The premise of a base-building game is that you’ve got a world full of resources, and you want to build up infrastructure to harness those resources and/or achieve objectives. If you’ve played Minecraft, you get the idea.

I’ve played a few such games recently. So what do they do that I like, and what would my ideal base-building game look like?

Read more "Base-Building Roundup" »

The LitRPG or “Literary Role-Playing Game” has become prominent in recent years. Franchises like Sword Art Online inherit ideas from the Matrix - you’re plugged into this virtual world, and if you die in VR, you die for real - and add RPG mechanics like levels and quests.

There are some things I don’t like about the LitRPG genre’s more notable works, but I like the genre as a concept. So what would I do with it?

Read more "Trapped in the MMORPG" »

For the Gigaia supplement for Superfantasy, I briefly wrote a thing about wizards, and how they use “astral clockwork”. I want to generalize this out into a system of magic anyone can use.

Read more "Astral Clockwork" »

As a writer, I have a few goals when I create worlds. One of those is to have a coherent framework that explains how things work in a logical, understandable way. Another is for a framework to lead to interesting and dramatically juicy outcomes.

Superheroic and comic-book stories are a kitchen sink. Gods, ghosts, and sorcerers work alongside high-tech heroes, mutants, and other people with unique powers. On the supernatural side, this often leads to the All Myths Are True trope. So when I need a framework for how all this works in the long-running Menagerie fiction I’ve worked on, what can I do that doesn’t contradict what’s come before, makes room for new stuff, and still lead to new interesting stories?

Read more "The Metaphysics of the Menagerie" »

I started writing a setting to roll up a lot of thoughts about high fantasy and science fantasy. The result was a series of interconnected planets, and I soon realized I could map these to the real Solar System. So what did I end up with?

Read more "The Fantasy Solar System" »

One complaint levied against modern fantasy is that it adheres too closely to certain cultural stereotypes. There’s not just a “fighter with honor”, there’s a paladin. There’s not just a supernaturally powered healer, there’s a cleric of a god - or pantheon of gods.

The Final Fantasy franchise has done interesting things with some of these stereotypes, and hewed to others. What if we start with the FF jobs, and remix them to see if we can make something really new?

Read more "Final Fantasy fusion jobs" »

In the interest of creating a comic book, and/or a visual novel with a comic-book vibe, I want to programmatically create speech bubbles.

On the one hand, this might just be laziness. Why don’t I just hand-draw every single bubble around every single bit of text, like an artist? I feel like that question answers itself, but let’s give another one, which is that it’s easier to produce more stuff if it’s easier to, well, produce that stuff! Labor-saving tools also enable me to easily re-edit my dialogue without laboriously redrawing it all.

The downsides are obvious: this doesn’t let me incorporate the bubbles as easily into the rest of the artwork. For a professional comic book, this might be a serious consideration. But for something like a VN, or a cheap indie comic to get me started, I’m okay.

So what goes into this process?

Read more "The Math of Speech Bubbles" »

Different TTRPG systems try to mesh mechanics together to yield a satisfactory outcome. Some of those mechanics are character qualities, situational stakes, and randomizers such as dice. A lot has been said about success vs. failure, keeping failures interesting, and so on. What can we say about achieving your goals, even if the dice say you fail?

Read more "Success Through Failure in TTRPGs" »

Over the weekend, I got to playtest Constellation Cards at a small local gaming event. The results were pretty good! I think the biggest problems actually came from my own failure to use my prep.

But I upheld one promise. “This game will be unlike anything you play here.”

Read more "Constellation Cards playtest" »