Posted on

What is a tabletop RPG?

As you may already know, role playing is akin to playacting. The referee, or gamesmaster, serves as a sort of actor/director, while the players portray the main characters. Everyone combines their imaginative talents to conceive a spontaneous story which is never short of action, intrigue and adventure.

The easiest way to understand a role playing game is to think of it as a work of fiction such as a novel (or a play, or a movie, etc.). In a novel the author determines the setting of the novel along with the actions of all of the characters and thus the plot; however, in a role playing game, the author (called the Gamesmaster) only determines the setting and some of the basic elements of the plot. The actions of the characters (and thus the plot) are determined during the game by the game “players” and the Gamesmaster. Each of the “players” controls the actions of his “player character”, while the Gamesmaster controls the actions of all other characters (called non-player-characters). Thus each player assumes the role of (i.e. role plays) his character and the Gamesmaster role plays the non-player characters. In other words, a fantasy role playing game is a “living” novel where interaction between the actors (characters) creates a constantly evolving plot.

The Gamesmaster also makes sure all of the characters perform only those actions which are possible within the framework of the setting that he has developed (his “fantasy world”). This is where the “fantasy” part and the “game” part come into the definition of a fantasy role playing game. A Gamesmaster creates a setting which is not limited by the realities of our world, and thus the setting falls into the genre of fiction known as “fantasy”. However, the Gamesmaster uses a set of “rules” which define and control the physical realities of his fantasy world. The use of these rules makes the process of creating the role playing “novel” into a game.

The Setting
Thus, a fantasy role playing game is set in a fantasy world whose reality is not defined by our world, but instead is defined by a set of game rules. The creation of the plot of a role playing game is an on-going process which both the Gamesmaster and players may affect, but which neither controls. The plot is determined by the interactions between various characters and the game’s setting.

since fantasy role playing is after all a game, it should be interesting, exciting and challenging. Thus one of the main objectives of a role playing game is for each player to take on the persona of his (or her) player character, reacting to situations as the character would. This is the biggest difference between role playing games and other games such as chess or bridge. A player’s character is not just a piece or a card; in a good role playing game, a player places himself in his character’s position. The Gamesmaster uses detailed descriptions, drawings and maps to help the players visualize the physical settings and other characters. In addition, each player character should speak and react to the other players as his character would. All of this creates an air of involvement, excitement, and realism (in a fantasy setting of course).

The Gamesmaster
The Gamesmaster has been described as the limited “author” of the game; actually, he functions as more than this. The Gamesmaster not only describes everything which occurs in the game as if it were really happening to the player characters, but he also acts as a referee or judge for situations in which the actions attempted by characters must be resolved. The Gamesmaster has to do a lot of preperation before the game is actually played. He must develop the setting and scenarios for play, much material concerning the setting and the scenario is known only to the Gamesmaster. In addition, the Gamesmaster plays the roles of all of the characters and creatures who are not player characters, but nonetheless move and act within the game setting.

The Players
The players each develop and create a character using the rules of the game and the help of the Gamesmaster (for the character’s background and history). Each player character has certain numerical ratings for his attributes, capabilities and skills. These ratings depend upon how the player develops his character using the rules of the game. Ratings determine how much of a chance the character has of accomplishing certain actions. Many of the actions that characters attempt during play have a chance of success and a chance of failure. Therefore, even though actions are initiated by the Gamesmasters and the players during the game, the success or failure of these actions is determined by the rules, the characters’ ratings, and the random factor of a roll of the dice.

Finally, a fantasy role playing game deals with adventure, magic, action, danger, combat, treasure, heroes, villains, life and death. In short, in a role playing game, the players leave the real world behind for a while and enter a world where the fantastic is real and reality is limited only by the imagination of the Gamesmaster and the players themselves.


Quality games require quality artwork. We are here to provide you with affordable, royalty free fantasy artworks for your board-game, card-game, computer-game or mobile-game. Browse and buy over 1.500 professional artworks available at our art shop: Fantasy Stockart.

Posted on

What is a Collectible Card Game?

This special kind of the card game genre emerged in 1993 when Magic: The Gathering first appeared in the local games and hobby stores. This game was originally developed by Richard Garfield and was the first of it’s kind, spawning a whole generation of collectible card games, trading card games or customizable card games that are still popular until today.

As diverse as CCGs / TCGs are, they have several things in common that include the use of a starter deck or introductory deck that features a basic inventory of cards used to learn and play the game. Then, each player is able to expand his or her card collection and therefore the play deck as well, using new cards from booster packs. The cards packaged in those booster packs have varying rarity levels and the packs contain a random assortment of those cards, usually between 8 and 15 cards. Typical for this rarity system is the fact, that rarer cards have a much higher gameplay value than cards of lower rarity. With enough cards, players can create new decks and strategies from scratch.

The founding father Magic: The Gathering dominated the whole scene with it’s presence, but several other CCGs have come and gone. Among them popular IPs as well as smaller background worlds and scenarios with more or less varying rule sets: Yu-Gi-Oh!, Pokémon, Legend of the Five Rings, Star Wars and Lord of the Rings are very popular examples.

As the internet continues to change our lifestyles, it also has big influence on the way collectible card games are played. With the emergence of Hearthstone, digital collectible card games gained massive popularity. Those game do not make use of physical cards and instead use digital representations, with the newer ones foregoing card images altogether by using icons or avatars. Digital card games also allow for a much more complicated rules set and more subtle ways of distribution and monetization with expansions, custom card backs, layered rarity levels, campaigns and so on.


Quality games require quality artwork. We are here to provide you with affordable, royalty free fantasy artworks for your board-game, card-game, computer-game or mobile-game. Browse and buy over 1.500 professional artworks available at our art shop: Fantasy Stockart.

Posted on

What is a Social RPG?

The rise of “Social RPGs” begun with mobile phones running Android and iOS systems, as well as tablet computers – and are therefore to be classified as a mobile phenomenon. But this genre also has it’s niche on desktop computer systems as well. The birthplace of this genre is Japan and the additive “Social” also origins from there (despite being an english word). Im not sure if the tag “Social RPG” will be enforced or replaced by “Casual RPG”, “Mobile RPG” or any other combination later on, but Im quite used to the term already and stick to it.

The premise of this article is that you already know what a “RPG” is and have a good knowledge about the genre. So we take all the basics like a characters, enemies, maps, progression via a leveling system, inventories, items, abilities and magic for granted.

But the “Social” part of the name tag is not that obvious and should not be confused with its literal meaning. Instead it originates from another genre: “Social Games”. This kind of games became very popular as browser games in the past, distributed via social networks like Facebook. Social Games are usually free-to-play and can be played endlessly, similar to MMOs (for example building up a farm or managing a city). Social Games usually provide only light multiplayer aspects, as they are casual by nature (so no fixed raid times and lenghty dungeon runs or such). Most of the social interaction comes from showing off your work to others, competing with other players and climb up the ranking ladder. The times when these games where distributed via social networks is almost over, but Social Games continued to exist elsewhere until today – for example in the AppStores and Steam.

The Japanese are renown for unique game concepts and a individual way of mashing two genres together. It did not take long until casual game concepts (like Puzzle games) where mixed with certain RPG aspects and light multiplayer feature to create this new genre. In terms of labels, the american trend leans towards mashing two game titles together (like “Metroidvania”), while the Japanese simply combine two genre titles to create a new genre label. This way, the term “Social RPG” was born.

Social RPGs often actually only feature very light social elements. Limited to a fighting with or against friends, joining a guild or clan, inviting friends from outside the App for bonus points and so on. These social aspects have not changed much since the invention of the genre, but their presence is one of its defining elements. This fact makes the label a bit hard to understand, if you are confronted with it for the first time. But, the label “arcade game” has not much in common with “Arcades” anymore as well and every now and then we see tags like these pop-up and stick around forever (like “roguelike”).

So, what defines a Social RPG? Like with most genre labels there is no perfect definition for the term as the individual games can vary a lot. But here is a list of common concepts that helps to nail the corner posts down:

  • A single, repetitive core mechanic (like a combat system)
  • Micromanagement of game objects (like teams) to complement the core loop.
  • Leveling up through experience for both the account and game objects
  • Features increasingly difficult, short single-player challenges (combat etc.).
  • The focus is on challenges rather than exploration or story
  • Light multiplayer features like a friendlist, fighting with or against friends
  • A wide array of game objects to collect and use
  • Loot is gained via a random lotto mechanic termed “gacha”
  • Game Objects are tiered according to power and rarity
  • Game Objects can be evolved or increased in rank
  • Hard cap on all inventories to force players to invest resources to lift the cap
  • Rare premium currency that is used for a variety of purposes
  • Free-to-Play with optional in App buys of premium currency
  • Puts a limit on game sessions via a stamina meter (or energy meter)
  • The main battle mechanic can draw from a variety of other genres such as action, puzzle etc.

Quality games require quality artwork. We are here to provide you with affordable, royalty free fantasy artworks for your board-game, card-game, computer-game or mobile-game. Browse and buy over 1.500 professional artworks available at our art shop: Fantasy Stockart.

Posted on

What is a casual MMO?

MMOs have come a long way since the humble beginnings of their ancestors like Meridian59 and Ultima Online (with several others even preceding those). We have seen whole generations of development in regards of graphics, gameplay and usability. But MMOs are also bound to the time players spend in the game, this means all MMO games run in “synchronous” mode – where enough player have to be online in order to raise the gameplay experience to an enjoyable level.

With the rise of mobile devices, more and more casual Massively Multiplayer Online games see the light of day. The usual definitions for these types of games are: Easy to learn, intuitive design, fast gameplay in short intervals and quick results. But casual games also have the “asynchronous” gameplay in common. That means players are not forced to be online at the same time in order to fully enjoy the game.

In a world with many different timezones, increasing workloads and stress levels and so many different ways of life – casual games hit the nail right on the head. How do you benefit from a large player base if the major amount of players must be online in order to enjoy raids, dungeons, battlefields and guild wars together? In a casual MMO, every player has the freedom to participate whenever there is time – and is still able to enjoy, progress and contribute to the game for the full gameplay experience.

So, casual MMOs feature all the typical keypoints we know and love about traditional MMO games. This includes character generation, character development, acquiring, collecting and upgrading items, finishing quests and progressing through the story and the overall game. But casual MMOs cut out the fat (like having to stay online for 3 or 4 hour shifts in order to participate in a dungeon raid) and streamline the gameplay to the most enjoyable parts. Of course this also cuts out some of the meat we used to enjoy in past (offline) games like Final Fantasy and others. But after walking from Location A to Location B for the third time, the excitement of this process like begins to fade away and is something we are more than willing to resign.

I don’t say this removes repetition from the game, as most casual MMOs rely strongly on reptitive behavior (“grind”) like fulfilling daily quests, completing daily challenges or fighting the same bunch of monsters/enemies on a daily base. This kind of grind is very common to almost all casual MMO games and increases repetition, while on the other side many repititive factors are simply removed. This phenomenon goes hand in hand with “content stretching” as most casual MMOs try to deliver the same content (map, stage, level etc.) over and over again to the player (with varying degrees of difficulties and rewards). This is done in order to spread the existing, prefabricated content (that is always expensive to produce) out like butter. But also to slow down player progress as much as possible with the ultimate goal to make the player stick as long to the game as possible. In a single player game, you usually finish the main storyline in something between 25 and 50 hours – a MMO on the other hand must be able to keep it’s players around for month’s, if not years!

This all being said, the casual side of MMOs is not bad at all. Okay, lets put aside some of the more P2W aspects some of them try to sell to the players as features. But besides these capitalistic developments, casual MMOs are quite enjoyable for a very long time and are able to maintain large player bases. But on the other hand, this type of MMOs is also not as innovative as many developers/publishers want them to be, its just another variation of the genre, wrapped up in shiny new clothes and then sold to the masses. If you look for a revolution in the MMO genre, better look elsewhere. But if you are looking for an enjoyable Massively Multiplayer Online experience that does not force you to lengthy game sessions every day – “casual” is the way to go!


Quality games require quality artwork. We are here to provide you with affordable, royalty free fantasy artworks for your board-game, card-game, computer-game or mobile-game. Browse and buy over 1.500 professional artworks available at our art shop: Fantasy Stockart.

Posted on

What is a Gacha Mechanic?

Gachas (also Gashapon) are basically lottery style mechanics found in many modern game concepts, mostly in mobile games. In fact, this style of “random reward” is part in RPGs since their earliest days – in the form of random loot drops and loot tables. Even the very first pen-and-paper RPGs featured a Gacha Mechanic of some sorts, represented by treasure tables and random treasure rolls. In itself, such a mechanic is nothing bad – as it adds the excitement of uncertainty through a luck factor to the game. My CGE project will also feature such a Gacha Mechanic, in form of loot drops, loot crates, treasure tables and random treasure. But, the modern interpretation of Gacha goes much further, blurring the line between game and gambling.

The word Gacha originates from the sound that japanese toy machines make, when you turn the handle. These machines are quite common all over japan and we have seen them as well in the US and europe during the late 90s. Usually, those machines contain collectible figures in a small plastic egg. Receiving such a miniature requires money and a turn of the machines handle. The delivered figure pops out of the machine at random and is always part of a larger set. One of the main factors is that players try to collect the whole set of available miniatures.

Exactly this kind of mechanic has been transferred to free-to-play mobile games. It first appeared in japan, but is nowadays common in almost all F2P titles – also from Europe and the USA – in addition to Japan, China and Korea where this concept is widely accepted since years.

One of the core mechanics within the Gacha Mechanic is, that some of the miniatures mentioned above are rarer than others. This requires the player to play the Gacha game multiple times in order to get the right figure and complete his or her set. As each use of the Gacha requires money (either ingame or real currency), the Gacha Mechanic is a real money-sink but also one of the main motivational drives for a F2P game.

So we have defined two main aspects of the Gacha, that add a strong monetization feature to any F2P game: Randomisation & Rarity as well as Set Completion. Especially rarity – when cleverly designed – can get the most out of the Gacha, as it adds the mystery and intrigue to the user-experience. Among the many on-par or sub-par miniatures a player will get, a super-rare figure every now and then rewards the player even more and is very satisfactory.

Nowadays there is more to the good old Gacha, as design studios do their best to get the most out of the mechanic. The so called “Kompu Gacha” (Complete Gacha) is one example, where set collection relies on multiply Gacha completions in order to get the grand-prize (I can recommend this article if you want to get some more information about it).

As said earlier: Gachas blur the line between gaming and gambling. The Kompu Gacha has even been banned in Japan for some time. Personally Im strictly against any kind of gambling mechanics in games, but cleverly used, Gachas add a lot to it (in form of the good old loot tables). I would like to add, that gambling in my country is only legal to people of 18 years and above. But games are generally available to kids and adults alike. There is a lot to be deserved as our state simply sits in indolence while gambling mechanics are sweeping the app stores and with them, the potential risk of addiction to mechanics like Gacha.


Quality games require quality artwork. We are here to provide you with affordable, royalty free fantasy artworks for your board-game, card-game, computer-game or mobile-game. Browse and buy over 1.500 professional artworks available at our art shop: Fantasy Stockart.

Posted on

What is Click-and-Wait?

Click-and-Wait is a lesser known term to describe a very popular feature found in nowadays games. The feature originates from traditional browser-games and is ever since popular in almost all F2P games, especially mobile games. The term “click and wait” describes a typical time based process where the player first initiates an action per mouse-click and then waits for a certain period in order for the task to finish.

At first, this kind of system sound silly and obsolete – some players even hate click-and-wait implementations in games – but systems like this are quite important to the flow of the game. Thats because click and wait mechanics interlock with concepts like Session Pacing, Content Stretching and Energy Systems. All of these systems have been developed in order to prevent players from blazing through game content too fast. Furthermore, the delayed reward represented after a timer ticks down, is a incentive to make players come back later. It should be noted that this system makes its sole appearance in multiplayer and/or free-to-play games (understandable as it would not make sense in a single-player-environment, or is at least a very rare sight).

The basic definition of Click-and-Wait is quite simple: The player “clicks” a game object in order to start an action and then “waits” until that action is finished. One of the more common implementations is for example the build system as seen in games like Clash of Clans. As a player you first have to save up the amount of resources required and then, when you are allowed to buy the building, that said building must be built first. This building period delays the reward the player excepts for his spending, due to various reasons (as explained below). But there are less obvious click and wait systems as well: When you take a close look, the energy systems found in most F2P mobile games is nothing else but a clever interpretation of click-and-wait. First you spend energy by performing certain activities (“click”) and after spending your energy resource, it takes a while for it to regenerate again (“wait”).

So, lets look at the reasons for implementing such a system:

First of all, mobile games are played in short time intervals of only a few minutes. Instead of a single, lengthy game session as for example on a desktop PC based game, players log back into their mobile game several times a day. This creates a series of short timed gameplay intervals, distributed across all times of the day. If you (as a game designer) want to support these short timed intervals, a energy system is the right mechanic for that. It allows your players to play the game in short bursts, forces them to rest for a while and makes the players come back again after a certain period of time passed.

Another, important reason is content pacing and content stretching. In a single player RPG (for example Baldurs Gate) it is quite possible for a player to complete the whole game within one (or 2-3) long game session(s). Thats totally OK for a shelf title with a estimate 30 hours of gameplay. A F2P game on the other hand must be seen as a “service” and tries to bind the player for weeks, if not months or years. Utilizing the click-and-wait mechanic, you (the designer) are able to increase the amount of time spent on the game (or off – with regular returns). It also helps to pace the game, as your players simply cannot blaze through the content in one go. This is even more helpful (and important) in a multiplayer environment where you always have the risk of a “runaway leader” syndrome.

Furthermore, packaging the game into small chunks (and enforcing this chunked consume behavior via timers and energy systems) prevents player burnout. This chunked pieces of gameplay can be seen as entries on a to-do-list and give the player the feeling of accomplishment. Additionally, in-game rewards can be added to these entries – players can add a “check” on their mental checklist and know that in a couple of hours a reward is waiting for them as well. All in all, click-and-wait style games give the players of mobile games exactly what they expect: the maximum amount of fun in the minimum amount of time (per gameplay session that is).


Quality games require quality artwork. We are here to provide you with affordable, royalty free fantasy artworks for your board-game, card-game, computer-game or mobile-game. Browse and buy over 1.500 professional artworks available at our art shop: Fantasy Stockart.