Tuesday, January 06, 2009

2 more playtest

Well, two more playtests for ESNA. I'm learning a bunch about the flow of the game (which moves very quick) and the balance (which is favored VERY heavily in the game's hand I think).

Game two actually was moving along swimmingly well, I managed to build a castle, went on a few quests (one involving going off and slaying a stinky elephant, two of them involving going of and returning an emissary from another Region, and one involving escorting a princess). Even managed to get up to Level 2, and created a few Level 2 creatures (Burrowing Gophers and Flying Kangaroos).

Unfortunately, on my next request for a quest, I needed to defend the castle in Brykestok from the invading Burrowing Livestock horde (well, two of them), and in since I was so busy transporting people around like the variant taxi driver I am, I never bothered to stop at the village to rest and reclaim HP, so I totally blame that on me. I was planning on doing that on the next Quest, but got hoodwinked into the castle defense.

Game three was a pretty sad state of affairs. I got beat up by two Undead Football Fans really badly; I couldn't even muster past their ridiculously slow speed rating of 3, to avoid their early hit.


Initially I figured that the player's total score would simply be whatever gold he has when he decides to retire (which at this point in the design cycle seems to be, don't even start adventuring; be a farmer). But gold is an interesting fungible resource; right now it is used to reclaim HP at the Village, and to advance levels at the Temple. Ultimately, I've determined that the race to simply retire with some amount of "vast sum" is kind of boring. It's pretty much at this point, "well, the game is getting too hard, might as well stop when I get a big payday."

And aside from that, the terraforming is kind of fun. And while it's sort of fun to run around the world, you can sort of do it on autopilot; I need some more decision points.

So, the player can build a Keep now, in which to retire in. The sheer impressive size of his Keep
will be the player's score.

At any point in the game, the player can determine his Keep location by selecting a Region without a building in it. At this point, the player can funnel money into his Keep.

But there's a trick to this. To increase the value of his Keep by one, he must pay the sum total of the levels of all the buildings that currently exist in the Kingdom. Early Keeps are easy to build while "building resources" are plentiful, but the money is tight early on, and you might want to spend money instead of HP (as I've learned quickly). Later on, while the Kingdom is functioning nicely, it's more expensive, but gives you an excuse to dump that extra cash into something nice like a media room or your Keep. So there's a bit of risk/reward decision making in the process of how and when to spend your cash. And that's typically good.

Along those same lines, I've been pondering the use of a new building, the Quarry, that will also let you spend money, this time to increase the Level Values of the Buildings. I don't want to increase the +1 Events too much (even though I will), and again, this will allow the player to make more decisions into the game with regards to money managements.

All is well in the world. Except for Fred, the Third, my latest Nameless Wanderer.


Since there seems to be a little bit of interest in the game, I don't mind spending some time to put together an official, full functioning, completely pre-alpha ruleset for those who are really interested in getting the butts handed to them. Feel free to chime in.

From a design article standpoint, the game is doing what I thought it would do, and I really hate giving rote playtesting stories, as I'm much more interested in talking about design concepts, goals, and ways to achieve those goals. Since this game has pretty much fulfilled the "build the components as you go" requirement at this point, my need to present lengthy papers on personal dsign opinions has lessened for this!

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Blogger Christopher Weeks said...

I'd like to see the rules that you're tinkering with.

12:12 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

I'm happy to wait until you feel the game is ready, but if you're at the point where ESNA needs playtesters, I'd be glad to help.

9:40 AM  

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