Skip to Content

Brainstorming help for multiple-universe wargame

11 replies [Last post]
simons
simons's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/28/2008

Hey everyone,

For a while now I have been working on this game called “Escape from Illeria.” It is a small scale fantasy wargame. One of the neat ideas in this game is that instead of the battles taking place on a single battlefield, they take place on two parallel (the real world and the spirit world). Each real world character is linked to a character in the spirit world.

A problem I have had since the beginning, however, is that there hasn’t felt like enough of a link between the two worlds. My playtesters have often complained that despite the potential of this being a really innovative idea, that the game feels too much like two separate battles. I wanted to get people’s thoughts as to how to improve this. Any ideas?

Here are the things I have done to try to create a link between the real and spirit world characters:
1) When one character dies, the character they are linked to either dies or gets badly damaged.
2) When a character acts in one world, they cannot act in the other (although I eventually abandoned this, because it just was tedious and frustrating).
3) If a character can cast spells in both worlds, they share all kinds of powers.
4) A character in the real world can elect to injure themselves in order to heal their spirit world character (though in a recent game, this rarely occurred; maybe that was bad strategy, but maybe it shows that it’s not often tactically useful).
5) A small number of abilities go from one world to the other.
The problem becomes, if my real world character is an archer, and my spirit world character is a wizard, there are very few things that will actually connect them (really only #1 and #4).

Is there anything I’m missing? Three other nuts-and-bolts things, that might steer your thinking: 1) Each turn, players get 7 actions, which they must divide between both worlds. This means that they are somewhat action-limited, and can only really use half of their characters. 2) Characters in this are class and ability based. Essentially, all characters have the same stats, then they pick a class (which determines what abilities they can get), and then they pick 2 abilities. Thus, I will need to rely on something that doesn’t require a fine-grain point system. 3) There is no way of telling if someone in the spirit world is “close” to someone in the physical world, so I can’t use abilities that require proximity.

Anyways, as I said in the title, this post is mostly because I need help brainstorming ideas. What more can I do? Any thoughts are appreciated. Thanks!

Simon

Casamyr
Offline
Joined: 07/28/2008
My thoughts.

This sounds like a complicated game - trying to keep track of two sets of characters on 2 different boards, but I have a couple of ideas.

To me it seems this game is about actions and consequences - what happens on one plane affects the other is some way, so perhaps that should be a really big part of the game.

1) Abilities and Magic: Have you considered active and passive versions. Whenever you use an ability or Magic that is always the active part. The passive effect will affect the character on the other plane. Passive effects could be negative as well. For instance, a haste type spell which allows your character to move faster, reduces the speed of the other linked character.

the more I think on this, the more I think that passive effects should always be negative. There must be a consequence somewhere for the action.

2) hit points: Why not have a set hit point value that is shared by both linked characters, so when one takes damage in one world, the other is weakened as well.

3)Proximity based Abilities: Why not? 'Closeness' would be subjective across planes. You could have a once per game ability that allows you to utilise the abilities of the other linked character. An even better way for this is that the Spirit world has unique abilites that are not found on the Material plane and vise versa and makes this even more useful.

This is an interesting concept.

innuendo
Offline
Joined: 05/25/2010
Two points really jump out at

Two points really jump out at me from this article.

It seems like it's possible the mechanic base is there but the high level action base is missing.

Point 1: "5) A small number of abilities go from one world to the other."

This is an issue. If this game is going to highlight this you need to design better abilities, specifically ones that utilize the central mechanic of the game. I would say you need to find ways that every character has actions that effect the other world in diverse ways. If you aren't going to emphasize the mechanic at the action level, then it will always feel shallow since nothing in the game is utilizing it.

Point 2: "The problem becomes, if my real world character is an archer, and my spirit world character is a wizard, there are very few things that will actually connect them (really only #1 and #4)."

Why on earth do you do it that way? It would seem that for every real world archer there would be a spirit archer linked do it. Have each real and spirit version have a unique subset of skills, but have them interact with each other. And if you force like types to be linked, then you just made tracking what character is linked. The spirit archer and the real archer are linked, for example. This also means, back to point one, that you can specifically design skills within the archer class that interact with it's other planar character.

It's almost like designing character classes in an MMO. You have to design skills the integrate into the concept of the character. The issue with your model now is that you aren't designing skills that integrate into the framework you designed, and you aren't making coherent classes.

Lopaki
Offline
Joined: 06/01/2011
The linked units really

The linked units really should be simmilar/the same ,

maybe a somehow different approach but it would certainly create a link:
Split the army into 2 different kinds of units: 1 part only exists on one world and has no linked partner (like some sort of king which has to be killed etc) and the battlefield shouldn't look the same on each side (maybe add some obstacles on one side which are not on the other) : now you could make units move simultaneously:

so if you move an archer on the real world one step forward, the other one does so too, if you give an archer on one of the worlds the attack command, the other one gets the attack command too

and here comes the tricky part: if a real unit moves forward and the spirit one should move forward too, but there is an obstacle in the spirit world, only the real one will move forward while the spirit one will stay where it is :
if a unit is on a side of the board and the other one moves in that direction, that unit will stay where it is while the other one will move that step
in this way you can rearrange your units etc.

you could make units which move simultaneously but still get one action for every side of the field: so you say i move the real unit -> the spirit one moves too and i move the spirit unit-> the real one moves too
the tricky part here is: a unit may not get an attack command/spell command if no target is in range: so when you attack with the real warrior to hit another real unit the spirit warrior of course gets an attack , if he has no unit to attack he just use that command he got from the real warrior
but when the spirit warrior wants to attack so the real warrior gets a command to attack the other real unit, he cannot: because the spirit has no target

maybe you should make the victory condition something like: if you loose on one board you loose completely

simons
simons's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/28/2008
Thanks for the comments...

Thanks for the comments so far. Let's see...

Casamyr: I like the idea of abilities in one world costing you in the other. I'm not sure how I would implement that, but it will be on my mind.

Having hit points linked directly might be a little much. Although, as I said, if a character in one world dies, the other one is pretty screwed up; also, hit points can be sent uni-directionally.

And what I meant by proximity-based abilities not working is that this is a tabletop game, so there really is no way of knowing if a character is "next to" their spirit. I might try to have something where players can utilize the abilities of their other character. The only problem is making sure that who you are is determined more by your class in this world than by your class in the other world (i.e. I wouldn't want everyone's abilities to be determined by their other character).

innuendo: I actually just recently had a friend make a similar suggestion, and I think you have a really good point. This game has evolved in kind of a haphazard way in some regards, and maybe I do need to take a step back and really force things to be more connected.

Back to the drawing board I guess...

Lopaki: So, as the game stands, if you lose in the spirit world, it really hurts your chances in the real world, and if you lose in the real world, game over.

That is an interesting idea, forcing characters to link their actions like that. My one concern would be this: I don't want the game to feel like you're playing the exact same game in two locations. Also, I'm not sure if forcing characters to do the same thing in both worlds would really work (although maybe it would, I could try it at some point...).

joni
joni's picture
Offline
Joined: 07/15/2009
Actions

What types of actions do you have?
My ideas for you:
Move: Either force or allow both units to move at the same time. You could divide moves into 2 or 3 types: forward (aggressive), backward (defencive) and sideways (neutral). An aggressive move in one word should be followed by the same in the other world.
I do not know if the setup is the same in both worlds? That way you maybe should add some obstacles as suggested here before. What about making the moves on squares in the real world and hexes in the spirit world?

Attack: Both units may attack if they have an enemy in range. Or the spirit unit could (instead of attacking) in some way assist the real unit in the attack.

Spell: Depending on how powerful the spells are: one or both units may cast a spell. Some spells should work from the spirit world to the real world (through or with the real world unit), but a majority would work only in one of the worlds.

Heal: Even though healing of other units may be a spell you could also have healing as an independent action. I find it most logical that a spirit unit could temporary weaken itself to heal the real world unit. And a real unit could meditate (for example, temporary loose their ability to defend) to heal the spirit unit.

Of course you will have to balance the number of actions (you said 7) with the possibilities of double actions (move, attack and/or spell).
Another idea: Have hitpoints in the spirit world linked to blocking ability in the real world (a healthy spirit makes an alert mind).

Please keep me (us) updated, this was an exciting project...

simons
simons's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/28/2008
Thanks. Glad to hear you

Thanks. Glad to hear you think this is so exciting. If you're interested in keeping up with this, I actually have a blog that I've been maintaining on an irregular basis (http://stumpsfirstgame.blogspot.com/).

Essentially, the game consists of the following major actions:
Move, Archery, Cast Spell, Command Summoned Creature, Command Animated Creature, Use Special Ability (melee isn't on here because it's considered separately). Each of these are more or less what they sound like. I've also recently added a couple that directly link the worlds.

As the game stands, instead of things being on a board, you play on a tabletop, and everything is measured in inches (like Warhammer or Warmachines). Each board is set up separately with different terrain. Would you find it frustrating if you were playing a wargame on two semi-independent boards, and moving one unit forward meant that you were forced to move the other one forward? I worry that it would seem a little artificial. Like, if a real world character wanted to move forward, but her spirit world character was standing in front of an acid pit, it wouldn't make all that much sense. Although, if you think that might work I could consider trying it.

I do like the idea that you mentioned about healing: that when you use ability X in one world, it momentarily knocks you in the other world. Right now I actually have several abilities that I'm trying to redesign, and might put that it.

Lopaki
Offline
Joined: 06/01/2011
this guy is making up ideas

this guy is making up ideas for computer games but this one seems simmilar to your boardgame: http://www.squidi.net/three/entry.php?id=99

joni
joni's picture
Offline
Joined: 07/15/2009
simons wrote:Thanks. Glad to

simons wrote:
Thanks. Glad to hear you think this is so exciting. If you're interested in keeping up with this, I actually have a blog that I've been maintaining on an irregular basis (http://stumpsfirstgame.blogspot.com/).

Essentially, the game consists of the following major actions:
Move, Archery, Cast Spell, Command Summoned Creature, Command Animated Creature, Use Special Ability (melee isn't on here because it's considered separately). Each of these are more or less what they sound like. I've also recently added a couple that directly link the worlds.

When you said "for a while" in your opening post I did not expect several years of progress, that is impressing. In my mind I also misunderstood your words "small scale fantasy wargame" as being a "light played fantasy wargame". It seems you have quite a set of rules to deal with.

simons wrote:
As the game stands, instead of things being on a board, you play on a tabletop, and everything is measured in inches (like Warhammer or Warmachines). Each board is set up separately with different terrain. Would you find it frustrating if you were playing a wargame on two semi-independent boards, and moving one unit forward meant that you were forced to move the other one forward? I worry that it would seem a little artificial. Like, if a real world character wanted to move forward, but her spirit world character was standing in front of an acid pit, it wouldn't make all that much sense. Although, if you think that might work I could consider trying it.
I never played a game with rulers and measurement like that, so I have no input to give you there. If moving are forced in both worlds it could be allowed to move the other unit sideways when the first unit moves forward (I don't know how many directions you have to choose from). That way you could move around the acid pit. Or you could allow one of the units stop in front of any obstacle. Or you could give extra movement length when moving both units (to one or both of them).

innuendo
Offline
Joined: 05/25/2010
This certaintly isn't a

This certaintly isn't a drawing board issue. It's a unit design issue. I'm sure 90% of your mechanic base is sound and near finalized (reading your blog briefly seems to confirm this)...

What you really need to do is possibly look at your mechanic base, see what works well, and design units the highlight those strengths. I'm a CCG designer at heart, so I know this to be true for games where a lot of the functions of the game is off loaded to cards/character classes.

You simply must design the unique elements to the game to the framework, and not the other way around. By "unique elements" I mean the individual character classes, the units. The things you would release in expansion packs.

It seems you are trying to take your fixed character classes and rework your framework around them. You're asking "how do I change the rules to make my characters better to use," and outside of some cases where you're early in design and still understanding your core mechanics, that shouldn't be the question.

I think you should be asking "how can I design characters that make my framework fun to play in?" and if you can find that answer you'll have a good end product.

I think you might have to refine some structural stuff (like I pointed out, I'm still not sure why you let linked characters be cross class), but the core pillars of the game seems to have nothing they are holding up. If that analogy makes sense.

Just brainstorming some ideas that might help from a framework level, since that's what you asked for originally:

1) You need a connecting mechanic. Right now it seems that nothing really makes the link meaningful mechanically. As in, the actions of one have very little bearing on the other. You'll see most of the suggestions your getting are how to make one effect the other. I'm worried this path will lead you to some half answers. Why not instead look for ways that one playing the game well will use the moves in boths realms to preform better. For example, a player who uses their spirit player unit to perfection will still be beat by a unit in the spirit realm if their linked unit in the real realm is preforming well.

The idea is the tactics in one world carry over. So a real world unit making a chant or prayer gives the spirit link a power/speed boost? I'm sure you have these sorts of effects, but I think they will need to be the most present of all effects. Effects that are mono realm seem to be leftovers from a different game. This game is about the two realms, and a vast majority of the effects should effect either both, or the other realm, and not it's own.

2.) I noticed you mentioned some "energy" system on your blog. This is a perfect opportunity to integrate the realms. Create a shared resources that each linked unit pair must share. Something like "Bond" or "Faith" depending on your theme. The idea is that effects cost "bond" to be played or exerted. And there are ways to gain bond back, but it's separate than HP since HP is not linked. A character without a Bond to it's link is weakened (possibly it's linked effects mentioned in idea 1 don't cross realms, as in "I can't cast this chant to my spirit link, I'm not bonded to it)...So now a player has to choose "Do I use the bond i've built up for actions in the spirit or the real realm," "How do I divide them," or "how do I maintain them against skills that are designed to break bond?"

Then you can design skills that don't target HP but are designed to delink the linked pairs. This introduces a whole new tactic to your game where players may not try to outright kill units off the bat, but "divide and conquer" if you will by breaking the link bonds, thus rending many of the player's skills obsolete (until they can relink of course!)

3.) If you don't like Bond, possibly have a resource that is gained in one realm and spent in the other. This ties back into Idea 1, but is at the mechanic level instead of the effect level.

In essence, damage in the spirit realm isn't damage. Instead when a spirit link does damage to an opponent in the spirit realm it create some sort of resource, call it "Energy" to steal your term. This energy is only exists in the real realm and is used to pay for skills.

So the idea is the battle in the spirit realm isn't really a true "i'm going to kill you" combat, it's more about making it so the real characters are powered up. Instead of most games in this genre were energy is just allotted each turn, you have this whole subgame where players are fighting for energy from the spirit realm to unleash stronger skills in the real realm. This idea is a little lower level than my others, but it's something to think about.

--

The bulk of this is really about just trying to spark your brain with some way to make the link pairs actually linked. It seems right now they are linked in name alone. How you tackle this, whether at the mechanic level or not is up to you, but I'm as certain as I can be with the knowledge I have that you'll have to tackle this at the effect level for the game to feel complete.

simons
simons's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/28/2008
Joni: Actually, giving a

Joni:

Actually, giving a bonus when both character's perform the same action might be more akin to what I'm looking for. That way you have to choose between more flexibility and stronger actions.

(And yeah, I've been working on it for years, but it has always been a back-burner game, so it doesn't exactly feel like it)

Innuendo:

I guess "back to the drawing board," was more meant to refer to abilities than the core rules (although there may be core rules I adjust to reflect this more). I think part of my problem is that I designed the classes and abilities by first brainstorming ideas for, "Hey, this would make a neat ability," and then arranged them into classes in a way that they (kind of) fit. I'm starting to realize that this was not the best tactic...

And I spent last night looking over the abilities that I would keep. There are some that are really obvious (like "Regenerate" could easily work in both worlds, or "Summon Animals," even if it was world-specific, could make summoning easier in the other world). However, I was surprised that I have a lot of abilities that might not transfer over (such as equipment abilities). I'll need to think about how many of these I can keep...

I like the bond idea, but am not sure how to implement it. I'll keep rolling that around in my head. The basic idea though would be that if a character looses her bond, then she can no longer share abilities.

And yeah, lately the game has been turning into, "Winning in the Spirit World will help you in the Real World, but winning the Real World wins you the game." Although, I do still like the idea that there is some war in the spirit realm.

Thanks everyone, this has been really great so far!

Maaartin
Offline
Joined: 05/15/2011
I like the game

simons wrote:
Casamyr: I like the idea of abilities in one world costing you in the other. I'm not sure how I would implement that, but it will be on my mind.
This can get complicated, since you need to design the negative of each ability. Maybe it could be easier the other way round: A spell cast by the wizzard in one plane benefits also the archer in the other one, althought not as much.
This way you'd only need to design some weaker versions of each ability.

simons wrote:
Having hit points linked directly might be a little much.
I think I'd like it, but I don't know enough about the game. Maybe some resources (other than HPs) could be shared. Or, (similar to another idea) there may be one resource in one realm corresponding with another one in the other and vice versa. Or something a bit vampiric: a good shot in the real world taking 3 HPs from the enemy could give 3 mane to you spirit.

innuendo wrote:
If you don't like Bond, possibly have a resource that is gained in one realm and spent in the other.
Nice idea IMHO.

I'm looking forward to this game.

Syndicate content


forum | by Dr. Radut