Monday, August 23, 2021

#RPGaDay2021 Day 23: Innovation

Today I'm taking on Innovation! Being a fan of novelty, I'm inclined to appreciate innovation. Innovation, creativity, brand new things! As for the value of innovation, as much as I appreciate it, I do feel it is often over-rated. How do I mean? Well, I'll talk about it as it related to game design.

One thing I have seen online when someone gets the idea they want to design their own RPG, is that they think the game needs an innovation in order to generate interest or really to even serve a purpose. Sometimes this desire to be unique or different is separated from... what actually improves the game. For example, new designers seem to be obsessed with resolution systems, possible different ways to roll dice, and is maybe there a new way? It is worth investigating how different games handle resolution and maybe even trying to come up with methods of your own, but a game isn't going to be better or worse because you use cards or 2d6, or a d20, or a dice pool where you add up successes... at least not in isolation. An RPG should be created with a vision of what the creator wants it to be, a vision of the kind of play it would produce, not just an assemblage of ideas that strike the designer as interesting. With that vision, a designer can then use their knowledge of existing systems and their own creativity to bring together a system that works for the purpose. Sometimes an innovation can take a game to a higher level, but a game could contain no particularly innovative mechanics or ideas even, but if executed perfectly, or is satisfyingly novel in its manner of combining old known elements... be the better game. Don't let an idea be held so dear that you'd let your game suffer to preserve it. It's a variation on the ol' "kill your darlings" advice.

This leads on to another area where innovation gets over-rated. Sometimes folks who are interested in creating a new something, RPG in this case, get concerned that they'll come up with a brilliant, innovative idea, but if they let anyone know too far ahead of time it'll get stolen. Also along these lines are people who come up with ideas and have a wish that others would build them out. Basically, the point is that work and implementation is vastly more important than any thought or idea that may strike you as innovative. It's reminding me of what I wrote for the "Write" prompt last week, there are a lot of ways to spin your wheels and avoid doing the thing you claim you want to do. A seemingly innovative idea is not much more than a fantasy until implemented. Also, what seems innovative sometimes falls apart when you actually move beyond that surface level of interest and really get into the nitty-gritty of it. Innovation is great, but sadly it doesn't let you bypass the effort and commitment needed to bring something into being.

May you find it in you to bring your innovations to fruition!

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