World-Building tips: what does "What is the Game?" mean? - Page 2
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  1. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Schmoe View Post
    When I think about the question, I think of answers like: dungeoncrawl, wilderness crawl, mystery investigation, romp, caper, political intrigue, etc. While setting will certainly play a big role in the game experience, there are fundamental differences between a mystery investigation and an epic journey, for example.
    I think this is the type of thing to which John is referring. Let's say you like to run dungeon crawls, and you develop your homebrew setting for said crawls. Your homebrew setting ought to have aspects which contribute mechanically and/or thematically to a unique dungeon crawl experience. If your homebrew is just Forgotten Realms with the gods and coinage and cultures changes, then the setting doesn't matter. If the setting doesn't impact the play experience, then your efforts at worldbuilding are wasted.

    So, instead of developing your homebrew setting and then placing adventures in it, decide the type of game you want to run and then develop the world to accommodate it. A political intrigue setting should have lots of well-developed kingdoms, empires, and factions. A dungeon crawl setting should have a long history, plenty of fallen empires, an impetus to create sprawling dungeons, and an ecology that will keep those dungeons well stocked. A mystery investigation setting needs to account for or alter standard divination magic, and it would be smart to take a look at the perception/investigation mechanics of your chosen system. The world itself should reflect the type of game you're running.
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  2. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Cedar Grove, NJ 07009
    Look at the setting of Ptolus, all set in a gigantic city, ages old, with a cloud-tall spire. Factions, mysteries, urban skills, civilization, social challenges, dungeon crawl but near civilization, ancient machines, metropolitan, politics, guilds, powerful players and organizations.

    Think about the 4e Points of Light - frontier, wilderness exploration, far flung dungeons, lots of exploration, no safety net or nearby temple, the party and one of the big movers and shakers of the area.

    Very different game play, just from a change in setting.

    To go back to the original article, two faux-european fantasy worlds with similar types of adventure are interchangable in terms of "the game", even if one has a city to the east and the other has a row of towns to the west. But changing game defines the setting you want. And it's not just "sandbox" vs.. as listed out. Think out three sandbox games - one points of light type setting, one nautical with pirates and sea voyages around an archipelago, and the last in Sigil with doorways to every plane in existence. Very different.

    So, what game do you want to play this time?
    Last edited by Blue; Friday, 18th May, 2018 at 04:18 AM.

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Colombus, OH
    Quote Originally Posted by magnusmalkus View Post
    What is the Game?
    Most world-building methods start with physics, maps, or checklists of topics.

    However, I believe the world is a key game piece that should deeply affect gameplay.

    If you can swap one world for another and gameplay doesn't change much, why bother? If you only need to change the names of the gods and types of coins, why bother putting in the time?

    In board games, the board itself drastically affects the experience. This is what 'the Book of Lenses' taught me: focus on the amazing and unique experience you want to create with your friends.

    We want more than the Scooby Doo Monopoly versus Spongebob Squarepants Monopoly experience.

    We want Catan versus Jenga versus Gloomhaven.

    I want gameplay in Duskfall to be different from adventures set in the Forgotten Realms, Newhon, or the Hyborian Age.

    So LadySeshiiria, give thought to how your world's gameplay experience could be marvellous and wondrous and unique.
    So, the game is specifically the experience of play that occurs at the table. It's composed of a bunch of stuff - rules, metarules (how we think about play often unconsciously), procedures of play (how we decide to apply the rules), how we prepare to play, and the individual social characteristics and goals of the player.

    The author appears to be focusing on the game world as an element of play, and how the game world might inform play. I think that's both a very board and very narrow topic. Narrow in that there is so much else going on that makes up 'the game' that the gameworld is at best only a small piece of that and at some tables might not even be much of a piece of play at all, and that largely by choice because there is so much else about play they prefer to focus on. So there is a certain amount of bias going on in the author's assessment of what 'the game' actually is. But it's very broad in that if we choose to make the setting a part of the play, then there are all sorts of ways that it can impact that. It can change the metarules, in that players will have different expectations of how they should play depending on there expectations about the genera or the specific setting or by prioritizing a particular challenge that might otherwise be neglected. It can certainly change how we prepare to play, and it's possible that part of that preparation could be tying the specific elements of the gameworld to the rules in some sort of tightly woven fashion.

    On the other hand, the usual route is the opposite - figuring out what the world is really like by closely examining the rules of play. And there is nothing wrong with that either.

    This confuses me. What are the different kinds of 'game' you can have?
    A pretty much infinite variety.

    Doing some online research, I've deduced three types of games: sandbox (players go where they want, when they want), narrative driven (players propel a story line thru game play) and character development driven (character progression via dungeon crawling/hack n' slashing).
    Those categories are so broad so as to tell you almost nothing. For example, where do you put a Live Action Role Playing game into that? Wouldn't you think there is a big difference between a story line set largely before the first session was played, and a story line propelled by player agency? On one hand you might have the classic 'Adventure Path' where the DM's story whisks the characters away on some largely linear adventure to thwart some sort of disaster. On the other hand, you might have some sort of dynastic play where the PC's act out political and intra-party intrigue between influential families that spans generations. And what about character development? There is a big difference between a table that perceives character development as progressing to twentieth level and completing some imagined build, and a table that sees character development as spending hours role-playing out intimate personal drama and never prioritizing the advancement of player skills and mechanical benefits.

    Games are defined by a huge amount of things, and two tables ostensibly playing with the same rules can end up playing dramatically different games by thinking about the game that they are playing differently.

    Considering who your players are, a successful game would have a mix of game types that would satisfy all people involved.
    Yes. Exactly. Although I should say that this insight would be considered heresy in some quarters, but I will here agree and say that the successful game is never pure, but meets multiple aesthetics of play.

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