Game Development Continued…

Developing rules can be so odd at times. While cool, innovative game mechanics often set a rules set apart, the difference between a game system played and one not played often can simply be how easy the rules were to learn and how easy they are to use.

No matter the rules I’ve written for a host of different games (or the hundreds of games I’ve read and played over the years), I like rules that follow these thumbnail criteria (in no particular order):

1. Simple

2. Self-contained.

3. Standardized format.

4. Thorough.

5. Points to relevant material (if appropriate).

6. Plug and play.

7. Examples, examples, examples.

Considering the rules I’ve written and the rulebooks I’ve published (such as the 448 page Strategic Operations or 424 page Tactical Operations), some of you are laughing pretty hard right now at my use of the term ‘simple.’ However, in this context I don’t mean short and easy to understand necessarily. While some games are great for that (such as a pile of German boardgames that have wonderfully simple and short rules but lots of re-playability), in this context I mean individual segments of rules that are easy to understand.

For example, there’s a section in BattleTech Tactial Operations called Planetary Conditions. Basically a giant pile of rules covering a myriad of terrain, terrain conditions, weather and so on. Each of the rules by themselves is usually pretty simple and straight forward. Some of the perceived complexity, however, comes from the attempts to hit points 2, 4, 5 and 6 above. For example Thin Snow is incredibly simply: +1 MP to wheeled vehicles and conventional infantry. But then you’ve got to cover how Fire interacts with it…and weapons fire…and then units such as Spheroid DropShips, and what types of Prohibited Conditions are prohibited for use with Thin Snow, and then a thoroughly cross-referenced table that covers everything at a glance, and so on.

When you try and make it that self-contained and thorough and plug and playable, that’s when you go from a section of similar rules in a previous rulebook that spanned 6 pages to a section that spans 36 pages. Though, to be fair, the number of “terrain, terrain modifications and weather” options went up by 10 fold…but still, you get the idea.

So, what does all of this mean for Leviathans? Well, as I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, I try and take all of those same concepts and apply them as appropriate.

However, there’s also point 3: standardized format. Now I know often I go too far and there’s others (including our editors, whom I love) that push back (rightly) now and then. But I’m a huge believer in creating a standardized format that’ll clue the reader into important information and allow them to digest everything in an easy to understand format.

So here’s some rules from The Channel Campaign from the original draft:

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Repair – a vessel making a repair order is considered to be in the base location for that player (E for the English, F for the French). It may repair up to four damaged ship locations, provided replacements are available in stock (see Replacements). Note: Repair orders don’t count as Coalling actions.

Vessels being repaired cannot be used in battles resulting from an enemy Assault action.

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Now, taking my concepts from above into account, here’s a current draft of the rules (pre-edite):

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Repair Orders

A vessel given a Repair Order is considered to be in the controlling player’s Base Sector. For each vessel given a Repair Order, the controlling player may repair up to any four damaged Slots, provided replacements Slots are available (see Replacements, p. XX).

Coalling Orders: Repair Orders don’t count as Coalling Orders (see p. XX).

Assault Orders: During the turn that a vessel is given a Repair Order, it cannot be used in any combat resulting from an enemy Assault Order (see p. XX).

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A very small example and obviously doesn’t cover everything I’m talking about, but hopefully gives you enough of a look to get the idea.

Now back to work so I can wrap this document it up and get it ready for an open release to you guys!

See ya next duty shift!

Randall

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