Thursday, May 13, 2010

Deep fascination with game design... Crunch vs Smooth

A couple of weeks ago I tried to drum up some interest in this blog by spamming a bunch of my gaming buddies, new and old, and basically begging them to follow it.
I've received a couple of replies, and one, from Andy Mason, made me think.
He said he'd add it to his RSS feed, but as he didn't share my deep fascination with game design, he didn't see himself commenting that regularly, all of which is fair enough, however it did surprise me, as I've never seen myself as preoccupied with game design, or even game crunch.
In fact, this blog was not supposed to be about design, it was supposed to be about play.

So what went wrong?

When I started nook.geek, I was happily playing every week at my local gaming group, and really just wanted a medium to froth about what I think are cool ideas and moan about the world not understanding my artistic vision (or not liking zombies as much as I think it should).
Then, pretty quickly, the world turned (hello unexpected pregnancy and potential redundancy) and weekly gaming stopped.
Which is where I think things changed. Rather than plot out countless chronicle ideas i'll never run or generate dozens of characters i'll never play, I decided to start writing a system.

I've quickly discovered that writing your own system can bog you down with details and questions almost straight away.
I mean, I started with a nice idea about what I thought should be in a cool game, and then started trying to think of a way to express that with mechanics, but not complex mechanics, and then suddenly i'm spending hours trying to think round combat/damage/defence mechanics and what exactly should a gun  or a knife do?

Which is what I always hated when running store bought games. In fact, I recall banning certain firearms from my 1950's vampire chronicle simply because I couldn't be bothered with the various gun rules.
Thinking on it, I stuck with the White Wolf / World of Darkness games not so much because I liked them (I do), but because i'd learnt the system and therefore did not want to have to learn another one.
I also developed a hatred of D&D 3.x simply because the system got so number heavy, with so many different permutations and exceptions.

So, yeah, i'm surprised that i'm spending so much time on crunch, as i've always preferred smooth.