Jordan Mechner is among my favorite game designers, not least because I dig the way he integrates stories into gameplay. I played the original Prince of Persia and the later reinvention, The Sands of Time, over and over again, sometimes to sample the story again and sometimes for gameplay. Seriously, I played those game a lot. If time devoted is success earned in game design (and maybe it isn’t, I just made that up), then these games are wild successes in my eye.
I tell you this so you’ll see my bias. I think Mechner’s two lists of tips for game designers are pretty good sources of advice—clear and wise—but I may be too much the devotee. What do you think about these lists of tips?
- Designing for Story-Based Games (I think #11 is a clear winner for RPG fans; it’s what leads to the inevitable desire to run a campaign in another game’s setting)
- Tips for Game Designers (Every GM and DM should pay attention to #9)
Several of these would make great Things, I think. But take a closer look at that second list and consider this: how might it apply to the at-home DM running her weekly campaign? If an RPG campaign is a game in active development—a title that either never streets or streets every week during play, depending on your perspective—what does the DM (or the whole group!) have to learn from game-development tips? Some of Mechner’s lessons apply during play, some during preparation, but I think each can be used to examine the work the DM does in designing, if you will, her own D&D game title week by week.