Friday, June 7, 2013

GDS: Translating fantasy into reality

Huskblades are well-designed.

To follow up on the previous article, I want to give you guys a first hand look on how fluff translates to any given ruleset.  I'll be going over my actual suggestions later, so stay tuned for that.  For now, lets look at how I go about translating fantasy into a playable ruleset.

  • The designer has the fantasy:  They make up the fluff and fantasizes on what is actually cool.  It plays out with stunning visuals and sound effects in his head, and this is when he'll pitch out ideas like.. wouldn't this be cool?!  E.g. D-Cannons briefly opens up a rift into the warp.
  • Now he has a pretty good idea of the type of item he wants to implement (keep in mind I say item and this can be unit, weapon, actual item, or whatever) and talks with other designers to see if they share his vision.  They gather around in a room and throw ideas at each other.  There is a lot of "wouldn't this be cool if..", and "what you think about this?"
  • The designer translates the ruleset based on the game system.  How does the D-Cannon in his mind play out on the table-top?  How does it work and what does it do exactly?  He has the vision of the weapon in his head, but he goes over the ruleset that exists in the game and translates it to the table top.  e.g. He constantly asks himself:  How would the devastating effects of the warp have on infantry models?  What does it do to vehicles?  Flesh targets need to wound right?  Or should it auto-wound?  How does it hit?  Does it have a template?  He uses the ruleset that already exists to generate a profile suitable for the item he's generating:  A weapon will follow the Strength, AP, Type profile that exists in 40K whereas a new Hero would have rough WS, S, T..characteristics.
  • The designer looks over the rules he has written and evaluates the consistency of his work.  Is this a completely new ability he has created or are there other ones like it in the existing ruleset?  If it's a Lance weapon, how does it differ in design and functionality to another weapon of its type?  E.g. How does this D-Cannon compare vs. other anti-infantry weapons in the game?  How does it compare as a anti-tank weapon?  Does it share similar properties of a lesser or greater weapon?  E.g. a Flamer vs. Heavy Flamer, both should have flamer templates.
  • All during this time, there's several design meetings going around to see if this is still plausible and solid.  Sometimes he would talk to the sculptor or production to see if this new weapon (pretend we're doing he D-Cannon) needs a new mold/model.  Which existing models would this be used on?  Are there any technical limitations that can prevent this idea from coming to fruition.  Keep in mind that these steps are not finite, all these steps go on constantly in the back of the designer's mind.  Sometimes the idea is even abandoned because a better idea comes along.  Personally, I'm always thinking about how the piece translates from the fluff onto the ruleset, how consistent is it, and how well it will play once it's released.
  • After the designer is confident about his test piece, he looks at the balance of the item compared to everything else (internal and external).  How does this new item compare with the rest of the book?  How does this weapon balance out with the other weapons in the book he's writing.  Are there any glaring balance concerns that need to be addressed?  This is the time where he internally balances the piece with the rest of the elements of his book (internal balance), and makes SLIGHT changes with respect to external balance (how does it compare vs. other armies).
  • The reason why external balance was put on the backburner is because this is the playtesting and QA phase.  Playtesters get their hands on the piece and gives it a whirl.  They right feedback to the developers and they make changes to the internal and external workings of the item at hand.  This can take days, weeks, months, but after several revisions and multiple playtesting sessions with these different revisions, the designer is happy about his work.  It is now ready to ship.

Thanks for reading.


Maica said...

This blog post is awesome as I learned a lot of information
after reading it. I think I will be visiting here very often guys. I’m sure you
had lots of very informative web contents.

Daniel Baker said...

A great and really informative gaming blog

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