Smoothing the Learning Curve

Homeworld Project is a game of Astral Space Opera. It changes, subtly and overtly, many typical assumptions of RPGs: dice handling, character ownership, authority and responsibility distribution, narrative structure, social footprint, etc.

In making these changes, Homeworld Project becomes at once capable of things most other RPGs couldn’t dream of and a struggle to learn. While no more complicated than most indie games, Homeworld Project requires players to learn and attempt most of its unorthodox procedures early on in play. Once they get over this hump, play becomes much easier.

In short, Homeworld Project has a very steep immediate learning curve that after that first ascent achieves a plateau of expertise. Feedback at Metatopia got me thinking of how to build a ramp for that learning curve. One great example of such a ramp is Dogs In the Vineyard, which uses a tutorial step in character creation to make a fairly unconventional game more comprehensible.

So I’ve added a new notion to Homeworld Project, two short introductory chapters of play where we specifically remove parts of the game to focus on the most basic of core elements. In the first chapter we only ask players to get used to the dice, bouts, and consequences. Then in the second we introduce the means for influencing dice and consequences. And we wait until the third chapter before worrying players about how to manifest allies and otherwise handle more than one character.

We’ll see if this break down works, but it seems promising at the very least. All that I’m missing is taking this notion and turning it into a tutorial script for players. Perhaps I will follow-up on that in a month or two.

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