image kindly stolen from rockpapershotgun.com
I spent some time with the single-player demo of new dragon-based scrounge-’em-up Hoard
a few days ago. It was fairly good fun and an interesting concept: you get ahead not by destroying your opponents, but by collecting more loot than anyone else — which of course entails destroying your opponents as you battle for the best piles of gold. But I like that the mechanic is not directly about roasting your fellow dragoneers — you could imagine a round of Hoard in which no PvP combat took place at all. It would be no less competitive for it, though maybe a bit less fun. Unfortunately, Hoard looks to be a bit thin beyond the basics, which is too bad, as I see a deep vein to be mined here.
I’m interested in systems like these because the game I’m working on is based on a similar mechanic. Winning is not a matter of killing more enemies, conquering more territory, or being the last man standing. Instead, it’s a matter of accumulating a larger portion of the map’s finite resources before the end of the round. Continue reading
One question I’ve been pondering as I go about designing a strategy game is that of clarity in game mechanics, and in combat systems in particular. Committed players of strategy games (and many other genres, for that matter) have long taken joy in pulling apart the math behind the combat resolution systems that drive the games they play, in part to seek an advantage or upper hand and in part out of simple fascination. This description of the mass queen experiment from the StarCraft2 Hacks blog is a great example. It runs through a bunch of math, based on things like minerals, gas, queens, hatcheries, food, game time, energy, “transfuses,” injections and more, and comes to the colorful but perhaps surprising conclusion that “Queens are better cost effective healers than Medivacs.” Food for thought.
What’s interesting to me is the question of where a combat system might lie on the spectrum from transparency to obfuscation (through complexity or by other means), how that stacks up against the combat results you as a designer want to produce, and whether a game is any the better or worse for your equations and calculations being deeply buried, or riding on the surface of play. Continue reading