Project P – OR – how to put your idea through a shredder

When designing, you can safely assume that it will come out perfect…

Then be ready to throw it in a bin and NEVER ever play it.

OR you can take the idea and put it through a shredder… OK surely that the same thing right.

Actually no, no there is a difference, if you bin it in my book you are completely abandoning an idea.  When you shred it, you are effectively splitting it into its components.

When designing mega-games, you want to throw as much in as you can and you believe that if you remove 1 part, the rest will fall apart.  If you reach the point that your believe this is true and it’s still going wrong, now you should throw it in the bin.  You can always rearrange your mechanics.  OK there is a cut off point but you have a lot of flexibility.

Ico, Shadow of the Colossus and the Last Guardian have a common design philosophy known as Design by Subtraction by Fumito Ueda; the idea of stripping out elements that are just there for the sake of being there or that remove from the Core element.  The only problem is the if you strip it down to a single Core then you do not have enough for a mega game so while it’s a strong idea.

For mega-games I would still use this as a base; then you take the items you’ve shredded out and see if there is a way of putting something simpler than the original concept that was taken out.  The more you subtract to refine the Core, the less you have for players to do so there is a balancing act to complete.

I can’t discuss much more than this without spoiling an upcoming mega-game so I’ll say this; there is a common trend for players NOT to read rulebooks.  As such you have to assume they will need to learn everything on the day.  The more there is to learn, the harder it is for players to get involved but if you don’t have enough then they will end up being bored.  This is a challenging balancing act.

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