Funny Dice

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Fluff and Crunch, part 1

Most games can be described at two levels, known as "fluff" and "crunch" in the d20 community. Crunch is the mathematical underpinning; in Risk, the dice mechanic of attacking and defending armies would be crunch, as would the map of paths between territories and the relative value of different sets of territories. Fluff is the story that's laid on top of the rules. In Risk, the idea that you're taking over Europe or Australia or sending massive armies into Mexico, instead of moving abstract units across anonymous nodes, is the fluff. Crunch makes games playable, fluff makes them fun.

Notably, one can match different kinds of fluff to the same crunch. The Risk rules could work just as well for a game about colonies of ants taking over islands in a river, or intelligent software taking over servers on the Internet. To make a computer analogy, it's like the difference between software and hardware: a rules set can support many different scenarios, just as a PC can support different programs.

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