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Random Thoughts of a Game Developer

Archive for the month “December, 2010”

16 Bit Heroes Playtest Alpha! Plus, upcoming Site update

Alright, here it is. The final, actual, corrected 16 Bit Heroes Playtest Alpha. It has a new introduction (short, but specifically written with the Alpha in mind, rather than ramblings of a mad game designer… which is what it was before). I’ve finally actually fixed all the reference errors in Chapter 2, removed superfluous tables, and tightened things up a bit. Please enjoy!

16 Bit Heroes – Alpha v0.1 patch 2

Incidentally, the Index is hyperlinked for your convenience – click on a chapter or section, and your .pdf reader should take you right to the chapter or section. The page references throughout the book are hyperlinked as well. I’ve only tested it in Sumatra .pdf reader, though, so I don’t know if Adobe Acrobat Reader or Foxit work, but they should.

In other news – an upcoming Site Update!

In the near future, there will be a site revamp (maybe even later tonight).  There will be a link above (or somewhere obvious) called “16 Bit Downloads”, which will lead you to the Alpha download, the 16 Bit Heroes Character Sheets, and all other supplemental material relating to 16 Bit Heroes. Yay! Organization at last!

UPDATE: The site change is complete – what do you think? The link to the 16 bit Heroes Download page is right at the very top, by the way – above the header image.

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(Short Post) Almost There…

Quick Update: There are just a few sample monsters to create, and the 16 Bit Heroes Alpha is done. It should posted here before midnight tonight, time allowing. Sorry I didn’t get it done before Christmas… but On Christmas sorta counts, right?

Experience Chapter Done! One More to Go…

So, I’ve brought the 9th chapter (Experience) to a close. It actually went more smoothly and quickly than I expected. The Experience system is something I’ve been processing in the back of my mind almost since I started working on 16 Bit Heroes, and I guess that the usual kinks in the system I find when starting a new chapter were already worked out before I got to it. I usually have to work them out while I’m working the chapter, sometimes going back and editing previous references (the Equipment chapter has had to be re-worked in one way or another no less than eight times, and it’s still the chapter I am the most insecure about). Huh… I seem to be getting better at this.

In any case, I thought that a small excerpt of the Experience chapter might be illuminating for my few readers. You’ll noticed that Experience Points is abbreviated as “EP” rather than “XP”; more on that after the excerpt.

Chapter 9: Experience

16 Bit Heroes presents multiple methods of character advancement. Each method has its ups and downs; it is up to the individual Game Group to decide what’s going to work best for them[1]. Only one method should be employed in a given campaign; they do not provide identical advancement, so one character using one method while another character uses a different one can result in some serious character disparity.

All of the methods use a level-based system and an identical experience chart. As characters and adventuring parties succeed in battle, complete objectives, and engage in rewarding role play, they receive Experience Points (EP). Once they have enough EP, the characters gain new levels, improving their Abilities and Stats, and gaining new Spells and Techniques (or access to same; see the Improvement Tree method).

Common Experience Elements

There are several things that are common to all of the Experience methods. All of them use the same Level of Experience table, for example, determining at what amount of EP a character gains a new level.

In all of the methods below, the rules outlined apply to Classes on even levels, and to Races on odd levels. For instance, if you’re using the Improvement Test method, you make Improvement Tests for your character’s Class on levels 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and so on. Tests made for your Race or Personality are made on levels 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, et cetera.

Finally, all of the Experience methods use the same Multiclassing rules, which are described at the end of the chapter.

The Experience Methods in Brief

This section outlines each of the methods of improving characters through experience in brief. There are three methods outlined here. All of these are specifically “alpha”, which is to say that none of them are tested in any way – at least not yet. Some, all, or none of these methods may make it into the final system; it all depends on feedback.

  • Improvement Test Method: At each new level, the characters make an Improvement Test to determine how much their characters improve. Typically, a single Test roll is made, which is then compared to various Improvement Difficulties, each yielding a differing amounts of improvement.
  • Static Improvement: At each new level, a character gains specific benefits. There are no test rolls, and advancement can be easily predicted and tracked.
  • Point Based Improvement: At each level, characters receive a set number of Improvement Points, which can be used by the players to improve their characters.

There are also three special variants that modify the way the above methods work slightly; these are all optional. None of these has to be used at all, and one of them doesn’t even need to be playtested:

  • Buy It Up: The characters gain in level using one of the methods above, but new Spells, Techniques, and Skills must be purchased in game from trainers.
  • Party Experience: The characters do not track individual experience; instead, the Party has an EP total, and there is a unified Party Level.
  • EP Free: The characters automatically gain a level after a set number of Conflicts, or whenever the Game Group decides the time is right. This can be combined with Buy It Up and Party Experience, above.

So, here’s a little known fact in the history of RPGs: The abbreviation of Experience Points goes all the way back to the original Dungeons & Dragons rules put together by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. The original D&D had a lot of difference forms of currency, all based on different materials the coinage was made from. There were Platinum Pieces (PP), Gold Pieces (GP), Silver Pieces (SP), and Copper Pieces (CP). Between GP and SP, there was an additional coin, however – the Electrum Piece, which was, naturally enough, abbreviated EP.

A 640 BCE one-third stater electrum coin from ...

Image via Wikipedia

Electrum is a naturally occuring alloy of Gold and Silver, and was actually used for coinage in the ancient world Check out the picture… In any case, because EP is a completely natural abbreviation for EP, and the word Experience sounds like it should start with the letter “x”, XP was a natural abbreviation for Experience Points. And that’s why Experience Point is almost always shortened to XP – because Electrum Pieces (which hardly appear anywhere in RPGs today) stole the EP abbreviation.

Since 16 Bit Heroes doesn’t use Electrum Pieces (or any specific currency system, for that matter), I thought I’d go ahead and use EP for Experience Points. It made sense to me when I was writing Chapter 9, at any rate.

So, now that the Experience Chapter is done, I’m down to the Bestiary before the system is ready for playtest. It looks like I’m going to reach my “Done Before Christmas” goal. It would be nice to achieve a writing goal for once…

Well, that’s all for now. As always, feedback is welcome!

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Finally Finished with Status Effects…

It took me a lot longer to finish out the Status Effects than I thought it would, and I was up until after 3 am yesterday working on it, but they’re done. And now we move on to the Experience chapter, followed by the Bestiary… and then 16 Bit Heroes will finally be in a playable state. Well, technically, it’ll be in a playable state when I finish the Experience chapter, but it has been pointed out to me that having a few beasties around makes play testing a heck of a lot easier. Besides – without a few creatures, one class (The Hunter) would be weakened, and another class (The Summoner) would be literally unplayable.

Oh, this is a progress report, by the way. I hadn’t posted anything at all for quite some time, and I thought that maybe people might want to know whether or not the Alpha will be done by Christmas. I can answer with a definite “yes“. Well, a qualified yes, anyway.

The qualification is this: the game will be playable, but I have no idea how playable. Everything will be there to get going, to run games, kill monsters, gain levels, gather treasure, and take on the Demon Lord, or whatever… but since the game is in an Alpha state, some of the chapters will probably seem a bit rough, and bumps in the road should be expected as being par for the course. Another qualification is that a few things that didn’t make it into the alpha, mostly because while I want them for 16 Bit Heroes, I’m not actually certain how to pull them off.

For instance, one comment from my friend indicated a desire to see synced abilities, à la Chrono Trigger

Example of a basic battle from the GREATEST SNES RPG EVER

Image via Wikipedia

, where multiple characters could get together and pull off awesome attacks. I want to include that so bad I can taste it, but I haven’t figured out how to do it. If, when the Alpha finally appears here, it gives someone an idea, I’d love to hear it. The Status Effect list is shorter than I’d like (hilarious, since it’s three pages long), and a few other things that desperately need to be ironed out.

But I’m not making a game for production and sale, here. At least, not yet. I’m making something that I can get into people’s hands that I think will be fun to play, and will capture at least some of the flavor of the old-school console RPGs I loved as a kid, and still love today.

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