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Worlds of Design: Creativity and the Game Designer

What part does creativity play in game design? Novice game designers often have a confused idea that game design is all about creativity, which is very far from the truth. Creativity is important, but a small component of game design. Most of the work involved in designing the game is fairly straightforward thinking and problem solving. This is not to say that it's easy, but it does not involve a great deal of creativity.

creativedesignpart1.jpg

Picture courtesy of Pixabay.
"The key question isn't "What fosters creativity?" But it is why in God's name isn't everyone creative? Where was the human potential lost? How was it crippled? I think therefore a good question might be not why do people create? But why do people not create or innovate? We have got to abandon that sense of amazement in the face of creativity, as if it were a miracle if anybody created anything."--Abraham Maslow
The Misunderstood Creative
The general point I want to make here is that you don't need to be a terrifically creative person to design a good game. Creativity can be misunderstood. In game design it is mostly not about getting ideas, is not brain fever, is not wild imagination. Anybody can come up with nutty off-the-wall stuff. For me, creativity is about finding unusual ways to solve problems, not necessarily unique, not necessarily flashy.

Too many people think creativity is all there is to game design, and it has to be said, the sexy part of game design is the conception and elaboration of an idea that may turn into an enjoyable game. The rest of it is not sexy. It takes a long time to test and modify a game, and it often gets to be un-fun toward the end of that time. I think a lot of so-called game designers want the equivalent of a convenient relationship with the most fun parts without the work that makes relationships last. You can try and do this in games, but what you'll end up with is a lot of half-done, and usually half-baked, games that will not be published unless you publish it yourself.

It's also not unusual for people who call themselves designers to complain that constraints limit their creativity. That's actually the opposite of the truth, in art generally as well as in game design. Constraints promote creativity because you work harder to find solutions to your problems--and you have specific problems.

It's really hard to decide what to do when there are no constraints. You need to consider the constraints and that will help you make a better game. You always have a target audience, for example, whether you know it or not. You may not think of it in your head, but it's there. Constraints breed creativity.

Creativity vs. Execution
While you can be creative in lots of different ways, if you don't execute the overall game, if you don't have a willingness to stick with it until the end when you're bloody sick of it, then you will not come up with a good game. Maybe somebody else (called a game developer) will do that work, and the game will be great in the end, but it will be your work plus somebody else's. The whole process is more an engineering problem than a creativity problem.

Adams and Rollings in Game Design Fundamentals suggest that creativity or innovation by the game designer amounts to 5% of a game. My formulation is a modified form of something Thomas Edison said, and that is success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. Edison said 1% and 99%, but he was famous for using trial and error. In other words, he guessed at a solution and checked the results, and that's why he perhaps discounted inspiration.

Talented Game Designers
Some people certainly have a talent for designing games and some people certainly don't. Inborn talent may make the difference between a decent game and a good game but game design is also a craft that can be learned, not something that only a few lucky individuals can do. The necessary creativity is in most of us. We just need to bring it out, or bring it back in Maslow's terms.

Execution counts for far more in game design than creativity. If there is no creativity then you're probably not going to get much of a game, but creativity is not the major part of the equation.
 
Lewis Pulsipher

Lewis Pulsipher

Dragon, White Dwarf, Fiend Folio

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Adams and Rollings in Game Design Fundamentals suggest that creativity or innovation by the game designer amounts to 5% of a game. My formulation is a modified form of something Thomas Edison said, and that is success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. Edison said 1% and 99%, but he was famous for using trial and error.

This is so true. Send me to the pub with a friend, and we'll have 100 ideas for you within an hour. Ideas are easy. Turning them into products is hard.
 

Envisioner

Explorer
Yeah, creativity is like air - absolutely essential, but also so commonplace as to be worthless. Anyone up to and including toddlers can manage to come up with an idea, perhaps even an interesting one, but having sufficient intelligence to actually explore that idea to a reasonable extent, that's what's of real benefit to society.
 

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
More adventure ideas, less meta; it's like I bought The Spinward Marches by mongoose, mostly old data, and everything else was meta-story that didn't help me GM a game at all.
 

DWChancellor

Kobold Enthusiast
At work we call this "vision" and then pretend that "vision" is the hard part. I'm continuously surprised that so many people with engineering degrees and engineering backgrounds haven't shaken this mental corruption.

I so enjoy all the shouts of "innovation" and "transformation" as if adjectives have anything to do with how things actually get done. Especially when both words are mostly code for "do less, care less, but make us look good while we dismantle everything of value our predecessors built."
 

Tom B1

Explorer
More adventure ideas, less meta; it's like I bought The Spinward Marches by mongoose, mostly old data, and everything else was meta-story that didn't help me GM a game at all.

I like MgT, but the reality is, all you really need for Traveller as a game is:
a) A bit of an idea of the setting
b) A few nuggets and NPCs to knock together in ways that players may want to muck with
c) A task system where you can easily describe any task (a difficulty, some assets, special circumstances) and resolve it fairly easily

Everything else is overdone. How many unusable Traveller ship combat systems do I own? Boxed mayday or TNE's Brilliant Lances are the two best, but both still flawed. And how many vehicle construction systems do we need or even want to try to write software and debug to make calculation humanly feasible without aneurysms? None. We can make up the stats of vehicles we think need stats.

Creativity is often in recognizing what is working, what is not, and what to amputate and discard. But without the hard work, without the diligent work to test and revise, we never get to the final product with high quality.
 

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
I like MgT, but the reality is, all you really need for Traveller as a game is:
a) A bit of an idea of the setting
b) A few nuggets and NPCs to knock together in ways that players may want to muck with
c) A task system where you can easily describe any task (a difficulty, some assets, special circumstances) and resolve it fairly easily

Everything else is overdone. How many unusable Traveller ship combat systems do I own? Boxed mayday or TNE's Brilliant Lances are the two best, but both still flawed. And how many vehicle construction systems do we need or even want to try to write software and debug to make calculation humanly feasible without aneurysms? None. We can make up the stats of vehicles we think need stats.

Creativity is often in recognizing what is working, what is not, and what to amputate and discard. But without the hard work, without the diligent work to test and revise, we never get to the final product with high quality.

I just bought this from DTRPG for $20, it's all you need:


I played mongoose for 10 years, it has too many problems, very long and whiffy combats, space combat gets even worse. Classic has some issues too, except for whatever it's worth, it's fast; plus Classic sticks more to the science fiction side, and mongoose veers off into space fantasy. I think I counted 683 original PDF's for Classic that I bought from Marc Miller, mong of course mines that for most of it's pubs, just converting stuff over, with some results great, others abysmal. Absolutely the worst products have been from mongoose, where GDW stuff is the highest quality.

For space combat, Classic's "Book 2" style is about the best (also what is used in the Traveller Book above), it's quick, and there is a lot for players to do, plus it strikes a good balance between play-ability and real world physics. Later Traveller stuff, such as armor on spacecraft, or big "spinal mounts" weapons are fantasy; sadly these tropes get repeated in other systems as well as later versions.

The worst for game design is poorly thought out meta, which after reading, adds nothing to the game, except wasting time. Cue the game designer as frustrated novelist cliche, but there is truth to that. What games need in design is concise writing and a laser like focus on the table, and whatever fluff, chrome, or meta, shouldn't rise above 5-10% of the product.
 

pemerton

Legend
Classic has some issues too, except for whatever it's worth, it's fast; plus Classic sticks more to the science fiction side

<snip>

For space combat, Classic's "Book 2" style is about the best (also what is used in the Traveller Book above), it's quick, and there is a lot for players to do, plus it strikes a good balance between play-ability and real world physics. Later Traveller stuff, such as armor on spacecraft, or big "spinal mounts" weapons are fantasy; sadly these tropes get repeated in other systems as well as later versions.
I use 1977 Classic with some modified PC gen tables to incorporate some later skills, a few tweaks borrowed from the 1981/Traveller Book revision, and a few tweaks of my own. Your post makes me almost ashamed to admit that I have written up some rules that incorporates spinal mounts (vailable for vessels of around 4000+ tons) into Book 2 space combat, loosely inspired by High Guard.
 


atanakar

Hero
Creativity one the of tools in the Designer's tool box. I worked in magazine design for years. I had to reject a lot of creative ideas because they didn't fit the overall «intent» the costumers asked for. It's easy to get lost in ideas and loose focus of the overall goal of what you are designing.

You can always use a rejected idea in another project. Which I did very often.
 

Tom B1

Explorer
Creativity one the of tools in the Designer's tool box. I worked in magazine design for years. I had to reject a lot of creative ideas because they didn't fit the overall «intent» the costumers asked for. It's easy to get lost in ideas and loose focus of the overall goal of what you are designing.

You can always use a rejected idea in another project. Which I did very often.

That's a great observation. I often hop on the computer, write down a quick snapshot of an idea, and it goes into a folder.

Sometime later, I hit a situation in a game and say 'Hey, I had some good thoughts about something near to that back when' and break it out. Sometimes you can indeed use ideas you had a long time ago to help in a new project.

I guess I'd say 'Never waste your inspiration!'.

But when you are trying to produce a product (not create a 'something'), you really do need focus and being able to edit yourself down to the key parts that move the goal along is critical. That's a sort of creativity, but it isn't unbounded creativity. It is bounded creativity with a clear purpose.
 

atanakar

Hero
But when you are trying to produce a product (not create a 'something'), you really do need focus and being able to edit yourself down to the key parts that move the goal along is critical. That's a sort of creativity, but it isn't unbounded creativity. It is bounded creativity with a clear purpose.

I would say that is the action of «designing». You take all the creative ideas and shape them to form the best possible design.
 



Tom B1

Explorer
I just bought this from DTRPG for $20, it's all you need:


I played mongoose for 10 years, it has too many problems, very long and whiffy combats, space combat gets even worse. Classic has some issues too, except for whatever it's worth, it's fast; plus Classic sticks more to the science fiction side, and mongoose veers off into space fantasy. I think I counted 683 original PDF's for Classic that I bought from Marc Miller, mong of course mines that for most of it's pubs, just converting stuff over, with some results great, others abysmal. Absolutely the worst products have been from mongoose, where GDW stuff is the highest quality.

For space combat, Classic's "Book 2" style is about the best (also what is used in the Traveller Book above), it's quick, and there is a lot for players to do, plus it strikes a good balance between play-ability and real world physics. Later Traveller stuff, such as armor on spacecraft, or big "spinal mounts" weapons are fantasy; sadly these tropes get repeated in other systems as well as later versions.

The worst for game design is poorly thought out meta, which after reading, adds nothing to the game, except wasting time. Cue the game designer as frustrated novelist cliche, but there is truth to that. What games need in design is concise writing and a laser like focus on the table, and whatever fluff, chrome, or meta, shouldn't rise above 5-10% of the product.

Is that a hardcover of Classic or is that T5 or what?

I'm a completist from back the early 1980s. I have CT, MT, Hard Times, TNE, Mgt 1.0, Gurps Traveller... pretty much as all of them as you can get (PDF and hardcopy.... I used to hunt down rarer boxed games and small press third party products - some great, some what the he** was I thinking...).

I haven't done MgT 2.0 because it seems like a lot to spend for massive overlap with 1.0.

I didn't do T5 or some recent multi-hundred dollar kickstarters (I did to Element Class Cruisers though). T5 was just too pricey and seemed to be too thick to be useful (as you say, too much meta).

For me, Classic doesn't cut it because of the clunkiness of ship construction and a lack of variability in systems. It could work, but what I'd really like to see:

BEST: A system like Brilliant Lances that actually has reasonable ways (or a enough support) to represent all of the traditional well known ships (vs. all new ones) AND that uses 2D6. The game was great for detail and some rich gameplay, but it just didn't cover any other era and it used the wrong dice for play outside of TNE.

SECOND BEST: Take a page out of FASA's old Star Trek RPG - their ship combat gave every bridge crew member a set of control sheets for their job and everyone (not 100%... could have done better) had something to do in battles in a small group and the group cooperated to fight the ship. It was a *story combat system versus most of Traveller's 'combat system we'll throw in even though it barely involves player actions other than a pilot and gunner'.

THIRD BEST: An abstract system using task management that can make for dynamic combat for a bunc hof different characters.

As an example of another system that could make for better roleplaying:

I integrated third party security, life support engineering & cargo handling skills along with more differentiation in ship system tech skills. I then created a sequence from starting up a cold ship to jumping out of a system - defined tasks all the way along for each phase of operations. I'd run it once or twice with players full so they knew what their characters would actually be doing, then i used parts of it in adventures (the other parts were assumed to be routine).

  • I covered cargo stowage, loading and unloading
  • stewards and medics managing passenger loading, unloading, cold berthing (in and out), as well as security screening, and securing passengers for manouvers and handling rare zero G scenarios
  • interactions with other vessels, rules of the road, license levels for various departments for certifications, interactions with system control
  • starting up (or jump starting!) power plants, shutting them down, checks along the way on power plants and jump drives
  • jump navigation and verification
  • landing and take off in different traffic densities and different atmospheres and landing surfaces
  • fueling including gas giant skimming
  • operation of shuttles where non-streamlined ships were in play
  • maintenance operations

With all this, the techs often have things to do in space, so do the stewards and cargo handlers, as do the pilots and the comms people (and EW folks), and even the doctor/medic could given all the strange things coming up from any given landfall. In combat, things break lose, fires start, vacuum happens, passengers get sick or afraid or try some badness, so even the non-pilot, non-gunner types can have something to do at least in some portion of possible space combats. Scans is an important role and a skill for us too.

The only parts I didn't get a satisfactory end to, but could do better now probably, is starship combat. I've just handled in in narrative, but I'd like a bit more flesh here too.

I think also that there's little chance that a small trader or scout will ever survive a fight with anything over 500 tons (definitely not with anything 1000 tons or more) so the only way out is like Han landing on the Star Destroyer or allowing the ship to get tractored into the Death Star - a story solution, not a spaceship physics and combat resolution. So one can ignore bigger ships for a combat system as 'They exist, they'll smoke us if we fight straight up, full stop - they are a story feature, not an interactive thing'.
 

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
Is that a hardcover of Classic or is that T5 or what?

I'm a completist from back the early 1980s. I have CT, MT, Hard Times, TNE, Mgt 1.0, Gurps Traveller... pretty much as all of them as you can get (PDF and hardcopy.... I used to hunt down rarer boxed games and small press third party products - some great, some what the he** was I thinking...).

I haven't done MgT 2.0 because it seems like a lot to spend for massive overlap with 1.0.

I didn't do T5 or some recent multi-hundred dollar kickstarters (I did to Element Class Cruisers though). T5 was just too pricey and seemed to be too thick to be useful (as you say, too much meta).

For me, Classic doesn't cut it because of the clunkiness of ship construction and a lack of variability in systems. It could work, but what I'd really like to see:

BEST: A system like Brilliant Lances that actually has reasonable ways (or a enough support) to represent all of the traditional well known ships (vs. all new ones) AND that uses 2D6. The game was great for detail and some rich gameplay, but it just didn't cover any other era and it used the wrong dice for play outside of TNE.

SECOND BEST: Take a page out of FASA's old Star Trek RPG - their ship combat gave every bridge crew member a set of control sheets for their job and everyone (not 100%... could have done better) had something to do in battles in a small group and the group cooperated to fight the ship. It was a *story combat system versus most of Traveller's 'combat system we'll throw in even though it barely involves player actions other than a pilot and gunner'.

THIRD BEST: An abstract system using task management that can make for dynamic combat for a bunc hof different characters.

As an example of another system that could make for better roleplaying:

I integrated third party security, life support engineering & cargo handling skills along with more differentiation in ship system tech skills. I then created a sequence from starting up a cold ship to jumping out of a system - defined tasks all the way along for each phase of operations. I'd run it once or twice with players full so they knew what their characters would actually be doing, then i used parts of it in adventures (the other parts were assumed to be routine).

  • I covered cargo stowage, loading and unloading
  • stewards and medics managing passenger loading, unloading, cold berthing (in and out), as well as security screening, and securing passengers for manouvers and handling rare zero G scenarios
  • interactions with other vessels, rules of the road, license levels for various departments for certifications, interactions with system control
  • starting up (or jump starting!) power plants, shutting them down, checks along the way on power plants and jump drives
  • jump navigation and verification
  • landing and take off in different traffic densities and different atmospheres and landing surfaces
  • fueling including gas giant skimming
  • operation of shuttles where non-streamlined ships were in play
  • maintenance operations

With all this, the techs often have things to do in space, so do the stewards and cargo handlers, as do the pilots and the comms people (and EW folks), and even the doctor/medic could given all the strange things coming up from any given landfall. In combat, things break lose, fires start, vacuum happens, passengers get sick or afraid or try some badness, so even the non-pilot, non-gunner types can have something to do at least in some portion of possible space combats. Scans is an important role and a skill for us too.

The only parts I didn't get a satisfactory end to, but could do better now probably, is starship combat. I've just handled in in narrative, but I'd like a bit more flesh here too.

I think also that there's little chance that a small trader or scout will ever survive a fight with anything over 500 tons (definitely not with anything 1000 tons or more) so the only way out is like Han landing on the Star Destroyer or allowing the ship to get tractored into the Death Star - a story solution, not a spaceship physics and combat resolution. So one can ignore bigger ships for a combat system as 'They exist, they'll smoke us if we fight straight up, full stop - they are a story feature, not an interactive thing'.

It is a hard cover of Classic, The Traveller Book. I went back to Classic for this game due to two reasons: first it is the simplest of systems, so the easiest to modify with as few rules changes as possible; second, its personal combat is a chaotic, simultaneous, no initiative, deadly and fast. Marc Miller being a Vietnam veteran who had seen real combat only a few years earlier, I suppose he meant it that way. Space combat is fast too. I like the limited design of the ships, as that mirrors reality, right now we have 2.5 designs for rocket engines, and even those are very similar. Changing to a percentage, such as a engine taking up 17% of the isn't as realistic as saying here are your engines, this table gives performance per tonnage. I like designing spacecraft, doing one right now, though I like the limitations vs endless permutations. Certain simple features, such as no armor, and the pseudo newtonian movement, fast and deadly; with a few of my own tweaks to make them fusion rockets, is good enough.

I have seen Brilliant Lances, and also played 2300 back in the day, some questions I always had was that if you had a faster than light missile, how would you see it, and the FTL ship you were shooting it at? Was the board game version Star Cruiser? I do own most of the Traveller stuff on PDF, with a lot of Classic and Mong 1e in hard copy; I loved playing High Guard ships and Trillion Credit Squadron too, we called it dice rolling madness. Great games, except portability to RPG's wasn't so good. I do think that a civilian ship probably wouldn't stand a chance vs a purpose built military vessel, but the game makes a small allowance for it, to give the players a fighting chance. I haven't run a trader campaign in a while, their ship right now is a Panther from Terran Trade Authority that I made a deck plan for, it's more of an NPC, as it's run by a rogue AI.

Lists make for great inspiration on what to do, The Traveller Book has one on page 55:

TYPICAL ACTIVITIES
I. Arrive in star system.
A. Scan area for potential
danger, problems, and other data.
B. Set course in system.
C. Possible ship encounter.
II. Local gas giant.
A. Achieve orbit.
B. Refuel.
C. Set course to major world
or out system.
III. Local major world.
A. Achieve orbit.
B. Proceed to orbital starport
(unstreamlined ships) or surface starport
(streamlined ships).
C. Arrival on planet.
1. Unload high passengers.
2. Unload mail.
3. Unload middle passengers.
4. Unload cargo.
5. Unload low passengers.
6. Conclude low lottery.
D. Refit and maintenance.
1. Refuel from starport.
2. Renew ship life support.
E. Commodity activity.
1. Sell speculative cargo.
2. Buy speculative cargo.
F. Ship business.
1. Pay berthing costs.
2. Pay bank payment.
3. Pay maintenance fund.
4. Pay crew salaries.
G. Miscellaneous activity.
1. Patron encounters.
2. Planetary exploration.
3. Local areas of interest.
4. Hire new crew members.
H. Prepare for departure.
1. Load cargo.
2. Load low passengers.
3. Load middle passengers.
4. Load high passengers.
5. Load mail.
6. Collect income for all
aspects of current trip.
IV. Departure.
A. Lift-off.
B. Achieve orbit.
C. Set course outsystem.
D. Possible ship encounter.
E. Jump.

Note: This list is primarily of
interest to merchants. Not all events
on this list are explained in this
chapter on travelling. Other relevant
chapters include Worlds, Encounters,
and Trade and Commerce.
 

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
I use 1977 Classic with some modified PC gen tables to incorporate some later skills, a few tweaks borrowed from the 1981/Traveller Book revision, and a few tweaks of my own. Your post makes me almost ashamed to admit that I have written up some rules that incorporates spinal mounts (vailable for vessels of around 4000+ tons) into Book 2 space combat, loosely inspired by High Guard.

If the spinal mounts work for you, that is great. I think that they would work for smaller craft vs the larger, as the larger ships having to maneuver to bring them to bear could be an instance of the structural integrity of the ship becoming compromised. Rough calcs of converting Traveller volume to mass, similar to modern spacecraft, would be applying a multiple of 7 to the tonnage, so that some of those ships, at 700,000 or more metric tons, would probably be running up against the square cube law. Plus they really don't have much for the players to do with them, except as a dungeon crawl type scenario, then they are cool.

I use 50 ton and 100 ton bays, they are -2, and -3 to hit respectively, where the 50 ton Particle Accelerator does 1 critical and 1d6 hits; the 100 ton bay does 1d6 critical hits.

Classic is so easy to modify. It's also sometimes called an OSR type game, it's not though, it's the missing link between the early D&D style games, and later narrative games like Apocalypse World. I had not read the Traveller Book cover to cover before buying it, having owned the LBB's, and Marc Miller gives some very narrative advice for 1982:

The rolling of dice is a convenient way to represent
unknown variables or to assist the referee in making decisions.
Feel free to modify the results if you do not like
the way they turned out. Change a death result to a severely
wounded result if you feel a character has behaved
heroically and deserves a second chance, or kill off one who
has done something incredibly dumb but lucked out on the
die roll. Be fair in doing this, however, and try not to be
too heavy-handed. Most players feel better if their character
is done in by the die roll than if killed by fiat.
 

pemerton

Legend
Classic is so easy to modify. It's also sometimes called an OSR type game, it's not though, it's the missing link between the early D&D style games, and later narrative games like Apocalypse World.
I agree with this. I think of it as a game of "moves" (to use AW jargon) - eg When you attempt a non- ordinary manoeuvre while wearing a vacc suit, throw + 4 per level of Vacc Suit expertise. On a 10+, your manoeuvre succeeds. Otherwise, the referee tells you what dangerous situation eventuates. Throw again, +6 if you have Vacc Suit-1 and +2 per additional level of expertise. On an 11+, you remedy the situation. Otherwise, the referee will tell you what happens.

(I've taken this straight from Book 1, 1977 version. But have re-formatted it into AW-type jargon, and presented the maths more straightforwardly rather than as 7+ but with a -4 penalty for no skill.)

Many other rules systems can be seen in exactly the same way: when you operate your ship's jump drive; when you try to evade gunfire while piloting an air/raft; when you make an offer of employment to a NPC; etc.

Are these "moves" mostly thematically appropriate with the results driving matters forward whatever happens? As a general proposition, I think the answer is yes.

If the spinal mounts work for you, that is great. I think that they would work for smaller craft vs the larger, as the larger ships having to maneuver to bring them to bear could be an instance of the structural integrity of the ship becoming compromised. Rough calcs of converting Traveller volume to mass, similar to modern spacecraft, would be applying a multiple of 7 to the tonnage, so that some of those ships, at 700,000 or more metric tons, would probably be running up against the square cube law. Plus they really don't have much for the players to do with them, except as a dungeon crawl type scenario, then they are cool.

I use 50 ton and 100 ton bays, they are -2, and -3 to hit respectively, where the 50 ton Particle Accelerator does 1 critical and 1d6 hits; the 100 ton bay does 1d6 critical hits.
I use those bays, plus allow a single energy beam in a triple turret. I use to hit bonuses of +2 or +4 for the bays, and +6 or +8 for my two sizes of spinal mount. Energy weapons ignore sand, but otherwise attack as lasers but delviering an additional consequence rolled on an "energey weapon effect table" that I adapted from High Guard. A spinal mount, unlike a turret or bay-mounted energy weapon, does 5 rolls on both the normal and energy weapon table.
 

Tom B1

Explorer
I agree with this. I think of it as a game of "moves" (to use AW jargon) - eg When you attempt a non- ordinary manoeuvre while wearing a vacc suit, throw + 4 per level of Vacc Suit expertise. On a 10+, your manoeuvre succeeds. Otherwise, the referee tells you what dangerous situation eventuates. Throw again, +6 if you have Vacc Suit-1 and +2 per additional level of expertise. On an 11+, you remedy the situation. Otherwise, the referee will tell you what happens.

(I've taken this straight from Book 1, 1977 version. But have re-formatted it into AW-type jargon, and presented the maths more straightforwardly rather than as 7+ but with a -4 penalty for no skill.)

Many other rules systems can be seen in exactly the same way: when you operate your ship's jump drive; when you try to evade gunfire while piloting an air/raft; when you make an offer of employment to a NPC; etc.

Are these "moves" mostly thematically appropriate with the results driving matters forward whatever happens? As a general proposition, I think the answer is yes.

To me, Traveller (early years) felt like a D&D 'sandbox' game. There were adventures, but there was no long adventure path, the adventures were not so heavily adapted to one place and could often be moved into a personal universe easily enough, and there was a lot of room for player direction and agency in where the game was going. Later D&D versions provided lots of examples of the fixed plot adventure paths (aka the railroad).

I have come to regard the GM as someone who creates a number of NPCs, organizations, and events, and the NPCs and organizations have goals and strategies, and from those Actors come actions. If the players choose to involve themselves (or sometimes get involved by incident or accident), then an interaction happens that can, afterwards, be called an adventure. My job as GM is to serve as a creator of colour in the universe which players can choose to engage with or they can create some themselves by initiating choices and creating new situations. I'm basically the universe's resolution engine. The players ought to have the agency, with opportunities sent their way to consider. The GM should not have all the power.

That said, AW has a couple of problems in my mind: They treat it like improv and the GM is supposed to respond to anything (rather than saying 'ah, no... let's not go that way'). That's fine if the GM has the context to understand and do something useful with every suggestion the players make .... but it still runs the chance of creating some things that can really screw up a somewhat coalesced and coherent campaign. I don't think that AW acknowledges that the GM has something to contribute and that some things players might suggest cannot be easily adapted to the particular themes and flavours of a given setting. A lot can, but some will just be a net negative. Beyond that, you often find players that do not WANT to drive the game - they love being tourists in someone else's scenarios and they will respond, but never initiate. An AW game dependent on those sorts of players would fall flat.

There's a balance in the middle. As I age, I lean more toward the sandbox + GM-as-resolution-engine + GM-as-event-hook-generator model, vs. the GM-as-tour-guide + GM-as-director-of-storylines + pre-set modules/paths. The one thing I will say, you need to be sharper, more think-on-your-feet with the former approach, versus the latter where you can rely on pre-written product. That can be hard to learn and you need to have a simple system (skill system and a sense of the setting) and then be able to flow with player idea and throw out some hooks without having them fully developed (because the players will either invent a new hook and you'll agree to go with that or they'll pick your least favourite one.... because that's what they do... lol).

I'm really feeling we ought to be moving out into a new Traveller thread. I like the discussion, but it has strayed a long way from board game design or the role of creativity in game production.[/QUOTE][/QUOTE]
 

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