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General Forge Forums => First Thoughts => Topic started by: Big J Money on June 06, 2008, 08:13:36 PM

Title: Before I can begin
Post by: Big J Money on June 06, 2008, 08:13:36 PM
I have a specific question concerning goals during game design.  How have some (of you) game designers found that a concious effort to designing a system toward specific GNS goals/rewards affects the final product?  I have a vague intuition that it can benefit evolution, but I'd like to base it upon something.

Title: Re: Before I can begin
Post by: Big J Money on June 06, 2008, 08:17:54 PM
I suppose the design goal here is encouraging a shared Premise.

(sorry, that should be a bit better than "vague intuition")

Title: Re: Before I can begin
Post by: Eero Tuovinen on June 07, 2008, 06:59:07 AM
Many designers have said that they do not benefit from theory when designing. Others have said that they do. Personally, I do actively use theoretical models in finangling my design; I suspect that much depends on whether you understand the model and are used to utilizing theory in creative work to begin with. That said, it's also pretty clear that it's practically impossible to create a coherent game (assuming that's what you want) without focusing effort towards a specific agenda, whether you frame it in those words for yourself or not. I guess that most designers who create coherent games actually just question their assumptions a lot and cut away things that are not necessary for what they are doing, which then ultimately leads to a coherent game for whatever they're trying to do; that way you never need to verbalize your goals to yourself, even.

However, your question was not whether this is done, but whether it benefits the final product. This is still controversial in the scene at large, interestingly enough: several critics have stated that they prefer a non-focused toolkit type game, as that allows the group (read: GM) to adapt the game to what they are looking to do on a momentary basis. That way the group can then enjoy the same fictional color and dice mechanics the other cool kids are playing with (say, D&D), but without having to play the exact game some other group might be playing. The historically most popular rpgs are certainly played in a wide variety of different modes, which hints at some incoherency in the design, or at least the interpretation of the game.

So in that regard one might say that focused design does not benefit the game - but on the other hand, there is an active target audience that swears on the supremacy of focused games, citing the ease of use, light mechanics (less dross, you see) and less chance for miscommunication within the group when finangling the creative agenda. I know that I personally mostly play focused games nowadays, except when I specifically make forays to older design when fishing for inspiration or historical understanding. I have little interest in adapting a game, and often I grow bored when a game presumes that I have some overriding inspiration I want to overlay on a game that by itself does nothing. So I guess that personally I prefer a focused design to an unfocused one.

Regardless, consider this: whether you decide to consciously focus your game on a creative agenda or not, it's still useful to be aware of what you are doing and why. So in that regard I recommend at least knowing how to focus or unfocus a game - if you don't know how to do that, then you can't make the choice to begin with, and are stuck with whatever you happen to do by instinct.

Title: Re: Before I can begin
Post by: Big J Money on June 08, 2008, 07:48:46 PM
Actually, this not only made sense but helps to begin answering what I was really asking (without knowing it): what kind of game do I want to make, and why?  I am thinking right now that the coherent vs. incoherent question practically has to deal somewhat with target audience.  I don't mean this is 100% written in stone -- it's heavily affected by how I present it, of course -- but I think even today there seem to be a crowd of RPG gamers who intinctually migrate toward mostly incoherent games because they share... form appearances(?)

Thanks, I'll narrow down who I'm trying to make a game for (besides me), why I'm making the game, and try and make sure it offers something.

-- John M.