Games Design - [E&E]Game Prep Stuff & District Design

Posted by: Matt On: Jan 21st 2011 edited

So a while ago I put up the the district sheet from E&E, to see what people's reactions were without much in the way of context. Part of the reason for doing that was to test if it hit the right buttons. At the moment that reaction feels like a tentative yes, so I'm going to talk a bit about some of the play prep stuff for the game.

The game will come with all the district sheets, either in the book or in some other form yet to be decided (I've considered downloads or postcards). There will be somewhere in the region of 10-15 depending on how many good ones I write or are contributed. There will be the opportunity to write your own, I see this as a nice tinker toy aspect and possible promotional tool.

Each of the players, including the director, will pick a district to play with as part of a group discussion, they can't pick one they designed. This nicely zooms the setting in to the bits the players think are cool, so you don't really have to worry about the rest of it. Each district will also have tags, allowing you to skip through them and identify themes and elements you particularly like if you're not at all familiar with the background. They also have fragments, hints at stuff going on or happening right now that provide an instant "in" to the game.

So in theory, you end up with a set of districts that push the right buttons for the players. Now it may be that I need a step here for rejecting stuff... I think picking as a group should work though. Thoughts?

Posted by: Gregor Hutton On: Jan 22nd 2011

Downloads would be very cool (or a wiki of user-generated ones?), and I owuldn't mind if the book just came with five or something (as in the "you can play this NOW with these districts" and more are on the web or a separate pack, like postcards or whatever).

My strong gut feeling is that each player should picks the one that works for them best, rather than as part of a group discussion. I think group discussions allowing for a player to push/pull others towards picking other districts that they also like (i.e. domineering player A picks Distict 1 and then socially manoeuvres players B, C and D towards picking Districts 2, 3 and 4 as player A likes them too -- not caring that ideally B, C and D would have picked Districts 7, 12 and 14 if A hadn't been there -- it's not like they had any input on A).

That's my feeling. All the districts should be compatible. None flat-out violate any others do they?

(Playtesting may prove me wrong though, maybe there needs to be a baseline of compatibility that only a group discussion could bring?)

Posted by: Matt On: Jan 23rd 2011

You have a very good point about that social dynamic (at work we call it the focus group problem, it's why they don't work for discovering a products problems/appeal).

None of the districts are incompatible, so yeah, maybe I'm just being overly cautious.

In fact, thinking about it the mechanics in play should allow a much more balanced effort of avoiding the stuff you don't like and focusing on what everybody finds fun, so the group discussion before play may well be overly egging it with play before play...

a wiki is definitely part of the plan for this one. I have a plan about something to turn a wiki page city sheet automagically into a nicely formatted PDF that looks like the ones in the book... We'll see if I have time.

Posted by: Joe Prince On: Jan 25th 2011

What I think would be cool is if each player GMs their district as the the protagonists travel throughout the city. Then each player gets to generate and slowly reveal his district's secrets!

Posted by: Matt On: Jan 25th 2011

Funny you should mention that Joe :)

The Fragments on each district sheet feed into just such a mechanism, which is kinda like Hot War's agendas but for setting elements. Players own the fragments and the idea is that scenes reveal aspects of the city and evolve them towards a revelation of some kind. So, not entirely GMing, but authorial control definitely.

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