I played Fantasy Flight's Star Wars: Edge of the Empire RPG on Sunday. It's a role playing game in lieu of D&D but with less rules and more abstraction/emphasis on storytelling and story building. And as a result, a large part of the story is improvised as you play and events unfold (unlike D&D, where you roll for a success check, not only do you roll to see if you succeed or fail, but you roll to see if you do so with an advantage/disadvantage. So you can succeed with failure (you shoot an enemy but your gun jams) or you can fail with advantage (you were chasing someone and tripped and lost them, but you tripped on an item that’ll help you in your adventure). And because of all of these on-the-fly possibilities, you really just make it up as you go. Which was interesting to me, for a few reasons, but mostly because of the really immersive story that evolved from a whole bunch of people who had never done this before.
So how does this tie into Praxis? I’ve always iterated that I want the developer/community relationship to play out as in Praxis, but honestly this Game Master/Player relationship is a perfect analogy for what I want. I’m currently building the skeleton and the tools, and I want to see players completely roll with it. For probably some good reasons, developers are often VERY cautious about allowing players to mold the experience. I think Sirlin (or some other famous blogger) did an article akin to this once, but in developing the “player experience” in a lot of AAA games, there’s a vision in the developer’s head about what the player to experience and the player is sort of “force fed” this story and the events that play out. But I look back on my gaming history and think about the games that have left the biggest impressions on me and I mostly come up with player generated experiences. At the end of the day, in my experience, if you can give a player the tools they will make something amazing.
I think one of my BIGGEST goals in Praxis is going to be allowing players to craft story arcs for a campaign. I’ll develop an external campaign editor, where you can make choices and see dialogue and travel to places, and the creator can set the decks and the rules and whatever they want. Part of this is going to involve decoupling campaign from multiplayer: each custom campaign is going to be a “sandbox” for the player, where their outside collection cannot influence the cards they receive in the campaign. This is so you can drive a story better, but also to prevent creating “farming” campaigns to get cards. Perhaps I’ll have “sponsored” campaigns that’ll allow currency gained in the campaign to count towards your account. But ultimately I want a player driven story, as the players are MUCH more creative than I will ever be, and the best way to do that is with a visual – and what’s a better visual than the game itself?
I want to see US create something awesome. And part of my duty to make that happen is to facilitate the creative juice flow.