How to Learn Game Design – A Reference Post

At GenCon, I present a panel titled Introduction to Indie Game Design, where we hope to provide a host of resources for the panel attendees. This blogpost stands as a curated collection of resources for their use, and for anyone else who wants to get started in designing RPGs.

  1. A giant pile of resources on dropbox.
  2. Free and Professional RPGs for Game Designers
  3. Software Choices
  4. Scribus for Game Designers
  5. RPG Design Overview Sheet
  6. Basic Budgeting for RPG Publishing
  7. Design Geology
  8. Last, but certainly not least, I would like to recommend you check out the RPG Design Panelcast which is hosted on this site. There’s a heck of a lot of excellent information for you to enjoy brilliant minds.

Good luck!

GameChef 2015 – Le Lustre des Libellules

Le lustre des libellules est un jeu optimiste et plein d’espoir. Au cours de chaque session du jeu, chaque joueur joue le rôle d’une libellule. Chacune des libellules bénéficie d’un talent particulier pour aider ses copines et pour pourvoir à ses besoins. Chaque libellule est motivée par son Rêve, la Quiétude et le désir d’abandonner ses Faiblesses. Elle utilise ces trois motivations pour échapper aux dangers et pour résoudre des conflits avec les autres libellules.

Au cours du jeu, elle va satisfaire ses motivations par l’utilisation de ces Rêves, sa Quiétudes ou ses Faiblesses. Le joueur établira une partie de la personnalité d’une nymphe de la prochaine génération. Éventuellement, les vieilles libellules sont remplacées par les jeunes nymphes et le jeu continu.

Dans « Le lustre des libellules », on essaie de créer une expérience bucolique, qui célèbre la beauté naturelle et la valeur des milieux humides. On prend soin de partager et d’explorer l’innocence des jeunes libellules pour créer des histoires familiales. De plus, on peut utiliser le jeu comme une occasion de faire un commentaire social et métaphorique, afin d’ajouter de la profondeur pour les joueurs adultes. Les deux grandes inspirations ludiques sont The Warren de Marshall Miller et Golden Sky Stories de Ryo Kamiya.

Ce jeu est disponible gratis, si tu veux le télécharger Le Lustre Des Libellules .


Posthuman Problems: On Technology and Society

I published a small roleplaying game last year, titled Posthuman Pathways. It’s a game about transhumanism, the importance of technology, and how it inevitably changes us. It’s a cute little GM’less game; five pamphlets in an envelope that three people can play in an evening. Designing something like that is challenging, but that’s nothing compared to the philosophical and moral challenge that it brought to my door.

Modern society is still trying to grapple with the emergence of new technologies. The technophobes fear that we shall create tools of our own destruction. The technophiles preach from the digital rooftop that these tools will bring about something greater than humanity. Both of these urges pulled on me and the game I designed.

For context, I’m a walking ball of privilege. I’m a physically-able and university-educated white guy from Canada. By day, I’m a professional scientist with a decent income and a good deal of job security. I tend to be a broad proponent for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S.T.E.M.) education in society as a matter of course, and I have the heart of an intellectual. In short, I’m loaded to bear with biases.

One common complaint about science fiction is that it’s a medium about the danger of upsetting the status quo. Changing things, particularly through science or technology, invariably causes disaster. There’s always a pesky professor reading a book that call infernal or eldritch horror.  Engineers design robots which will destroy us. Researcher study particle physics, biologist try their hand with genetic engineering and everything goes to hell in a hand-basket.  and scientists examining particle physics invariably cause terrible problems that everyone has to deal with.

An example: Caveman Science Fiction
This technophobia runs together with anti-intellectualism that inspires such blights as the anti-vaccination movement or climate change denial. The fact that politicians say “I’m not a scientist, but I think” to justify going contrary to science? This is a problem in my books.

It would be easy to leave it there. Comfortable, even. Life would have been simpler if I had, but I couldn’t help but see the other side.

Despite the technophobia present in society, there is also some danger associated with going too far the other way. I designed a game about transhumanism, and it got me looking very hard at the intellectual threads within that subculture.

There is a status game associated with education. Those on the top are those practitioners of S.T.E.M. disciplines, who just _happen_ to be disproportionately male.
Lower in status are those with “less important” and “fluffy” university degrees in the arts, humanities or social sciences which coincidentally tend to have female students in attendance.

As a general trend, university folks look down on the technical college graduates, who are still considered a step above the trades. You will note how closely tied this ranking is to issues like economics. Why should I be receiving more respect and financial remuneration compared to a plumber, a social worker or a farmer?

What this means is that there is a tendency for those of us with  social and economic power to reinforce and glorify the technological solutions to the world’s problems. We imagine that someone from Silicon Valley will come up with some new “disruptive innovation” that will “save the world”. There is a line of thought that technology will lead to some utopian future by erasing the differences between people.

Lots of games explore science and transhumanism. Shock: Social Science Fiction by Glyphpress recreates social science fiction with a great deal of care. Eclipse Phase by Posthuman Studios explores technology as a positive form of change while addressing how it can be misused.

I worry about the idea of erasure of identities, of disrupting the current world and the impact that could have on the most marginalized members of society. That’s why I seized upon that care as the philosophical core of Posthuman Pathways. For this game, I chose to address how technology changes the world, and how this new world affects the people within it.

I have hope for what the future might bring, but that depends on us being thoughtful on what we create.

Source 1:

Source 2:

More about Posthuman Pathways:

Scribus for Game Designers

I just cobbled-together a quick (and crude) tutorial on how RPG publishers can use the free Scribus software for layout. It’s a powerful, though flawed, piece of software and I think the video might help folks who can’t afford the rather expensive license for InDesign. I hope this is helpful!

Ennies Nomination for a Spark in Fate Core!

I’m very happy to report that I have recieved a nomination for “A Spark in Fate Core” as Best Free Product for the 2014 Ennies Awards. It’s was a lot of fun to produce some content that would integrate wtih the Fate Core book, and to try a different style of collaborative worldbuilding. If anyone wants to get their own free copy, it’s over at DrivethruRPG over here!  I’m currently working on a very short run printing of hardcopies of the game for GenCon attendees.

In gratitude, I am also temporarily putting the Spark RPG on sale at 50% off, right over here!