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(TFT) Abstraction in game design - rpg design.

Hi Joseph,
  As a professional designer of computer games, I can say that the art
is highly limited by design constraints.  I prefer face to face RPG's 
because the players have far, FAR more freedom to do weird ass
things than in a CPU RPG.

  Your point about abstraction is dead on.  The war game "War in
North Africa" had an immense amount of detail.  Rescuing downed
pilots from aircraft, complex rules on water (Italians needed more
water because they wouldn't give up their pasta), etc. etc.

  You could say, "This game details the decisions that the commanding
Generals (Rommel and various Allied generals) had to make.  But
the level of detail, actually worked against this fantasy.  Rommel would 
not worry about hunting down individual pilots.  Some levels of detail,
are not only less playable, but actually break the fantasy that the
designer is trying to create.

  Abstraction is a key (perhaps the key) element that designers have
to get right.

  Warm regards, Rick

On 2015-12-07, at 12:02 AM, Joseph Beutel wrote:
> I don’t know that this is necessarily distinct, though. I’m not sure that RPGs are unique in being story-telling games that use mechanics and various models (maps, miniatures, images, etc) to help resolve a common vision from several separate creative minds. I’m not sure that video games aren’t doing the same thing but using a much more clear visual representation to resolve at least the physical components of imagination— and even then I’d say only certain video games (modern “show everything,” highly graphical video games) even attempt that in a way that is any different from tabletop games. 
> That said I think the overall point is accurate— even if it is just accurate to a wider range of genres than you have suggested. But where does abstraction come in?
> I think the key is that abstraction must serve the purpose of the story-telling. While any abstraction inherently hurts ‘common resolution’ of the story, the concession can be made when it allows the story to be told more effectively overall. The most common example I see cited in game-design discussions would be designing a higher level skirmish game— say World War 2, battalion level— where players are meant to be the officers leading a battalion. While one could use a highly detailed set of rules to accurately resolve all of the combat that takes place at a 1:1 level, it would actually hurt the story-telling. It does this mostly through perspective; our officers don’t know what the 2nd squad of the 3rd platoon of Bravo company is doing at a man-to-man level at all times, and so abstraction is actually necessary here (and not just desirable from a ‘playability’ standpoint) to make the story work properly. 

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