Gesticulations and Other Geekery » Posts in 'Gaming' category

Story gaming in the context of time travel

I read an interesting article about time travel from Discovery Magazine.

The Real Rules for Time Travelers

So Zack and I talked about time travel a while ago in the context of trying to develop a reasonable time travel system for a role playing game. And I after reading this article I think I have one. Though I’m not sure it what you might be thinking but bear with me. Also I’m writing this based on reading the article so you might have to read it for this to make sense.

To have consistent stories involving time travel you also must have “closed time-like loops” in the physics of the universe and this implies a couple of interesting things. One, the physics are not deterministic (that is you cannot predict the next instant based on the previous instant) however oddly, two, you also have to give up the idea of free-will. This is because for a story to be consistent once an event is observed it CANNOT be changed. So if you go to the future and see yourself kill someone you are now ordained (if you will) to kill that person. You cannot choose not to.

This may seem like it would not work as the basis for a role playing game (because people like to choose what there player does) however I think if you look at role play a bit different it works just fine. First view the game universe as a 4-dimensional blank canvas. Now the players and the DM choose a setting; this fills in some of the canvas, basically a short period of time directly before the “start” of the game and a reasonable area surrounding the start in space. Now the players begin to make choices as to what there characters do and this starts to fill in this 4D canvas. However once a part of the canvas has been filled it can never be changed. So if a player or the DM says that they see themselves do something in the past of the future they cannot choose not to do it later. It is fixed. All they can do is write the story that lead them to that point that they have already set.

This lead the play style to a very “fiction first”, story gaming type of play. The players (including the DM) are writing a story, however they are not necessarily doing it in chronological order. It would be reasonable to say that a player plays all versions of themselves, in all times. So they will never be forced to do anything in any time. This style of play also has the interesting implication that if the players become board with an event they could just jump forward or backwards in time (as players not characters) and fill in a different part of the story that has not yet been “written”.

In the end one of the most important rule would be that if something has been observed it cannot be changed. So if you go forward in time and see something happen you cannot change it. However you could change it’s context or meaning. So if you go forward in time and see a bloody knife with your finger prints on it. Then that knife must be there and it must have your finger prints on it. However if it has not been stated whose blood it is than that could be decided later. It could even be your own. So as a player your goal will be to create an interesting story based on what has already been observed or written on the 4D canvas.

Posted in Table Top Gaming

Running The Shadows of Yesterday

So I ran a session of The Shadows of Yesterday tonight (using the Solar System rule book). It was tricky. I really haven’t gotten the knack for it yet. But overall the session was a success; my players agreed to play another session.

I need to learn the rules better (I think I’m gonna read the rule book cover to cover again). But more specifically I think I need to get better at handling “Extended Combat” (aka Bringing Down the Pain). It’s a really clunky rule in some ways. I love the idea of it, but it doesn’t run naturally for me. I need practice I think.

Also I need to call for fewer rolls. I asked for too many this session. And I think it made the system feel more crunch heavy (rule heavy, dice heavy) than it really is.

But regardless the session did go fairly well for my second session using this system. So I’m happy and relieved.

Posted in Table Top Gaming

Galactic Arms Race Part 2

So I said I’d post about this again. So here is a quick post.

I don’t really like the game. It’s not all that well balanced and certain manuvars that are critical to being able to effectively play the game (circle strafing) are really hard for me (think they are hard in general, but I’ve never been very good at that kind of thing, so I’m not sure).

My evaluation would be that it is a neat tech demo and I hope the idea of automatic content generation catches on. However it’s not all the good as a game.

I’m done with it and I’ve gone back to playing Fallout 3. I’ve finished the main campaign in Fallout 3 BTW, but there is still so much exploring to do. Also I’ve decided that I’m not going to use energy weapons with this character. Instead I’m gonna start a new character at some point that instead of focusing on Sneak and Small Guns will focus on Speech and Energy Weapons. Should be fun.

Posted in Computer Gaming

Fallout will force me to learn russian

So I know I’m geeky, but these people have out done me in all the coolest ways possible: Fall Out for Real (A Fallout LARP being run in russia)

The costumes and locations are truely amazing and beautiful. I want to go to russia and meet these people. They are awesome. And they are talented. It’s not easy to make costumes like that.

I was thinking about how they do the all important gigercounter in the game (even if they are not playing in a highly irradiated area of the game world it’s still really important for the feel of the environment). I wonder if they have a “gigercounter” they starts clicking when they are in range of a radio transmitter. They way the DMs could layout radiation by placing transmitter. The exposure could even increase as they get closer to the transmitter because the radio signal would get stronger. And the counter could keep track of exposure for in game rad sickness mechanics.

Also they must have moded laser tag guns and air soft guns (or maybe paint ball) because throwing or shoot bean bags (like they do in most fantasy LARPs) would not work very well for gun and energy weapons.

Posted in Computer Gaming, Gaming

Galactic Arms Race

I found a game I’m really gonna have to try: Galactic Arms Race (GAR)

It looks super cool. I hope it’s actually playable. I remember playing a game like this maybe 10 years ago. Simple space fighting, small squads and the like. What really excites me about this game is the huge variety of weapons. And that the weapons environment of the game will change based on the taste of the players. That’s just cool.

My only really nit pick is that it is not open-source. Seems like it should be. It is a research project and making it open would allow it to have a life after the research is deemed complete. I guess I do have one other nit pick: Why pick a MS Windows only engine?! But I understand the choice. I’ve heard XNA is a really good platform for simple games.

I’ll post again once I’ve had a chance to play it some and tell you how it is.

I wonder if this will help me kick my Fallout 3 habit. ;-)

Posted in Computer Gaming