08 January, 2015

Don't you hate it when theory and reality don't quite mesh?

I'm working my way through the rewrite of Voidstone Chronicles. The whole point of this game is to be fast to play, not particularly complicated, and to reflect an "8-Bit/Old-School" console "RPG" vibe. At the start, things are simple, but as characters get more powerful, they can suddenly pull off combo attacks, they get can take down moderate foes in a single swipe while powerful enemies tower above them with thousands of hit points, and they gain equipment that fundamentally changes the rules of the game. It needs to be easily accessible for new players.

I had a basic idea for using dice to resolve the actions, but that seems to have become complicated, and really unbalanced at the extremes of the play experience. I even thought of shifting the die result to a readout from a table, comparing attributes, skills and die outcomes to resolve a single outcome, and while this concept could be described as "wicked-old-school" it really goes against the ideas of fast play and being welcoming to newcomers. So, I'm switching to cards. There are a few reasons for this, one of which is the easy access for new players, another is the four suits matching four elemental energy sources, a reduced change of cheating (compared to dice), and finally the way that hands of cards can be quickly dealt and manipulated.

The problem lies in getting my simple "play a card - consider the ramifications - get a resolution" mechanism, from my head to the page...especially if I want to keep attributes and skills important to the outcome and want it to remain streamlined.

I keep coming up with ideas that mentally "feel" good, but when I write them down into procedural form, they just get clunky. I really want the emotional state of a character to play into their chances of performing certain tasks ("when you're angry, it's harder to do something delicate, but you might get a better result when dealing damage", "when you're in a slow and methodical state of mind, you're not prepared for feats of athletics, but you might produce better forged documentation"). At first I tied these emotional states to the difficulty numbers, but that meant calculations before comparisons, which in turn slowed things down, or got ignored in the flow of things (theory and reality didn't mesh). I'm thinking of simplifying this a bit.

At the moment, the task procedure runs like this...



I still think it might be a bit complicated, but it pulls in all the elements I want to work with. It sets a framework for special abilities to link into, it also provides the basis for combat actions and spells.

I've had a few other awesome ideas (well they seem awesome in my head, but I'm not so sure how well they'll pan out in reality), but I'll leave them for another post.
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