Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Why Design an RPG?

This is the first in a series of shorter articles that will hopefully bring newer designers up to speed on the kinds of expectations I have for this blog and those who help in the Design forum on the Forge have for new games.

Why design an RPG?

I’ve had this question put to me a couple times about game designers. “Why design an RPG? There’s plenty out there, make do with those.” Is that a valid point? It’s true that there are hundreds of RPGs out there. They’ve been around now for over three decades. Countless supplements, small press runs, and core rule books have hit the stands. Isn’t there one out there that will work for us?

The answer is “Yes, there are plenty of games out there that will work for us.” But we’re not satisfied with a game that will just “work.” No, we’re looking for a game that will maximize our fun. We’re out to find a game that will take what we like, enhance it, and make it better. We’re looking for an RPG that can surpass what’s out there and push our enjoyment to a degree no previously published game can. That’s why we design. We know there’s MORE out there. We know that the current rules systems leave plenty to be desired. To think that any of or all of them will suit everyone’s tastes is an absurd notion to designers. That’s why we design. We want to suck the marrow out of our enjoyment, nut just reheat the leftovers.

Especially in today’s culture where you can go to a Starbucks and see thirty kinds of coffee or to McDonalds and order one of twenty different burgers. Variety is a good thing. Choice is a good thing. Having a game that fits your style better than any other game is a great thing! This is our rallying cry.

The reason we design is because we want to maximize our fun with RPGs, and we truly believe that others will be able to maximize their fun with our games. That is the purpose of the design forums on the Forge and RPGnet and the purpose of this and many other blogs.




Christopher Peterson said...

I also like to dabble with RPG design to better understand the design choices of other RPGs.

Darcy said...

And for some of us, it's not (consciously) quite as academic a reason as Troy puts out there...

It's a visceral, gut need to create.

I think Troy's arguments might be part of the reason behind the need...but I know for me, I've never said "I know that there's something that will work, but I don't want to make do." My internal dialogue goes a little more like:

Evil Imp: Hey. What about evil Nazi Dwarves?
Self: Shut up.
EI: No, seriously. You have a need to slaughter evil Nazi Dwarves. Nix that. An obligation.
S: I know that. But I'm busy right now, so shut up!
EI: Doooooooo Eeeeeet!
S: Gah! (calling upstairs) Honey...I'm not going to be doing any chores for the next while...is that OK?

Finally, I'd like to propose that if life were an RPG, game design would itself be a gamist endeavour. I can think of nothing that embodies "step on up" more than building an RPG.

Troy_Costisick said...

Heya guys :)

Chris: I appreciate your post. I can understand that dabbling in RPG design may very well give you a better understanding about the mechanics of other games. I know it's improved my understanding a great deal. But wanting to better understand other people's designs isn't a primary reason to publish an RPG, and just dabbling in it isn't what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about going all the way from initial inspiration to publication (even if it's a free, downloadable pdf).

Darcy, I totally get the need to create. Powerful, isn't it? I feel it every day. But that need comes from something. It comes from a desire for MORE. Your evil imp knows what you've played. It knows where your interests lie. Therefore it says "Nazi Dwarves!" because he is trying hard to spur you towards a game that will maximize your fun. What you have now isn't cutting it.

I think one thing we need to get past is the "Oh, I'm just doing this for the fun of it..." or the "I had this neat idea I'll just throw out there..." mentality. It is absolutely true that designing an RPG is fun. I love it. But that's not why I'm pour myself into it. I'm pouring myself into it because I know there is a big payoff at the end. I know that when I get my games finished, I'll have way more fun than I was before I got them finished.

It is the finished product of a game that is the ends we are working toward. The learning, fun, and brainstorming are just part of the means. There are many beneficial side effects of designing a game for sure, but those side effects are not what a designer should be working for. It is making a finished product and then enjoying it.



intellectual idiot said...

From time to time I get obessed with rpg concepts.

I want to create something tactically fair, yet fun.

Unknown said...

I would design an RPG for all of the reasons you put down. But the real enjyment would be in the fact the you can creat something that not only you would enjoy but something the can be covoted by the millions.

Anonymous said...

I design one iwth some friends and the support of viagra online, and we spend a almost 2 years creating the rpg game and now may people play it in my country and someones started to play it too in other countries.
Nice blog, thanks for sharing.

saim said...

wow… what a post i like it very much thanks for publishing this article thanks again enjoyed the posts. lovely.

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