Monday, May 25, 2009


So, I playtested two games recently. It's funny, the second one was a really fun game, but I felt like I got little to nothing out of it as a playtest. Pretty much everything worked (well, minus a few understanding problems). It's funny how that goes, you want there to be problems, because if there aren't, it means you can't improve.

The first of the two playtests I did hit a problem. Archery was still too powerful. I talked to my old roommate about this, and he made a really good point: if you look at history, ranged attacks always have beat melee attack, unless the melee possess a) superior armor, or b) superior numbers. This is probably part of why archery has almost always been a bit overpowered.

I guess I should explain, archery actually never gave me a problem in the Spirit World, only the Real World. I think the main reason: in the Spirit World, characters were so mobile, that even if the Spirit World weapons were stronger, they could get around it.

For my first attempt to fix this problem, I made archery do so little damage that it seemed like a waste. Then I fixed that, which made it return to the original problem. Next, I decided that if characters were given ranged weapons, it meant they had a weaker melee attack. This wasn't enough to fix the problem. Another problem was that I noticed that originally, if a character got a bonus to her Aim stat, it meant that she was a better fighter both at range and in melee. So, I decided that I could split up Aim into Ranged Aim and normal Aim (the way many games, such as Warhammer and War Marchines, do it). I also decided to give characters an automatic +2 Dodge (meaning that they were 20% harder to hit) against ranged attacks. Both were rather ugly attempts to fix the problem.

The problems I ran into this recent playtest: First, even if I split Aim into two parts, a character with +3 Ranged Aim (meaning 30% more likely to hit), was still too powerful (for example, it mean that they could shoot across the board and into cover, and still hit half the time). Second, for the entire game, I (the designer) kept forgetting the Dodge bonus. The result of this is that my real world characters were shot to death as they ran across the field (despite taking lots of advantage of cover).

The solution: First, I've decided to abandon Ranged Aim. Basically, now there is no way to improve one's ranged attack power (or, maybe I'll add an ability later). Second, I made an adjustment to the way range is measured. The system I've been using is similar to the d20 system (and I'm sure others, though I can't remember where I've seen it). For example, if your bow has a range of 8", then there was no penalty for shooting someone 1-8" away, -1 to hit between 9-16", -2 for 17-24", and so on. I decided to change it so that 1-8" is -1 to hit, 9-16" is -2 to hit, and so on. I figure this adds a certain amount of elegance that was lost with "You have one Dodge for melee, and an adjusted Dodge for archery." Third, I decided to adjust the range of a bow.

Hopefully now you can still have at least a mediocre archery group, one who can sometimes win, but won't always win. We'll see how it works.

No comments: