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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Dungeon World and Fate campaigns have come to a close

Well, the campaign has come to a close!

Throughout this campaign, I have been listening to a lot of podcasts on being a game master, and I have been learning a lot of great techniques.

One really cool point that I listened to was how if system designer is like a game designer, then the GM's are all level designers.  They have to not only create the world that the players play in, but they have to craft experiences for their players.  It's like it's only their job to create the fun; all of the players are responsible for that; but the GM has the power to cater to their players.  The players of a video game pick the game that matches their tastes, but in a tabletop game, you have five players who may all have different tastes.  If you're lucky, your playstyles align to a degree, but it's also up to the level designer to make sure the spotlight can pass from player to player, week to week.

By the end of the game, I think the players all had opportunities to play to their strengths.  In the final sessions, they revisted Aleria, the city that they visited way back during the second session.  I have to say, I'm extremely proud of myself, and my players, for following a breadcrumb trail I set up.  Amidst the now demon-infested city, the mystery played out perfectly, with them finding the right pieces of information to find the right location.

Unfortunately, the ending wasn't all happy sunshine and demon blood.  By the end, we had lost the lives of both the NPC they were traveling with, and the wizard who was with us from the beginning.  We did a quick epilogue, where the bodies were brought back to the academy to be laid to rest, then the remaining two players, the paladin and druid, went back to close the portal, from the inside out.  But that, is another story.

And what about the Fate game, you ask?  It too has come to a close, just before the end of the year.  We lost two along the way, but the three other players were plenty to finish out the campaign.  I learned a few things from this game, as well.

To start, I wasn't able to give them the same freedom as my other players, because newbies often just don't know what to do with the freedom.  Fate is an extremely improvisational system too, which I now realize, would work much better with experienced role-players.  My normal methods of "what do you do in response" didn't always pan out, as they were stuck deciding among too many options.  Though the improvisation occasionally got really interesting and even threw me off a number of times.

All the same, there were some really fun subtle puzzles to solve and history to piece together.  They explored some high-tech ruins (which I had fun designing) and the campaign came to an interesting close, when the Bureau they were working for was ransacked -- and the kind director went missing.  The group disbanded and the scholar character went into hiding with the artifacts... for now.

Clearly, I like my endings open ended.  I blame Miyazaki's influence.

Friday, June 19, 2015

iAnimate Games Workshop 2 - takedown

This is my favorite one yet.  There isn't a whole lot to be said. I really liked working with two characters interacting with each other. It is short and sweet, and it just drips with body mechanics. BODY MECHANICS!

This semester has been great, and I really feel like I made some great progress. Confidence comes from mastery, and I feel like I can proudly show off these iAnimate pieces to others, and feel like I'm honestly putting my best foot forward.

In the progress reel below, you can see an additional strike at the end that I ended up removing. I thought it added a really nice punctuation to the end, but I decided it messed up the flow too much. Either I'd scrap it, or completely redo it. For now, I've decided on the former.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Dungeon World and Fate

Our team has expanded once again. We've added Bartuc the Warrior (played by Chris) and Dagulus the Paladin (played by Mike) to the party, so if someone couldn't make it, we could still run the game. Their introductory mission gave us a chance to explore out the non-campaign locations of the world a bit more, and thus Rivends was founded in just one session.

But on the main front, at this point, our merry bunch has made it to New Gareth, the capital city and arcane fount of this coastal area. I only expected them to spend a session, and maybe half of another, in this location, but they've been here for three. A fun little sewer dungeon left them with some dark items, and a misunderstanding with a guard left them as bunch of murderers. And that led to a trial, three sessions later. AND it turns out that one of the characters follows a false arcane patron, the same as the big bad evil guy.

If only they had left, as I had expected them to, this would have all been avoided. I learned something interesting, in that players don't always get what you think is very obvious, and even when I spelled out "if you go with the guards, you will have a trial for murder, and they will find your dark patron, which you know is grounds for execution," that the evil-aligned player would still go along with it.

So now one of them is free, one of them is in jail, one of them is permanently locked in a high tower, to be executed in 2 days. This has become incredibly interesting; and to think, originally I wanted them to leave.

On lighter news, I've also started a second group, running a system called Fate. (I love Fate too, by the way.) This group has been interesting because it's several strangers I've never met. I barely know their real names.

There were some issues from the get-go. Since nobody had webcams, it was hard to tell when people were not paying attention, or just thinking. That was doubly difficult with some people having microphone problems and being forced to communicate by typing. But these players, mostly new to tabletop games, have given me some really interesting stories as well. It's a very different experience as the Dungeon World group.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

iAnimate Games Workshop 2 - the cannon hammer

Ric Arroyo is a badass. He knows how to be hard, and he knows how to push people. Ric, if you ever read this, keep being that guy. I'd love him to be my boss one day.

This animation started out with an idea I've been playing with, a single-shot cannon that doubles as a hammer. If you look at ancient infantry cannons, they were built with a long wooden rod to be planted in the ground, and the iron cannon mounted at the opposite head. I went through several ideas of how to juggle the box and get a cool shot in there somehow. My favorite was flipping the box in the air, and shooting it on the way down. But, I went with this combo, because I wanted to work on the physics of the slide and the knockback -- some real-world physics to work on (mixed with the fantasy of the weapon, of course.)

The idea wasn't fully fleshed out right away, as you can see from the progress reel. I make some pretty big changes partway through. The original flick of the butt end of the cannon just didn't feel powerful at all. I ended up switching to two-hands, which made a huge difference on that hit; but then I had issues with hand rotations, and shoulder alignment. And throughout the whole thing, I struggled with the slide/jump back just looking natural. It was hard to reference, because I specifically wanted all in one motion; not a skip and not a stumble. But hey, that is what learning is about.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Homemade Minis Case

Well, I never painted these dear minis, but I DID finally get a proper case for them.  With some left over foam from a computer parts shipment, a Sucrets container from last cough-drop season, and some clean knifework (and not-so-clean markerwork), and little Nassa and normal-dwarf-sized Loren have a safe home.

Sleep tight.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Dungeon World, where cool players do cool things

"The story I tell will never ever compare to the story we all tell together."

We are a couple months into the campaign, and I've come across two moments that really made Dungeon World shine. I get it now.

Click Read More below for the stories:

Friday, March 20, 2015

iAnimate Games Workshop 1 - walk and run (and sprint)

This assignment was to do a run cycle. I've done a number of walk cycles already, of course, so I wanted to do something other than the standard humanoid I'm used to. This cute turtle ended up being an unexpected challenge. (Perfect!)

I knew I wanted to do multiple walks/runs from the beginning. I started with a walk, a run, and a sprint; which was more like a meander, a tired gallop, and a run. You can see the sprint in the progress reel, though I ended up taking it out before it went to far. Because of the size of his legs, it ended up being a little too similar to the run, and I had to do all of it in about 8 frames per step. I cut it out so I could focus on the longer walk and run, and get into all of the fun little details.

One thing that I am still not too sure if I made the right call, is the shell deformation. I had the option to leave it rigid, make it really soft and pliable, or what I ended up doing, hit somewhere in the middle. I did a number of tests just to see which one felt the most natural. Since he was not specifically a game model, I had some nice controls to make up for the fact that he isn't really designed to move in a full sprint.

Here's the scrapped WIP sprint, for good measure (of course, I didn't get too far):

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Dungeon World, the adventure begins!

I just started DMing a new system called Dungeon World, and I'm in love. It's very narrative focused and the events play out like a conversation. Or at least that's how it's supposed to work.

We're still getting our feet wet and getting used to the system. It has allowed the players to contribute their own improv onto the world, which I think is just amazing. The downside is, as the dungeon master, I have had to be on my improv game a lot more too. Easy for the 3 players, they don't have to be speaking for a collective 60% of the time. This game lets them talk way more often than others though, which is appreciated all around.

So far, they've avoided some of my combat hooks, but the one that they did come across, while traveling between cities, played out in a very interesting manner. The back and forth between players and DM was pretty natural. I jumped back and forth between players, usually in an order, but I wasn't forced into the same order every round. Hell, there weren't even rounds. I'd declare something that was happening, and they'd react to it, sometimes diving behind a tree, or risk trading blows by trying to get the shot off first. Neat.

Our players are Radagast the mage (played by Aaron), Fuln the druid (played by Sean), and Meatball the ranger (played by Anthony).

Thursday, February 5, 2015

iAnimate Games Workshop 1 - a turn

This seemed like a really simple assignment, but at the same time, just like the poses, I was really surprised at how many little corrections Brett did that made a huge difference. There were a lot of areas I could push it and smooth it out even further. The final version just looks nice and clean.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

iAnimate Games Workshop 1 - poses

The instructor this semester is Brett Pascal. We started out this semester with a couple of poses. I had a moment of clarity when I just did them. I didn't have to stop and think too hard about the steps. Something is getting natural in there. And yet, Brett knew how to push everything even further. It seemed so slight, but watching him as he did it, it made so much sense by the end. Also live reviews are absolutely amazing. It makes such a big difference than someone watching a video.