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Siegel’s Bag of Tricks

December 29, 2007

I love how Scott Jon Siegel’s new game Fictionless does something that breaks the mold: namely, you roll the die and then decide if you actually want to move on the board or collect the cash value for that roll instead. In his design notes, he also suggests that it’s possible to sell the roll to another player, though that mechanic didn’t survive the cut.

I know it’s simple, but it’s a form of design fun I wish more people would embrace, both digitally and non-digitally. Since when are you supposed to sell a die roll or collect cash for it instead of moving?*

It breaks the “roll and move” paradigm that we’re used to, and uses something in a non-traditional way. This is such a simple change, but adds an element of depth to the game. For me, it also added a level of interest because a) the mechanic added strategy to what is inherently a mechanic based on luck and b) was new. Finding a twist on an existing mechanic is always makes me interested and sparks creativity as I start thinking of other mechanics (usually in digital games) and how I can twist them to make something new. Most days, nothing, but some days, I think of something fun to prototype.

* Before you give me a list of games that do this, I know, I know, but you don’t see it that often.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 29, 2007 6:27 pm

    I’m confused– the game rules for “Fictionless” do not include selling your roll. They say you either roll and move or roll and collect that many coins. In his description of the design process, he describes how he couldn’t make the selling mechanic work and scrapped it “for the sake of simplicity.” Did I miss something in the post?

    I’d agree the concept of selling a roll is an interesting idea, and certainly innovative, though 🙂

  2. December 29, 2007 6:33 pm

    I clarified in the post. It blurred for me evidently.

    … and this is yet another new and exciting way to find new mechanics. 🙂

  3. January 6, 2008 9:57 am

    I just got back from vacation, and blushed when I found this post. I’m happy to hear that you enjoyed the game, as well as the roll-selling mechanic which I started with.

    Unfortunately, I think I’m dropping the mechanic entirely in the fiction-full version of the game, which is being published at the end of this month. It might be a bad decision, but the mechanic does not fit with the fiction of the game. 😦 Perhaps I’ll resurrect it some other time.

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