Still don't get it

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Jwok

  • 59
Still don't get it
« on: March 17, 2013, 08:33:23 PM »
Hey Vincent,

   So, I still don't get it. I really enjoy it, but I don’t get it. Every time I try to wrap my head around what AW is or what its design does, I get turned around. I keep trying to peek behind the veil and really see how the gears are turning, not just mechanically mind you, but intention-wise also, but continually fall short of full understanding.

  It’s just that there is so much fucking nuance to it that I can’t pick apart and re-arrange on my own. Is there a trick? Loads of practice? How do I get inside your brain Vincent? What is the criterion and intent of your designs? How do you design moves? Playbooks? Fronts? MC instructions? The psychic maelstrom?

With love,
~Jwok
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lumpley

  • 1293
Re: Still don't get it
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2013, 11:43:40 AM »
Flatterer!

A serious attempt at an answer:

1. All I think about is the conversation. If a rule gets people to say something interesting, it's a good rule and it might get to stay. If it doesn't, it's not, and it absolutely has to go.

2. Designing a game means designing a bell curve. "The" conversation is all the conversations within a standard deviation or two of the norm, right? Any given conversation, and any given moment of every given conversation, might fall out in one tail or the other. That's okay. It's still "the" conversation, the center of the bell curve, that I design for.

3. The purpose of a game isn't to balance, but to fall rapidly out of balance and accelerate into an end state. Even an exquisitely balanced game like Go, in play, is an unfolding catastrophe, an inevitable disaster for one side or the other. When I design, whenever I find two players, two characters, or a situation in balance, I look for the most aggressive and expedient way to unbalance them. It's usually a simple thing to do: just make somebody's decision binding.

I'd be pretty surprised if this helps! Ask me more questions if you want.

-Vincent

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Jwok

  • 59
Re: Still don't get it
« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2013, 09:30:13 PM »
Thanks so much for the feedback Vincent! I had a couple of thoughts on this.

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Flatterer!

Yeah, I'm kind of a fanboy ; )

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1. All I think about is the conversation. If a rule gets people to say something interesting, it's a good rule and it might get to stay. If it doesn't, it's not, and it absolutely has to go.

This makes sense to me - as a color first game, you are trying to get a specific type of conversation with AW. If a mechanic for the game fits, rock. If not, ditch it.

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2. Designing a game means designing a bell curve. "The" conversation is all the conversations within a standard deviation or two of the norm, right? Any given conversation, and any given moment of every given conversation, might fall out in one tail or the other. That's okay. It's still "the" conversation, the center of the bell curve, that I design for.

I think I get this - pretty much as point 1 right? In that this particular Apocalyptic setting is the standard, and your accounting for this and for things within its range?

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3. The purpose of a game isn't to balance, but to fall rapidly out of balance and accelerate into an end state. Even an exquisitely balanced game like Go, in play, is an unfolding catastrophe, an inevitable disaster for one side or the other. When I design, whenever I find two players, two characters, or a situation in balance, I look for the most aggressive and expedient way to unbalance them. It's usually a simple thing to do: just make somebody's decision binding.

Cool. And this is your goal specifically with AW as the whole setting is about chaos and disaster and awesomeness, right?

So I think I get the motive behind AW now. My followup question would be this: how, when putting together a game, do you figure out a mechanism that will support your creative goal? For example, Dogs in the Vineyard's mechanics do a few distinct things (in my observation):
  • First, they mechanically enforce a state of conflict escalation (sling some words, throw a punch, pull a gun).
  • Second, they show that, united, the dogs will overcome almost any obstacle they face - two or three united dice pools will simply overwhelm whatever they are facing. Consequently (but implicitly), conflict between the dogs becomes the more interesting and dramatic feature of the game.
  • Thirdly, conflicts have consequences (fallout), the severity of which directly relates to the level of escalation the conflict causing them involved.
  • Fourthly, any trait can be of value if it can be reasonably applied to a situation. My "I'm a great shot" trait can be used in a gunfight, but can also help persuade someone to let me protect their family
  • Fifth...ly, you as a player can choose how much trouble a trait causes you, even if the trait itself remains consistent. You can choose "I'm a great shot" as a 1d4 trait, deciding that, while you are a great shot (because the words say so), getting into gun fights will often lead to hazardous consequences. If Han solo was a dog, he would probably have "I'm a great pilot - 3d4."

Now, while you already know all of this, it took me a long time to figure this all out. So, to return to my question - how did you turn these out of game goals into a mechanical design that accurately fostered them? How did you reason out that Cool, Hard, Hot, Sharp, and Weird would cover all the bases needed for AW, and the appropriate roll for each? How did you think of putting together the seduce or manipulate rules in such a way that supported obedience for PCs, but didn't require it? How do you bridge the gap between idea, goal, and implementation?

Alright, I think I'm getting a little far reaching in my followup question, so I'll back it up a bit.
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Re: Still don't get it
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2013, 03:56:35 PM »
    If Han solo was a dog, he would probably [...][/list]

    This confused me for a moment. Are we talking about Spaceballs here?

    (And then I understood, a fraction of a second later.)