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Sinister Design - All News

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Friday - September 19, 2014
Sunday - September 14, 2014
Tuesday - September 25, 2012
Box Art

Friday - September 19, 2014

Sinister Design - Game Composer Interview

by Couchpotato, 01:53

Sinister Design has a new interview with Music Composer Ryan Richko. He was responsible for making the music, and the soundtrack of Telepath Tactics

With the Telepath Tactics soundtrack close to finished, I figured it would be a good time to sit down and chat with Ryan Richko, the man behind most of the game’s score. Here, he talks about composing for video games, and about composing the music of Telepath Tactics specifically. Read on, and plug in some good headphones while you’re at it!

Sunday - September 14, 2014

Sinister Design - Against the Cult of Simplicity

by Couchpotato, 05:01

Craig Stern of Sinister Designs has a new post about the Cult of Simplicity.

While at Indiecade in 2013, I had the pleasure of listening to Brenda Romero give an inspirational talk (one which she has evidently delivered elsewhere since) themed after the movie Hiro Dreams of Sushi. It was a talk about seeking perfection in game design. She described a triangle with one corner labeled on time, another labeled on budget, and a third labeled great. She exhorted the audience to disregard the “on time” and “on budget” sides of the game development triangle, and instead aim for a game that is truly great at all costs.

Brenda is a funny and dynamic speaker, and it made for a very entertaining talk. I would have enjoyed it without reservation but for one moment where she exhorted the audience to design games centered around a single core mechanic. Romero indicated that that was the only way to design something truly perfect. I considered asking her to defend that position in the Q&A that followed, but I hesitated. “I already have a bit of a reputation as a gadfly in the indie community,” I thought to myself. “And I like Brenda. Is this really a battle worth fighting?” I chose to let it go–but the memory of that moment continued to nag at me.

Later on in the weekend, I dropped by a tent where Jeremy Gibson was giving a talk on game design. I don’t recall the name of the talk, but it struck me as an intro-level lecture for folks who had not been making games for very long. He, too, apparently felt obliged to spend some time telling the audience to make games with only a single core mechanic. He did not give a reason; he did not limit his statement to new designers who are just finding their feet. He simply said that game designers should do it. Full stop.

Now, here’s the thing: I genuinely enjoy games that employ only a single core mechanic. But I also enjoy highly complex games that leverage many different systems, and I admit that I am deeply uncomfortable with the thought that leaders in the indie community are running around telling everybody that one of these is somehow better than the other.

Before we get into the repercussions of telling people that a game with a single core mechanic is preferable, I want to take a step back and examine the merits of the contention itself: is it, in fact, actually better to have a single core mechanic?

Tuesday - September 25, 2012

Sinister Design - The Evolution of RPG Character Creation

by Myrthos, 23:08

Sinister Design's Craig Stern wrote an editorial on the evolution of character creation in RPG's, how they came about and what they mean in todays RPGs.

"Now you might say, “Who cares? I’m playing this game to role play, not to create a super character.” That’s a good attitude to have, but why don’t we really test it out? Role play someone who is not skilled in combat or movement/stealth skills. Someone who is skilled only in areas that don’t play into the game’s emergent systems. It almost doesn’t matter which game we pick to perform this experiment in. Try to successfully complete–oh, say, Fallout 2–by role-playing a scientist. Go ahead. Roll up a new character and put all of her points into the Science skill. No save scumming, now. Or how about a scientist-doctor? Maybe one who loves hiking. Stick all your points in Science, Doctor and Outdoorsman. See how well that works out.

"Better yet, don’t. I’ll save you some time: you are going to die. Repeatedly. With few opportunities to level up, your character is going to stagnate, and you are going to struggle to get much of anywhere in the game unless you are already intimately familiar with its details. (Of course, there’s no point in having a discussion about game balance using someone who knows how to speed run the game in under 30 minutes as our reference point.)

"The point is, cRPGs aren’t pen-and-paper role-playing games. There’s no Dungeon Master to appeal to with creative uses for your characters’ various skills. Every last skill check that applies to a non-emergent game system has to be incorporated into the game in advance. The average player’s skills are useful in direct proportion to the number of times the game checks for them. Skills which are rarely used may serve a role-playing purpose, but they can also completely undercut a player’s enjoyment of the game by making survival and progression extremely difficult based on front-loaded choices the player is forced to make blindly."

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