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Ideas for how to get better feedback in First Thought

Started by Anders Larsen, March 05, 2008, 10:52:50 PM

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Anders Larsen

I am not so active in First Thought anymore as I used to be, so I may not be the right person to be saying what I am about to say, but I think (hope) it can help people get better feedback on their ideas, so I will give it a try anyway.

I can see that there are lot of people in the First Thought forum who are using Power 19 to present their game. Where Power 19 is a good design tool, it is not a very good starting point for a discussion if you are looking for feedback/suggestions on your system. The problem is that Power 19 put a lot of focus on asking about mechanics, but not so much focus on the basic concepts of the game. Except for the first three questions, but they are much too broad, so they rarely produce any particular informative answers.

The thing is that if you do not know what the basic concepts of the game are, it is very hard to give any proper help with the mechanics. The feedback will in many cases then just be a lot of question about the concepts, which is not very practical if what you wanted was help with your system.

To give you an idea of what I am seeking when I am talking about the basic concepts of your game, I have written some question below that I typically ask people to make them clarify their ideas. This is not in anyway a definitive list of question, and it may not fit to all types of games, but I hope it can give you an idea of what kind of information that is nice to have when commenting on a game idea.

First you should of course give a short general description of your game, and explain why you think it is cool. After this consider explaining things like:

* What is the feeling/setting style of your game?
* What kind of story do you want the game to produce, and how will this story develop throughout the game?
* What interests do the character have in what is going on and what role do they take in the story?
* What kind of conflicts/challenges will the characters face in the game, and in what ways should they be able to influence what happens?
* What kind of resources can the characters use when they try to overcome these conflicts/challenges (personal resources, help they get from other people, stuff they own etc.).
* How do these things affect the characters, and how do the characters evolve throughout the story?

All these questions are about the fiction of the game (NOT the rules). There are other concepts which may be interesting to explain, that are not covered by these questions, and that is about how the players (including the GM) interact in the game, and how they all interact with the fiction. But this is really a bit more "advanced" and can normally wait to later in the design process; it have probably more to do with playtest than first thought.

(Just for those who are curious. The player-fiction interaction is probably best explained by giving fully descried play examples (manuscript style) of important moments in the game, with focus on how the players interact.)

After you have laid out all the concepts, you can being to talk about your ideas for mechanics. And of cause always end with specifying what kind of help you are seeking.

I hope this will help you get better feedback.

- Anders


In This Thread from a couple of weeks ago on Story Games, Ben Lehman and Mike Holmes deliver some good tips on how to generate more interest and feedback from your posts in First Thoughts and Actual Play here on the Forge.

Ron Edwards

Hi Anders,

Those are all good points and I hope people read and consider them.

I especially agree with you that the Power 19 is a good tool for orienting oneself about a game in design (if that's needed), but is not as useful as a presentation tool.

Best, Ron

Peter Nordstrand

Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.
     —Grey's Law


Its probaby in the part of S-G that you have to be signed in to get to.  It works for me.