Ego Check with The Id DM – Episode 15 – Wayne June

Wayne June bio
Wayne June

This week I am joined by Wayne June, voiceover artist and narrator with extensive experience in the audiobook industry. He is perhaps best known recently for his work as the voice of the Darkest Dungeon; he performs the lines of The Ancestor, who serves as the narrator throughout the game. Wayne first discusses his years as a musician and touring with the guitar icon, Johnny Winter. He pivots to detail how he became interested in the voice recording business, and how he found he niche in “creepy” literature such as volumes of H.P. Lovecraft works. Wayne talks about the shift from collaborating in a band to the isolation of voice work, and how the request from the Darkest Dungeon team thrust him into the gaming community. He shares the process for finding the voice of The Ancestor, and what it’s been like to gain attention for his work in the game. He closes by talking about current audiobook and gaming projects.

Enjoy the 15th episode of Ego Check with The Id DM! And please subscribe to the podcast at one of the links below:

You can also listen to the show right here:

 

Please consider leaving a review on iTunes and help spread the word about the show. New episodes are released the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month. The next episode will post on June 6th, 2017.

If you are interested in coming on the show for an interview, or would like to become a sponsor, contact me to make arrangements.

Ego Check with The Id DM – Episode 13 – Carina Kom

Carina Kom bio pic
Carina Kom

This week I’m joined by Carina Kom,  Co-founder and CEO of Crash Wave Games, which successfully launched a Kickstarter campaign for their next game, Iron Tides. Ms. Kom discusses her years of experience wearing various hats in the gaming industry, which led her to forming her own company. She talks about her interest in understanding player behaviors in videogames, including how players respond to in-game reward systems and overall difficulty settings. She elaborates on her experience working on free-to-play and pay-to-win games. The second half of the interview is devoted to Iron Tides, which is a Viking themed strategy-survival game that is inspired by games such as Darkest Dungeon. She speaks about the benefits and challenges of playtesting with the diverse casual and “hardcore” gaming audiences. She described the systems in Iron Tides, and how some of them grew from a tabletop philosophy.

Enjoy the (lucky) 13th episode of Ego Check with The Id DM! And please subscribe to the podcast at one of the links below:

You can also listen to the show right here:

 

Please consider leaving a review on iTunes and help spread the word about the show. New episodes are released the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month. The next episode will post on May 2nd , 2017.

If you are interested in coming on the show for an interview, or would like to become a sponsor, contact me to make arrangements.

Ego Check with The Id DM – Chris Bourassa

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Chris Bourassa, busy researching his next game, Brightest Beachhead.

My guest for Episode 2 of Ego Check with The Id DM is Chris Bourassa, Co-Owner of Red Hook Studios and Creative for Darkest Dungeon. If you have not played Darkest Dungeon yet, then please read through my review from earlier in the year; it is a fantastic game! There are many unique features of the game, with the most noticeable being the Stress mechanic, which increases mental strain whenever your heroes face more challenges. It introduces more decision-making into the typical RPG grind, and inspired me to create similar rules for Dungeons & Dragons.

Mr. Bourassa spoke with me about his sources of inspiration for Darkest Dungeon, and the realities of the lifestyle of an independent game developer. He shared the trials of the long hours in making the game, the joys of its successful launch, and the daunting task of mustering the resources to start over on a new project. For example, here is an excerpt from the interview:

I was wondering how do you stay eager for the next project when you’ve poured so much of your heart and soul into this child of a game. As a creator, how do you regroup and take a deep breath to decide what’s next?

I’m glad you commented on that. It takes time to be honest with you. We shipped in January of this year but the game wasn’t really done with – like the Town Event stuff until later in the Spring. So we shipped, but then we had to go right back to work – so it was really over the summer that the team got a bit of distance and some perspective on the work. And the port was fairly involved as well, but by that point we kind of had some head space. And I think just loving it – you kind of well up with ideas given time so certainly when the Town Event patch went live I didn’t have anything left in the tank at that point.

But you give it a bit of time and some space and suddenly I’m coming up with ideas again. I think there’s a lot that we want to do with it. It just sort of naturally bubbles up, I guess. I don’t know if anything I ever do will be as well-received as this. There’s no way to know, but we all just worked as hard as we could and I think I just want to do that again. Maybe not to the same exhaustive level with the financial pressure and all the rest of it really crushing down on me, but I enjoy working hard. And I have to have a certain amount of confidence that we can make a Better Call Saul to a Breaking Bad. As long as the follow-up is it’s own animal, and isn’t trying to live completely in the shadow of the first one, then I think you’ve got a chance at making a second great impression. But there’s no way to really tell. So there’s always that uncertainly. I don’t think we’ve ever felt comfortable . . .

. . . You never know – the shifting landscape of Steam is a crazy marketplace so we’ve never sat back, crossed our arms, nodded sternly and said, “Hey, we got this dialed in.” Hopefully, that humility  will serve us well as we move on to the next project.

Many thanks to Mr. Bourassa for appearing on the podcast!

Enjoy the second episode of Ego Check with The Id DM! And please subscribe to the podcast at one of the links below:

You can also listen to the show right here:

Please consider leaving a review on iTunes and help spread the word about the show. My plan is to release new episodes the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month. The next episode will post on November 15, 2016.

If you are interested in coming on the show for an interview, or would like to become a sponsor, contact me to make arrangements.

 

 

 

Build a Darkest Dungeons & Dragons

It is fair to say that Darkest Dungeon has captured my attention and imagination in recent weeks. The game’s aesthetic vividly portrays how exploring dungeons and fighting foul monsters is a dangerous business. Heroes suffer physical wounds, yes, but it is the mental strain and suffering that often causes more complications and difficulty. It seems to be a wonderful concept to merge with an adventure in Dungeons & Dragons, and the good news is the foundation for building a Darkest Dungeons & Dragons adventure is already there in the latest Dungeon Master’s Guide.

How can the Dungeon Master add a new mechanic that forces additional strain on the players while still increasing the enjoyment factor for everyone at the table?

That question is tackled in this article!

Failure Is An Option

Before launching into the mechanics of building a Darkest Dungeons & Dragons, a topic that should be addressed is failure. Colleagues have written about failure in roleplaying games for years. Scott Rehm (The Angry GM) defined failure as “the loss of a goal or opportunity” and discussed common (“stupid”) myths about failure in RPGs. Mike Shea (Sly Flourish) educated DMs on how to move away from mechanics and rules that result in only “either success or failure.” I previously wrote articles on how to roleplay failure for monsters in an encounter to make those setbacks for the DM more enjoyable and engaging to the players. The collective wisdom on this topic indicates that players of an RPG should be ready, willing, and able to continue with the story of the game regardless of success or failure.

Darkest Dungeon Madness
The mind cannot withstand such an assault.

That means DMs should avoid creating scenarios that can only be accomplished in a single, specific manner while players should be encouraged to continue playing their characters if they win, lose, or go sideways. This means that failure should remain an option for everyone at the table. As a DM, help the players be ready for contingencies. During game preparation, DMs often consider how to react if the players decide on taking one action or another. As a player, I was more of a straight-line thinker and struggled when the “next move” in an adventure was not clearly defined. The DM can assist players by feeding them possible options if they are greeted with failure – often through a timely NPC – and reward players for responding to setbacks with creative solutions. This atmosphere will eventually redefine success from “we killed the monsters, saved the day, and collected a ton of loot” to “we all got together and told one heck of story.”

Continue reading “Build a Darkest Dungeons & Dragons”

Iddy Approved: Darkest Dungeon

Another game has broken the stranglehold Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft has on me in recent months. That game is Darkest Dungeon, and you can download it right now for an affordable $25 on PC or Mac.

You should do that right now – or at least after you read the rest of this article.

Darkest Dungeon features many elements of a successful roleplaying game. The RPG formula works so well because it is based on the backbone of behavioral psychology. When a player is rewarded for a certain behavior, then they are more likely to engage in that behavior again – and again – and again. Whether it’s Dungeons & Dragons, Diablo, or the endless variety of mobile games that are Skinner boxes in disguise (I’m looking at you, Mola! Mola!), the formula of taking a character and leveling that character up through repeated quests and objectives is brutally effective. It works amazingly well! Darkest Dungeon takes those successful RPG elements and blends them into a system that constantly asks the player, “Is the potential risk worth the possible reward?”

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The heightened tension created by these, “Should I or shouldn’t I?” moments is palpable. Darkest Dungeon is relentless as it even turns the RPG troupe of finding items in crates, cabinets, and bookcases into a risk/reward dilemma. For example, searching through a bookcase could yield valuable treasure, which can be used to upgrade heroes. But it could also result in the hero reading a book that contains a disturbing passage, which imposes an ongoing penalty that requires treatment to cure back in town.

The game forces the player to re-evaluate how he or she typically approaches RPGs. If the player simply searches through every crate, cabinet, and altar they find without any care for consequences, then they are left with heroes that are riddled with problematic quirks. Those quirks cost gold to treat, and gold is a precious commodity used to upgrade heroes, services in town, and is also needed to buy gear such as food and torches before each adventure. The player must balance managing the needs of their hero roster while also looking ahead to the next challenge in the dungeons.

Yes, there is quite a bit of middle management in the game and the reviewer from Wired offered, “Darkest Dungeon is a mean, capricious game. Success is a gambler’s thrill, addictive and illicit. It comes rarely.” Below I outline the reasons why I find Darkest Dungeon so enjoyable because “each expedition is a slowly unravelling disaster.” I conclude with tips on enhancing your Darkest Dungeon experience based on my time playing the game thus far.

Continue reading “Iddy Approved: Darkest Dungeon”