Friday, June 29, 2012

Dev logs ahoy!

I figure now is as good a time as any to post my monthly update.

So I'll be continuing to post Vortex cards next month, but I will also be getting back into the January Engine (finally).  I've been modifying the concept radically.  At first, it was more of a test to see if I could code a card-based RPG system, but it wasn't particularly innovative or interesting to me, so the design part of my brain put up a fight.

Krang is the best image I could find for that metaphor.  If you find a better one, post a link in the comments. 
So now I've been writing a lot down and have found a new direction to go in, and I just need to work out a few kinks before I'm ready to code again.  If I don't start coding again next month, I'll start posting "Week 5.1" etc. to give a design-side explanation of what's happening, even if I have nothing new to play.

I'm also shifting my posting schedule from Tuesday-Friday to Tuesday-Thursday (which I think is back the way it once was), just because I often have too much going on on Fridays to allow me to concentrate on a post.  We'll see if that works.  If I forget to post on Thursday, I'll post on Friday, but hopefully that won't happen too often.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Development Log: The Vortex #15 - Last of the Rogations

So I figured out why I forgot what my own rules were from last time:  the Location card "Limbo Rock" had old rules on it, saying that "You may perform a Rogation in addition to another action," suggesting that a Rogation was an action, which it is not.  So here's what the card should say:

Ordinarily, each player should be restricted to one Rogation per round.  Hmm... Now I have to check to see if that's explicitly stated in the rules!

But anyway, onto the last of the Rogations:

I haven't much to say about these that I haven't already said: are they balanced with cost vs. power?  Are they useful?  I wonder just how useful Revelation is.  Is the Wedding caveat too complex, and should it be taken out?  I do like the twist it presents as is.

Next Dev Log will start having Devotee cards (aka the meat of the game).

Friday, June 22, 2012

Development Log: The Vortex #14 - More Rogations

I forgot what my own rules were!

By the way, click for a larger image.  So you can actually read them.
When I glanced at Warcry, Bacchanalia, and Whispers, I thought they were useless cards for a moment.  For some reason in my head I thought Rogations had to be played during the action phase, rather than whenever you want.  Clearly, it's been a while since I've done any major work on this!

But now that I've reread my own rules, I like them even more.  Ever put away a short story or drawing or other creative work and then come back to it with fresh eyes?  It's like looking at it for the first time, as if someone else made it.

Which is good, because now I can read the rules and see any problems that were not evident before.  But for now I find it interesting just how different having the Rogations make the game, both thematically and mechanically.  They add quite a new dimension to the game, which should make it feel faster, riskier -- and more devious!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Development Log: The Vortex #13 - Rogations

Here is where the religious theme of the game takes over.  Without Rogation cards, it's very much a sci-fi themed game.

But part of the reason I designed the game the way I did was to think of a way to create conflict where killing your opponent was not the main objective.  So I came up with religious conversion, instead.  Just using that language helped open up tons of mechanical possibilities, so that way cards were not necessarily "killed," and could be moved elsewhere than just a Graveyard pile.

But anyway, this post is about Rogations!

With Rogations, I think I may have to spend quite a lot of time playtesting them to find out if some of the requirements are too strict or too loose.  Pestilence basically has no requirement, so you can play it any time, while with Resurrection, you must have three Devotees or Zealots in play, so that's a hefty price.  But are they balanced well?  Is the power of the card balanced by its requirements?

Some of them, like Miracle, are very damaging, and you can see that the requirement is that you must have fewer cards in play than your opponents.  So if Player A has 2 cards in play, B has 3, and C has 4, and Player B plays Miracle, it would only affect Player C, and Player A would remain untouched.  So it is more an equalizer than anything.

Some of the cards are fairly straight forward, and you might use them at any opportunity, such as Prayer.  But some cards may be a help or a hindrance.  Is Miracle that great if you know you could have converted the Devotee that got sent to the Vortex?  You wouldn't want to use it unless you had to get rid of a powerful card in play, but then the opponent gets to select what card goes away, and it might not be the one you want.  Or, if you're the Red player, your strategy might be to use Miracle any time, since cards in the Vortex count toward your points to win.

I think what I'm going for is to make all four Devotee colors have equally powerful cards, but the randomly distributed Rogations throws a monkey wrench into the works and adds an element of chance (and surprise).

Or, at least, that is what appears to happen, whether I meant to do it or not!

I am also considering changing the rules slightly so each player gets fewer Rogations in their deck if I find they are played too often or overpower other aspects of the game.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Development Log: The Vortex #12 - Last of the Locations

So here are the last eight Location cards.

Well, okay, so that only makes 24 instead of 48.  But basically the other 24 are nothing to look at -- literally, as I have no placeholder art.  The names of the locations are different, and they cycle through the turn orders again, but they are all plain vanilla cards since the special rules field is blank on all of them.

In a normal game, the cards with special rules and the cards without should be shuffled together so you never know what may pop up.  I have also long been considering making a third set of 24 to bring the total to 72, and have the third set be like the second - just new names but no new rules.  This would make the likelihood of coming across a special rule drop further, which I think is best, since there are special rules planted just about everywhere in sight.

So anyway, that's all the Location cards, so next Dev Log will have to be a different kind of card.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Development Log: The Vortex #11 - Location Cards 2

So here is another eight Location cards.

Again, the placeholder art is hit or miss.  Paradise is great, Excursion not so much.  In my head, the Bottom of the Universe was something along the lines of the Mos Eisley Cantina, so I don't think I ever bothered looking for anything else.

Something I forgot to mention in the last Dev Log is that each special rule should make sense for the location.  At Cremation, the Deadworld, there is no Refill phase because there are simply no resources there to claim.  The turn order should also make sense for each location.

Similarly, every Frenzy, Rogation, and Devotee's rules should make sense on their own cards, but we'll get to them soon enough.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Development Log: The Vortex #10 - Location Cards

So I thought what I'd do for the next few posts is stop giving examples of cards, and just show all of them.  The rules are currently unchanged since the last dev log.  So after I've posted all of the cards, if you wanted to, you could just print them all out and test the game yourself.  (You would probably need cardstock, of course.)

First, then, shall come some location cards:

Although the art is all placeholder, quite a lot of it is very close to what I imagined, such as Aetherworld and Mirage.  Some placeholder art, like Paradox, was simply hard to find anything for.  Some stuff is just a joke, like Dimension Zed.  What else can you do for a card called 'Dimension Zed'?

You can see on the bottom right of every card what the turn order is, from left to right.  In Haven, for example, Blue gets to go first, then Yellow, then Red, and finally Green.  However, there are 48 cards, so every possible turn order is accounted for, twice.

I am considering a "Start" location card that is not shuffled into the deck, and is instead just the first card that must be flipped over.  On it, there would be no turn order, and everyone would Reinforce at once.  This is because of the rule: if you have no Devotees/Zealots on the field, you MUST Reinforce.  Well, at the beginning of the game, no one has anything on the field, so everyone's first turn is Reinforcement.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Back in Business

Well, the hike went well, and I am now energized and ready to get back to working on projects and scratching my bug bites.

I have a few projects going on behind the scenes, so they won't show up here any time soon, but I will be trying to post some Dev Logs on a current project or two within the month.

I'm revisiting a lot of ideas for features and just all around trying to figure out what the best direction is to go in with this blog.  Should I make videos?  Solely write Dev Logs about projects?  Write more reviews?  Get back to Deconstructions, or remove that feature completely?  Try some Let's Plays or video reviews?

If any of these ideas sound good, or you have any others, leave a comment and I might start pushing the blog in that direction.