Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Big Game Hunting - So… you want to design a game?

RPG games are some of the most amazing things that people can ever write – they’re more intensely interactive than most books and can take people into new worlds that they’ve never experienced. Give them the opportunity to explore as people they can never be.

As a games designer, it’s YOUR job to give the GM the tools to create the worlds that underpin and support their story. It’s your job to find the best rules set and character design and background to work with what they want, and it’s your job to excite and entice them into playing games.

So, with all of the games and all of the systems out there, why would you design one in the first place, and where do you start?Design is one of those things that can’t really be described – it’s something that you find yourself, but as a game design ‘rule set’, there are a couple of things that you should consider.

And over the next five weeks, or more, I’m going to talk about them. For now though, this post is to get you thinking about why you want to design a game, whether you can adapt an existing system, and if not, what you need to think about.

The why is a very personal thing. Game design comes down to filling a gap, either that you’ve got yourself, or one that you can see in the market. My games have always been designed around my books – because they’re important to me. I could have adapted other games out there, but I always worried that they wouldn’t help. For example, right now, I’m designing a game that requires multiple rolls for certain passes – and that these are always a core set and depending on the rolls, overall, will depend on the result. It’s complex, so it needs thoroughly tested, and I don’t think there’s anything quite like it out there. I’m designing this because it’s a specific thing that I couldn’t overcome in any other way. That’s my why. Yours may be more or less complicated.

If you can adapt a game, you might find that easier – it’s often how designers get into understanding the central ideas around designing games. But remember, sometimes its easier to set up your won stuff, so don’t always bodge systems.

Finally – if you’re designing a game, you need to consider a lot of things – from background to rule set to dice, and structure and system. All mostly interlock, so it’s important to start with the hardest one and bend the easier ones to match. Or at least, that’s how I do it.

Next week I’m going to talk system.

This week, Kai is testing out a three part dice roll system. It’s complicated.

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