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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Of combat and philosophy

First off, please do not post OT comments early in a thread. That is implicitly saying "because I don't care about X, I think everyone should be discussing Y, which is of more interest to me, instead". You can certainly discuss Y if you like, by all means, but do so on your own blog. If you want to bring something to my attention, then email it to me.

Now speaking of bringing things to people's attention that may or may not be of interest, Alpenwolf is in the process of preparing a major kickstarter for First Sword. It will take place in the April-May timeframe, and I hope the Dread Ilk will support it with all their well-renowned and oft-feared staunchness. As I mentioned a few days ago, I've expanded the concept of First Sword to encompass a spectrum of gameplay formats for reasons that will eventually become clear. Among the various questions I've been wrestling with is the best way to keep everyone informed about its progress, since, as with Alpha Game, the development of a game is a highly specific subject in which not everyone is likely to be equally interested. The options are to post all of the development-related posts on the currently dormant Alpenwolf blog, to post them at Castalia House, or to post them here. Obviously, major announcements will be posted here, but I am aware most readers here are not interested in multiple gamedev-related posts per week here.

So, I'm leaning towards doing them at Castalia, since we want to build it up as more of a destination site, we already sell some games there, and we have one game designer, Ken Burnside of Ad Astra, already blogging there. I'd also like to let those of you who are on the Castalia House New Release newsletter list know about our upcoming Game Development newsletter. Please note that if you are subscribed to the former newsletter, you will NOT be automatically subscribed to the latter. We don't spam and we don't cross-mail either. However, we will be accepting subscriptions soon and will also provide a signup link to the new newsletter when we send the next New Release installment out. Anyone who is interested in any type of gaming from tabletop to tablet is going to be extremely interested in what we're doing with First Sword, because it is not only a game, it is a game engine designed for a high degree of modding capability. As the image of Gragbol Man-killer, Orc Gladiator #1 will no doubt inform tabletop players, First Sword is the first example of a game system that will be playable on the physical tabletop, as a Vassal module, on a computer or mobile device, or as an ongoing campaign game.

This multi-tiered approach has long been a vision of mine, as the original version of Rebel Moon Revolution was designed to be both a 3D tactical shooter and a 2D strategy game. We created two levels of AI for precisely this purpose, dividing them into TacAI and StratAI so that the StratAI could be replaced by a human player moving 2D counters around on a map that was essentially the top-down version of the 3D environment. The movements served as triggers to send orders to the TacAI that replaced the orders otherwise provided by the StatAI. In retrospect, I doubt we would have been able to successfully pull that off even if GT Interactive didn't go down the drain (taking both Fenris Wolf and Rebel Moon Revolution with it), partly due to time constraints and partly due to the fact that our StratAI programmer contracted cancer and died. But we are going to be able to pull it off here, because after learning from my past tendencies to design more than I could reasonably produce and bringing in some very smart and experienced new development partners, we're applying the concept in a much simpler, much more easily accomplished fashion.

While we eventually hope to expand the concept to the full-blown multi-tiered squad-level combat game originally envisioned, in the meantime, we're going to initially make this multi-tiered combat management gameplay work at the gladiatorial level. We're putting together the various elements for the Kickstarter now, so if you've got any more thoughts concerning rewards you'd like to see, this is the time to throw them out there.

And finally, we're happy to announce that the fourth issue of the Sci Phi Journal is now available in both EPUB and MOBI format at the Castalia House store. The first three issues have been very good and the fourth one looks like no exception. If you'd like to get caught up, issues One, Two, and Three are also available there. From a review of Issue #3:

"Suffice to say this is a thinking man's SF magazine and is superbly chosen and edited by Jason Rennie."

And as long as I'm in info dump mode, I may as well mention that ARTS OF DARK AND LIGHT Book Two is progressing very well, I am ahead of the revised schedule, the cover is being designed, and the 850-page book will likely be published in November rather than December as previously announced. I can't vouch for the quality myself, but I will say that the two early readers have said that it is better than A THRONE OF BONES.

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40 Comments:

Anonymous Michael Maier February 26, 2015 8:12 AM  

Whoa! This is ambitious, to say the very least. Best of luck in it all.

I've been out of RPGs for a long time now, but I always thought integrating PCs seamlessly into AD&D would have been awesome. You could have short adventures online through the week run by your DM and maybe twice a month do in person sessions.

I'll be informing my nephew about this for sure, he's into some card & mini games.

Blogger Nate February 26, 2015 8:47 AM  

Steal an idea from The Mountain that Writes... let donators be cannon fodder in the game.

Blogger Vox February 26, 2015 8:48 AM  

Steal an idea from The Mountain that Writes... let donators be cannon fodder in the game.

The problem with that is that Stan Smith or whatever works a lot better in modern urban fantasy than epic ancient-medieval fantasy.

Blogger S1AL February 26, 2015 8:57 AM  

Possibility of using someone's likeness for a piece instead of name?

Anonymous Trimegistus February 26, 2015 9:01 AM  

I hope your game engine is not too closely tied to the content, because it sounds like a wonderful platform for a Traveller-style setting where players may want to engage it on levels anywhere from individual characters to whole sectors.

Blogger Bogey February 26, 2015 9:18 AM  

The most obvious question is when are you going to open it for testing. Alpha phase or do we need to wait for the Beta phase.

Also have you played any of the new rogue-likes, Darkest Dungeon or FTL? Those are management-esque games but with perma-death.

Blogger maniacprovost February 26, 2015 9:22 AM  

GURPS or GTFO.

Blogger Brad Andrews February 26, 2015 9:41 AM  

The tabletop part sounds like Golem Arcana. I haven't played it, but some people really like it. It uses a tablet/phone of some sort for rules, stats, etc. That allows play balance to be updated on the fly, rather than printed on the piece. It was a bit pricey though.

Blogger Nate February 26, 2015 9:52 AM  

I really don't think there is any to check and see if a person votes multiple times in different states. For example if you have a residence in 3 states... you could vote in all three... and I don't think that is checked.

Blogger Markku February 26, 2015 9:52 AM  

The concept art for that orc was made by my sister, by the way, whose artistic services I will be pimping later on, to make it worth her while to establish a business for it. Turning it to a 3d model by another person, who may or may not wish to be identified.

Blogger Vox February 26, 2015 9:56 AM  

I hope your game engine is not too closely tied to the content

The content is, in part, there to demonstrate the engine. It's going to be as open as we can possibly make it. It will also be free-to-play, as will the combat management game.

Blogger WERTA BEST February 26, 2015 10:21 AM  

The AI in Rebel Moon Revolution is a quite complete. On this video we can see how lunar soldiers (UN and LDF) move and shoot under StratAI script commands only. This gameplay really looks like adequate because The War in Heaven engine (REV Engine v 0.9) was almost finished especially with physics and graphics parts.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSLYatNecsE

Blogger Markku February 26, 2015 10:22 AM  

WERTA BEST

Are you Russian?

...no reason

Blogger WERTA BEST February 26, 2015 10:24 AM  

...yes...

Blogger Markku February 26, 2015 10:24 AM  

I have a nose for Russian.

Blogger Josh February 26, 2015 10:30 AM  

Doesn't rebel moon have a cult following in the eastern bloc?

Anonymous VD February 26, 2015 10:31 AM  

The AI in Rebel Moon Revolution is a quite complete. On this video we can see how lunar soldiers (UN and LDF) move and shoot under StratAI script commands only.

At this point, I think you know more about it than I remember. I still owe you those interview questions, don't I.

Blogger Student in Blue February 26, 2015 10:32 AM  

But we are going to be able to pull it off here, because after learning from my past tendencies to design more than I could reasonably produce and bringing in some very smart and experienced new development partners, we're applying the concept in a much simpler, much more easily accomplished fashion.

From my reading and experiences playing, that seems to be true for every game. Having a laserlike focus on one core aspect of a game, which you then expand from, always results in a better game (and one done in a reasonable time frame) than the grand designs of geniuses who dream of doing everything at once.

I'm looking at you, Peter Molyneux.

Blogger Nate February 26, 2015 10:39 AM  

"I have a nose for Russian."

Dammit... DOWN FIN!! DOWN!

Blogger WERTA BEST February 26, 2015 10:43 AM  

>>>At this point, I think you know more about it than I remember. I still owe you those interview questions, don't I.

I learnt and realized all scripts and file formats in The War in Heaven. The REV Engine 0.9 (used for The War in Heaven) was almost complete. But in AI engine (AI.dll) some tasks (TactAI) were not implemented only.

About the interview… I completely forget about it, but I remember it was very large. Maybe a short variant of interview will be appropriate?

Anonymous Stg58 / Animal Mother February 26, 2015 10:48 AM  

I'm not going to need that Steam bullshit am I?

OpenID malcolmthecynic February 26, 2015 10:49 AM  

Hey Vox, just so you know, I'm the author of "Take Up Your Cross" from the Sci Phi Journal. I already mentioned this to Jason Rennie, but my name is actually Anthony, not Alex. That would be a typo, though I am glad he decided to give a blurb for my story.

Blogger Vox February 26, 2015 10:50 AM  

About the interview… I completely forget about it, but I remember it was very large. Maybe a short variant of interview will be appropriate?

Probably why I didn't do it. Send me another one and I'll prioritize it.

my name is actually Anthony, not Alex.

Thanks, will fix.

Blogger Vox February 26, 2015 10:51 AM  

I'm not going to need that Steam bullshit am I?

Don't think so.

Blogger WERTA BEST February 26, 2015 10:58 AM  

V.D., to what your e-mail address I can send the questions?

Blogger Vox February 26, 2015 11:02 AM  

There is an email link in the upper left sidebar.

Blogger WERTA BEST February 26, 2015 11:05 AM  

OK, I look around in my files and I will prepare new text with those questions.

Anonymous Noah B. February 26, 2015 11:20 AM  

I don't do much gaming anymore, except for an occasional NES ROM habit I can't quite kick, but I will give this a try when it's ready. Congratulations, if that's not premature.

Anonymous Stilicho February 26, 2015 11:22 AM  

if you've got any more thoughts concerning rewards you'd like to see, this is the time to through them out there

equity
bling (within game)
exclusive content

Anonymous Athor Pel February 26, 2015 11:43 AM  

" Vox February 26, 2015 8:48 AM
Steal an idea from The Mountain that Writes... let donators be cannon fodder in the game.

The problem with that is that Stan Smith or whatever works a lot better in modern urban fantasy than epic ancient-medieval fantasy."



Take the real meaning of the name and use that instead.

Stan Smith is Stone the blacksmith, for example.

Blogger Vox February 26, 2015 11:51 AM  

Take the real meaning of the name and use that instead.

Then you're not giving them what they want, which is to see their name.

Anonymous Donn February 26, 2015 1:08 PM  

Vox - Will this be a 'chainmail' type of miniature combat?

Blogger Vox February 26, 2015 1:14 PM  

No, more like Gladiator from Avalon Hill. But with card-based combat, not dice. That speeds things up and allows us to introduce more interesting racial differences.

Anonymous Donn February 26, 2015 1:14 PM  

Instead of the name of the person perhaps a description with physical and maybe personality traits and a choice of names that are an anagram or something similar. Then he can point to it and say, "See they really got me." or something like that.

Anonymous Donn February 26, 2015 1:53 PM  

There will be pictures? I need pictures.

Anonymous Athor Pel February 26, 2015 4:23 PM  

" Vox February 26, 2015 11:51 AM
Take the real meaning of the name and use that instead.

Then you're not giving them what they want, which is to see their name.
"



If someone is enough of a grognard to play wargames they've probably also played some rpg's even if only to use their combat systems to see if they wanted to steal some ideas. They've created characters in various rpg's, characters with fictional names, but names that have meaning for that person but still in the context of that game.

The people playing your game are going to be okay with providing a pseudonym. I think they will understand the need for it. It will still be THEIR name though, and that's what counts.

How the backer comes up with the name and how that name gets vetted by your company are both variable. But letting a backer provide a name for a unit or an NPC, that's a pretty cool thing.

Blogger Student in Blue February 26, 2015 4:34 PM  

I'm not a fan of that suggestion Athor Pel, just because of the fact that names are important. It kills immersion and reduces enjoyment for me to see names that look out of place or are thinly-veiled references that slipped through.

Anonymous Athor Pel February 26, 2015 5:18 PM  

" Student in Blue February 26, 2015 4:34 PM

I'm not a fan of that suggestion Athor Pel, just because of the fact that names are important. It kills immersion and reduces enjoyment for me to see names that look out of place or are thinly-veiled references that slipped through.
"



I know what you're talking about. I've seen all kinds in the games I've played. Some good, some bad, many stupid, few clever.

But here, I'll quote myself, "How the backer comes up with the name and how that name gets vetted by your company are both variable."

Notice the word VETTED.

Blogger Vox February 26, 2015 6:28 PM  

But letting a backer provide a name for a unit or an NPC, that's a pretty cool thing.

I have no problem with that. We'll figure something out in that line.

Blogger WERTA BEST February 26, 2015 6:51 PM  

V D., I sent new questions to your e-mail about 4 hrs ago.It's more 20 questions in text. And I hope it will be an interesting interview.

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