Game Designer Workshop Episode 2: Research

What does this image have to do with this episode? Sounds like you need to do some RESEARCH B-)In the second episode of Game Designer Workshop, Caleb and I talk about the importance of research. This is not only researching setting material but other games. It’s important to understand what kind of game mechanics have already been done so you can learn from them. Researching details for your setting, like technology and history, can take a lot of forms as well. Reading books, listening to podcasts, watching movies, and playing other games can all be considered part of research.

Song: Balkonur by Dispartition

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  1. As someone entering the research stage myself this is amazingly helpful. I’m so glad you guys mentioned several of these books and some other podcasts. Your stated goal of trying to educate others is already +1 at the very least.

  2. Just so everyone knows, silk road actually just got taken down last week. The head of it lived in San Francisco, and I’m sure is facing many charges. Lol, but for the time it lasted, was crazy.

  3. 1) Do you have a reading list and a viewing list for the works mentioned in this episode of the podcast?

  4. Hey guys,
    I’m liking this series a lot so far! Can’t wait to listen to the GenCon interviews.

    Some comments on this episode:
    1) Master Plan was by Ryan Macklin (of Mythender fame) not Daniel Solis (of the 1000 Year Game Challenge and NPR fame). Both of them have been interviewed on just about every RPG podcast though, so I don’t judge you for mixing them up.

    1.5) That last sentence made me realize how great it would be to interview either of those gents for this series.

    2) The guy that did the Emergent Play videos is named Larry. I know because they interviewed him over on the Jank Cast a while ago.

    3) My first thought, too, when you described Red Market last episode was Apocalypse World. It is well worth buying for research (or if you like fun).
    I’ve never heard of Vincent Baker flaking on sending out his products. He and his wife are both designers and, as far as I know, they send all of there books out by hand, so I can imagine it would take longer than, say Paizo or Palladium. On the other hand, I can’t imagine it taking longer than something from Kickstarter. Personally, I’ve ordered pdfs from him in the past and got a response within hours. I’ve never had him ship me anything, but I imagine he’d at least keep you updated if he couldn’t send it right away. (I should mention that I’m a bit biased here, as AW is hands down my favorite RPG ever.)
    If you still don’t want to risk it, you can read the entire text of DungeonWorld online to get a very general sense of AW’s mechanics.

    4) The “insanity” resource you described sounded like PTSD. The more “stress” they lose, the less outward emotion they show and the greater the chance of a flashback/freakout moment.

    Well, that was more words than I was anticipating so I’ll leave it at that. Like I said, can’t wait for me of these. Keep up the good work!

  5. Caleb, I will straight-up donate a hard copy of Apocalypse World if you tell me where to mail it.

  6. Again, I say Thanks to you for releasing these episodes. They are helping my own personal game designs to become much better. The game that I am doing based from these episodes is progressing very well( You can find the link on the comments for the first episode.) and I have an excellent GURPS-based game coming from this work. With each of these episodes, I am learning more and getting better.

  7. If I may humbly suggest Free Market for an example of a game with a strong Econ element. Granted the setting is post scarcity and that may not really mesh with your

  8. I would recommend reading about flow in Freemarket for an Econ heavy game, though the setting is post scarcity. The Hardholder & Operator from Apocalypse World is worth grokking. Baker is a solid person to buy from and is generally always worth talking to in general but especially about game design

  9. “Both of them have been interviewed on just about every RPG podcast though, so I donโ€™t judge you for mixing them up.”

    I do, if only because I’ve been hosting Master Plan since 2006, making it the oldest game design podcast. ๐Ÿ˜›

    – Ryan

  10. It sounds like the the concept of your game (being disposable assets to better their living situations) is very similar to Shadowrun. I would prioritize that game and suggest 4E (20th Anniversary) as it is the most playable and comes with some great resources setting-wise.

  11. I have a question on game economies. How do they affect the overall game design? how should they be explained? what part do they play in the lives of the pcs?

  12. Caleb: this is from a while ago and you may have tracked down a biologist/totally defined the zombie plague by now, but I have a microbiology background and would be happy to talk zombies. Or just look over stuff and provide biologist-type feedback. I go by “Morbid” on the forums.

    It’s a bit (way) late for this episode, but it would be really awesome to have mentions of some of the books and papers mentioned in GDW – the citations start flying pretty fast when talking about influences. Thanks to everyone who mentioned some/provided links in the comments.

    I can say that when I first heard “zombie economic RPG” my first thought was, “that doesn’t sound fun at all” (sorry) but in hearing how the economy is meant to matter and especially how it will repudiate the survivalist leanings of zombie fiction, I am seriously interested now.

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