What's So Innovative about Night Shift: VSW?
This is one of the most common questions game designers get in the modern era of game design. Everyone's looking for the latest, new and unusual thing, and that's understandable. So what do I answer when people ask me what's so innovative or new about Night Shift: VSW?
That's right; there's nothing in the mechanics or system that's particularly new or innovative in Night Shift: VSW.
Now, before you throw up your hands and say, "Why bother, then?" Let me elaborate.
There's No Such Thing as Innovative Mechanics
The simple truth of the matter is, the vast majority of designers who use "innovative" as a claim to fame for their game are at least one of two things, and very often both:
1. Trying to be different for no other reason than to say they're being different, often at the expense of playability.
2. Simply wrong.
Most so-called innovative mechanics are smoke and mirrors at best. The truth is very simple: dice exist in a game for one reason and one reason only: to generate a random result. The idea that they are needed to drive a story or have some otherwise vital place of import in your rules system is to both undermine the point of your game and to put the rules ahead of the role playing.
I'm not denigrating people who enjoy mechanically complex games, here, or who enjoy fiddly rules sets where the dice, once rolled, stay on the table to form a major part of the story. If that sort of rules-focused game is your bag of dice (see what I did there?) go for it! Great! But first of all, it's not my thing, and second (and more importantly) its not new or innovative.
I'll say it again: Dice generate random results, and over the years in gaming we've seen everything from completely dice-free games to games where you have to roll on a table to make sure you strike your mouth with a fork when you eat. We've seen card-based mechanics, games whose dice have pictures instead of pips, games where the entire story is driven by consulting charts where the dice provide actions and events, and more.
I'm not arrogant enough to claim that it's impossible to create an innovative rules system, but I will make the claim that it's 99.9% unlikely that such a thing will happen. I'll also say that it's completely unnecessary, again, except to be different just for the sake of being different.
So how does this tie into Night Shift: VSW?