Super Gamer Podcast #57 – Dadaï Studios

Allo! Salut! On today’s episode we have Éloïse Laroche of Dadaï Studios talking about their game Lullaby Gardens. It’s a wholesome, peaceful game ABOUT THE CUT-THROAT WORLD OF FINDING, GROWING, AND SELLING GOODS AND PRODUCE!

Enjoy!

Download link – Episode 57 (Dadaï Studios)

Dadaï Studios’ website

Dadaï Studios on Twitter

Team Building Through Bomb Defusal

Keep calm and OH MY GOD WE’RE ALL DEAD YOU BLEW IT!

PlayStation VR is set to launch next week and it’s getting a way cool game that will test your ability to give and take directions when under pressure.

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes puts one player in a room with a bomb that’s about to kaboom. The other player(s) have the manual, but can’t see the bomb. You’re going to have to work together, quickly and effectively communicating to disarm that thing.

“Cut the red wire.”

“This red wire? It’s really more of a burgundy.”

Boom. Continue reading

Are the Announced Changes to Hearthstone Cards A Big Deal?

Blizzard has announced some upcoming card changes in Hearthstone, looking to bring better balance to Azeroth’s favourite pastime.

In a blog post released this week, Blizzard outlined the card revisions and the reasons behind them. But to really understand how the modifications will affect the game I spoke to my dear friend, Steven, who is a really exceptionally good Hearthstone player.

Steven’s credentials:

  • Highest rank in Standard – 4
  • Won a Fireside Gathering in Winnipeg (and, I’m told, was feared by the other competitors)
  • Has had 12-win arena runs with Druid, Rogue, Mage, Paladin, and Warlock

12winhs

Continue reading

Our Gaming Heritage

Winter in the Canadian prairies can get unbelievably cold — like, how and why did anyone ever live here cold?

I think about a time when people didn’t have heating, and cars, and electric blankets, and I wonder: How did they do it? How could anybody survive in January and February?

Beyond the burning chill, there’s the loneliness. At a time when there were fewer people in general and it took longer to get anywhere, winters must have been desolate.

Of course there were villages and settlements and the like, so people weren’t alone. But with exploration and the fur trade, some folks had to endure extreme periods of isolation.

How did they manage to press on? How did they pass the time? That’s how I’m shoehorning this post in here, because:

I went to Festival du Voyageur!

Festival is a yearly event in Winnipeg– where I’m from– that celebrates the fur trade in Manitoba, particularly from a French and Metis perspective. It’s set around 1815-1816.

I’ve lived in Manitoba all my life and somehow had never been, so on recent a trip to the big city, I made a point of checking it out.

Thankfully, a friend served as a guide and I got all the inside scoops.

There was dancing, history, booze, and general revelry (oh, and pea soup and tourtière). It was a blast! But we’ll stick to the gaming stuff:

First, a delightful young gentlemen showed us a couple old decks of playing cards. One had cards with lots of writing on them, the other was pretty similar to the decks you’d see today– with one exception.

cards.JPG

If I remember right, the stories on the cards are morals.

There are no numbers on them! The DYG explained that many of the voyageurs were illiterate and couldn’t read written numbers; they could, however, count the symbols.

The cards with all the small print on them were for the fancy folk, who could read. Basically, if it wasn’t their turn, they could amuse themselves with a short story. I feel like that has to work against you if you’re gambling.

While wandering the karaoke tent, a man asked us each for a dollar. We obliged and he gave me a hammer. There was a wood block with nails sticking out of it. The man told me something in French, possibly about the hammer. Je ne comprends pas. My guide got him to explain it in English:

Hold the hammer head down on the table; in one fluid motion bring it up and down, and strike the nail. The first to drive their nail into the wood wins.

hammernail

Whiffer.

A winner was me! Apparently there’s a version of the game in which players take shots of Caribou (fortified wine) when they miss. That sounds dangerous. And great. And dangerous.

I will leave you with some random pictures from my Festival adventure. If you’ve never been, go! To quote the Doctor: Allons-y!

Nerd alert: One more thing. The Festival du Voyageur cheer is Hé Ho! One of the MCs for the night was teasing us anglophones in our pronunciation. You see, in French, it’s more like “‘Ay oh!” So he was ribbin’ us, because we English speakers tend to say it like the Ramones. And he said something in French, and I made out the word Beetlejuice.

He was trying to give an example of how to properly say it.

**** Nerd card revoked: But you’ve got the wrong song, mon ami. You’re thinking of “Dayo! Me say daaaaayo!” A common mistake. The song in Beetlejuice is “Shake, shake, shake, Senora. Shake your body line.”  —- edit: Dayo! is also in Beetlejuice. I forgot, and hang my head in shame.

Adieu!

Super Gamer Ep. 50 – Manitoba-Made

It’s Farmer vs. Farmer in Crop Cycle: The Competitive Game of Farming. Creator Trevor Lehmann joins Mark to talk about his game, based on Manitoba’s agriculture industry.

Plus, Mark unravels Jonathan Blow’s plan to take over the world. Nice try, Blow.

Download link – Episode 50 (Trevor Lehmann)

Convergent Games’ website – http://www.convergentgames.com/

Follow Trevor Lehmann on Twitter.

Weekend Gaming Goodness

Hey Super Gamers! I hope everyone had as game-filled a weekend as I did.

Yeah, it’s Wednesday. This is really more of a Monday post, isn’t it? Oh well.

I went back to the old country, Winnipeg, over the weekend for two very important reasons: Retro Gamers Unite 2 and a Simpsons trivia game at a place called The Handsome Daughter.

I hadn’t even heard of RGU2 until Thursday or Friday last week. I had actually just agreed to a golf game with some friends for Saturday when I came across the event and had to say TOO BAD, FRIENDS! VIDEO GAMES!

I had planned on spending the day at RGU2 but it was not to be. I actually only got to be there for about an hour, but it was a heckuva set up. Lots of people, lots of game stations, and massive tournaments.

I spoke to one of the organizers, Kyle Rudge, who I’m hoping to soon have on the pod for a longer interview. In the meantime, here’s the short chat we had about RGU2:

By the way (assuming you listened to that interview. Which you should. Come on.), I did try that Mario Lost Levels One Life Challenge and I failed miserably! I died in the second level.

In other, albeit related, news: this old, damaged iPhone ain’t cuttin’ it anymore. I need a camera.

Massive tournament!

Massive tournament!

Prizes!

This is the guy the winning team sent to the lightning round. In Rod We Trust!

The Simpsons trivia tournament was, as many predicted it would be, perfectly cromulent.

The questions were tough, the players were nerds. I went into that tournament all but certain we’d win; we placed fourth.

I am an early Simpsons nut and the questions were all from seasons three to ten. How could I fail? I’ll tell you how: questions like What is the name of the gun store from which Homer buys his gun?

Fourth. Shameful.

Really though, my friends and I had a blast. The host was dressed as Otto and the prize for winning was an inanimate carbon rod.

Our team name? Worker and Parasite.

Super Gamer Ep. 43 – The Punkest Man In Haiku

Jason Anarchy, creator of Drinking Quest, returns to talk about his latest game: Haiku Warrior!

We talk haiku, we talk warrior, we even talk punk rock.

Download link – Episode 43 (Jason Anarchy)

Haiku Warrior on Kickstarter – https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/drinkingquest/haiku-warrior

Follow Jason Anarchy on Twitter

Advice From A Dungeon Master

Dungeons and Dragons is not a video game. Well, it is. They’ve made lots of them.

But tabletop D&D is not a video game and fledgling dungeon masters would do well to remember that.

Video games have influenced my understanding of storytelling more than any other media. Levels and worlds. Boss battles. Loot. Starting areas and world maps. Mini-games. This is how I think when I write a D&D campaign. For the most part, it’s a good system. There’s obviously a ton of overlap.

Whoa.

Whoa.

The problem is player agency. Choice.

The illusion of choice is an old discussion among gaming nerds. No matter how robust and intricate, a game can only allow you so many options. No matter what you choose, you’re following a path laid out by the developers. Bioshock made fun of this. So did one of the Metal Gear Solid games.

A dungeon master tries to guide his or her players by offering that same false agency, but it doesn’t always work out.

People are unpredictable. Frustratingly so. I’ve written pages and pages, scenario after scenario, thinking no matter what my players choose I’ll have a plan to lead them to the goal. But my players surprise me. Every time I offer them an option A and an option B they choose C. Hours of work on an NPC or an encounter scrapped with one unexpected move.

The players run the show. You can tell them all about a magic spear that will unite the planet and end all suffering; if they don’t want to find it, they don’t have to. If the players want to pick berries all day, they can!

Of course, it’s a give-and-take between the players and the DM. Sometimes you just have to hope the players pick up on what you’re doing and are willing to play along. But what’s an obvious choice to you isn’t necessarily an obvious (or even a sensible) choice to the players.

So my point is: don’t waste your time writing every detail of every encounter you think will happen. Lay out some major plot points — some checkpoints you will get the players to come Hell or high water — and then just know your world. Know the culture, know the geography, know the people. Be ready for whatever your players can throw at you. Do the research and prep work that will help your improv.

One more thing: I recently downloaded Twine to try my hand at games writing. I’ve found it to be the best darned organizational tool out there for writing D&D campaigns. I highly recommend it.