23 Mar

Too Random = Not Enough Meaningful Decisions

Advanced Squad Leader counter pile

Advanced Squad Leader counter pileWhat does too random mean?

I hear it all the time, I even say it. This game is too random, that action is too random. There’s too much random going on. But hold on, what does too random really mean?

I remember a session of Advanced Squad Leader Amazon where there was a Heavy Machine Gun firing down a street and whole platoon ran across the street and nothing. Not a single hit. They were probably jumping and waving and throwing their berets in the air while they were doing it too. Then a commissar walks by and shouts “boo” and the HMG picks up and runs. My opponent was laughing his ears off.

So ASL is very random, right? There’s loads and loads of dice and markers and stuff. But I’ve never heard anyone call ASL random (OK, I have but I’m not going to admit it).

So there’s something more to randomness than die rolls. And that something is decisions. Read More

21 Oct

Outlining Your Game with Decision Diagrams

Feet and ArrowsI’m not much for analysis. I like to dive right in, flow with the idea and see where it takes me.

That’s usually a dead end. And another dead end. And another, and another. Ok, organic designing is fun but it’s not the most efficient way to get your game finished. Sure, you could try every combination of actions, mechanics and components you can think of but the number of combinations rapidly escalates and soon you’ll be wasting your precious playtesting time in order to see whether twelve cows or fifteen sheep are better.

That’s where a bit of analysis comes in handy. For some this comes intuitively: either they’ve designed so much that they’ll see the most common pitfalls outright or they’re used to analyzing data and can flush everything through a spreadsheet.

Me, I need help. Read More