student 20 Productions

Random Thoughts of a Game Developer

No review, but plenty of other stuff to talk about…

Well, that fell through disastrously. The promised review isn’t done. I simply haven’t had the time. I apologize, but it has since occurred to me that maybe my brother’s review blog isn’t the right format for an indy RPG review in any case. I mean, it’s a great format; I wish more in-depth reviews used it, but going over some of his stuff I have come to the conclusion that maybe… just maybe… it’s a format that works better for visual media. More specifically, I could see using it for TV and Movies… but less so for books or video games. Maybe I should try to find a format of my own to use…

In development news, I got more work done last night on my Essence system than in the preceding week all together, and it looks like I may pull off much the same thing tonight, which is fantastic. I have the basic task resolution mechanic in place, and have begun constructing character creation rules, along with everything that will appear on a character. Which brings me to a question.

I’m looking at dividing the combat mechanic up, essentially making two different combat systems for the game. The idea runs like this:

  1. Standard Combat: This combat system eschews battle maps and the related tactical side of combat. The idea is to have a simple, quick to run system for folks who don’t want to spend a lot of time on combat, or who like their combat map-free.
  2. Art of War: This is the map combat system for Essence, with a focus on tactical movement. Art of War requires players to make a sort of sub-character, derived from the main character sheet, that has information specific to Art of War combat. The eventual idea would be to make it so you could just make the Art of War sheet, allowing groups to have fun little skirmish battles and run pvp tournies if that’s what they’re into without getting into a full-on game.
So yeah, in a way, the Art of War combat system is a game within a game. It’s all very complicated, tautological, and Hamlet-esque.
At any rate, keeping in mind the two modes of running combat above, I’m wondering if things like defense (i.e. what a character does to avoid getting tagged in combat) should be separate derived abilities, or if they should be based directly on Skills (the Essence system is a Skill based one – did I forget to mention that?). That is to say, should characters have a separate sub-stat  that works sort of like a Challenge rating for how hard they are to hit, or should Characters be expected to buy up skills for use in defense or default to an Agility stat for a defense check?

I’m not really asking anyone in particular this question, you understand. I mean, I welcome any and all opinions on the matter – and would be more than happy to clarify the conundrum if you need me to… but mostly I’m talking about it here so that I can get my brain wrapped around the problem. I guess it comes down to this: how much complexity do I want in the Standard Combat system? The whole purpose of dividing the combat systems into two different methods is so that a game group can choose between a simple, streamlined, relatively quick combat system (if their game is combat light, or they don’t want to deal with the complexity of battle-map based tactical combat) and a more in-depth tactical skirmish system that uses minis and so on (if the game has a lot of combat, or the group enjoys full tactical combat similar to what’s found in the more recent editions of Dungeons & Dragons).

I want groups to have that choice. Of course, groups always have that choice – nothing stops you from ignoring tactical map-based combat rules in any game you play. I want the choice up-front and supported either way by the system. Is that too much to hope for?

As a final note: as of this writing, in about two hours, the sixth series of the new Doctor Who (or the thirty-sixth season of Doctor Who, if you prefer to think of it that way) will air in England. Here in the States, of course, we have to wait another 12 hours or so to see it, but I just wanted to let everyone know how excited I am that it’s finally here (YAY!!). Everyone got their scarfs, sonic screwdrivers, and TARDIS keys ready? Fantastic. Hopefully, I’ll be able to post a few thoughts on the episode tonight. If not, look forward to a post about the episode tomorrow.
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4 thoughts on “No review, but plenty of other stuff to talk about…

  1. Yeah, my review format breaks the lesser souls. Heh heh heh.

    Actually, as linear as some video games are, you could very easily use my format to review them. You won’t be doing a blow by blow, of course, just hitting the highlights (or whatever) of what happens in the plot.

    Same holds true with books. All I’m doing is summarizing and adding my “thoughts”.

    Speaking of the review site: Today or tomorrow there’s gonna be an update. I know! Two in a month! That rate WCR’s going to have your update schedule.

    In any case, I don’t want to spoil what I’m working on, but I’ll give you a hint. It involves walking sludge, a flame breathing dinosaur, and a flying sequence that makes Gamera’s look realistic.

    You’ll never guess. Not in a million years. Not even after I’ve told you. Twice. In the past few weeks.

    Sorry. Tired. Makes me silly. Er.

  2. Anson on said:

    Aside from not wanting to have anything to do with a detailed mini-based combat system for a while, I don’t have much to say on the matter. I do think that you’re going to probably want to look at the narrative combat option first, making sure that works before you layer on the tactical combat portions. The biggest pet peeve I have with crunch-tastic combat like 4e D&D is that the narrative tends to take a backseat when the minis come out. I’d like to be able to have a system that encourages cool descriptions and interesting player (and monster) tricks. That is, of course, my own personal opinion on the matter, and I’m not sure how helpful it is.

    • Sorry it took so long to approve your comment – I’m behind the power curve these days.

      The narrative combat system is the first priority here. I enjoy tactical combat and minis, but narrative combat has a special place in my heart, since that’s what I started with.

      The whole idea is to keep the Role Playing game and the Tactical Combat game separate, as in either can be used with or without the other. The main idea, though, is that you can choose whichever best suits your game group’s play style.

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