RPG dice systems have a particular bonus in the way they invoke player emotion, as those dice systems determine success or failure of the player’s actual alter ego, his character. In the best of those designs, dice not only provide randomized conflict resolution, they also provide a foundation for the emotional experience; tangibly manifesting the world to the players as they manipulate the world’s totems—the dice.
Theme can inspire game design, but you have to be sure it doesn’t tie your hands. During development, you might discover that you need to alter a mechanism to make the game better. It’s hard to make that change if it goes against the theme.
Games lubricate the body and the mind.
Most designers focus on the theme, mechanics, and components when designing their games. I agree with this method, but what interests me most is the player’s experience and what emotions the game makes the players feel.
So while on the one hand they are actively bound to prescribed goals by the social contract of the game, on the other, they tend to avoid overly strong attachment to outcomes in ways that might disrupt the social fabric of the encounter. Il is only when this balance is achieved that gamers can immerse themselves in the genuine source of their enjoyment—a convivial environment within which to explore the intellectual engagement that arises from the pursuit of arbitrary goals.