thread: 2010-03-01 : Reliable vs Unreliable Currency

On 2010-03-03, Tim C Koppang wrote:


Yes, I certainly get all that.  But I also think there is a reason that so many Story Now designs embrace reliable currency, and it has to do with how a player engages with the fiction under that particular CA.  Whether a player disengages *absolutely* has to do with the way that the game mechanics (currency included) interact with the intended CA.

Let me go at this another way that gets back to Vincent's original post—this idea that unreliable currency "brings the gamble back" to a game.

Under Story Now play, reliable currency allows the player to concentrate less on how effective a character is and more on how to communicate something about premise through character.  If I want my character to lose, I can withhold currency to try to do that.  And I may really want to do that based on how I envision my character in terms of theme and premise.

Combining reliable currency with fortune in the middle mechanics allows the players to reconcile certain currency choices with the SIS.  This is important because otherwise you may run into situations where, realistically, it makes more sense for the character to win, but because of the way bonuses are dolled out, he loses.  The group needs a way to explain why the character should lose despite the apparent circumstances.

Using unreliable currency, on the other hand, means that if a player wants a certain outcome, he has to start thinking about how to achieve it long before "the moment of judgment," as Vincent puts it.  This puts a certain emphasis on character effectiveness (and the other environmental, etc., factors that affect an outcome), and which can be be distracting when a game is ultimately about addressing premise.  (No, I'm not saying that reliable currency is always better for Story Now designs.  I'm just using this as an example of some of the potential advantages.)

You and I are both worried about players using currency arbitrarily, which can cause players to disengage from the fiction.  And I think that both types of currency can be used arbitrarily—as you pointed out to me.  So the issue isn't about what type of currency is better.  It's about what type of currency is appropriate for a certain game, a certain CA, or whatever.  And I think it's also about what choices a designer has to make when choosing reliable currency over unreliable, or vice versa.

- Tim


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