This morning I was musing on the idea of systems and subsystems within a game environment. Mostly, I was reflecting back on whether I have enough systems to continue developing the game for, I don’t know, twenty years or more, like Magic: the Gathering. I have some ideas for a long-term development strategy, but is the game sustainable? Will it eventually require power creep to stay relevant?

I’d started to get on this “attachment” kick when I realized all the things I could do when I didn’t have to increase the value of the reserved cards they were attached to. Lots of different ideas and concepts. You could practically build an entire game around attaching cards to each other … like in Magic or Star Wars.

Every card, whether it utilizes attachment or not, functions either as a resource or “life force” (to use the SWCCG terminology), depending on whether it’s in your Resources or Destiny. Everything you do with your cards removes them from your Destiny, and it’s only at the end of your turn (via Consignment) that you can add those cards back into your Destiny. When they’re exiled (to the Outskirts), they’re gone.

Each player power adds a little something to the game … a little system that makes up the larger game. Imagine if your only “power” in Magic: the Gathering was to draw and discard cards. You draw a hand of seven cards at the beginning of the game, then draw one card each round, discarding down to seven cards at the end of your turn until one player ran out. It isn’t very exciting, but it’s a system.

Through the powers of Development and Consignment alone, a closed system is created whereby players draw cards — putting cards in their Exhaust whenever they “bust” with a total of twenty-two or higher, and putting those cards on the bottom at the end of each turn. Eventually, one player will wind up with all their cards in their Resources and someone will lose. Again, not very exciting, but still a system.

Every player power should reinforce the theme and the mechanics of the game. I was talking to one of my friends earlier about Gameplay and Story Segregation, and I’m of the mind that the mechanics should help tell the story. I think Extra Credits had an episode about telling the story through gameplay. It’d be nice to see more of that.