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Subject: Developer’s Diary #5 Gameplay Development – Beta Testing rss

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Konstantinos Iovis
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Game Development – Beta V3.00

This beta version will prove to be the most challenging so far, as we are incorporating several features at once, since they have to be tested together.

Campaign structure

Without wanting to reveal too much and spoil the campaign’s story, let’s just say that, the stars will know “war” once more. Will you pick a side or will you choose to be neutral? Each mission will have a main objective and usually a side mission or a hidden objective. It will also offer a variety of choices which will follow the following principle (most of the time): Choosing A, will never allow B (or C in some cases) to happen. Typically this will give players missions with alternate endings. Ironclad’s campaign structure will be linear, in the sense that players will move from one scenario to the next, but our goal is to achieve a non-linear experience through the multiple available choices provided.

Analyzing a previously mentioned example, a mission’s objective will be to recover a fleeing scientist from “the Corporation”. The same scientist is wanted by “the Corporation’s” opposing faction, a warmongering race of Aliens, who offer you a very similar reward should you choose to work for them. Additionally, when retrieved, the scientist requests asylum from both warring factions and offers to join your crew as a hero. Surrendering the scientist to either faction will cause the ire of its opponent and you will forever lose the opportunity to “unlock” that hero and add him to your roster. Heeding the hero’s plea, you will cause severe displeasure to both factions. Which brings us to …

The Reputation system

As we previously mentioned, “Ironclad” is a story driven board game where players will have to make tough choices and reap rewards as well as face repercussions. Apart from rewards in the form of Credits or Gear, these choices will also award you with reputation points with one faction, as well as generate an equal amount of hostility from its opposing faction. In this, our 3rd wave of playtesting, we will be examining how the reputation system behaves, checking for balancing issues and tweaking when necessary.

Economy

Players will also have to manage their available funds in a conservative way. Credits will be used in a variety of ways, from recruiting heroes, upgrading your battleship and its systems, acquiring new gear or paying for services like repairs or entertainment when docked at a space station or spaceport. But credits have to come with a short supply, never to be enough for someone to get all available upgrades or to always hire the most skilled crew. In order to achieve this balance, we need to thoroughly playtest the game and its mission and side mission rewards, as well as all other sources for gaining credits. Naturally, this can only be tested at the same time with the Campaign’s structure.

Hero promotions and upgrading system

We have also implemented a ranking system for our heroes. By participating in missions, they will gain necessary experience to earn a promotion. Not all heroes are equally skilled. Some are rookies, others veterans and a select few are elite. Promoting a hero will grant him greater skills and usually improve a hero’s unique special ability. However this will come at a cost as the recruitment fee of the hero will also increase. Likewise, for players to survive the campaign, they will have to invest a considerable amount of funds in upgrades for their ship and modular equipment. (more on that will be revealed in future updates).

Blind testing

After we integrated all these features in our latest version of the game, we sent out prototypes to a close circle of experienced friends who have taken up the task of tearing our game apart in search of weaknesses! We are very grateful for their efforts!

In our next update we will shed more light on Ironclad’s story, game mechanics and last but not least, more amazing artwork from Manos!
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