What I’ve been working on

Playing games, working on projects, enjoying Spring — you know, fun stuff. Namely, I’ve been playing L.A. Noire, Portal 2, and most recently The Witcher 2. That’s on top of Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Team Fortress 2, and Minecraft. We gamers are living in a pretty good time right now. But games and entertainment have never been enough to pull me away from writing about Metal Gear: the fact is, I always need to be creating something.

I’ll keep writing articles for the site, doing comics, and so on when I feel like it, but if you want to know what I’m working on right now, keep reading…

 

Altafang: Crucible is a tabletop RPG game inspired by Dungeons & Dragons, but with an emphasis on simpler and standardized travel experiences, a more in depth and intuitive fight system, and survivalism. Rather than picking specialized classes and fighting mythical monsters through caves and dungeons, focusing on managing everybody’s HP and healing with magic, which is totally fine the way it works in D&D, your characters in Altafang are customized without being classified, and you will fight actual people who behave more realistically. Magical elements and monsters are handled through alchemy, adding elements of rarity, limitations, and experimentation.

Magic, monsters and HP are three things that have long bored me in RPGs; they just feel like laziness. The idea of mindless enemies who have no motive — or for that matter a plausible way of surviving if left alone in nature — is just boring, although I can totally understand why a designer would opt for it: it saves them the work of having to think of anything. Questions like where they sleep and eat can be ignored, since we accept that it’s a mythical impossible creature anyway.  Health Points are another tragedy of game design, although the reason for their existence is also perfectly obvious. Rather than thinking of damage in terms of cause-and-effect, it’s simplified down to a generic number that raises and falls. Like monsters, HP is a way of ignoring realistic problems instead of embracing the challenge of dealing with it. Having even somewhat realistic systems of injury and recovery would prompt players to play more cautiously, avoid stupid risks, and generally think more carefully about what they’re doing. That’s why the amount of magic healing available is basically a measurement for how stupid players are allowed to be before they have to start thinking. In games that feature a lot of luck, this also compensates for poor game balance.

Now I fully realize that D&D is essentially a tool set for creating your own stories however you want, so it’s pretty much impossible to criticize the balance. They have rules for just about anything, and its up to the Dungeon Master to use those rules to create a unique experience from it. I respect that, and I love D&D, even though I’ve never bothered to learn all the rules (who could?) or had the chance to play a serious game of it. But the general emphasis on magic, monsters, and of course dungeons, is something I’d like to play around with. Part of me wants to avoid learning too much about all the rules for D&D because I don’t want to be too influenced or pigeon-holed in my thinking. When I get the D&D rule books and do more research, I’ll look forward to comparing and see where their ideas are superior; however, I won’t accept at face value that they’ve created the “best” system, just because D&D has been evolving for ages.

If you want to keep track of the progress, keep an eye on my Tumblr page. I’ve already got a basic story explaining things like standardized currency, language, etc. and a bunch of rules that I’ll be trying to balance and finalize.

Also, here’s a picture of a guy I’m planning on putting in my story:

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