Ladies and gentlemen and frothing Internet user types, GameSpite Quarterly 4 is now available for your purchase. For your convenience, here is a direct link to the GSQ4 standard edition page ($13) as well as a link to the hardcover deluxe edition ($36).
I wasn’t planning to make the book available for another week, but then every pre-slim PlayStation 3 on the planet decided to take a simultaneous crap, which sort of mucked up my plan of spending the weekend reviewing Final Fantasy XIII. So, hey! Sony’s failure is your victory. Unless you own an old PS3 which no longer works, in which case, my sympathies. I was relatively fortunate in that I was working with a debug system when the death march kicked off, so my precious backward-compatible system was disconnected at the time. With luck, things will be patched up soon and I will still have a piece of hardware capable of playing PlayStation 2 games in progressive scan.
All of this has nothing whatsoever to do with the latest issue of our quarterly venture. Although the articles within do touch on many PS3 games! Despite the slightly retro bent of GameSpite as an entity, you’ll find this issue has far more to do with current-gen gaming than with older titles. I hope we can still be friends.
Please spread the word of this delightful new publication!
And of course, to help inaugurate the debut of GSQ4, here is the first posting for the issue’s online edition:
How RPGs Lost Their Way by Jake Alley
At first glance, this article may seem (according to the author’s own words) like a “damn kids get off my lawn” rant. But it’s actually an insightful treatise that scrutinizes the RPG genre and its tendency to cling to outmoded mechanics that no longer make any real sense. Oddly enough, it makes no direct to FFXIII, yet it’s done a lot to open my mind to the game’s slash-and-burn approach to design.
18 thoughts on “You can buy GameSpite Quarterly 4 now”
Who, chunky article. Perfect for reading in print when GSQ #4 arrives in my mailbox in two weeks (there’s no free shipping codes this time, I checked.)
Anyway, thanks to Parish (and Sony) for getting this volume out the door sooner rather than later.
Great article, Jake. if nothing else it serves as a reminder that every element of a game should work towards the game as a whole, rather than being in place just because ‘that’s what you do in an RPG’.
Anyone know of a free shipping promo code for Blurb? Every time I’ve ordered one of these, a day later someone posts a code that would have saved me 9 bucks. I’m going to wait a couple days before placing the order. I can handle $36 for 180 pages, but $43 is pushing it.
Is it safe to assume that Year One, Vol. 2 (http://www.toastyfrog.com/verbalspew/archives/archive_2009-m08.php#e1344) is no longer in the works? I’d like to pick up the books, and now that we’re on GSQ #4 I don’t want to be waiting any longer for a collection that won’t be coming out.
I splurged this time around on second day shipping in hopes that this book comes before my 5 hour plane ride on Sunday.
I have every intention of putting together the other Year X collections, but I am not exactly flush with free time, so it’s difficult to estimate when that will happen. Sorry!
I keep telling myself I’m going to wait and buy them a couple at a time and yet I’ve purchased another lone issue. They’re spaced so perfectly.
Reading about the state of RPGs (or thinking about it) always makes me angry. I don’t even know what difference this article makes because NO ONE EVEN MAKES RPGS ANYMORE except for handheld systems, and 2/3 of those are remakes. I feel sick.
Whoever reads this article and desperately longs for the exploration and significant townsfolk and everything else this article points out – I couldn’t recommend more the Gothic series for the PC (although don’t play G3 without the community-made patch). Risen, another game by the same company, would meet your needs if you can’t step back in time to a graphically obsolete game, although I don’t think you are that kind of gamer if this is what you want.
The Avernum games are also pretty great on that front! Lots to explore, lots of solid writing and interactions.
Any chance of getting a discount for buying 4 quarters at once?
If you wait for Gamespite Quarterly #10 or beyond and buy them all at once, you can get 10% off!
I don’t think it works that way. I’m pretty sure you have to buy ten of the same book in order to get the discount. Unfortunately, there’s no real way to offer bulk discounts, aside from the shipping breaks that come from buying multiple items at once. This is the downside to print-on-demand, but it seems a fair trade-off for the fact that back issues will never go out of print and everything is shipped in a much timelier fashion than I would be able to manage if I were doing order fulfillment myself.
New Plan: Buy ten of each, sell the remaining 9 at a hefty markup.
Honestly, the target audience for yon article is really game developers, and I kinda doubt anyone will read it who does things professionally, so, here’s a few extra points for the indie crowd:
– Don’t make 90% keyboard based games and then force people to switch to their mouse for one thing.
– Don’t toss in huge text dumps. Less is more, and people aren’t going to care unless they’re getting to actually play and get invested in the game.
– Don’t try to throw in big flashy transitions and attack animations. Eye candy can only really be appreciated when it’s going on in the background. If you’re pausing the game to show it off, that’s just annoying.
Come to think of it, those last two apply to professionally produced stuff too. Shame I can’t go add’em in now.
Yeesh, there’s enough Gamespite in print now that if you bound it all together in a single volume, you could easily beat a man to death with it. That’s quite an accomplishment.
That said, why not take a ‘break’ and start the next annual volume of Gamespite Quarterly in the fall, after bashing together Year One: Volume 2 for the summer?
I really do like that cover.
Ordering. Ordering SO HARD.
To be honest, I don’t even want the 8-bit heroes one that much, but it looks nice and I’m a completionist and feel the need to support everyone here even if I don’t post anymore.
Interesting article! The problem with electronic RPGs, both W and J types is that they are based off of tabletop RPGs without actually using the lessons of tabletop RPGs.
Take the mentions of level grinding and such.
In a tabletop game the GM can put the odds in the player’s favor or properly warn the PCs if they go places they shouldn’t. Players can also do creative actions and things no electronic game can really be prepared for. (Well except for some of the Roguelikes…)
Not to mention the game mechanics in tabletop RPGs have been bastardized into electronic ones without actually understanding them much. In general Dragon Quest and much of the JRPG family seems to use the gameplay mechanics of Tunnels & Trolls over D&D.
The problem is T&T is designed for tabletop games where the GM can officiate things and actually INSISTS players and GMs houserule and use creative thinking.
This doesn’t work as mentioned on an electronic device.
As an example, in the most recent T&T ruleset they explain using a battle between 2 goblins and a troll. Mechanically the goblins CANNOT WIN. EVER. The troll’s stats are too high. Much like JRPGs level and stats mean all, and 10 level 1s are no match whatsoever for 1 level 10. Not even a speedbump.
(Some systems like older D&D editions, or Basic Roleplaying are nowhere near as bad. In Basic Roleplaying a master swordsman will still probably die if outnumbered just like in real life. In older D&D the high level is just going to be injured, but will still probably win.)
But T&T has a Saving Roll mechanic where you take an attribute, and make a Saving Roll to do things. (GM tells you which attribute to roll against and maybe gives a penalty/bonus.) In the T&T rulesbook example it has one goblin making a kick to the troll’s groin. The Saving Roll succeeds and the GM decrees the troll is stunned and can now be beat on for a couple rounds till Mr Troll gets his senses back.
Obviously electronic RPGs can’t plan for this stuff.
But they kept the long amounts of monster bashing without really understanding WHY it was in the tabletop games. Because a GM and players can make even the most irrelevant random encounter an entertaining night’s play.
Heck, I had a weekly 6 month Dragonlance campaign built on a minor encounter taking on a life of its own due to player actions. (And me rewarding the players for cleverness. Which also made up for the initial encounter being too tough for them. A PC got captured, and due to some smart RPing turned a one shot baddie into the grand villain of a whole campaign. That the 6 month mark was really only 1/3rd of the total story.)
This sort of thing is why I have always wished e RPG makers would stop the grinding and make more meaningful encounters. I’d rather have shorter games without the time wasting killing the 1000th Slime. Instead of a 60 hour game with 1000s of 1 minute speedbump fights I would much rather have a 30 hour with 100 carefully preplanned encounters where I could do more and have more strategies and actions.
This is probably the reason I love the SRPG genre so much. In the best games’ cases the battles ARE the game, and tend to be epic, interesting, and cinematic.
I have seen games that have covered some of the other flaws in RPGs as well.
Fallout 1-2 keeps the random encounters on the overworld map as you explore, with all the genuine combat and encounters mostly being prebuilt setpieces with a variety of solutions.
Most of the early Ultimas used a form of level scaling and play time length timers which gradually scaled up the number and power level of the random encounters on the overworld map (which you could avoid fighting entirely if you spotted them far enough off, sometimes leading to dozens of monster hordes chasing you around the map. Course you could usually get vehicles to shoot at enemies from afar if you needed to clean house.), and many hand crafted strategic battles in the dungeons.
Older games handled level scaling pretty well too, usually going with the classic D&D paradigm of “The lower the dungeon level the tougher the monsters”, which made for a nice risk v reward scenario. Sure the first level of Werdna’s dungeon has easy to kill monsters. But the XP gain will be slow, and the treasure sucks. Once you hit level 3-4 this level stops being the slightest threat, and is just.. BORING.
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