Archive for month: April, 2013

Second Skin

27 Apr
April 27, 2013

It’s interesting, how close writing is to acting. At least, in my experience.

When I’m writing a character, I feel myself slipping into their skin. My posture changes, how I sit in my chair, my facial expression, what I do with my hands.

Often, I feel the need to get up and move, just pace about, my movements channeling their imagined body language. I’ll shift into a cocky swagger, pushing my shoulders back and my chin out. Or pull myself inward, sullen like, chin dipped and peering sullenly out at the world from under a pulled-up hood. I’ll mime taking drags from a cigarette, and stare into the mirror, seeing someone else there. I can feel their emotions welling up in me, drawn from countless sources of consumed media and remembered emotions in my past. Aggression, lust, glowering anger, sly humor, wry amusement.


Music helps. The right background track, if I can find it, helps me shift into a character. And once I can fully feel the persona, wrapped around me like a cloak, I sit and I write, their speech patterns slipping from my fingers without conscious thought.

Definitely an interesting experience. I need to do more writing, explore this phenomenon.

The Perfect Pasta Sauce

22 Apr
April 22, 2013

Jim Sterling says it rather well in this week’s Jimquisition.

There is no Perfect Pasta Sauce. Only Perfect Pasta Sauces.


17 Apr
April 17, 2013

Beta comes swinging in through the skylight!


Slightly later than I hoped, but we’ve finally reached beta! All major features are in, it’s pretty much bugs and finishing the mission content from here on in. Which will be my focus for the rest of the month.

I’ll open up pre-orders shortly, once I’ve setup the financial stuff (gah, banks). For now, give the beta a try! Now with added mac build!

Windows version

Mac version

Please note the new tutorial popups in the game. I’d particularly appreciate any feedback about whether the tutorial is a good enough introduction to playing SC, or if people new to the genre still find themselves a bit confused over what to do. Thanks!

List of changes :

– Many bugs fixed
– All final card art is in.
– Card balance tweaked.
– Counter-hacking cards overhauled. They now provide a sort of ‘armor’ against hacking effects.
– Added .Nuke to the counter-hacking arsenal, a card that lets you destroy hacking tactics cards directly.
– HE Grenade functionality changed. Now does 5 damage to primary target and 3 damage to Agents on either side of the primary.
– New tutorial popups and tooltips.
– Concede option in duels (flag icon in top right)
– Better phase and turn indicators, gameplay sped up again.
– Deck size verification.
– New card / buy metagame. You now win cards individually in duels (instead of, when unlocking a card, gaining essentially infinite copies of it for deck building). You can buy and sell your cards from the black market.
– Broadened the card choices available earlier in the campaign. Combined with new card economy, players have more options in deck building, sooner.
– Made end-of-turn card discard more user-friendly.
– New mission narrative.
– Email messages make clear what rewards are offered for doing the missions.
– AI in SenseSim mode can play with user decks as well as campaign decks. User decks will have the tag “(Custom)” next to them.

Remember, the best place to give feedback is in the official feedback thread on the forums. Though you’re welcome to post comments on this blog or email me 🙂


13 Apr
April 13, 2013

To tide you over until the next release (soon), have some game art. This one courtesy of Ian Llanas, the “9th Circle” club.


Crowdfunding generated $2.7 billion last year

08 Apr
April 8, 2013

Hell’s bells, that’s a fair dollop of cash, isn’t it?

Seems like the crowdfunding movement is only going to keep on growing. And, more interestingly, equity-based crowdfunding might be the next big trend.

“While lending-, donation-, and reward-based crowdfunding have thus far been leading this global financial revolution, equity-based crowdfunding is about to take center stage in the U.S.,” said Massolution chief executive Carl Esposti in a press release. It’s expected to reach $166 million in 2013, up from $116 million this year.

That will certainly be interesting, when we start seeing more of that in the media spaces that we know and love – games, movies and books.

I can’t say I find the idea of this kind of democratization to be a bad thing, even though I’m a bit wary of what might happen when a big project finally fails. Getting that up-front support from customers for a project is a much more sane notion than the crazy gamble-and-hope system we have now. Allowing those customers to directly invest and reap the reward for their support, even better!

Here’s to an exciting future!

RPG Design – Party-based VS Solo Character

01 Apr
April 1, 2013

Inspired by a thread on the ITS forums, I thought I’d write a little bit about designing an RPG around a party of player-controlled characters vs the player controlling only one character.

There are various folks who loudly proclaim that one or the other type is the only pure form of RPG but, in my mind, it really the choice comes down to what type of gameplay you want to be the focus in your game.

Most RPGs are built around a framework of combat and environment-as-puzzle systems, with combat usually getting the lion’s share of the design focus. With that in mind, party-based puts the focus squarely on squad-level tactics and strategies. The fun is in building a squad that works effectively together (figuring out synergistic skills and abilities), devising effective high-level approaches to combat puzzles (strategizing) and working out optimal moment-to-moment maneuvering in combat (tactics).

Single-character roleplaying tends puts the focus more on unique gameplay paths or playstyles. Generally a single character can’t hope to cover every option, skill wise, and the player needs to work out an effective “build” focusing around a few core skillsets. This gives the designer more room to provide really unique paths and playstyles through the game. For example, a path for a talkie character, or a stealthy one. Party-based games tend to have all the basic options covered (frontline fighter, support, healing and direct damage), so there is less emphasis on mechanically distinct paths, though of course you can still have distinct narrative-based paths (moral choices, that sort of thing). The environments are generally built to challenge a broad range of skills, knowing that the player is likely to have a specialist in that skillset in the party.

Some games try for a hybrid approach, single-player-controlled-character plus indirectly-controlled support NPCs. This can work, to a degree. But usually these characters are there to provide combat support for non-combat characters in games where the design doesn’t have enough support for non-combat approaches to problems.

All are valid choices for a roleplaying game, in my opinion. It really just comes down to which type of gameplay framework you want to focus on for your particular game.

* Note, I’m not saying there aren’t exceptions, nor am I saying that you can’t design a game where the focus doesn’t fit into the categories I describe here. In general, I’d say this divide tends to reflect the combat bias in RPGs in general. A game with a non-combat design could be fairly different.