Game Development Continued…

How robust is your game design?

There’s a lot of criteria people use when determining whether game design is robust? For this quick post, when I’m talking about “robust,” I mean how easy is it to expand with additional rules?

Do follow-on rules fit seamlessly and appear to a player as though they were meant to be a part of the game from the beginning? Or can the players easily discern where you tacked it into place and see the wire, spit and gum?

I’ve seen plenty of both over the years, as I’m sure most of you have.

Why am I bringing this up now? Well, the one benefit of the production issues for Leviathans is we continue to thoroughly kick it to make sure it’s as good as we can make it, and we’ve slowly uncovered what appears to be an issue…smaller ships are a tad too hard to destroy, while the biggest ships are at a bit too easy.

Now don’t go thinking the whole game is broken. 😉 It’s still solid…and it’s taken a while of playing in a lot of different ways to find this issue (forum members, along with the host of Gen Con demoes and a new team of volunteers, really provided the fantastic feedback to bring this into focus). So I’ve been discussing with a core set of playtesters some ways to address this, after which I’ll send to the full playtest list to see if the patch works.

However, working on the patch itself has been a fascinating exercise in finding how robust the system is. Because it’s a subtle set of tweaks. Can you make those tweaks and maintain all the current “look and roll dice” mechanics that help define the game? Or do you have to tear the game back down slightly and rebuild? Obviously I’ll do anything required to make a game better (even if part of me wants to yell “but it’s done!!!”) and if I have to tear the top end down slightly and re-build, I will…

…but the game designer in me is hoping that no rebuilding will be required. That instead the patch we’re zeroing in on will provide that seamless fit I described above, leaving everyone feeling as they’re tossing dice in a future game that the additional mechanic or two were always meant to be in the game. Because it means the system is as robust as I was trying to make it from the very beginning.

We’ll just have to wait and see….

See ya next duty shift!


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