To The Pain!

Probably the best advice I was ever given concerning game design is design a game that you would like to play. This philosophy does two great things. First, it keeps me interested since I want to see the end product, so I’m more likely to stay on task, or at the very least come back after a short break. Second, it sets a standard for what I’m willing to release and provides a guideline for evaluating progress.

It’s this second point that spawned a recent epiphany and spurred this post. In working on Chronoplex I’ve been reevaluating the conflict resolution system. Something hasn’t been settling with me, so I took a step back and considered what I do and do not like about other various systems. It finally hit me: I prefer brief combat.

Now don’t get me wrong, I do like combat in my RPGs, but I don’t like spending hours resolving a single combat. If a combat session drags on more than about three rounds, I feel like the game bogs down terribly.

I’m now trying to apply this to the Pitch system. I don’t think the conflict resolution mechanism needs work, it’s pretty solid. The idea I’m currently pursuing is a revamp of the damage system. If you think of a cinematic combat, heroes typically don’t spend a lot of time dispatching most opponents. The approach them, touch blades a couple times, then stabby stabby and move on.

The key here is that the hero just wants to get past opponents to reach a goal. They don’t fight every opponent to the death, that would take too long. What drops the opponents is pain. Stab. OW! Drop. Maybe they’ll die, maybe not, but the pain knocks them out of the action.

I want to reflect this in Pitch. I want to create a system where one solid hit can produce enough pain to incapacitate without having to slaughter each opponent. I think that would greatly speed up combat and give combat a much more swashbuckling, cinematic feel.

And that would rock. You might even say it’s the type of game I myself would like to play.

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