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Andrew Montgomery-Hurrell
Works at Multiplay
Attended Bournemouth University
Lives in Poole
465 followers|89,797 views


This year I'm doing neither NaNoWriMo nor NaGaDeMon but I'm also kind of doing both in that I'll be writing (and hopefully finishing) the supplement for #Numenera  I've been working on for a very long time now, off and on.

I'm starting on 39460 words already written so far so I guess the finish line I'm aiming for is 89460 words total.

Since I have the project spread over multiple documents in google drive, word counting it all is a bit of a pain, so I'm downloading the entire folder of documents once a day and then running the following:

    mkdir ./tmp && find * -type f -name '*.docx' -print0 | while IFS= read -r -d '' file ; do cp "$file" "./tmp/$(echo $file | md5sum | cut -d' ' -f 1).docx" ; done && cd ./tmp && soffice --headless --convert-to txt:Text *.docx && cat *.txt | wc -w && cd .. && rm -Rf ./tmp

to word count the plain text versions of everything because there isn't a nice simple "word count this whole folder tree" option in google drive. A bit of a pain, but it seems to work :)

There is probably a better way of doing the above, but since some files have the same name I've got this hack going on to md5sum them into unique filenames before converting them all.
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Another cool piece of architecture that could well serve as a remnant of a prior world in Numenera. Imagine a group of explorers coming across such a structure in a voyage across the Sere Marica - what would they make of it and what, perhaps, would it make of them?
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Just ran through a playtest of my game on paper, in order to write an example of play for the rules, and I really enjoyed playing it, even if I was acting as every player. Even better, the player I'd chosen to be "me" in the playtest game ended up coming last place, so I feel reasonably confident that it's actually winnable by people who aren't me.

Think it's nearly time to ship it. If I put it off any more I'll tinker with it forever and ruin it. Just one more proof-read for old times sake...

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As I trim the fat from my game and remove the obstacles that are stopping me from finishing it (art and physical design mostly, since I suck at that) this is turning it into a sort of 2 page, competitive version of Microscope, with a focus on a single person's life instead of a whole universal timeline.

Now it needs nothing but a pen and paper to play it, it's much easier for me to focus on writing and moving onto testing to balance the maths for scoring.

It's been fun feeling out the design, seeing it evolve not only from the ingredients and theme, but also from the strengths and weaknesses I myself have design-wise.

In a weird way, given the game is about chasing dreams and abandoning them and the constant march forward towards the final judgement, the story of the game's development mirrors it's own thematics, which is both amazingly cool and also kind of scary in a prophetic sense!

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I'm now locked in on my game, need to design token, board, etc. I'm feeling pretty good about my premise now, which is basically a story game for board gamers, where a soul's past, regrets and journey are told through a set of tactical story-telling and story-blocking (the stories don't need roleplaying out, per se, but are emergent through play).

Actually feeling excited about it! Now need to make it actually work.

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My #gamechef1st  idea is slowly forming and I think I'm starting to find some of my ideas have some similarities to A Penny for My Thoughts and the Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen. Might find myself writing a story game of some kind.
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In another post +Rickard Elimää posted some interesting thoughts and it got me thinking. The main question raised, in my mind, was "What is the point of your content? Why is it there?".

One interpretation is that all content should be there to help the players play the game, to help them experience the kind of experiences you want them to as the game designer. Taken to extremes, this question can be asked of all content in your game, from every piece of art to each and every word that makes up the text. Art, mechanics, fiction, world building; ultimately all content can and should be able to answer this question definitively and if it can't, then one might consider it an unnecessary or even harmful distraction from delivering to the players the tools they need to fully experience the kinds of things you made the game for in the first place.

Another interpretation is that as well as providing your game product as a tool to enable players to achieve the experiences you want them to, it is also to help immerse them in the ideas of the game itself. Rather than providing specific tools, you use art, fiction and other content to provide inspiration, without explicitly giving tools to help players deliver similar experiences to those depicted by the content. Instead, you focus on providing enough immersion that the people consuming the media gain an insight into the ideas you've tried to imbue in the game and thus equipped, their imagination can build them tools of their own.

I think both approaches have merit, and like many things, a balance needs to be kept. I admit, I'm a fan of short-form fiction in roleplaying game material, but I'll admit, it's not always good enough to provide the inspiration I require to start building my own mental framework of tools for the game.

Equally, as a programmer, I find well-defined specifications extremely rewarding. I can't think of any case where clear instructions and tools to help me play a game (and more importantly achieve the kinds of experience the game intends) would be anything less than extremely useful.

I don't think dismissing all media from a game product in favour of providing those tools is doable though. Beyond serving the needs of the game itself, media is also the language of marketing and I imagine many potential players would never investigate something that appeared somewhat bland at first glance.

Anyway, I'm interested in your opinions on what I see as the trade off between media as inspirational and media as instructional. This isn't to say that instructions can't themselves be inspirational, but where is that tipping point and how does one get the best of both?
Andrew Montgomery-Hurrell's profile photoAndreas Walters's profile photoRickard Elimää (This is Pulp)'s profile photo
Making Fiction Useful in Roleplaying Games

" I think however, with proper annotations, fiction can be extremely useful because it can be a narrative not only enjoyable in its own right as a consumable product "

The original post came from a discussion where +Caine Dorr asked about short stories in roleplaying games. The major issue I have is that very few people can write in an engaging way. Very few roleplaying designers are good authors. Just compare some of Robin D Laws's earlier work (ex. Hero Wars) to some of his kick-ass products today (ex. Feng Shui 2).

That said, I had the pleasure of reading three products that had good authors, and it worked well. Two of them had an ongoing story that presented the world, and one was Shane Hensley in Deadlands (the other was a Swedish game module). The first story in Deadlands, that introduced the game master to the world, was one of very, very, very few stories that engaged me as a reader. I can think of three games of the 200+ roleplaying games I read that managed to do that. It also gave me, as a game master,  an idea of how to present that information to the players.

So it's not impossible, but it takes skill.

A Swedish game called Hammarn och Trollspöt (Eng. The Hammer and the Wand) presented the world in form of letters, traveling journals, political documents, recipe, newspapers, and such. What was unusual was that all of these were open for interpretation so the game master had to actively puzzle things together. The author then presented an adventure creation model, also open for interpretation, that the game master then should mix together with (its own interpretative) setting material.

So I do know games that can both have fiction  that engages the reader, and make the reader taking an active part in how it can present the information to the players. But it takes years of learning the skill to do that, and few game designers have actually thought about this. I guess that's why it's so largely underrepresented in roleplaying games. That, and that some people assume that what works for one medium (literature) is beneficial for another (games).
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Thanks for all the feedback on my #gamechef1st  game. Some was helpful, some less so, but all appreciated. In complete agreement with the criticisms, many of which I had myself before submitting, but just had no time to resolve. I'll definitely be pondering over the things that have been said and make some adjustments.
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Aaaaaaaaand my #gamechef1st submitted! It's butterflies in the belly time... or should that be dragonflies in the belly?
Karl Larsson's profile photoAndrew Montgomery-Hurrell's profile photo
And to you too! 
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That feel when you're writing up your final version of your GameChef entry, and another really cool idea pops into your head at the last minute, screaming for your attention.
Chris “HyveMynd” Stone-Bush's profile photoAndrew Montgomery-Hurrell's profile photoMichelle Lyons-McFarland's profile photo
I had that happen! It's so weird. 
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The more I work on my #gamechef1st game, the more I keep seeing the mechanics and other influences of games I enjoy creeping into my design. It makes me feel like a plagiarist and I get this knee-jerk reaction to rewrite, but I keep fighting it back, because 1) I'm not ripping off anything wholesale, and certainly not intentionally and 2) I just don't have the time to constantly doubt myself and chase my tail

What is the quote? "Good artists copy, great artists steal."
Giacomo Vicenzi's profile photoJason Pitre's profile photoAndrew Montgomery-Hurrell's profile photoRoss Cowman's profile photo
Steal and give credit! 
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Still letting the theme and ingredients percolate in my head, but I find myself dwelling on the abandon ingredient. One idea that is sticking in my head is the act of sacrifice, of giving something up - abandoning it - to achieve something greater.

This brings me to the theme. I think A Different Audience in this case might be a higher power, God, or whatever you want to call it. Something about a struggle between giving up parts of who or what your are to gain the approval of the divine that observes you from above, or get closer to it.

A somewhat melancholy start to my #gamechef1st  but it's a start, so I'll call it a win!
Kyle Meeks's profile photoDavid Berg's profile photo
Ooh, yeah, "higher power judging the events (of play)" is a great take on "audience"!  For some reason this gets me thinking about an official audience with the powerful, e.g. "audience with the king"...
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Have him in circles
465 people
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  • Bournemouth University
    Computer & Electronics Interfacing, 2002 - 2004
  • The Bournemouth and Poole College
    Computer & Electronics Interfacing, 2000 - 2002
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Andrew Montgomery, darkliquid, Monty
A computer geek, amateur author and roleplayer.
Not much to say, I'm just an average computer geek with many eccentricities. I love coding, electronics hacking, reading, writing and music. I just mill around in Poole and Bournemouth in Dorset, living out my life as a professional software developer and web designer.

Cover photo by Joy Garnett:
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I manage to function as a reasonable human being despite my misanthropic tendencies.
Web Applications Developer
Programming, Creative Writing
  • Multiplay
    Web Applications Developer, 2009 - present
  • SonicIQ
    Developer, 2005 - 2009
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Poole - Worthing, Sussex, UK - Poole, Dorset, UK - Manchester, UK - Southport, UK
Andrew Montgomery-Hurrell's +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.
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