Wednesday, 6 April 2011

The game...

Rather like the fact that I enjoy writing but don't read a lot of books (yeah, I'm weird), I also have a great interest in the mechanisms and presentation of wargames. It's a fascinating subject that I have dipped my toe into a few times either regarding rules mechanics or background material.

A lot of people know about my sculpting and painting but it's less known that I was involved in the development of the Dark Age game based on the art of Brom. My rules work there was basically looking broadly at the system and playing devil's advocate on the ideas, mostly with a push towards making things more elegant. I also had the opportunity to write the background for the Brood faction and that was interesting in itself. It's perhaps ironic that as one of their lead sculptors at the time I wrote the background for an army that I didn't sculpt a single figure for. I also got a chance, with a colleague, to write a skirmish system for a major license that never came to be and that was great fun as it was literally ground up development. I spent a lot of time looking for redundant rules and stats attempting to make the simplest ruleset possible without sacrificing anything that we wanted to achieve. Worked kind of well actually...

Anyway, this was years ago and I haven't really done anything similar since the early 2000s. I have, however, been thinking a lot about games of late. In the last few years there has been something of an explosion of games systems with their requisite minis ranges. Currently I'm very much looking forward to taking a look at Black Scorpion Miniatures Cutlass game. I have the feeling of getting something a bit different from it so it'll be interesting to see how it stacks up. That all said, I'll have to get the rulebook just for the design and layout produced by Tears of Envy who often gets mentioned in these parts (can't help it, I'm a fan).

So, what am I thinking about? Well, you'll forgive me not going into detail but my thoughts are largely broad right now. It's one of my favourite parts of the process: the big picture. I like to ask myself what really marks this product out as different and what does it offer to the purchaser that they don't get elsewhere. It's something of a balancing act too. It's easy to say that you'll use an unusual genre but this can often alienate an audience. I'd rather find a reason that would work even if the product was generic fantasy/sf. That's a tough one. Such points tend to be a meta-reason, outside of the product itself. One of the great successes of Pokemon was apparently an early meeting in which they basically built the idea out of a discussion on basic human nature and drives. All the stuff about collecting, owning pets, competition and a killer tagline. Gotta catch 'em all. Not rocket science but the product is finely tuned to hit it's market hard. I'm not someone who buys into something like Pokemon's success just being 'right place, right time'.

So, is there something out there that isn't being done? Is there a gap in the market, a product not being served? If so, what should that product be. Well, a few thoughts have come to mind out of that broad left field. Ideas that I like and would be interested in exploring. If nothing else, it's a laugh to think about...

That was probably another of my aimless rambles. Side effect of a stream of consciousness blog like mine. Sometimes it's just going to be a ramble. I'll try to offer something a little more cohesive and informative soon... still need to write that article on what the hell an undercut is...


  1. I think there is a lot of stuff not being presented in mini games right now. I personally feel there is a complete lack of a scalable game, meaning something that could be played as a skirmish game focusing on a scenario that could also use the same mini's and broaden it out to a warhammer sized game and further than that if desired.

    I'm also a sucker for anything post apoc. There's systems out there that work for it but I'd like a more realized campaign style game that could let me cash in on my fallout craze.

    I'm also a big fan of ANY game that uses seperate objectives for each player. Either Secret or known. Most scenario games have one side trying to do x and the other side trying to stop it. I have on occasion played games where the objectives were different for the two sides and it made for a much more interesting experience. Never got dull!
    -Scott Radom

  2. Skirmish games seems to be where the trend lies. Hectic lifestyles and lack of time for hobby's seems to be the major factor of the success of the skirmish based game. Scaleable games are hard to get right. It seems that scaleable games don't do exceptionally well, take a look at the transition of lotr to war of the ring, or confrontation to its epic battles system.

    Differences in games seems to need to come from a simple games mechanic variation without drifting too far from the norm. Black scorpions cutlass will use dice for stats, Malifaux uses cards instead of dice, warmachine uses unique abilities etc.

  3. I'm interested. I'd love to see what you came up with, and as the comments here suggest, there's always an audience.

    Scott Radom and seem to think alike, and I agree with DaveK on the reason for popularity and difficulty of scaleability.