Choices: Emergent vs. PreloadedJune 13, 2008
It also highlights a massive difference in design philosophy from what has been most of mainstream gaming vs. indie games in regards to loading choices in play.
Most mainstream rpgs usually added more and more layers of complexity onto character building, powers to choose from, and mostly more to resolution without actually adding choices IN play. You have to have mastery at character creation, and naturally new folks will lack this.
A fundamental design focus for the Forge influenced indie designs has been on the experience -in- play, so rules tend to shift away from spending a lot of time on pre-play building and more on constraining play to aim the experience towards making certain choices -within- play.
Some of these are brutally clear- like in Falling Leaves “Will you do your duty or disobey (and risk death)?” or Humanity checks in Sorcerer. Some are subtle, and come out only after playing awhile- Inspectres or Lacuna for example.
It’s funny, because I see this not just as a divide in design, but also a divide in the kinds of players it produces. I’ve seen a lot of traditional gamers freeze up in indie games when the choice time comes out in play. It’s like too muich pressure to make a choice in play, rather than have preloaded all your choices before play. (this includes fictional positioning, and character as well).