2013-05-25 : Complete Games
Hey! Jeff Russell asked me some sharp questions about The Sundered Land on G+ and I want to share them here too. They're about what makes a game complete or not.
-For these games at least, what was your criteria for spelling things out with rules, and what to leave to players figuring out in the process of following their goals?
-In determining this, did you add rules as the need came up, or did you start with more and ruthlessly eliminate rules that seemed unneeded?
-Was this design/group of designs partially an extreme dramatization of separate subsystems and clarifying their focus?
Here's me (very slightly edited):
I'm going to take those in reverse order.
This group of games didn't start as subsystems, no. It started with the situations.
1. What's a kind of high-stakes situation for people to be in? (example: guarding a caravan under attack)
2. What are the players' opposed goals in this situation? (example: defend the caravan vs destroy it)
3. What tools do the players need in order to pursue their goals? (example: competent characters vs a vivid threat; clear directions about what to say)
4. When those tools come into contact, that's when there needs to be a mechanically-structured conversation. What kinds of contact can the tools come into, and what kinds of conversation do they call for? (example: when the hazard's going to attack, the Hazard player needs to give warning; when a character goes into danger, roll to decide which of 3 conversations)
So I never conceived of these as subsystems of a single game. They were always separate games that happened to share setting and design space.
I didn't create more rules and edit down either, no. Once you have a situation and goals, they imply the shape and extent of the design, if you see. I just created the rules that the situation and goals required.
The rules you see in the games now account for about half of the rules I created. But that's because in the design process I created rules that didn't work, and had to throw them away and try again, not because I created extra rules.
I wonder if I can articulate this! A complete game can be just about any size. The size of a complete game depends upon the complexity of the design, not upon the completeness of the design, does that make sense? Given the same setup and goals - you're guarding a caravan, I'm trying to destroy it - I could design a 64-page game too, if I multiplied the moving parts. It might mechanically differentiate weapons from each other, it might mechanically differentiate a flying hazard from a crawling one, it might mechanically differentiate the characters' skills. It would take correspondingly longer to play. It wouldn't be more complete, it would be more complicated.
1. On 2013-05-25, Vincent said:
2. On 2013-05-25, Jeff Russell said:
3. On 2013-05-27, Vincent said:
4. On 2013-05-27, Ben Lehman said:
5. On 2013-05-27, Vincent said:
6. On 2013-05-27, Ben Lehman said:
7. On 2013-05-27, benhamill said:
8. On 2013-05-27, Vincent said:
9. On 2013-05-27, Vincent said:
10. On 2013-05-27, Ben Lehman said:
11. On 2013-05-27, dwbapst said:
12. On 2013-05-27, J. Walton said:
13. On 2013-05-27, Dan Maruschak said:
14. On 2013-05-27, Vincent said:
15. On 2013-05-27, Vincent said:
16. On 2013-05-27, J. Walton said:
17. On 2013-05-27, Vincent said:
18. On 2013-05-27, J. Walton said:
19. On 2013-05-27, Vincent said:
20. On 2013-05-27, J. Walton said:
21. On 2013-05-27, kiaroskuro said:
22. On 2013-05-27, Vincent said:
23. On 2013-05-27, Moreno R. said:
24. On 2013-05-28, Vincent said:
25. On 2013-05-28, Mads Egedal Kirchhoff said:
26. On 2013-05-28, Vincent said:
27. On 2013-05-29, benhamill said:
28. On 2013-06-09, E. Torner said: