Fiction comes first; a dead end in design

I posted this here, and given it highlights a fairly massive divide, I’m putting it here as well

I suppose I’m scratching my head because it seems easy enough for fiction to be prompted by procedure, demonstrated in this account as well, but just about everywhere design focus is on fiction/freeform first. But that doesn’t appear to be able to go anywhere in terms of design – if the rules can’t direct the fiction, new rules designs wont change anything about the fiction produced. In a fiction/freeform first design, any new rules will only be inacted if it seems to fit the fiction – and even if those rules do manage to affect the fiction somehow, they’ll be quickly rejected since the priority is on the fiction choosing the rules and not on the rules choosing the fiction. It seems a dead end, in terms of design (not that it can’t prompt ideas for procedure first games – it’s good at that, I find).

I’m thinking it needs to be a banner, because I’ve had so many conversations that just got complicated and not heading towards any resolution – probably because I am operating from a rules first. And probably the other guy was working from a fiction first position. Except, atleast to me, you can’t go five minutes with fiction first without breaking out of it – if you want to do something, you do something – you can’t leave it up to some fictional idea. You implement a rule. And design, or atleast to me it is, is doing something.

Anyway, I think it needs to be a banner to get rules first discussion out from under fiction first discussion. Because currently if you try and discuss rules first with fiction first people, they go along with it for a little while, then more and more they start critiquing it in terms of fiction first. It’s that ‘going along with it for a little while’ that subverts rules first designing, because it seems to be talking about the same thing, but then those critiques from above kick in … and basically those critiques can never, ever be satisfied until you give up rules first and go fiction first. It subverts the idea of “Hey, with rules I can somehow satisfy the conditions they are critiquing the game on’. Anyone who sticks to that just gets frustrated at lack of progress with these people who appear to be rules first. Anyone who gives up at that frustration and goes fiction first is allowed into wonderful ‘story gamer’ land. A stagnant land where no rule can prompt any new fiction, because rules don’t get to prompt fiction.

Since it’s a blog I’ll just change subject slighting – the weird thing is that the ‘freeform’ play DOES have patterns of repeating behaviour that are much the same as rules. It’s just that they aren’t conciously aware of those patterns. Because whenever they do become aware, they instantly reject the pattern because ‘rules don’t control fiction’. Yet fiction is just a bunch of structures, much like rules – you just can’t conciously articulate them. 

Anyway, that’s one post on the matter completed, even if it wasn’t with a great deal of planning and drafting!

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