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Dungeons and Design part 2: I am everything wrong with gaming

Recently some friends and I decided to try Dungeons and Dragons (fourth edition, Planescape setting) for the first time. As usual, no-one wanted to be the DM, so I volunteered, and I’m glad I did. Running these adventures has given me a lot of insight into game design and how to deal with players, including pointing out some things I really should have known already. So I’ve decided to write a little about each session, and the stark contrast between what I planned and what actually happened.
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Dungeons and Design part 1: Hawks can’t spot traps

Recently some friends and I decided to try Dungeons and Dragons (fourth edition, Planescape setting) for the first time. As usual, no-one wanted to be the DM, so I volunteered, and I’m glad I did. Running these adventures has given me a lot of insight into game design and how to deal with players, including pointing out some things I really should have known already. So I’ve decided to write a little about each session, and the stark contrast between what I planned and what actually happened.
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How to survive in FTL

A little while back I read Tom Francis’ excellent compilation of Spelunky tips. I suck at Spelunky, but after reading those, I sucked marginally less, and now I’m going to do the same thing for you, only with FTL.

Like Spelunky, FTL is a simple but brilliant roguelike built around risk/reward calculations. And like Spelunky, following a few simple principles can improve your game a lot. I’ve been playing this game since it was an IGF entry, so I know a thing or two about how to survive in space. So listen up Captains, because it’s a cold, hard universe out there.

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In which TV shows about lawyers are surprisingly different

Lately I’ve watching three different TV shows about lawyers. The light and fun Franklin and Bash, the gritty conspiracy of The Firm and the glossy character drama that is Suits. They all take completely different approaches to the genre, but they’re all good, just in different ways. It’s an impressive demonstration of just how much variety you can generate from a simple enough concept, so I thought I’d talk a little about each show, how they work, and why I like them.

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‘Cinematic’ is not a dirty word

Recently Rock Paper Shotgun published an article railing against ‘cinematic’ games. The sentiment will be familiar to anyone who’s spent time on any game site or comment thread. Games are games, why should games be like movies? Treating games like movies means long, non-linear cutscenes, and no-one likes those. The best course for games is to focus on interaction, and ignore films entirely. The argument is a compelling one, but I think it’s dead wrong, and stems from a basic misconception about what we mean when we say ‘cinematic’.
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