Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Superlite Heroes! Version 2

It's not comics-related, but it's the sort of upbeat I need. And it's so so good.

Sorry for pushing this off a day, but it actually let me do another visual pass on the document and I think it's better for it!

Latest Version (v2) Download:


So first: it's been like a year, and I never even really showed off the completed v1 document when I made it. Superlite Heroes! was a game I made in a weekend last September, mostly at a rather slow Gamerati Game Day and driven by thoughts about Aaron Eckhart's "Die a hero or become a villain" quote from The Dark Knight. I was inspired by a copy of Lasers & Feeling in my folder as well - not mechanically but format-wise. I wanted to make a very simple game on a single page.
The original version was indeed on a single page, but took the front and back. It wasn't quite the pure thing I wanted. Plus it didn't look very pretty - I made the pdf in like two hours.
I decided to share the game on Story Games just to put it out there. After all, for a weekend's worth of work it felt pretty good! And the feedback was generally positive, that there was a seed of something in there. Some suggestions were given, but I was never sure if I was going to come back to Superlite Heroes!.

There are a couple reasons I decided to return to the game.
1) I had sufficient ideas about how to re-write the game.
2) I felt better-equipped for the rather intimidating task of writing the game on the front of a single page.
3) I knew that, at the very least, I could make it a little prettier and more stylish looking than the old version. That wasn't a hard task by any means.
4) I'm a game designer with no 'completed' titles under my belt yet. I have The Doppleganger, which I am proud of, but while I continue to refine Avatar World and The Shining Void I had this kernel of a game that just needed some fixing up to present as a full thing I'd completed.

What's changed mechanically? The biggest change is the simultaneous simplification and diversification of life/health. You now have three healths: moral health, social health, and physical health. However, they all operate on a system that is more unified to the action mechanic. "Death" has been greatly simplified - perhaps at cost to the metaphor of going out in comics, but still accommodates my quote inspiration.
Another change is a slight simplification to gaining drawbacks (you get it in your highest or lowest stat, your choice). The actual strengths/drawbacks are the main targets for further refinement, as some provide (small) mechanical effects while others do not. Ultimately they're all meant to be more like fictional cues (and even the impressive Unkillable Strength isn't as good as it sounds).
The thid significant change is the expansion of the GM section, now comprising nearly a third of the sheet. It includes a villain/plot generator (also a refinement target), a set of principles, and some pacing trick suggestions.

The document itself is in color, but even when printed in black and white it reads well.

I would not be surprised if I generate a version 3 for the game, but at the same time this is a completed game. I have not, however, ever playtested either version 1 or 2, so please let me know if you do because I could use a little feedback!

End Recording,

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Rest in Peace Torn

There is no song.  Pour out your heaviest metal and your angriest rap in memory.
If you came for a game design thing I said I'd be posting, come back tomorrow. This takes precedence.

I'm a member of a small (very small) community called Kakariko Graveyard. Many of us were also members at a predecessor forum, The Forest Haven. One member, Torn (formerly Torn&Filthy) was a good friend of mine. He had a lot of issues with trust and depression and went through periods of trying to splice himself entirely out of the online communities and social networks he was in, get a fresh start. When I stopped hearing from him in March, I assumed this is what happened.

However, it's been quite a while since I last heard from him. I got worried. Maybe he really had just entirely shifted communities or something...but alas, yesterday I discovered his obituary. There are too many similarity points between the obituary and my friend to be a mistake identity, even with a common name like Jordan Miller. My friend is gone, died literally the day after I last saw him, tweeting about the upcoming Assassin's Creed games.
I keep cycling through thoughts. Torn had a regular history of depression, and while all my recent experience of him had made me think he was doing better at the time, I can't help but fixate on the idea of suicide. Had there been warning signs that I missed? Was there anything I could have said? Was I a bad friend for taking this long to discover what happened? And then I realize I'm making it about me and I feel worse about doing that. And the worst part is that I don't know the cause of death. It might very well have been an accident of some kind. I don't know. I just fear that I let him down.

Torn was one of the first figures whose name I remember from my original foray into the internet. I must have met him over ten years ago at TFH. I didn't get to know him well there - I didn't get close to anyone there really. But I felt close to him at KG, through all the bad shit that came his way. He was unlucky, and I wish we'd all treated him a bit better at times. I won't pretend he didn't get annoying at times - he didn't believe in vaccines and had extremely strong ideas about nutrition, and would get moody if he didn't think we were paying enough attention, but there was never any real animosity. We loved him.

My deepest condolences to his family. And if any of his other friends want to talk, I'm free and open.
We miss you Torn. Rest in peace.

End Recording,

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Avatar World Version 1.6 Release

Kill Bill is great! Rap and hip-hop rarely resonate like this with me. You could only call him nerdcore in the most indirect sense. It's just chill enough for me...

So Avatar World!
Did you know? The original post introducing Avatar World was released 2 years ago as of the 14th of October. Here's hoping we can call it final before it turns 3!
This new version is largely based around some smaller changes. The most significant changes are a re-writing of Earthbending as well as a couple moves on the Earthbender. The new changes definitely eases some old tension with the original, though it is untested so far. Other changes include another pass over the sub-playbooks to clarify some stuff, and a full editing/spellchecking pass, so let me know if you ferret out any more. I also changed Armor to Fortune and tried to adjust the language to adapt to that change, but I might have missed something. The motivation behind this change is the use of the resource to negate mental or social Tags - Armor really only made sense for physical ones.
One style thing I've been debating is whether to unify the capitalization of the bending types - sometimes I capitalize, sometimes I don't. I think I'll be going through and making all references to the actual moves and playbooks capital and the more simple character descriptors lowercase.

So, I was thinking maybe if my Monsterhearts game ended soon I'd suggest a long-form AvW as the next thing, but that won't be ending anytime soon by the looks of it (and I don't want it to, just watch my twitter and you'll see how much I love and am enraptured the game). I can't really handle both for logistics reasons (the play crowd is in Olympia and I can only visit 1/week cuz of gas costs, and also I have no time), so if anyone else is either participating in or will soon be in a long-form Avatar World game please tell me! I need to know how the game holds up over several sessions. Or, more accurately, I need to see how the improvements stack up, how MC plots work over several sessions, what the Training moves look like in action, and how well the sub-playbooks work.

Latest Version (v1.6) Download:



I don't know when the next draft will come up. I hope to have at least a 2-session experience with it by then, if not a full four to five. I'm now open to feedback and suggestions of all sorts: mechanics, art, writing, layout, etc. Suggestions for what I need to include, or what needs to be explained better, are greatly desired. One thing I intend to put in is a short but illustrative Example of Play bit. What else would you like to see in the book?

As for other projects? With this release I'm sliding Avatar World to the side to focus on a couple others. 
I'm developing a v2.0 for Superlite Heroes, hopefully to fit it on a single front of a page just like its inspiration game Lasers & Feelings and like it was originally intended to be, while also expanding the GM section to indicate a more immediate rhythm of play. This is my mechanics project.
I'm currently laying out Learning Pixel Art and discovering all sorts of fun incompatibilites between InDesign and GIMP and pixel art. Getting the images to come out as crisp as they need to be for pixel art is proving to be a challenge, and getting the colors right with the CMYK-biased InDesign and the RGB-exclusive GIMP is disastrous. This is my layout project.
With Avatar World moving aside, The Shining Void is coming forward as my writing project again, as that's the majority of what it needs.

Secret potential NaNoWriMo project? Uh, still secret, and still only potential. I know, I know, I don't have much time to decide.

Oh, and I haven't seen Korra Season 3 yet, let alone 4, so please don't spoil it for me.

End Recording,

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Update

I quite like Sleepwave. They're certainly not perfect, and I'm no metal fan, so take that as you will.

I just wanted to post again before there goes a whole month without content. I've been working! Between a fairly exhausting school schedule and several open projects, nothing has changed to a degree that I want to show yet.

Avatar World
Pretty much no motion here. Keep talking about it and playing it! When I get a chance I want to run a couple sessions of it long-form style.
If you've played a game of Avatar World that has gone longer than one session, please contact me!

The Shining Void
As soon as I get access to InDesign again I'm going to be drawing up the next version. It won't be a radical change, but I'll be rewriting almost all of the fluffing on the species stuff. A couple other little changes, but nothing gigantic.

Learning Pixel Art
This has been my big project for the past several weeks. I've written a complete from-the-ground-up tutorial on the mechanics of making pixel art. I'm very proud of how comprehensive it is, and am investigating selling it for $1. All the resources, in addition to the first two chapters (of 8) and the list of exercises will be available for free to sample the tutorial before you buy. It's quite intense, currently counting to about 30,000 words or so.
I have all the text and illustrations made, though I need to go through a layout/revising/editing pass, then I think it'll be strong.

Hacked From The Apocalypse
An idea I had that's been bounced to the back burner while I complete Learning Pixel Art, HftA is inspired by the Cortex Plus Hacker's Guide. I want to see if I can put together a document about hacking the Apocalypse World engine, focusing less on exact mechanics of how to put together moves and such (which is well-handled by the original game itself) and more on what it means to set up stats in certain ways, what playbook selection can mean, how adding or subtracting subsystems changes things, and more. Perhaps more important than my own contributions, I'd love to be able to talk to others who work extensively with the PbtA engine (both hack-writers and those who simply have a great insight into the system). That somewhat alleviates my own imposter syndrome regarding my "right" to write such a document.
If you're interested in writing something for it (maybe a page or three total about a particular subject?) let me know, but this project isn't on the front burner yet and may not be for a while.

Secret NaNoWriMo Project
I'm considering doing something for National Novel Writing Month this year. I have an idea that I'm going to sit on for now to see if I can get it to blossom, so I'm not sharing more until I see if it's actually viable. That might take my November writing time though.

I think that's all the projects I have spiraling around me right now. Look for more about LPA soon. It shouldn't be long before I actually get something I can show you folks.

(Life update: My brother moved out for university, my classes are wrecking me, I'm turning 21 on Sunday)
End Recording,