Showing posts from January, 2009

Game Mechani(sm) of the Week #5: What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger

I’m going to quickly follow up with a second Game Mechani(sm) because my internet is running really slowly at the moment and I’m not sure if I’ll manage to get next weeks post out. This is one that I’ve been pushing for a while on the forge. The premise is simple: Every time you fail at something, you simply learn another way not to compete the task and you refine your knowledge about how it works. Every time you succeed at a task, you feel your knowledge is adequate and it doesn’t improve. Beyond this simple premise I’ve had to clarify some points. These clarifications have arisen due to questions that people have asked me, and certain situations that have arisen where the basic premise just doesn’t make sense. The first clarification requires that the character is actually able to succeed in their attempt in some way. A regular human, with no supernatural powers and no advanced technology isn’t going to be able to fly under their own power. They may be able to jump off a cliff or

Game Mechani(sm) of the Week #4: Counter Maps

Over the past two years I’ve developed a dozen or so concepts for games, some of which have been focused araound competitive agendas, while others have related to narrative ideas and storytelling. Some have used cards as a randomising agent, while others have used dice. Most have had certain aspects of play restricted, while other aspects have been allowed to develop in a freeform manner. I guess that’s one of the reasons for writing up these game mechanisms, to see what limitations on gameplay can be developed, and how these limitations influence the play. One of the more common mechanisms I’ve been using has involved a map laid out at the start of play by the players themselves. The specific ritual of laying down the map seems to help set up a lot of the feeling and atmosphere of the game. Particularly from a metagame perspective. The basic premise is simple. A few different types of poker chip are used to lay out a map. Each type of chip represents something different on the ma

Game Mechani(sm) of the Week #3: Tarot Mysteries

I'm running late with last weeks option, and I'm going to cheat a bit.The following cut and paste is from an email that I sent to someone who was thinking of using Tarot Symbolism in a game they were developing. This coming week I'll try to make sure a new idea is presented as a part of the weekly mechani(sm)s. > > Hi Lon, > > Thanks for the chance to see how your game was developing from its > initial stages. > > The Tarot mechanic is instantly evocative, and grounds the game > thematically in a number of ways. > > I quickly mentioned in passing that I'd had a couple of Tarot based > gaming systems that I'd considered over the years. > > A couple of points to consider: > > 1. There are numerous groups who have linked the Tarot to the Kaballah. > The ten sephirot each representing different aspects of reality are > interlinked by 22 pathways, each of these pathways is commonly linked to > one of the 22 Major Ar

Game Mechani(sm) of the Week #2: Escalation in a Limited Field

[Blogger's Note: the topic has henceforth been changed to Game Mechani(sm) of the week for matters of linguistic correctness. This doesn't mean the posts will all be gramatically and lingustically perfect though...] This weeks topic is something I've been working on for a 1-page RPG that I'm devising. It's a very stripped down version of the Quincunx game I'm developing, with the intention to simply get the core mechanisms in place for some streamlined testing. There have been a number of contributing idea paths that have lead to this. One is a topic thread about telling stories in a closed environment such as a large independent space ship. Another topic thread relates back to sandbox adventures and how to tell a story within such a setting. A third is my own series of posts about Quincunx on the Imber Corvus forum. The basic idea is a fixed number of resources that may be used to perform tasks. This could be a fixed amount of space on a hard drive, it

Game Mechanic of the Week #1: The Conscience Bag

As I sit down to write my first game mechanic, I realise how intimidating this task actually is. There are a lot of options involved and there are a lot of different ways that I could take this personal challenge. Do I simply offer a bunch of new ways to create randomness [stick black and white beads in a bag and draw one out to determine the result] or do I put them in a specific context [the black beads represent a characters dark desires while the white beads represent their noble aspirations]. I think that simply providing a new randomising method is a bit of a cop out. Otherwise I could get lazy and simply show a picture of a d20, with the quote "game mechanic number 47", or something similar. The context option gives observers of this blog something more solid that they can take back to their gaming tables. In light of that, and in light of the two bracketed descriptions above, I'll use for the first game mechanic something I've been playing with for a while.

Game Mechanic of the Week

I've seen a more ambitious version of this project completed over the course of 2008. But since I'm notorious for having other things get in the way when I try something too dramatic, I'm going to work with a stripped down version of the self-imposed contest. Philippe Tromeur did his version of One page RPGs Once per Week . My stripped back version is going to be a game mechanic of the week. The aim is to produce 52 game mechanics over the course of 2009, each of which can be used to simulate a specific concept, or expand an existing game product to encompass something new. I'll be using a range of media, including different sided dice, standard decks of cards, coins and tokens, customised cards, and pretty much anything else that might be useful in capturing the imagination, or achieving randomised results. The aim isn't to develop a single game out of these mechanics, but instead to create a toolkit of options that can be incorporated into other game systems.