SPWA Week 0 Response: A Strong Start

As mentioned in the rules for So Play We All, we’re required to respond to each other’s progress update. I’m going to be doing the Oaqn progress updates on that blog but the feedback here, mostly to keep that blog focused.

Showing off his superior time management skills, Jim quickly posted about Allabrilyn. It sounds like a collectible card game (or maybe LCG). That the collectible elements are units for a tactical game is… awfully familiar.

I dropped Athenge as a project because I realized I love the genre, but it’s actually really uncommon. Tactical wargames have a hardcore fanbase (a blessing and a curse), but it’s certainly not a big one. And building a game around PVP that’s mostly based on the player’s skill progression means there’s going to be a lot of dissatisfied bad players who don’t want to participate. So I think it’s great that Jim is building my kind of game, but I worry about his market. (And Jim – don’t just sell random packs, add a premium currency that players can use to auction/sell cards between themselves with so that you don’t create a secondary market that gives you support hassles but not income.)

Next up, Luke explained Fantasy Adventure Game. I loved this post (though of course, not so much that I voted for it over myself). He’s immediately willing to be imperfect in public by beginning with a terrible working title. It’s a great sign for getting over embarrassment to develop something great. I’m terribly jealous that he included financial info from the start; I’d wanted to but it slipped my mind. More guts!

As for the game itself, it leaves me a little flat. I’ve seen too many games default to fantasy; I hope he finds ways to turn his ignorance into interesting genre redefinition rather than middle-of-the-road generictown. It really sounds like it’s a single-player RPG (having not played KOL), so I think he’s going to have problems with producing content (items, quests, skills, etc.). Multiplayer interaction, competitive or cooperative, is wonderful content because you can set up systems that players fill up with content. It takes a fraction of the time to code a PVP game like chess than it does to write a text adventure like Adventure, and chess is probably fun for far longer because it becomes about other people, and people are interested in people.

I also have one criticism to level at both games: there’s nothing for the player to identify with. In Oaqn, the player controls a single caravan, that’s them in the world. (And I very likely will add some kind of human player avatar to play dress-up with eventually, because that’s even better.) In Allabrilyn and FA, the player controls a collection of characters, so there’s nothing for them to feel represented by or invest in the well-being of. This is why RPGs (and many other games) have a heroic mime character leading the party, so the player has an empty template to fill up with their personality. It’s much harder to do that with a deck of cards or a small troupe, and it’s a powerful motivator for casual online games.

My lengthy braindump rocked this week’s poll, with 6 votes for me, 1 for FA, and 0 for Jim (who I guess is not even active enough on the forums anymore to even vote for himself). I’m happy for that, but I think I’m going to face stiff competition that’s constantly thinking of things I’ve missed. So all I can do is plan to steal those things like revenue details for next week, muahaha! (Speaking of which, I’d better go put in my hours before I wind up owing these guys money.)

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