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Friday, December 6, 2013

The internet and the designer.

The internet and the designer.
I'm moving forward with my Shards of Thimbral project, most of which has been snoringly detailed in this blog.
As I work however, a specter, an amorphous cloud of cold..cold darkness tracks my every move..
Ok really it's just the internet, not some kind of pan-dimensional soul eating vapor, but still it's kind of creepy.
To be even more exact not the internet as such it's on line play, (ala G+ hangouts and Roll20 ect.)
I have touched on this subject before, but not in any real depth, so I thought I would revisit.
My issue is this as I read,, type , and playtest Shards of Thimbral, I have relized more and more that ther eis no easy way to run the resolution mechanics online. Now I say “easy way?” because I know there is someone out there on the web who is more creative and smarter than I am who will be able to hack around in Roll20's Ap shell and come up with a solution. I have no doubt of that.

I would like the general user with no suck access to the Roll20 Api to be able to pull the “book” (Ha! Book.. sounds so pretentious.. for what is pile of loose notes right now ) out get, some friends, create some characters, and start telling stories of kickassitude amongst magical flying islands.

My first inclination is to say “To Hell with it! I'll do what I do, let it shake out on it's own.” What I mean by that is I should not be thinking of my design in terms of one subset of possible may never be users. Then there is this other side of my brain that says , but wait you are making a game to be played , not as some set of mental gymnastics, so people have to be able to play it.

According to Merriam Webster (who ya gotta trust on these things)
the second definition of design is, ( to plan and make (something) for a specific use or purpose)
And I have clearly stated that my goal is to allow any one who wants to, the opportunity to start telling stories of kickassitude amongst magical flying islands. (Merriam,-Webster has surprisingly little to say about “Kickassatude”)

It is a pretty large question to me.
Should we as designers of role playing games, modify our design visions because of the number of people playing traditional RPG's over the internet?
Take that question in your minds eye for a second.
I am willing to bet most of us start working on a project because we have some idea in our minds of something we think is really fun and good, and we want others to share in it.
Now that vision that we think is as awesome as pandas puking rainbows*, starts to get affected by all these other considerations.
That’s called design, making the form of your game fit the function of actual play. How much of the outside influence we let in as designers is up to us.

On the side of letting the chips (blocks) fall where they may and making the playing public take a design regardless of it's limitations, lets take Dread, the horror story telling game, as our example.
I read a blog on this subject here:
though I admit I don’t agree with the total content of this Blog (I don't think Dread is a bad game.) The part that want to point out is the part about Dread's Jenna mechanic being unfair because it ties character success to a players physical ability.

I doubt that it never crossed Epidiah Ravachol's mind that someone who physically could not play Jenga could not play Dread. As the creator of Dread, the design decision was made to make the game as it was envisioned, and the result was a very popular Ennie award winning game.
Yes I understand Dred is an extreme example of both form being used in a game design and of success with a non standard form, but it fits.
As I poke around the Rpg Blogosphere I have seen a lot of people playing online. To make a game that excludes that group would be dumb-sauce. (which you can find on isle 6, near the Worcestershire) I can hardly afford to alienate any one in an enterprises which I expect a negative profit margin. It is an unexceptionable outcome to me if even one person looking at my game says, “Well darn my internet group might like that setting but I have no Clue how to play that dog on the web.”
In short I have to rectify the cold specter that is internet gaming.

My thought is put it on my docket to create and include token resources for the game to be played on Roll20 and dedicate a section of the game to “How to run this game on the internet via Roll20.” Which means I will have to sort it out then share my opinion on how to do with with the reader.
I think it may be the best option.

I am not going to change the core mechanic of manipulating dice on the table, I like it , I think it works. But I will have to feed the specter a bit to get where I want to go.

Yeah my game will be this much awesome.