Prototyping

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Postby Groovy » Apr 24 2015, 20:34

Oh, it is. :)
It actually plays pretty well too, despite lack of balance and features.

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Postby Groovy » May 1 2015, 21:12

I think I've figured out what to do with regions. The design currently caters for monuments, which are basically artefacts that are applied to map structures (towns, dwellings, lairs, workshops, etc) rather than heroes. I'll change them so that their effects always apply to the region as a whole. For example, there could be a monument compatible with flier dwellings/lairs that gives flying mobility to all the allied units in the region. Things like that. I'll just have to check that the effects are not too difficult to take into account while playing (I abandoned the Megalith structure for this reason).

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Postby Groovy » May 9 2015, 13:26

I'm thinking of making walls into a distinct item type, alongside units and war machines. Their distinguishing characteristic would be to allow other units to be placed on top of them, whose abilities would be enhanced by virtue of being on a wall (extra defence, range, etc).
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Postby Panda Tar » May 10 2015, 19:07

Great. It's a sort of defensive feature and also a terrain feature (height). Thumbs up to that.

I suppose enemies must destroy it to pass through?
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Postby Groovy » May 10 2015, 21:05

Yes, as they would any enemy unit.

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Re: Prototyping

Postby Groovy » Aug 6 2015, 16:50

Now that the preliminary design of the 8th iteration is done, I'm going to dedicate time to play testing it. I've joined a local board game group on Meetup.com, who get together more or less on monthly basis. Hopefully they'll be able to provide me with some pointers on how to improve the game.

If anyone would like to try the game out, just let me know and I'll email you all the map areas, cards, tokens and counters to print out.

I'll also spend some time conceptualising the exotic factions. They will be a lot more specialised and theme-focused than traditional factions, which will take me some time to figure out. I'll probably only get into this seriously after a lot of play testing of the 8th design iteration has been done.

In other news, I've started a new job this week, so my free time is more limited for now...

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Re: Prototyping

Postby Groovy » Aug 7 2015, 8:22

Here is the map for play testing the 8th design iteration. It can be played by up to 4 players, features all the surface terrain types (no subterranean, submarine or sky), and all the map structures. I still need to make the shroud and about half of the cards, tokens and counters, before play testing can commence. Another couple of weeks or so.

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Re: Prototyping

Postby Panda Tar » Aug 10 2015, 13:45

:)
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Re: Prototyping

Postby Groovy » Aug 23 2015, 9:47

I recently joined a local tabletop game-playing group. They had a get-together yesterday that was attended by more than 30 players. I brought Heroic in the hope of getting some expert feedback. It caught the attention of two experienced players who took the time to try it out and suggest ways to improve it.

The main problem with the game right now is that it is much too fiddly. There are simply too many moving parts (tokens and counters) that need to be found, placed and moved around on every turn. Dropping resources a while back helped in this area, but not enough. I’m going to try dropping faction markers from units as well, and modelling damage, fire, poison and other effects in binary fashion – they will be either present or absent, and will not keep track of quantity. With the amount of damage not being tracked, surviving units will now automatically heal at end of turn (as in Magic the Gathering).

Not keeping track of damage will have a knock on effect on neutral monsters in that they will no longer pose a threat to most player units – neutrals typically cannot swarm their targets to kill them, and so are limited to just inflicting some damage before they die. I’m going to address this by introducing a new type of units called Guardians whose task will be specifically to guard map locations. They will all have some kind of effect beyond doing damage that will persist and so deter players from attacking them recklessly or disregarding them and moving passed.

Random map generation was suggested, loosely based on the Eclipse model. Map availability is a major constraint at the moment, so this is definitely something that I’m going to look into. If anyone has played Eclipse or a similar game with respect to map layout, or knows of an even better approach, I’d really appreciate your input. This should also address the problem with map exploration, which is currently too rapid.

Lastly, a potential concern was raised about restricting which factions are able to make use of which creatures. A minor issue is that you might capture another player’s lair and then be unable to use it. A larger issue is that it becomes tricky to explore regions with neutral towns – upon discovering the first settlement in a neutral region, one has to decide on the faction of the as-yet-undiscovered town to ensure that all the settlements in the region are compatible with it. I’m going to try to extend the town dependency diagrams to work with all species rather than just three per species type and level that is the case now.

I’ll bring the game to my new workplace this coming Friday. Let’s see how that goes…

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Re: Prototyping

Postby Panda Tar » Aug 24 2015, 13:59

Well, on the hand that it showed some potential flaws, it was lucky finding these people to work with closely and point out these issues at this stage, when you still may have means to fix or adapt things without having to get back too much, right?

Never played Eclipse though. I'll check on that.

Oh, yes, and about being fiddly, it was something I felt, but I couldn't express or say without having played it. At least for the tabletop format, too many pieces may be a bit troublesome to carry, to move or else. Although they help keeping track without having to rely on paper and notes. I think the best way is finding a point in between.

And I must say that it's a good thing that you found that group. I'm not experienced in tabletop games, just know this and that, and finding them might enhance a bit your expertise and probably spotting things to improve and adapt from the current form. Just keeping in mind preserving the soul of Heroic, of course. ^^
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Re: Prototyping

Postby Groovy » Aug 26 2015, 6:42

If you do have other potential concerns, it might be a good idea to share them. If they are misplaced, I can always disregard them based on my experience of playing the game.

One of the players said that he could see Heroic being a really good game... in a couple of years' time! :(

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Re: Prototyping

Postby Panda Tar » Aug 26 2015, 13:26

Hm, that would be accurate, imho. ^^ I'm sure you wanted to make it faster, but I think it has potential to get better and polished if you keep a good pace but not running with it.

About potential concerns, I must recapitulate everything and see what I think now, because some ideas and concerns changed as they were presented, as well as opinions.
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Re: Prototyping

Postby Groovy » Aug 27 2015, 6:09

Yeah, it's slowly dawning on me that the step from "it basically does what I want it to do" to "it's polished and ready to be released" is monumental.

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Re: Prototyping

Postby Panda Tar » Aug 27 2015, 13:51

Yeah. :) Just see what's going to happen with H7 as an example. :lol:
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Re: Prototyping

Postby Groovy » Oct 11 2015, 19:34

Unveiling the new random map generator, the manual edition.

Image

Here's how it works:
  • Each faction comes with its own map tiles. They feature all the map structures and items with the terrain thematically tied to that faction (Some of the terrain types are unique to the faction, and some are shared with others)
  • At the beginning of the game, players choose which map structures and items they are going to put on the map, from the map fragments that come with their faction. This can be done in several ways - they can all choose the same ones, or the same number of structures and items of the same level, or use an imbalanced selection to handicap stronger players
  • Once all the map fragments have been chosen, they are grouped by the level of the map structure or item on them. Fragments that have terrain only can be grouped with any level (they are just used to put some space between significant locations)
  • Each player then randomly lays the map fragments out face down, with the lowest-level ones closest to his town, and highest-level ones the furthest away. The latter is where different players' maps meet
  • The map has now been generated
One change I've made to exploration is that a map fragment is no longer uncovered by bringing a unit to its border. One has to explicitly explore it. A unit spends as many action points on exploration as there are tiles on the map fragment being explored.

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Re: Prototyping

Postby Panda Tar » Oct 14 2015, 8:08

Hm, I think I got it.

It would be nice, though, when you got the time, to make a small video showing these features in a more fluid way.
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Re: Prototyping

Postby Groovy » Oct 17 2015, 18:22

Someday…

For the past few weeks, my interests have been shifting away from game mechanics and towards game world building and narrative. This is what I’ll be focusing on for the foreseeable future. Game mechanics for the 9th design iteration are nearly ready for me to showcase at another meeting of the board game group. I just need a few days to complete the Sylvan map tiles, and then I’ll leave it at that.

Should I post info about world building and narrative on this forum as well? I don’t know whether it’s supposed to be limited to game matters, and whether anyone here would be interested in other aspects of the project.
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Re: Prototyping

Postby Panda Tar » Oct 18 2015, 7:27

It's always good sharing the information, if you want, because some of the audience (might not be much these days, but they can return ^^) could get interesting in helping or learning about that part. That's my opinion. :)
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Re: Prototyping

Postby Groovy » Nov 28 2015, 20:21

Another board game event took place today. I brought the 9th design iteration to get feedback on. The only feedback came from a very experienced player and game maker, whose main concern was the apparent complexity of the game, creating a barrier to entry of sorts, even in its present streamlined form. He doesn’t usually play games from this genre, so his view is to be taken with a pinch of salt, but I couldn’t help notice that many players came by the table and went away without showing further interest in the game. I do get the feeling that at least some of them felt intimidated by the number of things that they thought they would have to learn in order to be able to play it. So I do think that I’m going to have to find ways to make it more accessible, hopefully without dumbing it down to the point where its long-term appeal is lost.

One change that is definitely needed is the simplification of Guardians. The current generic design is overwhelming. Having to figure out variable stats based on the Guardian’s level before the very first fight is asking too much. Furthermore, having only 9 guardians protect all the map structures in every game gets repetitive pretty quickly, so having more of them is a good idea for this reason too. So I’ll introduce more Guardians and make them all level-specific instead of generic, making sure that the low-level ones are straightforward enough to get to grips easily.

I’m also going to try dropping defence as a unit attribute. This is the least important of the combat attributes, the heart of the game being unit combinations on the map rather than individual duels. Not having defence would not only make units more accessible, but could also free the overall design in that I would no longer have to make sure that every level of creatures that the player finds in the countryside boosts his army’s attack, to offset the increased defence of higher-level guardians.

Changing the way constitution is modelled might also help. Instead of tracking it for every unit, I’m thinking of adding it as a category to non-flesh units. Most units then wouldn’t mention constitution, with the remaining few being marked as Iron, Stone, etc.

Another possibility is to drop the retaliation indicator and just let all units use any of their active abilities to retaliate with.

Lastly, I’m going to introduce a level of complexity that is limited to the first creature level only. I don’t know whether the first level is rich enough on its own, so I’m going to do some experimenting. This can be coupled with using simple terrain types only, with more complex ones (hills, rivers) being introduced at higher levels of complexity. The idea is to make the game more accessible to new players by allowing simple and quick games whose core mechanics can be grasped relatively easily, before adding layers of complexity that build on them.

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Re: Prototyping

Postby cjlee » Nov 29 2015, 8:22

Panda Tar wrote:Yeah. :) Just see what's going to happen with H7 as an example. :lol:


Difference is that Groovy at least is enthusiastic about his work and takes pride in it, so he's probably going to make serious efforts to clean up and polish his game rather than market it at the earliest possible time.


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