People use the word unique way too often in marketing blurb. It’s not a complicated word to understand, but it’s often used incorrectly. This makes the people using it look sloppy and careless.
If you’re writing advertising blurb and you’re tempted to use the word, think carefully about whether it’s accurate or not. Unique is a big claim, and very often it makes you look like either a liar, or someone who doesn’t know the market. Neither is good. It’s a fair rule of thumb that whenever you make that claim, someone in the audience will be happy to point out your error, and where that rule has been used a dozen times before. In reality, little is genuinely new in game design, and that’s absolutely fine. A game doesn’t need to include a unique new rule to be brilliant.
Of course, I’m talking about this because I’ve been reading Kickstarter campaigns again, and it’s cropped up several times. In no case was it true.
Also, while I’m on my soap box, unique is not a word you can qualify. You can’t be a bit unique, or very unique, or most unique, or more unique than them. In fact, you can’t be anything unique. You’re unique or you’re not. Exactly like its very specific meaning, it stands alone.
Rant aside, I was going to say that I hadn’t been especially inspired by Kickstarter this week. However, when I come to write this, it turns out that I’ve actually got quite a few interesting campaigns worth mentioning today.
One recurring theme is STL files for printing 3D miniatures and scenery. There seems to be an especially plentiful crop of these campaigns at the moment, and if you have a 3D printer you are spoilt for choice. I don’t, but I still like to explore them because I’ve always been a fan of miniatures. Raygun Raptors struck me as a particularly slick and well-presented example of the type, if you’re after an example.
I’m Currently Backing…
As I write this, I’m backing the Spirits of the Forest: Moonlight expansion. In the end it was the fact that the wooden version was KS only which made me back it, despite the fact that with tax and shipping it will be very overpriced. I already have the wooden version of the core game, so if I want this expansion then I’m not left with a lot of helpful choices. It feels a bit forced, but I could always say no.
That finishes in a couple of hours, so I’ll be back to backing zero campaigns again. Strange for me.
Also of Interest
There are a lot of intriguing campaigns on at the moment.
When I read through the KS campaigns, I watch the main video, then a how to play or review video, and quickly read the page. Unless it’s standing out at that point, I discount it. It had its chance to impress and it failed.
Of the remainder, I keep them on an open tab to look at more closely over lunch breaks and whatnot. This is where most of the following are currently sitting, so I’ve not been through them all in detail yet. Still…
The first one reminds me of Ricochet Robots, which I’m very fond of. This new one is called Looters of the Labyrinth. What I like here is the clean and simple design. It’s pared back to the bones of the idea, and that’s just what it needs. No unnecessary frills. There’s a month left to go on this, though it’s unlikely he’ll fund. Shame. Let’s hope he comes back for a second try.
Another simple abstract that caught my eye was TACTICUM. As with Looters of the Labyrinth, I can’t see me getting it on the table, so I’m not backing it. However, I am fond of clean and elegantly presented abstracts, and these both tick that box. I almost backed them anyway. TACTICUM does an especially nice job of being small and physically contained without sacrificing what it needs to be in terms of game design. Unlike Looters, it’s funded too. Congratulations to them!
Finally, there are a couple of very different campaigns I’d like to mention in the RPG neck of the woods. One is the straightforwardly-named These Monsters Have Minds Of Their Own. This is an AI system for taking a bit of the load from the GM by automating some of the monsters’ responses. It’s a neat idea, and one that I’ve done versions of myself, which is partly why I’m interested. I have a professional curiosity to see how they’ve tackled design problems I’m familiar with. It’s the sort of thing I might buy to read, and never expect to use in anger.
The second RPG campaign I’m still looking at is the very successful and somewhat eclectic Wanderhome. There’s a bunch of sample files to download and read through, which is a sensible approach for something nonstandard. Always fun to see someone exploring variants and pushing envelopes, so I look forward to reading these. Again, it’s unlikely to be something I play myself, but it could well be something I back to read.
And that’s all the Kickstarter thoughts I’ve got for you this week. I’m off back to finish the corrections on my latest article for the Game Design Mastery Patreon. If you fancy reading an in-depth discussion on Narrative vs Balance-focussed Game Design or one of the other topics I’ve already covered, then why not pop on over and sign up?