Thursday, November 27, 2014


This is a small mental project I've been working on. I like these kinds of exercises when I'm too busy to do any real work. This one is centered on the Jumanji franchise and its wholly dissatisfying board game.

Jumanji means "Many Effects" in Zulu

A supernatural boardgame, world, and semi-aware entity. The idea was devised in 1985 as a childrens novel, and then expanded into a 1996 movie, and then a single season animated series aired only in the US.

The book explores only the base idea- a board game, themed after a jungle and based on Trouble, where each turn causes terrible things from the jungle to manifest and harass the players.

The movie delves deeper, hinting at an interior Jumanji jungle, and briefly examines the actual psychological and cultural impact such a game would have.

The cartoon dives straight into the inner workings of Jumanji itself, exploring the vast humid hell and all its twisted abominations.

A movie tie-in game was made, but it was wholly disappointing. I would like to fix that.

Many questions exist as to how the game should work.

1. How does the game decide effects?
A) The die result, like in the book?
B) The square you land on, like in the movie?
C) Jumanji decides randomly or arbitrarily, like in the cartoon?

Answer: To accommodate all three visions of the game, all three elements should be applied. Generally, each turn you have to draw a result from Jumanji. The duration of the effect is decided by your roll, while its magnitude is decided by the square you are on. So, although high rolls and double turns get you closer to winning, the effects are FAR worse for everyone playing, but going too slow results in the entire damn jungle being turned loose! Also, the closer everyone gets to winning the game, and the more players there are, the harder the game gets!

2. How are results derived?
A) A deck of cards?
B) A magic 8-ball device?
C) An electronic device?
D) Have a player act as "DM"?

Electronics are bad because dead batteries make children cry and grow up to be serial killers. The 8-ball is the most stylistic, and matches the "popper" from trouble, but is the most limited in options and writing space. Cards are cheap, reliable, and effective... But easily lost and damaged. Having a DM player allows massive versatility and potential, but increases the number of minimum players and reduces the market audience. Instead, behind the crystal lens screen, (Which allows more text on a smaller card) is a simple mechanical device, similar to a bill counter, card shuffler, or the UNO card spitter. It flips cards from the centre off to the sides. So, when you need a new result, simply press down on the disc, which opens a shutter so you can see the top card. When you release, it flicks that card to the side. Then, when you're done, you can twist the cover off, reshuffle the deck, and put it back in. For added variety, all cards are double sided with different effects. Reshuffling can result in entirely new events! If all the cards are dealt out, it reveals the backplate which says, "Jumanji! I win!" implying that the board is sentient, counts as a player, and has won by turning the entire jungle loose upon the world.

3. What about the game pieces and track? How do you emulate their magic? CAN you emulate their magic?

The obvious idea is to simply have a metal backing under the track and put strong earth magnets in the bases of the game pieces. At the very least, this would keep the board sorted during more active sessions. As for the parts moving on their own...? Well, the more I think about it, the less ndcedsary it seems- at least as far as a game goes.

4. What kinds of effects should be included in the game? (Work out what they do later- brainstorm!)

Monkeys (Increase in number)
Lion(s) (Increase in number)
Tiger (Gets bigger)
Giant spiders
Giant mosquitos
Poison dart flowers
Man Hunter (Richter Van Pelt)
Man Hunter (German Trapper)
Witch Doctor
Giant gorilla
Giant Ants (Black or Red)
Jungle Man
Giant snake
Giant crocodile
River of gold
Poison fog
Parasitic mushroom
Swamp thing
Killer bees
Land Leeches
Toxic frogs
Hidden Temple

5. How are we going to replicate the effects without magic or murder?

Well, there's obvious game manipulation, like moving pieces back, skipping turns, etc., but that gets old fast. We could incorporate a sort of pseudo-roleplaying class system, where each player chposes one of four "strengths" in the form of a card at the start of the game. Certain effects could target or exempt specific strengths. We could incorporate effects which act like minigames, such as little cameos of "Cherades", "Truth or Dare", "Twister", "Tag", and others. For instance, a Volcano could force all the players to leave the current room as fast as possible without touching the floor, and anyone who does touch the floor has to hop on one leg for the rest of the game. This would make the game very active and energetic- possibly even exhausting. We could incorporate elements of an ARG, where players actually have to go running around doing stuff while playing the game. For instance, because the pieces stay put on the board, you could have an effect where a player must hide the board somewhere that another player could stumble upon it by accident. The danger here is that if the player sucks and the effect lasts too long, players may loose interest, so wording would need to be very precise. The game could include effects which emulate the possession of an item. For instance, the Witch Doctor could set everyone back one space, but also give any player with the "Smart" strength a "Monkey's Paw". That player can make up to three efects end, but must also call a new effect from Jumanji to do so.

So, there you go. That's what the Jumanji tie-in board game would have looked like, had I made it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Playing Card Randomizer

This is a clip of an experiment in diceless randomizer engagement that I've been toying around with. It's vaguely inspired by MET, but was more strongly driven by my search for a randomizer which is capable of some very specific qualities. This one is... Very close to what I'm looking for.

It uses a standard deck of playing cards, including the jokers. When a check or save needs to be done, simply shuffle and draw. If you draw a face card, you must redraw, but the results use the original face card's suits. I have not decided what the Ace of Clubs should do.

1-10 = Numeric Result

Colour Suit = Determines roll polarity.
Red = Positive Value
Black = Negative Value

Court Suit  = Can invert polarity under the given condition
Hearts = Negative when used for acts of evil or cruelty, such as murder
Diamonds = Negative when used for acts of good or kindness, such as charity
Spades = Positive when used for acts of an intellectual nature
Clubs = Positive when used for acts of a physical nature.

Face Cards = Redraw to find actual value; use the face card's colour and court suits
Jacks = Double Result
Queens = Best of Two
Kings = Two Combined

Jokers = Indicate a critical result
Harlequin = Fluke
Mime = Flunk

Aces = Grant the player group points against you when drawn
Hearts = +1 Destiny Point
Diamonds  = +1 Fortune Point
Spades = +1 Karma Point
Clubs = ???

* Typically produces results between -10 and +10, but can easily exceed those bounds.
* Can generate criticals independent of natural rolls
* Far more interesting randomization implementation
* Integrates well into gameplay themes

Best Possible Result: King of the most beneficial suit combination, followed by two Kings, resulting in a draw of  all four Jacks, which resulted in a draw of all four tens, giving a final score of 80.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Making SD&D


1. No art. Artwork will never accurately represent what the designer wants, will always restrict the imaginations of the audience, and will always take up space.

2. No tables. Everything must be described by a rule. Development is procedural, not static or retroactive. A table demands reference, and reference is an interruption to the game. You should be able to play without the rules even being present, and without noticing them in any case.

3. 1 book = 1 page. My primary assertion, (or should I say "accusation"?) is that every single d&d book is disgustingly bloated for production value purposes. You aren't paying for a game, you're paying for a pretty book which speaks at great length about a game. I believe the entirety of what makes up a core book can be compressed onto a single, double-sided sheet of standard letter format paper. (As with a board game for example) D&D has always been related, somewhat indirectly, to board games, so the 1-page instructions is a good thematic fit which suits the game's roots.

4. Only one real core book. All you need to play is one core book, or sheet in this case. Everything else is supplemental, covering things that don't actually have anything to do with playing the game. For instance, many d&d books repeatedly go over "what is an rpg?" Book after book! I will compress it all into a single "Greenhorn's Guide" supplement. Nobody needs it but the newbies, so why sell it to EVERYONE??

5. No content. This is a pure abstract SRD of the game engine. No content means no barriers. There is no pressure to play any pre-defined campaign. Your settings are not defined by anyone else's limited ideas for races or classes. Nobody uses premade content anyways, we all modify it or create our own whole-cloth! If you have an imagination you do not need examples. Seriously, there is no need for content. Furthermore, content bloats up each rule section. Most of the page-flipping that occurs during referencing comes from trying to find little rules scattered between huge piles of content you aren't using!


Step 1: Go through everything and find those elements that are present and function nearly the same in all editions. This is the core of D&D. This is what makes the game D&D!

Step 2: Identify the missing gaps. For instance, saving throws, though always present, have no consistent form. Thus, though "saving throws" is part of the core of D&D, all that existed in step 1 was a placeholder indicating that something called "saves" had to be present, and that failing them can kill your character.

Step 3: For each mechanical deficiency, use the system(s) which, in this priority:
- 1. Have been most consistent for the longest.
- 2. Were present in active play for the longest.
- 3. Are generally considered to be the best version of said system(s) by the majority of fans.
- 4. If there is absolutely no consensus between game editions or fans, make something up that makes as much sense as possible in the game as it is now. It is best to find some commonalities among the systems you are replacing and focus on the net mechanical effect they produced and the feeling they invoked.

Step 4: We now have the "pure" game, or as close as we can get to it. This is the average sum of all that dungeons and dragons has become over the years. Now we need to relate it to each of its major forms:
• OD&D: A wargame supplement connecting Chainmail and Wilderness Survival to create an "army of one" style play with a focus on characterization borrowed from Role Play.
• BD&D; Rules Cyclopedia: A cleaned up and refined format of D&D as a game in its own right. Emphasis was on escalation from pathetic peasantry to deity over time.
• AD&D Revised Second Edition: What Gygax wanted D&D to be. For many, this is the only "true" final form of D&D. It is the most philosophically balanced mix of wargame/RP elements, but suffers from the most arbitrary and counter-intuitive rules to date. One of its most influential inventions was the OGL, which allowed a huge chunk of the gaming industry to subside off of overflow demand for the game, while simultaneously sustaining sales and reducing production costs for massive amounts of published material.
• D&D 3.5e: The version many people consider to be the penultimate RPG, it is an elaboration upon AD&D with a focus on intuitive, versatile rules and expansive player options. Eventually, form was abstracted from content, and we were blessed with the pure D20 system, taking the initial form of D20 Modern. 3.5e ultimately spawned Pathfinder, Hackmaster, and Fantasyquest after production ended.
• D&D 4e: Largely considered to be the worst edition of D&D, but nevertheless developed its own strong audience, sort of a subset of the D&D playing majority. Most 4e players consider 4e the single best version to the exclusion of all others, but are less critical of other RPGs, which is a perfect inversion of other generations. This game is actually much closer to its OD&D wargame roots with the design ethics of 3.5e and option complexity reduction. It was also an attempt to include innovations from VRPG design philosophy, particularly those in MMORPG design.
• Next & 5e: They designed the game in an "open" format, where prototype rules were available for public review and use, allowing the entire audience to comment upon, and thus directly influence, the new edition. So far, I feel this has sucked some of the character, the individuality and life, out of the game, and created something very hollow and artificial feeling.
The most defining elements, the things which made them impressive, and by relation made D&D impressive, but do not negatively impact any other editions or the core of D&D's true form, must be brought into the new game. It should have the fundamental greatness of each of its successors combined.

Step 5: Finally, it is time to distill. Simplify everything as much as possible. Anything that can be reduced or combined, must. For instance, why do we roll 3d6 to get a score to get a modifier? Why not roll 1d6-1d6 to just get the modifier at a similar curve?

Step 6: Once you have rendered the game in its lowest terms, it is time to innovate. You have your perfect foundation, so let's build a house! Make this D&D its own D&D. What is lacking in the pure foundation? Where has the game grown stagnant and why? How can the game be advanced by modern RPG theory or game design philosophy? What prevents D&D from delivering its promises? These kinds of questions, and many more, are used to make something new and unique out of D&D. The thing that makes D&D fun is its independence and individual character. It must have some form of idiosyncrasy to be true to the spirit of D&D! The process we have done now would create but a sterile, clinical, artificial, and hollow, pale imitation of D&D.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

FFC Power 19

This was done some time ago. The idea was that if we both did the power 19 separately and then compared our resukts, we'd both get a stronger idea of where we differ, and where we are united. One obviois difference is that I am a loudmouth pseudointellectual, and he is a straight-forward, no-nonsense, in it for the fun kind of a guy. I am clearly very simulationist by nature and he is clearly very gamist.

1.) What is your game about?

NJB: A pen&paper made of the complete final fantasy universe.

Jeff: Our game is about emulating the Final Fantasy experience. It should be able to accurately simulate any games made up to this point, and be versatile enough to require only moderate houserules to match new games in the future. Likewise, any films or comics should be readily emulated. Finally, the game should also be capable of generating wholly new stories which still feel and play like a real final fantasy game.

2.) What do the characters do?

NJB: Adventuring for the most part. As most final fantasy storylines involve the heroes saving the world (more or less damn you Kafka), it will impliment suggestions on different end of the world scenarios for the DM ontop the other stuff you would expect from a pen&paper game.

Jeff: In short, they change the world. Final fantasy protagonists are the movers and shakers of the world. Nearly every major event which happens in the game, happens because they were on screen. Typically, they save the world, but this isn't always the case. (In FFVI, Kafka destroyed the world- the heroes technically failed! This makes Kafka the single baddest badass in Final Fantasy history- though he also technically lost in the end.)

3.) What do the players (including the GM if there is one) do?

NJB: Fight monsters, explore dungeons, fight wars, fight gods, go on quests to get new summons, help old ladys carry heavy stuff. There is no limits, the only limits are the DMs imagination.

Jeff: Obviously, the players take the role of their characters, but beyond that, I don't know! I don't even know if a GM function should exist.

4.) How does your setting (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?

NJB: The setting is based on a world made up of all of the Final Fantasy worlds put together into one.

Jeff: The setting should not be tied to the system, but I'd like to include converted material from all of the games, allowing players to run those settings, as well as a final unified setting which turns all of that content into a single setting. Because it would be all direct conversions of the source material, it would at least be thematic... Though I don't believe setting should be the defining factor of what a game is "about"; it's just window trimming. What matters, really, is how content and setting are treated by the game, how they're handled, represented, and interacted with.

5.) How does the Character Creation of your game reinforce what your game is about?

NJB: It will be simple and easy to uinderstand, with not to many complicated equations. I think I will Implimint just the -5to+5 system and ignore the stupid 1to20 system though.

Jeff: I'd like something really character-driven, where just coming up with ideas for the character is enough to put together a functional, balanced, and meaningful character sheet. Maybe something like interlock, but more abstract and selective? For example, you could sit down and think up ideas for a character using a general template to ensure a wholistic description, then go through a list of features, checking off the ones which describe your character best. Once you're done, you'll have essentially assembled hundreds of tiny, modular, partial templates into a single, functional character. Kind of like a lifepaths system, but covering the whole of chargen, and revolving entirely around the brainstorming phase. Something with very little math or technical mechanical rules. Something that can be used to slap together a dozen rich and involving characters in a matter of moments by a bunch of non-gamers in a convention hotel room. Something fast and exciting, which lets players dive straight into the group's creativity, and drives everyone directly into immediate gameplay. It should be very "pickup and go" like a videogame.

6.) What types of behaviors/styles of play does your game reward (and punish if necessary)?

NJB: Good actions recieve posititive points to the alignment, and evil actions cause negative points to the alinment. -25 to +25 is neutral, - 26 to -100 is evil, and +26 to +100 is good.
Also if the DM feels that you did multiple good deeds to lead up to a great evil deed they can reward x4 evil points to alignment (ex. Do enough good deeds to cause a civilization to make you a king, and then become a tyrant). The same applies for multiple evil deeds leading up to a great good deed. This way you can include motives to influence the characters alignments.

Jeff: I think the game should most strongly reward people who do things from a narrative perspective, rather than a gamist or simulationist one. Though the videogames are VERY gamist, the gaming element happens kind of "between the scenes", as the player navigates the characters through the details until they get to the next major step in the plot line; gameplay and gamism has no impact on narrative! Nobody used a phoenix down on Aeris after she was stabbed by Sephiroth, because phoenix downs aren't part of the narrative, they're a game piece. There is a very clear wall between the two, allowing them their own dedicated space and time, and they do not interact with each other. The only major plot point which can be determined via the gameplay is whether the protagonists die before they inevitably save the world. Therefore, gamism takes a considerable back-seat to narrative, with story and characterization dictating just about every other element of the game. These are stories come to life with sections you can "play" through. They are interactive cinema and literature combined. By making an RPG, we are basically making the players into living interactive literature, interacting with each other. Honestly, if done right, the game could theoretically hold profound implications on the nature of games, literature, art, and performance.

7.) How are behaviors and styles of play rewarded or punished in your game?

NJB: Basically same as previous answer.

Jeff: I have NO idea. I guess I'd rather avoid a strict behavioral reward/punishment system. My objective here isn't to condition the players; who do you think I am, Dr.Donald Ewen Cameron?? Really, I'd prefer to make a game system where a certain mode of play, however broad, is the only meaningful way to play, with xploiters and twinks finding themselves relegated to combat duty, playing no meaningful role in the story, while attention whores and glory hogs find their behavior to eventually conflict with the true nature of their character, not only exposing them, but also mechanically shutting off the spotlight when it happens.

8.) How are the responsibilities of narration and credibility divided in your game?

NJB: Mostly that will be done by the DM.

Jeff: Preferably, I would like a game which could be entirely player-driven, without a GM, while still maintaining impartiality of the extra-character elements. (How can players dictate genuinely effective tactics in their enemies, when their goal is to defeat them?) If done right, five kids can make characters and all play together in one sitting, with little to no setup, and no division of the participants into function roles. A two-player game should not only be possible, but fun. How to do that in an unbiased, orderly, and constructive way? I have no idea. One strategy is to go all MET blood opera style, forcing players to take on general roles which group some, and divide others. This would create competing protagonist views which perceive each other as antagonists. Though highly efficient in generating highly character-oriented gameplay in intimate and informal settings involving strangers on short notice, it does little to support the linear, black vs. white style of Final Fantasy. Another option would be to intentionally allow a certain portion of the participants to actually play as antagonists. Another technique may be to give players narrative or story points, letting them collaboratively create setting and narrative in a competitive manner, like Dawn of Worlds, but with more of a literary objective, rather than a material one. With such a system in place, even with a GM, the party would be able to fight and regulate power abuses, and rerail the railroad, without abruptly ending the game.

9.) What does your game do to command the players' attention, engagement, and participation? (i.e. What does the game do to make them care?)

NJB: Quests, battles, challenges, unique game mechanics.

Jeff: Well, just by making character the single most important, central element and theme of all gameplay, we're already engaging the players interest, but there should be something about the characters which holds the players in the game. Again, I'm tempted to go a little MET here by building character connections into the chargen system intrinsically. Thus, by having a vested interest in their own character, they are motivated to have a vested interest in each others characters. Another thing which can be done, is to build elements of the setting into the characters, while simultaneously letting the players build some of their character into the setting. A prime example of building the setting into the characters is a lifepaths system, while prime examples of players building their characters into the setting are strongholds and contacts. By doing this, the character becomes intrinsically intertwined as part of the setting, and the setting becomes a fundamental element of the character. Thus, by having a vested interest in their character, they must also have a vested interest in the setting.

10.) What are the resolution mechanics of your game like?

NJB: Not sure if I understand the question.

Jeff: I want to use d10s for everything because they look like little diamonds. Very thematic. And 10s are super easy math. I'd prefer to use all addition, because it is the fastest form of math. On the other hand, barrel dice more closely resemble FF style crystals, but basically nobody has those. I'd like characters to roll more and more dice as they become more powerful, giving that "feeling of power" in your hand as you shake the dice. Because narrative is the primary focus, there needs to be ways to inject narrative into resolution, possibly even using narrative rules AS resolution in some cases. Could be done via destiny points and arguments. That way, you can do things like permanently kill off a character in a setting which uses frequent resurrection effects. Another technique would be to use resource points primarily, with dice only playing a minor role in emulating factors of chance and chaos.

11.) How do the resolution mechanics reinforce what your game is about?

NJB: Not sure I understand the question.

Jeff: I don't know. I don't like any of my ideas, because none of them do this, and I desperately want a mechanic which just "feels" Final Fantasy, you know?

12.) Do characters in your game advance? If so, how?

NJB: JP will be used to level up jobs and skills, 100jp to level up a job, 50jp to level up a skill.
The first level of each job or skill must be first purchased at a job trainer who offers the said skill/job for the same prices as previously mention, all other levels afterward can be purchased without a job trainer. They character can get every job possible as well as advance to a maximum of level 20 in each job.
Another exception to the normal rules is at character creation you get a set amount of jp to buy skills and the job, the normal costs apply but a job trainer is not needed.
Acquiring JP: You will begin with a set amount at character creation, further JP will be acquired by these means:
(Magic, Ki, Chi, Lifestream, life energy.) The basis of all life it exists in everything magic involves using your life energy to manipulate the energys around you, or to create unique effects within other living things (poisoning, weakining, healing). Nearly everything your character does takes mana. From walking, running, period of time with out rest, attacking, using magic, dodging, blocking, riding horses, sitting in a mobile vehicle or cart, reading, learning, using skills and abilities. Their are also multiple methods to recover mana, ingestible items, and resting recover some energy. While sleeping 4 hours recovers 50%/ maximum mana, and 8 hours recover 100% maximum mana. Also for every mana point you spend for an action, gives you one fatigue point. If your fatigue becomes equal or more than twice your mana points your character passes out from exsotian. 4 hours rest recovers fatigue of an equal amount to a maximum of your maximum, while 8 hours will recover up to double your mana in fatigue points.

Jeff: Yes. The FF games have all featured a level system, where characters collect combat XP and increase in level. Often this is combined with a class/job system. The class system is more like classic RPGs; once selected, it doesn't change, though the class may be intrinsically bound to who the character is. The job system, on the other hand, allows characters to change profession, collecting a patchwork of cross-class skills in the process. Typically, this features a job tree. Another recurring system is a flexible skill/magic "learning" system. The first of these was a weapons proficiency system in the early games, then the sphere grid in FFX, and lately a licensing system has been introduced, where characters select licenses as they increase in level, deciding what equipment and skills they can use. Commonly in the classic and latest games, both equipment and skills had to be purchased, despite skills and magic not being objects. However, in many of the more cinematic games (VI-IX) it was apparent that certain elements of a character were fundamental to their being, such as Bibi being a mage, or Squall's gunblade. Additionally, characters should be intrinsically programmed, by chargen, to change, to grow, to become more than what they are, to become dynamic characters. Thus, a second form of advancement can be introduced, by including character-dependent story arcs into gameplay; the story arcs themselves forcing characters to change. In this case, character development is both crunch AND fluff.

13.) How does the character advancement (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?

NJB: Basically you begin as an average individual and can advance to god level abilities, giving a truly final fantasy feel to the game like never before.

Jeff: It's ALL about the characters, and how they can shape the world- and how it can shape them.

14.) What sort of product or effect do you want your game to produce in or for the players?

NJB: When someone plays a fantasy style game they want to generally create a character based on themselves that can achieve things that they nevber could. I want to give them the freedom to do so.

Jeff: Probably a sense of nostalgia; I want them to get that "Final Fantasy Feeling" which connects all the media together, despite all its inconsistency. I'd also like a strong sense of wonder and excitement, as with any fantastic game. Finally, I'd really like to strongly engage player creativity- the fandom is a very active and involved one, with fanartists, fanficers, amateur game designers, remixers, animators, costumers, and cosplayers making up huge groups within it, making their fandom a hobby. I'd like for those players to still feel engaged and actively involved in the game, but without making any sort of artistic or creative skill necessary for play.

15.) What areas of your game receive extra attention and color? Why?

NJB: The world creation, races available to each area of the world. As well as the job system. Mostly because with what I want to do with the system is to give the characters the freedom to have one character with every job possible, and with the abilitie to get maximum levels in every job as well. Of course this makes some over powered characters, I will also have to make the enemies work on a similar system, just to balance it out. The reason the world would take more time is because the world will include every land mass previous seen in all of the final fantasy games.

Jeff: Chargen and premade content. The chargen system needs to be good enough to really make iconic characters eexplode to life. After all, this is THEIR story! The premade content needs to be done really well, both to prove the versatility of the system, and to prove that we did our homework- that we KNOW what we're doing here. If players actually go and play in the setting of one of the games (I doubt they will) I want them to feel right at home, as if they literally just stumbled into Shinera HQ, or into a game of Blitzball, or into Kafka's throne room.

16.) Which part of your game are you most excited about or interested in? Why?

NJB: Mostly the characters, I would be fun to set up the mechanics for the character creation, it would also be fun to set up the monsters as well, the down side is it will be tedious.

Jeff: The potential for infinite games and stories in Final Fantasy. Not having to wait five years for the next release, just to discover SQUENIX is focusing on an element you dislike. Not being restricted to the railroad they make for you. Playing a creative hand in the creation of a final fantasy game. Exploring alternative stories for old games, or exploring their pasts or futures beyond the games. Being able to take Final Fantasy in whatever direction we want. Not having to worry about the series "jumping the shark" or abruptly ending production because a company closed its doors or decided to go with something "more marketable". Not having to worry about copyright holders turning our favorite characters into caricatures of themselves for merchandising, because, in some way, we'll still have control over "our Cloud", and "our Sephiroth", or "our Vahn".

17.) Where does your game take the players that other games can’t, don’t, or won’t?

NJB: The game will include all the capabilities you would expect from a reguler final fantasy game, multiplied by about 100 times over.

Jeff: It will be built, fundamentally, as much as possible, to give players the "real deal" Final Fantasy experience. Sure, you can replicate any of the settings in any other system, but d20 will always feel a bit more like D&D than FF, and the same goes for any system. This system should do away with that disconnect, and get at the truth of what makes a Final Fantasy game, "Final Fantasy".

18.) What are your publishing goals for your game?

NJB: It would be nice to publish this game, but first we will have to create a beta version, test the game 1000 times over and fix stuff. So finishing the overall game would probably take years, not to mention we would have to purchase the copyrights from square enix just to be able to publish it. Im not going to look into that stuff till the game is fully created and ready to be published. Right now I will only focus on making the game.

Jeff: Free, online, pirate copyrighting. PDF format.

19.) Who is your target audience?

NJB: Young teenagers to adults.

Jeff: Final Fantasy fans!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Trying out a blog.

I am making this blog to add my voice to the infinite garble of the internet. My main problem is that, as I'm researching various RPGs and working on my own, I keep making searches to see what other people think. And my perspective is completely unrepresented on the greater internet. For instance, recently in all of the internet, I could only one person who vocalized distaste for Amber diceless, and they were profoundly idiotic, offering but lame insults and vague justifications, rather than genuine arguments.

For some basic information on me; I am 26 years old and male. I have been playing RPGs since before I knew what they are.

My first conscious encounter with RPGs by name was with a makeshift game of D&D in grade 9, when a new friend of mine who had actually played it decided he was really bored. At the time, I didn't know D&D was an actual thing. I thought it was, like, a genre, or a myth, or a media joke, or something.

Up until then I had already been building rules to manage authority in make-believe games. It's a hobby I've had since I was very small. At the time of my encounter with D&D, I had basically run out of people to play with, everyone was too busy with "reality", (which I still feel is horribly overrated) and I was toying with various electronic means of playing alone, even trying to learn C++ to create procedurally generated text adventures. (I never got anywhere near that goal- I am a TERRIBLE programmer)

Discovering tabletop RPGs and the hobby in general was like taking a mountain off my shoulders. Until then I felt alone, empty, confused, and strange. Then I played that makeshift D&D and my whole world changed. I was free. Suddenly, I wasn't alone any more. RPGs still hold that charm for me, and I don't think I'll ever escape it. It's something fundamental, intrinsic to my very being- it's not just part of who I am, but what I am. I just can't help it.

Since then, I have studied, researched, and designed RPG-style RPGs for eleven years. Prior to that, I had been designing imagination games for as long as I had been alive and infused with an imagination. I think my first written rules were made when I was 11-ish? I used to actually have the old scribbler I wrote it all down in. Three pages seemed like a lot back then.

I am always working on designing something. I enjoy playing games for sure, but design has always been what I do. I like creating new ways of playing all the time, but I get bored of playing any one way rather quickly.

In general, I have four ongoing projects:

1. Millstone: This is my conceptual laboratory. It has no fixed form, has never been played, and is unplayable. It is the environment in which I test systems and content against each other. I tweak and fiddle and swap parts out, and see how different things interact.

2. SD&D: (Simple Dungeons & Dragons) The premise is simple: All of the D&D rules can be written on a single sheet of paper, and the books are disgustingly padded. SD&D is my attempt to prove that. (In a way, it is a sort of distantly related cousin to D&DR) However, I have never been able to complete or release it, because every time I get close to reconciling all of the systems into one, they release a new edition! 5e is especially frustrating, because they're hiding stuff. Whole sections of the rules won't even be available until the third publishing season!

3. FFC: (Final Fantasy 100) This is an on-again-off-again project between me and my close friend, NJB. The objective is to create a system which mechanically evokes the feel of Final Fantasy such that literally ANY content can be thrown into it and come out with that FF flavor. Recently, a bit of stylistic disconnect between the two of us, and a campaign of 5e, has put a damper on production.

4. MECH THING: It has gone through a million names, including Left Wing, Total Fiction, Heavy Gear, Ironside, and ACFA. Basically, all the names I like are already taken. Rather frustrating. This one is actually pretty stable, and has changed very little over time. It is a tabletop wargame combined with an RPG emphasizing giant robot combat. It is VERY strongly inspired by Armored Core and Front Mission. The biggest change to the system came after I read Mekton Zeta... And even then, it still looks and feels the same, the rules just got more efficient. If I ever get into the mood for it again, it might actually be my first publishable finished game. I haven't been big into giant fightey robots for a long time now, though.