Creative Agenda and design cycles

November 28, 2009

This is sort of a different, more generalized way of thinking about CA’s and overlaps a lot with Vincent Bakers’s Fruitful Void and John Harper’s Conflict/Scene chart.

This setup looks at what each Agenda highlights as a focus of play, not that elements aren’t present (the core elements Color, Setting, Situation, Character, System, are always present for all roleplaying).

It also looks at what is -always- highlighted, not just sometimes depending on the local group preference, for example, some Sim games have really high focus on Situation, some have next to nothing, so, we can say as an Agenda, it’s optional as to whether it gets focused on, but not key – these look at things which are key to play.

Think of it that each layer feeds into the one below it, and the one at the bottom cycles back up to the top.

When you’re designing a game, the question to ask is, “What rules do I need in place to get people through those layers and cycle it back up to the top again?”

And yeah, there might be a couple of things where you -don’t- need rules, because the intuitiveness of everything else you just set up… but that’s part of answering that question in the first place.

You’ll also notice for incoherent games, this is a way to recognize which way you need to swing things if you want the game to work one way or another.


Conflicts/Character Decisions
(Shapes & Reveals the characters)
Outcomes and Consequences (cycles back to Situation)


Events/Character Actions
(Reinforces Setting & Color, cycles back up Setting)


Long strategy and resource management
Tactics, short term resources, fictional positioning
(Sets up player choices through tactics and strategy cycles to Long Term)

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