Posts Tagged ‘lazy half-posts’

A few times recently I have used the word/phrase “micro-playtesting” and people have given me blank looks, confused scowls and/or outright snorts of dismissal.

In the absence of a proper post, let this stand here for all time as the definition of what I meant – and will continue to mean – from this comment:

At this stage of development, an internal playtest just means grabbing a couple of friends for half an hour and trying a thing out. I “go to playtesting” when I need confirmation that what I’m designing will, in fact, work, before I move on to creating dependent systems.

It starts very small, just testing tiny system interactions: “hey Meg, pretend you’re trying to push me off a wall. Roll these dice. Say I dunno, something about pushing me off the wall, okay? … Huh. Okay, thanks!”

Or “hey Meg, you’re creating a character, a dragon slayer. I’m going to ask you a couple of questions, choose the answers from these lists here, okay? … Huh. Okay, thanks!”

When I have a complete subsystem I need to test, that’s when I ask friends to sit down with me for half an hour and give it a try. This was the case with The Dragon – I needed to test character creation, to (a) make sure that it made interesting characters, (b) see whether it gave me everything I needed as GM to launch into play, and (c) if not (which I expected), clarify what it was missing, so I could go about creating it with some experience to build on.

Eventually there’s no way to see what works and what doesn’t without just sitting down to play the game, so that’s what you do.

I’m totally going to come back to that Drama Points thing sometime. But I have a lot of other things to say, so I think I’m going to drop it for a while and get back to it later.

The first thing: I’ve finally got round to editing my “here’s some RPG theory links” post into a proper reference page (with more links!), which can be found at:

The RPG Theory Primer

Take a look! There’s an awful lot of material there (and plenty more on the same sites) so book a week or two off work or something. There’ll be loads of stuff I missed – let me know if you have any recommendations!

Gah! Alright, it’s been ages since I posted – I’m sorry. The problem is, in the last post I suggested that the next post would examine my goals for the system in RPG theory terms – and I still haven’t been able to fully work out how it fits.

In particular, I thought I had it mostly figured out, and then I read another article that turned my previous perspective on its head. Since then I’ve been trying to mostly-figure-it-out all over again.

Sadly I haven’t got enough material nor enough time to write a full post on it just yet – but perhaps I can at least recommend the articles I’ve been reading.

They’ve mostly come from The Forge – which won’t surprise anyone who’s been looking into RPG theory already, but may be new to people who haven’t. I strongly believe that good systems (RP and any other kind) only come about as the result of good design, which itself follows on from good theory – and that seems to be one of the central goals of The Forge community.

So here are the articles that really got me thinking about RPG theory and how to apply it to my own game design – in what I consider to be a sensible reading order. Perhaps it’d be useful for me to put these on their own page, but for now this post will do :-) Note that the summaries are my own – the original writers might not agree with them!

  • System Does Matter – an explanation of why it’s important to design your system to suit the play style you want.
  • GNS and Other Matters of Role-playing Theory – a more detailed examination of the ideas raised in “System Does Matter”, showing how to analyse a system to see what sorts of play it will encourage. In particular, formally sets out Ron Edwards’ GNS theory.
  • Simulationism: The Right to Dream – the first of three articles each examining one of GNS theory’s “core” play styles. This time, Simulationism – the desire to explore a shared fiction purely for the sake of exploration.
  • Gamism: Step On Up – the second such article. This one covers Gamism – the desire to play a roleplaying game in order to use the mechanics to overcome a challenge.
  • Narrativism: Story Now – the third such article. This time it covers Narrativism – the desire to address a premise through play, in order to produce a story as the primary goal of play.
  • Applied Theory – an article looking at how to apply all of the above theory in real mechanical terms.
  • 3 Resolution Systems – introduces some interesting points about the relationship between the game fiction and the game mechanics. With diagrams!

Alright, so they’re almost all from the Forge in fact. It’s not that I necessarily agree with everything in those articles – but I do think they’re an excellent way to prompt your own thoughts about RPG design & theory. Other non-Forge things can be found in the links in the sidebar – in particular for RPG design stuff I’d recommend anyway., Deeper in the Game, Some Space To Think and Transneptune Games‘ blog.

So with that, I’ll lazily sign off – and come back next time with something a bit more concrete.