Prototyping

Forum for discussing the Heroic tabletop game

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Re: Prototyping

Postby Groovy » Nov 29 2015, 15:24

This game, novel and world are my life's work. It only makes sense to do it if I'm going to do the best I can.

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Re: Prototyping

Postby Panda Tar » Dec 3 2015, 17:12

And how's your mood right now after the experience with your last encounter with those people? ;| The way you described it, it feels like they expect the game to become a tablet-like thing without a tablet, a simplified mobile game you carry around in a box. Although this feedback would come sooner or later, I hope it won't be too hard to work around. As long as you agree and see the potential flaws and fixes of your work and want to improve them, I think getting these feedbacks are productive in their own way.

I will say that, in some sense, I agree with the thing that there are too many things to carry about, to be aware of, to overlay one after the other and play it. Personally speaking, for the tabletop format, I think there are too many elements right now, too many combinations of about everything (that would be fine for me for a digital version, when you have everything accessible, manageable in a faster and organized manner.

Of course, after reading the prototyping and some of the gameplay, it was clearer and easier to grasp the overall thing and understand it - and learn that the game is not complicated. But as far as a tabletop game goes, without starting to meddle into the realms of RPG, it should depend on less and less pieces and parts to concept a whole thing, and maybe having fewer elements to remember or influencing small chunks of gaming experience could make it friendlier without sacrificing your main goals with it.
"There’s nothing to fear but fear itself and maybe some mild to moderate jellification of bones." Cave Johnson, Portal 2. :panda:

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Re: Prototyping

Postby Groovy » Dec 4 2015, 10:53

My mood has fully recovered. :)

The comments were partly inaccurate, but there’s no point spending time proving them wrong because I can’t improve Heroic that way. So I did my best to extract useful advice from them and disregard the rest. Focusing on level 1 creatures only, with no ability tokens and other stuff, has helped me get a better handle on the game’s core mechanics. The entry level of the game is now much smaller and simpler, and so hopefully more accessible to new players. I still need to finish making it before I can try it out to see whether it is sufficiently rich as well.

I will post the new set of cards and tokens once they are ready.

From the popular tabletop games that I’ve seen and played, they handle combat away from the battlefield (i.e. units fight without moving around). The core combat mechanics are trivial and frankly boring. Combat is made interesting by special unit abilities. With Heroic, core combat mechanics are more complex – units move around and have limited range – which makes them interesting in their own right. This is what I’m focusing the first game level on. There will be some special abilities as well, but a lot fewer and simpler than in higher levels. I just have to remember this difference when dealing with the board gamers because they are trying to steer Heroic in the direction of other tabletop games.

As for packaging the game, I think I have found a practical way to handle it by moving almost all of the items into faction-specific packages, which can be sold individually. I’ll explain in more detail when I post the new cards and tokens.

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Re: Prototyping

Postby Groovy » Dec 13 2015, 22:35

We played the 10th iteration at my work on Friday. It went better than I had anticipated. Here are the highlights:
  • Gameplay feels purer than from the earlier, more complex iterations. One gets to focus on the core – unit movement, placement and range – and is not distracted by other influential mechanics that will now get introduced in higher game levels
  • Dropping of the Defence attribute was potentially a good move. It simplifies combat calculations and helps combat proceed at a good pace. This in turn helps keep the focus on combat strategy rather than tactics. The downside is that map structures lose some of their strategic value because they are no longer able to boost the defence of occupying units, which makes them more difficult to hold onto. I might have to find a way to compensate for this
  • Core gameplay is rich enough to hold the players’ attention. More advanced mechanics are not needed to make it interesting
  • Random map works very well. It can be used to set the nature of the game (by choosing which tiles to include) as well as its duration. It offers a great deal of replayability, even for the first level
  • The map gets crowded by units in later stages of the game if all the available settlements are placed on the map
I’m thinking of making these changes to address the last point above:
  • Reduce the number of tokens for each unit, and the number of creatures in each dwelling/lair, by 1. This will yield 3 creatures for level 1 settlements, 2 for level 2, 1 for level 3, and 0 for level 4
  • Which implies that level 4 has to go. I’ll merge it with level 3. These two levels contained much fewer species than the first two levels, so combining them could well make the game more interesting all on its own

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Re: Prototyping

Postby Groovy » Jan 23 2016, 20:40

I’ve been play testing the latest faction designs over the past few weeks. Here’s what I’ve found:
  • It would appear that the game design, with its 10th iteration, has finally reached an acceptable level of complexity. We’ve played it at my work twice, and both times new players were able to get a sense of the game after a few turns. Figuring out what works well and what doesn’t takes a lot longer, but I think that’s acceptable
  • The key to a successful faction dependency diagram is the opportunity to use the same creature for multiple purposes. For example:
    • Alpine faction: a wolf can be trained into an Asena unit. Because Asena is made from lava, it can be combined with a dwarf into a Lava Dwarf unit, or it can be combined with any worker into a Flame Thrower war machine
    • Sylvan faction: a jellyfish can be trained into a Floater unit. Because Floater is wooden, it can be combined with an elf into a Ranger. Because Floater flies, it can be combined with any other unit into a Scout
    The Alpine and Sylvan designs work really well because of this. The Frost faction design is seriously lacking in this regard, which makes the faction far less enjoyable to play
  • Successful unit design revolves around two features. One is creative abilities that significantly alter the nature of the battlefield. For example:
    • Marine faction: Whirlwind unit can spin units on the map around a target tile
    • Homestead faction: Alicanto unit forces nearby enemy units to attack it
    • Barbarian faction: Shaman unit can create a sandstorm that spreads outward across desert tiles, temporarily blinding all the units in its path
    The other amounts to simple abilities that allow a unit to combine well with other units and/or the terrain. For example:
    • Sylvan faction: Ranger unit has extra range on forest tiles
    • Alpine faction: Lightning Rod war machine redirects lightning strikes that hit it to all adjacent units. It can also convert lightning damage to additional action points, so it can be used to boost allied units or damage enemy ones
    • Barbarian faction: Condor unit can carry other units along the way, enabling them to reach further and clear obstacles
  • The weekly creature growth model is not working well. It gives rise to an oversupply of creatures every 7 turns. In its place, I’m going to try out a model where different kinds of map structures replenish creatures on different turns
  • I have decided to allow players to choose the orientation of the tile cluster after they flip it over. It adds a new dimension to strategy in that the map layout can then be exploited by other game mechanics. For example:
    • For tile clusters with guardians, players can sometimes turn them to get the guardian to attack enemy units
    • Some unit abilities utilise tile terrain patterns. For example, Alpine’s Lightning Bolt can strike at any range provided that the source and the target are connected by metallic tiles
    • Barbarian, Sylvan and Marine players can orientate tile clusters to deny passage to enemies by stringing together Canyon, Forest and Jungle tiles respectively
  • Surprisingly enough, incompatible movement (walking vs swimming) between factions don’t seem to be much of an issue. Predominantly swimming factions like Reptilian and Marine can clash with walking factions like Alpine and Sylvan without getting bogged down in enemy terrain
  • Difficult terrain like forests, jungles and canyons is somewhat of an issue. Sometimes troops get bogged down for a while, unable to cross it. Some factions handle it well, but most need to be enhanced with additional mobility

On a related note, the list of level 1 folk seems to be needlessly extensive. The townsfolk don’t really feature anywhere except in their own faction, and were mostly included for the sake of lore. I’m thinking of combining townsfolk and countryfolk, and then eliminating four of them so that only the most popular remain (as townsfolk).


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