Sunday, December 7, 2014

Code Red - Dev Diary 11: List Building

Hello again,

I´ve been struggling with myself if I should write another DD today or not. I haven´t had much time this week and progress has been slow. But I decided I can´t break the schedule that easily, so this one will be a shorty.

We´re moving on to the scenario generator. My vision has already been outlined in one of the very early conceptual DDs. I want to design a system that combines the best aspects of point based gaming and scenarios.

The point-based system is very well suited to pick-up games, each player brings along his list, you set up the table and just go and play. I feel like this aspect is very popular with many gamers and certainly an mechanism that most of the "big" gaming systems out there have in common.

What people don´t like about this approach and why scenarios are so popular is that you´ll almost never see the kind of balanced engagements that standard point systems produce in reality, so they´ll always feel rather artificial. More often than not, one side has an inherent advantage over the other, either more material, better equipment or training, etc.

As outlined earlier, I can´t imagine any good reason why these two aspects can´t be combined into a single game mechanism. Scenarios are usually balanced by giving the inferior side easier objectives or by restrictions to the superior side (like rules of engagement and such).
Why can´t we give these point values as well?

This is the basic idea we used for list building. A list contains troops, support, objectives, circumstances, etc., all valued with a certain point value. As with your usual Warhammer, FoG- or Battlegroup-game, you set up your list by combining these in any fashion allowed by the restrictions of the list until you hit your scenario point value.

Now two people can bring along their list and a scenario is born. The trick is that you will chose the objective for your opponent when building your list, so you cannot min-max your list according to YOUR objective (as this one will be set by your opponent). It also means that objectives that are more difficult to fulfil for your opponent will be more expensive, so you will have less troops available to defend it and reach your own objective.

 The exact details and balancing the system are still work in progress, the basic idea so far seems to work. It´s a daunting task to get all the tiny details right, especially regarding the objectives - things can go wrong from time to time and we have to test more thoroughly to erase all the glitches that can be set up with this system, but I´m confident that given enough time we can work out a good and solid framework for people to design their own scenarios as a standard game.

More details next week, I hope you are not too disappointed with this rather shallow entry :/


  1. Agreed. A point system doesn't mean that you can't have realistic scenarios. I balance my scenarios with the point system available at the Ambushalleygames forums. Recommend that you make a by-figure system, though. The fire team system at the Force on Force forums isn't so bad that I want to turn it into a by-figure system, but I wish that it had been set up that way from the start.

    1. Hey,

      the point system is indeed based on figures (at least the very skeleton that I use to calculate the rest of the lists), but you´ll usually have to buy the forces according to their real configuration. So as a player, you´ll usually buy a squad of infantry rather than a single rifleman and have different upgrade or downgra options availabale to buff or debuff the unit. Otherwise the point system might crush the command and control aspects and allow weird troop combinations you wouldn´t see in reality.
      I´ll give a more detailed overview of what the lists look like and how you can set up and tailor your forces next week I think.