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Pre-made stats vs Create your own

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Evil ColSanders
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Joined: 12/08/2010

I've been working on a skirmish war game on and off for 2 years now and have his a small roadblock:

In the army building aspect, I can't decide whether to make characters Pre-made like Malifaux or Warmachine, or have it fully customizable (spend points on everything : weapons, abilities, hit points, movement, etc) such as Cutlass! and In her majesty's name. I don't want to go the halfway route like 40k or Flames of War.

Pros:
Pre-Made: Simple, making army building easier. Rules for character are universally known. Stats on cards.
DIY: Full control of stats. Attachment to self-made characters. Balancing for the points system should be fairly easy. Players can use whatever models they want.

Cons:
Pre-Made: No customization beyond who you take. Characters are static. Figures must be made specifically for the game. Balancing could be a big issue.
DIY: Army building is long and tedious. No clean and tidy way of players displaying character stats. (create pc-based army builder which allows for printing, like X-wing)

Do you all have an opinion on the matter?

Corsaire
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Joined: 06/27/2013
Both

People will want pre-made to dive right in and try it out as a preferred character. You really will extend it if they can also customize; increase the perceived value. I think you have to be concerned about balance both ways.

McTeddy
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Joined: 11/19/2012
Corsaire is definitely right

Corsaire is definitely right about having some pre-made characters either way. It's much easier to for new players to use well balanced troops to learn the game.

While I personally enjoy fully customization games... I don't tend to design them anymore. I've found that the majority of players stick to basic games. Balancing free-form games is more difficult and reduces the number of players who will play the game. I've rarely found it to be worth the effort.

The only way I'd consider putting a point buy system into a game, is by having it an optional rule for players who want more than the pre-made units. This would allow you to create a balanced game, while allowing players to risk unbalancing by their own choice.

radioactivemouse
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Joined: 07/08/2013
If you're trying to decide

If you're trying to decide between pre-made and DIY, the thing you should really ask yourself is:

How much work do you want to put in?

Most gamers are impatient. Even with longer games, we have a hope that the experience will justify the amount of time we spent waiting or setting up the game.

But is the feature of customization really worth the time it takes to setup? I say in some cases yes, and in some cases no.

I will say that if this is your first game, GO PRE-MADE! It's hard enough to test and implement pre-made stats that balance themselves in a fun way. Shooting for a fully customizable game is like trying to build a model plane the first time with the ability to make it fly. AFter making it, you're proud but you know there are things you could have done better in hindsight.

I get a similar comment all the time.

"I want to make an MMO"
"Do you have experience making a game?"
"No"
"Do you know any of the programs?"
"No"
"Do you know how much time, money, and organization it takes to make an MMO?"
"No...but I have this great idea that will blow the socks off everyone..."

Making a game with customizable stats means you have to test EVERY iteration of ANY stat change AND balance that with any other stat changes.

I...am NOT a big fan of customization. I know the amount of work it takes. Let the game speak for itself. People play games because they want to get into the story. Customization is an assumption that your game is going to be good enough for a second, third, or fourth (or more) play though. My best games are lucky to see the table once every couple of weeks...and those are games that have quick setups, no customization.

But...if you really want to do the exponential amount of work for custom stats...Good luck.

larienna
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Joined: 07/28/2008
Quick reply. If players

Quick reply.

If players manage 1 character, being able to customize it is interesting. If players control multiple characters, customization is not necessary since they will customize their team instead. So they will make various customizations of team rather than characters.

Evil ColSanders
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Joined: 12/08/2010
Thanks for all the feedback.

Thanks for all the feedback. Looks like static stats are the way to go.

Craig
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Joined: 03/30/2013
For In Her Majesty's Name we

For In Her Majesty's Name we did a combination of the two. Most, though not all, companies have a couple of named characters, but then there are also some generic leaders you can also use.

For example, the French Foreign Legion company has Col Kreiss and Sgt-Major Baptiste, and also a generic Captain and Sergeant.

This approach gives some of the characterisation that some players like, and the option to do your own thinkg that others do.

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