Do One Thing Well
This is only tangentially related to Keystone, the game I’m reading (and providing feedback on) right now, but it’s been on my mind since reading the character and world creation chapters.
A little background: the idea behind the One Thing Well site is to showcase software that fulfills a single purpose or need well, and doesn’t do much else. That basic idea, of finding something that just does the thing you need and does it well, extends out to other areas – physical tools, furniture, whatever.
I think that one of the hardest parts to making a game is figuring out what your game’s One Thing is, and sticking to it.
Fiasco, for example, is a game that knows its thing and sticks to it. There’s not a single rule there that idn’t for that one very specific genre. Fiasco does one type of story and one type of game well.
Figuring out your one thing, communicating it to others, and sticking to it is the biggest challenge of game design. It’s that first, all important question: What is your game about? But it’s also the related questions: what is your game not about? What is your game not about, but it can do anyway?