Monday, October 16, 2006

Into The Blue Again

Well -- How did I get here?

I mentioned in a previous post that lots of little things came together to shake me out of my gaming doldrums, things that came 'round in bits and intervals to re-energize me. The things that inspired me to


I think they deserve mention. And mention them I will, but in no discernible order, cause I'm freeformin' to-nite!

  • PIG GAMES. If you're not familiar with the wondermousness that is Politically Incorrect Games, I encourage you to click upon that link you just looked at and see for yourself. Brett Bernstein's game designs are so devilishly and entrancingly simple that it's hard not to love them. His systems get down to the heart of play -- they provide a nudge or two of structure and encouurage you go go nuts and add stuff at whim. I started looking at this stuff and thinking, "So...I can just make stuff up, right? I don't hafta worry about points 'n' stuff?" It made me want to come up with crazy stuff again...and I did.

  • ENCOUNTER CRITICAL. You want a game with rich subtext? Game design and presentation as art? Faux-pretentiousness as a statement of gaming history? Cybernetic Wookiee hookers? Check, check, check, check and a fifth check for whatever you think of next, because I bet it's in there. Transcendentally ridiculous, Encounter Critical points straight into the heart of seat-of-your-pants gaming: crazy misadventures at varying degrees of sophistication and seriousness, all fuelled by the love of the crazy stuff itself. Why does this game feature Vulkins, Planetary Apes, Hoblings and Robodroids on a planet where magic works and sexy bee girls can kill you? Because that's what gamer dreams are made of. Anything goes in EC, and it only makes as much sense as it needs to. No more.

  • WUSHU. Dan Bayn's wonderful game could've been called Roll Dice And Kick Ass. Its mechanics not only encourage visualization and creativity but really demand them, and gives you free-wheeling action and description at the expense of point-based game balance and bean-counting. Look...I love games like HERO and GURPS, but those became kind of a honeyed trap for me; I'd fall to the obsession to Do It Right, to figure out the Advantages and the Powers and the Points and the Effects and the -- the everything. In Wushu, you succeed by being interesting. I felt so refreshed...

  • "GO PLAY". Ya know, I caught some flak from bits of the online community for not being murderously opposed to this internet meme, but that episode helped me get to this blog, so nyaaahhh. If you're not familiar, "Go Play" is...umn...well, everyone has a different explanation, and frankly I don't care what it is or whose avatar is the nicest, but suffice to say that it's intended as a gamer slogan. I took the whole thing to mean, Dude, gaming is fun. Get off your butt and go do it. Cut loose, man, get down and do what you love because you love it, not because you must excel at it .It's kind of what my wife had been telling me for years, but of course it wasn't getting through my skull.

  • DRAGON MAGAZINE #145. It was the article on random castles that did it -- th the one that expanded upon the charts given in the 1st Ed. DMG. One day while my daughter was napping and my wife was at work, I was paging through this issue and hit that article. I wanna mess with this, I said to myself; 30 minutes later, I was getting some hex paper to map out the campaign area I'd suddenly begun to develop. Coupled with the NPC tables in the DMG, I had 5 strongholds with their lords, a political situation, and lots of ideas on how they interacted and how to bring players into it. It was a real creative rush, man, all this stuff just coming to me, falling out of the dice, a kind of half-randomized creative storm.

  • WATCHING MY DAUGHTER PLAY IN A PUDDLE. Her very first puddle, in the parking lot in front of our house. Little pink rainboots, purple raincoat, hood up. She didn't care about anything but that puddle. It was fascinating to her, just something to splash in with abandon. With no cares. No rules. Her first one, and full of wonder. She just went up to it and figured out what you were supposed to do: mess with it. That moment was truly once in a lifetime, and I knew I'd never again feel what she was feeling -- that pure, unabashed joy, that wonder, that lack of concern. But if I could only allow myself that lack of daughter was teaching me. For once, I listened.

  • 'Cause time isnt holding us; time isn't after us.