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So, in short, what IS Rose Gear Online?

You’re a pilot with a modular mech that can rip an arm off your opponent and strap it onto your frame with a flick of your wrist. You’re trying to build a sustainable civilization on an inhospitable world. You’re trying to unravel where the hell the terraforming team even went.

And then you step out of the VR arcades that speckle the slowly-sinking city of Neo-Chiba, and you’re one of the few who know what that icon on that billboard means.

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But this was where I set down my design principles:

Make it flashy.
Make it chaotic.
Make it queer.

Nail those, and everything else will follow.

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in both, half the gameplay is improving your engine outside the game. it’s researching cards to change out or planning out your next feat

RPGs also have this concept of a “pactive” effect: a passive effect that’s sufficiently small to not really be worth rewinding for if you forget about it, so in practice it’s a small active effect with forgiving timing. and usually you get like a million of these fuckers

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structural differences:

* TCGs have concepts of hand and field, in play and out, and a thing must usually be “brought into play” and shown to the opponent before it can be used (which could be really funny in roleplaying as stopping to go “and now, let me explain how my anime ability works”)

* RPGs instead just keep piling on effects which are all available to you more or less simultaneously. managing the increasing cognitive load is part of the challenge/fun

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character building differences:

* you’re not usually 100% in control of what goes into your character (you’re at the mercy of whatever magic items your GM puts in front of you)
* rather than “pokers” you more collect “keys(?),” highly specialized effects that are answers to certain problems

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therefore the most effective TCG deck is the one that has the most consistent engine, which is usually the one with the fewest openings for pokers (and RNG fuckery)

unfortunately, this means that the most effective TCG deck tends to be the least interactive one (OTK, control archetypes)

the more effective you make your deck, the more similar every match with it becomes. maybe there’s a mastery element to be found here but usually this ends up boring to me

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both are focused around building an engine (a character/deck) which is mostly a collection of interesting effects and synergies

TCG decks are usually more tightly defined because the situations your deck is going to encounter are also more tightly defined; there’s no “diplomacy” option to resolve a MtG fight

TCG decks consist primarily of “engines” and “pokers:” things you do to advance to your win condition, and things you do to interfere with your opponent’s engine

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braindump: the design space overlap between TCGs and tactical combat RPGs (a thread)

The GM moves concept is also helpful but not limiting. The only thing I really want to add is “Start or advance a clock,” which isn’t in Interstitial specifically but after seeing it in other PbtA stuff, I want to be able to use that mechanic.

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Percolating on my first PbtA session, and I gotta say... I like it so far.

I feel like I’m not doing it in anything remotely approaching the intended way right now—our first session was an explicit meetup with a bunch of player secrets to sprinkle some surprises throughout—but that was a deliberate one-off decision.

also I think these emotions, awe and existential quandary, aren’t really well understood or studied compared to “sad” and “angry” and “horny,” the trifecta that drives most media

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rewarding awe (really, a better phrasing would be “leaving space for awe”) is a really interesting design choice not usually taken, but I think the reason games don’t is that it’s not sustainable over a long time, and games don’t generally want to end

sure you can make the credits roll but there’s 60 more hours of grinding for the superboss! and by then you’ll loathe every second of this sweeping vista standing between you and the quest return point

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Undertale attempts to do this, to fight your attempts to see everything, with So Sorry and Fun making it artificially difficult to see all the content (and the genocide ending essentially outright stating you’re a terrible person for even trying to do so; see Braid, but better)

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So why don’t games reward this kind of experience?

I think it’s because all of that happens in your head. You can try to reward immersion, you can reward the player for thinking with logic, but it often becomes an exercise in frustration at leaky abstractions. (Oh, sure, they can see my cigarette and snipe that, but I can’t throw it over there because the game has no option to perform that action.)

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All of this is to say: joy is the overcoming of hardship, of checking the shelf over and over week after week with no sign of anything exciting. Relief is the release of tension and frustration; if there was never any to begin with, there’s nothing built up for that payoff.

Don’t be afraid to make your players suffer a little. But do it with an eye towards the payoff.

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These days, you already know when something new is coming out. Hell, you probably know the exact shipment it’s on and when Steve is putting them on the shelves after lunch, thanks to those Target UPC lookup sites and shit.

The internet has made it so convenient that it’s flattened out that whole emotional arc. And it does that to a lot of things.

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The real reason I want to dig into is that the process of buying a toy is only maybe 30% about the physical object of the toy itself.

When you’re a kid, getting to go to the toy section requires strong-arming your parent into agreeing. Then you have to check, and most of the time there’s nothing. But every once in a while: the surprise, the discovery of some new line or wave!

THAT’s what the experience is about, that excitement. Buying the cool new thing is just a formality afterward.

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The first reason is that a lot of toys are crap, and kids are more discerning than we give them credit for.

They’re disposable. Cheaply made, five points of articulation (two arms, two legs, and neck or waist), maybe one accessory if you’re lucky. The halcyon days of cheap plastic and glorious weird bullshit gimmicks are behind us, at least for the moment.

But this is tangential to my point.

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Let’s talk about toys.

I’ve heard it said, though I don’t know the truth of the matter, that kids these days aren’t into toys. That the iPad is making action figures obsolete.

Why is that? And why am I talking about it on my game design account?

hot board game takes 

No More Heroes’s gameplay is what I aspire to emulate. Fast. Intense. Messy. Unpredictable.

With motion controls, you can’t have super perfect inputs, but the game says that’s okay. You’re gonna fuck up. Just fuck up faster than they do and don’t let up for a second. Keep attacking, keep moving, get into that flow state.

Give me a board game like THAT instead. I wonder if that’s even possible...

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hot board game takes 

chess is the moba of board games: slow and tedious, zoomed out way too far, and by the fifth minute you know who’s gonna win but you still have two hours of misery to go

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