Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Four Major Renovations

So, recently I had a conversation with my muse, and a post on BGDF, that have really changed the way I think about the character class system and abilities. I think that most of the basic mechanisms can stay the same, but I have a few major changes to the class and ability system, and in a way a major change to the point of the spirit world:

1) Class systems- So, I’ve always been a little bit of the libertarian equivalent of a game designer, in that I want players to be able to do whatever the heck they want (and just hope that the game is set up in a way that promotes interesting play). So, for example, I wasn’t a big fan of games in the Warhammer series that required that one have X basic units, or no more than 50% of their points in tanks. So, in this game, I originally designed 13 Spirit World classes, and 13 Real World classes, and said that anyone could link to anyone else. I’m starting to see now that this was not a very good idea. Essentially, the problem with energy abilities in the last game came from the fact that one could make an archer link to anything else. So, between this, suggestions of my muse to make things simpler, and the fact that the classes were really haphazardly put together anyways, I decided to super-simplify things. In version 4.0, there will only be 5 classes per world, and each class can only link to 2 others. So, now if you are a Scholar in the real world (the magic/summoning class), you have to link to either a Seer (the magic/archery class) or the Trickster (the magic/crazy abilities class).

2) Abilities- So, not only were the classes originally designed in a really haphazard way, but so were the abilities. As a result, not a whole lot of them had any link between the world. My plan is to change that. Now, at least half of the abilities should do something in both worlds (or at least have the potential to). Some will be like Regenerate, which gives a benefit in both worlds automatically. Some will be like Summon abilities, where a character can give the benefit to the other by meditating. Some will be like Move Earth, where the player can spend energy points to use in the other world. Some will be like Soulblade, where a character must damage their doppleganger to use it. And finally, some will continue to be the same crazy split attacks (like Ice Knife or Deep Wound, which attack both a character and their doppleganger).

I think I might make the abilities slightly directional, with a tendency to help the real world more than the spirit world.

3) Energy Points- Someone on BGDF had a really interesting idea about the characters needing to be bound together to use abilities. Here is my thought: I will eliminate Luck Points (which can be used to reroll stats), and subsume them into Energy Points. I will also allow characters to use Energy Points to heal themselves, or reduce their residual magic (thus being able to cast more spells). Also, there will be a large number of abilities that require Energy Points to use.

However, I will also make it that having at least one Energy Point is required for a lot of abilities to function. Essentially, if your last Energy Point is lost, the link between your character is lost. This makes for a lot of interesting situations. First, now you can be stuck in the situation of, “Boy, I’d really like to reroll my damage, but if I do, my Aura of Wind will cease to function.” Second, now a character can do damage either by actually lowering an enemy’s hit points, or she can do damage by reducing an enemy’s Energy Points (thus cutting her off from her doppleganger). Finally, now there is a really strong reason to want to capture energy towers: a) to use your crazy abilities, and b) as insurance, in case your opponent hits you with a spell that takes your Energy points away.

4) Purpose of the Spirit Realm- Between 2 and 3, I’m thinking that the aim of the spirit world will be less a vital battle on its own, as much as something where you win it to help you win the real world. Thus, everything in the spirit world will somehow translate into being more of a badass in the real world.

What do you think? I’m really excited about this, and think I’ve finally figured out the problem of the worlds not linking enough.


“The opposite of bravery is not cowardice but conformity.” – Robert Anthony

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Recent playtest

Hey everyone (probably mostly Mike),

So, I had another playtest of Illeria last night. It was my first time trying out rules for Energy points. Basically, each character begins the game with 1 Energy point. During the game, she can spend an action to use it, and help her doppleganger. To get more, there are areas on the board that a player has to capture and hold called “energy towers.” If she can hold two of the 3 of these towers, then each of her characters near a tower gains 1 Energy point. This was also my first time trying out a new pre-made party, and my first time in forever playing with 7 characters per side (instead of 5). Last, it was the first time that spirit players were able to respawn after they died.

I have to say, the game was a lot more complicated than I remember it being. I had recently been playing Summoner Wars, and for some reason I was hoping the game would play like that. Instead, it played more like D&D (with a lot of math and remembering obscure rules). It probably made it a lot worse that all of my characters were wizards, so I was constantly needing to look up, “Okay, Fortinbras can cast Fire and Death magic. How much magic energy does Fireball take? What about Drain Life?” I wonder if I’m just getting less fond of wargames. I hope not... (although this makes me think back to another game I made once, where after a year of production, I decided that the game just didn’t feel any fun anymore)

So, here were the problems I encountered: First, the Energy points. As it stood, during the entire game, I think only one of my characters used his Energy point, and I think Matt only had two. There were a couple of reasons for this. They took an action to use, which players had precious few of. Because most of them granted only a small benefit, we were hesitant to use an entire action on them. Also, each character only had one “energy ability” that they could use, and not all of them fit all that well. For example, several of my characters had abilities which boosted the magical of their doppelganger. This means that if my character’s doppleganger could not cast spells, then that ability was useless. Originally this was intended to be a “feature,” if you want to be able to use these abilities effectively, you need to plan. As it stood, they were kind of obnoxious.

My thought on fixing this problem: give characters a generic set of energy abilities. It might undermine some of the uniqueness of the classes, but it will mean they get used. Also, Matt had a suggestion, which was to make it that energy abilities do not require an action to use. I like it.

Using 7 characters instead of 5 went pretty well, except that it slowed the game down significantly. I think I’m okay with that, because for some reason the extra 2 characters gave the game a full feel to it (if that make sense).

Also, I had a new idea for capturing energy towers. As the game stood, Matt captured two of them, and then did not bother going after the third one. Also, because of the way the game was set up, the all ended up being kind of close together, and not in good places. This went well, because as Matt put it, “now there was something to fight over,” but still, there might be a chance that it can improve. Here was my thought: What if, when your character are incapacitated, they respawn at the energy towers. This way, more towers could possibly mean more power, but also it gives people a reason to aggressively go after them. To keep this balanced, I will need to make it so that there will be one tower that each player can easily defend, but I think I’m okay with that. It should certainly make the game interesting, and will be something to try out next time.

Lastly, Matt had complained that the summoned creatures were too finiky. This is something I have been tinkering with since the beginning. Essentially, I really liked the idea of summoned creatures that were a struggle to maintain, and that could go berserk and turn on you if you were not careful. However, Matt kind of felt like I over-did it. What really set him off was that one of his characters was knocked down, causing him to lose control, and then before he could regain control, the creatures attacked and killed him. I mean, summoned creatures are really powerful, and my intention was for things like that to be possible, but if it makes it frustrating to play then it’s no good. I’m debating how to fix it. My idea for now is to make it that when you lose control of the creatures, that they are more likely to just stand around dumbstruck, and less likely to turn on their summoner. I’m not sure if that will be enough, and I’ll keep that in the back of my head, but for now that will be my fix.