October 30th, 2019


Metatopia Rising

As I do every year they'll have me, I shall this year once more adorn the greatest game design conference/protospiel/empanada marketing scheme known to mankind, the glorious Metatopia convention in idyllic Morristown, New Jersey. This year's show occurs November 8-10, so if you're in the tri-state area and interested in game design, playtesting, delicious fillings in fried dough, or hearing ME, you too should head on up and do some or all of those things. And to my beloved if slothful interlocutors, YES these panels will all be recorded and eventually put up on the Web somewhere unless something gets screwed up as it in fact did with my panel on the numinous a few years ago. So maybe think about coming out anyway.


12 Noon - 1:00PM "How To Pitch Your Game" presented by Darren Watts, Kenneth Hite, Geoffrey Engelstein. You made a game! Congratulations! Now explain your incredible game in one sentence. That isn't as easy as it sounds. You want people to buy into your game as players, as investors, or as retailers. You will only have one chance to make that first impression. It needs to have impact. If you want to see your game successful on a crowdfunding site, or sold by your local game store, then you need to know what kind of pitch types and styles to maximize both what you say and target the right audience.

9:00PM - 10:00PM "Creating Mysteries in RPGs" presented by Kenneth Hite, Darren Watts. Mysteries are among the hardest genres to run successfully in tabletop games. How can designers structure stories to meaningfully involve players, guide them to clues and help them put them together to solve a crime without spoonfeeding them? How can GMs control pacing to duplicate the feel of classic whodunits?


3:00PM - 4:00PM "Integrating World Building Into Traditional RPGs" presented by Ryan O'Grady, Kenneth Hite, Brennan Taylor. There's something satisfying about taking ownership of a piece of the world as a player and watching it flourish (or not). There have been various approaches to this over the years (Ars Magica, Microscope, The Quiet Year, even D&D!) Let's discuss what player involvement of world building really means and different approaches for incorporating it into traditional RPGs.

6:00PM - 7:00PM "The Three-Ring Setting: Scope in Game Design" presented by Kenneth Hite. A METATOPIA tradition - Kenneth Hite rambling about game design. In this case the notion of scope: How big should your setting be? How can you design a setting to contain multiple core game activities, and should you? As always, Ken has notions and questions, and hopes you have more of both as we explore Bigness (and un-Bigness) in games.


12 Noon - 1:00PM "Procedural Play In RPGs" presented by Darren Watts, Kenneth Hite, Clark Valentine. RPGs that have heavily procedural elements about them: part of the game that represents some part of the fiction that is resolved in a very procedural, step-by-step manner. Mini-games or games-within-games might qualify. Examples include things like Blades In The Dark and elements of Burning Wheel. Tachyon Squadron's space fighter combat system might count also. What sorts of fictional elements lend themselves to this? What makes for a good, fun, engaging procedure that doesn't feel contrived or tacked on?