2014-03-09 : The Dark Ages are in the air...

If you're interested in Apocalypse World: Dark Age, you'll probably be interested in following Ron Edwards' game in development Circle of Hands, too. I know I am!

1. On 2014-03-09, Vincent said:

He's doing something pretty interesting, he's calling it "heartbreaker redemption," where you go back and look at the heartbreaker you were working on in 1990 or whenever. From this perspective, with some design under your belt, you can see what young you was getting at and maybe fulfill your decades-old dreams.

I won't be participating! Lord, nobody needs to look back at what I was working on in 1990, least of all me. But it's an interesting project anyway.


2. On 2014-03-11, Josh W said:

There's something funny about encouraging multiple people to work simultaniously on their own heartbreakers. I'm in favour of it in terms of people getting to make their personal settings, which is of course brilliant, but I also think that the parallelism can cause a kind of game design car crash:

Suppose everyone takes on the project and goes off to design their game, in an isolation lit only by the allure of kickstarter? Well we'll all come back with our lovely sparkly books full of highly personal art, but also we will have by working in parallel recreated the kind of ignorance that defines the fantasy heartbreaker; the books will each be full of ideas that immediately cause you to want to rewrite the other games in the set!

In some ways this is a good thing, designers having opportunities to learn from each other etc. but if I compare it to people learning from each other's games that push boundaries, that's a situation where there's a kind of gentle pace to mutual inspiration, you can stretch your brain to incorporate insights from other very different games, or just enjoy how different they are from yours. There's no "head slap .. obviously!" to it.

Like there's a kind of implicit courtesy among game designers about not designing the same game from five angles, "I heard about your game and liked it, so I paused my game not to step on any toes", or developing it in conversation with someone else's design to make them each more unique, or deciding to collaborate, but the implicit idea of "go back to your pre-internet design sensibilities and design them with modern experience" pushes against that. It's like design in the internet age has gained not only skills but a certain set of helpful social dynamics.

It's still totally do-able, but when doing overlapping personal work, it's harder to process other people's insights, and yet there's a lot you can learn from each other. I can picture a lot of people finding themselves getting inexplicably wound up about discussions of weapon lists, like the good old days!


3. On 2014-03-14, Josh W said:

Followed some of the links back to get more info (as I probably should have done already!), and had a bit more of a think about it, and my concern isn't half as substantial as I thought.

So far you've got a good starting set of designers who will be likely taking a pretty mature approach to feedback, and they'll probably be able to form a sort of seed for encouraging a good culture, between the various people playtesting each other's stuff. And because of that requirement of buying in, even if the kickstarter goes super well, you're probably talking 20 people connected together at most, so it shouldn't put too much strain on social links.

Perhaps more importantly, one huge difference in modern game design compared to the old "pick your resolution mechanic" stuff is thinking about how games approach setting up a situation. I can easily imagine even 30 different games coming out, strongly sharing a lot of mechanics, but having clear and differentiated approaches to emphasising particular aspects of the fictional world they are establishing and what they are developing on through play. Each of those would result in very distinct experiences, hopefully to the satisfaction of their designers, despite having superficially similar frameworks.


4. On 2014-03-14, Vincent said:

Yeah, at least!

I wouldn't even expect the games to have much superficial similarity, not from that bunch of designers.


5. On 2014-03-14, ndp said:

I would be surprised if they end up similar at all! (I was originally like Vincent but then I went back and started looking and my notes and now I HAVE IDEAS)


6. On 2014-03-16, Ron Edwards said:

Thanks everyone!


7. On 2014-03-16, Ron Edwards said:

Oh yeah, the current Kickstarter link: Circle of Hands (hope it's OK to post here Vincent)


8. On 2014-03-16, Vincent said:

Absolutely! You barely beat me to it.


9. On 2014-03-18, Moreno R. said:

Hi Vincent!
Now I want to know...
.. what were you working on in 1990?  :-)


10. On 2014-03-18, Vincent said:

In 1990? Your usual assortment of late 80s fantasy & cyberpunk games. One of them had a character sheet that looked shockingly similar to Blue Planet's, I recall, when Blue Planet came out. In 1992 I was working on a game with transparent overlays to find out where the bullet hit, and thank goodness Millenium's End came out so I could never think about that again.

By 1993 I was working on my heartbreaker in question. It was a fantasy heartbreaker inspired by Vance and Lee, pretty much exactly what you'd think.


direct link

This makes...
MR go "Thanks!"*

*click in for more

11. On 2014-03-21, Ron Edwards said:

Funded! Still plenty of days left for more backers, and I've announced the single stretch goal in the recent update.


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