thread: 2012-06-11 : Ask a Frequent Question

On 2012-06-21, Moreno wrote:

It's not necessary (or possible!) to design a complete, self-contained playable game. You can (and must!) design a game that relies for its completion upon what players already know and already want to do.

Mmmm... it's obvious that a game can't be "complete" in the sense of having no need to rely on things the players already know (or you will have games that describe, in details, how a dice is made, how it's throw, how to read it, etc.), and that any game will have to be played in the context of the previous experiences of the players, but I am usually very unsatisfied by games that tell players "for this thing, do what your group always do".

Why? Because
1) It takes for granted that the players already played a rpg.
2) It assumes that the players played IN A GROUP (the all-powerful gaming group, the only way to play a rpg, right? After all, it's not possible to play a rpg if you don't play with the same people for years...)
3) It assumes that the players PLAYED IN THE SAME GROUP FOR YEARS (because there are no 2 groups that played in the same way in traditional rpgs)

I don't think that this is new for you, Vincent (hell, a lot of his posts and games are among the things that did teach me that...) but at the same time... I think that sometimes you have relied too much on these three things.

Probably you don't remember when I asked you some years ago about some problems we had playing In a Wicked Age. At a certain point your reply about one thing was "do it as you always do in your gaming group".

But of these three conditions I listed above, the number (3) was not present in my current gaming group.  We were people from different traditional groups with different "way to play a rpg" in their past.

This showed me why we couldn't play IAWA (during the game, when we found ourselves in that "hole", everybody played by HIS OWN rules). I put the game away and have not played it since.

I would be able to play it today, after having played with the same people for some more years? Probably. I am not sure. But the point I am trying to make is that I should have been able to play it without these years of playing in the same exact group.

You can't explain in a game manual how to read a die, or what a deck of cards is, or how to talk in character. But at the same time, if a game manual rely on being read and played by people that not only already know rpgs (a very common problem in a lot of gaming text, and then there are forum threads asking why there are no new players...) but rely on their having played together for years, it relies too much on too many things.

P.S.: crossposted with the last two replies by Vincent. The last one already answer this post, I think.

I am conflicted about that reply. By one hand, I can't assume or pretend that any rpg should be made for me in their target. At the "principles" level, the fact that a indie game creator can write rpgs for whoever he wants without having to conform to a target decided by his publisher, is what has given me my favorite games (nobody would have published DitV, Spione or Kagematsu without that "I write for the people I want to write" attitude).

By the other hand, there is something, about that SPECIFIC target choice (people who played for years in the same group + any other conditions added by the specific game) that rub me the wrong way. Probably it's because is very similar to the target choices of traditional rpgs (and this is probably the reason I am not interested or even like the Old School Renaissance, too), but I think I will have to reflect more on this.


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