15 August, 2008

Design Dilemma

I'm working on a new game concept.

Well that's not entirely true.

I'm resuming work on a game concept that got me stuck a few months back.

I keep trying to develop this game concept but my mind keeps shooting off into new directions that expand beyond the original concept in ways that complicate the simple premise.

It was this exact phenomenon that caused me to break my train of thought by developing the Eighth Sea to it's finished status. Now that I'm returning to my earlier concept, I'm finding the same problems developing.

Some would call this "development hell". In fact there are many who say that these festering ideas can evolve into truly revolutionary concepts as they grow in the back of one's mind.

I'm just finding the ideas to be a nuisance.

I think I've been hanging around the forge for too long.

When I started to develop a roleplaying game, I just thought I needed a good game mechanic and an evocative setting. I had given cursory thought to the concepts of character goals and player agendas, these always seemed to be a natural part of play. I hadn't considered the three types of player and how they interacted with the gaming phenomenon, and I certainly hadn't thought of ways that these player agendas could be manipulated through the careful wording of rules. Now I keep getting caught up on how a game experience should be fine-tuned into the system...I keep wondering how a certain new mechanic might influence the types of stories being told. And my preconcieved paradigm of role-playing now seems to be so far beyond my original notions that the game I have resumed working on seems to be a poor reflection of what I could now achieve.

The problem is that I liked the original game for it's elegance and simplicity. Every time I try to apply a creative agenda into the base rules, they just complicate and get messy...which then starts a chain reaction where I start looking to other systems that might better fit the new ideas...which then leads me to abandoning the simple game I'm trying to finish...which then leads me back to the question of whether the original game was better or if the new mutant strain is better.

...and does the mutant strain deserve it's own new place in my mind, while the original concept still stands on it's own as an unfinished masterpiece?

I think the problem lies with the original game's modular concept, where I decided a simple system could be applied in any way through addition of one or more modular components. The simple system is nice on it's own, and the components seem nice on their own, but the fitting of the two is where the problem lies.

It's frustrating.
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