Thursday, March 11, 2010

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: Throwing out a good game element for a better game element

I'd like to discuss one of the hardest things (for me) to do in game design. Throwing out or replacing a good game element for a better one. Its very hard on a human level to throw out something thats "still perfectly good!" just because you have something better.

I will fully admit this may be a me thing (and people like me), for while I still have my 16" CRT TV stashed in a closet because it works fine, my spouse wants to throw it out since we have a 32" HD TV. On a logical level I know she is right, it may work fine but I don't need it. On an emotional level the thing works just perfectly, and since no one else wants it , it FEELS like a waste. So too with game mechanics, story points or other design elements.

To give a few specifics, in this particular case I am dealing with combat in Piecemeal 1e. From the alpha, several different solutions emerged to one problem: Hit/Miss/Repeat stale combat, A lack of tactical choices.

Two divergent systems emerged and one of them makes the other no longer needed, turning it from a good mechanic into extra (and pointless) rules bloat. Thus I know the axe needs to come down, but .."It still works just fine!". I wonder if this is what pro sport scouts feel like, a load of excellent talent and needing only to keep the best of the best.

So have any of you ever had this issue when designing a game system, campaign world or module? Any personal stories?


  1. I think a lot of things get kept in systems even if unnecessary because they're traditions or designers think people expect them. Ability scores rated from 3-18 in games that aren't using 3d6 for character generation comes to mind. If all that matters is the bonus from the ability score, that's what you should be recording -- not the 3-18 number. :)

    I guess I sort of feel a similar way about d20 attack rolls. I have something that I think is much better, but d20 "still works just fine".

  2. Yes.
    --When that happens I usually create a second game and let it develop in it own right.

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