My Assumptions of Game Design
Maybe I’m floundering from idea to idea and need to re-affirm my focus. Maybe I’m trying to get myself psyched up for next week’s Game Chef Competition, which I just might enter. Maybe the winds of March are just blowing me some clarity.
Whatever the reason, I’ve been thinking about the assumptions I bring to the table when I design a game. This is not as sweeping as Jared’s I-System Manifesto, but more like a collection of Keith’s This I Believes, except less-Polish and less-Angry.
A well-designed game should promote more fun and cooler stories than unstructured play. Otherwise, why do we design? Call it my rephrasing of “System Does Matter.”
The more engaged the players are, the more fun the game will be. Gaming runs on enthusiasm, and a game must help (dare I say “force”) the players to become enthusiastic about their own play.
If you make it up, you will care. RPGs thrive on creativity. When the game invites, encourages, and celebrates the creativity of the players, they will become engaged–that’s why they sat down at the table.
Activity spawns engagement. The more ways for each player to contribute to the game, the more they will be engaged. Taking turns is a great organizational tool, but there should be opportunity for fun/play/creativity even when it isn’t your turn. If you’re sitting at the table, you should be doing something.
Decision spawns engagement. When a player is forced to make a decision, with clear understanding of his options and the consequences of them, he must engage with the game. Randomness has its place, but decisions are the important moments of the game that will be remembered.
Preparation for play is a bug, not a feature. My life is busy. So is everyone else’s. When I set aside time to game, I want to play, not be forced to set aside additional time to prepare to play. It adds to the time-cost of the game and makes it less likely that it will be played. Preparatory tasks should be brought into gameplay whenever possible.
This, I believe…
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