Some concepts are inherently synergistic, proving to be of value in one arena, and then you come to find out that they are equally prized elsewhere.
Take Your Places!
Rohan recently visited an ever-popular debate surrounding class roles, and brought up some wonderful insight adding to the reasons why it all makes sense. I’d recommend the read, highlighting the section on how simplicity at the root level breeds layering, complexity and sophistication.
In the comments section, Syl mentions how the biggest issue of the trinity is that by the same virtue that it creates cooperation, it does also prevent it – due to its inflexibility. Not wishing to dime her out, but this got me to thinking.
I’d never considered the cause:effect relationship between the firm class system, and why I believed the system gave the most flexibility. She’s right, the system is inflexible with rigid roles, but the outcome is that encounters can be extremely flexible in their design. This beauty is detailed through examples in Rohan’s post. I have always known this, but I’ve never made the link between the two. It really boils down to a very famous anonymous quote:
“In order to be radical in one’s art, one needs to be conservative in one’s life.”
In the same way, game designers who wish to make wonderful and engaging systems require a solid (read: inflexible) foundation from which to draw. A painter needs 3 distinct, primary colors from which to mix all others. The flaw here comes from the convenience of the player, wishing to approach a game without having to ‘buy in’. Why can’t I have the flexibility to perform all roles? Well, there’s another famous anonymous quote for that:
“Trash in, trash out.”
Without a system with clearly defined roles, you can’t expect to somehow find solace amidst the noise. Fluke occurrences exist, but these do not a great game make.
A Lofty Goal
This got me thinking about the reason behind why I enjoy gating through the attunement concept. While there are pros and cons to the social implications of a ‘rite of passage’, the necessity of having to prove oneself carries implications.
Done properly, gated entrances prepare the gamer for what’s ahead. I’m not talking about ‘move to location x, collect y of item z’ then you get a golden ticket. I’m talking about needing to pass x test through y difficulties in order to gain access to z. No one has any business stepping onto a motorcycle track if they haven’t demonstrated basic riding capabilities, right?
Not to mention, there’s a lot to be said for vested interest. Working just be able to enjoy oneself adds meaning to the enjoyment. Hey, there’s a quote for that:
“Easy come, easy go.”
So, the Point Exactly?
These are both systems that aren’t historically explicitly stated, but yet establish a standard with the gamer. In no uncertain terms is there not an expectation set.
- 3 roles, sprinkle a bit of each in your group. By doing so, you will have the tools to pass this test.
- This is the entrance to the dragon’s lair. If you can’t pass that test, you won’t be able to pass this one.
This is the stuff human communication is made of: contracts are all about mutually understood expectations, an engineer designs a product with an expectation that materials will perform a given way… and game designers use them as well. The two listed in this post have a strong following of disapproving voices, but it can only be because of a misunderstanding of the value and purpose that these systems represent.
The frustration can stem from whether or not the designers deliver on those expectations. But setting them is what’s paramount.