Wednesday, January 30, 2013

One system to rule them all

Re-Branding "Open Gateways" as "The Hit-Dice Gaming System"...As not longer is this project specific to an RPG, is more of a Pen and Paper gaming system that you can "plug" nearly any type of game into.  What I did was to start with the RPG version that I've been working on for a while now...Then I started simplifying it.  It began while I was putting the Quick-Start Rules together for the Alpha testers, while at the time the RPG campaigns I'd been in fell-apart/wrapped up, so I was playing a number of systems at Cons and the weekly RPG time slots were becoming filled with cards games and board games.

It was about this time that I began appreciating some of the simple systems that I was playing at the time, Doom and Descent had a nice RPG feel, but were lacking in some areas, as well as having some issues with game balance.  I began ratcheting the "Open Gateways" RPG back to better serve the game style as well as time and commitment level of the "Overlord" style games, this was fairly straight forward...taking an RPG to an Overlord style.

While this conversion was occurring, I was playing a lot of full co-op games...specifically D&D Drizz't, Zombiecide, Arkham Horror, FlashPoint and Pandemic...These games seem to have a nice time-bounded nature to them and especially Drizz't and Zombiecide also had campaign style play that could be done as well (or at least seemed like it could be added fairly simply), additionally they did not seem to suffer with the lack of having a player control the monsters/zombies.  So I took the rules one step further, and added some random elements for level design.

With this complete, I thought any Co-op game could be turned into a PvP game with just making a "group goal" an individual goal, and the first player to reach it wins, but rather than solely playing against the games random elements, I thought a PvP style game would play better with a way to "Screw your neighbor" one was developed.

At this point I realized what I had was a "Engine" for lack of a better word, that provided mechanics that could be shared between just about every style of game I could thing of.  So I began putting some time into polishing the design for a co-op style game that I could play with my family, which included kids (ages 7 to 18).

Co-op games work great as teaching style games, since the party has a shared goal, and the advanced players can guide the newer players in forming a better strategy for their turn that better serves the group's goal.  I've found that some kids like to be on the same side as other players for the "shared victory" condition, that way its okay to lose, so long as everyone else has the same result.

The Overlord variant of Co-op play, is a step toward mastering the mechanics of a game, that pits a group of players not only against the random elements of the game, but allows the player that is acting as the overlord to insert their own strategy into the game.  The Co-op players are no longer to predict exactly how the opponents will move and act, since their is a human intelligence controlling them

More competitive gamer's I've found enjoy the PvP style games, as they get to further their understanding of the rules, by not only mastering the game mechanics, but having to compete against against other players improves everyone's abilities.

I know that many players enjoy the challenge associated with figuring out a whole new rule system, and often have seen certain players seem to thrive on the fact that they can adapt to new rules faster that others, so they like to change things up, playing a different game each week, and trying to improve on strategies of the past weeks.

So, to aid in improving and simplifying in my HitDice game mechanic, I've created two games of different genres to help prove the simplest versions of the HitDice mechanic.  This games are "Zombie Town", which is a map building post-apoc survival game where the Survivors draw a random objective (each objective is nearly a whole new game type) and work toward completing it before the activity level on the streets makes game play impossible to survive any longer.

The other game is similar dungeon exploration game where there exist a number of different "mission-types" and the Hero's explore the dungeon in either Co-op, PvP or first Hero to complete the goal style of play.  During which the hero's can explore the dungeon, enter rooms, fight monster gather treasure, even buying better items or crafting enhancements can be done.  This might feel like a mash-up of Super Dungeon Explores, Dungeon, and Lords of Waterdeep.

Both of these games have the terrain cards and rules complete, but I'm still working on the other miscellaneous cards in the decks.

The whole idea behind HitDice, is "One Mechanic" that works for everything from simple card/board game to fully functioning Pen & Paper campaign style RPG and everything in-between.  These first two games are just as much to introduce my players to the mechanic as it is to flesh-out the basic creatures and final stats of the creatures.  The creatures in Dungeon Tiles are the same stat-blocks that are going to be in the full blown RPG, with the only different being the relevant information about the creatures.

With the "one mechanic" everything will be sort of "plug-able" into any other game, as with Zombie Town and Dungeon Tiles, the game play is very similar in how one explores, open doors, and attacks an enemy.  With the difference being the types of foes in the game and the items that are found.  With Zombie Town focusing more on what a typical zombie survival game cares about, and Dungeon Tiles definitely has the feel of a "mini-RPG", complete with a supplement that turns it into an Overlord style game.

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