Quick Takes: Locking Fun Behind Luck
Quick takes are super-short glances into my thoughts on some game- or writing-related subject.
In many (though certainly not all) games, luck plays an important part in success.
Statistics tells us that the more people play a game, the more of them will be statistical outliers.
We can’t predict who will be extra lucky or unlucky in advance. But we can assume that there will be some outlier players who are consistently experiencing unlikely outcomes.
So if a game locks a fun rules subsystem behind statistically uncommon events, it’s holding those back from people who happen to have runs of bad luck.
Here I am talking about more than just success (though thinking about how much luck impacts the ability to succeed is a useful design activity). But if there are fun things that *only* happen when a player rolls a 20 on a d20 (such as a critical hit deck with narrative events on top of game effects), that’s locking part of the fun behind a luck-wall.
Now, maybe that’s okay. Maybe such consistent bad luck will be so rare that it’s not going to impact a large enough player base to adjust game design to mitigate the access to those rules.
But it’s also worth thinking about if there are ways to let a player interact with those rules without depending on luck. Maybe even not something that makes them more effective, but just gives them access to the tools in that toolbox in different circumstances.
Challenge your assumptions, consider your design choices.
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