Friday, April 30, 2010

Game design by idiots

Not a post criticizing existing games or the design thereof, rather a post about my own struggles with concept vs design...

I used to read Melody Maker, back when it existed, and one of the regular sections towards the back was for musicians - it covered how to get your demo tapes reviewed, how to get inspired, how to objectively assess the quality of your own song writing.
One of the criteria for the latter was to determine if you could actually play the songs you've written (which sounds like a no brainer, yet is apparently a common stumbling block). If you found that you could not, in fact, play your own songs, then you should at least take comfort in the fact that your songwriting ability outstrips your own skill, which you can always improve through practice.

So, with that in mind, this post is about realising a concept.

My problem is, I have a lot of concepts. At the moment I am trying to create a game that incorporates as many of those concepts as possible without creating a bizarre ungodly monster that should be culled before it draws breath and lumbers out into the world.

I've been playing with something like a free form resource management system for a while now, the original concept coming from a half hashed LRP idea.
The idea being that the character didn't have a health trait, rather they had a Luck trait, which was used to avoid damage and death, as well as stumble upon advantageous items, people, occurrences or knowledge.
For example, if shot, the player would lose 1 Luck, and the bullet is stopped by their cigarette case / pocket bible / hip flask etc. If the character runs out of Luck, then the next damage they receive either knocks them unconscious or kills them, depending.

I thought this was a great idea, and held onto it for ages (i'm on the 7 year mark, currently), however, I may never see it successfully incorporated into a LRP game, so have been trying to use it in a table-top system instead.

I made some headway with the idea a while ago, then due to the majority of it being written on my Windows mobile, and it exploding after two years use, I lost focus.
I've recently started looking at it again, and have decided to radically overhaul the system, simplifying it extensively and focussing more on player involvement and creative play rather than dogmatic rules.

However, because I appear to be showcasing abandoned experiments, here's my very rough notes and ideas thus far, plus some setting fiction which may or may not see light of day in any other format.

Here's a concept for you. They, scientists, or maybe potters, have discovered that ceramics can retain some of the ambient sounds from when they were on the potter's wheel. It's a similar principle to cutting a vinal record.
Now, let's make an argumentative assumption: God exists. Also, the universe, the Earth especially, sprang into existence fully formed.
So, once there was nothing, and then there was a word, and that word was God.
The word is spoken, and the world is created.
What i'm getting at here is: If we could find a record player needle big enough and stuck it in the Grand Canyon, maybe we'd be able to hear the name of God...