If you recall from last week, I’ve been writing two articles over two weeks that discuss the RPG and D&D panels at PAX East that yours truly will be attending. I am getting more and more stoked as the weeks flutter by; my gaming saliva is accumulating, preparing for maximum drool potential. Amidst some heavy Torchlight playing, I present to you the second half of the panels that I will be attending and a few thoughts on each. Next week, I’m back to the normal DM articles that hopefully will make you think a little differently about your gaming needs. But, for now, here are the panels:
In 2008, EA launched a new IP from Visceral Studios: Dead Space. The game delivered the ultimate in psychological thrills and gruesome action. A bold and bloody sci-fi survival horror game set 400 years in the future, Dead Space stunned and scared players, won critical acclaim, and spawned the 2009 prequel: Dead Space Extraction. The Dead Space universe runs deep, and as gamers find themselves clamoring for more, Dead Space comics, animated features and figures have been released. This talk will go behind the scenes on the making of Dead Space, bring players up to speed on the Dead Space universe, and prepare them for what’s to come in the recently announced Dead Space 2. Panelists Include: Rich Briggs [Producer, EA], Ian Milham [Art Director, EA], Steve Papoutsis [Executive Producer, EA].
Though this doesn’t necessarily have to do with RPGs, Dead Space is one of the most hauntingly terrifying games I’ve ever played. I MUST attend this panel. I jam over some survival horror, and until the Dead Space crew came along, the Res Evil and Silent Hill gangs were all I turned to for my nerve-twitching fixes (as a side note, it should be noted that “Silent Hill gang” sounds hilariously close to “Sugar Hill Gang”; I can just see some headless corpses or bloody nurses doing the Geronimo dance like Will Smith, screaming, “Jump on it!” — think about it: what’s more horrifying than that?!).
Also, since the new survival horror series came out for the 360 in September of ’08, I’ve always thought about both creating and setting an engaging RPG in the universe. There is enough social and cultural background with the whole mining story, and the religious/zealous faith backstory provides some enriching framework in which characters can become ensnared. Gonna hit this one up like it’s my job… which, according to Nelson, kind of is.
We offer not one, but TWO nerdcore-filled nights for your auditory pleasure. Rock out classically with the Video Game Orchestra, followed by Paul and Storm, and then Jonathan Coulton will close out our second night of geek concerts. The first 2,000 attendees at PAX on Saturday morning will receive a wristband for guaranteed entry, with the remaining seats being given away on a first-come, first-serve basis. And the opening act? The third round of the Omegathon, featuring four teams rocking out for your pleasure.
Yes, yes, a mole times yes. All you need to read is “Video Game Orchestra.” Having just downloaded some orchestrated versions of the Castlevania and Oblivion soundtracks, I hopefully will be sitting and enjoying some of this glorious music Saturday night. I predict that my article for next week, in fact, will concern playing epically great music while gaming.
Role-playing games need choice to propel the plot and motivate the player. The methods can vary from smoke and mirrors to extreme branching reactivity – what is the right balance to strike in a game? This panel dissects SEGA and Obsidian’s Alpha Protocol, the issues involved with introducing choice into a real-world spy genre, and presenting the consequence to the player – along with the consequences it had for the development team. Panelists Include: Joseph Bulock [Cinematics Designer, Obsidian Entertainment], Shon Stewart [Lead Cinematics Animator, Obsidian Entertainment], Matt MacLean [Lead Systems Designer, Obsidian Entertainment], Chris Avellone [Lead Designer, Obsidian Entertainment]
Again, this panel clearly discusses video games (and it conflicts with the Saturday night concert — choices!) and might have seemingly little to do with table-top RPGs. However, the element of choice in any type of RPG is important to discuss — that of free will over predestination from a story-heavy DM — and transcends all media and sub-genres of RPG gaming. I want to write an article on this concept as well: how much choice do you allow the players? Total freedom? Limited, story-scope choices? Also, if you allow total freedom, how much do you have to plan? This banks off to another desired article about the art of improvisation and how it co-mingles with RPG DM-hood.
Join us for the first public reading of the new play, “Of Dice and Men” by Cameron McNary. A blisteringly funny and deeply affecting play about a group of 30-something Dungeons & Dragons players, and what happens when one of them enlists to go to Iraq. Presented by: Critical Threat Theatre Company
Good god, I didn’t even know plays were WRITTEN about gaming. I will sit with open eyes and ears and will, I’m sure, revel in the glory that is RPG-themed legitimate drama. Boom.
Have a rules question or a problem at your table? Keep the action flowing and get DM tips as we troubleshoot your game play and DMing questions. The Wizards staff takes on all questions and gives you answers! Panelists Include: Greg Bilsland [Wizards of the Coast], Chris Tulach [Wizards of the Coast]
HOPEFULLY, I’ll be able to attend this one; the only foreseeable problem is that we east coast boys all have a 14-hour drive back to North Carolina to make and ALL have school the next day. Again, though, hopefully it will work out. I would love to talk with the Wizards panelists, as it is kind of one of my dreams to work for them some day as a staff writer (see: dream constructed of pipes). But I already have a few questions to ask them about constructing a massive RPG world with several campaigns going on at once (see also: future articles here on pixelatedgeek). Arriving back in NC at 5 AM for work/school the next morning is totally responsible, right? Right?! RIGHT?! (This is where you all agree so I don’t feel too badly about decisions I am ultimately going to make.) Boom.