Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Like many others, I used to play Dungeons & Dragons when I was at my teen age. When I became Game master that was the first time I ever was a ‘designer’. And it’s interesting to see the mistakes I made when creating my first campaigns.

I remember to create overly complex maps, with kilometers of content wherever you look, just in case players would choose to go into a different direction that the one they were supposed to go. Well, they never did and it was a waste of time.

Also, my first campaings lacked of a clear motivation for the players. I generally gathered them at any inn, and say ‘There is an old man talking about a dungeon not far away from here. There’s a princess involved. Will you go there?’. Sometimes my friends, just to see me get angry would say ‘Well, we won’t go there. What else do you have?’.

Another problem was to keep my audience’s attention. Being honest, I invested so much energy creating content to fill those kilometers of game space, that the content itself was quite dull: Monster after monster, all look-alikes; dark room after dark room; boring reward after another... My ‘level design’ sucked. No wonder my friends, after some time playing, got bored and started doing weird things like setting the whole place on fire, just for the fun of it.

After some unsuccessful experiences with D&D (I should also add that my friends weren’t really RPG gamers, just teen guys killing time until they grew up enough to chase girls) some of us moved onto Call of Cthulu. That game offered better tools to create misterious ambients and player motivations, and things improved.

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