Monday, October 31, 2011

Vanguard: the Jump Drive

I thought about coming up with some nifty name for it, but really, jump drive is a simple, accurate name that won't overnerd anyone who worries about a space adventure game being too techy.

The jump drive allows instant movement between two places, much like the FTL drive on BSG, but with a few lightweight, easy limitations.

1) Gravity mucks up the drive. The closer you are to a big mass like a planet, the shorter the jump. Once you're within about a hundredth of a gravity, it won't work at all. You need regular rocket-style engines to operate close to a planet. When gravity drops low enough, your jumps go from the AU scale to the LY scale.

2) It takes a while to charge up. If you jump into trouble, you can't just hit the button and jump back out. It takes a few minutes to charge up the capacitor banks.

3) Plotting a course can be tricky when you jump farther than your instruments can see. Charting a new route probably requires shorter jumps and some tedious work.

From a gaming perspective, I think it's kind of friendly. The GM can technobabble the exact formula and draw maps that measure distance in jumps instead of km or AU or whatever. "Mars is two jumps away. Jupiter is 3 jumps from Mars." A D&D style gamist GM can create "encounters" along jump points where the ship drops in and needs to recharge and get its bearings. Pirates attack! A sandbox GM can create some detection and pursuit rules -- assuming a jump creates crazy electromagnetic radiation, hostile ships within a few light minutes might be able to detect your jump and jump after you before you can recharge.

It feels vaguely like age of sail to me as well. You have the void between worlds where nothing happens and you probably don't encounter any ships, and then you have star systems which feel more like the Caribbean with battles near the islands. Pirates camp out along established routes and watch for the flash of a jump, then swoop in.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dirty Secrets is Pretty Cool

Last night I played Dirty Secrets with Brennan Taylor and a guy from the NERDNYC boards named Gil. Dunno his last name. Sorry Gil.


I'll cut right to the chase. This game makes detective stories. Really good ones. I thought at the end, huh, someone could make a novel out of that.


I played this with Seth and Paul C and a few others back when it was in playtest. At Forge Midwest, maybe, in 2006? I recall being a little bored at times in a group of maybe 5 players. With that number, there's down time for a few people every turn, no way to contribute. It may purely be a matter of my ADD attention span, but I had trouble.


With three people, everyone's involved every turn, so of course I recommend it with three.


One other possible bug--and let me stress that this game is really fun--is that setup doesn't immediately hook me. I think there might be a way to play it where you don't have to do as much front loading of information. The passing around of cards is cool, but the demographics on them didn't seem to matter much in play.


I'll be thinking about it some more. It's a fun game, and I agree with Brennan wholeheartedly that it doesn't get enough attention.

Friday, January 02, 2009

What gaming cons really need

Doggie Day Care.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

creative progress

Here's all the things that I pretend to be working on at any given time:


  • Edits to the revision of Primetime Adventures. That's on hold until my editor has room in his schedule. Same with the art. In both cases, it looks like that'll pick up at the end of October.

  • Galactic. Yeah, it's still around. Doyce Testerman is editing it. Here's the cool thing: to edit it effectively, he decided to play it some more and see how his group responds to stuff. I remember liking that game. It'd be cool to see it finished.

  • Music. I might have an actual composition job lined up. I've only just started with that. Several other miscellaneous tracks in various states of completion.

  • Writing. I have this novel that's off and on. Been thinking about getting a laptop other than the eee pc so I can write anywhere. The eee is just too small for me. It's a typo every other word.

  • Other games. Just notes right now. I'm less interested in the micro premise games than I am in big setting premise games like TSOY. More about that in a follow up.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

a new edition

I think I'm officially out of books now. Primetime Adventures is in the middle of a light overhaul. Call it the 50,000-mile tune up.


Trying to make a few things easier to find, updating some of the TV info, and adding in some material to help groups get a show together more quickly.

Friday, August 22, 2008

music for games

I started composing some game music.

Take a look, and take a listen: http://www.dog-eared-designs.com/music.html

I have more music to load up when I have a moment. More!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

making games again

I have a new job now. It's cool. It leaves me sane when I get home. I don't lie awake at night wondering if there was something I forgot to do. I can do other things in my spare time. One of those things is a project that's about to go up for sale on IPR.

The other is, y'know, making games. I'm back working on one.

Galactic, as a game concept, kinda got away from me. I took so much feedback that I was left with something I didn't recognize any more. And aside from Doyce & co who loved it, I got a lot of "we played it for fifteen seconds and disliked it so much that we just gave up."

Maybe part of that is the crowd who are stepping up to try it--and that's a genuine concern, as I'm not out to make a twin to Primetime Adventures. But I kinda feel that way about the game, too.

This game, the way I see it, is more of a medium-weight game, like TSOY or FATE. Or maybe like what Luke is doing with Mouse Guard. I want the game I wanted when I was 11-15, when all I had was Star Frontiers or Traveller or Space Master. I don't want "here's three paragraphs on the setting" or "here's your character's two scores." I don't want 70 pages of skills and character traits either.

Honestly I thought for a long time about whether TSOY would work for what I wanted to do. And I even brought it up with Clinton. He was of course more than happy to support whatever I wanted to do, but I ended up with a long enough list of changes that I figured I might as well start from scratch.

So here's what I want, and fuck if I'm going to do that bloated Power 19.

  • A set of character abilities that bear at least some resemblance to ye old games of yore. Not stat+skill (because oh god no) but not arsty game nouveau like "roll your Discount plus your Rage against my Shoe Size."
  • Characters with healthy background info that matters. Where are you from, what baggage do you carry from your past, etc.
  • a play experience that is lightly focused. The characters have an overarching mission, but it'll sorta be like the Elder Scrolls games, or Mass Effect, where you can do lots of stuff on the side.
  • Lightweight GM burden. That's probably the kicker. Good info on how to tell a story. Because I didn't know what to do when I was 15, and I had not yet played any "brain damaging" games. Hell, I'm not sure I know what to do now.

So that's kinda what I'm up to. I'm gonna post about progress as I go.