What’s beyond the scope of the initial rules?

First, let me start this blog post by saying that even this early, the amount of comments and excitement I’m seeing is incredibly gratifying. That said, however, while I’m trying to peek in now and then and respond to some specific comments made about these posts, I can’t possibly answer every question that comes up. Perhaps if Leviathans was the only thing I was working on I might have that time. As it is, I’m feeling pretty good that I’m able to make these blog posts once or twice a week in the midst of my work load.

What does all that mean? Please have patience. You’ve got some great questions and instead of jumping in every time to immediately answer them, with a few exceptions I’m going to hold off. Instead, through continued blog posts heading forward, not only will you see the development of this project, but you’ll hopefully get all of your questions answered. And answered in a way that is far more complete than any quick responses I might make to any given comments. Thanks!

Okay, now to the meat of this post. Right at the beginning I knew there were certain aspects of a “flying game” that I simply had to leave at the door. As with any game design you’ve got to figure what can you include and what should wait for a rules expansion or advanced rules.

With BattleTech I’ve had the joy (pain) of working on the advanced rulebooks of late, which has allowed me to delve into “rules expansions” to my heart’s content. Especially with Tactical Operations, I liked to joke “You can battle with your ‘Mechs, inside an aircraft carrier, while it’s sinking, and pick up some battle armor and throw it at the enemy while you’re at it.” Then again, it’s 25 years into BattleTech’s life and a very advanced rulebook, so I can get away with that.

For Leviathans we’re right at the beginning. So while the universe screams for fighter squadrons, aircraft carriers and full 3-dimensional rules, all of those are simply beyond the scope of the level of ‘difficulty’ we want the game to encompass at the beginning. However, unlike say BattleTech (which Jordan will tell you right out was a one-off game and its success surprised them, so every rules edition beyond that has been a plugin to a system never designed for expansion) I’m designing Leviathans from the get-go to be expandable into numerous different areas if it proves a success. Hopefully this will lesson the impact that rules expansions can often have on game balance and play.

Now I can hear the screams now. “No up and down?! But you’re flying?!” The problem is that either the inclusion of 3-dimensional rules are either too light so they hardly provide any feeling of that aspect (so why include them?) or they’re so complex that it takes the difficulty of the game to a higher level than every other aspect of the game.

Furthermore, for Leviathans, it’s not a game of dog fighting planes, but instead massive ships with giant guns, so they’re more “ponderous” than “agile.” So both the feel of the game and the need to ensure that the added complexity doesn’t make the game too difficult for a “out of the box, intro game play” aesthetic, made the decision easy.

Does that mean we’re ignoring the fact that they’re in the air? Of course not. Both fiction and art touch upon that aspect: the first story fiction piece we hope to have on the site in the near future deals directly with that concept, while the art for the ships shows that most of the side guns are tall and thin, with vertical slots that allow for raising and lowering the guns.

At the end of the day, of course, the true test of whether or not excluding the 3-dimensional element directly in the first box set worked or not is when its picked up and played. The game is very fun and enjoyable and still very much conveys a ‘flying’ feel without going that route. But of course, as noted above, I’m also designing the game from the ground up to have such expansions, so I’ve copious notes floating around on how to add that rules expansion down the road, in a way that’s very cool and will only take a fun game and make it even better.

See ya next duty shift!

Randall

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