Dust Pan Game Resource Pages

Monday, December 2, 2013

Home-brew for the Holidays .. Home-Brew vs Home-Made?

Home-Brew for the Holidays

Monday, Here comes another work week, a full week of fun and excitement. With this week comes planning, planning for another play test for “Shards of Thimbral” incorporating the rules changes I out lined in my last system blog. On top of that planning there will be some thought given to our next “Game Day” which is pretty much the next time we get the whole gaming group together to play. This time of year getting every one's schedules to mesh for a “game day” can be a sketchy proposition.

Our next big table day is going t consist of a game we lovingly refer to has “The block game.” The block game get's it's name rightfully because it involves a large tub of 500 inch square wooden blocks. The blocks are used to produce a random dungeon with random enemies. Each enemy has it's own AI procedure and special details. The players control characters represented by miniatures that bash their way through the dungeon, blowing holes in walls, killing monsters, looting and gaining experience.
It's really gamest, with points, and skills, and min maxing to be done for every type and build of character. The “block game” is really unlike anything else that we play.

Skeletons ? Undead golems? No problem... Yet.

Every time we play it it runs thought my head, we really could do this with AD&D4th edition with the added bonus that 4th ed is all nice and balanced, tested, and stated out for us. We don't even give AD&D 4th a shot however, because we all know we could do that any time anywhere.

I feel there is just something about a home brew system. They lend themselves to embracing the nuances that are part of whatever group made them.

Most of our group has a love for the cooperative shoot and loot style video games, like Balder’s gate, Never winter nights, and Borderlands. No board game at the time really scratched that itch so we made one. It is so over the top with numbers of pieces, (the aforementioned 500 wooden cubes is not an exaggeration) hundreds of character skills, tons of weapon combinations, and a silly amount of stuff to track at any given time, that the game is not suited general consumption. What I mean is I don't think it's really a producible design, even fantasy flight would have a hard time making excuses for all the moving parts am pieces we get into.
It's big, it's ugly, and we love to play it, because it's ours.
What the hell is going on here? Funny thing is, no one really knows


This brings me to the point, where does home brew end and viable game begin?
How does an amateur designer make that jump from “I'm making this for the guys cause they will think its cool!” to “I am writing a game I would like to sell to the public.”
It is a tough mental jump, and I think it involves perspective.
When working on a home brew the thing foremost in a designers mind can be what his or her group finds fun and what level of complexity the group will enjoy.
When writing for the public the game has to have a solid foundation of design goals that are not specific to who the writer plays with, but more specific to a way the designer would like to play.

With Shards of Thimbral, I have the design goals of “A group narrative game propelled by risk rewarded with influence over the fiction.”
If I can always keep that in the back of my eye while I work I will write a game that even though it might not be the best home brew, it might be a more viable game. Though in the end I also want to write a game that's killer fun, that's really the best goal all the time.

Here is a question have nay of you ever written a home brew that you just know is killer fun but no one would really get it but your normal group? If so what was / is it like?

Also do you think games that start out as house systems or home brews make good published games?
Or do games that are going to be published fair better when designed with the goal of being published in mind?

One thing I do know is I am looking forward to getting myself some of the "block game" ASAP.

"Everyone file in! I'll take bring up the rear and uhh you guys kill the ghouls."


Thank you for reading!
As always comments, questions, and shenanigans are welcome!
-Mark