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Coterminology

Posted by Andrew on

We've discussed the importance of language, the danger of using said language for evil rather than good, and a bit on the difference between common use and technical language. Now, my friends it's time to bring this together and end this diatribe of over-intellectualized nonsense. As we move into the murky depths of game design, the Angry Mojo crew will be holding to a overarching tenet I call “coterminology.”

Coterminology, at its core, means that a term that applies to a game maintain the same definition over the course of the entire game, as well as other games made by the same publisher. If I give a character a “run” action in a miniatures game we make, it will have the same game effect as if my adventuring hero in Angry Mojo the RPG takes a “run” action. Many games already do this, especially if they have multiple games stemming from the same intellectual property. Warmachine and the Iron Kingdoms Roleplaying Game are mostly coterminous, as are Malifaux and the newly released Through the Breach. There are some inconsistencies in both, as I understand, and these breed confusion.

As a philosophy, coterminology expands a little more to encompass an overall strategy of linguistic use in game design. I mentioned in the last post about using common-use language over technical language, and this is where it comes into play. In our games, if a model or character or whatever is “immobilized,” it means just that. Not “cannot change position” or “cannot take a walk action,” it means “cannot move.” That irritating itch on your nose will have to wait, moving your arms is moving. If your character takes a “run” action, that means they're moving at something greater than a jog and will tire out after a while. Dexterity doesn't cover how well a model can move around the battlefield or how well a cunning rogue can dodge incoming attacks, dexterity is hand-eye coordination.

Coterminology means a goal of design for all games we make is ease of learning. New players are the lifeblood of the gaming hobby, and without neophytes a game withers and dies. Tabletop games have enough jargon injected into their infrastructure, if something as trivial as a bit of extra attention on the part of the design team makes it easier for newbies to enjoy our hobby with us, shouldn't we do it?

Enough of that. Now when I refer to coterminology in future posts you'll know what it means.

Happy gaming, Mojo out.