Thursday, 26 February 2015

Is Role-Playing Fun?

Hello World,

I have talked about the positive effects of role-playing in previous blog posts. Discussing how it improves social skills and expand one’s understanding of the world around them. While that is all well and good, I got to thinking. Is the act of role-playing intrinsically enjoyable?

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that role-playing can’t be fun, I am more saying that exterior factors generate the fun, not the act of getting in character. Thinking back on my experiences with role-playing games, the enjoyment always seems to stem from something other than pretending to be a fictional character. It comes from out witting an opponent in an argument, telling stories with friends, or even overcoming mechanically challenging situations within the game. And while each of these actions are strung together and enhanced by role-playing, they still stand-up without it. But can the same be said for role-playing? Is the sole act of acting like another person fun? If it is, why? Where does this enjoyment come from? Truthfully I haven’t come to a full conclusion on this and would love to hear your opinion on the matter in the comments below.

Before I open up this topic to discussion I would like to make a quick announcement. Over the next Month or so I will be featured on the GM academy’s inaugural season of Rally Cast. An RPG live stream hosted by the GM Academy which has a group of players from around the community run through a campaign in lesser known RPGs. The First episode will be streaming on Tuesday, March 3rd at 8:30 PM EST and can be found at the following LINK.

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on role-playing.

- Patrick Lapienis

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Trials of the Magi - Developmental Update [February]

Hello World,

This week on the blog I would like to share some of the progress made on the development of Trials of the Magi. The past month has gone by in a flurry, but a massive amount has been accomplished over a variety of different areas in the project. For starters, another round of playtests has concluded generating a lot of great feedback which has been used to improve the game. On top of this a large amount of time and effort has been spent working to complete the first draft of the game’s core rulebook. Currently all that is left is to finish off that last few core chapters and some preliminary editing. From there the draft will be released to the public for beta testing. The release of the first draft is on schedule and is to be posted prior to the Kickstarter’s launch in the middle of March.

On the game’s artistic side there are two main channels of development. The first is art of the book which is spearheaded by Kayleigh Allen, who did the art for the Trials of the Magi NaGaDeMon entry. Currently Kayleigh is hard at work designing the cover art for the Trials of the Magi book. Which should be completed in the next week or so and once it is done I will be sure to share it on social media for all of you to check it out for yourselves. The other stream of artistic development is for the cards used within the game. The design of these cards is being done by Meryn Mercer, the same artist who created the cover art for my 48 hour RPG “Planet Crashers”. These cards have just finished the concept design phase and will be progressing into concrete designs in the following weeks. The concept designs for each of the cards found in the game’s Arcana deck can be seen below.

The third major area of development is with Sproutli’s website. This is a project we have been working on for quite some time and it is coming along nicely. The majority of the programming is done, all that is left to do is to add content onto it. When the website is launched next month there will be some features not yet implemented, these features being a player forum, storefront, and the relocation of this blog. This omission is due to the fact that web development is still a rather new area for our team and we would like to keep it’s initial launch as simple as possible. After launch however, these will be areas we intend to develop further.

With the Kickstarter launch of Trials of the Magi only a month away we here at Sproutli are exhilarated to see how far we’ve come, and are dedicated on delivering the best product we can. Be sure to look out for are launch by following us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Thank you to everyone who has lent us your support along the way, we couldn’t have made it this far without you!

As always, thanks for reading,

- Patrick Lapienis

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Creating a Game Company: The art of multi-classing

Hello World,

Over this past year I have been working on something I couldn’t have even imagined myself doing, starting my own company. For those who aren’t regular readers, I have started a tabletop game design company by the name of Sproutli Games and we are taking our first big release to Kickstarter in a month. Within today’s blog post however I would like to share some of what I have learned whiles starting a company.

The first and most impactful thing that I have learned is that owning a company is a job of many hats. As a business owner, working on actual design work and game creation will become a much smaller portion of the time you spend on your company.   Most of the work you do will be spent doing project management, marketing and networking. While often not the most glorified work it pays off in leaps and bounds. Taking the extra time to let people know about your project, and ensuring the parties involved are on track can greatly aid your final product. Your limited design time can even be further syphoned off by processes such as legal affairs, copywriting, and building your online presence.

Another thing I would like to state is that owning a business isn’t easy. For the first few years or so you won’t be able to generate a sustainable income, meaning this is something that will have to be tackled on top of a job or school. Because of this it can often be hard to find time to work on your company. It’s easy to say “oh I have a big project due, the game can wait till tomorrow.” but this can quickly spread to a week with no progress, or even a month. This is why I commit myself to do at least one task towards my company every day. It actually reminds me of this quote:

“You keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then one day you look back and you’ve climbed a mountain.”

Truth be told, I think that is a great motivational statement for starting a business, it can be tough, and there will be times where you get lost in all of the different tasks. But in the end, if you just keep at it and do your best to deliver quality products it will all be worth it. That’s what I like to think at least.

If you have started a company or worked on a major project or game release, I would love to hear about your experiences. Please contact me using this blog’s contact form in the top right of this page. I would love to do a more in depth post about this topic in the future and would love you help in writing it.

As always, thanks for reading,

- Patrick Lapienis

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Making Games More Accessible

Hello World,

As those who keep up with my antics on Twitter and the blog would know, I have been developing a role-playing game for Kickstarter named of Trials of the Magi. An important component of this development is a custom deck of cards known as the Arcana Deck. Each of these cards has two important values upon it.

                1 – A suit which can be one of the 4 minor arcana [swords, wands, cups and coins]

                2 – A single-word noun which is created and written upon it by the player.

In my original design for the cards I had left a space in the top left of the card for the player to write their word, and had put a unidirectional suit symbol and name in the center. This design worked well in playtests, but it wasn’t until I began designing the official layout that I thought about the accessibility of the cards. While the current card layout worked fine for all of my right handed playtesters, it was very difficult to use for someone who was left handed.

I began looking at how I could make the cards easier to use in the left hand, and I came up with the design shown below. This layout extends the writable area to the bottom of the card and replaces the unidirectional suit information with a bidirectional symbol and name. With these changes made, a left handed player need only flip the card around and right their word in the top right to make it usable in the left hand.

But left handed players aren’t the only minority who can inconvenienced by a game’s design, there are tons of minorities and disabilities that find most games difficult to play. Some can be difficult to design around such as blindness, or deafness, but it still doesn’t stop people from trying. A prime example of this is the recently funded kickstarter campaign “Board games: now blind accessible” where a group of people are working to make board game modifications that can be added to existing games allowing them to be played by a blind person.

There are some minorities however that can be addressed rather easily if considered during the design of a game. Some examples of this are left handedness, color blindness, dyslexia or minor motor skill impairment. By designing for players with a variety capabilities and skills you can make your game accessible to a larger breadth of people. Tabletop games are already more accessible then sports and video games, and I think we can expand our audience even more.

I hoped you enjoyed this article and as always, thanks for reading,

- Patrick Lapienis

If you liked this article I have done a similar post on how inaccessible it is to start playing your first tabletop RPG. And if you are interested in trials of the Magi you can follow me on Twitter @MTTJ_Patrick or check out some of my older posts about the game. Which can be found HERE and HERE.