TSI News


Plot vs Narrative

The word ‘story’ can be very misleading when it comes to designing RPGs.  It’s often confused with the word ‘Plot’. Plot = “the main events of a play, novel, film, or similar work, devised and presented by the writer as an interrelated sequence.” Plot is basically…this happens, and then this happens because that happened, and now this is happening because those other two things happened, one after the other…and so on! But what’s the ‘story’ when we mess with the sequence like we can do in RPGs.  What occurs when you can experience the events in any order you wish? Narrative, that’s what occurs. Narrative = “a spoken or written account of connected events; a story.” Yes, events are connected, but they’re not in sequence.  That means the player can experience the events in any order and, through doing so, build their own understanding of the story. They’re not being told a story…a plot. They’re putting the story together for themselves…piece by narrative... read more

How to get Players to Roleplay

Extra Credits explains how a ‘swift kick to the head’ with the Boot of Consequence jolts a player into treating the game world as a ‘real’ world and how Permanence reinforces that ‘real world’ environment so that the player starts to behave like a ‘real’ character in that world. And I’ve got one thing to add to that.  Design your game world so that it NEVER breaks the ‘fourth wall’! That means that every element of your world has to make sense according to the rules you’ve established for that world.  No leaps of logic.  No Deus Ex Machina.  No ‘because it’s a game’ stuff. No-one should be forced to eat out of a trash can!... read more

Details on Specialties

Where Race give shape to the character, innate toughness, mobility, senses, and link to the mystical; and Class defined the character’s core features; Specialty gives it a final direction. Experimenting with the three pieces is quick and fun, and generates interesting synergies. Here is an overview of the Specialties.   Deadly. Extra attacks during the encounter, extra damage, increases to the statistic used for damage, and the Mystic Leap ability to get to where you need to deal damage. Did I say damage often enough? Works well with any character you don’t want focused on support.   Tactical. Some damage support, but more importantly, it gives a character access to all the weapons in the game. Prefer your Knight to be sword and board? Make him a Tactical Knight. Want the Scout to be up close and personal with blades? Make him Tactical.   Fast. The best Mystic Leaping range of any class, lots of teleports, some extra actions to get extra movement. If you want the character to get where the enemy is weakest, or kite the slow beast, then Fast is a good choice. Shade Elves and Half Shades have an innate Flash Step, which can complement Fast, while the dragonkin races have Surefooted, meaning they ignore difficult terrain.   Priestly. This is an overall control and support Specialty. Some healing, anti-magic, harm undead, pin, leadership, a few talismans to toss around, and some good social skills make this an all-around useful choice. Priestly Soultenders get very strong heals, while Priestly Wraith Hunters have the best harm undead. A Priestly Wizard can both cast spells and cancel... read more

Technical discussion of Races

David Shelley, On Races I’ve talked about the specifics of character creation in an earlier update. In this one, I’ll discuss some of the specific Races from a technical perspective. Edwin McRae, our narrative designer will be showcasing them from a Lore perspective. We have eight Races and eight Classes designed, but we won’t commit to having them all in the initial game until we finalize some budget aspects. I’ll talk more about Classes and Specialties in the future. Shade Elf. One of two elvish races, with the Shade Elves living in the deep forests close to the imperial homeland. The are very mobile, fast (Running and Flash Step Abilities), never surprised, and acrobatic. High Elf. Much closer to their Fae ancestors, the High Elves have a close link to the Dreamlands. They can restore their long term health through trance, so they can remain awake through the nights. Sealed doorways are no barrier and High Elves can pass through them without opening the door. They have the Fate ability which reduces the effects of Crticals and Fumbles for themselves and increases them on their opponents. Imperials. The humans who lead the empire, martial and noble. They have a bit of luck, some resistance to damage, both short and long term, plus a bit of combat move to avoid Opportunity Attacks, and Fastdraw to speed up weapon switching. Half-Shade. The Shade Elves are close enough to the heart of the empire to interbreed with the Imperials. As one might expect, they have some resistance to damage, some mobility, still can’t be surprised. Dwarf. From the harsh desert lands, the... read more

TSI Kickstarter this Wednesday, March 11th!

Gold Box fans rejoice! TSI is launching our Kickstarter this Wednesday, March 11th. Show your support for our exciting single player RPG: Seven Dragon Saga. We’re back from GDC and happy to share details about what we’ve been working on. In case you missed the announcement, GamesBeat did a terrific article on our “Gateway” initiative for transferring characters across games beginning with support from inXile and HareBrained Schemes. Read more about it here:http://venturebeat.com/2015/03/02/ex-ssi-gold-box-devs-go-back-to-the-future-with-tools-to-transfer-characters-across-role-playing-games/ SSI alumni and Gold Box veterans David Shelley and Paul Murray, along with the rest of the TSI team are proud to bring you an exciting new challenge. Whether you remember playing Pool of Radiance, Curse of the Azure Bonds, and Wizard’s Crown or simply enjoy a quality RPG with tactical combat Seven Dragon Saga is for YOU! But this can only happen with your help. As an indie studio, we are looking to our fans to fund a significant portion of the development through our upcoming Kickstarter campaign, which begins on March 11th. We aren’t shy about our ambitions to make a great game, but that takes additional resources and effort. Beyond funding, we are inviting you in on the making of Seven Dragon Saga. Increasingly fan feedback has been integral to the creative process that gives rise to innovative games. We hope you’ll assist us in this adventure!” We hope you will help spread the word and show your support when our campaign goes live this Wednesday at 10AM PDT. Sincerely, The TSI... read more

Gateway transfer system

RPG players will be able to transfer characters between RPGs via Tactical Simulations Interactive’s “Gateway” initiative – First games include Shadowrun:Hong Kong and Torment: Tides of Numenera March 2, 2015 – Los Angeles – Tactical Simulations Interactive (TSI) today unveiled “Gateway” – a system that allows players to transfer their favorite characters across supported RPGs. The initiative will be rolled out in TSI’s debut title, Seven Dragon Saga – an original fantasy RPG for PC, Mac and Linux, based upon an original pen and paper role-playing system designed by former Strategic Simulations Interactive (SSI) alumni Keith Brors and David Shelley.   Developers inXile and Harebrained Schemes have also announced support for Gateway, with more set to sign on in the coming months. With Gateway, TSI is inviting RPG developers to take part in an initiative that hearkens back to the days of classic RPGs like The Bard’s Tale, Ultima and Wizardry — a time when players could fully transfer their characters and parties into different games, without having to create them from scratch for each game. “Gateway goes beyond being an import/export feature — it represents a development philosophy that I enthusiastically endorse. By proposing and developing a data standard for game characters, TSI is establishing a stepping stone for independent CRPG developers to collaborate and share content and expertise . It is very much in the spirit of crowd funding and independent game development. As a fan of SSI’s titles, I’m thrilled at their return through Seven Dragon Saga and am excited they are spearheading this initiative through Gateway,” said Kevin Saunders, Project Director, Torment: Tides of Numenera... read more

Making characters Unique — an Overview

As Paul touched on in his recent review, Seven Dragon Saga allows players to create their entire six man party. We chose this to give the player far more control over how they balance their party, and creatively build their team without the pressure to drag an NPC specialist with them that they are not fond of. However, we also intend to take some steps to give personality to the individual characters, preventing them from becoming simply “Thief toolbox” and “High damage dealer”. Our first effort to make the characters feel unique is the Race, Class, Specialty selection system, which provides distinctive weapon and ability optimizations. These choices create different looks and different feels in combat. At this stage of development, we are taking rough cuts at keeping the choices both distinct and balanced. Each ability has its own point cost, and we have to watch for combinations which might provide too much synergy. As the player creates each character, the game prompts them to choose a Goal for that character. Goals then provide the natural inclination and motivating force for that character. During play, various quests will allow multiple methods for successful completion. However, if the player chooses a solution which matches the Goal of one or more characters, those characters gain rewards such as bonus build points – used to improve and customize that character. For instance, if a bandit chief offered a payment to leave the area, rather than surrender. The player could accept or decline and subsequently force a surrender, or find another way to resolve things. Getting a payment appeals to the Greed Goal,... read more

Paul’s Review of Dragon Age: Inquisition Part 2

As our first update for 2015, Paul continues where he left off in his analysis of Dragon Age: Inquisition. Paul Murray, is our Systems Designer, focused on the algorithms to make the world balanced and tactical combat challenging. He was the first engineer at SSI in the early 80s and stayed with that company well into the 90s finishing up with the extremely successful Panzer General series. We asked Paul to comment on some recent games, to help give our fans some insight in what he seeks out in play and, by extension, what items he will emphasize in Seven Dragon Saga. Seven Dragon Saga is a single player game, so we’ve focused on those aspects in this commentary. His first review is a two-parter on Dragon Age: Inquisition. Paul has already spent numerous hours on the first two games of the series. In Part 1, he shared what he liked and felt was most effective in DA:I. This is the second part of Paul Murray’s discussion of Dragon Age: Inquisition, and where he sees opportunities for Seven Dragon Saga to match or excel. Today, Paul shares his thoughts on where DA:I might improve, and how and why he’d do it a bit differently. Things I don’t like The following comments may come across as a bit harsh, as I do really enjoy this game overall. Still, the best way to improve is to study the blemishes and learn from them. Which brings me to things I don’t like. Really, really limited healing. At lower difficulty it is not too bad. But it means there are times you have... read more

Paul’s review of Dragon Age: Inquisition, Part 1

Since we last gave an update, we’ve made design changes to our art style and achieved some terrific progress. Paul Murray is our team’s Systems Designer, focused on the algorithms to make the world balanced and tactical combat challenging. He was the first engineer at SSI in the early 80s and stayed with that company well into the 90s finishing up with the extremely successful Panzer General series. We asked Paul to comment on some recent games, to help give our fans some insight in what he seeks out in play and, by extension, what items he will emphasize in Seven Dragon Saga. His first review is a two-parter on Dragon Age: Inquisition. Paul has already spent numerous hours on the first two games of the series. Here is part 1. Reflections on DAI on the PC Since all reviews are done with a bias, I will tell you a little about the kind of gaming I like. First of all I am not a dextrous player… I am not great at timing defenses and I like a game that provides me a challenge without making me go to extensive effort.  Assuming I can trust the AI, I like to run mostly from my character’s perspective, with occasional pauses to give special orders to companions…  I have never found an AI that I can really trust. Secondly, I play games that I like to death (and beyond). I am an incurable character tinkerer and will play the first quarter of a game about eight times as much as the rest of a game, trying out this character’s skill combinations... read more