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The Impossible Dream

Player Goals

by Hunter Logan
Feb 10,2003

 

Player Goals
The Impossible Dream Installment #3
by Hunter Logan

Intro

The topic of the day is player goals and my thoughts about how to support those goals in the game design. I suppose this also really addresses how to support a player's desired style of play. I know a lot of other people have tackled this. It has resulted in some rather large and impressive bodies of work filled to overflowing with good ideas. The most noteworthy efforts I know of resulted in grandiose three-fold theories called GDS, GNS, and GEN. These are among The Things That Shall Not Be Named on rpg.net, and for good reason. Mentioning them often brings about a massive flame war. But before you unleash the flames, rest assured I'm not going to discuss any of those.

After a very long campaign of research and discussion, I have concluded that those esteemed (and oft reviled) theories don't work very well. There are a lot of reasons for this, but I'll save the debate for another day. Suffice to say, from my exploration of those works, I developed this list of player goals and suggestions for supporting those goals. Because we are roleplayers and this is about designing RPGs, I formatted the goals on the list as roles that a player can take during play. As always, this is the way I conceptualize these things. The list is hardly all-inclusive, but I think it covers a lot of the important bases and it's a good start.

The Big List

I don't think many designers consciously choose goals to support or not support from a list like this, but the list may be a useful tool. Some of the names are colorful, but this is out of appreciation, not derision. Thus, I present The Big List: Other Factors
  • Verisimilitude: This is really all about realism and maintaining Suspension of Disbelief in your game. I am not going to fight over whether or not SoD exists. I accept it within its context. That is, you can watch a movie, read a book, or play an rpg and evaluate for yourself whether or not the presentation, handling, and outcome of events is believable within the context of the source material. This does not mean you have lost contact with reality or anything like that, but it is important to the perceived verisimilitude of your game.
  • Now, I have deluged you with food for thought. Next time, I'll talk about resolution mechanics. Thanks for reading.

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    What do you think?

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