Category: Design Journals

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Design Flow : Conveying Table Culture

“What is your game about?” Your first reaction, the most obvious one, is to talk about the setting of the game—the elevator pitch. Hydro Hackers has an elevator pitch that I think does a pretty good job answering that question (see the end of the article). Let’s go one level deeper, and we can ask...

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Design Flow: UI and Neighbors

For the past few months, I have been wrestling with this small but annoying problem in the Hydro Hacker playbooks. It is a section of the playbook that defines your relationships with the other players. When I run this at conventions or in playtest groups, players always fill the section out...

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Design Flow: Gear

The last new chapter of Hydro Hackers that I wrote was about Gear. It is the last thing I designed for the game. After this, I will be just adding text and mechanics to all the existing chapters of the game. Gear was a tough thing for me to wrap my head around. I knew I wanted gear in the game,...

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Design Flow: Campaign Playtesting

One of the great joys and challenges of game design is playtesting. On one hand, seeing your creation doing what it is supposed to—and people enjoying it—is incredibly uplifting. On the other hand, watching your perfect mechanic break under play can be heartbreaking. Despite the emotional roller...

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Design Flow: Kill Your Darlings

Right now I am sitting here, not wanting to write an article. Not that I don’t love writing to you all, but rather this article is between me and further game design work I am doing, and I have fallen into the design rabbit hole; a place where nothing matters other than designing—not eating, not...

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Design Flow: Teaching Setting

The last few weeks I have been working on writing the setting of Hydro Hacker Operatives. For an RPG with a defined setting, this is an important task. You need to be able to teach the setting to the GM and the players, so that they can share in the world you created, and give them enough...

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Design Flow: One on One Play

I first learned D&D from the boy who’s house I was living in, during a rough period of time my Mother and I were going through. He was older than me, and I was not cool enough to play in his group, so he ran a game for me, alone. For a while, my only experience of D&D was one on one play,...

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Design Flow: World Design

The world of Hydro Hacker Operatives resides mostly in my head. The rules for how to play Hydro Hackers (H2O) have been well enough documented on paper for the game to be run in a playtest capacity. But right now, I am the only person who can GM H2O because no one else fully understands how the...

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