8mph_ansible: Professor Layton (Layton)
[personal profile] 8mph_ansible
So I'm doing some résumé writing and currently noting down the marketable skills I'll have to prove and explain...

Or is this idea a pipedream? )
dancesontrains: (Flesh (not purple))
[personal profile] dancesontrains
Hi, I have an on and off interest in gaming (the PC/console kind), but I haven't been keeping up with new releases in the past few years for various reasons. What review/news sites are there which will keep me up to date without adding too many unnecessary -isms in their commentary?
8mph_ansible: Overman King Gainer (OKG)
[personal profile] 8mph_ansible
(x-posted to Dice Called Quest)

Yo folx,

The summer season is almost here, but before that comes along May.

So do any of yall have any gaming plans or anything related to gaming for the upcoming month?

Myself? Finally! finishing The World Ends With You before the month begins. Three months for what I planned to me about a month and a half. And then starting on Professor Layton and the Unwound Future. Other than that, still learning video game music to play.

And you?
yeloson: (pic#459018)
[personal profile] yeloson
Stars Without Number is a tabletop rpg where you travel around the galaxy to different planets and get into adventure and intrigue. (The link goes to the free PDF ebook version). It uses an old-school-ish system with some really smart updates, and great rules for generating different worlds and conflicts.

It's not Hitler's Future

So, you know at this point our expectations for rpgs and representation is pretty much bottomed out. SWN does the following things right:

1) Images of POC are in the book!
2) No default assumption about the cultures that you'll encounter
3) ...backed up by the name list in the back! There's several name lists, divided by culture, with a few paragraphs about clothing or food, and the acknowledgement that odds are good that what was traditional for us in the 21st century would be a massive throwback by the 31st century. The full cultures listed include: Arabic, Chinese, Nigerian, Indian, Spanish, Japanese, Russian, English. Obviously not entirely comprehensive, but the fact that it's not euro-centric is awesome.

Travel Space, Go Anywhere

SWN is designed for "sandbox play" which means the sort of RPG where you get a bunch of planets, put them on the map, and the players are free to go where ever they can get to, and side with whomever they want, etc. SWN gives some great advice on prepping for this kind of play, and running it, with a strong focus on exactly what you SHOULD focus on, so you can not waste time with things that will be useless in play.

The biggest highlight for me is the World Tags system- you roll twice on the chart and get two major features of the planet that are sources of conflict and drama. For example, if you know a planet has runaway AI and primarily works with heavy industry... well, you can already imagine the sort of drama that would fit there. SWN gives each Tag extra description- some possible problems, some allies, or further complications, so you have support in setting up your notes.

There's also interesting rules for dealing with factions, factional warfare - through economics, espionage, politics, and classic military force. Factions can also grow by capturing assets of other factions or gaining experience by fulfilling goals.

The only major issue I've got is the assumption that you'll want/need to build a whole sector of planets before playing - it makes more sense to make a few planets and then as the players travel, expanding the map accordingly.

Updated Old School System

SWN strips away most of the cruft and bullshit rules from Basic D&D, and adds some clean, quick features that just work better.

You still have stuff like 6 attributes, and randomly roll stats... except stats are very heavily weighted towards the center and modifiers are really small. It's pretty hard to roll a really crappy character. When you pick your class (Warrior, Psychic, Expert), you also can bump up one of you attributes to 14, so there's another layer of protection from rolling the completely wack character.

You choose two sets of skill packages- one representing your upbringing, another representing your training from your class - there's no point juggling or choices over skills- you pick the package and you get it - the end.

The major old-school-ism that sticks with SWN is Armor Class, hit points, and lethal combat. The GM's advice talks about the importance of letting players make and enact smart plans to get the drop on foes, or figure out what fights are too difficult, and, that players will probably want to avoid a lot of fights early on. I'm not sure how well this actually runs in play, until I play it, but that's the only thing flagging for me as a concern.
yeloson: (Default)
[personal profile] yeloson
Well my videogaming is reduced as all my TVs have died the death, leaving my 360 alone.

But gaming continues:

- Played Smallworld Underworld. Very fun and a good evolution from Small World. A notch more complicated, but not bad by any means.
- More Dominion. I keep getting schooled at this, so I'm guessing I need some practice.

- Apocalypse World http://apocalypse-world.com/forums/index.php?topic=1874.0
- Exalted, using the Sorcerer rules http://bankuei.wordpress.com/2010/10/04/sorcerer-exalted/ on Google Plus

- Trauma, a funky click puzzle game w/Okami style draw-symbol game play: http://www.traumagame.com/


Portal 2

Jul. 26th, 2011 02:20 pm
yeloson: (Default)
[personal profile] yeloson
One of my friends was kind enough to loan this to me, which I managed to power through over the weekend. I'll skip over the obvious stuff you can pull from the many reviews elsewhere. I'm going to talk a bit about how it's different than Portal 1, instead.

First, it's a longer game, but the pacing is good and it doesn't feel like it drags.

Compared to the first game, they do a much better job of highlighting "What to do next", and rarely did I feel completely at a loss as to trying to find out where I should be looking. This is a pretty big achievement given that they build really massive levels, and sometimes they do punk things like hide the place where you need to drop a portal at a corner view.

At the same time, the puzzles are a lot more constrained. The amount of surfaces you can drop a portal is constrained, and I found it mildly annoying. It meant that solutions to the puzzles where a little easier to figure out- because if you see a surface you know it's going to be used, whereas in Portal 1, sometimes the surfaces were just there. And, it also means it's really hard to come up with anything that can break a puzzle, which is actually one of the most fun aspects about Portal.

Non-spoilery story stuff- they go into the background of Apeture Science, and it's just as dystopian and fucked up as you'd expect. That said, I found the "And it gives you cancer! LOL!" theme... kinda old quick. It actually got me thinking about how few gamers are aware of stuff like putting radium into toothpaste or the Bhopal disaster and how much corporate disasters were not terribly far from the jokes in Portal in terms of gross negligence.

You do get to see a whole bunch of older testing chambers, which makes it even more creepy because you wonder how many people went through all this, and what injuries/deaths must have occurred along the way.

But the most creepy thing? All the other robots and AI's you encounter. It becomes quickly apparent that even the most innocuous automated objects, are, in fact sentient on some level and they're just as trapped in this hell hole as you are. There's numerous points when you happen to find things like air launchers humming songs to themselves or wall panels... dancing. It's really kind of horrifying.

The co-op game is a ton of fun, and sadly short. I think it has some puzzles which are more difficult than the single player campaign, but if you have a friend, it's usually easier to figure out ways to solve them.

Anyway- feel free to get spoiler-ific in the comments.
yeloson: (Default)
[personal profile] yeloson
Fleet Commander is a Star-Wars based RTS, using a giant wall-sized touch screen. Arthur Nishimoto is one of the main developers of this game. The game can be 1 player versus 1 player, up to as many players as you can have standing around the giant touch screen.


yeloson: (Default)
[personal profile] yeloson
I have been playing:

- Monopoly Deal!, a card game version of Monopoly that plays in 20-30 minutes and is a lot more fun. Sadly, I figured optimal strategies in one day, so I'm putting together some house rules to make it more challenging.

- Yomi! A fighting card game (thanks to yhlee for hooking me up). Though this game has more stuff going on, my roommate and I also found optimal strategies for our character decks in 3 hours of play, so that's kind of sad.

- Final Fantasy 13. I got a cheap copy ($20) to fill my need for JRPG action. Whenever I get done, I'll have to write it up here, since there's major coonery with the black character...

There's a lot of gameplay and storytelling problems as well. I'm seeing that the gameplay is basically a macro-based RTS with 3 units on the screen - it's 10x the work for about the same level of fun as choosing between Attack and Magic over and over. There's also the part where you play about 3 hours and there's no xp or leveling up- so the fights are basically a waste of time early on.

Story-wise, I'm about 7-8 hours into play and I haven't seen what a normal town looks like in this weirdo setting, and I don't understand the motivations of most of the party...

- D&D 4E Essentials - I ran a quick encounter for some friends last night testing out some hacked monsters stats that I'm using. I want to run a short campaign, and it looks like it's going to be pretty neat.

How about you? What's up with your gaming?


Jun. 18th, 2011 10:14 am
yeloson: (Default)
[personal profile] yeloson
Vanquish is a fast, hyperkinetic 3rd person shooter, combining the best stuff of run and gun with cover type shooting games. That said, the story is more plot hole than plot, and pretty poorly written. There's no POC and it's all about grumbly white men in power armor, and the hot blonde woman in a mini skirt, and evil President Hillary Clinton. More on that at the end...

So, gameplay is really cool - the levels are linear, but the pop and drop rooms and layout of cover is really well set up. Your power armor lets you power-slide, which is crucial for moving from cover to cover, which you'll need to do as the enemies become smarter about flanking and rushing you.

The limit is, power-sliding too much overheats your suit which leaves you slower and weaker while it cools down.

The game does an excellent job of ramping up difficulty without just adding more enemies. You'll find the same enemy type you fought a few levels ago is a lot tougher in tighter spaces, or different environments. There's a few gimmick levels, but they don't feel too gimmicky- fights on the back of moving trains, flying vehicles, zero-G levels, etc.

Story-wise.... eh. In the future, Russians take over a US space colony and use it's microwave beam to fry San Francisco. You play aforementioned grumbly white man Sam, who is using prototype power armor to help free the station and rescue the scientist who helped build his armor and the station.

Basically, the rest of the story is terrible action movie cliches which don't make sense in their context. Lots of important things go left unexplained: Why do the Russians have such awesome robots? How is it they can teleport things and you can't? "Temporal Disturbance" is mentioned- the Russians can travel through time? I don't know!

At the end of it all, the non-spoiler spoiler is that Evil President Hillary Clinton was working with the Russians on this, and shoots herself in the head, and you get to her laid out with the gory head wound.

...I'm not sure what hate-on they have for Hillary to take it that far, but clearly there's deep issues at hand with the writer.

Overall, the game has really fun game play, and shitty story. Which, I guess is classic Sega. I recommend it if you're into hyper shooting games, as the gameplay is excellent. I don't recommend it for anything else.
yeloson: (Default)
[personal profile] yeloson
Paizo Publishing, the tabletop rpg company responsible for Pathfinder, which, at least has POC characters appearing throughout the artwork, has announced that they'll be selling prepainted minis this fall.

Paizo has done ok by POC imagery in their rpg books, so hopefully their minis will also follow suit.
yeloson: (Default)
[personal profile] yeloson
So, I guess Magicka is a funky 4 player co-op fantasy zark-everything game. They now have a downloadable expansion in which the wizards... fight the Vietnam war? With "napalm" as a magic power?

yeloson: (Default)
[personal profile] yeloson
I've posted about the Avatar the Last Airbender inspired "Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple" about a year back. It's finally seeing print through a massive kickstarter pre-order.

It's nearly quadruple it's kickstarter goal, so the project is definitely going!
yeloson: (Default)
[personal profile] yeloson
Phantom Leader is a solo boardgame where you play a flight commander for the Airforce or the Navy during the Vietnam war. I'm pretty skeevy on rah-rah historical war games, but I picked it up because a lot of the reviews pointed to some neat game mechanics.

Representation wise... well, I guess I can say it's not AS problematic as I expected, but that's still not saying great things. They do manage to avoid problematic representation of Vietnamese folks... because all you see in the game are jets, buildings, bridges, truck convoys, and tiny, tiny dots that might be people. I'm not sure how I feel about the idea that people are only represented in the game as targets, way below. It's horrifying and yet still better than most wargames.

The more... uh, problematic stuff is in the descriptions in the campaigns. For instance, a couple of them talk about airpower "forcing the North Vietnamese government to the negotiating table"... which is a ridiculous level of revisionism about what happened.


There's 6 campaigns to pick from and each one can be played at different lengths (short, medium, long) and also you can adjust the difficulty by picking various advantages or disadvantages that affect the core rules.

There's also a ton of pilots and planes to pick from. These are included on cards, and each pilot has a different skill level, and you're required to take so many Newbie, Green, Average, Skilled, and Veteran pilots.


During play, you draw so many Target cards and pick one as your target.

Just picking a target is a choice in and of itself- you're limited both by your Recon (higher recon means draw more cards) and political support from higher command- which also restricts which targets you can pick. Depending on the current state of your pilots, you may find some missions to be simply impossible to take on, also limiting your choices.

Each campaign gives you very few missions to score as many Victory Points as possible, and naturally, more difficult Targets tend to be higher in VP. Thankfully, the high VP targets are actually clearly military targets (radar installation, etc.). And they actually acknowledge that the targets in Laos were pretty ineffective as far as winning the war. There's a couple of targets which you can see being military/civilian - like a major bridge or a steel plant.

After you picked your targets, you randomly draw opposition to which are placed in the abstract target map (basically, the target and the 4 approaches around it).

Then you pick your pilots for this mission, and kit out their planes accordingly. Planes have limits on how many weapons they can carry, and which weapons they can equip. It's only a little fiddly, as all the info is kept on the cards. (That said, I wish they put the weapons on cards as well, the cardboard chits are tiny).


You only get 4 turns to complete the mission, so it sets up a simple dilemma: How much time to I spend taking out the defenses and making sure my squad is safe vs. how much do I risk them to complete the mission?

Each pilot has several stats, but it basically boils down to:
a) Bonuses to fight Air to Ground or Air to Air combat
b) How much Stress points they take before their stats get worse
c) Do they get to shoot before the enemy attacks or after?

Each turn, you can pick one target, and you roll a ten sided die for attacks. They have a simple system, where weapons have 1-3 numbers listed - if you beat 1 number you do 1 damage, if you beat 2 numbers you do 2 damage, and all 3 numbers means you do 3 damage. It's pretty easy and self contained.

Pilot's options to avoid getting shot down include using up your weapons to lay out suppressive fire, evading which forces the enemy to roll twice and take the worse roll (but builds 2 stress for your pilot), or just hope the enemy rolls low. 1 hit causes 1 stress, 2 hits damage the plane and make it impossible to attack, and 3 hits shoot the plane right down.

Long term management

Your pilots earn stress, which reduces their abilities, so you have to rotate them in and out to drop their stress level. You also end up having to pick between Missions which go straight for victory points vs. ones which improve your Recon, Intel, or Political stats which makes life easier all around.

Over time, pilots earn XP that allow them to step up one grade in ability. This seems to only really show up in longer campaigns, as the short games I played, it was not really an option.


If you're willing to overlook the sketchy problematic stuff and abstract out the real world history from the game (which, is big steps but at the same time if you're into wargame stuff, probably already doing a lot), it's a neat and solid game with a lot of replayability. It very much feels like a wargame that took a step or two towards boardgames in some ways, though I still wish the game used cards for everything instead of chits, for ease of handling and reading.
yeloson: (Default)
[personal profile] yeloson
I don't know anything about this game, or to what levels cool vs. skeevy it might be.
The New Fire forums
at least have a section on real world history and mythology. Anyway, something to keep an eye out for whenever it does get published.
yeloson: (Default)
[personal profile] yeloson
I haven't seen or heard much about the game, but I'm listening to a podcast of Malcolm Harris talking about his game, Witch Girls Adventures.


Mar. 5th, 2011 10:01 pm
yeloson: (Default)
[personal profile] yeloson
Confucius is a boardgame for 3 or more players, focused on strategic resource management.

In the game, you are an Tang dynasty official trying to gain the most influence and power, in part by bribing officials, buying influence, getting your people appointed, and organizing and reaping the profits of trade and warfare.

Representation-wise, it gets a mostly thumbs up. The officials are illustrated as Chinese officials, in classic Chinese painting style. The only thumbs down is that it's called Confucius- there's nothing particularly Confucian about it.

This is a fun game, if a bit complicated. It is very much about making smart investments and adapting to situations handed to you. The game runs on 3 major things: Gifts, Action Cubes, and Money.


A big part of playing the game is gifts. You use gift cards to give to other players, that indebts them to you and blocks them from competing with you in certain ways, and forces them to side with you in tiebreaking situations. This isn't a verbal agreement that you can betray- it's actually a hard and fast rule.

What it sets up, is a strategy of who to gift and when. Gifting the most powerful players might help you a lot, but it probably won't be long before they either spend the money to out-gift you. Gifting weaker players doesn't help as much, but they won't have the resources to break it for awhile.


The next thing is Action Cubes. Every round you get a number of action cubes to divvy up into doing various things like bribing officials, getting your people appointed, starting trade expeditions or military ventures, etc. You get more action cubes the more you have either given gifts to others or received gifts (and therefore, are more indebted).

You go around the table, everyone spending on one action until all of the cubes are spent. The person who goes first is the Lead Official, and they have an interesting balance- they can't take their last action until everyone else has taken their last action - meaning you go first and you go last.

This is actually a nice advantage, except late in the round is when everyone makes their power moves- sometimes you get ahead because no one can counter your last action, sometimes you don't have the resources to do anything with it at that point.

Then you have to pick someone else to be the lead official next round- which sets up another interesting bit of jockeying and tie-breaking amongst the players each round.


Money is tracked on cards- each card gives you between 1-3 coins, and, it also has 1-3 Edicts on it - these are inverse to each other so 3 coins means 1 edict or 1 coin is 3 edicts.

Coins are used for most things, but Edicts are used for actually sending military units out or sending trade expeditions - so being high in one or the other doesn't mean being completely ass out- provided you've got something lined up to take advantage of it.

Each turn, you can either Collect Taxes and draw 2 cards, or do a Commercial Venture which gives you more cards depending on how much you've spend into it. At the beginning of each round, you have to discard down to 4 cards, so a lot of times you find everyone rushing for money early in a round then spending late in the round.

(If there's a competition to get an official appointed, everyone has to spend some money- you don't get to opt out of it, even if you aren't obligated at all- which means having to save extra round-to-round).

While money is crucial round to round, it's not victory points, so you need to find ways to use it best.


I give it 4/5 stars. It's got a lot of neat stuff going on, really hits the theme well, and is a fun game. The drawback is that you're going to need between 3-5 players who are also into crunchy strategy to get the most from it. From my friends who brought it over, it sounds as if the rules are not particularly well written, so that's something to watch out for.
yeloson: (Default)
[personal profile] yeloson
I've been playing lots of boardgames! I've been introduced to Tigris & Euphrates, Agricola, and Warmachine.

Last month I ran some rpgs for the local mini-convention, including a great game of Bliss Stage.

How about you?
yeloson: (Default)
[personal profile] yeloson
T&E is a resource board game around building civilizations around the Tigris & Euphrates rivers. Sadly, the few character images the game shows are almost all the the whitest possible version of the people, rather like white-greeks or white-egyptian imagery that we typically see in media.

The game is for 3-4 players and consists of two major components- leaders and tiles. Each player has 4 leaders- a king, priest, merchant and farmer - each one is color coded to a type of victory point, and winning depends on getting the most of all 4. Players connect their leaders to various civilizations and play tiles representing the different resources/growth of the civilization.

If you have a Farmer connected to s civilization that is adding farm tiles, you get more victory points of that type, a Priest to a civilization adding temples, you get more priest victory points, etc. The only major exception is that if an appropriate leader isn't attached, but a king is, a king can collect in their stead.

That said, leaders can and do move around in this game. You can't have 2 leaders of the same type attached to the same civilization. When it happens, you have an conflict which is won by having your leader next to the most temples and sacrificing the most temple tiles out of your hand - which boots the loser and earns you some victory points in the process.

The other method which happens is when two civilizations build into each other via tile placement- which means if there's 2 leaders of any given type between them- they end up conflicting, except this time based on appropriate tiles available to them (Farms for Farmer, Markets for the Merchant, etc. etc.). The end of these affairs tends to generate a lot of one type of victory point and removes tiles from a civilization- which can drastically change the board.

Finally, it's possible to create Monuments, which are fountains of victory points of a specific type- you get points as long as you appropriate leaders attached to the civilization which has them- but it also reduces your ability to defend against the external conflicts previously mentioned.

A lot of the game depends on smart planning ahead and interaction. One of the most useful tactics is to drop a tile connecting to civilizations where they have multiple overlapping leaders- especially if none of your leaders are involved- you can force the other players to fight it out and try to take advantage of a power gap created by it.

There's also disaster tiles which allow you to destroy a tile, which can cut off certain leaders or split civilizations in two. These can drastically alter the play arena.

Overall, the game is medium complexity and pretty fun. It's got a few fiddly exception rules that take a bit to remember, but otherwise fairly straightforward.
yeloson: (Default)
[personal profile] yeloson
Womanist Musings has a great post on the white normative in fantasy and romance, The Unbearable Whiteness of Being:

If one purpose of fantasy is providing escapism from a flawed world, it is absolutely necessary that everyone has tools to construct a fantasy world where they can be affirmed for everything they are, including their race. As we walk through a world where whiteness, thinness and cis-genderism is worshipped, for many of us, fantasizing about a better life where we are whiter, thinner, and more 'normal' is the insidious deepening of psychic wounds that eventually catch up with us.
yeloson: (Default)
[personal profile] yeloson
Hi Everyone!

Welcome to Gamers of Color!

This community's goals are to set up a safe space for POC and allies to talk about:

1. Folks of color who design/work in the games industry
2. Games which focus on POC in cool ways
3. Communities/spaces that are positive spaces for gamers of color
4. Issues/concerns we face in communities (both face to face and online)
5. Racism in imagery and depictions in games
6. Geeking out on games and sharing

Obviously we have cross over with general anti-kyriarchy political communities, but straight up news/politics really doesn't fit here (there's other communities I can point you to for those discussions).

Don't feel limited to talking only about new games or events! If you've been playing an old game you found online or a boardgame from the 80's, or just thinking about a past game experience with new eyes, feel free to past about it.

Public vs. Members only posts

You can choose whether you want posts to be visible to public or members only - ONLY MEMBERS CAN COMMENT either way.

I generally prefer to go for a 60-70% public post thing, because it's nice to have a secondary effect of a resource for other gamers of color who are stumbling upon the community and a tertiary effect of possible education for clueless-who-might-learn. Note though, that's on the bottom of the list- definitely make any post about personal emotional stuff or things easily misconstrued by clueless white folks private.

I'm not going to mod your choices in that, so go public/private as you will.


Safe space is pretty high on my list of goals, here. Part of that is that I have little patience for bad behavior that violates safe space. This is definitely not the place to get 101's on race issues.

If you've worked in other safe spaces before, you really shouldn't have a problem here. There's basically two levels of moderation: Act a fool = banned. Act clueless = get one warning and links for things to go read, then ban.

I know that's super subjective, but having been co-moderator of several safe space communities that aren't 101 spaces, it has worked pretty well. Folks who want less benevolent dictator moderation options should make communities based on what works for them (and, if you'd like, send a link! I actually would be really happy to see a thriving network of different POC gamer communities, forums and sites).

PM Me if drama kicks off

I can't follow every comment thread. PM me and let me know if bad stuff is happening. It may take me to the end of the day, but I will get to it.

So, with all that in place, thank you for joining and let's get our game geekery on!
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