Thursday, 10 October 2013

Titanomachia: Take Four

I think there's a reason I get nervous before printing up prototypes, and that's because the printing of a prototype means that spelling errors will be detected where no errors existed before, vast issues of usability will come to light, and I will be out a few bucks. Considering my recent outlays, that's not altogether a comfortable feeling, despite the advantages to my sciatic nerve. So yes, starting another development cycle, and to begin with something of a post-mortem of the last development cycle.

So what went wrong? Firstly, what really went wrong was my inability to follow my own game design document, or specifications. One specifications, and indeed one of the things that inspired this project, was the relative-values used in Tactical Assault's Combat Cards. Movement, for example, was Newtonian in character (if not in mechanics...) rather than relative. Rather than walking, turning, stopping, and kicking, movement should have been towards a target, away from a target, parallel to a target, and kicking a target.

This goes with attacks, defense, and commands as well. I had forked off the interactivity into cost-per-card but with five cards per hand the relevancy of cost for success was minimal. In other words there was no point in trying to make another player's actions more difficult unless there was somehow a choice between two equally relevant actions on the player's part. I think the problem stems from trying to build an artificial cost into actions instead of examining how they interact and costing them through the frequency of those actions as cards in strategy decks.

What else went wrong? Titans couldn't do enough, and all of the actions were partial actions, and so long that it would take several turns for a player to accomplish anything. This minimized interactivity as well, since players were too busy trying to accomplish actions to really consider how those actions affected other Titans.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it was virtually impossible to explain how the game worked to anyone without the prototype on hand, because otherwise it was "Oh, like Magic?" or just a blank stare. With the prototype on hand, it became a nightmare of explaining all of the elements in play, and the somewhat kludge-y turn sequence. But most of all it lacked the flavour of giant robot combat, with that 'flavour' here being defined as the kind of destruction-porn one sees in movies like Pacific Rim and in shows like Macross Frontier.

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