Wednesday, October 03, 2012

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Game Design Icon Brenda Brathwaite Co-Launches an "Old School RPG" Kickstarter - and Explains How Old School Can Be Better Than New School

"An Old-School RPG by Brenda Brathwaite and Tom Hall!", as the title suggests, is a new Kickstarter project by the two game design icons, who are raising $1 million or more to develop an RPG (or two, if they get a lot of funding) that resembles the kind of games they became famous for, back in the 80s and 90s. In Brenda's case, that includes Wizardry, the Dungeons & Dragons franchise, and (my personal favorites) the first two Jagged Alliance games. As with Neal Stephenson's swordfighting game, this is another example of well-known and established creators bypassing corporate funding to raise money directly from their fanbase, on a project that would probably not be funded otherwise. In this case, a story-heavy, turn-based RPG.

I asked Brenda to explain something to younger gamers raised on new school RPGs like Skyrim and Dragon Age, how will her and Hall's crowdfunded RPG be different. What will they get playing them that new school RPGs can't provide?

And Brenda Brathwaite answered my question this way:

Old school RPG Brenda Brathwaite

"The story, character development and immersion was greater, for the most part, in old-school RPGs," she tells me. "I think it's because of the effort and care the game required of you as you created, crafted and cared for your characters throughout many hours of play. Also, because old-school RPGs were not dependent on tons of voice over or cutscenes, you could really go deep with the story. You were limited only by your imagination."

I agree, and hope we see more examples of RPGs she has in mind. If you do too, click here to consider funding her Kickstarter, which is being endorsed by a Who's Who of game designers.


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shockwave yareach

My D&D game consists of players around the country. We use Skype for verbal communications and MapTool for the mapping and dice rolling.

If you created an all-in-one gaming system that a) can have people put themselves on a PickUp list who are looking for group, b) combine Maptool with Skype, and c) have a wide selection of modules and games precreated and ready to go on a server, you'll have no shortage of people eager to pay a few bucks a month for your program.

Emperor Norton

Old school RPGs is a dinning room table and some books.

Arcadia Codesmith

There's a lot of tech and technique in old text and 8-bit RPGs that has been abandoned and forgotten. I hope going retro brings some of those things back into the spotlight.

Parsing comes to mind as something that modern MMOs ought to pick up and run with.


I'm with Emperor Norton on this. To me, "Old-School" is "Nerd Night" a few hours each week with some of the same dudes I've known since 1977, when we picked up the first three D&D books (the boxed Gygax/Arneson set).

And despite that, we all have lives.

Perhaps VWs appeal to me because I never used modules in tabletop gaming. You drew your own maps and for NPCs you "rolled your own" (a nice 70s reference there).

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