27 August, 2009

Game Mechani(sm) of the Week #33: Real Time

I sat here for a while trying to think of some interesting mechanisms I'd encountered during games.

It's not that I've run out of ideas, I guess it's more a case of Writer's Block.

I've finalized the first part of Quincunx and now that it's time to renew regular endeavpurs I look at a blank screen and wonder what to start typing. I'm sure there are hundreds of mechanisms I haven't remotely touched on, but for the moment I'm going to concentrate on the first thing that has come to mind...

...playing in real time.

I hate roleplaying combat....at least in most games I hate it.

Sitting at a table, rolling a die (or dice) to see if you hit, rolling another die (or dice) to see if you actually do damage. Some games complicate this further by referencing tables, or adding in extra die rolls for armour absorption, critical hit locations and effects, or other stuff to make the hit "
more realistic".

Bah humbug!

You might expect Live Action Role Playing to be better. It you want to hit someone,. then you just mimic the swing at them in something that approximates real speed (maybe using half speed, but certainly enough to give onlookers the impression that a combat is happening rather than a dance). But our fun gets spoiled by public liability insurance, and many live gaming systems have a distinct "no touching" policy between participants.

When it comes to combat, the game slows right down again.

My aim for many years has been to develop something that approximates in real time the events of the game world. A two minute firefight should last two minutes, a series of three minute boxing rounds should last 3,6,9,12 minutes. No more.

Social interaction can be resolved easily in real-time, you just have a dialogue between the parties. You can even roll dice while the speech is occuring, looking at the results and adjusting the flow of the conversation accordingly.

I think that's one of the reasons why I really enjoyed "A Penny for my Thoughts" when I played it earlier in the month. It had a dramatic tension inherent in the game, and everything unfolded at it's own pace. There was no disjoint where a player would think about the game mechanisms or the way the dice were rolled.

It was pure, real-time enjoyment.

So in the spirit of real time enjoyment, I propose to simply throw away the mechanisms for a short while and let the story take you where it will.

I've got a dog that needs bit of real-time play.

Back to the hard core mechanisms in a couple of days.
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