Archive for month: May, 2015

Everybody’s Gone Out Of Their Minds

31 May
May 31, 2015

I’ve finally gotten a chance to watch Mad Max: Fury Road, and I have to say: it totally lived up to the hype. What an amazing piece of cinema. I left the theater with a huge grin on my face, and an urge to immediately watch it again.

I’m going to post up a few thoughts on the movie here on the blog, as I digest the experience.

Brain Pain

26 May
May 26, 2015

Man, but balancing System Crash is a gigantic pain in the ass.

Just impossible to handcraft ~100 missions. All I can do is setup distribution tables and hope my maths works out.

If it doesn’t, the difficulty ‘curve’ is gonna look like something a lie detector machine strapped to a politician would spit out. :p

If I could time travel, I’d go back and slap the younger me who thought “Yeah, a card game, that’ll be an easy project”. -_-

Screenshot Sunday

24 May
May 24, 2015

Rewards

Reward screen now colours rewards by rarity, more exciting.

The psychology of presentation is interesting. Giving people a rare reward isn’t that exciting unless the game makes a fuss about it. Blizzard are great at that kind of thing, Hearthstone has a bunch of little cues that add up to a juicy experience.

I’m still learning. 😛

Talking to Make Games

20 May
May 20, 2015

I was out of town last week, flying up to Joburg for the day job.

It wasn’t ALL business, though. I got in some great board gaming, Cyclades continues to be fantastic and I finally played some Dominion, which was enough to put it on my “future buys” list.

I also gave a talk on System Crash to the Joburg Make Games community, discussing development, design decisions, challenges faced, etc.

Luckily it was recorded (thanks, Eugene!). So, for your enjoyment, dear blog reader, I present my talk. 🙂

(It picks up once we actually get the game running properly, past the text intro bits)

Those Cyberpunk Vibes

10 May
May 10, 2015

Writing is an interesting activity. It’s fairly close to acting, I feel, in that when I write I have to try to put myself into the mindset of my characters in order to write them. I have to try to feel their emotions, perceive their world as they perceive it. I have to reach deep down into myself and draw out the mood and tone of that imaginary place somehow, weaving it out of my own memories and imagination.

Good music helps. Music has a tremendous power to evoke emotion, we react to audio on a very primal level. Before I start writing, I like to load a selection of tracks tailored to opening up the pathways to those inner spaces.

Since I’m writing cyberpunk at the moment, that means a selection of electronica, 80s nostalgia synth, and urban-tribal grungey beats. Not forgetting soundtracks from classic cyberpunk movies like Blade Runner, of course. 😉

Here are some of the artists/tracks that I like to write to.

Nero

Blade Runner Blues

Carpenter Brut

Dredd Soundtrack

Tron soundtrack

Pseudo-Card Sets

04 May
May 4, 2015

System Crash doesn’t have card sets in the same was as other CCGs.

The cards are not divided by colour, like Magic the Gathering:

350px-Color_Wheel

Nor are there character classes with class-specific cards, like Hearthstone:

hearhstone_2

I wish I could say that choice was made for the sake of a clever design, but no; the real reason is a far more tawdry one – money. I tried to split cards according to faction, but that always left me with too few “common” cards. There were always gaps in deck-building options.

In the end the approach I decided on was to allow any card in any deck and to try and encourage the idea that certain cards go together through the use of synergies. In other words, certain card combinations work much more effectively than others. Canny players, once they learn these synergies, will gravitate toward building their decks around them. And since there are more cards than can fit into any one deck, that will mean they need to make trade-offs.

Which should help avoid the primary problem with allowing any deck to contain any card – that people could simply build a deck with the most effective cards for any situation. The best Agents, the best Direct Damage, the best Resources Boosters, the best Crowd Control. That’s not what we want, that isn’t fun.

So synergy sets form what might be considered “pseudo-card sets” in SC. And core to those synergies are the card subtypes.

Each card is one of the basic types: Agent, Event, Modifier or Support. The basic types are then further sub-divided into subtypes (although certain subtypes are represented across multiple basic types).

One Agent may have the Law subtype, indicating that it is part of one of the game world’s law enforcement agencies. Another Agent may be a Criminal, a member of the criminal underworld. I try to differentiate these subtypes through mechanics.

Law Agents, for example, get group synergies for having other Law agents in play, and have strong armor. They also synergize well with the Mech subtype.

TacSquad

Whereas Criminal cards involve a high-risk, high-reward strategy. Criminal agents are powerful for their Credit cost, but playing one often invokes an extra cost for the player, representing the “Devil’s Bargain” you need to enter into to call on those treacherous allies. They synergize well with the Deception subtype (an Event subtype), and have ways to debuff opponents.

JessRazor

The Anarch subtype are raiders, terrorists and street gangers. Their mechanics focus on speed and overwhelming an opponent with early aggression. They’re the Rush archetype. The Haste ability features in their set, and they have a number of powerful synergies for getting Anarch Agents on the board quickly and buffing their attack.

They don’t have the staying power of other Agents, long-term, but they can dominate the early game.

Blackjack

Subtypes can also be further specialized by additional subtypes. Yakuza cards, for example, are a subtype of the Criminal set.

Circles

Importantly, the more narrow/specialized a subtype, the more powerful the synergies between cards that focus on that subtype.

A card that affects Agents generally won’t be as powerful as a card that affects only Criminal Agents. And a card that affects Criminals won’t be as powerful as a card that affects only Yakuza Criminals.

For example:

Take Cover affects all Agents, and isn’t particularly powerful.
TakeCover

MetroSec Blockade affects only Law Agents. It’s the same cost as Take Cover, but the effect is twice as strong.
Blockade

Little Tokyo affects only Yakuza Agents. It’s more specialized than Blockade and it’s also more powerful. It costs 33% more, but the effect is twice as strong.
LitlleTokyo

For interest’s sake, I’ll end off with the full list of card subtypes in System Crash (so far):

Multi-Type Keywords
Program – all software cards
Deception – cards which aren’t direct attacks or buffs/debuffs, but which manipulate the player or enemies’ resources and agents. Tricksy tricks (support or event cards)
Connection – cards which represent an ally or resource the player can call on indirectly for support or resources (support or event cards).
Deck – a device for enhancing hacking abilities (support or modifier cards).

Support Subtypes
Security – security systems and devices. Cameras, turrets etc.
Tactic – battlefield manoeuvers granting buffs and debuffs to agents in combat.
ICE – long-term cyberspace defenses, firewalls etc.
Virus – code that infects an enemy system over time, to that enemies detriment.
AI – Intelligent programs.

Modifier Subtypes
Implant – a cybernetic upgrade for an Agent
Weapon
Armor
Firearm
Ammo
Chem – any kind of chemical agent, whether a stim, poison etc.

Event Subtypes
Assault – Cards that destroy or directly damage other cards.
Exploit – Cards that exploit weaknesses in computer systems but which aren’t programs.
ICEBreaker – code that destroys or damages ICE.
Utility – a software tool.

Agent Subtypes
Criminal – Agents who corrupt or circumvent societies laws for profit. Syndicates, assassins, burglars
Anarch – Agents who spit on societies laws and conventions, living off-grid and making their own rules. Free spirits, street gangers, terrorists, raiders and reavers.
Corp – Agents of the megacorporations who run the world. Zaibatsu men and women, corporate security forces etc.
Law – Agents of law enforcement. MetroSec, detectives etc. Some upstanding, many corrupt, selling their services to the corps.
Runner – Grey and black-market mercs and soldiers of fortune, characters who make their living in the shadows cast by the glass and steel towers of the megacorps.
*Media – Agents of the media networks, celebrities, journalists.
Mech – Robots, androids.

Agent Sub-Subtypes
Yakuza – Members of the Japanese Yakuza crime syndicate.

*Media agents aren’t in the game yet, but are planned for future SC expansions.

Scratching An Itch

03 May
May 3, 2015

Ahhhh, much better! That’s been bugging me for ages.

CircuitsComparison

Screenshot Saturday

02 May
May 2, 2015

Been testing out some new cards and mechanical tweaks…

Match 1, Metropolitan Security Forces (MetroSec) vs Yakuza.

MetroSec rallies a bit toward the end with that Special Response Team and a few Support buffs, but multiple Wei Lees buffed by Little Tokyo prove too lethal. Like a meat thresher. A meat thresher made of sexy, vat-bred Japanese assassin chicks.

You can’t win with control of only one lane, Practice Opponent.

YakuzaVsMetroSec2

Match 2, Metropolitan Security Forces (MetroSec) vs Anarch rush deck.

Too much pressure, too quickly. MetroSec goes down. I think I need to nerf Kim Kardashian, I mean Selina Monroe. Her +2 Attack for every other Anarch card in play ability is hellova strong.

AnarchWin

Match 3, Metropolitan Security Forces (MetroSec) vs Yakuza again.

I AM THE LAW.

IAmTheLaw