Happy Bishop Games

If the bishop's happy, we're happy

Happy Bishop Games - If the bishop's happy, we're happy

Whose game is it, anyway?

I was reading the excellent article (as usual) on the Socratic Design blog when I started to think about design as art and the authority of the artist to define his work. (Yes, this is a high-falutin’ entry today.)

I’m designing Triune as a “serious” game akin to Traveller or WoD games. (As opposed to sillier games like Paranoia.) I also want to challenge players’ mindsets and feelings towards religion. My design shows that: few jokes in the rulebook, serious tone in the introductory adventure, religions are character classes, etc.

Is that right?

As the designer, I have very definite thoughts about how the Triune game experience should reach players. During playtesting, I’ve encouraged that. Again, I think the rules encourage that as well. But one playtest turned into a silly riot full of pratfalls and bad puns. Completely different experience than what I designed. Everyone had fun, which is the point of a game afterall, but should a designer worry about that?

For example, I’m positive the people behind Passion of the Christ wanted viewers to feel sympathy, if not love and guilt, from the viewing experience. Yet the Passion of the Christ Drinking Game kinda changes that. Should a designer try to push the gameplay into providing “his” experience?

I would say yes and no. I’m the designer, so I can try as hard as I can to set a certain experience for players. In fact, I think that’s a requirement! Otherwise, you get bland, boring generic systems that don’t do much for players. However, once the game is purchased, it is no longer my work alone. It becomes part of the players’ work and they have the right to alter the experience as they see fit, even if I think it’s blasphemy.

I think Vampire works best as a serious game; there’s a lot to be taken from the humanity/beast thing going on. But if people want to just focus on combat, or soap-opera romance, or a parody of Twilight, who am I to say that’s wrong?

Whose game is it, anyway? Right now, because it’s unreleased, it’s mine. Once published, it’s ours. Publishing removes my right to Emperor of Gameplay Experience as I surrender to a democracy and diversity of experiences.

Out of control writing?

As we commented on before, we are busy fleshing out the world of Triune. In doing so, we have screwed up and made more work for us–but this is probably a good thing.

Since the game delves deeply into that wonderful place where religion and law meet, we are committing good space to describing the various nations/worlds of the setting. (USA, EU, Luna, etc.) Also, while playing the game, players can shift nations towards Heaven, Hell, or the Hegemony. So we’ve been writing descriptions on these nations, including underground organizations active therein. (As usual, they are either terrorists or freedom fighters depending on your point of view.)

The bits on underground organizations tended to explain what the organization is all about to explain why their active in that particular nation. After writing this way repeatedly, we realized we should make a new section devoted to explaining underground organizations in the setting. This would create good adventure hooks, and it just makes sense.

Which means we have to cut all the underground group material from the setting info, put it in a new place, and write new stuff about what each group is doing in each nation. Crap. Is this book ever going to get finished? Has writing material for Triune gotten out of control? Not sure, but I’ll worry about that later. Right now, I’ve got some major editing to do.

Resolution Systems list created

Here at Happy Bishop Games, we love roleplaying games. Not just for how they create socially acceptable environments to say things like, “I disembowel him with my pinky!”, but for all the different ways rpgs have to resolve conflicts. From rolling a single d20 to throwing some coins in the air, there are a lot of fascinating, innovative systems out there. (And lots of boring,¬†derivative¬†ones as well.) To help explore all of these, we have created a new page that lists resolution systems.

We think this list would be helpful to game designers by letting us see how other games handle resolution, to see if our “great idea” has been done before and to see how we can tweak a given system to fit a game. (Remember kiddies, systems aren’t copyrighted.) For example, when we began work on Triune and wanted to decide on a system, we looked at other systems to help us decide which would be best. In the end, we decided to create our own system since no other system had what we were looking for. Still, a list like this would have been helpful, so we made that list.

We’ve also set up a forum to discuss this list. If you want to add a system, please do! Post it on the forum and we’ll eventually get around to adding it to the big list. You can also complain bitterly about how we screwed up on any number of details, such as our classification system and our omissions. We get it–we’re stoopid. And, we’re OK with that.