Saturday, November 24, 2012

Terminology kills me

I have been slamming my head into SkyRPG today trying to get actual chapters written.  I have the mechanics pretty much fleshed out but it turns out that writing a roleplaying game is mostly about the gigantic blocks of text and not so much about the mechanics.  You can tell that most other RPG makers pretty much thought the same thing... when you have games with mechanics as bad as World of Darkness and DnD 2nd edition that have all kinds of fantastic art and writing in them you know it was writers making the games and not mathematicians.

The trouble is that I know exactly how things need to work but I need to come up with unambiguous descriptions to make it really easy for a random person to pick up.  I know that you can just make an attack by rolling to hit and doing 1CP damage but what do I call that?  An Attack?  That could be confused with an Attack Roll which can be part of other actions.  I could call it a Basic Attack but then I need to define that very specifically and confuse people that wonder why it isn't just an Attack.  I have turns split up into very simple parts - the beginning, which is ordered and required, and the rest of it, which is not ordered and is not required.  The problem is that every time I go to define the turn structure I end up either not being specific enough (which confuses people) or writing a small book (which bores people, which ends up confusing them because they don't read it).

I can really see why so many people have so many interpretations of how mechanics work in so many games.  Being both concise and precise seems impossible - it is something like the Uncertainty Principle, but for writing games instead of quantum mechanics.  That is a stumbling block I run into all the time while blogging but it rarely has reared its ugly head so much as in this current project.  Hopefully I can find some kind of happy medium, some remarkably turn of phrase that manages to convey everything I want in only a few words.

Soon I am going to need a few non gamers to read over my stuff to see if it makes sense.  I know hardcore gamers can figure it out, but that isn't the only intended audience.

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