Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Day 4: FotLC through the 113 lenses from The Art of Game Design

Day 4 - Lens 11: The Lens of Unification
To use this lens, consider the reason behind it all. Ask yourself these questions:

What is my theme?
I think that there are two things that can be meant by theme. The first is the kind of deep meaning and purpose that you think of when you talk about the theme of a work of literature. The second is the kind of setting and context that you think of when you talk about a Theme Park.

I have tried to give both of those things consideration in my game. Over the course of development what I thought the theme was has evolved. In the beginning I would have said something like 'realtime territory control'. Later the mechanic that describes became more complex... but I don't think that was really a theme.

As the game became fully formed I might have said that the theme was the tension between deterministic strategy and social interaction. That might still be describing the mechanics though. Perhaps the theme is the inevitability of social change... or the need for social stability in the face of an endlessly changing world.

As for the second interpretation of theme, I decided relatively early on on a post apocalyptic theme. The speciffics changed a lot but it was mostly an issue of refinement.

Am I using every means possible to reinforce that theme?
This time I will start with the setting interpretation of theme. I have gradually added more and more elements of the setting into the physical game, from the board and components to the language of the rules and their physical artifact. Even the way the players signal the end of a turn echoes the setting. I may find new ways to tie that kind of theme to the game but I feel pretty good about what I have.

As for the games deeper meaning I would love to say that I had a grand vision and have executed on it but in this case I started with the mechanics and thought a lot about what they were saying. Then I thought about how I could shift things subtly to be more in line with something I would want to say.

Having established what the deeper meaning was I did things like adding the artifact the player is given when they win the game. That uses the setting to kind of break the fourth wall and talk to the player about their experience. ...we'll see how that goes over in my next play test.