Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Ivory RPG - Implementation

The first victim in any battle is the plan, and I don't see why that wouldn't apply to exploration just as much as war. After all, the whole idea of exploration is find out what's there, which means that you don't know what's there, which means that you made guesses, and some guesses are necessarily wrong.

Why are guesses wrong?
  • There's something that you didn't expect.
  • There's something that you did expect but wasn't there, but still took resources.
  • Something took longer/shorter than you expected.
  • Something proved harder/easier than you expected.
  • Critical resources were missing or unavailable.
  • A change, such as political instability, war, famine, unexpected weather, etc.
  • Your information was wrong.
  • You just made a bad decision.
  • You forgot to make a decision.
  • You did not identify that you needed to make a plan.
  • Poor communication
  • Misunderstandings
  • Clerical Errors
  • Serindipity
As you can see, there's lots that can go wrong even without getting particularly inventive. That's why leaders lead expeditions. When the rubber meets the road, new decisions will need to get made, for better or worse. In most cases, those decisions call fallout further down the line and require more decisions to work around, and all of that while you have many people need to know what they can do.

As a general principal, simply by having a sufficiently large number of decision points laid before the expedition, we can guarantee that human error will create problems. If there is no human error, there is weather and other uncontrollable circumstances.

In other words, you're going to have to change your plans at the point where you can least afford to change your plans. If the definition of a game is "a series of interesting decisions," then accounting for all the variables certainly counts as a series of interesting decisions, and that's exactly what you want in a game.

As Ivory is open ended, any solution by the players counts as fair. If the players want to hire a group of adventurers to scout their way to the intended destination, then that solution is as fair as any other. Likewise, as series of smaller or more focused teams may work as well. One team could be dropping off supplies while the other teams achieve other goals. This two-team approach increase the chance of error, but also introduces huge flexibility.

In the end, every expedition expects the unknown to happen and play for that as much as possible.

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