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Rickard Elimää (This is Pulp)
An imaginative game designer
An imaginative game designer

Rickard Elimää (This is Pulp)'s posts

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The Game Process in Pictures
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My previous two posts talked about how the game designers goal should be part of the interaction for the player, and how the game pitch is a part of your game system. This post is going to be about how a game (or any activity, to be honest) creates engagement through a loop. I'm only going to briefly touch this topic, as there are tons of underlying theory behind it.

The initial game state, when the game is just about to start, consist of the player's expectations, hopefully colored (in blue) by the game pitch. You don't want a player to sit down with some Rory's Story Cubes and expect chess. The player also has a basic understanding of the game mechanics, or will learn through the process new elements of the game. Last, but not least, the game will also present the goals for the player.

The game process lets then the player make a decision, based on the knowledge of the game mechanics, the goal, and the initial game state, of what kind of action the player would want to do. That person goes through the procedure for that action, which will take effect in the game world (operant space) and spawn some sort of feedback through the interaction with that game world. The player then needs to take that feedback into account for the next decision, and so the loop continues.

That's the game process, seen from above (the right circle in the picture). But when I think about a game process, I picture a glass of water. Someone then adds the color yellow, and starts to stir; the water turns yellow. Add blue to the mix, and the water will turn ... not blue, but green, because it has to take the previous information into account.

If we look at the game process from the side, we will see how it will take the form of a spiral, where all the previous information in the loop is important for the current action. As we loop through the same process, as we get more and more feedback from the game, we get more and more information to take into account, and as the process of the game grows, so does our engagement in the activity (which is shown by the arrow in the bottom left area of the picture).

Side note: a game can have several different loops, either triggering each other, or several loops going on at the same time.

It doesn't matter if you're after spatial immersion, where the player forgets about the world around itself and instead gets devoured by the game world, if it's a high tense game of Guitar Hero, or if the game is having the character's emotions bleed into the players: the process is the same, although HOW to interact and with WHAT to interact can differ. It depends on what medium the game designer is using - if it's movies, games, art ... whatever - and it depends on what the game designer wants to achieve with the game.

The feedback, HOW we interact, and WHAT we interact with, are all parts of WHY we play.  The game pitch should tell the player WHY to play the game. The player itself will bring expectations - often by preferring a playstyle over another - to the game. When all of these come together, a great gaming experience is to come.

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A Simple Model of Point of Views, part 2
Can you tell what the picture shows? I can tell you right away - it's part of a fist. In order to get the full perspective, you need to take a step back. You will perhaps loose the tiniest variations, that which might make the "truth" into a semi-truth, but looking at only the variations in a zoomed in perspective will create a semi-truth too.

You need all kinds of distances to what you're working with in order to get a clearer picture.

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A Simple Model about Point of Views, part 1
If we buy into the fact that there is one existing "truth" about something, having different point of views will create different versions of the same truth. It might look different, but it's actually the same thing seen from another perspective.

In order to get a bigger perspective, and in order to fully understand the "truth", you need to gather a lot of point of views.

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What an amazing idea!
Walk-on table for exploring a dangerous forest

This may solve my issue with risk die tables for combined discoveries and encounters in the wilderness. It's a one roll affair, with over 50 results and increasing danger. It probably needs a few adjustments, and quite a bit of table testing, but it's a start. 

EDIT: Updated after today's tests, see comments.

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A Chance to View Other Perspectives
One thing I like about playing roleplaying game is the opportunity to see the world from other perspective. Most of the time, this is done by the player thought the player-made character, but some games, like Montsegur 1244, Kagematsu, and Dogs in the Vineyard, imposes a different world view through their mechanics or structure of play.

Fatimah's Busy Day - a 200 word game - took my breath away, truth be told. So simple, but imposes a world view in a really strong way. As we play different kinds of games, we need to accept new ways of enjoying them, and this one is one of those games that probably demands a philosophical way of thinking while playing.

A Betrayal Far, Far Away
It's important that you narrate all the steps from when the turns starts.

One plays ...
... Luke, a farm boy who wants to defeat Darth Vader.
... Leia, the Alderaan princess who wants to save the home planet from destruction.
... Yoda, the old Jedi master who wants to restore the Jedi order.

Each player writes an aid - a faction, item, or person - that any character may use to reach their goal.
Place a six-sided die on each aid, starting at six.
Each player starts with one +1 token and two +2 tokens. Max 4 tokens per player!

In turns, Luke, Leia, Yoda: give a token to another character that involves an aid, and make a promise to that person.
Roll a die that shows six and place it back to the aid.

In turns, Yoda, Leia, Luke: give a token to another character, if possible, and tell that person how the character makes a sacrifice but wants a promise of something in return.
During the turn, you may take one of the dice if the points of your tokens exceeds the result of the die.

In turns, Yoda, Leia, Luke: give a token to another character, if possible, and tell that person how you fulfill one promise.
During the turn, you may take one of the dice if the points of your tokens exceeds the result of the die.

The one(s) who has the highest total of dice reaches the goal with help from the aids; the one(s) who has the lowest total dies.

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How Images are Born in Imagine
This page in Making Comics by Scott McCloud shows exactly how an environment with a feeling is created in the storytelling game Imagine, and how it creates a mental image for the participants.


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Imagine a Way of Designing a Roleplaying Games
Imagine is a storytelling game I wrote to try out my Theory of Engagement, and also to try to learn a new way of writing roleplaying games. I returned to this forum post after two years, and I think it has a lot of good stuff in it to consider when one is designing a game.

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The Fun of Being in the Game Master Seat
I attend weekly RPG theory discussions, and this week we talked about how to get new people into the game master seat. It's not only important to find the correct pitch, it's also important to sell what kind of fun one can have by being a game master. Here are 16 reasons why game mastering can be fun.

A Thought about Character Motivations
Creating a drive for characters are important, but it's not always what the characters want is what they really need.

Here's an excellent article over at Gamasutra that can be ripped almost straight off to roleplaying games:
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