After the End: An Introduction to the Story of FFXIV

Final Fantasy XIV released to negative reception, both from the players and from the critics. I did not play the game at that point, so I can’t speak to the source of this. The game limped along for some time, before the creators eventually realized that things could not go on any further. They apologized for their mistakes, promised to do better, and then destroyed the world.

They made good on the promise. Eorzea, the world in which Final Fantasy XIV takes place, was hit by a massive, dragon-filled false moon that wrecked the landscape. And the game was relaunched, better tuned, better written, better functioning, as A Realm Reborn.

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Tacoma: The Cost of a Life

Tacoma is a science fiction game set aboard an abandoned┬áspace station, empty save for the detritus of life behind and the lingering shades of digital ghosts. It’s the job of your character to collect data related to the AI left behind, and the interest of the player to delve deeper into the mystery of just what happened on Tacoma.

It’s entirely possible to leave things be, do your job while watching as a series of progress bars fill up, but the real excitement comes from interacting with the remnants that your hardware can detect. Certain themes are uncovered in this exploration, which will be discussed below the fold. Spoilers are to come.

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Game Theory Chat: Scope

Tabletop RPGs come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and there is no one size fits all solution for all groups or for all games. Considering the scope of a game is an important consideration before the design process even begins. Going too large can burn too many resources while going too small can limit the design potential.

Finding the right fit for the right game is, therefore, the second step in the design process, after coming up with a concept. Knowing the scope is vital.

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Game Theory Chat: Decolonizing RPGs

RPGs have a violence problem.

In almost every non-indie tabletop RPG, combat receives special attention. It is given additional mechanical and narrative weight. It is brought to the surface and made as a primary tool of in-universe conflict resolution. Character creation is often a race to see who can cause the most harm.

And to further reinforce these notions, the advancement systems in games like Dungeons and Dragons encourage violence as a means to grow more powerful. It becomes the task of the player characters, typically self-made individuals reliant only on themselves and on a small group of ideological comrades, to go out into the parts of the world inhabited by “savages.” There, they murder the individuals that they encounter, destroy their societies, and take their gold and land in order to enrich themselves.

RPGs have a violence problem. What is the solution?

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Game Theory Chat: Random Generators

Random generators have a number of different functions in tabletop RPGs, functions that often contrast with their role in other analog games. This week, I’ll be addressing those functions as well as a number of different ways that random generation can be used.

I will begin with some general theory about how the use of random generation separates an RPG from a miniatures game or a board game, both of whom use random generation in some similar ways to RPGs. Indeed, I think that the distinction in this usage is one of the primary means of telling these kinds of games apart.

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Game Theory Chat: In Order to Make a Dark Souls RPG You Must First Make a Berserk RPG

As you might have guessed from the title, this particular week’s installation of Game Theory Chat is going to be a bit different from others I’ve worked on. I’m going to discuss what it means to create a game that emulates a specific genre or a specific work, and how to approach that idea. I’m going to be going stream of consciousness so I might not get anywhere, but I think the journey is worth it.

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Game Theory Chat: Least System Necessary

Systems are incredibly important for games. They direct the flow of play and help to handle disagreements at the table. They can help to shape and mold the culture of play for a group. However, many games tend to go overboard with their systems and engage in excessive quantities and complexity.

That said, excessive minimalism also has its issues. In this blog post, I will explore what systems are needed in order for a game to function. In addition, I will also list some suggested ones that can really help things flow, but that aren’t strictly necessary.

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