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X-Wing Miniatures devs on marrying simulationism, gameism, and narrativism

July 17, 2017 | By Chris Kerr

July 17, 2017 | By Chris Kerr
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More: Design, Video

Last week the developers of X-Wing Miniatures joined the Gamasutra team on Twitch to talk through the design methodology behind the tactical ship-to-ship combat tabletop game.

During the chat, developer Max Brooke explained that there are three unique concepts he holds near and dear when it comes to creating board games: simulationism, gameism, and narrativism. 

In his opinion, anyone working on a tabletop experience should look marry those ideas to create something that lines up with our perception of reality -- a game that meets our Hollywood expectations rather than the hardline truth. 

"In role-playing there's this ongoing conversation about simulationism, gameism, and narrativism. So basically, it's like how much is your role-playing game driven by a desire to simulate reality, which these days has shifted more to be a conversation about verisimilitude rather than reality," he explains. 

"Back in the old days of role-playing games there were a lot of games that had a billion tables to roll on to try and simulate, you know, gravity in a realistic manner. That's sort of been walked back, and the conversation now is more about verisimilitude - so not reality, but feeling like reality."

It's about crafting rules, mechanics, and narrative beats that combine to create those quintessential "movie moments," says Brooke. In the case of X-Wing, that means grounding the game in the pseudo-reality of the Star Wars universe. 

"Simulationism is interesting, because in this game we aren't trying to simulate reality so much as a movie. In fact, I don't want it to feel like reality. Because in Star Wars spaceships don't move like they do in reality. They move like an plane, but that's how Star Wars ships move," he continues.

"So you kind of want to balance those ideas, and […] that's something we think and talk a lot about. Like how much do we want to push faithfulness to the source material versus mechanics, and ideally how do we marry those to get both?"

You can hear more from Brooke and the other X-Wing devs by checking out the full stream. After that, be sure to follow the Gamasutra Twitch channel for even more developer insights and gameplay commentary.

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