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Saturday, 20 June 2015

Thinking of Game Design as the Whole Package

So in a recent blog entry, someone compared Gary Gygax in terms of ability as a game designer to the Sex Pistols.  It was not meant to be a flattering comparison, as the implication was that the Sex Pistols succeeded by accident and were not actually good musicians.




I think the Sex Pistols comparison is incredibly apt, in fact. Because you have all these idiots imagining themselves music critics who go around saying "the sex pistols were shit (insert band here) are so much better"; ignoring that the Sex Pistols accomplished what said band could never fucking hope to do. Their argument is not based on a holistic view of what it takes to be great musicians, because they think only (insert thing they care about here: guitar skills, lyrics, whatever) is what makes a 'good' musician. And they're wrong.

Mentzer, for example, was akin to a good guitarist; he may have been better at taking Gygax's genius and reworking it into a more basically comprehensible set of rules, for example. But he was no Gary fucking Gygax.

You get this bullshit from certain Gygax-haters all the time who are always trying to claim that someone else should be praised as the great early-figure in RPGs (usually Arneson, but I've heard others). But that's bullshit. Gygax was the Whole Package, and thus the one who made it happen, and thus a great game designer. Designing a game is more than just designing clever little mechanics, which is why the assholes who make obsessive and intricate heartbreakers full of point-buy complexity are losers and not the kings of the genre. It's why the Forge never got anywhere (though even the Forge understood to some degree the value of other factors of design, often better than a lot of the fucking bizarro-grognard-nerds who shit on Gygax). 

Conversely, it is why (although he's a lesser light than Gygax) Kevin Siembieda Won the Hobby: he became the Last Man Standing of the original industry because he's a brilliant game designer even though he's only at best a so-so mechanics-writer and a poor-to-terrible businessman.



(Siembieda: The Jerry Lee Lewis of the RPG Hobby)


RPGPundit

Currently Smoking:  Davidoff 400-series + Gawith's Balkan Flake

18 comments:

  1. Good post except that I would have said Kevin Simbieda and Steve Jackson

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  2. So, which RPG was Tales from Topographic Oceans? Deadlands? 7th Sea? One of White Wolf's more pretentious efforts?

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  3. Mentzer is like the guy who takes a song by Lennon-McCartney, neither of whom read music, and transcribes it for the songbook the rest of us buy to learn to play it.

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  4. And Siembieda is the guy who heard the Beatles in '64 and said, "I can do that, too!" and formed the Byrds.

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    1. The Byrds were a really spectacular band.

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    2. Damn right they were. Even without Clark and Crosby they were still pretty good.

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    3. More like the Monkeys than the Byrds.

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    4. The Monkees were also a great band, though. Listen to "Porpoise Song", "What am I doing hanging round", "you just may be the one", "Randy scouse git", "Look out (here comes tomorrow)", "The girl that I knew somewhere", "Circle Sky", etc. etc.
      They're one of the most unfairly disparaged bands in music history.

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    5. Real talk, The Byrds were head and shoulders above The Beatles, on every level except commercially. Jussayin'.

      - DYA

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    6. Aside from lacking the songwriting and melodies and popular appeal and infouence if you want to pretend that, that's cool.

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    7. The Monkees were great from '66 to '68.

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  5. Marc Miller, of course, would be the Rolling Stones except he never had a period where he was aping D&D so the comparison is not perfect.

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    1. Donovan. He was Donovan.

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    2. Hmm...if Gygax was Dylan then the OSR crowd is early Dylan-cap-wearing Donovan.

      Maybe Miller was George Harrison and All Things Must Pass if Gygax was Lennon & McCartney.

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  6. If we're talking rock'n'roll, Gygax was Elvis. He was one who started it all.

    If anyone's Johnny Rotten, it's RPGPundit himself.

    James Raggi is Steve Harris of Iron Maiden. Because Raggi is METAL

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    1. Leaving aside the fact that Elvis certainly didn't "start it all," I suppose; if you mean he popularized it then I think you'd have to make Holmes/Mentzer/Moldvay your Elvis...this whole thing is getting very convoluted.

      Ol' Pundit...no idea what he'd be as I don't know much about him. Maybe Joe Strummer?

      No idea who Raggi is. I guess that makes him an American Idol contender.

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    2. I've always been more of a Punk guy than a Metal guy.

      But I don't know if Raggi is so much "Iron Maiden" as he's "Gwar". His 'metal' is taken to absurdities to the point of farce.

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