Friday, 10. September 2010
Most pen and paper games are very old school in that the primary media used to drive the rules and game itself is books. Books are heavy, expensive to produce and often contain a tremendous amount of information as well as photographs to sift through. This is hardly ideal when attempting to maintain efficient game flow. Fortunately, there has been a slow turn towards using other media effectively as is pointed out over at Neogrognard. The cards are a good solution but inevitably breaks down into using even more media than before, potentially adding additional complication.
Allow me to say before I go any further that I think the nostalgic feel is why people play these games instead of say, a Crpg. In that regard they need to retain the same object in hands feeling and social aspect while hopefully cutting down on the number of things to keep track of.
As antiquated as books are there is a lot of good reasons to use them.. something that needs to be leveraged upon but not thought of as the be all end all. For starters, the information is easily available.. if you’ve got the general location in the book memorized. It’s also highly portable and relatively durable with the exception of taking a bath in soda or being chewed upon by the family pet. In order to really capitalize on this games with more complicated rules systems need a condensed version that is easy to reference printable and/or purchasable for a low cost. The maximum page count should be around 50, but less is better particular for the amount of data the storyteller has to manage.
Cards are a good step forward as well particularly if it’s something that needs to keep track of how abilities are managed. They can be tapped as in Magic, or overturned and simply reset once the encounter or given time is over. This greatly simplifies record keeping and turns the cards into a bit of a player sheet themselves. I think its a good way of handling that if your rules are complicated enough to need them, but also think that simplifying away from using them is as much of an advantage as anything.
The handheld device market such as phones, blackberries and Ebook readers needs to be developed for the ease of distribution and use. I see phones as being particularly useful from a standpoint of quick reference as well as being able to access character sheet information that constantly changes. Stats, exp, hp and the like are especially useful rather than rubbing holes in paper over and over. Being portable and attached to something important (who wants to leave without their phone nowadays) makes it that much harder to actually forget anything. Any sort of online recoverable storage works in a similar fashion, one could always download the information should it get lost.
That all saidI think anything thats easy to keep track of and has a nice tangible aspect to it is good for gaming. People like to feel something in their hands, even if its just a piece of paper. It something that wears and shows character as the player ages.