Cultural subtext of modern fantasy gaming

My brother brought me a bunch of materials on the D&D 4e today. I’ve also been reading about this and other topics from the internet lately. The new D&D seems to be quite interesting as far as rules design goes; the rules disregard all high-level decisions made by the players so far, which would seem to imply that the actual game part only operates as set-piece battles on a battle grid. Of course not that interesting as a traditional adventure roleplaying game, but the new-style combat-oriented D&D will certainly benefit from having rules to match. Many people have complained that the new D&D resembles a computer game more than anything else, but that’s not a crime.

However, I rather doubt that I’m going to play the game. From what I’ve seen the new D&D is the same kind of geeky trash that the third edition was, insofar as the fictional content goes. Violence porn with little regard for nuances of setting or situation, disconnected from any cultural roots whatsoever. Just looking at the kind of art they illustrate popular (or wannabe-popular, as the case may be) roleplaying games with makes me want to retch, frankly. Read the rest of this entry »

Learning Go

I got to play another game of go at our local game club last Friday. It’s pretty surprising how many people had no idea what the game is, despite it being just about the most popular boardgame in the world. Regardless, the opportunities to play are not far and wide, even if I do like the game: most gamers who even know what it is about just look at how abstract go is and give it a pass, preferring anything with some more structure and more players. Still, from the few games I’ve got to play I have to say that I like go: it’s very deep and surprisingly interpretive for all of its abstractness: the stones have strong relationships to each other and there’s tremendous variety in the possibilities. Playing go is very entertaining and not at all heavy and difficult, as one might assume with experience from worse abstract games. Read the rest of this entry »

A context-dependent game

I created a pretty interesting little game yesterday. It’s called Missä miehet ratsastaa, which already tells to my Finnish readership what it’s about: the Finnish power metal band Teräsbetoni is going to the Eurovision Song Contest, and this is a game about that. The motivation for the game was actually in one of those small, curious design competitions we see at the Forge from time to time; this one was about double dice, started by the esteemed Michael Adams, and slated to end today. Read the rest of this entry »

New Blog!

Ha ha ha haa, I started a new blog in Finnish. The name of the blog is Bear Blog and it’s quite cute. I’m doing it at once again, for I’m pretty happy with WordPress. The new blog is going to be about Finnish topics and stuff that has nothing much to do with game design, such as politics, religion and philosophy. We’ll see it in action during the coming months. Read the rest of this entry »

Shadow of the Colossus, first taste

I started Shadow of the Colossus tonight. Played for about an hour, defeating two colossi, gigantic monsters residing in a secluded valley the player explores in the game. Although the introduction sequence was typically long-winded, it was pretty obvious from the five first minutes of play that this game is something of a higher caliber than your run-of-the-mill action adventure: no inventory, realistic character movement, simply linear progression, fully continuous world and stunning attention to visuals; the graphic engine is butt-ugly as all hell to my eye when they try to use it for close-up shots of humans, and anti-aliasing is apparently a forgotten art, but it’s all made up by the scenery and attention lavished on the monsters. After Ocarina of Time, which I finished just this week, this is already the second game in a row where I’m actually content with the polygon-based 3d-engine. Apparently I’m just playing games that make appropriate use of the technology, or perhaps it has grown out of being a cancerous bastard on the side of the actual game that it was too often during the ’90s. Read the rest of this entry »