Narrative Control – Episode 80 – Conversations in Design

Hi, and welcome back to the show! This episode sparked from a twitter conversation between Luke Crane and I about design intentions. To hack or not to hack, Conversations in Design. Luke had thoughts. An hour of thoughts. Check em out! Note: This is an explicit episode.

Host: Sean Nittner

Guests: Luke Crane

Length: 1:08:21

[00:28] Intro to the show – Interview with Luke Crane.
[01:16] Luke prepared for an interview and to say things he probably shouldn’t.
[03:03] Design process. Different when you’re working on a game and when people are playing it.
[03:35] Luke’s History of Hacking.
[07:40] Part of the hacking culture is the belief that games don’t work as written.
[08:01] Difference between expansibility (developing products for a game) hacking (changing the rules)
[09:35] Design intent for Burning Wheel – Make the system shoulder the work.
[14:37] “If the game can do the heavy lifting, it should.”
[15:04] The anatomy of Burning Wheel – See diagram below:

[16:27] Burning Wheel Refined – A very compact and tight game. “If you find a place in Burning Wheel where you’re fighting with the game…you’re playing it wrong.”
[18:08] It’s very difficult to have a conversation with Burning Wheel.
[21:05] Nobody has thought about Burning Wheel as much as Luke has. Three people made sudden insights that helped the system: Ralph Mazza, Kenneth Hite, and Thor Olavsrud. And those prompted the change form Classic to Revised.
[26:16] Burning Wheel path to expansibility – Trait votes!
[27:57] Burning Wheel is a heavy brick of game design… Apocalypse World was designed to be hackable! Fate has the same ethos. Designing for the culture!
[30:15] But… they have captured the audience so well that it stymies design.
[31:52] People are still making D&D clones… so making a product that is hacked isn’t anything new.
[32:30] Apocalypse World and Fate Core raising the bar for fledging game designers, but also creating a paper ceiling.
[38:20] Vincent Baker designed all those game.
[39:39] Discussion about the playability and enjoy-ability and good that has come out of Apocalypse Engine and Fate games.  Not about whether it is fun to play or not.
[41:28] The state of RPG design in the aftermath of Apocalypse World and Fate in 10-15 years. Right now were playing with the new bounty we have.
[42:47] Frustration of developing in the shadow of Vincent [and Fate].
[44:18] The games have given Luke a new perspective on Burning Wheel and a new appreciation for it. BWHQ manifesto includes that we’ll never make a popular game and that’s okay.
[46:40] Fate*World. Yep, it exists. Ryan Macklin posted it.
[47:30] What is Luke looking for in the future from other designers?
[49:54] The secret history of why this podcast is named Narrative Control. #notasecret
[50:19] Value of expansibility content. New adventures, settings, new systems for specific uses. A plug for my own development of Stone Dragon Mountain
[55:05] A gift for Vincent from Luke. Two soaring birds.
[55:12] Board gamers are very good at articulating the components of their games. RPGs aren’t distilled down that quickly.
[57:17] The political discussion about games is counter-productive.
[58:08] RPGs are hard to talk about. They are on the cutting edge of “what is a game”?

Direct download: NC_Episode_080.mp3

5 thoughts on “Narrative Control – Episode 80 – Conversations in Design”

  1. If you’re one of those people for who BW doesn’t work as-is, I’m not convinced that BW hacked works any less. At that point, we’re losing the definition of what “working” means.

    1. Yes. Unless we somehow define “working” in terms of process (a la compliance with regulation) rather than outcome (player experience). For a leisure activity, that seems a very odd definition.

    1. Hi Aaron,

      Yep, “Ur” means proto, primitive, or original. Often used in reference to either biblical texts (as there is much discussion of how they changed over the years) or to classical music (where the composers original notes after first being discarded are later painstakingly restored). I this case I think Luke just meant the RPG that nearly every other RPG has been derived from.

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