thread: 2005-10-20 : The Fruitful Void

On 2005-10-21, Ninja Monkey J wrote:

Ben, there's a really, really important thing that you obviously know but didn't write down:

Toy Traits
Free Traits
Favorite -> Draw + Difficulty
Conflict Traits
Since you can't confront Stakes twice in a row, you raise the bar for the next players, who just raised stakes for you.
What's at Stake? (small)
What's at Stake? (large)

Meg, Vincent, Ron, and anyone else who cares:

"There's a trick to designing games, which I'm trying to tell. Ron says it's to leave the eighth corner of the cube unmade. I say it's to make a whirlwind. What the HELL are we talking about?"

There's a principle in Japanese art called Wabi (or Sabi, depending on the physicality of the object, apparently). As I understand it, it goes something like this: you create something incomplete. Something in the process of moist birth or dry, raspy death.

a sculpture. Smooth, polished granite that is dinged at the bottom
and seeded with moss so the moss will slowly eat it.

a tea bowl. The assumed perfection of a tea cup is given irregularity
the regularity is granted by the assumptions of the user,
inspired by the shape at the bottom.

In many Japanese gardens, the principle is applied by making it so the entire garden can't be seen at once; the rest of the garden is imaginary.

In The Mountain Witch, notice that, even though the footnotes are clear, regular rectangles, the main text is ragged-right, irregular on one side. Too much regularity would have made the book dead (instead of dying I guess). Too little, of course, would have made it unapproachable.

Wabi is a principle I think we should supply in games, and I think it's what you're talking about. It's something deliberately missing, an empty space that demands interaction with the player. Many games are all void. GURPS, D20, etc. assume that everything will stem from the players, giving no guidance to creating the fiction, leaving all art out of their creation. When a game gets too rigid, it's rightly accused of removing the players from play (a recent Ronnies mention did this).

Right now, I think Shock: is too static, too regular. It was on purpose, but it's to much so. It needs some chaos.


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