Say hello to my little friend…
For the past two and a half years, I’ve spent less time on ars ludi because I’ve been heads-down, nose-to-the-grindstone, designing and playtesting a game. A fairly ambitious game, you could argue.
Now, finally, I’m done: Microscope is finished, and I’ve unleashed it upon the unsuspecting world.
It’s not what you’d call a “normal” role-playing game. For most of my life, one of my favorite parts of gaming was the joy of building worlds. When I made Microscope, I took what used to be solo, pre-game prep and put it squarely on the table. As you play you make a world together — a fractal history you expand and explore — that you never would have conceived of alone. I am constantly surprised by what we create when we play.
Speaking as a career world-builder, it fucking rocks.
You may be thinking: but creativity-by-committee sucks! You just get watered-down gruel! And you might be quite right. But don’t worry, Microscope has that covered.
What else is unusual about Microscope? I’m describing it like it’s just a world-building game, but there’s also that small matter of completely defying chronological order: knowing the end and zooming in to explore the middle, jumping backward a thousand years to find out how the kingdom was founded — the description covers all that pretty well.
While it was in development, I kept the discussion over on the Lame Mage blog, but now that Microscope’s done I’ll be talking more here about some of the strange lessons making such an unusual game taught me about games in general.
But for now, it’s beer o’clock.