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Subject: (WIP) The Agency rss

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Grace McDermott
Australia
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Basic overview: The Agency is a 45-min, cooperative urban fantasy tabletop game for 2-4 players.


History: The Agency is based on the book series Require: Cookie, a geeky urban fantasy series, which I write – which provides (as arrogant as it sounds to say), a fair degree of already-established lore to draw from.

Current Game Name: The Agency
Current Game Design Time: 6 months (May, 2015)
Current Goal: Working, printed prototype (using The Game Crafter or a similar service) for mid-2016.

Playtesting: a tonne of solo testing (start playing, examine mechanics, stop when something doesn’t work and redesign), and a number of playthroughs with friends (who have read the books the game is based on, so they were drawn in by the theme). Initial play tests seem balanced, and friends seem to enjoy playing it. (The feedback of friends is valuable, but biased.)


Developer Diary 1: Choosing the Player Characters
The Agency is being designed for 2-4 players – the usual size of the groups I can play with, also (I believe) the most popular group size to design for. I’d eventually like to be able to scale up to 5/6, but that may have to wait for another edition or an expansion.

(Whilst I do intend on presenting a complete game, I’m also wary of throwing everything-and-the-kitchen sink into the first game, as I would prefer a clean, balanced experienced, than trying to incorporate all possible mechanics into it. That being said, I do see potential for expansions, and wish to keep that in mind).

To present a bit of variety, and to prevent each game from being the same group of four players, I’d like to initially present a group of six Require: Cookie main characters for players to choose between (or to be picked at random – I haven’t decided which way I’ll go with this, potentially it could be an option for how players want to play their games).

Each player turn has three phases - each character has a number of actions that are common to all characters, a number of actions that are common to those of their department (Tech, Combat, Field), and a number of unique actions.

Characters also have a number of actions that are completely unique to them, and reflect them as characters – this is a bit of a mix between flavor text and unique mechanics. One character, for example, has a habit of introducing chaos/randomness to the situations around him, so he may get an additional reroll in order to avoid a dire situation. (These entirely unique mechanics are far more limited than their phase actions – most of them can only be employed once per game – such as the “OSHI-“ power, which can prevent the group from losing the game.

The characters – all staff of the eponymous Agency, belong to a particular department, and (as above), those departments dictate their actions sets.

Tech Department – the umbrella department, which comprises monitoring operations, hacking, various bits of R&D, and the CSI/crime labs.
Combat Division – pretty much what it says on the tin. Combat are the soldiers, the meat shields, and the physical force of any given agency.
Field Operations – The department that is usually left as the public face of the agency – those who run investigations, speak with civilians, and liaise with civil and government authorities.

In glib, TLDR terms for the game, their specialties are:
Tech – farming resources.
Combat – clearing obstacles on assignments/mini-missions.
Field – combining resources into victory points.

My initial line up of characters is as follows:

Stef Mimosa
The main character of Require: Cookie, in all technicality, a field agent, but she’s far more comfortable around computers.
Game Role: Tech.

Agent Jones
Gender-fluid head of the tech department, and mother to a child who appears to be an attempt to recreate Merlin.
Game Role: Tech

Curt O’Connor
Used to work for the bad guys, got better. Stef’s best friend, even if she confuses the crap out of him.
Game Role: Field

Agent Ryan
The director of his agency, primary field agent, and Stef’s adoptive father.
Game Role: Field

Magnolia Hammond
A half-magpie recruit who is, on paper, second in charge of the combat department, but who does far more to hold everything together than her boss.
Game Role: Combat

Agent Taylor
Calling him “the ginger hulk” wouldn’t exactly be inaccurate…
Game Role: Combat

To me, this distribution is even – two representatives of each department. I may be including a seventh character (or potentially swapping Curt out), to include the main character of one of the other authors who also writes this series may threaten me with rubber chickens and stranger things if I don’t include Vincent (the character I mentioned above who is good at introducing randomness).

There are other characters I’d like to include, but I feel like this is enough for the first release – as I don’t want to induce analysis paralysis at the beginning of play by giving players too many options.
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Grace McDermott
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This is my first pass at the Assignment card design.
Title - Self-explanatory
Flavour - Flavour text

T - 7
F -4
--> These are where the required stat rolls go)

Info-1
--> This is where the required resources will go.

WIN/FAIL
--> Where the prizes/consequences will go

F/T - Symbols for the assignment disciplines will go here

1 - Card number

 
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Grace McDermott
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Second Assignment Card Design

This one will have individual boxes for all required stat rolls and resources (some will be zeroes).

I'm kind of leaning towards this design, as I think it would create a more consistent look across the cards - though I am worried when when it comes to future design, if I branch out from these initial stats/resources.
 
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Steven Tu
South Africa
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Not sure what you're doing with the card, but here's just basic comments on design: The borders of your table around stuff is super invisible next to the dark coloured background.

For prototyping, the most important thing is clarity of information, that trumps colourful stuff and art and whatever else. Getting that right should come first before anything else.
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