Saturday, May 17, 2008

In a place called Ter, Resting.

Interesting. This shall be one of the posts discussed in the one before this, discussing my participation in group work, this time related to the testing of our game 'Crusaders'.

It works! It really, really works. All of our long discussions, theory crafting and debating have finally paid off as we collectively as a full group (Mel, Jeremy and I) played our game using actual dice and counters (purchased by Mel) to represent the forces. Although our first few tests were done using only 6 sided dice, when we finally brought the 20 sided dice into the equation, the results were marvelous. Although we are only using basic materials (2 dimensional notepad board, stapled paper as resources etc.), the insight and success the prototype testing gave us was quite good.

Below: Circular board and 6 sided dice prototyping

Although I shall try and avoid mentioning information discussed in both my peer's blogs, some points we uncovered should be discussed regardless. What we noticed with the introduction of the 20 sided dies was that the chances of beating a larger force or alliance were drastically increased. The chances of winning when two 20 sided dies were competing against only a single was slightly lower than when two six sided dies fought against only one. This is excellent proof of our theory as it encourages players to perform offensive rather than defensive maneuvers and tactics, something we originally thought would be problematic.

Something of concern however is the strength and relationship of alliances. The alliances themselves are loose by default as they should really only be established via communication between players, not forced or even suggested by any formal game rules. However, the ability to work together is slightly hampered. The suggestion of a unified move where two players could sacrifice their individual turns and roll 'together' was brought up and is still in debate. It would not go without consequences however, maybe only allowing 1/2 the dice roll number and giving the target player/s two dice rolls in succession afterwards (whether they win or lose). It adds a strategic and coordinated element on positioning into play as well as the risk of losing and giving your opponent a greater lead.

We also tried a hexagonal shaped board which was also quite successful. Originally the circular shaped board presented troubles with inequalities with resource distribution per tier, however the hexagonal shaped seems to overcome this problem to an extent (ie. fewer nodes at higher tiers, more at lower). One slight problem with the hexagonal board is that games could potentially become longer as well as confusing for multiple (6?) players. The board design is something that will be put under review for the moment, though the affects it has on the game is really only minimal.

Below: Hexagonal board and 20 sided dice

The ability to change an alliance during a counter-attack (ie. a defender who attacks an army gets attacked by an ally in the same region) was also brought up and thought to greatly enhance the possibilities of betrayal in our game, something we are striving to represent.

To reflect on my participation during this phase of testing, I would have to say I played my part at an equal beneficially competitive level. The three of us all managed to win the game at some point, all devising various strategies to uncover exploits and/or broken game mechanics. While Mel undertook an interesting ramp disabling tactic that skewed the 'time' game in his favour, I personally took a very defensive, turtle like approach, moving my forces as close together as possible and creating ramps in fast succession. Both were proven to have strengths and weaknesses, the roll of the dice being the number one deciding factor. I raised some interesting points (such as the betrayal aspect) and we discussed some ideas as a group that we think would help the game 'flow' better. Overall though, the testing was successful and the game had proven to be fun to play, something we were all worried about early on.

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