RPG Design: The More You Know, the More You Know to Zip It

Now that he's tried his hand at RPG design for a long while, Frayed Knights developer Jay Barnson has penned a blog on the lessons he learned, by comparing his perspective on design before and after developing an RPG. It's worth a read if you're prone, like me, to do long dissertations on what developers do wrong design-wise without having developed something yourself along the way:

#1 Experience
Now that I've gone through the experience of building a commercial computer role-playing game, I'm a bit older and wiser. I realize that you have to pick your battles. People crave familiarity as much as they crave novelty. You have to find a good mix. Pick what to change, what to try, and what fundamentals to stick with. But a lot of it is just having a broader understanding of why designers have made the choices they did. because I've had to make the same choices.

#2 I've tried them
I've tried some of these weird ideas, and in some cases I've learned. they suck. Or at least, the way I tried them didn't show promise. This makes sense. (Experimental) and (innovation) are words that imply a high likelihood of failure. I'm glad I experimented. I might try another approach to do the same thing. Or not. There's nothing like actually trying and seeing how stupid your idea was.

#3 The genre has already expanded
Seriously. CRPGs are in a much, much better state now than when I was ranting about them almost a decade ago. People are doing some cool, innovative things. The competition is fostering a lot of different approaches to role-playing games, from turn-based tactical dungeon crawlers to roguelikes to action shooters with heavy RPG elements to weird strategy hybrids to old-school throwbacks. I'm no longer nearly as frustrated seeing the genre stuck in the mainstream rut it was in during the mid 00's.

That said, while I understand that for developers it must be infuriating to hear uninformed perspective on designs, I still think it's worth it to point out grievances and perceived problems with game design, in role-playing games or otherwise. Sometimes it might come down to preferences, and there's no doubt that gaming culture can be very toxic at times, but all that shouldn't be used as an excuse to shut down discussions and criticism.