The tutorials seem pretty interesting so far. I'm taking the Game Design Workshop, which in my opinion has been fantastic. One of the points they've really been driving home is their "MDA" model, where...
- M stands for "mechanics", which is simply the rules and constraints of the game.
- D stands for "dynamics", which are the emergent behavior that the rules cause.
- A stands for "aesthetics", which is the general feeling you want the player to experience while playing your game. Like if you were playing a pirate game, the aesthetics you'd want the player to feel pirate like (amoral, empowered, devious, etc.). You can kind of think of aesthetics as the final goal you're looking to reach, and the mechanics are the mechanism to do that. The dynamics are the grey area where everything goes depressingly wrong and you realize you had no idea what the consequences of your rules would be. :-)
I thought the emphasis on figuring out what the aesthetics of your game are first, and then building the mechanics to support that was interesting. I've always been the kind of person in the past that would look at mechanics first, and then tack some aesthetics on later as an afterthought. Approaching from the aesthetic perspective first now seems like a better idea. It seems like having the constraints of the aesthetics forces you to think more creatively, and so you actually end up with more innovative mechanics as a result.