September 26, 2010

Game Ideas

I've already discussed Velocity lightly.  Fast paced, conflict driven, team oriented racer RPG.  I've got that first draft burst finished, but I'm unhappy with the rules.  Will be working on that, and applying some of the mechanics and ideas from this blog to the game.

The second idea in its infant stages is a mecha game.  I know there's a few of these on the market, but I want to find a way to fit the tension sensitive special attacks and the 'unbeatable until. . .' bosses into the game.  Tactical movement will be minimal, but attack choice will be critical.  These are the initial ideas, will build on them soon.  Also: it needs a title, anyone care to help out?

Two For Flinching

You all know what I'm talking about: someone fakes a punch, and gives you double for 'flinching'.  I have some theories on this fairly cruel game, but I realized it should apply to game design, too.  The problem is applying 'two for flinching' to an abstract without resorting to 'rocks fall, everyone dies,'

Well, in a roleplaying game, what's a punch?  In this case, I'm going to say major antagonists and major challenges.  I'm using these as my definition because like in fiction, the major challenges and antagonists are going to be the 'thing' that the players are going to remember outside of their own gonzo antics.  Even so, there are more stories about game masters introducing key villians or challenges and the group sidestepping it in a fairly ingenious manner.  (Or occasionally just dumb luck.)  And that is our flinch.  Sidestepping the major stuff.  One shotting the villian.

Now before anyone accusses me of advising railroading, hear me out!

We assume the event happened.  The challenge is ignored.  The antagonist defeated and broken.  Your plot didn't even limp from first contact.  What do you do?  Many sources of game mastering advice suggest bringing in a related character as an antagonist.  Even if the party didn't know about them.

What if the mechanics of the game supported this idea?  If every villian has a 'replacement' statistic that gives the game master the general level of power of the next villian in line.  It encourages the game master to make these decisions before the inevitable happens, which in turn keeps the game moving at the table.

September 13, 2010

Fun Equals?

Game design theory gets a terrible reputation.  Between the fights between rules light and rules heavy, lethal and forgiving, and a number of binary debates.  Some people don't know enough to care, some care too much.  In the end, it leaves the number of solid discussions on the topic I've had to a managable dozen or two.

Those who dislike theory seem to like chanting 'fun is more important than anything' missing that bad design saps fun from a system easier than anything else.  In a discussion on this very topic, discussing the balance of Fun, Simplicity, Balance, and Depth, in which one person presented Fun > Balance > Depth > Simplicity, Something Awful user Angry Diplomat said:

"A more sensible way to present it would be a Venn diagram with three circles marked 'Depth', 'Simplicity' and 'Balance' and the bit where they all overlap is marked 'Fun.'"

This sums up my theory on game design perfectly.

Complexity, in general, is the enemy of fun.  The more complex it is to get into the less people play, the less fun it is over all.  But without depth, simple fun fades quickly.  With depth, there's always something new to explore.  And balance is its own issue.  An unbalanced game is bad since the people who pick the 'better' choice is going to be automatically better and have more fun than the others.

So my goal is simple: Simplicity + Depth + Balance.  The game I intend to make should be all of these things.

September 9, 2010


I started designing games a long time ago, and honestly, most of them were terrible.  You won't see most of them because the designs got lost, or any of various other events.  But I've learned since then, and decided I want to make an RPG.  Not just any RPG though, because there are already all those RPGs on the market.  No, I want a space racer game that is fast and fun.  And so I started Velocity.

I finished the initial document.  I might even share it some day.  It had a few good ideas, but was hung up on some established game design, and I think it weakened the concept.  So I'm starting over, and I'm bringing you along with me.  If you ever wanted to design a game, and just don't know where to start, I hope my failures can help you along.

I've found I like failures.  They suck when they happen, but they give you an example of what not to do.  And studying what didn't work is always good for you.  And, keeping Thomas Edison in mind:

Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. -- Thomas Edison

I don't want to give up on my goals just because I screwed up.  Here goes nothing.