A Producer? [∞ Infinity]

(Shock, Actions, & Initiative, Prologue)

I love The Producers. It’s funny and offensive in just the right mix. At one point Max Bialystock tells his would-be-producer friend Leo Bloom, “Has the curtain gone up? Has the curtain gone down? Then you’re not a producer.” I like this rule, it makes a lot of sense, and it applies to fields far beyond producing a Broadway play.

Per the Bialystock Rule, I’m not a designer, because I’ve never finished a game and shipped it. But I am engaged in designing a game, and this is a little note about that process.

Inventions are messy. Like a gasoline engine. The central idea is absurdly simple: take a highly combustible substance, make it combust, use a piston and a shaft to turn that into mechanical energy. Actually building the engine is far, far more complicated. Pistons, crankshaft, gaskets, fuel injection, spark plugs, exhaust, lubricant, filtration, and on and on. But it’s all necessary to make the engine work.

What I’m saying is that everything sounds simple in concept, but when you actually implement something it becomes more complex, more baroque. If you’ve never actually shipped something, you don’t know this. Until just this week, I didn’t know this. Not really.

The Shock mechanic is the gasoline engine of the game. It’s a little bit ugly, a little bit odd, a little bit baroque. But it works.

And, like an engine, it drives most of the rest of the game. It sits at the heart of nearly everything outside of Skill Challenges — damage, Initiative, Actions, even FX use. Its role is more critical than the combat mechanic. (Which shocked me when I realized it.)

And I’ll start talking about it next post.

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