Game Design

Video Game Deep Cuts: A Plague (Tale) On Minecraft Earth

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 17 May 2019 - 8:45pm

This week's roundup includes pieces on AR game Minecraft Earth action adventure A Plague Tale: Innocence, plus Rage 2, strategy guides, and the intrigue behind Ingress. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Don't Miss: The world design of Diablo III

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 17 May 2019 - 2:31pm

Blizzard designer Leonard Boyarsky talks to Gamasutra about the process of expanding the Diablo universe significantly with the third installment of the series, talking about what has both worked and what has not. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

CD Projekt Red talks Cyberpunk 2077 crunch, vows to be 'more humane' to devs

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 17 May 2019 - 1:41pm

CD Projekt Red leadership says speaking publicly about crunch acts as a commitment to treat its devs more humanely. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Minecraft has sold 176 million copies in 10 years

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 17 May 2019 - 12:17pm

This week marks the 10th anniversary of Minecraft†™s very first release and Microsoft now says that the game has sold over 176 million copies worldwide in that decade. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Video Game Deep Cuts: A Plague (Tale) On Minecraft Earth - by Simon Carless

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 17 May 2019 - 8:39am
This week's roundup includes new articles on AR game Minecraft Earth & intriguing new action adventure A Plague Tale: Innocence, as well as pieces on Rage 2, strategy guides, the intrigue behind Ingress & more.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

What Would Mavis Beacon Do? Punish You. - by Pippin Barr

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 17 May 2019 - 7:17am
A short essay looking at the design of the game Let's Play: Ancient Greek Punishment: Teaches Typing.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Odysseys and Overlords Free Preview

New RPG Product Reviews - 17 May 2019 - 6:39am
Publisher: Aegis Studios
Rating: 4
Opening with an account of a golden past, when people lived in harmony with their gods, all was peaceful, a time of learning and of plenty, we then hear how it all went wrong predictably enough by the gods starting to squabble amongst themselves and wrecking it all for everybody else. Mortal lands lie divided, with brave adventurers (guess who?) guiding people between them and dealing with monsters, exploring ruins to find relics of the lost golden age over a thousand years in the past.

Next, there's an overview of character creation. Notes explain that Odysseys and Overlords is designed to be used with the Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game, but any 'old school rules' will do: it's aimed at those who like that style of play... just about everything you need is here, though. Every character has a genus (equivalent to race) and a class, the one chosen to demonstrate how classes are presented is that of the Bard. It's all pretty familiar if you have played a bard in any class/level fantasy game - bards can fight a bit but their primary skills are in performance (often music, but poets, storytellers and the like can also be played), and through their performance thay can generate spells. There are various charts showing how a bard character gains levels and develops as they gaim experience.

Though short - two whole pages of an eight-page PDF are devoted to the Open Game Licence - this gives quite a good overview of the game/setting as a whole, and should let you decide if you want to investigate further. The little bit of world history provided is evocative and sets the scene well for the sort of game envisaged, encapsulating a world that sounds like it will be fun to adventure in. The notes also suggest that it ought to be easy to introduce younger children to this game, always a good thing. Take a look, and if you like the sound, jump right on in!
Categories: Game Theory & Design

4 More Funky Fungi to Liven Up Your Game (Part 2 of 2)

Gnome Stew - 17 May 2019 - 5:00am

Image Courtesy of Pixabay.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’ll sometimes run across the phrase “springing up like mushrooms after a rainstorm” to describe something that makes an appearance too quickly to be pure coincidence. Mushrooms are able to do that because the mushroom, which is only the visible part of a larger fungus, is often fully-formed and ready to go, just waiting for the correct conditions to inflate like a water balloon and pop up out of the ground, ready to absolutely wreak havoc on people with mold allergies. This is a great metaphor for a lot of things—lawyer phone calls after a car accident, complaints after a Star Wars movie, or those moments when you realize you’re overdue for your next tongue-in-cheek listicle. Luckily, like a mushroom, this article was already mostly-formed because of part 1 of this series.

Just a quick reminder and warning: mushrooms can and will kill you if you eat the wrong ones. Warning: mushrooms can and will kill you if you eat the wrong ones. Share1Tweet1Reddit1EmailDon’t eat anything that appears in this article based on what I write. I am not a person you should trust about what you should eat or drink, as both my waistline and liver demonstrate.

But enough introduction. You’re here for gaming advice and lowbrow humor.

The Humongous Fungus (armillaria ostoyae)

I genuinely could not find authoritatively whether this mushroom was actually edible, but WAS able to find out that a bunch of mushrooms that look like it are super poisonous. So don’t Definitely, definitely don’t eat these based on this article. Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

Nearly 2,500 acres and 2,000 years old, the single largest organism on Earth is not, contrary to what you may have heard, a slumbering elder god or tarrasque. The “humongous fungus” as it’s called, makes an occasional appearance in the form of honey-colored mushrooms scattered throughout its body that scientists have recently discovered are clones of one another, meaning that this single organism has been spreading for centuries, sapping life and resources from the place it calls home, which reminds me that I have some old roommates I should probably call and apologize to.

Potential Game Use:

Okay, so first of all, if you can’t think of something to do with a millennia-old evil the size of a small town hiding under the ground and only occasionally showing itself, I don’t know what to tell you, other than, I guess, my idea of what to do with a millennia-old evil the size of a small town hiding under the ground and only occasionally showing itself:

The adventuring party has been hired at a ridiculously high rate of pay by a frustrated but distant noble in order to investigate why an area’s crops and/or forest is inexplicably dying, threatening the livelihood of both the locals and the noble in question.

As the characters visit, they are enthusiastically fed a nonstop diet of delicious and filling mushroom steaks, pastas, soups, and breads; they should quickly realize the situation actually isn’t all that inexplicable: the populace realizes there’s a fungal infection in the area, but it’s providing them a seemingly-endless supply of tasty, healthy food that requires no work whatsoever to produce. Further, because the noble doesn’t know or especially care about what the people gather if it’s not crops or other easily-inventoried resources, they get to keep all of it. Upon learning how heavily the people are being taxed, the characters should better understand their position. A new era of art and leisure has dawned for the locals, as much of the time they would have spent tilling fields or hunting for sustenance is both unnecessary (because of the mushrooms) and useless (also because of the mushrooms).

Investigating further, the characters discover the underground lair of the sapient mushroom presence that has been preying (?) on the region and its people by draining vital energy. The characters are left with a conundrum: should they do thing adventurers do and delve into the subterranean (and almost-certainly mushroom-themed) lair of the creature that is simultaneously feeding the people and destroying their land? Or should they leave the locals to their entertainments and free time, knowing that, someday soon, their resources will run out? If they do decide to slay the mushroom beast, will the people help or hinder them in their efforts to restore them to their old lives of thankless and exploited labor?

The Bleeding Tooth Fungus (hydnellum peckii)

Mother nature needs to floss more.

I’d be lying if I pretended the number one reason for this mushroom making the list was anything except how incredibly metal its name and appearance are. Seriously. Look at that thing. It’s like Pennywise the Clown got ahold of some cauliflower and decided to really up the ante on the “caul” part.

But by happy accident,that gory-looking fluid on the mushroom is both an antibacterial agent and an anticoagulant. “Magical plant that saves the heroes” is a staple of genre fiction, and for good reason. Prior to the advent of modern medicine, local plants, fungi, and animals were basically the closest thing humans had to a medicine cabinet. Only the oldest and most daring of those who lived in the woods knew the secrets of which plants save lives and which killed, which is honestly as perfect an example of survivor bias as you’re ever likely to get.

Potential Game Use:

A dangerous affliction has struck an important NPC; maybe he foolishly tried to use a cursed magical item to escape some bad guys and was stuck by some sort of ghost-sword, therefore slowly becoming one of the undead while his companions look on helplessly. Obviously, the best solution would be to stick with his friends and count on them to protect him, ESPECIALLY WHEN SAM WAS ALREADY TRYING TO FIGHT THEM LIKE A HOBBIT ON FIRE BECAUSE HE IS THE BEST PART OF THOSE MOVIES.

But hindsight is 20/20 and the characters find themselves in a situation where time is of the essence. An adventure involving a bleeding tooth fungus takes place in three phases:

Phase I is identifying the problem (and the solution). In this phase, PCs must make medicine/arcana/lore rolls to identify the malady and its solution. Particularly good results or clever roleplay can be rewarded by providing the characters temporary options that slow the spread of the poison (elevate the wound, use magic to apply ice to the injured limb, have Sam tearfully confess his true feelings to Frodo so they can be together forever). Poor rolls result in lost time, but still lead to the same conclusion. The ultimate cure, of course, is a heaping helping of hydnellum peckii and/or slash fan fiction.

Phase 2 is finding the fungus. Because this is presumably an adventure, this phase can take the form of whatever best suits your group’s style. Options include anything from an extended scavenger hunt (“the Devil’s Tooth only grows near the trees that spring up where a wizard dies”), to a combat encounter (“the mushroom springs from the mummified remains of the giant spider Himmthrow’s victims”), to a tense negotiation (“the local Fair Folk control the whole supply, and demand unspeakable booms from those who seek it”). Be sure to offer players ways to make rolls in this phase easier or more successful by taking longer.

Phase 3 is where the clock set up in Phase 1 really becomes important. If your players have been wise stewards of their time (or especially lucky), they will have enough time to get back to the NPC and save them. This is a great opportunity to use chase rules and mechanics in an unusual way, as the characters scramble against time to save their friend. Remember failure should always be an option in order to give the situation stakes. However, in this case failure doesn’t necessarily mean death. If the PCs don’t make it in time, the NPC might lose a limb, go into an extended coma (which could provide the impetus for a whole other adventure) or, if deus ex machina is more your speed, the NPC could be rescued by a nearby elf who takes them to safety and treatment, but then proceeds to lord it over the PCs for the rest of the game.

In case it needs to be said: everything I’ve said about not eating mushrooms based on this article apply 10,0000 times as much to trying to use them as medicine. Just don’t. Also: #Frodo/Sam4Ever.

Hat-Thrower Fungus (pilobolus crystallinus)

This was almost a picture of tiny fungi on a pile of cow dung, but I decided against using that. You’re welcome. Picture from the Annual report of the Hatch Experiment Station of the Massachusetts Agricultural College (1864)

A previous article on medieval European/Classical jobs included references to a real-life fecal fireball. How could I possibly one-up that? With a poop rifle based on actual fungal biology, of course. Right now, you might be asking yourself “is he setting up a whole scatological armory?” And the answer is that I am definitely not not doing that, because my sense of humor hasn’t evolved since I was eleven years old.

Anyway, the hat-thrower fungus, as it’s sometimes called, is tiny (nearly-microscopic, in fact) and exclusively grows on herbivore dung. Its particular take on reproduction involves building up pockets of highly-pressurized fluid that, when ready, eject its spores with twice the acceleration of a modern rifle; [joke removed because this is a family-friendly website].

Potential Game Use:

Elves. They live in the forest and defend it against interlopers using techniques ranging from magic to animated trees to really hurtful comments about someone’s appearance. One of the great things about forests is that “real thing, except gigantic” fits their theme perfectly. Because this fungus only grows on the dung of herbivores, it stands to reason that giant versions of the fungus would only grow on the dung of giant herbivores. Shhhhh. Don’t think too hard about it.

So, imagine an elven village, defended by citizens armed with arm-length pilobolus stalks. Basically replace any given infantry charge from any given war movie with elves shooting single-use, bulb-headed mushroom cannons, and you’ve pretty much got the right idea.

Much like how actual firearms changed the face of war, our pointy-eared friends are nigh-unto unassailable in their forest. Except that their latest enemy, an unscrupulous lord seeking to turn the forest into timber, has discovered the secret to their defense, and sent his spies to the manure field/armory that the elves depend on and burned it to the stinking ground. The player characters have been charged with gathering additional weapons and refreshing the fields the elves depend on for their defense.

Remember how I mentioned that the imaginary pilobolus only grows on the dung of giant mammals? Here’s where that becomes relevant. The characters must find the territory of a wild giant deer (any other herbivore will work, but I like deer), identify its spoor, and figure out how to bring back enough of it to revitalize the martial strength of their elven allies, all without getting caught by the opposition forces who are also looking for the same deer. When those opposition forces find and try to slay the source of the elves’ strength, how will the characters save it? Assuming the characters survive, they might be granted a few “loaded” pilobolus stalks as a reward. Since these are single-use and extremely valuable, making them extremely damaging won’t overly impact the direction of the game, since once the characters use up the three to five they were given, that’s pretty much it.

This idea works best woven into an already-existing conflict. The defenders don’t necessarily have to be elves—they might instead be a group of druids defending a sacred grove, or even a clan of barbarians resisting the encroachment of their more “civilized” neighbors.

Truffle (~185 species)

These things may be some of the most valuable natural resources in existence, but I’d still be squicked out if I saw my dog digging one up in the woods. Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

Truffles are well known for being expensive and requiring a well-trained pig to find, since they grow underground. Slightly less-famously, they give off a fragrance that strongly imitates mammalian pheromones, which is why pigs (and to a lesser degree, dogs) are so attracted to them in the first place. So, basically, at some point in time, some rich people decided that lumpy, underground balls of fungus that smell like an excited pig’s crotch are worth approximately $100 an ounce, which is probably an even better refutation of the “rich people are rich because they’re smart argument” than the rise and fall of the Juicero.

Potential Game Use:

A small farm has had its crops routinely destroyed by an endless, rotating cast of wild animals (mammals, specifically). No one is entirely certain where these creatures are coming from, or why they’re so obsessed with this particular farmer’s fields. Neighboring farmers’ fields are entirely untouched, and the animals that have been destroying the wheat, barley, beans, and similar staples have been leaving the plants themselves alone.

Investigating the fields, the characters should be able to see that the animals were extremely agitated as they hunted through the dirt. Particularly good rolls might reveal that the animals were obviously looking for something, and they took that something away with them. Characters who stalk these animals to their lairs will find nothing out of the ordinary, though those that kill the animals (or catch them in the act) may realize that whatever they’re hunting for, these animals eat. If players get stuck at this phase, feel free to leave a trail of breadcrumbs in the form of spots where the animals have stopped to eat the truffles that they find, or even catching one of these creatures in the midst of chowing down on some disturbing nuggets of what looks like dirt.

Successful nature-type rolls will enable the characters to realize that the things that these animals are eating are, indeed, truffles, and the reason why the crops are being destroyed is that these (extremely valuable) truffles are growing in the farmer’s field. If the characters fail their nature rolls, have the character who is most closely associated with high culture recognize what the tiny dirt balls actually are. While the players or locals could attempt to just keep killing animals that try to dig up the fungi, or wait for the animals to exhaust the supply of spores in the ground (which will happen if some part of the truffles are not placed back underground) players will probably want to work with the farmer to capitalize on the much more valuable crop they just discovered. This is a great jumping-off point for a low-stakes game of intrigue as the farmer fights with their local lord about the proper ownership of these truffles, neighbors begin sneaking into the fields with their own dogs or pigs to try to dig up the fungi to sell themselves, and traders from the nearest Big City (TM) attempt to negotiate the lowest possible price for these truffles, possibly using shady maneuvers that only the characters will recognize. This kind of intrigue/setup probably won’t work as well at higher levels, but it does create an immediate investment in an NPC (the farmer and their family) an area (the farm and the village), and rivals who, despite being various flavors of jerk and/or unethical, probably shouldn’t just be executed with a fireball for how they deal with the sudden presence of a valuable resource.

In Conclusion

Fungi can be just about anything you need them to be in your game: environment, medicine, food, weapon, ally, or antagonist. Now you have, in total, eight different ways to use fungi in your own game, and I hope you enjoy incorporating them into your world as much as I’ve enjoyed including them. So do you think you’ll be using more fungi in your games? If so, how? Sound off in the comments and let us know!

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Sony and Microsoft teaming up to develop cloud and AI tech

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 16 May 2019 - 10:30am

Sony and Microsoft had announced a partnership that centers around joint development of cloud tech using Microsfot†™s Azure platform, with the goal of supporting their individual game and content-streaming services. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Epic footing the bill for some discounts in the Epic Games Store's first sale

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 16 May 2019 - 9:06am

Epic has launched the Epic Games Store's first big sale event, and the company is chipping in to sweeten the pot for players without cutting into how much devs see from some sales. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Equippable Items on Role Playing Games - by gorka merindano

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 16 May 2019 - 7:15am
A quick analysis on equippable items like weapons, armor and trinkets on RPGs.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

ELIMINATION from Design to Analysis - by Ahmed Khalifa

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 16 May 2019 - 7:13am
This is a postmortem for our game "ELIMINATION" talking about the design of the game and the level generator. It also supported by an analysis of the collected player data to validate our design.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Gnomecast #66 – April Foolio Post Mortem

Gnome Stew - 16 May 2019 - 5:00am

Join Ang, Matt, and special guest gnome Crystal Neagley for a behind-the-scenes discussion about the production of Gnome Stew‘s April 1st project this year, The April Foolio of Fiends. Will these gnomes’ writing and art be enough to keep them out of the stew?

Download: Gnomecast #66 – April Foolio Post Mortem

Don’t miss The April Foolio of Fiends available for pay-what-you-want on DriveThruRPG. All proceeds from the sale of this PDF go to the Child’s Play charity, dedicated to helping children in a network of over 100 hospitals worldwide.

Follow Crystal at @thecrystalauthor on Instagram, check out thecrystalauthor.tumblr.com, and subscribe to TheCrystalAuthor YouTube channel. You can also see some of Crystal’s art on Gnome Stew, like Matt’s article “Dadventures: An Amoosing Diversion.”

Follow Ang at @orikes13 on Twitter.

Keep up with all the gnomes by visiting gnomestew.com, following @gnomestew on Twitter, or visiting the Gnome Stew Facebook Page. Subscribe to the Gnome Stew Twitch channel, check out Gnome Stew Merch, and support Gnome Stew on Patreon!

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Superseeds: A Ship called Wanda, Part One

RPGNet - 16 May 2019 - 12:00am
A dimension-hopping ship.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

PUBG Mobile now reminds minors to take breaks from playing in some countries

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 15 May 2019 - 3:07pm

A PUBG Mobile update rolled out to select countries includes a "gameplay management" system that periodically reminds players under the age of 18 to step away from the game. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Revenue and profit up at Tencent despite stagnant games revenue

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 15 May 2019 - 2:42pm

Tencent reported year-over-year increases in both revenue and profit for the first quarter of its 2019 financial year, though the company†™s online games business didn†™t share in that growth. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

The Epic Games Store quietly launches in China

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 15 May 2019 - 1:58pm

The Epic Games Store has quietly and suddenly opened up to Chinese users. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

The Killing Floor series has earned $100 million in revenue in 10 years

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 15 May 2019 - 10:51am

 Tripwire Interactive has announced that its now decade-old game series Killing Floor has brought in over $100 million in revenue since its 2009 start. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Ubisoft sees record player engagement as full-year net bookings surpass $2.2 billion

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 15 May 2019 - 9:46am

Ubisoft says that its games saw 100 million active unique players for the year, a record for overall player engagement. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Launching TwinCop: 7 Days of an Indiedev's Journal - by Kartik Kini

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 15 May 2019 - 7:42am
Kartik shares 7 days of his (very personal) journal leading up to the release of his game TwinCop. Releasing a self-published indie game is a challenging endeavor, see how one indie dev deals with the stress and anxiety.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

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