Celebrate Game Design with the Blog Carnival for Game Designers!

Welcome to the July 31, 2007 edition of blog carnival for game designers.
As a freelance writer for the game industry, please visit these posts related to gaming from other writers and professionals that support computer games, video games, role-playing games, and more!

Jake Richmond presents Work in Progress – Ghost Bike Club posted at Work in Progress, saying, “Hi. I’m taking a break from psychic Japanese schoolgirls to write a game about Ghost Bikes. -Jake”

Indigo Warrior presents Welcome to my Blogspot posted at Warrior Words.

Scott presents 16 Most Popular Video Games on College Campuses posted at College and Finance, saying, “When designing games, it’s important to keep your demographic in mind. If you’re designing for college students, consider the 16 most popular games amongst college students. Multiplayer capabilities are a big factor.”

Madeleine Begun Kane presents Games People Play … At Meetings posted at Mad Kane’s Humor Blog.

Jimmy Atkinson presents How to: Build a Great Gaming Rig on the Cheap posted at Free Geekery.

Rogue Games presents Colonial Gothic Design Notes: About Fate Cards posted at Rogue Games.net

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of blog carnival for game designers using my carnival submission form. You can also read my blog carnival guidelines, which will be updated to reflect new changes.

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Blog Carnival Submission Guidelines: Game Designers

I am hoping to host an ongoing blog carnival for game designers. The first blog carnival has been posted on July 31st. I will be promoting and offering game designers the chance to get in on this carnival next month; the carnival will be posted on August 31st.

The requirements are as follows:

* Article related to the gaming industry.
* Product has not yet been released.
* Talks about something design-related; i.e. character generation, inspiration, mechanics, research, etc.
* Have at least one product available for sale.
* Submit your article link to me no later than August 30th.

Submit to Blog Carnival for Game Designers

Matt M McElroy of Flames Rising will be helping me screen the links with the intent of promoting the post to several communities. First come, first serve for the initial blog carnival, so if I get flooded with a lot of articles I’ll be happy to post an additional blog carnival later on the the month.

The more articles I receive, the less “forgiving” I will be about fringe-related articles that may not be directly related to game design. In those cases where your article is marginally related, I will (most likely) separate the articles by topic or save them for a different post.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me on this blog through the comments section. I will reply to you, personally.

Happy Gaming!

About Me: On Game Design

One of the ways that I’ve expanded my portfolio over the past couple years is to write games. I get quite a few questions regarding my game writing experiences, one of which is, “What does it mean when you say you write games?”

Writing games, whether you are writing video games or tabletop role-playing games, has some commonalities. All games need rules, otherwise known as mechanics. Many games, especially role-playing games, need a “world” to play in, and characters to play with.

Video games and computer games require a writer to understand script (or screen) writing. In this particular arena, I do not have the experience to speak to what the game writing process is. I do know, from looking for jobs in the video game design field, that there are several, different requirements that go beyond writing the script for a game. You can see on this list of video game positions that writing is typically not offered as a separate job. I say typically, because not every game company is structured the same way, and I am associated with people who write for video game companies.

Narrative or tabletop role-playing games (RPGs), differ greatly from video games. While I can’t make comparisons about the process, there are, what I would define as, three tiers of writing for game design. The first level, would be to write for a well-established RPG that has its own set of mechanics. In this instance, you, the freelancer, would be writing setting-related material with little-to-no “mechanics” design. You provide the setting and the characters, and simply use the mechanics you have available to support your game or adventure. If you were to tweak a mechanics system, creating new rules to fit your adventure or game, then I would consider that to be the second tier. The third tier is the most time-consuming and, in some cases, the most fun. Not only do you help build the world and create characters and conflict, but you also help set up the framework of rules.

What are game mechanics? In any game, these are the “points of logic” that you and your players need to play the game. Mechanics can affect the plot, determine how strong your character is, how far you can run, what your character knows, and how fast they heal. RPG-style video games, like Knights of the Old Republic utilize behind-the-scene mechanics. Whenever you take an action, it affects your character, but you don’t have to roll the dice to see what the outcome is. Tabletop games, on the other hand, often require you to roll the dice in order to see what happens when you try to shoot a gun, climb a tree, open a lock or even change the direction of the plot.

Unlike video games, writing RPGs requires a lot of technical writing skill. Often, you’ll work through an outline before you write, in order to integrate rules and mechanics in a systematic way to present to the reader. There is room for some fiction, but writing RPGs is primarily about fleshing out a skeleton to provide a playable setting. In fiction, you opt for a seamless story that engages your readers; in RPGs, you commonly break out protagonists, antagonists, scenes, plot seeds, characters, etc. in order to inspire others to participate in the game you’ve created. While there is a lot of debate over how RPGs should be written, several RPGs are based on the concept that the players and the Game Master (GM) or Narrator of your game, drive the story. As a freelance writer for the RPG industry, you provide them with the tools to do just that.

Of course, there are several exceptions to this concept, the easiest example is to point out games like the Army of Darkness RPG. Writing for licensed games requires writers to know the setting they are writing for and often, the process can be pretty tricky.

So there you have it; that’s my opinion on Game Writing 101. As this is a huge topic for discussion and debate, I encourage you to read other articles about game writing for the RPG industry if you’re interested in learning more about it. Over the course of this blog, I’ll be writing about more specific aspects of RPG writing, rather than a generic overview. I will tell you that many game designers are extraordinarily friendly and will be honest with you about the pros and cons of the industry as a whole, which might help you understand your market before you dive, feet first, into it.

Articles about RPG game Design | How to Create an RPG World | How to Write a Role-Playing Game

Freelance Writing Tip #35: Be Inspired by Others’ Success

Sometimes its easy to work in a tunnel, where you gauge how “good” you are as a writer by the milestones you reach in your personal career. The nature of our work, as I’ve mentioned several times, encourages us to put blinders on, only looking at what’s in front of our monitor instead of reaching out to a larger community of writers.

One way to motivate yourself, is to be inspired by another author’s success story. Successful authors can give unpublished writers hope. Whenever an author surpasses a goal or financial sales figure, it means that people are still reading, and it is possible to achieve that level of success.

So the next time you hear an author’s success story, smile and dream. Remember that that author could be you, but you’ll never get there if you don’t write. So turn their success into personal motivation, and keep your words flowing freely.

Freelance Writing Tip #34: Dream

Dreams can range from the surreal to the fantastic. Your nightly travels can be frightening, exciting, depressing, and engaging. Whatever theme your dreams have, the concept of dreams can be an excellent motivational tool for your fiction.

Dreams work well as tools within your fiction for quite a few reasons. For example, well-described dream can help set mood and tone of any fiction piece. Take Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, for example, where Harry’s inner turmoil was accentuated by Voldemort’s pursuit of his inner consciousness. A good dream can also shed light on a character’s motivation or “inner being,” something that may not be readily apparent to other characters or the reader. Sometimes dreams can be prophetic; the lack of dreams can also be quite telling of a character’s distress or fear.

One tool that you can use to describe and build a character’s dream is, of course, a dream dictionary. Dream dictionaries often claim to shed light on Jungian and archetypal dream symbols. By looking up definitions of different objects in any dream, you can hypothetically piece together what the dream means. Whether or not you buy into the whole philosophy that your dreams are actually subconscious messages is entirely up to you, but the concept can be excellent fodder for characters within your stories.

Another method for utilizing dreams in your fiction, or as a motivation to write, would be to keep a dream journal. Explore what dream journals have to offer your characters by using one for your own dreams. Simply, find a unique journal and keep it next to your bed with a pen. After waking up from your night terror or amazing fantasy, write it down immediately. You may find that when you’re awake, you may not be able to read your handwriting. Diligently keeping a dream journal will take time, but the rewards could outweigh your initial discomfort, simply because you are getting into the habit of capturing something that has motivated you to write. Taking those raw emotions and images and turning them inside out on paper is always a good thing. Always.

As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, you may want to conduct more research and verify your online sources, in order to make an informed decision about dreaming. For more information about sleep, dreams and dreaming, Discovery Health has a really well done sleep and dreams information center that has articles about research, sleep disorders, etc. In one of Discovery Health’s articles, a dream expert talks about why we dream, and her scientific explanation could help shape your opinions about dreams and dreams interpretation.

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Looking for Monica’s books and games that are still in print? Visit Monica Valentinelli on Amazon’s Author Central or a bookstore near you.


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