2016’s Lessons Of Gaming #13: 121-130

121. Assumptions in Structure

Reconsider your turn structure. If players need a chance to react to one another, or care about a pool of limited resources in a shared space, turn-by-turn works; But if players are all drawing out of a common pool, then building their own thing like say Galaxy Trucker, simultaneous play is fine. The lure of simultaneous play is players are engaged with their own work, then you have a theatrical moment where they go ‘wait what’ later.

On the other hand, games like Tales of the Arabian Nights and Dread of Winter make a great use of other players during someone’s turn – they don’t have to worry about their own turn and can instead join the ridiculous things happening to another player.

122. Resources I Use – Drive To Work

Mark Rosewater’s Drive To Work podcast is a really useful resource, even if I disagree with his definition of ‘game.’ You don’t need to be paying attention to Magic: The Gathering to get this stuff, though you really, really should. Particularly interesting are the discussions of ‘failures’ like the Tribal type.

123. Don’t Hide Your Theme

Being up-front about what your game is about is a better way to get people to play it than being coy. It also works out better for people who are easily distressed. If you’re making a horror game, people will prefer to immerse in that experience then have it jump out at them.

Consider; Dead of Winter doesn’t hide its apocalyptic bleakness. Despite this, there is still horror that you have to discover. Players don’t go into it thinking this game about starving to death in the frozen wastes probably won’t have any nasty surprises.

124. Trigger Warnings

TRIGGER WARNINGS ON YOUR CONTENT MAKES IT MORE ACCESSIBLE. Players who think spoilers ruin their enjoyment are straight up wrong, we have done testing on this. Trigger Warnings are a no-loss addition, and as a bonus, you piss off people who are just total shits about things that don’t affect them.

125. Remember Your Baselines

If you want to make a war game you need to be able to prove it would not better serve as Warhammer house rules. This sounds like sarcasm, but: So many miniatures wargames are just reskins of ‘this is how Warhammer SHOULD play’ home rulesets.

126. Include More Of Your Interests

The broader your interests and more instinctive your curiosity, the more stuff you’ll be able to apply to making your games.

127. Fuzzy Spaces

Human interpreters are very hard to program but they’re also very good at covering up cracks in the rules. You don’t need to tell players how to do things like ‘negotiate deals’ or ‘choose a player to exile’ – players can do that smoothly.

128. Editors Matter

RPG Design: If you’re making a game book, hire a fuckin’ editor and care a lot about your reader’s experience


129. Glossaries Matter

Glossaries are good to give short primers on rules players are PRETTY SURE OF, not the first place to introduce them


130. Math Matters

If your game math ever requires (brackets+(order of operations * averages)), you have fucked up


Comments are closed.