Sunday, July 6, 2014

New Games for New Hacks

Recently I had a discussion with +Stras Acimovic and +John Sheldon during our camping/gaming weekend about the prevalence of Powered by the Apocalypse games and similar hacks.

First thing: I don't think hacking is bad, nor do I think it's lesser than making new, original games, nor do I think that hacks lack innovation.

Here's the second thing, though.

I worry about stagnation. I see tons of games being made, but so many are from the same core. I want to see more games being made that are original, or that come from different things. While Powered by Apocalypse games are great, and it's awesome that +Vincent Baker made the system available to people to make more games, there are a few games that have come out recently that are simply flavor laid over the original system without new mechanics or innovation, and I worry we'll see that more and more. I also see games being created that use Powered by the Apocalypse, but lack the issue of scarcity. This is something Stras could talk about more than me, but if there is no real scarcity in a game, then the Apocalypse doesn't work as well. This is a case where system really does matter. I'm not saying that no one should make games Powered by the Apocalypse, I'm saying that not everyone needs to use it if they have the capacity to do otherwise.

What I'd like to see: designers who have the capacity (which is technically everyone, but potentially moreso experienced designers) creating new, original games and making them open source/Creative Commons. Not just because new games are awesome, but because new games enable future innovation. When we have more games that are original, we have more games to hack, so new designers who are trying to figure out the way games work can hack those original games, and it creates a cycle of creation and innovation, because people will add on mechanics of their own to those original games, or tweak them, and make new things once they know what they're doing.

I'm sure someone will see a flaw in this, but I admit I don't care much. That doesn't change the fact that we're seeing tons of games Powered by the Apocalypse, some of which don't make sense to be powered that way, and not seeing as many new and original things as I personally would like to see.

So, make new games. Hack those new games. Then make more new games. This is a fun cycle. It's exciting.

Let's do it.


  1. I tried replying to this but it's not saving my replies, so if you get multiple of this, I'm sorry!

    Stras could talk about scarcity more than me. It was one of the things we discussed, but frankly I'm so forgetful I can't remember the details.

    I would say that MH has a scarcity of identity and control - not physical things, but emotional things.

  2. Yeah, I worry about this despite currently being in the process of making one such hack... we should aim to push the margins as much as we are capable of.