Friday, August 22, 2008

Setting unimportant for indie games?

Something struck me as I was browsing the indie games at Gencon. The most successful titles, the ones that stick with me for weeks after a quick 15-minute demo, aren’t the games with the epic, engrossing settings. Rather, they’re the games that hinge on one truly unique mechanic, something that’s so innovative that I smack myself on the forehead and say, “ Why didn’t I think of that?”

I think that’s where the future of RPGs might be. Not in voluminous settings that require small armies of writers and editors to produce (although there’s certainly something to be said for deeply engrossing titles like Dark Heresy or Blue Planet) but in stripped-down, minimalist games whose success rests on a single spiffy game mechanic. Web publishing makes these ventures exceedingly easy to create and distribute. Ben and I have been kicking around a game idea for a while, and it would certainly be an interesting exercise to restart the process through this paradigm.

1 comment:

Supah said...

I tend to think the opposite - that setting is really important for indie games (at least the good ones). One of the things that indie games do well in my mind is include mechanics that reinforce the setting instead of just laying on top of it. Like the insanity mechanic in Cthulhu. Generic systems are fine for quick and dirty pick up play, but they're not going to focus your attention on what's narratively important in the game, which is (theoretically) the hallmark of indie systems.