I personally have been playing pen and paper role playing games for somewhere around 25 years now, in some form or fashion. I have played everything from low magic fantasy to gas-light vampire-centric mysteries all the way around to modern day magic games. While each game may have their own unique settings, game mechanics tend to cluster and trend. What one game system innovates, others will try to tweak and imitate.
Thinking back through the various gaming systems that I have played, my mind starts to swim in confusion with all of the different story lines or races or settings. Thinking about the game mechanics themselves, one can see specific trends in design. While I stayed in the domain of “player”, keeping track of all of these game mechanics from each of the different systems was easy and even fairly interesting… even if purely from a comparison perspective. But once I stepped into the domain of “game designer”, I found that myself having to purge all of these older systems from my conscious mind to prevent possible confusion. I would be typing out concepts and rough drafts for the Mana Punk combat rules, needing to design a set of rules for throwing a grenade type weapon. This should have been a fairly simple task, yes? But as I thought, the only thing my brain could conjure up was the same type of mechanics from other gaming systems. Before I can even stop myself, I’ve typed out a full set of combat rules that ends up choking on vestigial mechanics of other more complicated gaming systems.
So I erased it all… and started with a blank slate. Inspiration can be a good thing, but inspiration without imagination can be bad. I now try to write Mana Punk from a “blank slate” perspective. Yes, I use other systems for inspiration, to spark creative processes in design… but I always try to create from a “fresh starting point”. I want Mana Punk to be easy to pick up and play, but still retain depth in the variety of game play and mechanics, as well as the roleplaying opportunities. I do not want players to be required to wade through chapter after chapter of vestigial mechanics, rules held over from other systems that are really no longer needed.
Endeavor to create while striving to simplify.