Archive for April 18th, 2011

Connecting the Present to the Premise

2011 Apr 18

Vincent says some really smart things in this comment over on Anyway, about the importance of connecting what a player is doing now to what the overall premise of the game is. This is something that I felt was really missing from a lot of the games I grew up playing, even ones I really enjoyed.

How does what you do in Rifts connect to the idea of resisting an oppressive neo-Nazi regime or eking out a living in a post-apocalyptic world (if that’s even what that game is about)? How does what you do in In Nomine relate to guiding humanity towards their glorious destiny or dark fate (if that’s even what the game is about)? In some of those games, part of the problem is that the aboutness of the game is never really entirely clear, or even a set of different premises that you could choose from, despite some solid efforts at clarification by the writers (talking about tone and such). In other cases, even if the premise is clear, the connection between premise and player actions isn’t clear (as is notoriously the case in Nobilis, the “what do we do now?” problem).

Definitely something to keep in mind, especially for some of my weirder ideas like Firmament, where the connection between premise and “what we do now” seems a bit vague.