GeneralHandGrenade has created an excellent YT video discussing game the design philosophy behind GW 36 v3.
Here’s the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHlrbXLCdwo
First, I have to start with the production value of the video. I was enthralled and taking notes about this video, but I was quite distracted by a persistent chip shuffling. I think as GHG is talking, he is absent-mindedly running chips in his hand. I actually feel blessed relief now as I am writing this because, after 33 minutes of that sound, I am relishing the silence. Also, GHG interviewed lead designer Morton from Denmark, via speaker phone. I found it annoying each time GHG would pan away from the cell phone, one has to strain to hear Morton’s voice. My suggestions would be to consider three options in the future if you are going to be interviewing someone on speaker phone: a) tape your cell phone to the camera stand so as you move the camera around, the phone stays equidistant, b) don’t move the camera, but instead bring items into the camera’s view, or c) separate your audio from your video (B-roll). A good principle when interviewing someone is to never be a distraction.
With that said, the content of this video was absolute gold. I was relieved to hear Morton’s number one principle is simplicity. This is crucial and brilliant. If GW '36 does not hew first to simplicity, then it is a cancer that will eventually die from it’s own complexity. If you look at a games like Advanced Squad Leader or Star Fleet Battles, they started off beautifully. I remember when SFB was a “microgame.” Eventually, SFB rules expanded and expanded, to the point they had a “Doomsday” edition, which should have been a sign to stop, but the rules kept growing and growing. If you just keep adding rules, you turn a game from a luminous, shining star into a black hole that sucks all light due to its massive density. But it’s so tempting and easy to add “just one more rule.” It requires willpower and clarity of vision for a game designer to put simplicity as the first priority! Kudos!
The second principle was no scripting. I hadn’t thought about this. We played A&A over and over and over again until our play group discovered the scripts (on our own as this was in the days before mainstream use of the internet), then moved on to Max’s optional rules but still the game grew stale. But I didn’t realize how important “no scripting” is until Morton pointed it out. This was enlightening and again is a principle which bodes well for the long term success of GW '36.
The third principle is the importance of time. Wow. Again, this struck me as novel, but so wise. The limit must be two days of gaming, because that’s the realistic limit for most gaming groups. Sure, you may have some folks in your group that are retired, or won the lottery and don’t have a job, or whose wife left them because they play games too much, or won the mega lottery and have a wife who is a heiress neurosurgeon who loves to teach aerobics fitness on the side and loves traveling with you to play GW 36 for a week at a time… but most of the members of your gaming group can give a maximum of one weekend. So having time as a primary consideration is something I hadn’t considered. Every time you add something to the game, you need to ask yourself, how many minutes of gameplay am I adding with this change? Is it worth it? And on the flip side, if there are ways to simplify the game and save time, that time savings is of incredible value. Overall, the game must be able to be played in a weekend, or something has to give.
The fourth principle is a standard one in game design - gameplay/fun trumps realism. This is a well established principle. Enough said.
The fifth principle is specific for the eventual v4 of GW 36: evolution rather than revolution. I loved that Morton said that we currently have a great game and we don’t need massive change. We need now to polish the game with balance and fine-tuning.
I tremendously enjoyed this video. I know there’s already an episode 2 out. I’ll watch that next. Really looking forward to this series. Thanks GHG for all you do, both in working on the rules, your activity and help on this forum, and as an ambassador on YT. I admire and appreciate you!