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Video Games as GM/Solo Gaming Tools

Posted: Sat Dec 22, 2012 9:29 am
by domingojs23
Dear Friends,

Sorry if this has been posted elsewhere, but I'd like to discuss using video games as tools for Traveller Campaigns, particularly solo ones. It's a shame that Traveller AR folded, as it was a great solution. So, we need to find alternatives. For example, one could set up a naval-oriented campaign as usual, but use space combat games like Homeworld, Gratuitous Space Battles, etc for ship combat resolution, for boarding / in-ship combat something like Alien Assault, for planetary warfare the likes of Megamek. 4x games could be an overall framework, like Master of Orion. The challenge is in finding games that are readily modifiable to incorporate the Traveller or one's homebrew settings.

Star Command, the forthcoming bridge crew-oriented game, looks particularly promising.

Or, an alternative approach would be "putting the cart before the horse" in adding a Traveller RPG element to existing games. Not quite sure about this yet, but something like having episodal gaming sessions concerning the bridge crew of a given ship in a space combat video game campaign.



Re: Video Games as GM/Solo Gaming Tools

Posted: Sat Dec 22, 2012 1:10 pm
by mattman
Those are all fantastic games and that is a great idea.

I've been trying to approach this from a strictly "non-electronic" direction, using only what's available to the table top. I'm (personally) not comfortable with the "level of availability" of software or other computing devices for this, save a solar powered calculator. What I mean to say is I love the idea of just pulling out a stack of books, notebooks, guides, dice, charts, etc. and solo-ing away. Somehow, I just don't feel like I'm there yet with this. However if one can play Klondike solitaire or Mah-Jong and enjoy it for hours, then surely it can be done. There's something about game design that I just don't understand enough of to do what I want.

... and yes, I've heard of and have used Mythic and I don't like it :)

(ranting here:) Annoyingly, RPGs are built around the social element because social people make up the majority of humanity. But I'm hopeful for the near future. Things are starting to get interesting for solo RPG-ing.

I really like what Ed Teixiera, the Two Hour Wargames guy, has done and is doing with the 5150 New Beginnings and its "Fringe Space" supplement: It looks like a good attempt in this direction. It seems very influenced by Traveller and the Serenity RPG / Big Damn Heroes "relationships" mechanic.

For sure, you are on to something regarding video games. Software goes a long way toward getting around the "Czege's Principle" problem, that is "if the same person generates the adversity and also its resolution in an RPG, the result is boring." . Software helps provide automation and the needed hidden knowledge to make solo-ing fun.

Re: Video Games as GM/Solo Gaming Tools

Posted: Sat Dec 22, 2012 1:25 pm
by domingojs23
Dear Mattman,

Thanks for the response and sharing your views ! While in principle I would love to find live players, or even go for the solo pen and paper route like making use of Two Hour Wargames' excellent offerings, I find that another great constraint I have is time, with juggling a fulltime job, many civic volunteering stints, reserve duty and parenthood ! :D - well, I'm slowly trying to get my 6 year old daughter into RPGing, but fantasy and not sci-fi is her thing ! Although if I could convert Aslan into Hello Kitty types I may get somewhere.....

So, my recourse to Video Games is also very much about making best use of the limited time I have for gaming.

One game I just discovered that is a good fit for the "Free Trader Beowulf" sort of adventure is FTL, see

Cheers and Happy New B'ak'tun !


Re: Video Games as GM/Solo Gaming Tools

Posted: Sat Dec 22, 2012 4:22 pm
by mattman
Also, add Frozen Synapse to your list. Hopefully there's a level editor or something to set up an encounter with:

Re: Video Games as GM/Solo Gaming Tools

Posted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 5:03 pm
by domingojs23
Dear Friends,

Another great PC game is "The War Engine" which is available for free:

TWE also has a Snapshot Mod, also available gratis:

Enjoy !


Re: Video Games as GM/Solo Gaming Tools

Posted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 5:41 pm
by Dave Chase
Well, having one of the Personal Computer casino games on my computer, I would sometimes allow a player with gambling to play.

We would agree to either amount of time or number hands/die rolls/spins. They would say how much of their PC credits that they would use. Then they would play. They could always stop before the agreed to amount of hands or time.

If they lost all their money in the game, they lost their credits. If they won I used the following formula

Credit gambled (PC credits) times amount won (computer winnings) divided by the initial amount alloted by the computer game. (On some of the PC Casino games, you didn't get to set how much you started with, it was predetermined.)

Then that total amount was multiplied by their gambling skill level.

We would do the same thing later on with some of the hand held poker electronic games.
It just added some variety and made it more real instead of just a dice roll.

Dave Chase