Switch Theme:

Designing A Wargame-What Are The Essentials? And General Advice  [RSS] Share on facebook Share on Twitter Submit to Reddit
»
Author Message
Advert


Forum adverts like this one are shown to any user who is not logged in. Join us by filling out a tiny 3 field form and you will get your own, free, dakka user account which gives a good range of benefits to you:
  • No adverts like this in the forums anymore.
  • Times and dates in your local timezone.
  • Full tracking of what you have read so you can skip to your first unread post, easily see what has changed since you last logged in, and easily see what is new at a glance.
  • Email notifications for threads you want to watch closely.
  • Being a part of the oldest wargaming community on the net.
If you are already a member then feel free to login now.




Made in us
Plaguelord Titan Princeps of Nurgle




In My Lab

I'm trying to conceive of a system, but I'm really not sure what I'd consider the ESSENTIALS-what does a wargame NEED?

Beyond that, I could use general advice on creating a wargaming system.

Clocks for the clockmaker! Cogs for the cog throne! 
   
Made in gb
Dakka Veteran






First thing is to have a really good idea of what you want the game to do, and then stick to it. Good example is a death race game I tried to make; after a good start, I got bogged down with boarding, and people falling off, now there's people on the ground to account for, and it devolved into a very messy skirmish game with a whole host of mechanics which didn't work together.
As such, if you have any more ideas which don't really fit, write them down and put them in something else.
Fluff and mechanics have a few linking features, but for the most part, fluff can be applied alongside the game. for example, if the fluff says that these guys were created by a god and are thousands of years old and can walk through walls, the only relevant part to the game mechanics is walking through walls. As such you could split your fluff into "What they can do" and "Why they can do it". "why" is just stories, "What" needs be have game mechanics for it.

most of the time special abilities will be reflected by overriding the basic rules, so you don't have to worry about them as much. But if you have tricky ones, like stopping or reversing time, then you may have to get creative in how you will ultimately make it work.

What the mechanics of the game need are:

Actions: what the units do, and how they do it
interactions: how the units interact - can they move past or through friendly units, do units have more morale if close to others?
combat: how do units resolve combat? will you go nitty-gritty and have it break into smaller fights, or will you keep it as one unit vs another? can they just walk away, or are they stuck, or can they make a roll to escape?

Morale is an important function in the game - if your dudes will keep doing what you want no matter what, it'll make for a boring game. if they react to having their mates head explode next to them, then that makes it a bit more interesting! Also include pinning, people won't just walk out of cover if the enemy Is unloading a HMG at them.

I tend to think of a theme, then muck around with how to do combat, then work out the fine details and special rules.

4th Edition Orks in 7th, W/D/L 5/0/0 
   
Made in pl
Screaming Shining Spear





First of all, the purpose. Do you want a game that feels like simulation, with "tabletop perspective" playing bigger role than "omnipotent general" player agency or the other way around. In the first case minute details will be reflected in the rules but for the most time players will be more of an CPU doing calculations, with rarely sprinkled decision making. I the second case you will have to decide how much abstraction vs how much detail is really required to catch a wargame feel. One of my favourite wargames of all time is Neuroshima Hex - it has all traits of a wargame (down to unique factions, resource management, placement, movement, terrain, shooting, CC, buffs etc...) in a highly abstracted package - I strongly recommend having a look at it from game design perspective, it has a nice and cheap mobile version. I once started designing a game based on desire to play on ever shifting diorama, with full 3d and unrestricted movement and ended up with a card game, because all interactions that were trully necessary could as well be represented with much simplified representations. Stubbornly sticking to initial outlines when everything you come up with points in totally different direction usually results in an out of place feel of the game. One could argue that this is exactly the case of 8th ed or Warmahordes feeling more like CCGs than historicals. This may be the only way for GW as they exist to produce miniatures, but when making a game from scratch that is a thing to consider.

Secondly, the scope - but not really in a form of a question of "small skirmish with <10 models or an army with... <10 units in it" because they are, in general principle, nearly the same if those two levels are not intermixed. With 10 models you have ten movement decisions, ten target decisions and ten interaction resolutions, same with 10 units per side. You can play WFB with just labelled movement trays and dice counters and still get more meaningfull decision making than with coherency based individual model placements in AOS. Exact terrain interaction rules are mechanics wise the same if they only consider single models or single units. That changes if you want an army level game that still feels like simulation, where those 10 squads consist of 10 independent models with their own layer of interactions. This is where 2nd ed 40K collapsed - resolving squad vs squad combat using model vs model detailed mechanics was completely out of proportions of time vs effects on the global battle landscape.

Next up is development scope - is it "one and done" system or an ongoing development. Because depending on answer to this question comes another one: how much of flavor should come from flexible core rules and how much from exceptions to those rules. You can write a "future proof" system using d100 for everything, with majority of units in the game with stats in 40-60 range just to accomodate those few future outliers with stats around 10 or 90, or you can use d6 and introduce rare occurences of rerolls, d10 or d24. Personally I prefer to have just the very core interactions codified in basic rules and then add uniquness directly, as this allows for greater flavour, but there are a lot of people who would strongly disagree, because they want to be able for every interaction to be the result of common rules, so they don't have to memorize large number of exceptions and some are ok with "this unit is different from that unit over there just because it is slightly better at doing the exact same thing in exactly same way". Thing to remember here is that it is impossible to futureproof for unknown unknowns, so in case of perpetual development every developer has to start introducing new mechanics at one point because discreet set of rules has it's maximum resolution and capacity and you will inevitably get to a place when new idea for unit will either be a copypaste of something already existing or ruleset won't support it at all.

Only after those questions does setting come in - is it ground game, a dogfighting game or a naval game, is it low tech or high tech, rank and file or covert ops etc... - this will define what interactions have to be codified for a full representation of the setting. Next up is should it require heavy terrain investment for rules to produce engaging gameplay or should it be perfectly playable on planet bowling ball or with minimal/symbolic terrain. Physical scale comes last, you can design the whole thing in abstract units and specify if those units are centimeters, inches, hexes or squares only after you know how big of a table would be necessary for resulting gameplay and if it is practical. (and before anybody objects that grid based games are fundamentally different - mathematically they aren't, it's always about some metrics and whether you use "taxi driver metrics" or euclidean one it really does not fundamentally matter for developing intended interactions).

With miniature games come another question - how detailed the models should be and what manufacturing processes wil be used. People constantly complain about 40K scale creep but do not account for plastic having a lot less physical resolution than resin or white metal, or lead requiring beefy rods for polearms to not bend into pretzels. For naval or armoured combat 6-8mm can be enough, for plastic heroes 54mm will be much more appropriate (that is why Guilliman or Abbaddon are so large, plastic just cannot support so much detail in 28-32mm scale). You can compare 4th ed Shadow Seer with it newer plastic incarnation - those are nearly identical sculpts and you can clearly see limitations of plastic process and necessity for enlarging it.

   
Made in us
Horrific Hive Tyrant






Simplify regularly.

Its easy when designing anything to have the mechanics run away from you. Every once in awhile go through each step in any given process and ask, what is this adding? Is it more fun? Is it slowing it down? Is it killing the pacing of the game? Does everyone playing care whats happening and are invested in the game?

It might emulate something you think is beat but if its not making the experience better then cut it and simplify.


These are my opinions. This is how I feel. Others may feel differently. This needs to be stated for some reason.

 JohnHwangDD wrote:

The Nazis were right. It's better to be a Nazi than a fan.

Thank you for getting me on the side of Milo and the Nazis.

 
   
Made in ca
God-like Imperator Titan Commander





Halifax

I think it helps to think of your motivation: Why are you creating this game? What do you want to accomplish?

TITANOMACHINA including Rules, and Print'n'Play.  
   
Made in us
Plaguelord Titan Princeps of Nurgle




In My Lab

some bloke wrote:First thing is to have a really good idea of what you want the game to do, and then stick to it. Good example is a death race game I tried to make; after a good start, I got bogged down with boarding, and people falling off, now there's people on the ground to account for, and it devolved into a very messy skirmish game with a whole host of mechanics which didn't work together.
As such, if you have any more ideas which don't really fit, write them down and put them in something else.
Fluff and mechanics have a few linking features, but for the most part, fluff can be applied alongside the game. for example, if the fluff says that these guys were created by a god and are thousands of years old and can walk through walls, the only relevant part to the game mechanics is walking through walls. As such you could split your fluff into "What they can do" and "Why they can do it". "why" is just stories, "What" needs be have game mechanics for it.

most of the time special abilities will be reflected by overriding the basic rules, so you don't have to worry about them as much. But if you have tricky ones, like stopping or reversing time, then you may have to get creative in how you will ultimately make it work.

What the mechanics of the game need are:

Actions: what the units do, and how they do it
interactions: how the units interact - can they move past or through friendly units, do units have more morale if close to others?
combat: how do units resolve combat? will you go nitty-gritty and have it break into smaller fights, or will you keep it as one unit vs another? can they just walk away, or are they stuck, or can they make a roll to escape?

Morale is an important function in the game - if your dudes will keep doing what you want no matter what, it'll make for a boring game. if they react to having their mates head explode next to them, then that makes it a bit more interesting! Also include pinning, people won't just walk out of cover if the enemy Is unloading a HMG at them.

I tend to think of a theme, then muck around with how to do combat, then work out the fine details and special rules.


This is some solid advice.

nou wrote:First of all, the purpose. Do you want a game that feels like simulation, with "tabletop perspective" playing bigger role than "omnipotent general" player agency or the other way around. In the first case minute details will be reflected in the rules but for the most time players will be more of an CPU doing calculations, with rarely sprinkled decision making. I the second case you will have to decide how much abstraction vs how much detail is really required to catch a wargame feel. One of my favourite wargames of all time is Neuroshima Hex - it has all traits of a wargame (down to unique factions, resource management, placement, movement, terrain, shooting, CC, buffs etc...) in a highly abstracted package - I strongly recommend having a look at it from game design perspective, it has a nice and cheap mobile version. I once started designing a game based on desire to play on ever shifting diorama, with full 3d and unrestricted movement and ended up with a card game, because all interactions that were trully necessary could as well be represented with much simplified representations. Stubbornly sticking to initial outlines when everything you come up with points in totally different direction usually results in an out of place feel of the game. One could argue that this is exactly the case of 8th ed or Warmahordes feeling more like CCGs than historicals. This may be the only way for GW as they exist to produce miniatures, but when making a game from scratch that is a thing to consider.

Secondly, the scope - but not really in a form of a question of "small skirmish with <10 models or an army with... <10 units in it" because they are, in general principle, nearly the same if those two levels are not intermixed. With 10 models you have ten movement decisions, ten target decisions and ten interaction resolutions, same with 10 units per side. You can play WFB with just labelled movement trays and dice counters and still get more meaningfull decision making than with coherency based individual model placements in AOS. Exact terrain interaction rules are mechanics wise the same if they only consider single models or single units. That changes if you want an army level game that still feels like simulation, where those 10 squads consist of 10 independent models with their own layer of interactions. This is where 2nd ed 40K collapsed - resolving squad vs squad combat using model vs model detailed mechanics was completely out of proportions of time vs effects on the global battle landscape.

Next up is development scope - is it "one and done" system or an ongoing development. Because depending on answer to this question comes another one: how much of flavor should come from flexible core rules and how much from exceptions to those rules. You can write a "future proof" system using d100 for everything, with majority of units in the game with stats in 40-60 range just to accomodate those few future outliers with stats around 10 or 90, or you can use d6 and introduce rare occurences of rerolls, d10 or d24. Personally I prefer to have just the very core interactions codified in basic rules and then add uniquness directly, as this allows for greater flavour, but there are a lot of people who would strongly disagree, because they want to be able for every interaction to be the result of common rules, so they don't have to memorize large number of exceptions and some are ok with "this unit is different from that unit over there just because it is slightly better at doing the exact same thing in exactly same way". Thing to remember here is that it is impossible to futureproof for unknown unknowns, so in case of perpetual development every developer has to start introducing new mechanics at one point because discreet set of rules has it's maximum resolution and capacity and you will inevitably get to a place when new idea for unit will either be a copypaste of something already existing or ruleset won't support it at all.

Only after those questions does setting come in - is it ground game, a dogfighting game or a naval game, is it low tech or high tech, rank and file or covert ops etc... - this will define what interactions have to be codified for a full representation of the setting. Next up is should it require heavy terrain investment for rules to produce engaging gameplay or should it be perfectly playable on planet bowling ball or with minimal/symbolic terrain. Physical scale comes last, you can design the whole thing in abstract units and specify if those units are centimeters, inches, hexes or squares only after you know how big of a table would be necessary for resulting gameplay and if it is practical. (and before anybody objects that grid based games are fundamentally different - mathematically they aren't, it's always about some metrics and whether you use "taxi driver metrics" or euclidean one it really does not fundamentally matter for developing intended interactions).

With miniature games come another question - how detailed the models should be and what manufacturing processes wil be used. People constantly complain about 40K scale creep but do not account for plastic having a lot less physical resolution than resin or white metal, or lead requiring beefy rods for polearms to not bend into pretzels. For naval or armoured combat 6-8mm can be enough, for plastic heroes 54mm will be much more appropriate (that is why Guilliman or Abbaddon are so large, plastic just cannot support so much detail in 28-32mm scale). You can compare 4th ed Shadow Seer with it newer plastic incarnation - those are nearly identical sculpts and you can clearly see limitations of plastic process and necessity for enlarging it.



Also good advice.

Lance845 wrote:Simplify regularly.

Its easy when designing anything to have the mechanics run away from you. Every once in awhile go through each step in any given process and ask, what is this adding? Is it more fun? Is it slowing it down? Is it killing the pacing of the game? Does everyone playing care whats happening and are invested in the game?

It might emulate something you think is beat but if its not making the experience better then cut it and simplify.


This is something I will definitely need to keep in mind. Excellent advice.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Thank you everyone for your advice! I really appreciate it.

Clocks for the clockmaker! Cogs for the cog throne! 
   
Made in us
Napoleonics Obsesser




MN

If I may offer some humble advice:

Rule #1- Design a wargame because YOU want to make a wargame. Don't think you are going to make any money, get a following, etc. All you will get is a long line of people telling you that you did it wrong.

Now, onto the basics:

Getting Started with your Concept
https://bloodandspectacles.blogspot.com/2018/09/wargame-design-getting-started-on.html

The 4Ms
https://bloodandspectacles.blogspot.com/2017/01/wargame-design-basics-4ms.html

I have a whole series of articles about the process on my blog, if you are interested in such things. You may also want to check out the Game Design posts on the Delta Vector blog. They were always inspirational to me.

Do you like Free Wargames?
http://bloodandspectacles.blogspot.com/ 
   
 
Forum Index » Game Design
Go to: