Why call my gaming blog “Mechanics are easy?” Well, I needed some kind of name, and I decided I did not want to tie my blog too closely to any one particular type of game. So this should be generic enough. It was also the main theme of a lecture given by Jim Wallman of the Chestnut Lodge Wagames Group in London when I was there for a year of bitter unemployment.
Figuring out that you need some kind of mechanic in a game is trivial. Coming up with a mechanic is easy. Stick five game designers at a table, and ask them to brainstorm an initiative mechanic for a World War II Eastern Front game, come back in an hour and you will have at least eleven initiative systems sketched out on scratch paper. Coming with up with a mechanic that is consistent with other mechanics, fits coherently into the game, and is too complex – thats the hard stuff, this is where the experienced game designer can be discerned from the dilettante.
Mechanics are easy also applies to playing games. Most mechanics are easy in theory, but the fun is overcoming the difficulty of executing them in practice. My golden rule for mechanic design in games is this: you can afford to have one complex mechanic, all the other mechanics must be simple. Players can usually cope with one complex mechanic the first time they confront a game. More than that, and the more casual players never gain a sufficient understanding of the game to really have fun with it.
I anticipate that my future posts will focus on a few areas:
– designing and playing boardgames
– playing tabletop roleplaying games
– designing convention games, both for 5-8 players and 30-50 players
– playing computer games
– reflections on my time spent in Azeroth and where I think World of warcraft is going next.