I was hoping to have the prototype ready to go by the end of the evening, but that turned out to be optimistic. Here's what got done:
10 Building Cards
5 Character Class Cards
5 Character Personality Cards
6 Event Cards
10 Vampire Cards
18 Civic Leader Cards
9 pages of the Book of Legends
The last was by far the most time consuming. I like the idea of using a Arabian Knights style "choose your own adventure" at certain key moments of the game. It allows decisions that are restricted to the context of a particular moment in the history that the player is creating, rather than having several diverse situations reduced down for the benefit of a universal mechanism.
However I find myself future proofing, which is getting in the way of making the fastest possible prototype and starting on some testing. I know that every game a player will have three minions with a secret personality card. Each one of those has a trigger that causes it to be revealed and lead to a legend entry (You can see the cruel card poking out saying to turn to 100 if the cruel character is in a very populated space)
The consequence of that is that there's a danger that the same events get seen again and again. In terms the solution is to make trigger conditions difficult (so not every one is triggered every game) and to have their outcomes be somewhat variable depending on other parts of the game state. That means that entry 100 can potentially lead into a bunch of other entries - which necessetates a lot of book of legend writing. That's probably not strictly necessary to test game one, but the choice mechanism is part of the game so it feels like I need to write the whole tree to proceed.
In the long run that's great because it means I'm testing systems I'll need as I work on the game and it grows and you never regret future proofing you've done in the past. Right now it's frustrating because I want to build a prototype and play it so I can explore whether my core systems are actually any good!
Equally thinking about the impact of events going forward feels important because part of the game is choosing your own objectives and working towards them. It's not (for example) necessary to know what advantage establishing a tradition of an annual festival held in your honour will give for a first game test - since it can't possible come up. On the other hand pushing for things like that is part of the game and it feels like it should have some designed effect.
Rapid development and playtesting is great, especially in the early stages.
Future proofing can make a big difference, the earlier it's started the better.
I'm not entirely sure of the best way to resolve the conflict between these things. Still I'm confident the prototype is more than halfway to playable: It's just missing a few NPC General cards (which will be very simple) and a few book of legend entries for manipulating certain civil leaders (which won't be). The game also needs a board, but I'm going to try a couple of plays on Smallworld's one to test out some theories on the impact of spatial relations before I start making my own.
If you've an interest in what the elemnets so far are doing...
Class: Half of a minion, shows what value of die you need to allocate to do certain tasks.
Personality: The other half of a minion. Does nothing until revealed. Has a trigger condition that reveals it (and a legend that leads to) which reveals an ability it can use for the rest of the game and some stat mods. Also a couple of specialities like "Intimidate" or "Dirty Fighting" we'll get to those later
Vampire: A big 'ol card for ongoing effects that carry over with you from game to game. Whether the people cheer you in the streets or organise mobs to burn you.
Event: A card with a trigger and a legend number (and some sort of hint about what the event might be in the name and picture) each player has a few that will go off during the game if the trigger conditions occur.
Building: Has requirements for building and an effect when built. Most have some sort of setup effect that will shape the city at game start. If you fill a city with military buildings it's very likely to go to war unless someone's going out of their way to stop it.
Civic Leaders: One played on each city per turn. Can knock the city desire tracks up and down, which influences how it behaves. They do something pretty straightforward depending on whether they've got more chits for Building, Expansion or War.
Phew! So yes, lots of building and trying things for this project going ahead, but still no concrete data on whether it'll work or not in practice. I'm looking forwards to having a real go with it, though I only have time for light work on it next week.
A collection of posts by game designer Gregory Carslaw, including mirrors of all of his blogs maintained for particular projects. A complete index of posts can be found here: https://boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/58777/index
18 Nov 2016
- [+] Dice rolls