Play to Win is a free gamified business strategy seminar created by Cliton Swaine, founder of Frontier Trainings. Play to Win is the absolute best seminar I have ever experienced. Although many of the principles taught at the seminar are not new, the way they teach and present the material is phenomenal. The three day seminar consists of a series of games, or what Frontier Training calls experiential learning. Experiential learning is corporate babble for live-action role playing -- or more appropriately alternate reality gaming, since the trainers wear costumes, use props, and play the roles of jesters, kings, commodity brokers, and more, while the players interact with the game world as themselves. The trainers are cross-trained and use physical comedy, improv, and roleplaying to present potentially dry subjects.
Play to Win
Tabletop Tuesdays: The Best Gamified Education
|Submitted by sebastian sohn on Tue, 04/19/2011 - 23:31.|
Star Opus I
|Submitted by costik on Thu, 04/07/2011 - 02:16.|
Star Opus I is a nicely-implemented shmup with Asteroids-style motion control and shooting. There are a lot of such games, of course; what makes Star Opus stand out is the sheer number of potential enemies and the interesting ways in which they are used and combined in 25 different levels to pose different challenges with each level.
Visuals are vector-graphics style in old-school monitor green, but with nice floating visuals as background; music is a pleasant and unobtrusive electronic score. It's not that there's anything particularly unique here, but the package as a whole is pleasure and challenging to play.
Star Opus appears to have been a commercial indie venture, but the developers have released it as freeware -- though they threaten an additional 25 levels in future, presumably for actual money. It's worth checking out, however, if the game style is one that appeals to you.
Snakes of Avalon
Fuck it, Bob, Just Get Me Another Drink
|Submitted by costik on Mon, 04/04/2011 - 01:50.|
Snakes of Avalon is a graphic adventure in which you play Jack, a severe alcoholic hanging out in the Avalon, apparently a dive bar that caters to scum like you. You believe that you overhear plans to commit murder and decide, in your boozy and inept way, to foil them.
The technique of the unreliable narrator is common in fiction, and quite often in noir fiction, but it's something I've never seen used in a graphic adventure before. The results are amazingly surreal, as what you interact with is not necessarily anything remotely like reality, but instead Jack's deranged, alcoholic idea of what's going on. This alcoholic dream-logic meshes curiously with the rigorous logic of the graphic adventure, in which specific uses of inventory items produce concrete effects, but the result is more than a little appealing.
Lunar Lander Puzzle
|Submitted by costik on Thu, 03/24/2011 - 16:18.|
Pat Kemp is a mainstream game developer who creates indie games in his spare time; Station 38 is a level-based puzzle game based on the "power and direction" mechanic, but in an unusual way. The mechanic is normally used for things like golf or bowling games, but here it is used in a sort of platformer; each level, you must get a little LEM-like space vehicle from its starting location to a "teleporter" exit. You press LMB and drag the mouse to indicate the direction in which the LEM will launch; a longer line indicates more power. Typically, there are obstacles in the level's geography you must get over and around; sometimes, in fact, a single 'launch' won't do it, but as long as your vehicle has 'power' remaining (indicated by the length of a blue line above it), you can draw another line while in mid-air to alter its trajectory.
Tabletop Tuesdays: Diplomacy Variant
|Submitted by costik on Tue, 03/22/2011 - 19:15.|
A vital lesson any aspiring game designer must learn is that relatively small tweaks to the rules of a game can produce major changes in the feeling of play. Diplomacy variants are one good way to see this quickly; since the game's publication in 1959, fans have designed a huge number of variants (or 'mods', if you will), and by exploring them, you can see a lot of ideas for how to change gameplay very quickly. Excellent places to explore them include The Variant Bank and The Diplomatic Pouch.
Diplomacy is, in many ways, a superb game, but it is not without flaws. Among them, two are prominent. First, it is fairly easy to be eliminated in the early game, which is a pain, since a complete game takes seven hours or so to play, and your friends are still having fun while you're looking at your watch. Second, because of the high ratio between supply center and non-supply center provinces, it is fairly easy to construct a "stalemate line" -- a continuous line of mutually supporting units such that no attack from the other side, however arranged, can break the front.
The Bloody Forks of the Ohio
Tabletop Tuesdays: Washington in the Wilderness
|Submitted by costik on Tue, 03/15/2011 - 20:54.|
The Bloody Forks of the Ohio is a tabletop indie RPG set in the Ohio Country in 1754 -- a moment of historically vital importance. What happened there was the proximate cause of the Seven Years War, a minor fight in the woods between a few hundred men producing a global conflagration that involved all of Europe's Great Powers and warfare over three continents -- North America (where it was known as the French and Indian War), Europe, and India (where France still contended with Britain for control of the subcontinent).
The history is this: three powers -- the Iroquois, the French, and the British -- all claimed the region. The Iroquois had survived mainly by playing the British and French against one another, but their hold over the region was tenuous; the Delaware and Shawnee who settled it owed ostensible allegiance to the Six Nations, but were not themselves members of the Iroquois confederacy, and not inclined to take orders from Onondaga (the Iroquois capital). The previous year, soldiers dispatched by the governor of Virginia had built a small fort at the confluence of the Ohio, Monongahela, and Allegheny rivers (a place we now call "Pittsburgh"), but the French, discovering this intrusion into what they considered a part of New France, set them packing, and built Fort Duquesne, a considerably more robust fortification.
Tiny and Big
|Submitted by costik on Mon, 03/14/2011 - 01:44.|
Tiny and Big is a 3D physics puzzler with comic-book like graphics (down to cross hatching on most objects) in which you play a fellow with a laser and a grappling hook, pursuing some gink who has stolen your grandfather's underpants. (Or in other words, the backstory is absurd and largely irrelevant, simply providing an arbitrary motivation.)
Most of the world (but not all) is destroyable and deformable; the puzzles mainly involve cutting up pieces of the environment and moving them around to gain access to the next area you may reach.
|Submitted by costik on Wed, 03/09/2011 - 21:11.|
Each level of Toys provides a set of colored blocks arranged in space. You move the mouse to control perspective, circling the arrangement of blocks, which remain at the center of a sphere. It's a perspective puzzle; before you enter the level, the game shows you how the blocks are supposed to appear, and your purpose is simply to find the right angle to view them in so that they appear in this arrangement. As a visual cue, the proper arrangement is displayed at center screen as pastels, while the block themselves are solid color, so that as you alter the view, you can see when some or all are properly arranged.
Tabletop Tuesdays: How to Host a Massacre
|Submitted by costik on Tue, 03/08/2011 - 18:12.|
Geiger Counter is a cooperative survival-horror story game (that is, a rules-light RPG with the emphasis on collaborative story creation rather than on improvisational roleplay or min-max play). Its focus is on creating roleplaying sessions that have the feel of a survival horror movie; the goal is for all but one or a handful of the players to die, in some grisly fashion or another, at the hands (or claws or tentacles of whatnot) of some horrifying menace.
The specifics of this are, however, left to the players to devise. As is increasingly common in story games and indie RPGs, there is no gamemaster; since Geiger Counter's theme is cinematic, instead each 'scene' has a 'director' who decides on setting, plays the menace for the duration of the scene, and says "Cut" when he thinks it it time for the scene to end. Everything else within the scene is up to the players -- potentially including the director, if his own character in the game is present in the scene. Scenes are supposed to be short in duration, in keeping with this cinematic style, which typically features short, rapid scene cuts for tension-increasing purposes.
Name Says it All, Really
|Submitted by costik on Wed, 03/02/2011 - 02:16.|
Clickistan is donationware, of a sort; it urges you, from time to time, to donate to the annual fund for the Whitney Museum, which commissioned it.
It's an art game created by a Ubermorgen, a duo of Austrian digital artists. You would think, given these facts, that it would suck, but actually, it's kind of engaging. Not coherent, mind you, but engaging.
In each level, you click on stuff while chiptunes play. A score at screen bottom is about the only thing that the levels have in common; it increases, somewhat mysteriously, when you click on the right things, whatever they may be. At some point, text appears telling you that the level is "extremely complete," and you should click to continue.
In short, it's chaotic, there's really no motivation to play other than to see what comes next and for the basically irrelevant non-thrill of maximizing a pointless score; but visually, it's cool, and the chiptunes are fun, and it's at least as much of an enjoyable timewaster as most of the stuff we point to.
(Via Grand Text Auto.)