Game-y Game Design

This is what I want.  Its not Gamist design, because DitV is Gamey.

I want a design that lets me, as a player or GM, make really cool tactical decisions- that forces me, as a player, to play the game.  (To Step on Up or Die)

DitV does this with the dice mechanic in the narration.  My experience with D&D is that it often fails to do this- the tactical options are too obvious.  Burning Wheel is another game that is game-y.

Note that gameiness is not crunchiness: D&D is very crunchy.  When most of the decisions are front loaded (i.e. chargen), you have a highly Strategic system, which I believe D&D is.  However, it is not a very Tactical system.

Any system I design will have to be very Tactical to support this.  I’m just really unsure about how to go about doing that.


5 thoughts on “Game-y Game Design

  1. Daniel says:

    Have you seen Agon yet?


  2. Willow says:

    No. Have you lent it to me yet?

  3. Daniel says:

    I haven’t, suckah. I believe in lending through play.


  4. Rahvin says:

    When I first saw burning wheel, I was amazed by the decisions that went into a single strike. Most notably, will I sacrifice damage to penetrate armor or target a location? I just loved that there was a decision process there.

    I think that’s important. It’s not enough to simply say, “I want to make decisions.” You have to come up with specific points of decision. If you have just two or three, you have an awesome system. The other decisions in Burning Wheel, scripting and such, felt too random to me so I wrote up a quick and dirty D&D-like combat system that kept the damage/penetration/location choice because that’s what was important to me.

    I can’t think of many other games that have something like that. I’m still amazed by DitV, but for some reason it seems a little much to me. That’s without yet playing it, mind you.

    I think the problem with such a system is that you may have to do a tradeoff for tactics and strategy. That’s a really tough tradeoff.

    Anytime where your character is more proficient at one thing than another, he’s going to lend himself toward acting in that area. That is essentially a D&D-like STRATEGY decision that limits his tactical choices.

    Anytime one choice is just as good as another choice in terms of risk/benefit analysis, you have a TACTICAl decision, correct? That means you are not necessarily developing your potential combat options at the STRATEGIC level like in D&D or other traditional games.

    Is it worth it to enhance a combat system with more tactical choices, knowing you may be restricting how many strategic options you want to develop?

  5. Rahvin says:

    The other problem with introducing a point of tactical decision within your combat system, is that you have to seriously analyze whether one choice is just as good as another. If you did too good a job with universal balance, then there’s no point in choosing. Simply choose your favorite choice each time.

    Personally, I think Burning Wheel suffers from this problem. A lot of players (includng the designer) have stated that the decisions they make in scripting are largely based on player preferences, rather than the actual situation involved. That’s bad tactical design in my opinion.

    I don’t think DitV suffers from the problem at all. On the other hand, it can be questioned how much tactical decisions REALLY are involved there, since you’re actions are essentially dictated by your opponent’s choices. I don’t think there’s much decisions there. I still find it VERY interesting though, and preferable over other systems. The priorities of these two systems are important to the analysis though. The purpose of DitV is to look back on it and go, “That was cool how that worked out this time” whereas the focus on Burning Wheel is very much in the moment, “What the heck are you going to DO RIGHT NOW?!?” and that’s where it tries to be cool.

    So while DitV does a better job of doing what it’s trying to do, I’d like to see more focus on Burning Wheel style tactics.

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