My game idea that I have been working on for a little while now is an adaptation of a style of video games that I love called MOBAs (Massive Online Battle Arena) popularized by games like League of Legends or Defense of the Ancients. I am working towards making a game with the same feel as these games not to just recreate them in a new format.
The game is 1v1 and each player starts with 3 champions. Each champion has 3 abilities and one passive ability that is always active. And players take turns activating abilities, leveling up their champs, and buying items till they can clear a path to the enemy base and deal enough damage to it to end the game.
The strategy comes from how you set up your team of 3 champions and how well you use your resources.
Now for a more detailed description of how to play.
First the game starts with a draft you draw 10 champions randomly from the stack of champions. Then each player takes turns taking one champ at a time till they each have 3. Then these champs are placed face down on your side of the play mat. Then the play mat is set up, the play mat has spaces to place a deck of cards a discard pile and 6 purchase spots and in the middle of the play mat is a line dividing the play area into two. You set up the play mat by shuffling the deck of items and placing it on the mat and putting out the top six cards onto the mat face up for purchasing. Then each player shows their champions and the game starts. At the beginning of each turn players roll 2 dice and combine them highest roll gains initiative and can act first. Then each player gets their opponents roll and their own to use as actions. so if player 1 rolls 2 , 4 and player 2 rolls 3, 4. Player 2 will gain initiative and both players will get 4 dice with numbers 2, 3, 4, 4 this way we have a random player going first but both players getting the same rolls keeping the game even. Now players take turns using one of their dice to pay for champion actions, or purchasing items. Actions on champions have a numerical value to them and to use an ability on a champ you must equal or exceed the value on that ability. You may only use one die at a time so higher cost abilities are harder to use but do more and low cost abilities are easier to use but do less. After all 8 actions have been used the turn ends and the items are moved down with the oldest being placed in the discard pile and a new item placed face up at the beginning.
This game right now has a feel of MtG, Pokemon TCG, and of other MOBAs the game time is around 45 to an hour. I really enjoy the game (obviously) but let me tell you things that I think are done well.
1. Balancing the randomness of dice - because both players get the same dice there is still that randomness so you need to plan for that during the champion draft. It reminds me of Settlers and how you must diversify the numbers that you have in order to better prepare for the randomness of dice.
2. The champions are varied and fun so on one hand you might have a Zombie cheerleader that supports your team with pep rallies and poisons the opposing team. You have another champion that works better by hurting himself in a risk reward type scenario. And its how well you know when to use abilities and how
3. Champions have a progression. Most games end right now where players are like ahh man one more turn and I would have gotten this guy doing x damage a turn. You can level up champions and equip items on them to make them stronger and items are not just stat boosts they affect how you will play a champ. Some will say gain a stat boost if you do this. There is one that as you take damage some of it is stored and you can later release it to damage a champ.
4. One of the problems in MOBA games is that there is a lot of grinding or farming where you spend most of your time attacking the basic minions to gain money and you just stay away from other players early in the game. I did not want that to be a part of the game so you cannot run away you have to be in the fight at all times, good plays are ones that you don't avoid the damage, but mitigate as much of it as you can. This keeps the game going fast and it feels like you are doing something when you can kill a champion.
I also know that I am aweful at writing so if you have any questions, which I know you will, go ahead and ask away. The image attached to this is of 2 champions that are adapted from League of Legends these were more for proof of concept I have other champions I made that are unique.
I'd be careful and stay away from using any characters from LoL. That said, the game itself seems to have promise, if you can make the actual turns and combat engaging and strategic enough that it isn't just which champions are drawn and selected that determines the winner.
Right now I am phasing any league stuff out of the game. I was using all that stuff to get the mechanics down before I started making my own champions. Part of that reason was that I didn't know how the system would play out or what I wanted from the champions in it. Now that the mechanics are more solid I am throwing all the league stuff out and creating all new champions I have about 10 new champions right now looking to make about 15 to 20.
The hard part I am having is balancing the champions and making creative abilities so that champions will play differently and behave differently from one another. There are still some small tweaks to game play that might need to be addressed, but everything is coming along nicely.
Also does any one know if there is a way to test a game over the internet easily that might help with all the play testing that I am going to need to do.
There are several choices for online game testing.
Check the Playtesting forum for more details but basically there are sites out there that let you set up cards and boards and let you save them so that others can play online.
One of the better ones just started recently actually called roll20.net which is supposed to be for online pen and paper rpg game sessions but the program is flexable and features customized card deck set ups.
I'm a big fan of MOBAs - Awesomenauts by Ronimo being my current favorite. I also used to be in clan DOTA in the early 2000s when Eul & Co. were putting together the original DOTA for WC3 ROC. And I have experience making my own ROC titled "Clash of the Homelands". In all instances - building, testing and playing - I see a few possible pitfalls that you might want to consider when designing your heroes/champions/characters:
1) Different characters develop at different rates. Simply put, it's going to happen that way. The thing you need to balance is rate of development with overall effectiveness. It's not very fun to have to "grind" when you are using a character who develops slowly, as you alluded to, just to be able to do something relevant out in the thick of combat. There not only needs to be some incentive to get out there and mix it up, but also some payoff for doing so, like leveling up more quickly when you are in the heat of battle as opposed to clubbing rabbits on the head off in some distant field away from the action.
2) You also have to manage early game vs. end game. Certain characters will be more effective early on, and others will be more effective later on. It just happens that way inherently. You need to be able to mitigate the balance both at the front end and at the back end. It's not very fun having to plan your entire strategy around "don't let ______ get to level 8, because when he does, he gets ______ and becomes completely unstoppable!" I almost always bring up the example of Phoenix in the Vanilla version of Marvel vs. Capcom 3, where entire game mechanics had to be introduced in the following version just to keep Phoenix from dominating the end-game.
3) You have to decide between generalists and specialists. Generalists don't necessarily have to have the best of everything, but they have to be able to fill some sort of role on a given team, even if it might not be as well as a specialist. On the other hand, you need to give specialists relevant and clear drawbacks. For example (and a bit cliche, I know), the tank who has the big health bar and the big damage output should have some sort of liability, like poor speed. That drawback needs to be clear enough that players aren't scratching their heads at how to beat a particular character, or players aren't forced to plan for that character from the outset of the game (per point 2).
Sorry about the ramble - as my first real post, no less! - but I do love when people take MOBAs onto a tabletop format. Best of luck with your project. If you want some more reading on potential issues, check out David Sirlin's writing about "tiers" and character balance in games. I think it would be very useful for you to read.
I read through your comment and you made a lot of good points so ill try and address them to what I have done so far.
1.) having characters develop at different rates and not having grinding. One of the goals I set out for at the beginning was to not have grinding as a play mechanic. I still have minions, but not the main normal minions only the special minions that spawn on the map. And leveling up is not done through experience its done through a combination of dice rolls and currency. The currency is harder to come by to limit the amount of leveling and items while not stopping it from happening either.
2.) This one is harder to work on because I dont want games going over 45 minutes and in a card/ board game 45 minutes is not alot of time so early game and late game are like 8 turns each. This one is just going to have to come from more play testing and balancing.
3) I think that I can have both in a sense. I can easily put in generalist characters because they are just as necessary as specialist characters. Its just a little more fun to work on the specialist characters, because they are so interesting to do.
I saw the post earlier about roll20.net and I am working on making a version I can test with people online. I also downloaded zuntzu and am trying to make a test version in that. The only problem I am having is that when dice are rolled I need the physical dice to move around onto the champions and neither allows you to do that so I am trying to come up with a way around that limitation. Once I have it running I am going to try and run some play tests.
I also do enjoy Awesomenauts I have been playing the crap out of that game Coco Nebulon is the best.