Status report!

At pax this last year I told people to check my site in a month for a playtest edition, and as the months have passed I kept saying that, (I have the disclaimer for a reason). This is not because nothing is being done it’s because I keep moving my goal and setting higher standards for the playtest release. At least for the moment I have a solid goal and am working each day to reach it

I thought it would be fun to share a little of my progress in the down time.

System: Since pax the rules have received a major new addition and some fairly significant subtractions. The biggest change are how a character’s stats rise and fall over the course of a challenge. This “boost and tax“ mechanism encourages dynamic and interesting scenes from both a narrative and gameplay perspective. The shifting stats mean you rarely use the same action twice in a row. Don’t worry thought the boost and tax are easy to keep track of thanks to tokens and smart use of symbols.

look at the old & new action formats

I rewrote every action and power in the game to accommodate this change!

cards: big changes were made to the cards. here just look at ’em

Just building the new deck of cards created well over 200 files. That is nearly half of the files I have made in my 2+ years of developing seed rpg!

rules presentation: I’m currently in the process expanding the rules presentation from the pax demo into a quick start for the playtest, I have a hand written “ruff” that will be getting typed out later this week.

That’s just a small sampling of what I have been doing during this endless “month” away from release! Will the play test kit be released in a month? who knows, i’m going to quote the best game developers in the world and say “it’s done when it’s done”.

PS. I have brought many projects to completion over the years. I’m not a perfectionist who never finishes anything, I’m simply giving this turkey enough time in the oven.

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new card design

Some day I will do a very long post detailing the development of the cards for this game. For now enjoy these previews (click image for readable versions).

Play 0 hunters at MEWcon!

Just a quick post to say I will be attending mewcon and running a few play tests during the show and helping out at the very first Cel*Style booth! Mewcon is an anime con in Portland on new year’s weekend. If you like anime conventions this sounds like a good one.

here is a link to the con’s site http://www.mewcon.com/

abstract study

This is an abstract study of the first piece of card artwork for 0hunters. doing little abstracts like this digitally helps me test color combinations and shape armament’s before i commit with paint. like a thumbnail sketch helps me find the right poses and composition, this helps me find the right colors.

Not sure I will do something like this for every piece of artwork in the game, I’m trying to do some card types as if they were a series of painting you may find in a gallery. Some cards may have more functional art, perhaps a bit less extravagant.

experimenting

I’m playing around with the card layouts a bit today, that card artwork is by Mucha! who i’m going to say is the my artistic influence for this project. I think I need to add a very slight bezel to the card elements to make them stick out a bit more.

If your wondering why nothing “launched” in October  it’s because I was handed a sweet project that had to be done in October instead of finishing up my alpha playtest kit for 0 hunters. The job should prove worth the delay.

card layout

Here are some card layouts from the playtest kit. These are the front of the cards, the large white space will eventually be filled with artwork. Card fronts are designed to help player’s make choices, bold flavor text and art work give players enough information to make a choice without any knowledge of how the game works. These choices are not strategic in nature but more about creativity or narrative preference. Players can emotionally invest in their character before they have to learn rules.

The color coded boarders help players organize card collections. The borders will bleed to the edge of the card meaning you could look at the edge of a deck of cards and identify each card’s type. This is helpful as the game will launch with around 10 types of cards. I expect the game will have around 30-40 unique card types in a few years.

While most card types have a unique layout for the front, the card backs are more similar. If the card looks incredibly dense with information that’s because it is. Once you know the rules it’s easy to understand and use. All that info means 6 pokersize cards are all high level characters need, this includes all the rules a player would need to play the game. This minimizes table clutter and maximizes the value of your purchase.

A Token effort…

Here is the play test kit’s token sheet. These tokens help track effects during a challenge scene. Your actions can protect you from a particular action type (the circles) or boost or lower a combatant’s stats (the squares).  This helps the game build interesting situations and context without requiring complex and unwieldy maps or miniatures. The colors are there to help players easily sort their own set of tokens.

One side of the tokens have color the other side is b&w. Each token is 8.5 mm square. I hope to print the production tokens on something like 2.5mm or 3mm  punch board. the ones I made for my prototype on that size of board feel really nice and chunky.

Changing the role of this blog.

I have mostly been posting theory articles here. While writing these has been very beneficial to my working process. Now that I have a clear idea of how to express my game in writing, it’s time to stop talking and start doing. I may still write a little theory if it’s necessary but expect me to start posting more work in progress shots, and if I get really ahead of schedule I may do an article covering the total development cycle of seed RPG (bits and pieces of the game have been worked on for a few years). Anyway enjoy this image of what is probably the new challenge action layout, it wont make any sense yet but I would feel bad if I did two posts in a row without image.

Note: The blog is now titled “fruit” I feel it’s a more accurate name for the goals of this blog, that goal being the true and best form of advertising. Something that tastes good, is nutritious and still spreads the brand. I think I will call this “fruit marketing” to impress people who have more money then I do.

Second Note: If you like amine culture and such you will be interested in www.celstyle.com a few other indie publishers and I are making a brand so we can better reach people of like mind. People who understand amine is not a genera, it’s the product of a whole nation of individuals that take graphic storytelling seriously.

check livingdice.com for a little more blogging

Hi! thanks for dropping by, were you linked here from the guest article I wrote at Livingdice? If so here is a little recommended reading.

Read about plot structure and how gameplay will inspire your storytelling

Read about the specifics of character action and narration

Read about the demo I ran at PAX

also check out the pages linked near the top of this site for basic information.

Why use cards? About player activity

One thing I did at pax was try to talk to a designer who’s panels about rpg’s I have really appreciated. It was Sunday, and pax had drained me to the point where I was fairly incoherent, but the guy was still very nice to me, even still I felt a little silly for starting the conversation without a good idea of what to say. I think the spirit of the game design community is great, experienced designers are usually very open and sharing with new designers. It’s a tradition I hope to continue.

We talked about the difficulties of producing cards. There are very good reasons you dont see many rpgs use custom cards, and even more reasons why you dont see rpgs go whole hog and format everything as cards. It’s hard hard work, take a look at any card game you own. Each card in that deck was probably assembled individually in a graphics editor, back when I started prototyping card games I figured there would be this great program that made the process easy. Nope, the only thing that makes it happen is sweat. (i’m sure some people use data bases, as if I could figure that out)

I don’t want to complain about the work, I want to explain why cards are worth this effort. In his panels the designer I spoke with drove home the idea of player activity. No one at an rpg table is actually fighting a war or being an elf. They are reading a book, contributing to a story, rolling dice and writing on a piece of paper. The war and elfdom are the fictional action, not the player activity. While cards do not change the fictional action they dramatically effect player activity.

Books as a form of entertainment are usually linear, and usually enjoyed alone. They can be discussed in groups but the physical arrangement of pages makes comparing two distant pages in a single book a little tricky, using books to play a game is a very specific kind of player activity. Take a look at something like trading cards. Cards don’t do linear stories that well, but it’s easy to compare information on two different cards. This is one reason why sports fans enjoy cards, they can look at a player’s stats on one card and compare them to another player’s stats on a different card. Using cards to play a game is also a very specific kind of player activity. This is just one small point to illustrate the differences between cards and books, there are many others.

Trying to take a form of entertainment like an rpg and make it use cards brings up a lot of questions. What information do you take out of the book and make into cards? How do the cards function on the table. Finally how do you organize these cards into sensible products people can actually afford?

Most RPGs that use cards as content and even miniatures games that use cards still lean on the same book formats these genres were built on. This is fine but I feel trying to have it both ways is often more work and expense then is necessary or even enjoyable. Seed rpg does not lean on it’s rule book as a source for game content. The rule book is much like you would find in a modern board game, it’s only real job is to guide you for your first few games. The hart of the game’s content is in it’s deck of cards.

Cards deliver enough content to inspire your stories. Cards make your choices clear and keep the rules accessible while in play. It’s this format that has inspired the whole of how SeedRPG works. When it comes to player activity the messenger is the message.