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Author Topic: [Project Senate] Design Goals, Creative Agenda and Intrinsic Characteristics  (Read 5306 times)
JMendes
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Posts: 379


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« on: January 20, 2006, 07:40:33 PM »

Hey, all, :)

In this thread, I posted a link to the game design document for the game I'm working on.

Today, I'd like to launch discussion on a couple of points, namely:

- Does the text support the design goals, and specifically, does it support a gamist CA?

- Can I add intrinsic characteristics to the characters and have them not tied to strategic choices, and still support that CA?

Why am I asking this like this?

Because both my wife and a good friend have told me that the game needs some sort of way to distinguish what two different characters do, given access to the same resources and relationships.

We decided to create aptitudes for each character, separated by various classes of challenges, as follows:
- Military
- Political
- Business
- Personal

These classes are not tied to the resources, and specifically, they are not tied to the type of strategy chosen by the players, but rather, they are intrinsic to the challenge itself. What they do is add or subtract a percentage of committed resources, so that one character will be better in a court-like conflict, whatever may be at stake, while another is better at commercial trading.

We didn't feel the game needed a whole lot more strategic choices for the players, so we decided to have these intrinsic characteristics vary in a natural way with the number of times they are used. (This is all a bit confusing, so I'll write up the actual text in the near future.)

Any way, back to my questions:

- Does the text support a gamist CA, or do you see yourself pursuing other CAs (without major drift)?

- Can I add naturally varying intrinsic characteristics without diluting CA support?

Cheers,
J.
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url=http://lisbongamer.mc-two.com/]Lisbon Gamer[/urlLisbon Gamer
JMendes
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Posts: 379


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« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2006, 09:06:05 PM »

Hey, all, :)

(This is all a bit confusing, so I'll write up the actual text in the near future.)

And so I did. New version here.

Cheers,
J.
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Troy_Costisick
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Posts: 802


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« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2006, 06:06:44 AM »

Heya,

Quote
- Does the text support the design goals, and specifically, does it support a gamist CA?

-Just by glancing, I'd say it does.  But I'd have to actually play it to know.  Have you played it?  If so, write up something in Actual Play about it and talk about how it does/does not support Gamism.

Quote
- Can I add intrinsic characteristics to the characters and have them not tied to strategic choices, and still support that CA?

-I'm biased by the way I design games.  I'd personally say no.  Anything that dilutes the intended purpose of a game component = suckage.  If your game is about strategy and "winning" then make everything in your game about that. 

Quote
- Does the text support a gamist CA, or do you see yourself pursuing other CAs (without major drift)?

-Pursuing another CA in addition to your first automatically means major drift.  Focus on one and only one.

Quote
- Can I add naturally varying intrinsic characteristics without diluting CA support?

-What do you mean by "naturally varying intrisic"?  It makes no sense to me.

Peace,

-Troy
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JMendes
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Posts: 379


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« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2006, 09:30:57 AM »

Hey, Troy, :)

First off, sorry about not getting back to you more quickly. I was down for a couple of days with a bad flu, and it threw me off my balance...

I am getting ready to schedule my first few playtesting sessions. They should happen sometime during the first half of this month, and yes, I do plan to post on AP about them. I was looking for first impressions, though, and that's what you gave me, so thanks for the validation. :)

As for the characteristics, "naturally varying intrinsic" was just bad wording. I must have been tired when I wrote that. What I meant by intrinsic is that they are stats that relate directly to the character, rather than to his haves and knows, and what I meant by naturally varying is that they evolve according to a natural mechanism, rather than by player choice, as in D20, for instance. As you can tell by comparing versions 1 and 2, I ended up adding them, if for no other reason that they add yet another form of distinction between characters, and that can add to strategic variety. My problem was whether the stat evolution mechanic was against the intended gamist CA or not. I guess playtesting will tell.

Again, thanks for the feedback.

Cheers,
J.
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Marus
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Posts: 3


« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2006, 02:48:41 PM »

I'm new here and may not have a complete grasp of all of the terms and concepts, so take my comments with a grain of salt.† I think there are some things in your game that might not be conducive to Gamism (at least as I understand it):

Quote
As Players advance possible resolution strategies, the Game Master will assign a resource budget and time cost for each strategy. ... Budgeting a goal is the major process through which the Game Master can balance the game challenges with the Charactersí capacities. It is also her primary mechanism for exposing the inner fabric of the game world, by signaling clever plans with low budgets and blocking idiotic ramblings with high budgets.

It seems like the arbitrary decisions of a GM can have a much more dramatic impact on success or failure than the skillful use of gameplay mechanics by the players (which is where I think a lot of gamist "fun" comes from).† To the extent that the strategizing, etc., of the players can be overshadowed by the GM for arbitrary reasons (like "you're not playing right!") it seems that your design may not be as gamist as you want it to be.

It also isn't clear to me how some things that I would normally associate with interesting stories of powerful people would arise organically from Gamist players trying to play very mechanically effective characters in your system.† For example, if I was playing a MegaCorp executive character, why would I ever have him have an affair with the boss's wife?† I can easily imagine things like that happening in an interesting MegaCorp story, but I don't see any mechanism in your rules (and maybe it's because I don't fully understand all the rules) that would result in a bunch of gamist players sitting around a table ever coming up with that story, since it seems like it wouldn't provide any mechanical advantages for the player to establish that relationship (other than maybe winning some goodies from the GM because he has decided that he enjoys the story you're telling) -- it's a money sink, you're likely to get fired if it leaks out, she doesn't have any resources of her own for you to leverage, etc.† I would think that there ought to be some mechanically advantageous reason for players to sometimes want their characters to do things like this, since so many powerful people have done things like this (politicians with mistresses, executives living large on their corporate cards, etc.), and your game is about powerful people doing the things that powerful people do.
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JMendes
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Posts: 379


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« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2006, 10:20:33 AM »

Hi, Marus, :)

You raise a couple of interesting points.

Your second point is a little easier to address, so I'll start with it. You exemplified that having an affair with the boss's wife is not mechanically advantageous, because she has no resources of her own to leverage, but I beg to differ. She will probably have her husband's ear, and that is certainly a source of clout. She could be a member of some sort of organization that might make manpower available, and as for her being a money sink, she might as well be a money source, given the right justification.

Let me try and generalize your point. Many powerful people have relationships that are way more harmful than useful, and this can lead to interesting stories, but you don't see players in Project Senate creating those types of relationships, even though they make for interesting stories about power. Let me tell you right here, you're right. Then again, powerful people doing the things that powerful people do, as you put it, is actually not what the game is about. The game is about powerful people solving the problems that powerful people have. (By the way, even though affairs and emotional conflict make for interesting stories, you don't see many D&D characters having them, either.)

Your first point, about GM impact on player strategy, is well made and I don't really have an answer for it. I was going for situation gamism (a la, say, ShadowRun) more than system gamism (a la, say, D&D), but still, an off-balance GM can kill the gamism in the game. Whether there will be a tendency for this or not remains to be seen, through extensive playtesting, but it will certainly be one of the main things to watch for.

Thanks for your feedback, by the way, it was greatly appreciated.

Cheers,
J.
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