Saturday, December 24, 2016

Day 46: FotLC through the 113 lenses from The Art of Game Design

Day 46 - Lens 78: The Lens of Story
To be sure the story in your game is as good as it can be, ask yourself these questions:

Does my game really need a story? Why?
No... not 'need'. The game functions without the story. Going a step deeper you have to ask what you mean by the story. I think the story of the game is very important if we are talking about the high level narrative frame, the story in the sense of Chess having a story about the struggle between the armies of two clashing kings. In that case the story of six groups depleting a central deposit of resources and claiming dominance over the area around it is important because it defines the action of the game and gives the set of rules meaning.

If we mean story on the level of the narrative detail and theme then... well I still think that it is important, but not needed for the mechanics and gameplay to function. The more specific and complex story of fall of civilization and the idea that the survivors play a game about that fall to remember what happened. The character of the Teller, perhaps details about the tribes. Those will resonate with some players and leave them invested in the world of the game as well as in the experience of playing the game mechanically. I believe that that investment will make the play experience more meaningful and affecting for the players.

Why will players be interested in this story?
Players have been interested to various degrees. Some just want to get started playing and largely ignore all but the highest level of story. I have had players ask me for a theme/story free set of rules and I will probably provide one with the finished game. However most players seem to engage with the game and the best and most enjoyed playtests have embraced it.

How does the story support the other parts of the tetrad (aesthetics, technology, mechanics) Can it do a better job?
The story was built around supporting the mechanics of the game so they are very tightly coupled and do a good job of reinforcing each other. The design decisions about the other parts of the tetrad were based on the story.

How do other parts of the tetrad support the story? Can they do a better job?
The aesthetics and technology of the game were directly derived from the story so again they are very closely paired.

How can my story be better?
Perhaps the weakest part of the story is the tribes themselves. They are generic and interchangeable and only distinguished by their colors. I am thinking of adding a short backstory to each to give people a reason to want the City to fall as well as to reinforce my themes of the struggle against hegemony and oppression.