Not So Fast (Or So Slow)

I was this close to wrapping up this phase of the Microscope playtest, but now I’ve had an epiphany and found some other changes I want to try out. The target this time: Legacies. Assuming it works in my local games and emerges as Playtest Update #3, it’ll be only the second actual rule change since this playtest started, because apparently I carve each one by hand from raw diamond.

From the very beginning I’ve had a pile of theories about how Microscope works and why, and I thought that after months of playtesting I’d learn less and less about the game, that there’d be a diminishing return. There have been plateaus, but overall it’s been quite the opposite: the more I play and ponder, the deeper insights I have into what is going on. It’s coming into even sharper focus, if you’ll excuse the obvious metaphor. It’s like my better ars ludi articles: I could just blurt out an idea to the internetz, but the longer I sit and let it percolate (often months at a time. seriously.), the more likely something truly interesting will emerge. Which in itself is not exactly a rocket science observation.

Yes, I could have just bundled Microscope up and released it in March, and it would have been a fine game. But the instructions of how to play the game would be completely different than how I would write them now. Like I was writing in another language, different.

Which begs the question: if I wait and ponder it for another whole year, will the rules be a huge leap better? Or maybe just a tiny bit better? Now we’re talking diminishing returns…

    Ben Robbins | September 3rd, 2009 | microscope | show 2 comments