2016’s Lessons Of Gaming #8: 71-80

71. Remix Is Meaningful

You can get a good place to start with ‘Game X, But For-‘ like ‘Twilight Imperium For People With Fulltime Jobs. ‘ Resistance has a lot in common with Mafia/Werewolf, for example, with ‘Mafia, for small groups and no administrator’

72. Making Roguelikes Is Pretty Hard

You can fake procedural generation with cards but you have less customisation. It makes the game more bland to allow the pieces to fit. You will get better mileage out of telling players to create/explain things than make cards that fit together perfectly well.

73. Ensure Players Don’t Check Out

If you can, design so players do things/care about things on other players’ turns. Just watching for strategic reasons isn’t enough. MTG’s counterspells/instants are kind of the worst base version of this but at least it’s only one player’s turn (usually). Dead of Winter’s crossroads system is REALLY GOOD for this, as is Tales of the Arabian Nights’ involvement of other players as semi-DM

74. Props And Doohickeys

Do not underestimate the value of a doohickey. Players like things like crowns, fingerguns, or ridiculous titles. Resistance is very good but replace the spies with ‘covert bears’ and you change the tone in a way that can be very appealing. Games can also do this within their space, of a sudden out-of-context ‘what the heck’ kind of thing to stand out in the player’s mind: Spyfall has something of this. There’s one scenario where one character can just be a cat and has to ask questions as if they’re a cat

75. Moments of Theatre

Never underestimate the value of theatrical moments. Texas Hold ‘Em has a MAGICAL moment when players reveal their cards: It’s great. You can hide cards under other cards. You can make the moment a card flips a hammer blow. You can make players have to count down to act. HMS Dolores, btw, is REALLY good for this, with its one-two-three OH GOD WHAT JUST HAPPENED round resolution

76. It’s Okay To Be Indulgent

You’re not going to hurt your chances by making shit indulgent to what you like. If the game works and is solid, the indulgent elements will appeal to people like you and usually rarely repel people who don’t care

77. Reach Outside Of The Game For Components

Don’t underestimate the value of other components. Dog Eat Dog LITERALLY makes a player’s income into a game mechanic component (and uses it excellently).

78. The Work Abyss

Miniature war games are the MMO of indie development. You open that box you are committing to making one thing forever until you die. Or, more realistically, not completing the project and spending a lot of money on the failure. And don’t give me ‘well this miniature thing on kickstarter made a million bucks’ that’s not indie. And they’re mostly selling the ITEMS.

79. Limiting Scope In-Play

If you give players 100 options and let them play with 5 of them, consider making them swap them around. Like, imagine Charades, except once the first round’s done, people randomly get one of the first round options, and can’t repeat gestures. Players will often watch a player trying to convey secret information and think ‘I COULD DO THAT BETTER. ‘ So make ’em.

80. Listen To Women

Listen to women. Seriously. Just, like, you’re listening to me rn, listen to women more. There is so much coding bricked up in gaming and tabletop right now that guys like me don’t even realise is hostile.

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