06 July, 2013

A discussion of cycles.

So, if we work off the assumption that the universe works in cycles, a bit like a helix. You travel, you turn, you travel, you turn, eventually you think you end up back where you started. But things have changed while you've been gone, time has moved forward.

Ebb and flow.

Reality shifts between those who have self interest at heart, and who push forward at the sufferance of everyone around them...then it swings back to those who are fed up with the oppression of the psychopaths, they seek equality and hope to bring everyone up a bit at the expense of those above.

Revolution, counter-revolution.

Without revolution there is only stasis.
With only revolution, there is no stable ground from which true progress can be made.
With only the psychopaths and self-interested making changes to the world, the poor get poorer, the rich get richer and the capacity for meaningful revolution is diminished.
With only the altruists and philanthropists malking changes to the world, the poor and rich balance out...but the motivation to move ahead becomes diminished (after all, what is the point of getting ahead if everything is going to balance out anyway).

I've toyed with these ideas a bit, but I think there is a lot more to do.

Walkabout touches on the concept of cycles a bit. There are three types of action, each of which fit into a cycle.

Improvement of a situation (Green)

leads to

Change in a situation (Blue)

leads to

Deterioration of a situation (Red)

which then requires

Improvement of a situation (Green)

to complete the cycle.  

Different characters are better at different types of actions, but the restoration of balance in the world requires all three to be used together. Only through the combination of the three action types can the cycles of nature be restarted and the balance restored. Different types of skills are typically associated with different parts of the cycle, but careful thought and interaction between the story and the rules can provide some really interesting twists. The Brawl skill lends itself to Red actions, such as causing injuries to an opponent, but there's no reason why it could be used as a valid tool to defend a victim (thus improving the victim's situation and therefore a Green action). 

Some situations may see an excess of growth in an area causing imbalance, some situations may see an excess of deterioration, some may see an excess of change for its own sake. Each causes problems in its own right.

That's the core of the game right there.

A lot of these thought link back to the Vector Theory of game design that I explored through this blog a few years ago. The theory has been pretty influential in a lot of my design since I developed it.

It's an ideology tied into the deepest levels of the game. Unless you read this blog you might not even notice it in the game at first, it certainly won't be spelled out in plain terms through the rules...instead I'm hoping that players will uncover the novelty through the course of play. Once this has been uncovered, they'll think about how to use the cyclical system to their advantage...and perhaps a little ironically, those who attempt to game the system most will be the one's most drawn into the fictional world and thought patterns of the wayfarers.

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