Tuesday, January 10, 2006

LJ-Friendly Update

Once upon a time, Adam Dray was nice enough to set up an LJ Feed for this blog, and did so without being asked (thanks, Adam).

I've set up a LiveJournal syndicated feed thingy for the new site, if anybody wants to update and hear all the new bullshit I've been flinging.

Alternately, you might be all the sudden going, "Oh, I barely noticed that ludisto guy shut up. It was kind of pleasant. How do I remove him from my friendslist to keep it that way?"

Monday, December 26, 2005

Moving Day

Ludanta Reto is moving to choicer digs at kallistipress.com.

WordPress, parenthetically, is knocking my socks off. Among other things, it was able to import my entire blogger database via RSS so all of the posts and comments from this site are now safely ensconced over there. I'll be turning off comments to posts here -- kindly post to the new, 'real' blog at kallistipress.com.

Peace out, my brothers!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

FLFS: Long vs Short

I have a Google Alert for Full Light, Full Steam that I set up, like, years ago, when there weren't any mentions and I shortly forgot that it even existed. Then it started sending me notifications that my game is being talked about (which is, by the way, really fucking weird), the most recent of which was Qien Es Mas Macho at the 20x20 Room. Generally I don't read 20x20 because (a) it's D&D-centric and I've played exactly one session of D&D in my life, but more puissantly, (b) the discussions are like what I imagine the European Parliament are like -- everybody speaking a slightly different language, and barely communicating with each other. This thread is a prime example, with folks defending at least three different iterations of Forge theory as if they were all the same, and a lot of non-Forgies criticizing what gets put out there as "What the Forge Says".

Anyway, somebody mentioned Full Light, Full Steam pretty tangentially as a short-term game with little replay value. As I really don't want to tangent that discussion any more than it already is, I thought I'd throw up a short post here.

You can totally play Full Light, Full Steam as a short-ass one-shot game, going through one Situation and then playing, I dunno, Mountain Witch on the next Game Nite. The game will work; there are little sidebars that give tips on how to shift a few things around so that the one-shot works better. I hadn't thought of it in such terms, but I suppose this would help out Con games, too.

You can also play FLFS as a medium or long term game, putting your characters through three, ten, twenty different Situations over the course of howeverlong you want to play. Each Situation should play out in a session or two to create rather episodic play, but you can, a la Buffy, play through lots and lots of those situations. The character advancement system is scalable (I stole from Clinton even before I read Shadow of Yesterday, apparently) so your power-creep can be managed. The longer-ranged games are also probably a little more interesting if you enable the Troupe Play rules so that everybody is playing a handful of people, but that's probably my bias showing through.

Now mind, personally I prefer the mid-range in terms of campaign length. I just don't get why you'd want to stick with the same characters and story for years on end. I also have no idea how people are able to arrange such long-standing commitments with their social calendars. I doubt the Next Game will have the same kind of support for long-ass games as FLFS does, because I won't be working off the same "standard assumptions" about how an RPG is supposed to be constituted. For the nonce, however, FLFS should be able to support both.

Friday, December 23, 2005


Preliminary playtest reports say that the Engineering the Situation procedure is on the right track. Rawk!

Thanks so much, Brand!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Vacation Writing

So I went through the Playing the Game half of Full Light, Full Steam and styled it so now it's all consistent and ten thousand times easier for someone who is not me to read and understand. Then I beat the shit out of the old Storymapping chapter, diced it up and cut off all the useful parts, then shuffled them into the order needed for the new Engineering the Situation chapter. Wrote a few transitions, stringing the bits together into some semblance of sense. (Isn't it nice when you realize that you don't actually have to write as much as you thought you might?)

Segments Left to Write:
  • Remainder of Engineering the Situation (~1000 words)

  • Attention, Brave Young Boys! (~1000 words)

  • Organization of a Solar Steamer Crew (~1000 words)

  • Aphrodite and Ishtar, British Venus (~2000 words)

  • Kanykeys, Dutch Venus (~500 words)

  • Deimos, Japanese port (~500 words)

  • Various Lunar Ports (rethinking this section entirely)

  • Sollardam, Dutch Mercury (~1500 words)

  • Vulcan (~2000 words)

  • Asteroid Belt: Overview (~250 words)

  • Mechanical Engineering (although I may skip this one in the final analysis)

Then I do the big copy-paste of the Setting half of the book, apply styles, do a line-by-line copy edit, and holy shit I have a playtest edition!

Goals in Gaming

Nathan's asking the question What Are My Goals over on Hamster Prophecy, and since I'm off on vacation starting today, I figured I'd kill some time in a similar fashion.

1. I am sure as fuck not making a living off this shit.
By this I do not mean "this doesn't pay well enough to feed my kids," I mean there's no way in hell I'm going to hitch my personal finances and the quality of my life to something as thrice-fucked as the gaming market. I'll keep my day job. This is a goal because I want to keep a nice, stable foundation outside the gaming market. To those of you who support yourselves on gaming, I salute your bravery and worry for your future. I'll be over here. Not evicted.

2. Game design is my avocation -- somewhere between hobby and career.
While for reasons I outline in Goal #1 I am not making gaming my career, it's at the same time not on the level of 'mere hobby'. Designing and playing games is what I live for -- it's the activity that I work my day job to support. In a very real way, gaming is more important to me than my career; it's just that my career is not the most important thing in my life (just an utterly necessary one). I'll be all pretentious and compare myself to Robert Herrick, who was a clergyman in England who also wrote poetry. As most of his poetry is about various women's breasts, I think we can all agree on how central to his life his job as a clergyman was. Replace 'clergyman' with 'textbook editor' and 'poetry about boobs' with 'games' and that's where I want to be.

3. I want to write and publish a game that lasts.
As with Herrick, who is remembered for his poetry and not his sermons, I'd prefer that my notable works be games, although somewhat different from Bob, I am interested in my audience and reaching a wider audience. I want to be able to reach out and touch other people through games, to participate in a dialogue of merit through games, and to contribute to the vast noosphere of human culture through games. I don't care if my medium of choice is not something profound like the Great American Novel; in the end, it doesn't matter any more than Dickens was pissing his time away writing serials that would never stand the test of time (let's pray to all that is holy that they won't). I play games, you play games, lots of people play games. Let's connect about that. Let's raise our kids to play games. That would rock.

4. I want to publish a game that is relevant to people's lives and compels them to question.
I was an English major in college, and I know this much about good literature: good literature engages you where you are, and good literature makes you look at where you are in a new way. I know with far more familiarity that that is pretty much the exact mechanism of any worthwhile roleplaying experience. Roleplaying is a natural medium for questioning the self, questioning society, and questioning culture. It puts you in different roles and contexts and goads you to make choices. Gee, you think that might make you consider your real situation in a new light? There's no reason why roleplaying cannot serve the same purpose as good literature, excepting that it can do it better, more accurately, and more precisely.

5. I want to publish a game that doesn't look and read like crap.
This is a purely elitist aesthete goal, but it's nonetheless important to me. As a bookbuilder, the physical composition, layout, and content of a book are irrevocably tied together, and no part can be of excellent quality unless all parts support each other. The book should be as engaging as a physical object as the act of reading it, which should be as engaging as actually playing the game. My standards of what is and is not acceptable have earned me the disdain of quite a few folks who think I'm an elitist ass. I'd be sorry except that I'm not. A good book has a good binding and is printed on good paper through a good process depicting a good layout presenting good text. That's how it fucking works. Unfortunately, that costs money, which brings me to:

6. I want my avocation to pay for itself or at least defray its own costs.
Truthfully, I'm fine spending money on games that I'll never see back. It doesn't bother me, because I see it as turning pretty boring money into an entertaining, engaging, and fulfilling experience. It sure beats spending money on going to the movies recently. But it would be quite nice if my tinkering was subsidized by sales. So while I wouldn't say my goal is sales -- because if your goal is sales, you make your decisions based on those sales -- my plans certainly include sales. Sales are just a culturally-acceptable means of getting your product into other people's hands. A free pdf goes nowhere and doesn't get played. If somebody spends their hard-earned for a book, they're going to at least try to play it. And that is what makes me happy.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

ENWorld on the Forge

God, I love reading people outside the Forge community talk about the Forge.

Here's a gem:
1. Some Forgites are arrogant jargon-spewers.
2. Some Forgites have worthwhile things to say about gaming.
3. Some Forgites are both.

Oh, even better, when eyebeams encapsulates the foundation of Forge thought in his "Gamers are bad at gaming" and definition of "fun" specifically as something that he, as a "commercial RPG writer," knows and the Forge does not.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

NerdSoCal -- shit.

I didn't go looking at the NerdNYC page for the longest time because I pretty much knew this would happen: I'd want to replicate it here.

NerdSoCal -- would it work? We aren't as concentrated as NYC (I'm thinking LA + OC), we don't have convenient subway access, but we do have lots of nearby colleges, lots of young, well, nerds with time+income+desire to socialize/movie-go/game...

Whereas NerdNYC's Gotham Gaming Guild rents unused studio space to game in, we've got a climate that will let us just use parks, or maybe use community center rooms.

There's a couple Forgies out here on the Left Coast: Jesse Burneko, Jay Silmenume, myself. Ian Noble isn't a Forgie, but he's an RPGnet kiddie, and he's out here. Hell, Wick and Jared are based out of Santa Monica.

So tempting... so potentially time-sucky... so tempting...

Addendum: I would so be using Vanilla instead of phpbb. Drool.

Game A Day

Nathan Paoletta is starting an interesting experiment, a Game A Day Project where he'll post a snippet of gameness every day. He describes the project at his main blog.

Go, Nathan, Go!