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My Game Design Beliefs

Thread content should match the title/title post.

I believe threads in game design tend to become useless over time, as they invariably go off topic. This means a poster who looks for an old thread that is related to what they want to post will not get what it says on the box. In Game Design threads, people should get what it says on the box.

One important part of this are descriptive names for threads. The name of the thread should state what the core of the suggestion is. The first post should also state this. A good post will mark which elements are central to the suggestion, and which aren't.

Replies should adhere to this. That way, threads can stay useful. However, there are many ways in which replies are damaging to suggestions.

The most obvious is the threadjack: In its most basic form it says "I'm not interested in what you're talking about, people should discuss what I am interested in." One form of this that has done a lot of damage in the past is "how can you care about a thing like that, when poker is ruining the game?". There's also "OOO should not waste coding resources on this, when there are much bigger problems (cue pet peeve)".

However, there are others, and pains should be taken to avoid them. A common Game Design annoyance occurs, when people make suggestions to fix something they perceive as a problem. If this problem is not objectively a problem, it should be marked as an opinion in the original post. Read a post like this as "if X is a problem, Y could be done to fix it." For the sake of the suggestion to be discussed, it is assumed that X is a problem. The suggestion the thread makes is Y. Hence Y should be the focus of discussion, but most posters will try to shove their opinion that X isn't really a problem down other people's throats.

Others will propose alternative fix Z, so in a thread that is about Y they talk about X and Z. The thread will become unwieldy, and ultimately unreadable.

Another problem is the domino effect, where every poster connects to something from the previous post, rather than replying to the original suggestion. The original poster proposes X, then someone says "you could change it slightly, so X influences Y", the next poster starts the discussion with Y and might end up at Z. These chains are often entirely unrelated, and they make going through the thread a chore.

Good Game Design suggestions are simple and possess a certain degree of abstraction.

The more convoluted a suggestion is, and the more variables it involves or impacts the harder it will be fit into the game. Elegance in simplicity is what should be aimed for.

A common mistake is to invent a whole slew of changes which are all interdependent, and have far-reaching effects. Big packages of that kind are usually too unwieldy. Thinking in modules, which can be taken out and replaced is a far better approach. If you have a general idea, break it down into modules. While thinking it through, make it as abstract as possible, so you can see which parts of a proposal can be separated and which cannot.

When writing up your suggestion, make clear what the central points are, make clear what modules may be done without. Don't be afraid to leave modules open, as long as their function is described. If you have to add things for purposes of illustration, state so, and also state they are not the central point. The more stuff you put into your post that isn't the main proposal, the more pointless digressions your thread will likely get saddled with, which will lead to the thread becoming useless.

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