Dark Heresy Sunday!
We are a dedicated bunch to various hobbies and games.
We are here to offer articles and podcasts for what we love to do.
$5 for the Arcane Legions starter box. This is 120+ minis guys. Get on it!
I wont make a promise I can’t keep. But I’ve been feeling like making a come back using some new help and some help with old friends. I’m not sure if we’ll be using the same name. I’ll keep everyone posted with what is happening behind the scenes as things devolpe. So far there are a lot of exciting ideas we have circling around that weren’t always possible before. Thank you to anyone who has stuck around for this black out. If we do come back we are coming back better than ever.
It is with a heavy heart that I say Dice Troop will be disbanding….
Though I could simply list the reason why, I thought I would turn this into a personal story on how this group formed to begin with…..
About a year and a half ago I made the sacrifice to move back to MA to be with my sick father. During this time I also became quite ill. There wasn’t a whole lot I wanted to do. I would just sit in my room and think how the world would be a better place without me. It was a dark time but not as dark as earlier in the year. Feeling myself slipping I decided it would be best to keep my mind occupied I picked up Warhammer and painting again. That got me thinking…I wonder if there are others like me online.
It turned out there was! I formed a fantastic group of people called Skypehammer. We quickly became a pretty close group of people. It didnt take long for me to notice there were some talented people who agreed that we should form some sort of project group. Then we became Dice Troop.
I thought it would be cool to do an online video news shows on table top. We had our ups, our downs, and now we are coming close to an end. The main reason were disbanding is we all have a lot to do with in our lives. Some of us have kids and families, others work really hard to go to school to become actual game designers. So needless to say we don’t have the time or dedication to be what we once were.
As for me, I’ve had a bit of clarity in my life. I originally started this as a way to mitigate my wandering mind to make sure I didnt have any bad thoughts. As of late it seems I haven’t been having them of late. Things have been going better in my personal life and I’m on the road to recovery. I will still be seeing a doctor but I don’t think it will be for long.
So it is with mutual agreement that we are to disband. I will keep the blog running for a bit longer since I might post a couple of more articles. Our contest winner did get in contact with us so he will still receive our prize.
There is nothing to say we might return one day. Maybe even better than before. But for now…I will say goodbye. And if youd like you can follow us all on our person blogs.
I want to thank everyone who gave me tremendous support in forming this and to those who have been viewing our content this whole time. there are some who even donated money to us which is amazing! I feel like I owe you all a a piece of my life as Dice Troop has helped me so much in a way I cannot explain.
THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!
So our giveaway winner hasn’t gotten back to us in over a week. We might draw a new winner if he doesn’t respond in a few more days.
Magic: the Gathering - Nutty Squirrel Tokens
ultrabeige from Reddit has some fine squirrel tokens but not using them quite correctly in a Selesnya token deck. Suggested serving is Squirrel Mob, Deranged Hermit and an Overrun effect.
Remember kids - An army of squirrels is still an army.
When a player agrees to enter into the system of a game, they often also agree to accept a role within the game. This role is not as specific as a class or ability, but rather a social role that operates within a system of social relationships that are cultivated within the game system. For the most part, roles are not fixed, and may change many times over the course of a game. A player could be a team leader, then a bitter rival, then a winner-take-all individualist, then a complete philanthropist over the course of a game.
Richard Bartle, a designer of online games known as MUDs, has examined players to fit into four specific social roles when playing games online in a social setting. This was first introduced in the essay “Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players Who Suit MUDs”. Bartle’s Theory of player roles is that there are four types of roles, or playing styles: Achievers, Explorers, Socializers, and Killers. Although many players assume hybrids of these roles, Bartle proposes that one is generally dominant in each player.
He describes the roles in the following manner:
“Achievers [diamonds] regard points-gathering and rising in levels as their main goal, and all is ultimately subservient to this. Exploration is necessary only to find new sources of treasure, or improved ways of wringing points from it. Socializing is a relaxing method of discovering what other players know about the business of accumulating points…Killing is only necessary to eliminate rivals or people who get in the way.
Explorers [spades] delight in having the game expose its internal machinations to them. They try progressively esoteric actions in wild, out-of-the-way places, looking for interesting features … and figuring out how things work. Scoring points may be necessary…but it’s tedious, and anyone with half a brain can do it. Killing is quicker, and might be a constructive exercise in its own right …. Socializing can be informative as a source of new ideas.
Socializers [hearts] are interested in people, and what they have to say. The game is merely a backdrop, a common ground where things happen to players. Some exploration may be necessary so as to understand what everyone else is talking about, and points-scoring could be required … Killing, however, is something only ever to be excused if it’s a futile, impulsive act of revenge perpetrated upon someone who has caused intolerable pain to a dear friend.
Killers [clubs] get their kicks from imposing themselves on others. [Killers] attack other players with a view to killing of their personae … The more massive the distress caused, the greater the killer’s joy at having caused it … only in the knowledge that a real person, somewhere, is very upset by what you’ve just done, yet can themselves do nothing about it, is there any true adrenaline-shooting juicy fun.”
Assuming that these player roles are taken outside of the context of the game, and therefore outside the context of the magic circle, it could be derived that there is a very different kind of fun to be had by each player type. In as much, they have entered the game not only to play the game, but to play the game in their way.
Let’s look at some examples in tabletop:
Party Roles: In games, there becomes a social contract between the players and the GM to guide the players towards an experience they will find agreeable at worst and enjoyable at best. With the idea of player roles in mind, the players will have tipped their hand in the way of how they will best enjoy the game based on the classes or ability sets they have chosen to interact with the game. This is information the GM can and should use to cultivate a better experience.
While it is a social role, consider the fact that in a tabletop, the GM is participating as every person in the world that is not another player. Therefore, even a role such as “killer” could be enthused by allowing an evil campaign of helpless victims to oppress for the players to derive twisted fun for a time.
Using Bartle’s theory could, in practice, edge a GM closer to the experience their players are looking for without having to guess too heavily on what may or may not be enjoyable. While this can be used as a guideline, the player roles do have the chance and opportunity to change at any time, and should be adapted thereafter.
While we have discussed the possibility of flow, being the state of elation that can arise from immersion within a game, and fiero, the sense of pride after completing a difficult challenge, there is yet another term to describe the pathway between these two experiences. Theoretically, there is a patterned path between these points that carries the player from experience to experience during the course of a game. This is an experience known as Entrainment.
Entrainment comes from the French word “entrainer” and has two meanings: to carry along, and to trap. Entrainment has been commonly used to describe physical and natural phenomenon, such as circadian sleep rhythms to thunderstorms.Game Designer Brian Moriarty uses entrainment to refer to rhythmic pleasure, a process of falling into a patterned activity and continuing to enjoy the experience. In 1998, Moriarty gave a talk at the Game Developers conference about entrainment and game design:
“Rhythm and patterns exist in all games, if you watch. Watch someone playing a game sometime. Not the game itself, lest you be sucked in, but the player, and the space around him or her. Watch the rhythms emerge, and how the players and the game interact. It will become clear that a game is really an entrainment engine. The job of the gamewright, therefore, is to reinforce patterns and dampen dissonance.”
Entrainment is the experience of “same-but-different”. From the experience of firing the same series of weapons in the same matches of Call of Duty to grinding experience in a Final Fantasy, entrainment is the concurrent pattern of repeating actions but enjoying the actions while in repetition.
Within that, the dual nature of the word, both “to carry along” and “to trap” are relevant. It is a method of both continuing these experiences as well as trapping the player’s interest in the continued experience.
In the best effect, it is the process of tricking the player into not simply playing a game, but also being played by the game. The game initially captures the interest of the player, and then draws the player into a gameplay loop of repeating the same few actions before accomplishing a perceived goal. Without the initial interest, there would be no gameplay loop; without the loop, a new interest would continue to be formed.
Let’s look at some examples in tabletop:
Combat: Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition has a lot of problems with its combat system. Some specifically include fights going on for too long, and becoming boring within the timeframe. With the excess of powers, abilities, and seemingly endless HP counts of enemies, as well as a removal of risk in the way of healing surges and second winds, entrainment becomes rather difficult to inspire within the players.
Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 was able to inspire this kind of pleasure, while theoretically less interactive with the players in the fight. There were not a dozen abilities of use at any given time for each player, but the players were able to find a comfortable routine within the combats, knowing their specific abilities, as well as the potential outcomes for each action. It finds a rhythm in combat that later iterations simply lack: the flow and focus of slowly dissecting an enemy without necessitating more options.
Rhythm as play: It is not to say that every game needs rhythm in such a ham-fisted manner as to have literal rhythm in the games, but a game needs to have a rhythm of which the players can simply fall into, as well as constructing an environment for this phenomenon to occur. While it is difficult in some systems rather than others, it is theoretically possible to accomplish the same effect within any system of play, based on the actions offered to the players.
When examining gameplay, as well as pacing for a game or even a session, a GM could establish a point of which the players will be allowed to set into their respective rhythm.
By crafting a point in the game of which players are allowed to systematically enjoy their abilities and actions based on the actions they have chosen as characters, the game will naturally create this gameplay loop, and potentially inspire entrainment, the same-but-different gameplay leading towards the experience of entrainment.
It is less of a trick, and more of a phenomenon of perception. By allowing players to experience something they are comfortable doing, while repeating the action, a natural state of enjoyment comes from breaking down a conflict through repetition.
In the world of video games, there is a definition of the state of which a player begins to see themselves in a different reality than their own, or more importantly takes meaningful actions in a world that is different from their own. Johan Huizinga refers to this place as the Magic Circle, a “play-ground” in time and space created by a game.
“All play moves and has its being within a play-ground marked off beforehand either materially or ideally, deliberately or as a matter of course….The arena, the card-table, the magic circle, the temple, the stage, the screen, the tennis court, the court of justice etc., are all in form and function play-grounds, i.e., forbidden spots, isolated, hedged round, hallowed, within which special rules obtain. All are temporary worlds within the ordinary world, dedicated to the performance of an act apart.”
This is a concept as simple as the difference between hitting a ball out of a park and scoring a home run. One is the literal description of the event that has taken place before the player, as well as the actions required meeting that state. The other is the description of the same event within the context of the game itself, recognizing a different meaning, and incorporating a different pleasure. It is the difference of separating the real world action from the event occurring within The Magic Circle.
By nature, game designers are sales associates. There is a push and pull effect to convincing a player to not only come into a state of play with the designed system, but after entering continuing to play within the system repeatedly.
This is a state known as double seduction, enticing a player to enter into the game, and then continuously enticing a player to interact with the system after the first experience. This is summarized by the statement “Enter.Play.Stay.”, being a state of which a player continues to play after the initial experience.
The question thereafter becomes “how does this seduction begin?” Where a designer is designing the mode of play for the player to experience and enter into the game, that idea is weighed heavily on the idea that the player has chosen to start playing.
Designing the seduction of a game means understanding the formal, social, and cultural factors that contribute to the player’s experience. First, players are seduced into entering into the Magic Circle, crossing the threshold from their world into the world of the game itself, and second is to continue maintaining that state of inhabiting the new world.
Here are some examples for tabletop:
Combat: It is not only jarring, but intellectually boring, to tell the player the numbers of the creature they are battling. There is a distinct difference between describing the damage that a mighty beast is displaying through game terms, from the scars on its hide to the shrieks of pain, the blood on the battlefield and the force of the blow, and stating to the players “Yeah, it’s got about 35 HP left.”
While one continues that double seduction, drawing the player into the game as often as possible and maintaining the state of the magic circle, the other violently throws the player from the environments of those circumstances and reminds the player that what they are entangled with is simply a game of numbers of chance. Within that, the GM has failed to sell the player on their environment, and failed to continue the double seduction, resulting in a failure of maintaining the magic circle.
Meta-Gaming: This problem becomes pervasive when seen in this context. Rather than a simple breaking of “the rules” where a player decides to take knowledge from without the game and bringing into the game, this method breaks the game itself, ruining the concept that the GM and the game itself attempt to cultivate. It is more a matter of ruining the spirit of the game, and breaking the experience that the players should be enjoying, than simply cheating.
Although, in succinct commentary, it is a method of cheating that is highly utilized among players.
Conclusively, there is a state that games and GMs seek to propose where players should want to occupy. This is the state of the game, where the game is less something ridiculous and more something that can be considered real.
Austyngravette of Tumblr! Congrats sir you have won enough Roleplaying to keep you and your friends busy for month! I will be in contact with you shortly.
Thank you everyone for participating in this giveaway. We will have more to come and thank you so much for following us!
Game designer and programmer François Dominic Laramée wrote the following on the concept of immersion in his essay, Immersion:
“All forms of entertainment strive to create suspension of disbelief, a state in which the player’s mind forgets that it is being subjected to entertainment and instead accepts what it perceives as reality.”
This is a widely accepted theory among the digital games industry, as well as among its press, and moves to propose that a game should create an experience where the player forgets their existence in the real world and begins to believe that the game, or designed entertainment, is experiencing reality firsthand. Alternatively, Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman oppose this idea in their book Rules of Play, and describe it as a concept known as The Immersive Fallacy.
The Immersive Fallacy is the idea that pleasure of a media experience lies in its ability to sensually transport the participant into an illusory, simulated reality. The immersive fallacy also proposes that the new reality is so complete that the frame falls away, and the player believes they are part of an imaginary world. Salen and Zimmerman criticize this concept of immersion, as it is less a matter of experiencing a game, and more of joining the game in play through interaction.
Warren Spector, acclaimed game designer and lead designer of Deus Ex speculated the following on this topic:
“Is the Star Trek Holodeck an inevitable and end result of games as simulacra? The history of media (mass and otherwise) seems pretty clearly a march toward ever more faithful approximations of reality—from the development of the illusion of perspective in paintings … to color moving pictures with sound beamed directly into your home via television to today’s immersive reality games like Quake and System Shock.”
These comments are pointedly exaggerated to influence conversation, but propose the future of immersive entertainment becoming a full virtual-reality simulation where the user experiences the interaction with the media through sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch, until they are completely encapsulated in the new reality, stripped from their own.
More frighteningly, is this something the modern consumer would be looking for in their entertainment, as a complete escape from the world they occupy into a new experience of immersion?
Elena Gorfinkel, a film studies scholar, responded to Spector’s comments with the following criticism:
“Immersion is not a property of a game or media text but is an effect that a text produces. What I mean is that immersion is an experience that happens between a game and its player, and is not something intrinsic to the aesthetics of a game…For example; one can get immersed in Tetris. Therefore, immersion into game play seems at least as important as immersion into a game’s representational space. It seems that these components need to be separated to do justice and better understand how immersion, as a category of experience and perception, works.”
Gorfinkel here postulates that immersion is not a trait of media that can be aestheticized, but a concept that is wholly and entirely produced through the interaction of the game and the consumer of the game. Gorfinkel also moves to state that immersion is not a matter of graphics or details of the aesthetic quality, but a method in which a game interacts with its player, as well as the depth of that interaction.
Allow me to quickly take this to tabletop:
Immersion as play: Often, I will hear about GMs attempting to immerse their players in a variety of ways at the table. A large component of these theories is adding something externally to the game outside of the game to better position the players in the setting, such as music. This is a concept I usually balk at, as music can be helpful but often adds another element of the gameplay that the players cannot interact with, nor was designed specifically for the game.
The immersive experience must come from the play itself, being the experience that the players are obtaining through the adventures they take within the game. Rather than spending time finding a music sting or ambience that could generate a feeling in the game, that feeling could be generated by more efficiently designing the play rather than the external.
I’ve put both theories of immersion into this article, as I would like you to draw your own conclusion, be that from immersion through aesthetic or immersion through play. Regardless of choice, the end result will always be creating immersive experiences.