Mass Effect, Alien Design and the Unknowable Other

As mentioned in the intro post, this is one of my pet topics so hold onto your hats, kids. Please note: Later I say that I am about to spend a paragraph spoiling the original Mass Effect trilogy. This did not end up being the case. As of writing this edit, I’m about 1,000 words into that particular rant, so if you don’t want the original Mass Effect trilogy spoiled, it may be best to skip this post altogether. Continue reading

RPG Scope ft. Mass Effect: Andromeda and Dragon Age: Inquisition

One of the most important aspects of writing a story is to understand the scope of what you’re writing. In order to create a compelling story, you have to have a balance of goals and threats, so that everything feels right to the readers. If you have, say, a slice-of-life type story, the threats to your character’s goals will be normal, mundane things, and your character should react accordingly. If you’ve got a high fantasy story about a villain who wants to destroy the world, on the other hand, you’re going to have much bigger threats, and your characters will react accordingly to that instead. This applies also to the secondary threats. At least to my eye, high fantasy romance arcs often fall flat because I’m often left thinking ‘why is this as important as the world-shattering plot that’s going on in the background?’ Continue reading

Mass Effect and Engagement

I remember when I first played Dragon Age: Inquisition, on the recommendation of a friend, and that friend told me that the devs had had to tell people to move along from the first section to advance the plot, because there was such a huge volume of side quests in the first area that people were hanging around there and getting frustrated that the story wasn’t advancing. Continue reading

Another Shadowrun Episode

Hi, folks.

Quick update on the gaming: If you liked the last episode (or if you haven’t seen it, you can check that out by clicking here), there’s another episode of Shadowrun up and ready to be watched.

As usual, we are not a PG bunch when it comes to language. But if you’d like to hear what I sound like in person, or get some GMing tips off the master, Paddy, then you can listen to the latest episode here.

Liberation Industries also has other games available for your perusal, should you be interested.

Realism in Fiction

“The difference between reality and fiction? Fiction has to make sense.” – Tom Clancy.

Or any of the other variants by Lord Byron (Truth is always strange; stranger than fiction) or Mark Twain (Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities, truth isn’t), or any of the other similar attributions. I ended up finding about five or six different attributions for similar quotes, including a couple of unconfirmed attributions.

Continue reading

A Quick Shoutout

Hi – I’d like to draw your attention to something.

I talk a lot on this blog about things I have learned from gaming and GMing in particular. I also particularly enjoy these things.

Now, I wasn’t GM for this one – that honour goes to the excellent and talented Patrick – but I was involved in this game.  So if you’ve ever wondered what sort of stuff I get up to in games, if you’ve ever wanted to know what my voice sounds like in real life, if you’ve ever wanted to know how exactly to fit puns into the setting of Shadowrun, here’s a link you might want to check out.

Shadowrun Anarchy: Ep. 1 – Practical Accounting.

A Shadowrun game, made by nerds, for nerds, of nerds.

Catalyst Labs also does other games, which I haven’t been involved in, but are no less excellent for that (probably in some cases better). You can find their other work in the sidebar of that link.

Fair warning, our language is not PG, by any definition.

Teaching Descriptions

Easing back into this blogging gig with a good old getting-high-and-mighty about writing.

One of the questions I got a lot when I was tutoring was ‘how do I write descriptions’. Description, I feel, falls victim to two problems. First, as always, incomplete and misleading common writing wisdom, and second, overemphasis on certain techniques of description. Continue reading