This is the first proper post of the blog and so I thought I would share the background and some of the design goals I have.
I want to create a game in the same vein as Level 7: Omega Protocol, where the players are playing a squad of characters that will complete a set number of missions that build up an overall story. Obviously, that overall story will be different than Level 7’s. Here is the opening text from the first draft of the RPG book:
“They came. They saw. They conquered us.
The bombardment was precise, taking out vital infrastructure with ease. The blitz spirit – so often associated with humans – was broken. Most of our leaders knew when to cut their losses and wanted to sue for peace, but the head of Earth government (a purely ceremonial role – until the arrival of the Drayduns changed that) knew the Draydun wouldn’t let us surrender and ordered our fleet of primitive space ships to mount a defence. The nations’ leaders attempted to overrule him.
In the chaos that followed, the 97 ships that were left had to interpret their orders as best as they could. Most of them wanted to be heroes and take out as many Draydun ships as possible. Our captain realised if everyone died a hero, no-one would be alive to save Earth. The captain managed to get the 5 ships closest to us to work together to punch a hole in the Draydun defences for our ship to get through. We headed straight for the wormhole and we left Earth space. We left 6 billion people behind to fend for themselves against the Drayduns. But we have a plan. Out there, somewhere, are other alien races, with better technologies that might just defeat the Drayduns.
So here we are, alone in space and needing to find help if we are to rescue humanity. If we are to save Earth.”
— Marcus Fitzroy, Communications Officer of Spaceship 47, 11th March 2080
This will be modified for the board game. I want to make it clear that the players have exactly 10 weeks before the attack will succeed. My current thinking is a graviton bomb being detonated just as Spaceship 47 leaves, therefore making the passage of time pass much slower around Earth for the 10 weeks that Spaceship 47 moves around.
The aim for the players is to complete 9 missions. Each mission will reward the players for success in different ways: improved technology; intel on the Drayduns; allies that will help take Earth back; decreasing Draydun’s firepower etc. The 10th mission will be the mission to take back Earth. At the moment this feels odd. As the previous 9 missions will be a squad of soldiers moving around various planets, spaceships, alien locations etc. However, the final mission feels like it will be a big space ship battle. I am not sure whether this contrast would be welcome.
The game will share a lot of aspects as Level 7 and other similar type of games. However, there are a few things that I want the game to do:
Customisable characters – I want players to play the character they want to play – not have to pick from a few predefined one. However, I need to balance that with how long it takes to get your character sorted. At the moment I am thinking of a player being able to pick the species (Human, Chimpanzee, Stishak or Android) and a role (Soldier, Medic, etc.)
Quick set-up – I know why these type of board games include bunches of tiles for players to use to set up the board for each mission, but it seems like such a pain in the arse every time I have had to play these. Now, I am not worrying about my game ever having to be published, so I am planning on just having 5 double sided poster maps to use – one side of each map is specific to a particular mission. I really want the time between deciding to play a mission and starting the mission to be as short as possible.
Play time – I want each mission to be a little shorter than the length of a film. As I’m a child of the 80s, I mean 1 hour and 40 minutes, rather than the bloated length we have to put up with these days. I am trying to make it feel to the players that each mission is like a little film of its own.
No re-dos – Each mission the players will either succeed or fail. They won’t get to redo the mission if they fail. They will simply move onto the next mission.
Eliminating rules that stop the game – Nothing frustrates me more than when we are in the middle of a game, things are nice and tense, we are on the verge of victory or defeat and then the game comes to a grinding halt because we have to look up a rule, or work out line of sight etc. So as every game designer has ever said, my goal is to eliminate this. I have an idea for line of sight, which I’m guessing isn’t that great or it would’ve been done before. In the image below, if the square of the attacker and the square of the enemy share any symbol, then the attacker can target the enemy. That’s it. I imagine that this will lead to a lot of symbols in some key squares, but I am going to run with this for the moment to see if it is the solution to the problem of tracing line of sight.
Figure 1 – Example of Line of Sight mechanism
Other obligatory aims – Every game designer I have seen wants to make the game as intuitive and as streamlined as possibles and I am no exception.
A personal connection to the story – Yes, some players would be just happy to play characters saving Earth, but I want to make it feel like the characters are 3-dimensional. After all, all the best epic stories also contain intense personal stories. In Star Wars, Luke isn’t just destroying the empire, he is saving his father. I haven’t fleshed out how this will work, but I am currently thinking of having personal objectives for characters. However, by not having pre-defined characters, this makes it harder. I am sure I will come up with something further down the line.
Well, I think that’s enough from me on my first day of blogging about this. I am sure I have missed some design goals, so i may edit this at a later date.