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Gaming Thoughts

Where do Gamemasters Get Their Fun?

Where do Gamemasters Get Their Fun?
Every single RPG with a GM has a motivation to run the game, an agenda, for the GM. Most of those games would be better if they stated that agenda explicitly. Because beyond telling the GM what to aim for, these motivations tell the GM where their fun is coming from in the game—they tell the GM why they should want to play. I don’t often think too much about the enjoyment I get from GMing, exac...
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Games of 2016: Pandemic Legacy

Pandemic Legacy Zman Games 2015
It’s the end of the year! And that means it’s time to talk about end of year assessments of the most important piece of culture: GAMES! I might come back to this, so I’m not going to cap myself at “TOP 5” anything. But I might not come back to this, so I’m going to start off at the top. I want to talk about one of the most important board games for my 2016: Pandemic Legacy. In particular, I wan...
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Bluebeard’s Bride: Behind the Curtain

Here is a glimpse behind the curtain of how one of the ring moves for Bluebeard’s Bride was developed. I will explain my thought process when my fellow designers and I took the functioning version of dirty yourself with violence and reshaped it into a version that encompasses everything the game really demanded from it.   Dirty yourself with violence is triggered when a player with the ring res...
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Enjoyment vs Experience: The Dark Souls Dilemma

Enjoyment vs Experience
Dark Souls 3 came out recently, spurring much writing on it and the Dark Souls series. In particular, this pair of articles, one from Adam Smith of Rock Paper Shotgun, one from Rob Fearon on his blog We Make The Cops Look Dumb, spoke to me. Adam Smith argues that Dark Souls, at its design core, shouldn’t have a mode designed to make the game easier: “The difficulty isn’t an elitist exclusionary ch...
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The Impossible Trinity: Actor, Audience, Author

Impossible Trinity
One of my favorite concepts in economics is the impossible trinity, a macroeconomic framework that explains why monetary policy can’t do everything it wants to do all at the same time. Monetary policy design is hard, and I love that “the trillema” reminds us that we can’t always get what we want, even if we get to set monetary policy for a whole country. Lately, I’ve been thinking about an impo...
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