Tags: gaming

katie nom nom

MacBook Pro and FATE

I came home yesterday and my brand new MacBook Pro was sitting on the dining room table. Now, my precious G4 Powerbook had been biting the big one for a while and ever since the battery recall/battery swapout, it had growing power issues. It died on Tuesday while syncing my podcasts in the morning and died later that evening when I tried to boot it with the ugly "I have just had a heart attack reboot me" message. It was really struggling to run my new happy little softsynth with attendant DSP effects. It was limping to the finish line. Also, it had a big dent. Where from, I don't know. But you have to really love a Powerbook to get a dent.

So yeah, on my birthday list I put "1 MacBook Pro," fully knowing we abuse Apple for their generous educational discounts.

There it was, mostly paid for by my parents, and I wasn't quite sure what to do with it. I had this nightmare vision of trying to move all my music stuff over. I mean, Logic. I wave my hands. But however! Apple is Awesome. I have found the one feature that guarantees I will never go back to the Windows Way Ever Again. For you see, there is this feature that allows you to connect two Apple laptops together with a firewire cable (you can assume I have cables a'plenty) and the new guy will simply hoover down everything from the old guy and set up all your applications and zing, you are ready to go. It took it an hour and a half to transfer 9.3G worth of applications and files -- mostly files, because I had been bouncing individual tracks down to AIFF to save on RAM -- and it came up and everything just kinda worked.

And I was like, with a high squeaky voice, "Oh my god!"

It's a little bizarre because it's exactly my laptop but much, much faster and not so much with the constant hardware crashing. And, of course, now I can play CivIV finally...

While I was running the big update, I sat down and re-read the core rules for FATE 3.0 out of my Super Special Mega Awesome copy of Spirit of the Century. (Look! A plug!) It's not that I don't know the rules for FATE but things tend to fall out of my head. The core rules are very small and simple so I actually could reread all the special little rules while I was there so happy was I.

I was struck by an interesting factoid that I hadn't really though about before. Games, especially RPGs, have at their heart a mission statement or a manifesto. Most of the time, the manifesto is sort of garbled and messy and confusing and this makes for a cruddy game. It pulls in a zillion directions. It has Too Many McGuffins. "It's a world about Supers and HERE IS MY SPECIAL KEWL DICE MECHANIC SYSTEM!" is a common one or "we're fighting ghosts... in SPACE... using a card resolution mechanic!" or something like that. I'm dumb, so if you confuse me or I have to remember a chart somewhere, I wander away.

The very best games have very, very, very clear and simple manifestos that can be communicated in a single sentence. The manifesto may be "to adventure underwater!" or "to go mad when exposed to the Truth" or "go in to space!" or "fight anime giant robots" or "be a totally emo vampire" or "kill monsters and take their stuff by rolling this d20 die." A great game only needs one little core manifesto and it needs to hype that manifesto up to the sky. So to people designing games: if you cannot describe the heart of your game in 8 words or less, throw it out and start over, because I'm dumb and won't understand your delicate extra special nifty kewl art.

Anyway, the core manifesto at the heart of SotC, and by a certain extension the FATE engine that runs it, is "to be AWESOME." In all caps. That's it. The entire game mechanics from Stunts (which I do love indeedy) to the minion/mook rules to sidekicks to gadgetry is all about being AWESOME. I appreciated the elegance of this one core belief at the center of the entire game philosophy and went:

WOAH.

Now back to being a wageslave.
katie nom nom

Gaming and Algorithms and Me

We had a bit of a conversation about gaming and dice online on Friday night, and it left me with a bit of an epiphany: I don't actually like the game part of gaming. I certainly enjoy the characters, the interaction, and the story. But once it's time to reach for the dice, I have an instinct to recoil. This lead to thought.

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