Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Why some games are hard

I just read the following by Justin Alexander about why the Transhuman Space game is known to be hard to get into.
To make things worse, Transhuman Space was primarily designed to be an interesting setting for the sake of having an interesting setting, without any real consideration or focus given to the types of stories/games that can be told in that setting.
This struck me as quite insightful on the specific setting at hand, but also a key to why I find some settings and games to be hard to get. I have never managed to get enthusiastic about Harn and sometimes I think this is also the problem with the original Mage game. It's especially true for the latter, where clearly even the designers didn't know what to do with it, but it became boring in later editions when they got a clue. I'm quite sure there's a lesson in there, for both scenario and world creation.


  1. I think that a game with a complex setting needs to provide support for a specific type of play that can be a default. You can go in many ways from there, but this structure gives a default assumption. i.e. In D&D, the default is that you will be a dungeoncrawling adventurer. In Shadowrun, the default is that you will be a shadowrunner. In Traveller, you crew a trading ship. Each of these settings offers a lot more than this, but if somebody says "I'm going to run X," you have a good idea what sorts of characters will work with the setting.

  2. It does make me think about the idea of "core story" that Mike Mearls posted about on his LJ. It's an idea with legs.

    THS does lack some legs, wheels and tracks even though the rest of the vehicle is there.

  3. Those are hard, but I'm thinking I'm beginning to "get" Tekumel, and I have yet to play it...


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