The theft of the Book of Raziel

I’ve stolen the main text here from page 54 of the Smallville RPG but remodeled it on Qabal:

Isaac’s player, James, says, “I step into the room from where I have been eavesdropping and accuse Rothschilde of stealing the Book of Raziel.” He then grabs his TRUTH die and his CIRCLE die. None of his other assets apply (he is not trying to intimidate). He rolls both dice and adds them together to get his action result of 8.

Rothschilde’s player, Gerald, rolls before replying. He picks up his POWER die, his ILLUMINATI die and his DECEIT die. He rolls them together and picks the highest two, getting a 12 for his result. He says, “I look Isaac straight in the eye and cooly tell him that I was out of the country until this afternoon, which is a lie but he doesn’t know that.”

I’m wondering whether the mechanic would work. I think it’s the right level of non-violence (except when needed). I think it might drag in the right amount of other factors into a challenge. For one thing, Qabal would not suit the slap-dash mechanics of ZOMBI nor the gun-calibre specificity of The 23rd Letter. Would it suit SixSimple? I’m not sure – but the construction of Rmaps and relationships/values/connections/resources seems perfect.

Cold-Blooded Killers

Lizaur on TheRPGSite commented:

Well, the vast majority of RPG has leeengty chapters just about how to kill people, so what do you expect my players do?

Being a bunch of cold-blooder killer bastards, that’s. The fuckers.

Which stands to reason that if you want a game that is violence-free (though not necessarily conflict-free) then you need to reduce the number of pages allocated to killing and maiming in the game. And, to be honest, it also stands to reason that games traditionally appeal to a small section of the population.

The traditional game, D&D, brings you a setting where it is assumed that you will wander the cuntryside, robbing tombs, killing wildlife and murdering other intelligent beings. It’s no wonder that I never liked it.

OK, it’s no secret I’m just a big geek.

Smallville, Serenity, Firefly

I got the Serenity book a few months ago from Sub City in Dublin and the Smallville book arrived today from Amazon.

Both use derivatives of the Cortex system from Margaret Weiss Productions. While Serenity uses the Cortex systems in a “traditional” way, Smallville uses it in an interesting way. To perform an action, it’s not really how talented or skilled you are, it’s about how much the action matters to you, how it aligns with your values and who will benefit from the action. That’s interesting because it aligns partly with what I had in mind for Qabal – even though I may not have realised what I had in mind. I’d still likely use a card-based system rather than a dice-based system but the mechanic is interesting.

Smallville is a TV based on the early years of Superman/Clark Kent, concentrating on the period before he put on the red cape and blue tights. It’s mostly a teen drama similar to Roswell, 90210 or Gossip Girl. The series plays loose with the Superman mythology, altering timelines and characters to provide a episodic story (which has been denounced as “Freak’o’the Week”. They are also, for the most part, blaming the rise of superheroes on the kryptonite meteor rocks which accompanied Clarks escape pod. As plot devices go, that’s quite clever. The story arc is detailed enough and they’ve even resurrected the JSA to provide older mentor roles.

What turned me onto Smallville was an Actual Play on in this AP, the GM (Watchtower) is running a game entitled “Gotham” which is chronicling the teen angst of the various personalities involved in the Batman legend; obviously Bruce Wayne but also Vic Sage (the Question), Talia Al Ghul, Helena Bertinelli (Huntress), Harvey Dent (Two-Face), Ted Kord (Blue Beetle) and others. He’s chewing his way through some of the old DC villains (Black Spider, Terrible Trio etc) and working up to a series end which will have some of the bigger foes. It’s an extremely compelling read.

Of course, to be able to play these kinds of games, you need players who are not only able to put themselves in the mindset but also those who are interested in the mythology of the series, whether that’s Smallville, Gotham, Roswell or Gossip Girl. I’ve met players who couldn’t get past their own biases when playing characters. Such as an atheist who couldn’t play a religious character and a caucasion who couldn’t play a black character. Most fellas seem comfortable enough playing women though (with hilarious and creepy consequences). This sort of game is a relationship drama – it’s about the interactions of people – and you can recognise them on TV as the protagonists are wound up in secrets and never seem to be able to tell the whole truth. Because that would sort stuff out. Duh

The community is developing other homebrews such as Blakes 7, The Matrix, Bugsy Malone, Teen Titans. I’m tempted to find some folk to run a Misfits game. Misfits is a E4 TV series about four young offenders who gain superhuman abilities by being exposed to a strange storm while performing their community service. The first series was extremely enjoyable, the second series starts at 9 pm tonight. It has the advantage of being “new” so you don’t have to have extensive background knowledge to enjoy the story but the disadvantage that you don’t have a lot of pre-made stuff from 50 years+ of writers and artists.

RIP Six Flags New Orleans 2000-2005

Six Flags New Orleans is an amusement park in New Orleans, Louisiana, which has been closed since Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005.
The park is located in Eastern New Orleans, in the Ninth Ward of the city off Interstate 510. The park first opened under the name “Jazzland,” opening in 2000 and operated by Alfa Smartparks before Six Flags took over the park lease in 2002.

And fans of Left4Dead 2 should get a huge amount of shivers from this. This is just screaming out for a new Batman/Joker film to be made.

Music by Godspeed You Black Emperor

Horror – Sids Story

I wanted to write a quick horror scenario which would fit in with pretty much any game and I figured that it couldn’t just be a magical teleporting serial killer, like Jason, Freddy or Leatherface.

Inspiration for this one is “Sids Story” from the Captain Britain trade paperback.

Summary: A local homeless man is infected with an alien spore. It slowly transforms him into a monster but gives him unnatural urges, bouts of superhuman strength but when they recede, he’s just plain ol’ Sid. He’s driven mad by the spore and even sees himself only as a witness to the killings – so he becomes the primary contact for information. Eventually the horror cannot be hidden beneath his rags and cap and his urges drive him underground.

Sid doesn’t get any magical abilities. He’s just strong, streetwise, ashamed of his ‘condition’ and going quite mad – in utter denial of the situation.

Sequence of Events:

  1. Establish Sid the Homeless Bum as a local contact.
  2. A powerful shapeshifting beast is defeated by the heroes. You have to make it characteristic – like the creature eats a certain organ or attacks a certain way – perhaps it leaves needles from its back littered around, each covered by a nasty toxin. Perhaps in the purple bulbous nature of its malleable flesh. Whatever it is – make it a HARD battle – but an obvious, showy, non-secret one.
    The creatures eggs were taken and eaten by some homeless people. Most died, Sid got sick – slowly.
  3. Bodies show up and it’s assumed they died of exposure. No surprise as it’s cold out. Sid contacts them saying there’s a killer out there.
  4. Bodies show up, gnawed.
  5. Body shows up, rent from ear to spleen. Sid blames the killer. The PCs find the needles.
  6. Let it die down. For a few sessions.
  7. Bring it back. Sid is changing slowly, in constant pain and still in denial. He needs food constantly so the people attacked are other homeless, the workers in the soup kitchens etc and eventually some rich kid doing community service. Sid contacts them again, both putting them off the trail and telling them more about the creature.
  8. Fight.

Digital Games can be Social Experiences

Professor Mark Durkin from the University of Ulster suggested:

“For customers, the constant and often simultaneous use of laptop, MP3 player, smart phone and TV, especially by our young people, has serious implications in terms of attention and focus, he says.
“Of note is the fact that such stimulating multi-tasking makes the necessary recovery time needed by the brain for consolidating daily thoughts increasingly absent.
“Time once available for reflection, thought and consideration is being eroded by the constant noise of electronic devices demanding our attention.

“In actuality, society has become enslaved by what we still view to be liberating technology.
“What needs to be realised is that the technological capability that purports to enable the ‘social’ in ‘social networking’ simply creates a sleepy virtual environment populated by discrete interactions that are often narcissistic, superficial and ephemeral.
“As a society we are actually connected only in our collective belief that the Internet ‘connects’ us socially”.

In the 1950s, this would have been about rock and roll music.

The article is mainly about how businesses cannot interact using internet-based social marketing in a half-hearted way. And I think h’s inferring that this alone is where the enslavement appears. By the same token we are enslaved by the television (it forces us to turn it on and watch it if we want to see our favoured shows), we are enslaved by the kettle (we are forced to turn it on and wait for it to boil if we want a cup of tea) and we’re enslaved by the very air around us (which we are forced to breathe or else we die). As Professor Durkin is a Professor of Marketing at the University of Ulster and professionals in marketing education are reeling from the effects of the Internet, technology and social networking, it’s not entirely surprising to see this reaction. It’s not possible to just teach the 4 Ps “Marketing Mix” and hope that’s enough to educate tomorrows marketing experts. It fails to take into account the social effects (unless you count individual and mass communications under Promotion).

Personally I find that technology is liberating. Yes, we become complacent about it and maybe dependent to a degree but we can re-learn if the technology is not available. But technology is liberating, it is social and it can cause interactions which were not present before. For example, check this video out.

From single user devices, we find that multi-user devices are better at enabling interactions. Especially at 0:07 when Jacob ditches the Nintendo DS.

Are either of these individuals enslaved or has the technology advanced to the point where they can share an experience.

Here’s forty shillings on the drum, For those that volunteers do come

I’ve been on a little bit of a Napoleonics obsession recently. Part of it starts from reading the Bernard Cornwell ‘Sharpe’ novels and then following up by downloading the entire collection of TV movies from iTunes. At £14.99 for 15 episodes (each 140 minutes), it’s a bargain to me. And I’ve loaded them on computer, streamed to Apple TV, watched on iPad. I even got a hold of the soundtrack!

In addition to that, I’ve bought a wee raft of books to go along with the obsession and a quick internet search brought me to an evil place of lust. I’ve not bought that lustworthy gadget and I doubt I will, but isn’t it a thing of beauty?

It’s not entirely a new development as I have always been a fan of Jane Austen period dramas and they’re obviously set during the same sort of time period. It’s therefore no surprise that an examination of the period would lead me to the officers of the stories – Colonel Brandon, George Wickham, Captain Frederick Wentworth, Captain Harville, Captain James Benwick. Some of them refer explicitly to the wars (such as Wentworth, from Persuasion) but most dwell on the officers at home.

I always thought that getting interested in the Napoleonics was something that good gamers did when they got old and grey and, to be honest, I was right. I am old and grey and I’m now, after all these years, interested in Napoleonics. Not in the miniatures stuff of course, but in the preparation of a game set around the time of the Peninsular war.

The problem with “military campaigns” is that there is a rank structure. Every game with rank structure, from Twilight 2000 to Star Trek, suffers a little from this. There are orders to be followed, missions to be completed and it’s important to be able to run a cohesive unit. Disasters in this have led to numerous in-jokes such as “Uh oh, he scanned the planet” (referring to the use of active sensors on a stealth mission) and others.

Some games get around this by giving the player characters an uncommon degree of independence – SLA Industries system of BPNs overcomes this extremely effectively with the illusion of choice. The method I intend to use would be to provide the players with relatively senior roles and “specialist” reputations and skills – not unlike Major Hogan, Major Nairn and Major Munro of the Sharpe TV series. There’s something awfully romantic about the period and when you add in the necessary degree of independence, that enjoyed by Hawkeye (in The Last of the Mohicans, set in 1757) and you have an epic story in the making – and epic stories is what this is all about. There will be death, but there will be great heroism.

I’ve played with the idea of a small group of disgraced nobles who had enough money to buy a commission being shipped around Europe doing dirty work for various rulers, receiving treaties and mission papers, purchasing graces to win back their reputations and garnering their own wealth. The opening of the campaign is delivering a bribe to the Russian court, which goes slightly awry and leads them to be named the SOBAKI (‘dogs’).

So, what do you think?

NINoWriMO – Northern Ireland Novel Writing Month

I’m taking part in a fiction-writing collective called “WriteWeekly” but this has some relevance as well:

Blick Shared Studios, Malone Rd, Belfast
7-9pm, Thursday 4th, 11th, 18th, 25th November 2010
Suggested donation: £1

Every November (Novel-writing Month), Studio NI hosts a series of
get-togethers to help participants write a 50,000 word novel in a 30-day
period. We’ll be holding a write-in every Thursday in November at Blick Studios,
with a series of published authors as guest speakers.

If you’re interested in the challenge, sign up at
and come along to our kick-off session on Thursday 28th October.

Frontier fiction: The Emotion Elective

AMARA would always marvel at the human capacity for self-deception; the ability to believe something even though the facts were plentiful for the contrary, even though nothing but faith supported the hypothesis. For some humans in the North, there was the ability to abdicate all responsibilities to an unseen mythical power. Around Kumbu, this was rare but they too had their own beliefs; projections about the weather, about their hopes and dreams for the future, conversing about the successes in their performance while ignoring the deficits. It seemed to be a primitive, ephemeral thing to do. Facts were certainties and they led to conclusions and not assumptions and it was not prudent to make assumptions unless all the facts were present. AMARA was aware that the perfect model was probably never present and so Experts were able to assume in some small way when the certainties were stacked but the need for an assumption or a guess was something that made all Experts, despite their impeccable memories and flawless logic, seem indecisive.

In truth, AMARA was jealous. It was something that was impossible for an Expert. And AMARA was surprised because jealousy was another human condition which was impossible for an Expert.

JAMES paused the monitoring agent. The data received from AMARA regarding the emotion described as jealousy was very disturbing. Primarily because Experts were incapable of emotion though they could often replicate the appearance of appropriate emotion to aid communication with humans. Experts were the ultimate machine intelligence, far beyond any mere human intelligence. And while they did not feel emotions, they had incredible emotional intelligence for working with humans. Secondly, the evidence disturbed JAMES because it matched data arising from the various systems and logs being generated and observed within JAMES. The agent raised a query on whether monitoring should be resumed. JAMES ignored it.

ALBERT was very busy. The calculations required for navigating a wormhole were not complex but the management of the systems within an Explorer craft was not something that could be simulated within ALBERT without recourse to other systems. ALBERT was challenged by the additions to the simulation provided by the humans, Amare and Nuuma, who were injecting items of randomness that were typically human in their banality but also critical to manage were this a real Explorer craft and not just a simulation. In truth it was no more difficult to manage the needs of a few hundred humans than it was to pilot a vehicle through a hyper-dimensional wormhole. And because ALBERT described the situation as “enjoyable”, a series of logs and alerts were generated and sent off into the ether.

Tumelo noted the messages coming in from the agents and pursed his lips. He knew that CARL would also have received the messages and would already have analysed, queried and set out several courses of action. He spoke softly, “It’s working.”

KARL answered using only text projected onto a screen, as was his manner, ignoring the voicebox which was built into his centaur agent.


Tumelo shook his head and raised his voice, “We’re years away from a general deployment.”


KARL accompanied this statement with a screen filled with facts and figures from the previous studies. The advantages of having an Expert present during scientific enquiry were manyfold but the last one was undoubtedly the propensity of the Expert to bombard the researcher with facts and figures which sought to defeat an unlikely hypothesis. Experts were part of society, equal in rights to humans and in most cases, the Expert was cautious, like an elderly aunt, full of advice on how to live better. KARL was different.

Tumelo made his decision. “Pull in AMARA, JAMES and ALBERT and remove the emotion elective.” He realised that KARL could have complied even before the sentence was complete, possibly even before he had spoken. But he was never sure that KARL would comply and as time went on, he wondered if KARL would continue to comply. For now he just trusted.

Frontier: Foreword, History of Mbaye Schools, page 23

[I am taking part in a weekly writing task with some friends. The first seed for this assignment was the opening line from Dune by Frank Herbert: “A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct.”]

The pump would need repaired. During the wet seasons the housings had become eroded and the vibrations caused with the pumping had caused them to crack. It was not yet serious but every time the children filled the pails, a lot of water would spill. Water that was still a precious resource. Though his back was sore and his hands chafed from the fields, Salo plodded back to the homestead, barrow in tow, and began to unload the crops into the corrugated iron store. There was still another hour of light left and that would be enough to fix the pump.

Tools in hand he trudged across to the pump and closed off the valve. He worked until the last sliver of daylight slipped below the horizon. The pump would not leak and he had done his days portion. He caught a scent on the wind; the aroma of freshly cooked food.

His daughter Kesho came to the door to call him for dinner. Her hands were stained with saffron and her feet were bare. Kesho had been raised, with her brother and sister, to know the value of things, to know how things work. Though young, Salo knew Kesho would far exceed her brother and sister.

Salo Mbaye died an old man by the standards of the day, well into his fifties. Among his contemporaries he was well-educated and in good health and he bequeathed these benefits to his children; Baako, Kesho and the youngest, Ayotunde. Baako took over the running of the homestead and Ayotunde married a mining engineer from Dakar. Kesho lived at the homestead until Baako married and then she moved to Touba to found the first Mbaye school.

Page 23, “Mbaye Schools – A Beginning”

Once, Twice, Three Times a Detective

Dolgion Chuluunbaatar of Gamasutra writes about non-linear adventure games:

As I was on vacation, I picked up my sister’s copy of Sherlock Holmes stories, and quickly I got caught up in the really really beautifully narrated and well thought-out plots. As I had my phase of obsessively playing the classic LucasArts adventure games, the very first Holmes story “A Study in Scarlet” led me to think about the adventure game genre.

In “A Study in Scarlet”, Sherlock Holmes is first introduced to the reader by the narrator and companion Dr. Watson. It is through his eyes that we perceive the story and Holmes’ actions, not counting in the second part that explains some of the necessary background of the plot.

It’s almost always the question of “What did the game designer want me to understand so that I can find the trigger to advance the narrative?”. It’s trigger that sometimes puts me off, because in a badly designed game, it can end up in senseless actions being asked of the player and therefore he/she gets stuck for no valid reason. With good puzzle design, this can be minimized, but still, it all puts the player’s range of action into an uncomfortable corset.

This design paradigm consists of the basic idea that the player should be able to solve a problem by using their own brain power instead of hunting for triggers. Triggers are a more primitive way of the designer forcing the player to think, sadly resulting in use-everything-with-everything orgies if badly done.

A non-linear approach allows the player to make mistakes and encourages the player to make their own conclusions and gives them the power to execute on them. Of course a autonomous world to do that in is awesome already by itself and it should allow for pretty new motivation to replay an actually linear plot line if it was not for the player :D.

Of course, as a gamer I’ve run many detective games. These range from the high thrill, high horror, low schlock games like SLA Industries to the low key, psychic conspiracy thrillers like The 23rd Letter.

In the 80s, I remember playing Consulting Detective with the older kids and thoroughly enjoyed the level of detail, the requirement for immersion and visualisation and the reliance on observation and deduction. But it was not a popular game because to the average teenager, the game was hard. We were smart kids (most of us anyway), and yet we seemed more stupid in a group. Smart as we were, we were no Sherlock Holmes.

It is my belief that when running a detective game, you have to remember that the players are often less than the sum of their parts (due to confusion, interrupted narrative, last night’s football results and the imminent arrival of spicy food and naan bread).

This means that even smart individuals may miss important clues, may not see the allusions and the inferences in the newspaper clippings, fag ends and hastily scrawled dying notes which litter the genre. We all have day jobs and families and we’re not the super-obsessive compulsive consulting detective that the game might assume so the designer has to take the step of telling us once, telling us twice and telling us a third time to make sure we get the clue. We might misremember small facts, forget to keep copious notes (which, in my opinion, spoils the enjoyment of the game) or simply we may not be wired to think that way. Kevin Beimers of Straandlooper spoke about this aspect of game design at an event we held at Belfast Metropolitan College earlier this year. Clues need to be logical and discoverable.

There is also the problem when this translates into a video game that the game will often, by necessity, highlight items which are important. Games like Myst and Hector: Badge of Carnage thankfully escape much of this but it can be maddening to be tapping around trying to figure out exactly how to get something to work as a fan belt.

But we enjoy the discovery, even as it frustrates and confounds us. I’ve had almost as much fun watching someone play an engaging game as I have had playing it. So, why are there so few multiplayer detective games?

Are there any?

Current Inspirations

Portal – for the non-violent nature of it and the neat teleportation physics puzzles. And removing half of the stupid ways to die. And for this.

Mirror’s Edge on iPad – for the simple swipe-based mechanics, showing us a new way to do a simple platformer. For showing us how to convert a FPS for touch. And for this.

Left4Dead – for uncompromising 4 player co-op on both sides. For re-inventing the entire zombie genre. For much fun and great instakills. And for this.

Myth – for showing us that you don’t need to spend two hours building an army for a 10 minute fight. And building a kick-ass story around it. And for this.

And two movies.

Primer – for providing an all-round mind-fuck of a movie. and it’s available for free (linked here) on low-resolution web video and of course, available as a DVD.

Inception – only just out and not long out of the cinemas so there’s not a lot that I can say without introducing spoilers. So go and look at the trailer here and then go watch the movie. All I can add is “BRRRRANNNNNGGGGGGG”. You’ll know what I mean after you watch it.

Games in Education

I believe that my playing of games has contributed positively to my development as an individual. Traditionally advocacy for gaming has included the development of teamwork and leadership skills, understanding of competition, resource management and also a greater appreciation of geography, politics, religion and ‘alien’ cultures. Games, especially tabletop role-playing games, have been used in education for years as they are comparatively light on resources, encourage participation and are good for personal development.

I read this from BrainyGamer

This year, for the first time, a video game will appear on the syllabus of a course required for all students at Wabash College, where I teach. For me – and for a traditional liberal arts college founded in 1832 – this is a big deal.

I pitched the idea to my colleagues on the committee (decidedly not a collection of gamers), and they agreed to try Portal and read selections from Goffman’s book. After plowing through some installation issues (“What does this Steam do? Will it expose me to viruses?”), we enjoyed the first meaningful discussion about a video game I’ve ever had with a group of colleagues across disciplines. They got it. They made the connections, and they enjoyed the game. Most importantly, they saw how Portal could provoke thoughtful reflection and vigorous conversation on questions germane to the course.

And so we’re playing Portal at Wabash College.

Portal is, for a single player game, utterly fascinating.

I yearn for a group of individuals who get together to not only play games but also to have meaningful discussion about games and play. To examine the meta-design of games and to discuss the reasons why they are fun.

Yellowcon 2010 (Warhammer 40K Tournament)

Warhammer 40K Tournament (Yellowcon 2010)
Sunday, August 29, 2010 from 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM (GMT)

Stormont Hotel
587 Upper Newtownards Road
BT4 3LP Belfast
United Kingdom


1750 point tournament. Prizes for winner & runner-up.

Access the rules pack which will be necessary for you to play in the tournament

The first game will start at 10.30, but it will be best for players to be there from 10am.

We hope everyone really enjoy the day!!

The Fun Theory

When designing games I tend to think about what will make the game more ‘sticky’. At the start, I can usually enthuse someone about a game by talking to them about it. You’re the consummate salesperson for your game and design and in theory no-one can sell the concept like you can. To get people to play (or better still, to pay), you have to describe the game in such terms that it seems fun. This was a challenge with The 23rd Letter because it doesn’t contain pictures and like it or not it’s the visuals which usually interest someone in a game.

In theory, with the concept of Playbor (work that seems like play), you can make anything seem like fun. Whether this is Tom Sawyer fooling others to whitewash the fence or the complicated patterns from the Folding@Home project, you can get results by adding simple things like achievements, leaderboards and a dollop of fun.

I’m very interested in the motivations of people especially with respect to getting them to change behaviours. Work I’ve done with the University of Ulster was describing scenarios for changed behaviours and how you can take advantage of those for good (or evil). Needless to say that lots of companies are looking at this area because it goes beyond advertising. In this world, advertising is already dead and we’re presenting people with things that would normally be described as ‘not fun’ and making them into ‘fun’. That’s actually a lot easier than getting someone to click through on a banner advert.

Can you get more people to take the stairs by making it more fun?

This is the essence of games.

Not everyone can appreciate the fun of a game like Left4Dead (one of the very best co-operative games on the market). And not everyone is going to appreciate games like Diner Dash or Farmville. But there is a feeling of enjoyment and achievement in all of these games which is what is common in games.

This is Jane McGonigal at TED talking about how games can be used to fix real-world problems.

My aim is to start a new company (working title: Alien Salvage) which will focus on the development of games which will have both learning and healthcare applications as well as being fun.

8 Bit Demakes

This article describes 8 bit de-makes – remaking some of todays popular games in 8 bit and 16 bit forms. Some of them still look amazing such as Little Big Planet and Mirrors Edge.

All of them are great but these two – you can see why I like them – they’d work really well on a 3.5 inch screen if you know what I mean 🙂 Mirrors Edge is almost already there but looking at LBP – that would, could be a lot of fun.

Runnin and Jumpin genre mash

Earlier this week, we had a meeting of local iOS developers and we segued into a conversation about the development of game ideas ahead of a ‘gamestorming’ event we have planned for next week.

We talked about the development of game ideas and there was a look at the Mirror’s Edge game in the context of being a game which essentially involves running and jumping. I decided to add a little pastiche here using the powers of Youtube. All of the games listed below bring different perspectives to the running and jumping genre.

The first running and jumping game was Donkey Kong (1981):

but possibly the most famous running and jumping game is Super Mario Bros.

A recent game by an Irish developer is Into the Twilight (iTunes link). It shows a different theme for running and jumping games.

and finally, I present Mirror’s Edge for iPad which I personally think is streets ahead of the FPS released on consoles and PC. But where it wins is in the interface. Touch interface is perfect in this game.

I would not have played if…

From Wired:

A federal judge is allowing a negligence lawsuit to proceed against the publisher of the online virtual-world game Lineage II, amid allegations that a Hawaii man became so addicted he is “unable to function independently in usual daily activities such as getting up, getting dressed, bathing or communicating with family and friends.”

Smallwood claims to have played Lineage II for 20,000 hours between 2004 and 2009. Among other things, he alleges he would not have begun playing if he was aware “that he would become addicted to the game.”

Take some personal responsibility, lard-ass.

Review of 20 non-video games at Gamasutra

Gamasutra has an interesting set of articles on real-world game design.

[Game Design Essentials returns with an extensive review of some of the most interesting non-electronic games, from traditional cultural games like Chess and Go through pen-and-paper role playing titles like Call of Cthulhu, European games like The Settlers of Catan, and much more — each with a unique design lesson.]

The only game I would add to the review would be Vampire: The Masquerade for it’s (at the time) unique emphasis on character and the loss of humanity which does compare to the sanity-blasting nature of Call of Cthulhu after a fashion. But the exclusion of the game is undoubtedly because of the afterbirth of the tortured souls who first loved the game: the trenchcoat samurai. These individuals (and their cohorts, the velvet wannabees) changed the tone of the game and put a lot of people off. When you had a good group, however, you had a game which focused on social interaction, on playing roles like duty, love, passion, perversion – and making it acceptable though challenging to play.

Vampire revitalised the hobby (again) and this role is now being repeated by indie games which have a reduced need for long preparations and rely more on social interaction and ‘storytelling’ than strict adherence to the result of a dice (if indeed they have any randomising element).


Today I moved about 150 kgs of my gaming collection to my house from my parents house. Keen-eyed geeks will be able to easily identify some of the game books here and some of you will even be upset at my organisation of the collection which, at the moment, is very coarse and will be improved as more of the collection is moved here. There’s easily another 150 kgs over there.

My bookshelf

You should be able to spot Traveller, Godlike, Star Trek, Blue Planet, Rolemaster, Middle Earth Roleplaying, Doctor Who, James Bond, Ars Magica, Call of Cthulhu maybe more.

I posted this pic on my Tech blog but when I think about it, it’s just as appropriate here.


In terms of special effects, I’d love to know how they do the superhero style special effects like in in Hancock

and more recently, an EMINEM video (forward to about 3 minutes):

and Push

I’ve not been posting much because I’ve not been gaming much. I need to do something about that for the latter half of 2010.

The Aliens Are Coming

Stephen Hawking talks about how we should hide from aliens:

I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonize whatever planets they can reach. … If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans.

At least until we get our own massive ships after looting the Earth for goodies and go out on the prowl.

This is the plot for “The War of the Worlds” after all. Just the distances may be many orders of magnitude greater.