Simplicity vs Depth

Over the New Year holiday I got a chance to run a couple games that I’ve grown to love: Dr. Magnet Hands and All Out of Bubblegum. These are excellent party games where you can literally just sit down and play (okay, AOB requires a story, but we have plenty of those). These “micro-games” are so much fun that I am often left baffled on why we would ever need more elaborate rules.

But then I’m reminded of many conversations with friends and designers alike where we talk about the difference between a good snack and a full meal. Sometimes, we just want some salty potato chips - and that’s exactly what micro games provide. A short, but delicious burst of enjoyment. The problem is that it doesn’t actually fill the roleplaying need that a lot of us feel. For that, we turn to our super in depth and crunchy games, like Shadowrun or The Burning Wheel. These games, with their thousands of pages of printed material, provide us with deep, rich roleplaying experiences that micro games rarely give us.

Swinging back though, we’re now all busy adults, with very little time to game, much less prep for said games that will give us the rich experiences we desire. Instead, it’s much easier to turn to professional video games, that gives us hours of carefully constructed content in a relatively short amount of time. Alas, these games take their toll too, eventually, as we realize how we’re stuck in our basements instead of spending time with our friends.

So the target that I suppose a lot of us are aiming for is that perfect balance of streamlined gameplay and depth of content. Some would say it’s a fools quest, but damn it we’re proud fools. I can’t play micro games forever; they just don’t stand up to the test of time for a campaign. Yet at the same time I can’t push myself to commit to huge games of Shadowrun when I know easier games like D&D exist.

For Hostargo, a design goal that I have is to create a game with enough campaign content, adventure hooks, and interesting things to play with that both the players and the GM can have fun without having to pour tons of their precious time into it. I have a long way to go, but I’m willing to climb the mountain.