Thursday, March 10, 2005

[Astral] What’s this game all about?

After a couple of months of jamming up more and more ideas for Astral, I reached the point where I had to confront fundamental questions.

What’s it about?
What do you do?
How simple should the rules be?
Should I use all the ideas I’ve come up with?

To answer all that, I needed to know what my design goals were. What principles I’d use to make decisions about this game.

So here's how I sorted my design goals...

Following some advice on the Forge, I wrote up an Example of Play. One page about 3 players going astral for the first time. It was fun and lead to a couple of new ideas: Knocks, Stones and setting bonuses.

Over the next 3 days, I distilled out points from that. Every piece of information I could extrapolate from what I’d written. Stuff like: “People start in real life,” and “Scenes end in cliff-hangers.” But also more conceptual stuff, like “This seems to be less about role-playing in character and more about plot.”

Next, started to focus on what my design goals where. I asked what play should feel like and what Astral’s premise was.

Astral seems to have a simple, fast-paced and urgent playstyle. Players have lots of cool powers, lots of narrative control and can usually do whatever they want. As I said above, it’s quite meta, less about role-playing in character and more about plot.

This is very different to my original idea for how the game would feel, which is slower and more focused on exploring cool new worlds – so I’ll probably do up that original idea as a 1 page freebie …

The Premise I’ve locked down is really a question: Can you solve your real life problems by going astral?

Today, I’ve been applying Jared’s three questions to make every element of the game reinforce that question. For an example of how that works, I’ve realised I only need 2 Ratings. Simplifying that down makes writing this so much easier.

So now I think I’m ready to take a crack at churning this out. I’ll be working on that tomorrow and we’ll see how it turns out.


Unknown said...

Did you really mean Vincent? Memento-mori is Jared Sorenson's thing, I thought.

Good three questions, though. More rethinking things for me, too.

I had a go at writing an example of play but didn't find it helped much. I think because writing what people might say too hard work. However, I spent a while thinking about how a game session should play and that allowed me to work out many of the same things about how I want The Ship to work. The key idea is "work out how the game should go", I suppose.

hix said...

Yeah, it was working through that 2nd question that really brought the game into focus for me, including a whole heap of stuff was now irrelevant.

Oh yeah, and good catch on the Jared thing. I'll go and change that now.