Sunday, September 4, 2011

Why the delay?

So where did I go?

Here's the deal. When I first started posting everything was in the very abstract. Abstract conversations are neat and easy because everyone can twist the abstract to find values aligning with their own ideas. Their contributions then spur other ideas and it is genuinely helpful. Pretty much most of what I like about my current ideas were spurred from contributions from commenters on this blog.

Then I got specific and things changed.

It isn't that comments weren't helpful, it is that what I liked about my ideas was no longer abstract, but they were presented in broad strokes. A general idea ("Combat should be faster!") needs context to be presented as a rule. People then respond to that context, which is legit, but the core idea is lost in the discussion.

What I discovered is that I can iterate my ideas down easier, whittling away the ancillary context, without feedback. Critical feedback makes me want to defend the core idea when the criticism was focused on the ancillary context. This isn't really productive because I should just be figuring out ways to get rid of the ancillary stuff. Here's a visual.

The light blue is all the context and the dark blue is the core idea. Spending a while with the idea lets you cut away the context and just retain the good idea, adding it to other good ideas until something special actually exists. Of course, because language is imprecise, it is hard to communicate just that core idea. So we got a pickle.

I've been working on a lot and the game keeps taking new (and interesting) directions. I hope to share it and maybe even see people play it. Since it is my first ever real attempt at creating a game, I'm just letting it take me wherever it goes. Evidently, it took me somewhere fairly far from core D&D. When I began, I wanted to just create a set of house rules that could overlay over 4e... we're now pretty darn far away from that. So far, in fact, that I'm not even sure where I am.

Hopefully that is somewhere cool and fun.


  1. I really know the feeling, very quicky in design process different priorities start to appear, and frequently the suggestions you get have such different assumptions behind them that they're not really compatible.

    What starts to be helpful is to stop focusing on "the rules" when you post, but the problems you want the rules to solve.

    The difference then is you can have a joint conversation on an issue in a way that shows up different approaches, rather than a pure "I suggest solution, you critique it" approach.

    Because some people will just not see the problem as a problem, and want to deal with some different but related problem in some very different way. You can then spot when they're coming from somewhere very different to you in their design assumptions, and appreciate their advice without taking it on board too much.

    And one of the best ways I've found to keep that perspective is always to go back to the groups of players you know and how you almost play with them. Because making a game good for you and the people you want to play it with comes before any hope of generic-ness; I've found that I have to make it a good game for someone specific before I can make it a good game for "people in general".

    I've found I can't just follow a line of development on the basis of what sounds cool, because then I'm like a magpie with all these cool ideas I hear, I have to keep coming back to something that will ground my potential, and that's taking the strange mixture of interesting stuff germinating in my head, and then imagining my freinds playing it.

    I've been pretty interested in reading what you've put up so far, so I'm hoping that helps and I hear more of your design ideas! But if you want to just go dark and plug away at it, good luck! That's mostly what I'm doing.

  2. Good insights. I think that is a good approach, maybe just reframing what I want to present from "here's what I did!" to "here's why I did this" might help.

    The problem is that top line of ancillary ideas with a single strong kernel buried within. When I first stumble on a good idea, that kernel is hard to point out; I just know I like it.

    Regardless, I hope to keep sharing stuff. I like feedback, I like sharing, I hope others find it useful. None of that can happen if I go dark. Thanks for reading and hopefully it spurs some neat stuff for you.