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Showing posts from May, 2012

Feedback Loops in Game Design

Image
Every now and then something comes along that makes you think.

And every now and then someone puts a idea into an elegant graphic that's easy to grasp.

Quite often it seems that Daniel Solis is involved in one of these two events.

(Click to Enlarge)
I've thought about similar things many times in the past, but this puts a whole heap of them into a single polished infographic. Seriously consider them in your next project.

Thanks Daniel (link to his original post here).

Walkabout Core Mechanism

Time do get a bit of work done on Walkabout, beyond merely drawing pictures for the setting.

The whole mechanism in Walkabout is based around the concept of drawing tokens from a bag. This is designed to be shamanistic in its feel. Not derived from any one particular culture, but more of a mechaphor(1) describing the way the characters pick and choose elements of the past to help forge the future. It feels wrong in this game to use dice or cards because they are such a part of gaming culture already; I want this game to feel different as it is played. It needs to be visceral, with the players immersing themselves in the culture of the wayfarers they are playing.
Unlike a lot of quirky game mechanisms, this needs to blend into the background, it needs to be intuitive and it needs to help drive story. I know that the FUBAR dice (derived from the ideas of Otherkind) work well in this regard. So they can serve as the rough basis of the token drawing mechanisms in Walkabout.
At the simples…

Hell on Eight Wheels: Fourteen - Traits

In Magic: the Gathering, most of the creatures traditionally have a single trait defining their race (eg. Elf, Dwarf, Goblin, Merfolk, etc.), some of the more recent sets have creatures bearing two traits, one of which is the race while the other might be an occupation (eg. Elf Farmer, Dwarf Miner, etc). But then there are specific game effects that might target cards based on their name, not just their traits. It’s a simple system, and the forerunner for a lot of similar card systems.
I’m actually fonder of the trait system in the Asian inspired card game L5R. I think this will fit better as a template for the trait effects in Ho8W. In this game, all heroes and retainers have a clan (or function as ronin), they have an occupation (samurai, shugenja, courtier, ninja, etc.), and they often have a few more traits that really help define them as individuals (are they an “archer”, a secretive “kolat”, are they “tattooed”, “unique”, a “sailor”, are they tainted by the “shadowlands”  or ar…

Hell on Eight Wheels: Thirteen – Abilities

What is the point of a special ability if it isn’t special?
Abilities need to have some kind of significant impact, otherwise players won’t bother using them, and they might just forget to use them. If abilities aren’t used, there isn’t much point including them on the skater’s card. This is especially true when the abilities and traits are the key things that differentiate one skate from another.
The core system of the game works on playing cards that are as high as possible, but still under the skaters relevant statistic. A special ability needs to twist this in some way; there is no point creating an ability that states “This skater has +1 strength”, we might as well just increase the skater’s strength by 1. Abilities need to promote some kind of tactic, so they need to be effective in a specific situation or provide some kind of non-statistic advantage (like drawing extra cards). To maintain a degree of balance across the abilities, we need to ensure that the more specific the si…

Hell on Eight Wheels: Twelve – Teams

Getting back to work on Ho8W; it’s been a while since I’ve looked at this, so it’s probably good that I start on a completely different part of the rules.
I’ve been thinking about the ways in which skaters are differentiated. This seems to be the key method where this game will vary from the other roller derby games on the market, and I really love the idea of personality tension on the track, synergy within the team, and varying ways to play.
These are the things that keep a game evolving. Otherwise is becomes like monopoly, you know how the game will play out and the whole thing is basically just a sequence of die rolls, where luck is the only input toward victory.
If we can make the skaters different, and give them special abilities that play off one another then we bring another level of strategic play into the bout. This is another place where the “Magic: the Gathering” influence flows into the game. It might also help market the game toward the “Fantasy Sports League” crowd, …