Writing a book about a fictional game/sport: How in-depth do you go with game design? - Page 2


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Thread: Writing a book about a fictional game/sport: How in-depth do you go with game design?

  1. #11
    Member Tomkat's Avatar
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    You mean like Tarmogoyf? {insert laugh here} or Kiki-Jiki? (I don't know now but some years ago these two combo reigned the Modern format of Magic.. I was a Tron player

    It also reminds me of something like the Exodia combo.

    In MTG I remember there were also some similar cards. Door of Nothingness i.e. Banned I guess in regular tournaments. We used it in Commander though.

    But you have to consider that even is fictional, your game is going to have a meta game. If that combo is so good and "legal", sure as hell everyone wants to play it. You will have to find a good justification why nobody play it.

    I once imagine a game where you get your cards only from boosters pack. You can not buy them singularly. In that way money don't buy you 'talent'. But you have your deck, no need to make one up every time like in Draft Events.
    With this it could be your MC was lucky enough to find a piece of the combo, and perhaps a good friend/mentor/helper would gift him the second piece at the end of the book, right before the final match! ahah

    ps: you already found a beta reader here

  2. #12
    Member Fiender's Avatar
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    Haha, with magic there was recently (2017) a situation where a card instantly won the game when played with a card from the previous set. The card-testing teams admitted they completely failed to notice the combo, and the card ended up getting banned. That was what I was worrying about happening with my book. That I could accidentally create two cards that combo in a game-winning way, but because I the author didn't realize it, the in-universe tournament players don't either

    I'm tempted to write this story, then design the game and play test it with my tournament grinding magic friends to get ideas for the sort of games and cool plays that could happen, and slot those plays in where the story needs them.

  3. #13
    Member Tomkat's Avatar
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    You have to consider that such combo has little to do with talent or experience. Mostly is about the money to buy those specific cards and the luck to draw them. Plus a little practice to play them right, sure thing.

    How much this detail about cards is relevant in your story?

    Also, what the story is about?

    Is the story about the Protagonist and his family issues -which he tries to solve through the game- or is it actually about the game?

    To me, it sounds a bit as if you are eager to create your own game. It would be a wise choice to set aside the narrative for the moment and to focus on the creation of a coherent set of rules.
    That kind of combos are like "hacking" the rules. It implies you need the rules first.

    Basically, the question is: who or what is the true protagonist of the story you want to tell?
    Do you want to use the game to tell the adventures of your Protagonist?
    Or do you want to use the Protagonist to introduce your game?

  4. #14
    Member Fiender's Avatar
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    While the talent or experience thing is true, such combos do exist in these sorts of games, and it would make me feel silly to write this story, accidentally create such a combo, and then have readers notice it (Even more silly if I managed to get the book published with that combo intact within the universe, yet never referenced).

    The flow of the story, as I'm picturing it, revolves around tension with the main character winning games/tournaments both local and national, and obtaining transport/support for this 'career' despite his being fairly young. The impetus for his expanding his card-playing hobby into a career is the financial struggle caused by his mom's illness, treatment, and resulting unemployment.

    I usually write fantasy/sci-fi, so I'm somewhat picturing the card game as a stand-in for a hard magic/tech system. I want the game to be consistent, by the end of act 1 or so I want readers to be able to follow the gameplay well enough to interpret whether the main character is at an advantage or disadvantage at any given point. But ultimately, while I want the game part to be interesting as a magic system might be interesting in a fantasy story, the real hook should be wanting the protagonist to succeed, because he is clever/interesting, and his situation is (I feel) very relatable.

    I am definitely eager to design this game, MAYBE even play-test it among friends to get ideas for cool plays/turn around moments that I could work into the book. I have no interest in kickstarting the game or making it a reality, for the record. ;P

    I should also mention, this is not an immediate project for me. I'm thinking I might make this my 2020/2021 NaNo. That would be the earliest this comes to fruition. But learning what people might expect from such a book tells me how much planning for the game that I'll have to do.

  5. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Fiender View Post
    how much depth in the design of this game would you expect (or prefer) to see in such a book?
    Enough that the terminology and situations described don't get in the way of describing the emotions and excitement of the players and audience. You can use the equivalent of techno-babble, like Robert Asprin's Dragon Poker. Or you could use a combination of games that allow you to use references to situations familiar from them. For example, imagine playing cards similar to those from Magic, face down, on a board arranged like Stratego.

  6. #16
    This is a difficult one but I'd say, generally speaking, if you do have something like Magic the Gathering, you're going to draw a knowledgeable audience. If you could strike a happy medium like The Queens Gambit, that would be great.
    Craft / Draft / Graft And Write To Entertain.

  7. #17
    I wrote a short story about Texas Hold'em Poker based on a bunch of uni friends and one complete novice.

    The narrator was well skilled and after an intro into describing the rules to the novice, the games unfolded. What i did was that i made the novice have hands explained by the narrator as a way to showcase his skillset but expand rules and understanding to the reader (ie ... x made a huge raise, why? Because x has a hand or laying a trap or bullying or doesn't like the the other player or making a statement etc). I found that having an ally for the narrator, and a newbie, explained poker to readers who may not know, but also opened up to the narrator's mind and thinking.

    In your pitch, you can easily have a side kick to plug information out as to his reasons to play, skip many scenes in the game to points of interest (ie narrator winning in the game cos of this move etc or losing because of a poor choice.)

  8. #18
    \
    Quote Originally Posted by Fiender View Post
    So, one of my story ideas involves a young boy whose only method of paying for his dying mother's potentially-life-saving-but-not-healthcare-covered treatment, is by winning tournaments of a competitive card game he's a prodigy of. It would be a fictional TCG, with tension surrounding the main character securing reliable transport and support to attend these tournaments, and with moment-to-moment strategy around the matches themselves.

    My question is, how much depth in the design of this game would you expect (or prefer) to see in such a book? For people not at all familiar with Hearthstone or Magic the Gathering, would detailed explanations about the mechanics turn you off? For people who are familiar with TCGs, how much would it take you out of the story if you noticed a powerful combo/interaction between cards that isn't acknowledged in the book?
    I think you've got to strike a happy medium, and doing so is pretty much up to you. I can tell you I've read a few books where there were fascinating game inclusions. Piers Anthony's Adept series is one example, and I think John Brunner had one (maybe Shockwave Rider?). Anthony is probably closer to what you're getting at, though.

    This may be a useful fact to consider: Game mechanics are NOT subject to copyright. Printed materials, including the components and rules, are. So it's not that hard to "scrub off the serial numbers" to produce a perfect safe adaptation as long as you don't describe an existing game's components in detail or quote from the rules.

    So if you describe a game where one card defeats another card, or card combinations power up a hand, or anything like that, you're on solid ground. If you use generic terms like wizards or dragons and such, you're fine.

    You might even get Blizzard to give you permission to use Hearthstone as is ... any popularity your book achieves would only create interest for them. It doesn't hurt to ask.

  9. #19
    As little as possible, or someone will deconstruct it and tell you it doesn't work...
    A man in possession of a wooden spoon must be in want of a pot to stir.

  10. #20
    Explain the rules of the game enough that a reader could maybe play it.
    If you fail to notice your own power combos, that could just be you leaving room for future authors to expand on.

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