Monday, January 2, 2012

Pros and Cons of My Game Ideas

As of the time of writing this, I have found that one of the harder aspects of achieving my New Year's Resolution will be simply deciding on just which project to pursue for it.  As I presented in the last post, my Resolution post, I have two different types of games that I have milling about in my head that one of which, with any luck, will be an actual thing by years-end:  A Table-top RPG system (akin to Dungeons and Dragons, Vampire:  The Masquerade, Exalted, etc.) with the lore and such, or a Trading Card/Tactics/Board-style hybrid game in the vein of Metal Gear Ac!d that would, presumably, also have a bit of lore surrounding it depending on what form it takes.  There's cons on the surface of either project that basically amount to "Making a game is pretty tough", but in thinking about it, each game has their own various drawbacks, but also their own rewards that the other probably can't replicate.  I imagine really parsing them both out here will help me make sense of which I should really go with better than not.

The Card Game:

The obvious first issue with making a Card game in the way I'm envisioning is basically that it already exists in the shells of Metal Gear Ac!d and Metal Gear Ac!d 2, which means that I have to design it specifically around not being either of those games as much as possible because 1) this has to be my own thing and 2) I don't want to 'rip off' anything.  Being able to say "inspired by" while people can acknowledge it's a different thing (beyond the fact that it'll use things that aren't Metal Gear) is the goal, obviously, but having kind of a restriction in that vein is a troublesome one.  If only because I can't remember a lot of MGA besides fun and grinding for more cards obsessively, so I don't remember the ups and downs of the system in place there.  This means that for every mechanic and idea I have, I have to make sure it's not a rip from the games in question, because, again, this has to be at least mostly original on my part.  Which also means that I also have to determine what would, theoretically be a 'straight-rip' and what's more or less just a viable open idea.  More or less the difference between figuring on 'numbers on cards = movement value' being 'okay to use' or 'nope, too much theirs' and the like.

The other big downside is obviously that for a card-based game to be viable, there has to be a lot of cards which I may or may not be able to really make up.  For one, I'm not much of an artist, so I couldn't do the visualizations and would just, instead, have a bunch of cards made up with a spot for images that aren't there, leaving me to have to have someone else make those.  Then again, that's mostly cosmetic and I should more focus on the mechanics of it all, but I have to figure out at least some of this stuff beforehand, if just for a mental picture.  Still, knowing that a lot of cards are necessary, possibly in the 100-200 range depending on how I take this, makes it a slight bit intimidating thinking about making any of them since there'll always be the looming "One down 132 to go" feeling hanging over me.  Maybe I'm overshooting a bit, or overestimating just how difficult making that many cards would be, but I'm not quite sure.

The last real big Con against this idea is the fact that it's whole concept in my mind is a bit nebulous, at least when it's compared to the setting of my RPG that is.  It wasn't until just earlier today that I really got a glimpse into the 'world' I would like to base the game around and I was fairly surprised by what I was looking at.  More or less what I've settled on is having it set up so that the lowest amount of players is 2, where one will control the 'Main Character' (of which there will probably be a few, each having their own pros and cons) and the other player will control the 'Opposing Force',  (which will probably work on the 'strength in numbers' philosophy as so many game 'armies' do) where the ultimate goal for the MC is to get to a certain point, pick up objectives, kill a certain person (or persons) on the board or whatever else they decide on, whereas the goal of the OF will generally be to wipe out the MC (though there are possibilities for other things).  Other players would be handled differently in sort of a Free-for-All basis where just because one person plays OF and two people each play an MC doesn't mean those two players are working together.

The upside here is that in just writing this and talking to Saki-Chan as I do so, I've expanded a lot on my original idea in various ways, so the last con there is less true, but only slightly so.  As well as that, just thinking all this up has me so excited that I can't keep my ideas straight and it's got my brain working overtime.  In general terms of viability, I imagine this would be the idea out of the two that's more apt for being more approachable; something where the rules are a little more set and concrete over a Tabletop RPG, and it leads more for quicker play sessions, though they could be as drawn-out as the players wished, depending on the objectives set and the factions/characters used.  So I guess the condensed version of the Pros section would be that it's more accessible, more portable (the idea in my head currently is being able to have a pack thing for one or two decks, a figure or figures depending on what you use, and a couple fold-out maps), and more flexible in terms of session time meaning players could determine their own level of time invested.

The Tabletop RPG:

The first and biggest issue with making a Tabletop RPG is that, by its own nature, you have to make your own world and lore which implies every little bit of detail you'd infer from that statement.  Every character has to be able to come from 'something', to have their own baggage by virtue of being one thing or another, and to have their own advantages for the same reason.  The world has to live and breathe before you hand it to players for them to shape their own portion of it in their image, because first it has to attract them with that life to convince them to create in it.  You have to offer your world as an outlet for them to plug into, not unlike a video game, whereas giving them enough tools and freedom to use as much or as little of what you've made for their own whims.  And in that same vein, you have to understand that some people just aren't going to like certain aspects, so you have to leave it flexible enough to work around those aspects or exclude them outright.

The con in itself is worth like five or so because it's the umbrella for every part of the game that you have to create which is an issue in itself.  Mechanics, characters, how enemies work, what is the world made of and what happened in its past, you have to make everything but a plot the characters have to follow because that's where the GM steps in, and they could want to step in at any angle, meaning you have to leave things open enough for them to do that easily.  I'm struggling to find ways to make that more apparent, but all I can think of to do is to just state that and reinforce it by saying it again in different ways.  You almost have to play a game with yourself of getting things to the point where a theoretical starting point for most campaigns would be (insomuch as 'the world looks like this, currently', where is where most GMs would take it from, since that point generally offers the most flexibility.  Where others will want to take a more 'changing/reinforcing history' route.) and by that point, you have to have everything else set in stone which might point out its flaws in doing so meaning you have to double-back on it all.

I guess the good part of this is that I already have some of this stuff figured out.  I have a world in concept already which is flexible enough to let me have a past, the moment things started happening and their 'end point' which is that theoretical starting point for most campaigns.  It's not perfect and it needs fleshing out, but it has more substance to it than the Card game since this isn't the first time I've really thought about it.  In truth, I've had this idea for upwards of....maybe a year, actually, and have only put small efforts into making it something more than it is.  Ideas for this and that have been put down on the overall map of the game, but I need to make them more than they are, to make them actually viable things rather than a 'neat idea' for a mechanic, or theoretical approaches to a certain action like crafting or something like that.  The fact that it's started is welcome, but the expanse of work is probably greater than I could expect with the card game, if only in the theorizing of everything.

Still, the overall reward would be greater in that I'll have made something that will always be more than it is; because it's a world incomplete on purpose the people who buy into it and get into it will always get more out of it than you could give them were it anything else.  You're giving them a means to create an adventure that they'll always remember and always associate with what you started and that's going to be a feeling you'll never really be able to quantify well enough.  Only if it's executed well enough, that is, as nobody wants to play, to make something, with shoddy tools when there are plenty of other more viable building materials out there.  While that's true for both game ideas I have, I feel it's moreso with this one, since I'll certainly be creating more for this than the card game, which means there's more to lose if I don't manage to get something good going.

I have my work cut out for me regardless of which option I go for.  The fact that I want to go after both, that I'm literally sitting here near-trembling in excitement at the prospect of creating this or that for either game just as willingly as the other is a good sign for me though.  I'm really ready to go at this with both barrels once I know what I'm going at, which means that I'm pretty optimistic about my chances here.  Hopefully that optimism helps actually create, instead of just getting me worked up about something I can't put together.  I'm pretty confident though, seeing as the last thing I decided to go at like this was this blog.

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