Diving Dice First Into Tabletop

Twilight ImperiumTowards the start of the year as a semi-New Years resolution I decided to get more into tabletop gaming. It has always been something on the periphery of my life and when I meet up with close friends it is what we do to hang out. That’s because sitting around a table rolling dice, playing combos of cards and shifting Meeples about the place is a brilliant social activity. In the past year or so my affection for it has grown exponentially and it felt like the right time to try and take it one step further.

There was one problem though; there was no real tabletop/board gaming communities around my area, Bishop’s Stortford. Sure there are a few groups in Cambridge which is a train ride away  and there is always something board game related happening in London which I could go to after work but I am a lazy person and I like to do things as local to me as possible. So I took the plunge and set up a Tabletop Meet Up Group for the people of Bishop’s Stortford and the surrounding areas.

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What a Fiasco!

Fiasco 1

Over the weekend I had the highly entertaining experience of playing Fiasco with some friends. The games sells itself as “A Game of Powerful Ambition & Poor Impulse Control.” The end result of this aim is in practise, a bit off the mark but in Fiasco you have a powerful storytelling engine that makes players think creatively. You naturally expand upon the basic Setup to create a dark and very comic narrative for the characters you have crafted.

For a relatively simple RPG Fiasco has a surprising amount of depth and gives lots of room for the player’s to customise and expand upon their experience. Easily played over an evening the game leaves you wanting more. You wonder what would have happened if you made different choices or nudged the story and your character in a different direction. It is a game of possibilities and it will envelop you before, during and after you play.

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Incentives to Design – One Game A Month


I discovered One Game a Month randomly one night while browsing the internet. After reading through the site’s mission statement and having a good look around at the types of games being made as part of the initiative I jumped at the chance to sign up.

This is exactly the kind of thing I have been looking for recently to help keep my game design juices flowing. The task is both a simple but an almost herculean one at the same time; make and release at least one game a month for a year. As regular readers of this blog will know I have been having trouble keeping focused on one specific game and just simply sitting down and actually making something until recently. So I am not going into One Game A Month willy nilly here I am doing it for the best of intentions:

  1. To boost my currently lacking portfolio.
  2. To keep my skills fresh and learn lots of new ones along the way.
  3. To make games!

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Simple RPG Update and What Comes Next

3659920144_7601dbafc2Now that I am back from my very brief but very eventful trip to Seattle and have spent a couple of days trying to get over jetlag (I say trying because I am currently writing this at 5am! YAY for messed up sleeping patterns!) it is time to get back to the business of attempting to make games!

Despite the hectic-ness and craziness of the trip I managed to get a fair bit of thinking and mental mapping done for the Simple RPG and a couple of other things I have in the pipe-line. The Simple RPG should hopefully only take a couple more weeks to finish then release for testing and feedback so yay! In the meantime I will be hopefully uploading one or two more videos about the game. One of a section in the latter half of the game and the other about me making the game and how I am currently using RPG Maker VX Ace. The second video will also have links to the various sites, videos, pdfs and tutorials I have been using to get to grips with the program because I am such a nice guy and I feel like sharing it with you!

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Simple RPG Battle Preview

One last quick video before I shoot off to the states for a break!

In this video I show off the battle system for my simple RPG and in turn one of the boss battles that will be featured in the game. I also talk about the game in general and my learning process with RPG Maker VX Ace.


During the video I mention wanting to change the look of the battle system to make it more….appealing visually. Well this morning I’ve been doing some searching around and I have found the perfect script for the changes I wanted to make to the look of the battle system.

I am now using the brilliant Ace Battle System by Yanfly

So it has gone from looking like this:

Old Battle Screen


To this:

New Battle SystemCharacter pictures, more effects and damage indicators. All able to tweak and change at my whims. PERFECT! It also means I have checked off the add extra scripts to the game box of my check list for the game. The processing of the turns and the displaying of battle information is still a tad to fast for my tastes but hopefully I should be able to edit Yanfly’s script to slow things down a bit.

Apart from that battling works the same way as it did before it just looks a hell of a lot better!

Simple RPG Intro Video

Just to show that I am making progress teaching myself how to use RPG Maker VX Ace here is a video of the intro for short game I am making as part of the learning process. I’ve been working on it solidly for the past week and I’m starting to put it all together. The latest complete section is this short opening that gets the ball rolling.

Like I said it is meant to be a short and simple RPG, so the story isn’t up to much!

…..and neither are the characters……

Still I am loving it and it is great to be working on an actual game with actual development tools.

I’ll be putting up more videos soon and eventually releasing the full game for download. So keep your eyes peeled!

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Extra Credits – Western & Japanese RPGs (Part 3)

Link: Extra Credits – Western & Japanese RPGs (Part 3)

NOTE: I accidentally posted this to my other blog so if you see another version of this floating around do not panic! It is just me posting things incorrectly!

I haven’t linked to Extra Credits for the past few weeks because they have been doing a three part series on Western and Japanese RPGs and I wanted to see how it ended before passing judgement.

The first two parts of the series (Part one here and part 2 here) deal mainly with defining what RPGs are and why Western RPGs and JRPGs are actually two different genres. They are worth checking out because they raise the question of why we define game genres the way we do, after their main mechanics rather than overall content. It is good food for thought when you take into account the spread of game mechanics into different genres that has been happening over the past few years. RPG mechanics in particular are present in most AAA games that sell in their millions.

Part 3 is where the traditional Extra Credits style commentary comes into play. It further defines the gap between Western and Japanese RPGs and shows why the western games are experiencing their current success while JRPGs just….well…..suck for the majority. There are several points about JRPGs that hit home for me because back in the days of the PSOne and PS2 I loved JRPGs. There were loads of them around and plenty of them were really good games! I can honestly say I haven’t truly enjoyed a JRPG since Final Fantasy X. I’ve played a few in the past few years but they have been a tad boring for my tastes and poorly put together. 

If you look at Final Fantasy which is arguably the poster franchise for the genre that everyone points to and says, “That there is the JRPG in a nutshell.” Final Fantasy XIII was a really bad game. The combat may have been interesting but the design and pacing was very poor. Just one long corridor with a different slap of paint every now and then. It just boiled down to the point made by Extra Credits, Square spent to much on making it look pretty and as a result sort of forgot to make a good game with it. 

JRPGs played a huge part in my gaming life and made me want to see the big, epic stories they delivered in other types of games. Now that other types of games are doing that regularly and arguably, better than JRPGs. They have sort of fallen by the wayside for me and many others. The video ends with a discussion on what SquareEnix could do with making next instead of more Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest games. Kingdom Hearts 3 was mentioned. I loved the first two games and four to five years ago even the slightest whisperings of KH3 would make me excited. These days? I am not interested in the slightest. This is because I look at the endless portable Kingdom Hearts games Square have come out with over the past few years and I realise that I was left behind by that franchise a long time ago as it spiralled down into itself. That makes me unbelievably sad.