Showing posts from March, 2022

A City-Building (Computer) Game, Part 1

This isn't for tabletops. A couple years ago, I made a little game like Caesar III or Pharaoh (of the so-called 'City Building' series) where you made an industrial company town. Games of this kind have you place buildings connected to houses by roads, on which you have these little distributor characters follow random paths to give resources to houses they pass-by. My own game took this format and also simulated an industrial capitalist economy following a super simplified (really, pseudo) understanding of Marx's analysis of capital, where the production rates of your company and other companies were compared with respect to individual types of goods--coats, bread, chairs, etc. The time it took to produce one such type on average impacted that good's worth on the market. Anyway, that's my background with this whole thing. I was really into that series of games and wanted to put my own spin on it. Earlier today, I was thinking about some arguments between peop

Abstraction, the Basis of Computing (Part 1)

The word “abstraction” has many applications in the realm of computer science and software engineering. One immediate sort of abstraction you might think of is the graphical design of user interfaces on computers and other devices. The earliest trends in graphical user interface design embraced a skeuomorphic language of visual (and verbal!) metaphor, where actions or objects on the computer were represented as real world things. For example, the desktop metaphor interprets the computer screen as a literal desktop where you store and access files. The copy/cut/paste functions evoke the literal actions of cutting paper and pasting it onto something else, and so they were represented as such in name and in visual representation. The most common 'save' icon is a picture of a floppy disk. Above are some icons that were used on old Macintosh computers in the eighties and nineties, by seminal graphic designer Susan Kare [1]. Each icon is a metaphor mapping a digital fu

Coins & Calendars, Redeux

A while ago, I had written about the pseudo-medieval economy of Dungeons & Dragons by treating it as a pre-industrial capitalist economy emerging out of a feudal society. I had also written about a simple calendar system in light of that, to make it easy to model long-term play on top of social relations grounded in a living game-world. In this article, I will combine my insights from both of those earlier attempts to develop a singular theory of managing time and society in a campaign. The primary concern is creating a fictional timekeeping system that harmonizes with different scales of play, so that players can zoom out and act in the capacity of months or years without much mental math to scale these activities. Edit 3/15 12:00 PM: Throughout this post, I say that the ratio of pounds:shillings:pence is 1:12:240, when it was actually 1:20:240. This means there are 20 shillings in a pound, not 12; and there are 12 pence in a shilling, not 20. I should have checked this before w

D&D without To-Hit Rolls, Addendum

  I wrote this in response to LS's comment [1], but it ended up being super long! Hope y'all find it useful still. :) Hi, thank you so much for your reply!! So I’ve actually gotten some ire from damage-roll-only folks for the opposite issue, that the subtractive armor here causes attacks to miss too much . As much as I’d like to be an enlightened centrist and say that, if both sides are attacking me, then I must be doing something right, it’s entirely possible that I’ve really picked the worst parts of both methods. You might know this already, but I had actually been pretty apprehensive towards damage-only combat rules for a while for the same reason! I don’t like HP bloat and I appreciate that armor makes opponents harder to defeat without just upping how many numbers you need to make to make their numbers go down. It was only because I’ve been exploring jrpg-style mechanics for my project (emulating Pokemon, Megaten, etc.) that I began considering one-hit combat at all! So,

D&D without To-Hit Rolls

I feel like whenever I preface a post with, “I don’t expect this to be a long one,” it ends up being a long one. I’m going to avoid jinxing myself and get to the point. Here is a simple method to remove to-hit rolls from your dungeony dragony game, but perhaps coming from a different angle than other articles or rulebooks have suggested. Roll a monster’s hit dice, each 1-6, and multiply by two [1]. Damage rolls are from 1-6 minus armor class, which can be anywhere from 0 to 4. Alternatively, owing to Ty of Mindstorm: Armor classes are descending from 6 to 2, and damage rolls must be less than or equal to armor to deal damage indicated. Knock on wood! Motivation I wanted to look into this because I’ve been working, yet again, on a ruleset for my white whale project The Brimstone Gospel . There are three ability scores, and the average of all three is equal to the character’s level. This allows me to roll hit dice to find a character’s level (e.g. for a monster) and directly find their s

Double Feature: Encumbrance & Metric Movement

How’s it go, again? “Same song, different chorus”? My friend mv of hypertext corner wrote a great article about introducing novel uses and consequences to light sources in Mothership [1]. We had been talking about it since I wrote my article about how rules for light sources in Dungeons & Dragons relate to character movement insofar as a character sees much less farther than they can walk in a turn [2]. Their solution is since flashlights shine much farther than a character can presumably walk in a turn, it would be more interesting to think about how directional light informs encounter surprise. It sounds really fun! During our conversation, though, we were also talking about rates of exploration in Mothership which, by the book, aren’t given. We talked about it quite a bit before realizing it didn’t matter in the scope of mv’s article. They told me that characters had a movement rate of about 10-15 m and so I was like, okay, maybe we can extrapolate that the exploration rate i