Open-World RPGs and the Hinterlands Problem

Originally published on Gamasutra 10/10/2017.

This article contains minor spoilers for the first act of Divinity: Original Sin 2, including location and quest names.

As the market for modern role-playing games grows, developers are under increasing pressure to appeal to as many niches as possible. This is a problem endemic to mainstream game development – AAA development in particular – but Western RPGs are arguably the hardest hit by this. In this genre, attempting to accommodate every type of player results in a vast diversity of viable approaches to quests, story, and combat, but can give rise to disparate elements of the game and its narrative clashing with each other, resulting in a final product that feels vague, unfocused, and unguided. This pushes players into feeling bored or frustrated, which can quickly translate into disengagement and unfulfillment.

Continue reading “Open-World RPGs and the Hinterlands Problem”

Ren’Py Primer: Simple Transforms

Time to dust this blog off!

I’m doing the NaNoRenO 2016 game jam right now, making a short, surreal visual novel in the Ren’Py VN engine with Jen Tracy and Maize Wallin. My first experience with the engine was in the middle of last year, when I wrote and produced RE\VISION for #wagchallenge. One of my biggest challenges with that project was figuring out how to put image elements in the right place – Ren’Py’s ATL (Animation and Transform Language) is an incredibly powerful tool, but it’s also pretty incomprehensible to new users. So, with that in mind, I’m gonna show you how to define screen positions, both relative and precise, and include code snippets that you’re totally free to steal and use for yourself. :D

Onwards!  Continue reading “Ren’Py Primer: Simple Transforms”