Thursday, July 28, 2011

Two updates

I took another mini-vacation and in my distance from the project I got some clarity on two issues.

First, the game I was creating did everything I wanted it to do, but it didn't highlight the key things I wanted it to highlight. Those key things are:
  1. A game that makes house ruling simple such that it could realistically be populated by community generated content. As I got deeper into the game, I personally found it easy to develop rules, but I began to notice a distinct learning curve.
  2. A game that presents basic tradeoffs at all levels of play. The simple tradeoffs presented at low levels of game play for most games are intuitive, fun, and lend a 'feel' to the play experience. I have always felt that is lost as you progress higher in levels and I don't think it has to be that way.
  3. A game that truly lets you build your character (as opposed to pick your character). A game built on Reed's Law is more balanced, more robust, and more fair than a game built on a bunch of linear paths.
Second, when the articles I was posting dealt with abstract theory, the discussion that followed was really useful. The comments I got planted seeds in my head that pointed me to new directions of game design that I probably never would have stumbled upon without them. We didn't always agree and we often recognized the same issue but wanted to solve it in different directions, but the principles of our recognition were what was of value.

When I started publishing drafts of "product," the dynamic changed. The comments were more about disliking a word or pointing out a typo. Those comments are useful in their time and place (that is, during editing), but during design they are more a distraction. I guess I'm not really sure what I expected because of course people are going to comment on what they notice and I still appreciate any participation I got.

So what does it all mean?
I made some changes to the game. So far, it feels like the changes are strongly for the better. You learn so much as you design anything that you cannot help but improve on the second pass. In this case, it is more like the fifth pass, but whatever. I'm excited and the game feels like it has half the rules with all the same game play.

I still plan to publish little articles, but I'm going to try and go back to theory. There was more value (for me and, I think, for others) in those discussions than there ever was in any of the more specific articles. The specific stuff I'll save until it is done, not just posting it 10 minutes after I finish a draft. That way people can see how I chose to bring the theory we discussed into the game and judge the strengths and weaknesses together as whole instead of seeing discrete parts which may independently be impossible to appropriately judge.

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