t show the 2nd edition rules cover because we literally wore it off the book.  I can’t find it to scan it in.  Yes, it was just stapled on, but still…

(There were other influences as well: the Thundarr the Barbarian Saturday morning cartoon series, various books (Hiero, the Pelbar series), and of course, the Fallout CRPG series, all play into this, too.)

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Well, yesterday morning I ended up with two tasks for the day, in addition to some work at the office to get done: replacing my apparently long-suffering, now utterly burned out video card (ah, the smell of burning plastic in the morning… sigh), and getting my lawn down to something below “prairie grass” length.

Guess which of the two got accomplished.  Two guesses, the first one don’t count.  Maybe I can just have my lot declared a nature preserve, and be done with it?

Little progress was made over the weekend on my test-of-concept project, I’m afraid.  It’s actually in a bit of a “broken” state at the moment: I am moving the socket object refs completely out of the individual screen objects and trying it as a single static reference via the main Game object (where it probably should have been in the first place, logically at least), and since that’s only halfway done, there’s no easy way to “disconnect” the network code like there once was. 

I can’t even run the thing at the moment without 50 compiler errors or so popping up at the moment.  It’ll only take a half-hour or so to clean up, but that won’t happen until tonight at the earliest… lol, one week in and already I’ve missed a WSR (weekly status report).  Maybe if I make it bi-weekly? 🙂

Just a quick question: what are people’s general preferences in terms of the buttons/icons/whatever related to actions in MMOs?  Do you prefer more abstract buttons, like those in City of Heroes…

City of Heroes HUD Icons

where colors and geometry hint at the functionality, or more picturesque buttons, like those in EQ2 and many other games…

EQ2 HUD icons

I’m starting in on some buttons for my own little experiments, and I’d like to get some sense as to preferences. I’m not sure how much choice I really have, in the long run… the more activity options incorporated into the design, the more complex the buttons will get… but it’s still useful info.

Thanks, in advance…

I kinda “geeked out” this weekend, which is one of several reasons why the blog has been neglected the past few days (sorry).  As I mentioned a few weeks back, I downloaded the  XNA release to play with.  Hadn’t had much chance to really dive in until just this past Saturday, tho.  I’d done a little playing around with the textures and the like, but an hour at a time just doesn’t let you get very far.

This weekend, I kind of just dived in and lost myself.  Too much fun… and yes, I’m a geek.

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Cameron at Random Battle posted on the topic of the LFG functionality in MMOs, and I had a few thoughts and ideas I figured I’d post over here instead of eating up a MB or two of his space…

I’m largely not going to go into related but still tangential concepts such as soloing vs. grouping, encouraging guild membership, the fragmentation of population caused by having rigidly defined “roles” and wildly disparate levels of power, and so on.  Just the core topic… why aren’t people using the built in LFG/LFM functionality more heavily?  Why does using the /broadcast channel or sending direct /tells generally become the preferred method of building groups, especially pick up groups?

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Not that I don’t have projects pretty much hanging out the windows as it is…

The old blog has been a little neglected of late, I admit.  By way of explanation, that is because of many things, projects at work, a project for Last Straw, other distractions, etc.  However, the time that usually would have spent updating the blog with a concept post in previous months has been consumed for the past few weeks with something else.

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So, I was thinking about this little test game mentioned below while I was running to get caffeine (in the Diet Mtn Dew form, of course), and decided to try something maybe a little different.  Here’s kind of a summary of how the thinking went as I was walking to and from the store.

I’ve ranted about how perception and communication are somewhat less focused on by existing RPGs, and how they were far more crucial in pen-and-paper, at least from the GM perspective.  Thus, I decided I should do something to try to flesh out and test my own ideas on potential gameplay systems for perception and communication.  I already have systems I want to try out… I just need to do something with them.  The question is, what?

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