I guess this is a rant. I doubt you've heard it before.
As time goes on and I build little demos and tabletop games, I find myself less and less interested in play. But in a really weird way. Lemme sup up.
I have noticed a huge difference in how I design tabletop vs how I design computer games. Here's an example of what I mean. I've designed several pseudo-star-wars games, both as computer game prototypes and as tabletop games (mostly RPGs).
When I design the computer game, I spend eons going over the play dynamics. "Well, how should light saber combat be? Just like so, using time-sensitive balance and yardeyaryaryar?"
When I design the tabletop game, I spend eons going over the, um, "narrative components". "Well, here, I've drawn a picture of the ambassador from Mrrhork, and his stats are on the back. He'll be useful because he's good friends with a rebel naval admiral and..."
Now, it's important to note that I'm not designing tabletops with common RPG mechanics. I'm not popping off to GURPS or d20 and pulling out some tired standard. I'm actually creating very new and strange mechanics for every tabletop game I make. But... but it's so easy. It takes maybe half an hour.
On the computer, it takes ten times that long just to duplicate freakin' pong, man. There's no time left for the story - I've spent all my time on trying to get the game to work in the first place!
The big factor at work here is that the interface for generating and executing rules for tabletop games is significantly simpler than computer games. IE, I write them down, then I remember how to do it. If it's vague or something I didn't expect crops up, I can modify them on the fly.
But I hate using standard gameplay.
A big part of my dislike for the new Fallout game (which I thought was merely "quite good") was that they literally used the exact same system as for Oblivion. Even though the system wasn't very well suited to the Fallout theme. (I also disliked the world design, which was also inherited from Oblivion and had the same problem.)
Sure, they applied desperate patches and some varnish. (I'm SPECIAL. How cute.) But underneath it, we're looking at a recycled system. I can't stand that.
Its why I can't stand D&D or d20 or Gurps, either: these are systems that aren't designed specifically for the game the players are playing today. So I can't stand it. It feels like someone's trying to hammer a round peg into a Hulk-Hogan-shaped hole.
I want my gameplay to match the story (narrative elements, whatever). The game is a cohesive experience, and the idea that half of the game can be largely recycled from a completely unrelated experience is repugnant to me. So I quite literally cannot take a piece of gaming middleware such as Game Maker and make a game out of it. I hit a wall where I feel the grind between what dynamics the game needs to have and the dynamics that the middleware allows.
In some cases you can go digging, script up your specific gameplay system... but it takes just as long as making the damn thing from scratch!
It used to be that I'd make my little demos, focus on the gameplay aspects, and then drop them. But I'm having a really hard time doing that now, because I'm starting to really feel the missing half of the experience. It's like I'm arranging furniture in a house that has no roof or walls.
The horrible part is that this isn't a problem when designing tabletop games of any sort. Doesn't matter how hideously complex the game is. 200 page GM guide on time-traveling probability mathematicians? No problem, takes me a week. Board game with 500 illustrated cards? No problem, happy to spend the time.
But freakin' Tetris with a story, man? NO CAN DO.
Anyone else feel this way?