Saturday, February 16, 2008

Art n Stuff

This guy makes me very happy. Go browse around the site of Erwin Madrid, artist. I love especially the stuff displayed under "Personal Projects", like the image here -- lovely colour work and such specific lighting you can almost feel the sunshine on your face.

A lot of his Drake's Fortune stuff evokes the kind of feel I have in my mind for DINO-PIRATES OF NINJA ISLAND, the forthcoming logo for which I think I'm probably driving Claudio completely insane over with my endless suggestions for changes. But I know he doesn't mind.

Do you, Claudio?

And the logo is going to be majorly BAD-ASS. And I have previously demonstrated my expertise on that subject, so listen up.

In other news, Chuck Rice over at RPGObjects/Vigilance Press has announced plans to create a Clash of the Roses True20 game. Gaming in the world of Henry IV (parts one and two). As long as the soliloquy mechanic is good, I'm on board.

And my buddy Joshua notes that as AWESOME as Hot Pursuit was, it probably suffered from the "too many rules" disease that afflicted the d20 scene. I agree. And I think the right place to address that problem is the True20 release of my chase rules -- which will probably happen sometime in May.

I got interested in the idea of Passively Multi-player Online Games (I think via Metafilter), which then led me to the ideas of ludology, which have been helpful for me in clarifying what I find wrong about the notion that video-games form an important new art form. Ludology is the study of games AS games (as opposed to the study of games as narrative, or as demonstrations of economic choices, yada yada yada). And I came across this paper that outlined the following definitions of play and game:

Paidea [play] is "Prodigality of physical or mental activity which has no immediate useful objective, nor defined objective, and whose only reason to be is based in the pleasure experimented by the player".

Ludus [game] is a particular kind of paidea, defined as an "activity organized under a system of rules that defines a victory or a defeat, a gain or a loss."

Not bad definitions, all things considered. But interesting to note that under these definitions, RPGs don't actually have to be games. A table-top RPG doesn't have to provide for victory or gain via the rules. Many do, but they don't have to. It's possible to run a game where gain is acquired externally to the rules -- through the story being told, or just by DM fiat.

For example, my Barsoom campaign eschewed such mechanics as experience points -- I simply decided when I wanted my players to go up a level, and they did. There was no rule that defined that gain for the players. Under the definition above, Barsoom was play, but it was not a game.

Well, you can get too tied up in definition. But I've always been fonder of playing without rules than with. I just like making up stories with my friends.

Finally, Steven Brust is a great writer, and he wrote a Firefly novel that's free. Go. Read. Play.