After reading n-th vague game, Bucyrus thinks that way too many authors are lazy fucks. Don’t get the wrong impression, Bucyrus is all thumbs up for occasional “just fill the gaps on your own” approach. After all, it’s what his gadget stories are. Speaking of which – it has been some time since Bucyrus wrote one. Hmmm…
Anyway. “Here’s some vague setting, a few general story seeds, mechanics that’s hard to precisely comprehend without the help of a veteran player – read it and it’ll change the way you perceive RPGs, chop chop“. It’s omnipresent nowadays. Instead of delivering detailed background, examples and scenarios, we’re usually being told to simply make it work.
And it’d be fine, after all, the more the merrier, right? Right.
Unfortunately, it spawned the infamous “wheel of flawed design” which is far from “right”.
As usual – Bucyrus’ English isn’t good enough to put it into right words, but the Wheel is supposed to work like this:
- Author(s) create new game.
- Because it lack both details and depth, said game lack the ability to attract players for more than a few short sessions – it’s ok for quick “didn’t have time to prepare, don’t feel like playing D&D” one-shot, drinking session or tournament/-con play but nothing more.
- Here’s where wheel starts to spin: after initial “woooooooooow!” (if only) players withdraw (providing the game managed to attract any players at all), turn their attention to other games.
- Authors acknowledge that, and provide less and less update their product.
- Even more players withdraw.
- Repeat whole process as many times as needed until authors themselves abandon their own creation and create something else.
Sometimes they also become bitter trolls expressing anger and hostility towards other, more popular games that, in their opinion took the place reserved for their obviously (obviously!) superior product.
It’s nothing new. After all, that’s how many blogs/sites end. Slower and rarer updates, lack of feedback, lack of followers, “oh well, let’s close this shit and go back to angry commenting on Facebook“.
There’s this saying “no man falls in one step” and certainly, in many cases it’s also true for games. Still, relying on the idea that players will simply swallow the game like pelicans and (once again) “fill all the gaps” thus making it awesome is a cardinal sin of game design.
We are now almost half way into the year of our Lord 2015. Some perceive our times as the Golden Age of Role Playing gaming. Bucyrus doesn’t. Unless it’s just a case of subjective, limited perception and cognitive bias, the situation resembles more the insane march of Alexander the Great, who conquered everything on his path, formed one vast empire that crumbled under its own weight the moment he died.
Heretical as it might sound, Bucyrus believes that we have too many, too easy games (some among them mistakenly called “role playing games”) for our own good. Because of that, most of them have little to no chance to attract enough gamers who could help it in reaching maturity. That they are built on the concept of “seek no more, waste no time, you’ll learn it in less than 15 minutes!” doesn’t help either. In fact, collaborating with people’s laziness hurts RPGing.
“So we should cease to produce games and they should all be hard as possible, right” – you might ask, to what Bucyrus answers “heavens, no!”
It’s just that way too many people produce and advertise games that have NO chance to become something more than just a position on the list of “shitty products nobody really needs”. Countless variations of “this D&D rip-off is totally not the D&D/it’s what D&D should really be“, or “D&D but with non-lawful good paladins” (by the way: whoever thought non-LG Paladin is a good idea is sure to land in special circle of Hell). Numerous combat mechanics presented as fully developed games (even though they feature no setting, no adventures). All those badly written, poorly edited PDFs written in Times New Roman, illustrated by kindergarten kids (probably). Myriads of games that feature almost no rules, what makes them unplayable without “just make it work” all the time, but which still are sold as “games”.
This is the shit RPG market doesn’t need. Such things are RPG equivalent of homoerotic “worst enemies” fanfic: it shouldn’t ever leave the dungeons of some private, god’s forsaken blog or a drawer in author’s desk.
Quantity kills quality.
That’s the fact.