Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Big Game Hunting - Intelligent game design

Hello! I return from the lands of dissertation hell, back through the purgatory of ‘oh crap, I’m supposed to be publishing a novel’ and up the foothills of ‘can I run a campaign yet?’ to grace you once more with my inane ramblings. I’ll be honest, I’ve really missed this! ;)

Before I kick off into a six parter I’ve got planned, I thought I’d give you a quick rant...

One of the things that really gets on my nerves is the concept of ‘intelligent’ game design. All games are ‘intelligent’, else they’re not games - they’re stories that you’re following with your feet and your mind, and mostly wishing you were elsewhere. There are some games I don’t understand properly for love nor money. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’ve been writing and designing stuff (mostly flavour text, but I’ve written two games of my own) for years now, but when it comes to meta-gaming, and understanding ‘the game beneath the game’, no matter how intelligent I might be, I don’t – can’t understand it. It’s not because I’m stupid – far from it – but tactically, I could be a monkey with a banana. Does this mean that the game isn’t ‘intelligently’ designed? I don’t think that’s the case at all – in fact, I believe, firmly that game design is a lot about what we get out, and what we put in, but some games just don’t make sense to people on the level of understanding how to ‘beat it’. Others – they can look at the rules and kick butt from the outset.

Before I get back into the swing of things (and I will!), I wanted to do a brief six parter on how to start designing games – not campaigns, actual rules and stuff so you can run something home brew. I’m going to try to feature a couple of systems that you could pick up from Proud Lion, but mostly, I’m going to leave the research to you – after all, you know what piques your interest better than anyone else.

And then, armed with that knowledge, I’m going to go back to talking about GMing, because, by then, I should be running my own World of Darkness game. Those articles are going to be a cross between ‘actual play’ and discussion about the things a good (or in my case, a mediocre) GM faces, and how to solve them. I’m going to talk atmosphere too – because I’ve finally gotten my head around how to do ‘boo’ in real life – I kick ass at writing it, but for running games, there’s nothing like a sense of impending DOOOOM™ to get people really going.

This week, Kai is seriously wishing she didn’t have to write relationships into a book that shouldn’t need them, but got kicked up and down for not having enough ‘interpersonal’ relationships in her last draft, so... (and not launching her book, it’s going out in September now!)

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