Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Game Design Talks at Origins

At Origins in Columbus in early July I am scheduled to give the following talks (no charge, it's the teacher in me):

Getting Started in Game Design. Friday at 2:00 PM (running 1:45) and Saturday at 10:00 AM (same duration). Want to design boardgames? The designer of Britannia and other games, who teaches game design in college, describes how the business works.

The Process of Designing a Game. Saturday at 2:00 PM (running 1:45). The designer of Britannia describes the process of designing a boardgame. You'll be more successful if you apply some structure to your efforts.

Monday, April 16, 2007


I haven't written much lately, being tied up with school and a slight but enervating illness.

I enjoy music--I have two 110 CD players, for example--but until recently I didn't have an MP3 player. First, I never saw why I should take a format won by hard work (PCM/WAV) and reduce its quality by compressing it. Second, I always had a PC or a vehicle-based music device available whenever I wanted to listen to music. I can make my own CDs, and record those to cassette for the vehicle that doesn't have a CD. So why mess with an MP3 player?

My English brother-in-law one day told my wife and I how he was able to use a transmitter to send podcasts from him MP3 player to his car stereo. While I had downloaded podcasts and listened to some on my PCs, I generally felt I didn't have time to listen to them when I could be doing something else. But here was a way to listen to them when I can't do anything else, except drive, on my 50 minute (each way) commute. In fact, I sometimes listen to audio lectures, and had thought about getting into audio books.

But here was a chance to use all that free, and often quite good, "content" out on the Web, both game podcasts and history podcasts. So I bought a Kensington transmitter and a Sansa E250 player and tried it out. It worked so well, I bought another set for my wife.

There are lots of game podcasts, and I've listened to some older ones. I've also listened to "Twelve Byzantine Emperors" by a high school teacher, and series that has been around about as long as podcasts. I know enough about Byzantine history to say they're very good (google to find the page). Right now I'm listening to "Napoleon 101", a series of conversations between an Australian founder of the podcast network and an American Napoleon expert, J. David Markham. They are Napoleon enthusiasts, and it's quite pleasant listing. They're not into the nitty-gritty of battles, but instead about Napoleon the man and phenomenon.

I've experimented with podcasts a little myself, but I don't have any that I'd turn loose on the public. Mainly I'm interested in them as play aids (learning aids) for games. A pdocast is rather easier to make, and much smaller than, a video.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Alternatives to direct conflict between player forces:

In my view, a Eurowargame will often be one you can win without directly attacking the other players, but in which there is often considerable indirect fighting. I have worked with this idea a lot, but right now I'm trying to make a comprehensive list of ways to allow indirect fighting, that is, fighting that does not involve more than one player's actual victory-earning (point scoring?) forces. The fighting can be between a surrogate and a player's forces, or between two surrogates.

An example of this might be Monsters Menace America, where each player controls defending forces as well as a monster. The defending forces can fight the other monsters. In this example the defending forces (surrogates) cannot attack one another, as far as I know (I haven't played the game), but in other cases this might not be true.

Scheduled invasions (usually this will be historically based) temporarily controlled by players

Event cards that cause invasions (again, often historically based)

Players control forces on "both sides" (MMA, above)

All collectively fighting a third force that is controlled by yet another player, or alternatively in some way by one of the players (first type is Doom, Heroquest; latter I don't know)

All collectively fighting a force controlled by cards/computer (lots of computer games, I suppose; perhaps Knizia's cooperative Lord of the Rings game?)

Movement (and recruiting) of Barbarians or other non-player forces by Event Cards, either as played by the players, or randomly drawn.

Control of "neutral" nations by "influence points" or other voting methods, so different players control a particular nation at different times.