Rule One – No Piddling Distinctions
If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing Big. Plenty of folks sprinkle their games with marginal bonuses adding +2% to strength, or +1% to speed, or some other puny difference. Take a hint from Quake – the damage boost in that game doesn’t add +10% to damage, it quadruples it! As a result, the Quad-damage was a major factor in play. When you’re handing the player a boost or a punishment, make it a big one. In Final Fantasy, “transformation” spells such as Petrify hardly ever succeed, to the point that players stop trying to cast them. But in the old Mario RPG, these types of spells almost always succeeded! As a result, such spells were way more fun and got seen more often.
I think I’ve walked the walk here with Cthulhu Wars – the abilities and Spellbooks are powerful and game-changing.
Rule Two – Players Just Want To Have Fun
Many games force the player to earn their fun. The first twenty minutes are wasted on a “learning session” (I’m looking at YOU, Through the Ages), reading lengthy tomes on How To Play, or wandering around aimlessly. Watch a good film (like The Dark Knight) – it hooks you immediately in a critical scene, often before the opening credits. In my opinion, a game should be fun right from the start. If you don’t hook them, only super-fans will have the stomach to actually learn your game. The bargain bins are full of games catering to super-fans.
In Cthulhu Wars, the decisions you make right from the game’s start matter, and affect other player’s decisions.