Linnaeus

More to Come on Craft

In game design, mechanics on January 19th, 2010 at 2:22 pm

I didn’t intend for my post on the role of craft in game design to be the start of another series of articles, but it appears that there is some demand for more on the topic. Well, from Ryan Macklin and Seth Ben Ezra anyway. I guess I’ll try writing a couple more pieces and see how it goes.

Seth suggested that I dissect a few games, looking at the craft (and lack thereof) in their designs. Doing an adequate job of this for an entire game would require a pamphlet, not a blog post, though, and I’m not up to taking on such a large project. Instead, I’m going to pull out individual rule systems, or clusters of closely-related systems, and discuss them. So far, I have four subjects in mind, and we’ll see if there is demand for more after that.

For readers who want to familiarize themselves with the games I’m going to discuss before I put the articles out (they’ll take time), I’ll give a list of the first few topics I intend to discuss. Yes, you will have to buy the RPGs if you want to follow along; there’s no way around that, short of doing something illegal. None of the free systems spark my imagination on this topic right now. If it makes you feel any better, they’re great games, and I would advise any gamer to own them anyway.

The links go to the rules PDFs for the board games, and to product pages on Indie Press Revolution and the Indie RPG UnStore, respectively, for the roleplaying games.

My current list of topics is:

Epidemics in Pandemic
Continent scoring in Trias
Heroism in Mouse Guard
Fallout in Dogs in the Vineyard

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  1. Hooray! Glad to see that you’re taking up the challenge.

    I’ll have to check out the rules for Trias. It’s the one game on your list that I don’t know.

  2. Thought you’d be happy, Seth :)

    Just a small addendum: it’s worth noting that one of these four (I won’t say which just yet) is a negative example; a place where I think a little more application of craft could have improved the game greatly. If I go forward with more of these posts, I’ll try to come up with more of these negative examples, too.

  3. Good choice re: Pandemic. Cooperative games aren’t really my thing, but I have to admit, the mechanisms that run the viruses really work well.

  4. …even if they take a little bit of work on the players’ part.

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