I’ve finished the code to generate the room layout of the Underworld.
Anyway, I’ve been working on my game. Automatically generating names turned out to be a bit more work than I thought, so I haven’t, despite what I said in my last post, finished character creation. This system will be useable for NPCs as well though, and I think it adds a lot of flavor.
There’s also been a bit of ‘feature creep’–I kept thinking of options I should add (maximum HP at first level, attribute changes for non-human races etc.). So, while I haven’t finished, I probably would have finished if I’d only done what I was going to do. I’ve decided to just note down ideas to add in the future rather than adding them as I think of them.
Anyway, after character creation, the next step is creating a simple ‘underworld’ or megadungeon. The game will have this underworld, which you can enter via the city of Telelee or through some ruins, which will be a source of wealth and experience but not the way you win the game.
I decided to convert my game to software (I’m using Twine), and to pre-2000 D&D rules.
I’ve nearly finished character creation using the types found in OD&D (with a lot of common house rules such as maximum HP at first level). The game will also have (at least) Neanderthals, robots, Atlanteans and Western gunslingers as player-character options.
Doing it as software will mean I can send out copies over the net for free. So hopefully it will be easier and cheaper to get feedback and buzz.
I’ve been waiting on feedback for the draft of my game.
However, I haven’t either gotten the amount of feedback, or generated the amount of buzz, that I’d hoped.
It also cost more than I expected to send the drafts out.
So I’m considering doing the game as software. It would, at least, be easier and cheaper to get drafts out.
I got my first playtester feedback today. So I’ll try to start work on a new draft soon. As well as correcting things that playtesters point out, I have several new game elements that I want to add.
It’s about 75,000 words.
I’m going to try to get playtesters through Zac Smith’s blog.
In Gigacrawler I’ve added a section where the characters engage in jousts.
I wanted to use something like the Chainmail jousting rules–a ‘rock paper scissors’-style mechanic where you and an AI choose from a menu of options, which are combined to give you the result.
However, I soon found that there’s a problem with it. Some of the choices are inferior to others, regardless of what the opponent chooses.
Aiming point CP is always equal to or better than aiming points DC and DF. Similarly, ‘Steady Seat’ is better than ‘Shield High’.
I don’t know anything about jousting, so I can’t say whether the results are realistic. If they are, I’d imagine that in real jousts CP (in the center of the shield) would be where you tried to aim, but that this wasn’t always possible. So in game terms you’d be rolling, and CP would be the result if you were successful. The same for your stance.
However I liked the variety of results, so I ended up tweaking the table and using it.
I’ve actually finished the jousting section, but I thought of some ideas for things that could happen afterwards which I’m writing now.
I should be looking for playtesters for Gigacrawler soon.
Does anyone have experience with playtesting a board game or RPG that they can share?
In particular, what’s the best way to ensure that you get a useful response from your testers?
I haven’t been doing much on Gigacrawler–partly because of my business, and partly because I’ve been doing another section of My Name Is John Carter for Cirsova magazine.
However, I have done a prototype of the board for playtesting.
The shaded hex in the center is where you start.
Because the game’s locations are different each time, the board is laminated. You write in the details of each hex as you roll them, and then wipe the board clean for a new game.
Zak Smith got back to me, and asked for a post summarizing what I’ve done of my Gigacrawler game.
It is the last age of the universe. There is no such thing as a planet, a star, or space. The universe is filled with tunnels of stone, glass, metal, and stranger materials. This may be because of hyper-urbanization and eons of alchemical warfare. It may be that our ancestors uploaded themselves into software, and what we call the universe is produced by a now-corrupted computer. It may be that God is senile.
To some, the repeated cities are the surest sign of the madness of the world. These are identical copies of settlements from Earth’s past, which appeared apparently all at once and throughout the entire universe: the 19th century frontier town of Black Creek Wyoming; the first city, Ur, with its alien ‘gods’; Atlantis at the height of its power; and the greatest city of the Age of Three Suns, Telelee.
Gigacrawler is a single-player adventure game. It works in a similar way to the Choose Your Own Adventure series and other gamebooks: players will choose from a number of decisions, which direct them to different paragraphs in the game. Unlike most gamebooks, the universe is different every time, and the best decision will be different depending on the player’s character. This means that the game doesn’t lose its interest after a player has won. The players will explore the setting, winning the game if they find true love for themselves and their companions, gather enough wealth, or uncover the true origin of the state of the universe (which may be different in each game). They might bargain with the Devil, become their own lover or their own arch-enemy, or freeze themselves for a thousand years and hope things get better.
Gigacrawler is a setting by multiple Ennie award winner Zak Smith, of the D&D With Porn Stars blog and the video series I Hit It With My Axe. The game is written by James Hutchings, creator of the online game Age of Fable.
The game’s system is a simpler version of the one on Zak’s Gigacrawler page.The classes are different (and your character’s class is decided by their highest attribute), there aren’t any high-tech body modifications, and magic is mostly used to move around the board. Combats (which are very rare) are decided with a single roll rather than having a round-by-round combat system.
There are two main ways to win the game. Firstly you can work out which of four groups who claim to be angels are telling the truth. This is done using a similar process to ‘knights and knaves’ logic puzzles. The clues and the answer are different each time, so you can play again after you figure this out once.
The second way to win the game is to find companions, help at least three of them find their true loves, then either find your own true love or perform a major act of heroism. The companions are named characters from literature or history such as Conan.
I’ve currently written just under 50,000 words.
Playtesting a game usually goes through three stages: playtesting oneself, having others test it but being there to help them, and finally giving the rules to people for ‘blind playtesting’ ie testing without the designer being there.
I’ve done three short playtests (all of which I blogged about). My girlfriend is going to test it with me there to help. After that, I want to open it up to blind playtesting. There should be several rounds of blind playtesting, as I make changes and add new material (I’m aiming for about 100,000 words in total).
The playtests that I’ve done are linked below.