Sunday, 30 September 2012

Rolemaster goes into public playtest, so get rolling

There's a new edition of Rolemaster on its way and Iron Crown Entertainment wants you to get involved in shaping the game before release.

You can claim your free playtest materials by following the instructions on the website:

1. Go to the forums on the ICE website
2. Are you already a member of the ICE forums? If your answer is Yes, then go to Step 4. If your answer is No, then go to Step 3.
3. Register on the ICE forums as a new member
4. As a registered forum member, you will be able to see the Playtest Forums
5. Go to the various Playtesting Agreement and Playtest File threads, read and agree to the terms, then download the Public Playtest files

Rolemaster was first released back in 1980 and has been through various editions, getting a revamp as Rolemaster Fantasy Roleplaying in 1999. After difficulties with intellectual property, a new edition was published in 2007 called Rolemaster Classic, which is an updated version of the second edition rules. Yeah, Rolemaster has a bit of a complicated history.

ICE have given an indication of the eventual price of the books that will be released alongside the core rules. The smaller books, Arms Law, Character Law and Treasure Law will set you back $15 while the larger books, Spell Law and Creature Law will be $20, with options for print on demand.

If you're playtesting, then make your opinions heard in the comments.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Freshers guide to being a geek at university

You've made it! High school's in the past and you're looking towards a bright future of independence and heavy drinking. You're starting university.

Unlike high school, university is a place where us geeks aren't the butt of jokes and where there are substantially more of us than back in the old days. It's an amazing place where you meet all kinds of different people from different backgrounds, many of them academically sound.

But the likelihood is that you've moved away from home - far away in many cases - and you've left your old gaming group behind. Fear not, though, as university is a fertile land where you can easily find gamers, anime lovers, LARPers and anyone else you can imagine.

Join a society - Most universities offer clubs or societies you can sign up to. They usually cost a small join-up fee and can offer what you need, whether it be tabletop roleplaying, wargaming, physics or anime. This is also a great way to forge friendships for the future and can help you when you come around to choosing people to live when you move out of halls of residence.

Don't be afraid of showing your geek side - In my experience, people generally don't care what you're into, as long as you're a cool person. More often than not, telling people what your extra curricular activities and hobbies are could help recruit more people to whatever you're interested in. Also, showing that you're smart can have big advantages at university - the more people you can help out with their work, the more friends you will make and a better social experience you will have. Just don't go overboard and write entire assignments, just general pointers will do.

Try new things - University opens you up to a world of new possibilities, so my advice is to go for it and have fun. Don't go to excess, but it's important that you expand your mind and your experiences, which helps you find out who you really are.

Familiarise yourself with the library - You will be spending many hours in the library, both day and night so get to grips with where everything is and how the computer system works. You don't want to be caught unawares by an assignment and have no idea where to find good information. I know it's a basic one, but I knew loads of people who barely used the library and their work definitely suffered. It also saves you from having to buy certain books.

Discover your local area - If you've moved to a new and unfamiliar city then take the time to explore. Find the comic book stores and gaming retailers. Find out where they might do weekly games and sign yourself up. It's sometimes nice to game with people who aren't students, so get involved with the community.

Curiosity confirms running water on Mars

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
NASA is reporting that the Mars Curiosity rover has made the significant discovery of a streambed that provides evidence that there was once running water on the planet's surface.

While satellite images have always indicated that there may have been water at some point, Curiosity has now confirmed that this is true with images of a dried up stream in the Gale Crater. Not only would this have been a channel for flowing water, but it would have also been relatively deep, about hip height.

"From the size of gravels it carried, we can interpret the water was moving about 3 feet per second, with a depth somewhere between ankle and hip deep," said Curiosity science co-investigator William Dietrich of the University of California, Berkeley. "Plenty of papers have been written about channels on Mars with many different hypotheses about the flows in them. This is the first time we're actually seeing water-transported gravel on Mars. This is a transition from speculation about the size of streambed material to direct observation of it."

The discovery was made with the analysis of two outcrops, "Hottah" and "Link", which contain rounded and angular gravel. The nature of the gravel led scientists to suspect that it must have been transported from one location to another, but not by wind. Because it was most likely water, and the region contains clay and sulfate minerals, there's a good chance that the planet once harboured organic life.

"A long-flowing stream can be a habitable environment," said Grotzinger. "It is not our top choice as an environment for preservation of organics, though. We're still going to Mount Sharp, but this is insurance that we have already found our first potentially habitable environment."

In the future, the little Mars robot that could will examine the environment around the Gale Crater to find out whether this could have been a place where life once flourished.

Via [NASA JPL Blog]

Why you should absolutely be watching The Flog

Like a lot people who identify as a geek (and damned proud of it) I'm a big fan of Felicia Day's work. She's a smart and talented actress/businesswoman who can never seem to sit still, which is fantastic for us. 

Day and her nerdy pals are involved in the Geek and Sundry website, a repository for videos, podcasts and more. One of those video series is The Flog, a weekly magazine show where Day introduces viewers to new geeky delights, be it videogames, science or just a cool website. She also teams up with a guest star, like she did this week with The Guild co-star Robin Thorsen.

Aside from being light and funny entertainment, The Flog is a fantastic way to discover new cool things/obsessions and it's very accessible to the wider public. One episode you could be learning archery and the other you're being shown how to make piggy snacks for an oriental festival. 

In fact, Day and the gang are a huge inspiration for my new direction with The Trollish Delver, making content more inclusive, engaging and entertaining. Everyone on Geek and Sundry does a stellar job and all its content is well worth your time. If you want to broaden your boardgame horizons, then Wil Wheaton hosts a hilarious show called Tabletop where each week him and a group of friends get together and slog out a new game. Sword and Laser is a podcast about speculative fiction, featuring interviews with authors like George R.R. Martin. And we can't forget the fantastic MMO comedy webseries, The Guild, which is coming back for a new season. 

There are other shows too, so I'd advise you hop on over there and get yourself entertained. 

Play the XCOM: Enemy Unknown Demo with Youtube

If you're quickly wanting to see how 2K Games' XCOM: Enemy Unknown plays, then you're in luck. The developer has released an interactive Youtube video allowing you to take charge of a squad and make key decisions all in one video. It's a really cool idea and shows that the game is shaping up to be something pretty special, especially if you're a fan of the original series.

Are you excited for XCOM or is it just a shadow of its former self?

Starry Night Painting Recreated with Real Galaxies

Holy awesomeballs, this is amazing! Harvard astronomer, Alex Harrison Parker has recreated Vincent Van Gogh's famous Starry Night using images of real galaxies.

He created the image from photographs captured by the Hubble space telescope and put them together into this amazing mosaic.

Here's a closer look:


[Discovery] via [io9]

Friday, 28 September 2012

Sherlock Convention Coming in November

Fans of BBC's Sherlock will gather together in a shared love for everyone's favourite sleuth in the first Seattle Sherlock Convention.

The event will take place on the 3rd and 4th November where Sherlockians will expect to see a screening of three episodes from season 2, fan films, panels, mystery board games and more.

Although there won't be any stars present and organisers are unsure of attendance numbers, the convention sounds like something every Sherlock fan in the area should be attending. Don't worry if you're more of a literary mind, as there will also be a panel about the original stories and their adaptations.

Maybe if the first convention does well then we might be able to expect more high profile guests, like Benedict Cumberbatch himself.

In the meantime, let's have a look at some of the consulting detective's best insults.

Via [The Escapist]

Crank Out the Decibels with Rockband Manager

Some people were born to rock. Others were born to manage those who rock, booking them gigs, helping them churn out albums and ultimately making them the biggest thing since Axl Rose's ego. Fantasy Flight has released Rockband Manager, a fast-paced card game that sees players form a band and follow their career collecting enough precious decibels to win the game.

In this light and fast-paced game, each player starts with a limited amount of cash with which to assemble a band. Players take turns bidding on and adding musicians to a group. Once each player has created their band, it is time to move on to the Career phases of the game, where bands produce albums, perform gigs, and do anything to get the inside track to success.
The goal of the game is to be the band that collects the most decibels. 
During the Career phases, player gain decibels by claiming cards from a group of ten Career cards. If your vocalist has tons of Charisma, she can book a sweet show that instantly raises your decibels. The guitar player, the guy with loads of Talent, can start recording in the studio, and the opportunistic drummer? Send him out to sabotage all of your rivals. The path to stardom has many roads and there are many ways to gain decibels, so do everything you can to get to the top.

This seems like a really nice little party game, complimented with a few beers with some good buddies. What do you think? Do you prefer sword and sorcery over band management?

Eye of Sauron Nail Art Stares into Your Very Soul

I think I want to call this one 'Dark Lord Chic'. Can you feel your wedding ring get heavier just by looking at the lidless eye, wreathed in flame?

[Chalkboard Nails] via [Fashionably Geek]

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Inflatable Captain's Chair? Make It So!

If you feel like you should be in command of your own space wessel then Think Geek might be able to help you out with their Star Trek Inflatable Captain's Chair. Take it to work and show your boss who's really captaining the ship, possibly before getting fired. It even comes in kid's size so your ankle-biters can train to become the next Picard or Kirk.

For $34.99 you can grab yourself the full-sized version, or $24.99 will get you a smaller one for your pride and joy. In fact, take one into Star Trek Into Darkness when it's released and be the envy of other moviegoers. Actually, scratch that, your chair will probably find itself on the business end of some teenage delinquent's pin.

Violent Videogames Turn You Into Kick-Ass (Sort Of)

In the comic book Kick-Ass, the adolescent protagonist has his nerves shot, allowing him to take a pummelling without registering pain. According to new research, violent videogames could have the ability to do something similar: desensitising players to pain.

Now, you're not going to become bulletproof from a 12 hour session of Madworld, but researchers at Keele University have found that violent games give a higher level of pain tolerance than non-violent games. The study took 40 participants and had them play and FPS for 10 minutes and then a golf game for 10 more minutes, placing a hand in icy water after each game to stimulate pain. When participants were playing the violent game, they were able to keep their hand in the water for 65% more time than after the non-violent game, concluding that their pain tolerance had increased after the FPS.

The researchers also noted that players were more aggressive, which was the reason they felt less pain. Dr Richard Stephens, the leader of the study, said that this "was a test of that assumption in which we set out to try and raise participants' aggression levels by having them play a violent video game. We then tested the effect on pain tolerance. The results confirm our predictions that playing the video game increased both feelings of aggression and pain tolerance."

So if you've broken your leg, don't crack out LittleBigPlanet - settle down with a good game of Gears of War 3.

Via [Kotaku]

Announcement: The Trollish Delver Expands

The Trollish Delver has always been changing, but mostly aesthetically. You may notice a new lick of paint around these parts, but there's a bigger change coming to the blog. Since 2009 The Trollish Delver has gone from writing about Tunnels & Trolls to roleplaying and board games in general and more recently some TV and film. I am happy to announce that the blog will be expanding into geek culture in general, which includes comic books, roleplaying games, board games, video games, TV and movies and science.

The reason for expanding into these new horizons is mainly because I've always wanted to write about more than just roleplaying games but I can't keep up with running lots of different blogs, so I want to make The Trollish Delver the hub of geek culture.

This expansion also allows me to write more content and gain a bigger audience. I want people who may not play roleplaying games to come here looking at videogames and then discover the awesomeness of tabletop games.

It's an exciting time and I hope you will all join the blog as it becomes bigger and better than ever.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Adventure Time, USR Style

Adventure Time is one of the best shows on TV, without a doubt. One of the best parts is that it's clearly in love with both videogames and tabletop RPGs, especially if you read the comic books (which are also amazing).

I fancied statting up Finn and Jake for USR, so here you go:

WITS: d8
EGO: d6

ACTION: Super high leap (+3), Dodge (+2), Crazy sword swinging (+3)
WITS: Knowledge of the world and stuff (+2)
EGO: Charming dude (+2)

Equipment: Sock hat, sword, backpack

WITS: d6
EGO: d8

ACTION: Stretch and morph (+4), Super special dog punch (+3)
WITS: Culinary whiz (+3)
EGO: Power of persuasion (+3)

Equipment: None.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Podcast: Fighting Fantasy Drinking Game

This was a lot of fun. I got together with Steve Bottomley from Leaping Wizards and together we recorded a Fighting Fantasy playthrough with two twists. The first was that it was the two-player book, Clash of the Princes, and the second was that it was also a drinking game.

The rules:

-Drink when you lose health
-Drink when you fail a test
-Down the bottle if you die

Pretty simple really. Enjoy!

Play All 22 Windhammer Prize Gamebook Entries

The Chronicles of Arborell is one of the best online series of gamebooks, if not the best I've ever had the pleasure to play. Its scope and mythology is incredible, so it's well-worth your time. Every year, the site owner Wayne Densley hosts the Windhammer Prize for Short Gamebooks and this year has seen 22 authors come forward to enter. The prize? The chance to have their gamebook turned into an app by Tin Man Games. Pretty sweet, right?

Now you can go and play all 22 entries, including those from friends Stuart Lloyd and David Walters. I'd love to review every single on if I get chance, but I will probably get around to reading a handful.

Good luck to everyone who has entered!

Monday, 17 September 2012

Trollpunk: Neuromancer Meets Tunnels & Trolls

Image by ChuckMate on DeviantArt
I love me some cyberpunk and I also adore Tunnels & Trolls. So I thought, hey, why not meld the two into one big lovely game? Here are some ideas for a trollpunk setting:

Convert magic to cyberware

While I love Shadowrun, I'm not a huge lover of magic in my cyberpunk. I think that the cyberware, be that implants, software or hardware, should have similar effects to the current spells. However, I would strip out 'high' magic, like create water or death spell #9 to make it a little more realistic as to what tech can actually do.

Character types change 

I don't think the regular warrior, wizard, rogue and specialists work in a cyberpunk setting, so these would need altering. Warrior could be Netgunner or Mercenary, someone who may have had military training or who may be a corporate spy. Wizards would be Hackers, manipulating tech to create 'magic-like' effects. They would be capable of effectively hacking into private networks, creating viruses (which, when I think of it, could become the new name for some of the more deadly spells) and making programs. Rogues would be a mixture, called something like Enhancers. These would be types focused more on using hacking techniques to further enhance their own bodies, since their knowledge of hacking is limited.

WIZ becomes TEK

Since we're replacing magic with tech, WIZ scores become TEK. This is still used up like WIZ, as using tech is draining to the psyche.

Rare kindred are abolished

I think only the core common kindred should be used in Trollpunk. This puts more emphasis on exotic tech than exotic creatures, which is more fantasy's domain.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

How to Innovate in Solo Gaming Part 2

Last time, I talked about adding an element of interactivity and immersion in solo games using the internet, audio and video. However, I am aware that there are other ways to innovate the solitaire genre, more specifically, gamebooks.

I've been pondering ways that gamebooks can be turned on their heads and changed up in order to present a new sort of experience. Here are some ideas I came up with:

"Tandem" Gamebook
This idea would link two or more gamebooks, allowing the story to change depending on actions you take. This is explored to an extent in the wonderful Fabled Lands books, but those don't strictly follow a linked narrative. I admit that I've only player one Lone Wolf book, but I don't think these do this between books.

Points-based Gamebook
Think of an 'arcade mode' on a videogame. The aim of this gamebook would be to score the most points at the end of the book.

Miniature/Board-Augmented Gamebook
This would add another dimension to the genre. Imagine having a miniature that travelled across a map, and locations on the map corresponded to numbers in the book.

Multiple-Perspective Gamebook
It would be cool to see a book that explored multiple characters that the player flicks between. This could be a group of adventurers that eventually meet at some point in the book to destroy the big bad. If one of the characters dies, then they don't meet.

Two-Player Good and Evil Gamebooks
I see this working in a similar way to Clash of the Kings, which is a two-player gamebook. In my version, one player would be the hero and the other the villain, with each character affecting the actions of the other. If the villain releases a fire elemental to destroy the village the good guy is staying in, the good guy with have to fight it.

Audio/Video Gamebook
Rather than being in book format, this idea relies on a list of audio or video files complete with acting and sound effects.

Tournament Gamebook
I love the idea of competitive gameplay, like who can complete Deathtrap Dungeon. This type of book would have to be electronic in order to prevent cheating and could even be played in teams. The winner is the one to make it to the end alive.

Episodic Gamebooks
Like videogames that come in episodic formats, you could do something similar for gamebooks. They could even be done in 'seasons' with each season having its own story arc. Alternatively, each gamebook could contain a handful of 'episodes'.

Let's Play: Eye of The Dragon

After the excitement of getting ripped apart with Stuart Lloyd in our audio playthrough of Blood of the Zombies, I wanted to return to Allansia for some good old-fashion goblin-prodding action. Perusing my shelf, I pulled out Eye of the Dragon: a book I've played once and died.

Like many characters in the Fighting Fantasy series, in Eye of the Dragon, I am a generic adventurer, and a pretty stupid one at that. I'm staying in the Blue Pig Tavern in Fang between quests when I'm approached by some dodgy fella in robes called Henry Delacor. He's all like "Yo, I'm after the Eye of the Dragon, a bitchin' jewel worth bazillions of golds. Fancy going to get it and we can split the profits like cool homies?"

For some reason, I see nothing wrong with this. Nor do I see anything wrong with downing a slow-acting poison that will ensure that I will return for the cure that Delacor possesses. Huh, whu? Told you this dude was a moron. He tells me I have 14 days to return, and that I must travel to the delightful Darkwood Forest to the woodcutter's cabin, in which there is a trapdoor that leads to an underground labyrinth.

It's Adventure Time! With added poison!
Time to roll up my guy:


Ok, well, it's not bad really. Onwards!

I travel for five days across the Pagan Plains, kicking the poo out of a couple of wild mutts and admiring the peak of Firetop Mountain in the distance. Eventually I reach the hut, where I find the trapdoor. Before heading down, I rummage through the hut and find an axe with a weird inscription on it. Cryptic. I then descend into the gloom below to party with the rats until I meet a dreaded t-junction. I go right and enter a little art gallery where the artist in question is humming to himself like some humming nutter. I decide to leave the guy alone and head to the next door where I find...Ian Livingstone, the merchant. The picture is of Livingstone in an apron brandishing a chalk board of the stuff he's selling. I decide to spend all my money on his bizarre wares, from dried mushrooms to skunk oil, before continuing.

I'm skipping along the corridor, looking for treasure when I accidentally trip an arrow trap, sending an arrow whistling into my leg for 2 stamina. I decide to walk quietly instead of skipping from now on. I wander some more until I reach a pit with a rope hanging above it. I can either jump it or swing across by the rope. As this is an Ian Livingstone adventure, I fully expect the rope to turn into a snake or an ogre willy so I opt to just try and leap over the pit. Unfortunately, I don't make it across and end up tumbling into the darkness below where I have to fight a GIANT SPIDER. Megalols. I easily dispatch of it with my awesome skillz and head further into the spider's lair where I find a whole pile of goodies, such as a glass ball, an iron key and a nice flower that heals me a tad. I climb out and continue up a corridor where I hear a woman crying for help from behind a door. I expect that this is a trap, but my character is so stupid that it seems that he would probably open the door anyway, so I do and discover a sexy young lady locked in a cage, smiling 'coyly' at me. Now, if I had been locked in a cage for probably days, the sight of my saviour would be something to cry happily about, rather than just smile about.

I don't trust this woman.

I immediately leave and enter a green room full of plants, where I am set upon by a pathetic little GREMLIN who I slaughter with much glee and mirth.

"Didn't you hear? Bert got decapitated! Yeah,  so it's your turn to guard the greenhouse."

I head to the back of the room and find some green paste in a jar. I taste it, because that's how I roll, and feel revitalised. Aces. I also find a key. Double aces. I leave and find myself at an archway where there are to alcoves containing a couple of skeleton warriors. I decide to dash past them and they miss with their swords like bony buffoons.

The next room I enter contains only a voice - the voice of a wizard trapped in another dimension, who is also pretty lonely. I stay for a while to chat with him. We talk about sports, girls and movies, and to reward me he gives me another key. Woop! I then follow a bunch of chalk arrows on a wall along a few corridors until I reach a chalk circle on the floor with a rope above. I pull the rope for funsies, which rings a bell, probably alerting people of my presence. Excellent. I decide to climb the rope and squeeze through a gap in the ceiling. Just as I'm doing that, I get bonked on the head by a bunch of NIBLICKSES, little thieving goblin-like blighters. I'm not standing for any of that, so I get up and disembowel all three of them, cackling as I do so. In the room I find another key, a bronze shield (+1 skill), a black sword and a painting of a dragon. I inspect the painting only to find that the dragon comes to life and starts attacking me. I kill it and decide against handling the evil-looking black sword, as it might try to fight back like the painting. I descend the rope and make my way through a number of corridors, following a trail of dried blood which leads to a door. I open the door to find a dwarf shackled to the wall, bleeding from a wound. He introduces himself as Littlebig, a dude who was ambushed 5 days ago by a guy called Sharcle from Saffrica. I let him out and he agrees to join me on my adventure. Finally, a meat shield!

It's only a matter of minutes until we bump into our next foe - an EVIL WIZARD. I know he's evil because he has a point goatee, the bastard. I dodge a couple of his fireballs before facing him down with my weapon, which I do with ease and splendour. I find a gold ring, which I put on, some gold and a glass wasp. I continue down the corridor and find an old man just chillaxing. I decide to talk to him, but he turns into a HELL DEMON and starts trying to murder me. Me and Littlebig scarper down a corridor, losing the big red guy as I wonder why an old man would turn into a HELL DEMON in the first place. Bloody Livingstone.

After pulling an iron lever to summon some stepping stones, me and dwarfy come across another person in a robe. This time, they run away but we make chase, but they prove to be too fast and we lose them. We soon come to another room containing some fop swordsmaster who challenges me to a duel. Considering I don't have amazing skill, I decline and go on my way.

Soon I reach a crossroads with two voices crying out from either direction, one beckoning and the other saying 'no, no, no!'. I go towards the more negative voice and find a room with some yummy soup and a clue pertaining to an evil doppelganger living in this dungeon and how to kill it. I go to the next room where I meet  Lo Lo Mai, a truth sayer who gives me a riddle containing the whereabouts of the golden dragon. I thank her as she ushers us into yet another corridor where we face two doors. I try one of them, which opens into a room full of portraits. Having bad experiences with paintings coming alive in the past I immediately slam the door and try the other one, which leads to a gloomy webbed room, like the one Lo Lo Mai described. Oh man, it must be close now. I can almost taste the bajillions of gold.

An artist's rendition of my inevitable victory. Warning: may come alive and eat you
We find a tunnel and Littlebig climbs through it. Suddenly there's a scream and when I emerge, there are two Littlebigs standing before me. Good job I learned which one was the doppelganger earlier, so I turn to the fake Littlebig and draw my sword. It then morphs into a completely bad-ass 2 metre tall evil-looking thing that I fight. Oh god, it's a difficult battle and I manage to escape with only a few stamina points remaining. We go through another tunnel, ending up in the lair of a BLACK DRAGON. Eep! I have to climb down and sneak past it - which I do flawlessly with the help of some Elven Boots I picked up in the spider room.

I come to a room with 5 weapons stuck in the wall, with 5 keyholes above them set on plates of different metals. Apparently this is a puzzle, and I have to pull the weapons out in order, the order of which is in the boxes behind the panels. I have four keys, to I open four of the boxes and uncover the right order in which to remove the weapons, which I do successfully. The wall opens to reveal the golden dragon statue - the prize I have been seeking. All I need to do is put the two emeralds in its eye sockets simultaneously. Oh bugger.

I only have one emerald.

I put it in anyway, since Littlebig is bitching at me that we've come this far, only to be shot down by thirty darts and killed.

My adventure ends here.

USR Cyberpunk Character: Trent Farmer

Trent Farmer
System Agent
Action d10
Wits d8
Ego d6
Hits 13

Action: Enhanced Reflexes (+2), EyeTek Targeting (+2)
Wits: Hacking (+2)

Equipment: TekPistol, SYSagent Uniform, TekJacker Cable, Globocorp eCigarettes

Bio: Trent was a loyal agent of The System, a worldwide autocratic network that controls government across the globe. He was a law-enforcement agent, born and bred for the job, fitted with Tek enhancements to make him quicker and more deadly than regular people. But one day the System disconnected from his brain and he found that he was the target of other SYSagents. Now he is trying to discover why he was disconnected and why the ruler of the world wants him dead.

Specialism Details

Enhanced Reflexes: Trent is fitted with MuscleTek that allows him to react faster than normal people.
EyeTek Targeting: EyeTek augments Trent's vision with a small targeting reticule to help with his aim. This grants him a +1 to attack rolls when using ranged weapons.
Hacking: Trent is a seasoned hacker, able to access encrypted mainframes and areas of the SYSNET.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

How to Innovate in Solo Gaming

I've been thinking a lot about solitaire roleplaying recently. There's no doubt that the gamebook world is booming at the moment, with the release of Blood of the Zombies and developers like Tin Man Games bringing the interactive fiction genre back into public consciousness. Porting gamebooks to apps allowed for sound and graphical integration, making the adventure feel more immersive. When you're playing without a group, immersion is the key aspect of a roleplaying game; it should take you somewhere out of the regular hum-drum life has to offer, whisking you away into your own imagination. But I think there's room for more innovation.

You can't beat playing a game with others - it's a fact, one which is unfortunate for people who live out in the sticks. In this way, solo games should aim to be effective replacements for group play. This could mean emulating human interactions and mimicking the freedoms you have in group games, which is no mean feat. We need to think about what we have available to us to help create this illusion and submerge us into a new world.

Youtube could well help with the interaction element. What if your online gamebook had links to certain videos, which bring some interactions to life? You meet an old hermit by a hollowed out tree in the book, which links you to a video of the hermit speaking to you. Even better if you could embed videos into your book. If you don't have the expertise to create a video, you can always create audios too. You could also set up a hashtag on Twitter that someone must tweet to get a secret (auto-tweets could help with this).

Similarly, you could have links to music that the player should play when they reach a certain point. If you're musically talented then you could compose your own pieces, but you could possibly link to current music that sets the atmosphere of that scene.

Integrate your book with an online forum that links from the tavern in your book. This way you can have roleplaying interactions with people in your gamebook world.

I know that these ideas entail electronic gamebooks rather than physical ones, which many people prefer, but I feel that the internet can be a huge boon to solo gamers. It would be different from playing play-by-post games, since you don't have to keep track of turns or anything like that, but it would augment the experience and ultimately make it more immersive.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Blood of the Zombies Playthrough - Listen Here

Last night, Stuart Lloyd and I embarked on a harrowing adventure that tested our willpower, fitness and wits. We sat down and played Blood of the Zombies, the latest Fighting Fantasy book by Ian Livingstone and recorded it for your wonderful ears.

Note: Stuart's mic is a bit crackly for the first third of the podcast, but it clears up after that.