It's not often that I make fan art, but I felt like I had to pay homage to The Adventure Zone (Balance Arc) and this is how I chose to do it. It's probably the most emotionally affecting story that I've engaged with in recent memory and I enjoyed it very much.
As part of the early stages of my PhD research, I've been studying branching narratives and trying to come up with a consistent system for diagramming them. This image represents my current solution, and this approach seems to work for any game that I've tried so far, including tabletop RPGs.
I'm currently only looking at the structure of how the branching narrative functions, rather than any actual story content. The goal is to be able to disassemble and reassemble these structures, to fit the current status of the story. It's early days yet.
I've been struggling, settling into my new life in Cornwall. It's frustrating because the PhD is basically a dream opportunity for me but I feel like I'm blowing it. But that's depression, I guess.
I knew it was going to be hard, living alone in a new place, making sure I socialise, trying to find new friends, adjusting to a new occupation, trying to ensure I stay on top of normal-person-things like fitness, hygiene and other responsibilities. But it feels like, however much I try to prepare, things are always so much harder to deal with than I imagined. And I end up feeling more and more like a failure. And then I realise that it's the depression making it worse (though there's always that part of me that believes that it's actually just me being lazy or not good enough).
So anyway, I am here. And I'm working as hard as I seem to be able to, even though I'm pretty sure that it's not currently hard enough. I'm now well enough to write about it, so I'm hoping that things are turning around. I feel like I'm going to have some interesting things to write about and share through my research - I'm looking forward to those days.
I am now a PhD student at the wonderful Falmouth University. More specifically, at their fantastic Games Academy. So this is where I'll mostly be for the next three or four years, at least.
The subject of my studentship is "Developing New Approaches to Branching Narratives in Computer Games", with my pitch revolving around bringing the way video game stories are handled closer to those of pen-and-paper roleplaying games, via a sort of virtual gamemaster. I could write more about it but I've been doing a lot of that recently and I'm sure my initial ideas are going to change drastically once my research begins properly.
My head's still spinning from the big change in lifestyle and moving and so on. It took a lot of hard work to get here but I'm pretty hopeful for the future. And, for the first time, I'm making my living via video games, which was basically my dream. I've also begun a little teaching-style work so it will be very interesting to see where that takes me. All-in-all, a positive change but tinged with sadness while I must mostly live away from my partner for at least a few years.
I recently played Dark Souls - The Board Game and had some thoughts that I wanted to share. While I’m not saying that it's a bad game, I do think it’s a bad translation of the video games into a board game. In particular, there’s major friction between the video games’ emphasis on skill-based gameplay and the board game’s emphasis on luck-based gameplay. I know that the video games include some reliance on luck and the board game includes some reliance on skill but their balances are massively different.
Most noticeably, I found the character progression to be very unsatisfying in a way that goes against the feel of the video games. The souls (currency) that you earn in the board game (at a frustratingly slow rate, I found) can be used to progress your character in one of two ways. You can either level up your stats (strength, dexterity, intelligence and faith) or buy new item cards from a deck. Both of these options have major flaws, in my opinion: