Wednesday, January 4, 2006

Mini-Game Future: Thoughts Part One

So I'm struggling these days to finish up the FREE adventure supplement for Infinite: Epic Modern, which is fun to write, but a bit of a pain because, well, high-level d20 character generation is a huge pain. Every time the PCs need to run into somebody who can challenge them it means taking a little while.

Though I have to say RPGObjects' Modern Character Generator is awesomely cool. But then pretty much everything they do is cool.

There's been some interesting discussion going on over at ENWorld about how D&D and tabletop role-playing in general is being affected by the mammoth growth of MMORPG's like World of Warcraft. The concern is that these new generation of video games will impact TRPG (tabletop RPGs) growth by providing an experience that gives more of the "fun" parts of role-playing (cool locations and stuff, NPC interaction and killing things/taking stuff) with less of the "not fun" parts (math).

Which got me thinking about ways to reduce the "not fun" part of tabletop gaming (which I vastly prefer to video gaming, but because a lot of the stuff that's "not fun" for most people is "fun" for me -- like figuring out rules, generating characters, coming up with whole new rules and, well, generally, math. Coming up with the mechanics behind Hot Pursuit is some of the most fun I've had with my brain in a long time. Likewise the Panache mechanic in Gun-Fu: Balletic Ballistics. I LIKE doing that stuff, but I recognize that almost nobody I know does likewise (hi Chris).

Which reminded of the vision I had when I originally started EN Mini-Games: to create tools that allowed DMs to hold a fun afternoon of gaming, something new and entertaining, without having to do very much work beforehand. I wanted to put out products that a DM could buy Saturday morning and have friends over to play Saturday afternoon, confident that there'd be a couple of new funky mechanics to make things interesting, a fun adventure to play through and generally all the components of a good game, just awaiting a reasonable DM and a bunch of enthusiastic players.

I'm not sure the existing passel of products succeed in meeting that goal. The games themselves are great, and the adventures have all been good, but there's still a couple of things that a DM (and the players) would have to do in order to play that probably fall into the "not fun for people who aren't Corey" category.

First up is character generation. This has become especially clear working on Infinite. For me, character generation is tons of fun. Poking at alternatives, thinking up combinations, balancing numbers, all that stuff is a joy to me. Not so much for others, all the time. So coming soon the mini-games I produce will include a set of pre-generated PCs on fully-developed character sheets, ready to be handed out to players at the start of the game session.

We'll continue creating free adventures to go with the games, though they will probably be included in the game product itself so that just the one product provides everything the DM needs. I'm thinking of other ideas like quick-reference charts for new rules, handouts and other good stuff.

Watch this space.