Quests 2nd Edition

I will soon be publishing a second edition of Quests: Design, Theory, and History in Games and Narratives. The second edition will feature: Expanded and updated discussion of each design principle Updated tutorials, with focus on Unity and Fungus I will be resurrecting this blog as my primary professional website and portfolio, since arcanaforge is […]

Break on Through to the Other Side: N-Dimensional Physics Progress in Arcana

Recent Arcana progress has been slow but steady and significant, with advances both on the front-end (visual interface and feedback for ritual performance) and the back-end (underlying systems and mechanics driving the rituals). For front-end progress, I am now working with an excellent artist, Thomas Vanhuffel, whose portfolio can be seen here: His many atmospheric art […]

The Wars of Illusions: Magic as Sorcery and Chicanery

[Spoiler alerts: Lord of Illusions, Fallen London, NBC Constantine] In one of the most haunting lines from Clive Barker’s film Lord of Illusions, a high-ranking member of an elite illusionists’ club observes that “we walk a narrow line between trickery and divinity.”  The character is alluding to the two meanings of the word “magician,” which can connote both sorcerer (who […]

Game Magic, Gnosis, and Shattering the Fourth Wall

The publication of Game Magic has led to some inspiring and productive conversations with amazing, like-minded designers.   Some of these conversations involve the designers’ awesome  projects, which I won’t talk about online without permission out of respect for the designers’ own publicity prerogatives. But I can safely share my sides of these conversations, which […]

Brief Thoughts on Bloodborne

Someone recently asked me what I thought of Bloodborne, the new game by From Software, the trailer of which was unveiled at E3 2014.  The Souls franchise is a major touchstone for my ideas about magic systems (and game design more generally).  Here’s a one-paragraph review of my thoughts so far, and a brief extension […]

Video Trailer for Game Magic

Below is the trailer for my recently-published book, Game Magic: A Designer’s Guide to Magic Systems in Theory and Practice, which can be ordered on Amazon at  Giles Timms created several illustrations for the book, which he then brought to life in a trailer through his fantastic animation skills.  More of Giles work can be […]

Tomes of Game Magic

While at the East Coast Games Conference to speak about my book Game Magic, I had the privilege of seeing a vast library of occult tomes and esoteric RPG books owned by Steve Burnett, a writer, musician, and Raleigh native who was kind enough to guide many of the conference participants through the city during the week.

My original Facebook post should convey the rapture of the experience and how I see the two parts of this library (the RPG books and the grimoires) as related: “In the most unexpected turn of events at the East Coast Games Conference, I was invited to go see the most extensive occult library *and* the strangest collection of obscure tabletop RPG’s I’ve ever encountered, housed under one roof.  We’re talking a complete run of Scarlet Imprint, rare editions of Kenneth Grant and Austin Osman Spare, and some very rare and seriously weird tomes that I have a hard time describing.  Pictures forthcoming, both of the RPG books and the grimoires.  Though, in the end, is there really in difference?  Performance, imagination, and play . . . the highest forms of magic.”

I took several pictures of the library, focusing on volumes that particularly caught my eye based on my own research and creative interests.  These pictures, though, are only a glimmer of the overall riches.  Soon, I’ll comment on individuals volumes and why I chose to photograph them (as well as some of the volumes that I did not have time to capture).  For now, here are the pictures en masse from my phone.


Game Magic (Looking for Image Sources, Post # 2)

One of the topics at the heart of my forthcoming book, Game Magic, is the underlying logical flow of a magic system. Developing a magic system requires the designer to be able to express precisely the sequence of processes that a player must perform to cast a spell. Does the player need ingredients to cast […]

Handout and slides from GDC Occult Game Design Presentation

A few people have asked me for the handout that accompanied my GDC Online 2012 Presentation, “Occult Game Design: An Initiation into Secrets and Mysteries,” so I thought I’d provide a link to it here.  The handout contains the names, dates, and brief synopses for the media referenced in the talk, including many games. In […]

Arcana Manor: A Ceremonial Magick Simulator

Arcana Manor: A Ceremonial Magick Simulator Arcana Manor is a game-in-progress that features a magic system in which players cast spells through a symbolic language of syllables, gems, and cards. Players control Arcana Manor through input processed by various alternative controllers, including the Kinect and the Emotiv EEG headset. My goal in Arcana Manor is […]

Surviving and Thriving in the Grim Darkness: More Notes Toward the Daimonic Sublime

For a while now, I’ve been thinking about a concept in game design called the daimonic sublime: an experience of elation in response to infernal grandeur, derived equal parts from the fusion of Miltonic demonic defiance (“better to reign in hell than serve in heaven”) and heavy metal rebellion (heard in this 8-bit version of […]

Retro Gaming and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was a group of nineteenth-century English artists who chose to emulate the style of painters before Raphael. This stylistic choice was a deliberate, countercultural move that involved eschewing the muddied, realistic style of painting taught in contemporary art schools in favor of an ideal of perfection derived from early Renaissance, neo-medieval, and […]

1st Annual Workshop on Integrated Design in Games

Name/Name of Organization: Dakota State University Contact Email: 1st Annual Workshop on Integrated Design in Games 2011 Theme: Horror Conference Dates: November 3-6, 2011 Deadline for Abstracts: extended to *July 15th, 2011* Call for Presentations, Workshops, and Activities The Workshop on Integrated Design in Games is offered in conjunction with Nanocon IX, the ninth […]

What profiteth it a man if he gains the world and loses his soul(s)?: Reflections on Demon’s Souls

Demon’s Souls is a dark, mysterious opera whose theme, expressed through gameplay and the unfolding of a powerful narrative, is the lure and peril of Faustian bargains. By opera I refer not just to the game’s occasional bursts of swelling sound, or even to solely to its understated yet epic narrative. Rather, I use the […]

Arcana Manor elevator pitch

In Arcana Manor, the player wields a uniquely immersive and symbolic magic system to defeat the demons of a surreal Gothic mansion and unlock its secrets. Arcana Manor is a ceremonial magick simulator with a meticulously-researched system of gestural sigils, incantations, colors, and sounds that makes players feel like true adepts, not mere button-pushers.

Quests listed as a “must read book for aspiring game designers”

Quests was recently included on Sean M. Baity’s list, “Must Read Books for Aspiring Game Designers.” I’m very appreciative of this listing, and it’s cool to see Mr. Baity’s credentials in terms of the many games which he has worked on as senior designer at electronic arts.,8377/

New gameplay footage (music, telekinesis, invisibility, planets)

I just posted two new videos of gameplay footage from the most recent build of Arcana Manor (7-27-09). The video has two parts. The first part demonstrates several new features, including: musical tones that correspond to colors and planets in the magic system, mountable weapons based on the tarot suits, elemental projectiles flung from melee […]