Saturday, October 12, 2013

My Master Plan

Here is my plan for the future of my as-yet-unnamed game. I envision a system based around internet community feedback. Community forums and sharing will drive game balance and development, with the game itself having several layers (tiers) of customization and openness. 

Tier One

Tier One will be an open, unthemed, sandbox environment, consisting of the core game rules (stripped of all setting-specific elements) and a few generic gaming aids.  

At this tier, the game rules will be completely open, and their text available for modification and tinkering by anyone who cares to do so.  So I intend to revise and release the core gaming rules through some sort of open license, such as creative commons or OGL.  If people like my rules, they can do whatever they want with them, modifying them with house rules, creating spin-off games, or anything else. 

I also intend to provide a framework of generic aids to help potential organizers, game masters or player groups up whatever scenarios and forces they wish.  I intend to produce a spreadsheet into which players can enter their desired unit characteristics.  The spreadsheet will then provide a suggested point cost.  (This will just be a get-you-started estimate. I fully expect that for more competitive environments, players and gaming groups will need to adjust these points.)  I will also provide a set of generic Doctrines players can choose from for their forces.

Tier one is a pure sandbox game.  Players will have to take responsibility for designing forces, lists and scenarios; but it will also allow players to do, well, pretty much anything.  Want your Ogres to fight space Nazis riding dragons?  Crank out some simple lists and throw your models on the table for an afternoon game.

Tier Two

Tier Two will be an open, themed sandbox environment, in which units are tested for suitability for bring-and-battle games.  Unlike Tier One, Tier Two aims for a specific universe. At Tier Two, anyone can design and suggest units for the setting, and other people can try them out and offer feedback. 

My themed universe will be the Mars setting which I've been developing, but there could be any number of others: a World War II game, a Space Ninja Pony game, whatever.  Each Tier Two could have its own forums, community and so forth.

Tier two is still an open sandbox game, but it is one in which there is more structure for player groups and game masters, and a selection of units available.

Tier Three

Tier Three will be a closed, themed, bring-and-battle environment.  Tier Three will have official rules and official army lists, each of which I will update on a regular basis.  Tier Three should have a narrower range of units, Doctrines, and army lists, which will be carefully controlled and adjusted based on tournament feedback to provide an balanced gaming experience. 

My Tier Three setting will be my Mars game. (There could be other Tier Three settings, too, run by whomever wants to put the energy into maintaining one.) Unlike Tiers One or Two, I hope for my Tier Three Mars Setting to become an actual commercial product someday.  (Probably in the form of a website subscription to the Tier Three e-books.)

 I envision a close interaction between Tiers Two and Three for any setting, with the community suggesting and testing units in Tier Two for introduction into Tier Three.

How it Would Work
So (for example) let's take my Mars setting as an example. 

At Tier One, two players might meet in their basement.  Maybe one players has a Martian army, and the other has some figures from another space game.  Maybe some left over Spaced Morons, or some Orcs, or whatever.  Both players work to figure out the game stats for their models, and put together two lists that they think will make a fun scenario.  Then they play.  Perhaps the next week, they will decide the Orcs were too powerful, and change their rules a bit.  Or maybe they think Dinosaurs would be more fun, and bring some rubber T-Rex's to the game.

At Tier Two, both players have an army themed for my Mars setting.  They go to the Mars forum and download unit stats and points someone has created.  Then they adjust them a bit for the scenario they want to play, and have at it.  Maybe they decide they think the Free Martians are a bit too powerful, so they post their results and suggestions to the forum.

At Tier Three, two players come to a tournament at the local game store.  They have never met each other, but they both have an army for the Mars setting, made from the Tier Three army lists, which they downloaded from the Mars web site. They each play each other, using the official rules.  If one army consistently seems overpowered in the tournament scene, based on feedback, I may nerf or tweak the official army lists every few months.

Tiers Two and Three can mix.  Maybe one player has an Colonial infantry army they created from the "official" army book at Tier Three, but the other thinks it would be awesome to field a Brute cavalry squadron riding dinosaurs.  The dino-cav player stats out his army, runs it through the suggested point spreadsheet, and comes up with a cost.  Then the two players try the armies out against each other.  Based on their experiences, they post the results to the Mars Tier Two forum.  Lots of people think dino-cavalry sounds cool, and they fiddle with the points values and rules.  Eventually, enough people have played the dino-cavalry that it gets the stamp of approval, and I include it in the next revision of the Tier Three army book.

The Immediate Future

I will continue this blog, as a way of announcing and tracking my game's development, but I will begin to add other website features.  I will revise the core game rules and look at different licensing options to release them to the public.  The website will need a place to distribute and share files: first the core game rules, then early drafts of the army books.   Eventually, I will need a forum, as a place for players to share ideas. 

All of this is wishful thinking if nobody actually plays the game.  So, to interest people, I will put together a demo-game based on my own model collections which I can tote around to various conventions.  I will try to make batreps and videos of games played.  I will provide tools for people to play games with whatever models of their own they have.

Maybe it'll work, maybe it won't, but it will be an interesting experiment.


Clogfather said...

Hi Tom
That sounds like a very interesting community-experiment. Even though it's not strictly historical wargaming, I think it's different enough for a possible article in WSS magazine. Feel free to contact me or Guy (editor *AT* wssmagazine.com) if you'd like to explore options.

Tom de Mayo said...


I'd certainly be interested in writing an article for your magazine. Let me bypass this comment board, and send you a proposal directly to the email address you've given me. If you need to contact me in turn my email is
thomas dot demayo @gmail dot com