Is it really just about mechanics?

Some time ago I’ve had a discussion with a game-developer who meant that in a card game the mechanics are all that matters.
Art and theme are always just imposed over those ‘metagame’. 

Well I would  not fully disagree here, but it made me rethinking a few things. It is somehow disturbing to me that everywhere a game appears (not only card-games) the word ‘mechanics’ is not far. It seams to me as an unhealthy “mechanic-obsession” in the indie scene that is, in my opinion, not only good – to be friendly! Yes we also were, in every phase of the development, focused on appealing game-mechanics and we are proud about our innovations here.
But no, we did not start with blank cards and imagined great mechanics that will be later on filled with nice art…
I always wondered about this approach. Maybe we are to little professional for this….

In truth it turns out for us that with many ideas from our art or theme-side also our game-mechanics gained massive improvement.
It seems that it is a process of countless iterations, realizing that even small changes in the story or theme may lead to “mechanical” changes.
This is true vice-versa of course.
For me this is a much “healthier” approach to build a satisfying game experience than separating a game in “mechanics” and “theme”!
Because as always the overall experience should be (imho) more than just the total of this two. And I truly believe that games should also be build this way, and I also believe that players will “feel” the difference.

Tell me – what do you think?

 

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