I was just reading @Jeff_Slater's
recent post about a disappointing game (we-had-a-disappointing-session-playing-house-of-reeds-the-other-day
This has got me thinking:
When something doesn't quite do it for in a game (and who hasn't felt that way?), it would be really nice to be able to zero in on why
For instance, consider these three cases:
---1. The game failed us.
We gave it our best shot, but it didn't produce what it was supposed to produce.
Solution: The game should be fixed. Alternately, it's just a bad match for that group's preferences.
(These are cousins! Identical cousins, in fact, if you're deadset on playing again...)2. We didn't quite play the game right.
We gave it a good try, but, ultimately, missed some point of the rules, or perhaps the spirit of the game, and we ended up falling astray. It wasn't satisfying.
Solution: Adjust your approach to playing to better match the game's intent. Find a technique you were misapplying, or implement a new play habit or play culture. ("Oh, I'm not supposed to keep secrets from the other players in this game/I'm not supposed to try to win/You have to keep the stakes really small?")
(When the Forge talked about Creative Agenda clash, it was often all about this.)3. We failed the game.
We followed the procedures, and understood the game, but it just... wasn't a good night. Someone was tired, someone was distracted, or maybe we're all new to this. We tried our best, but we didn't quite manage to play well enough for our own satisfaction.
The point is that the game operated as intended: it was the group which didn't "step up" and bring the awesome, in spite of functional rules and procedures. ("D&D is cool, man, but you always play the drunk dwarf, and all the DM ever throws at us is kobolds. Bo-ring!")
Solution: Try it again on another night, or work on developing your gamer skills. Break out of bad habits, shake things up.
You brilliant, experienced masses on Story Games! Do you have any awesome tips or rules of thumb which help you distinguish one case from another?
How do you know if a game is no good... or that it was just your imagination flagging?
How do you know what feedback to give a designer? How to make the next session rock, or whether to discard the game and move on to another?
Share your wisdom! (Including smart questions or good gamer stories!)