06 June, 2016

Game Chef Thoughts (Part 3)

While it was an indie darling for a while, 3:16 is a silly game on many levels. It's simple, it's about killing aliens, it replicates the source material (Aliens, Starship Troopers, Warhammer 40k) pretty well... and it's got a hell of a subversive twist hidden in its pages.

I love it.

I'm really thinking of doing something similar with this massive combat game. The game begins by setting the tone as a war between the homelanders (formerly described as "natives") and the invaders (formerly described as the "colonials"). These names will be further subject to change, I'm sure.

Homelanders have foam weapons, they may fulfil quests or "cash-in" invader kills with their local shaman to gain bonuses...or they may trade NERF bullets they've scavenged for other benefits.

Invaders have NERF guns, they may pick up their bullets to refill their own guns, and may "cash-in" homelander kills with their superior officers to gain bonuses and promotions.

For the Invaders, this is a game of conquest. For the Homelanders, it is a game of survival. In both cases, chance of character death begins low, but ramps up during the course of play. With character death (on either side) come a pair of new menaces, a re-animatory infection that starts to spread, and a shadowy force that is awakened by the carnage.

Thus four factions are at play in the latter half of the game. The Invaders want to study the re-animatory infection, and see the shadowy force as proof of their claim that heresy needed to be purged from the land. The Homelanders have limited rituals/traditional-remedies to control the infected, and know to be afraid of the shadowy force. The members of the shadowy force return to their respective factions as hidden agents to prompt further violence and spread carnage (but they become aware that there are members of their faction hidden on the other side), while infected have no weapons, and no agenda of their own except to feed and infect others.

Still working on specifics here. Victory points will be awarded individually for accumulating kills and/or fulfilling quests, they will also be awarded collectively for factions fulfilling their wider goals. But overall, the idea is that in the end, the starting factions don't matter as much as the characters were led to believe. The two factions that come into play later in the game have a more rapid point scoring system... or in the case of the "infected", the natural feedback loop of the game makes them a snowballing force to be reckoned with.

Like any massive game, the complexity of the system and the potential for things to go off the rails is magnified by the sheer number of players. The key to this game providing a positive play experience for the widest number of players comes through establishing a specific economy and ecosystem of play, and providing wandering GMs with the tools necessary to moderate the speed of unfolding proceedings.

That's what I'll be thinking about next.
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