Friday, June 18, 2010

8- Playtest One

Last night was the first playtest of the system and it seemed to go fairly well. Part of it was the system but the majority of it was the attitude of the play testers. There weren't too many holes and the ones that there were, were dealt with graciously.

Some issues that arose were:
* more refinement is required in the conflict resolution system especially in a situation where direct contact is not initiated e.g. sneaking up on someone. I have ambushing fairly well defined but "sneaking up" requires a little work. Perhaps some kind of single roll similar to a conflict with an inanimate object.

* definition of what actions can be taken once you were "bested" in a conflict. Besting is an idea I'm working on to reduce the dead/alive ending to a combat. I think it's more dramatic for there to be a final decision when a character has bested someone instead of just ending with a body on the floor.

* characters were underpowered. The players felt that even as starting characters they should be able to rely on 1 or two of their primary skills. Across the board failure is no fun. I should have done more rolling myself.

* there should be a mechanism for deciding who acts first or initiative. This one was a simple fix

* there should also be a mechanism for applying a skill you don't have. Again easily fixed. All characters have a minimal aptitude in all areas.

Some positives were:
* the marker/story point system for adjusting rolls although not well defined was appreciated. Players liked being able to use them to modify a roll after they'd rolled. This is in line with some of the ways I imagined they might be earned. The players agreed that if they were awarded for something meaningful they should have meaning when they are spent not just vanish due to the vagaries of a roll.

* the fact that skills worked in both directions was appreciated

* always rolling the same dice was appreciated as compared with determining dice pools modifiers etc.

One other thing came out of the session, and I would recommend it if you are play testing: as the designer, give the first criticism in the feedback session. It gets people talking about what they liked and didn't like and also removes the stigma of casting the first stone.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

7- Playtests

When should you start playtesting a game?

I think the answer is when you have your system worked out. If you don't have a system just an idea you may have just written a supplement to an existing game.

I still have some concerns with how the Hazard system will play out but as the first play-test is just a couple of days away it won't be long before I find out.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

6- Resolution II

I'm rapidly finding that, for me at least, the more I work at something the more inspiration I get and for the last few days I've been working off and on at turning hazard into a resolution system. It's been a challenge.

I wanted to develop a system that has enough flexibility to create detailed resolutions, particularly for combat, but is very simple to learn. The final design constraint I put on myself was that the system had to be a fast and seamless part of the roleplaying.

So in a nutshell I wanted the game part of Victoria to serve the roleplaying part, interrupting the flow of the story as little as possible or even enhancing it.

Worryingly this puts me completely at odds with Gary Gygax, one of the creators of Dungeons and Dragons, who is on record as wanting to minimize roleplaying in his game. His feelings were that the dramatic roleplaying element should serve the game element and he created* the best selling roleplaying game of all time!

Fortunately, one of the great things about roleplaying games is that they fall on a continuum in this respect and so do peoples tastes so maybe it's not so bad.

Anyway, today it finally all came together and a whole slew of other ideas about conflict resolution resolved themselves as well. I think I managed to create a system of dice rolling that is the echo of hazard I was looking for as well as meeting the other points I was aiming for.

Once I had the concept for the system I spent a few hours breaking it down statistically to check that it didn't contain any quirks. Lucky I did because there were a few but they turned out to be a good thing as the solutions to these problems had the unintended consequence of also helping to answer some of the questions I still had about experience points.

Of course play-testing will really show whether this is workable or not.

*I didn't forget Dave Arneson!