A question for the weekend, folks: What’s the best currently-available RPG for a newcomer to the hobby? Better still, let’s make up an imaginary dude and find the right game for him. He’s 30, he’s never played but he’s heard tell. He doesn’t have tons of time, and he’ll need to put a gaming group together.
On three Wednesdays in May, I’ll be teaching a course on games through the University of Minnesota’s Compleat Scholar program. The listing has gone live on the U of M website, and so I assume that registration is now open. Locals (to the Twin Cities in Minnesota) who’re fans of the kinds of things that Will and I write about here at Gameplaywright should find themselves square in the crosshairs of the course’s material.
Geek Dad just spotlighted a lovely looking new game, Iconica, over on their blog. The game could be great — I have no idea. What strikes me about it, what has captured my imagination, is its venue. Iconica is for sale on Etsy. I like Etsy — it’s what my wife uses to sell her handmade books — but I hadn’t seen much publishing going on there, so this was a pleasant surprise.
Frankly, I dig the idea of a handcrafted game being sold as a craft object. This one sure looks as much like an art object as a game, and I can get behind that. When I can scrape together the sixteen bucks, I think I’ll pick up Iconica. I’m always on the lookout for good two-player games to play with the missus.
by Jason L Blair
Those who only view footage of Heavy Rain or whose button presses are laden with skepticism may well file away game developer Quantic Dream’s latest release as nothing more than a pretender to the Dragon’s Lair throne. Anyone who plays the PlayStation 3ñexclusive though will find little beyond superficial connection to Don Bluth’s old-school animation sewing kit. Where Dragon Lair‘s control prompts were little more than thread tying together sequences of canned animation, Heavy Rain differentiates itself with lots of innovative ways players control the characters, and the game controls the players in turn. In a postñGod of War world bursting at the seams with Quick Time Events and treasure chests vulnerable only to relentless button mashing, Heavy Rain‘s simple button prompt mechanics can be misleading. It is not a glorified DVD game nor is it strictly an interactive cut scene. It is a new breed of media that will, if you’re a willing subject, engage you harder than any video game ever has before. Yes, even BioShock.
But I’m not here to review Heavy Rain. I’m here to study it. As a student of story, I am interested in all forms (and most theories) of narrative, particularly the sticky in-between places where story attaches to character and character to observer or, in this game, participant.
Being a tabletop RPG’s line developer is an interesting job. It involves work that draws on diverse disciplines not frequently united in the same person.
A good line developer has top-shelf creative chops, both in-the-trenches writing and editing abilities as well as long-term vision for a whole line of creative works. A line developer must also possess a level of technical know-how about how the physical product is assembled and produced, and must further be an effective manager of people, many of whom are freelancers. (“Line developer” and “line editor” are generally interchangeable job titles.)
Line development is creative management, the job done by TV showrunners and magazine editors and the people who run ad agencies.