Thursday, July 8, 2010

Caught Up

This blog is a continuing effort and many posts build upon the previous ones. I advise you to read from the first post (at the bottom) up.

What I Did Today
Having found my DQI (Data Quality Issue--a mistake) from yesterday I spent today running the simulations for Jaws (big teeth) and Saw-Toothed (a kind of bite attack where the "worry" action does more damage than the bite). It was slow going but since the simulator runs int he background it's just a matter of setting it up and letting it go. By the time I should be finished I'll be caught up to where I wanted to be 2 days ago.

Something We're Hoping For
Many of the attacks will share the same "configurations." An example of a configuration would be "Fires once a round on every other round starting with the first one (this is called POWERHOUSE)." Another example would be "The character must waste a 5 REA Medium Action doing nothing and may then use this attack as a standard attack (this is called ACTIVATE)."

It is our hope that we will discover that different attack types respond the same way to a given configuration. That is, let's say configuration POWER HOUSE multiples the effective damage of a Power Blast (Ranged Impact Damage) by 3.75 (so a Power Blast that did 10 IMP damage with a standard fire attack would, in the Power House configuration do 38 IMP damage). If this is true--and it's true for "gun damage" (Ranged PEN) and punch damage (Hand-to-hand IMP) and so on then we don't have to test it for weird things like Disintegration and so on--we just give them the modifier.

The deal is that we'll need to do a lot of testing before I'll take it on faith that a specific modifier is universal. Disintegration (which, right now, is something like "Ignores all armor and, if the damage forces a CON roll, it makes it at -5") is very, very different than Impact Damage. It's much much worse and probably has a sort of steep "cliff" wherein a small amount is not especially dangerous (as it does not force a CON roll against opponents with anything invested in Damage Points) and then suddenly becomes hugely dangerous once it does force a CON roll (maybe it'll force the CON roll at -3 for animate opponents or something. I'm not sure yet).

These exotic attacks will probably need more testing anyway to ensure that they aren't improperly designed in the first place (negatives to CON may prove bad for the game).

What Else We Learned Today
In a second set of testing, E. has the simulator working for Jiu-Jitsu grappling--at least part way. We now allow a Jiujitsu fighter to block-throw and then hold the opponent down and pummel them. In the future we may allow him to go for a joint submission.

We tested this against a karate-fighter and, in theory, the battle should be 50-50 as the number of points these skills cost are the same (NOTE: I am very, very familiar with the history that Jiujitsu has against Karate in real life. That's another discussion). As we want these to balance at the same cost levels we were pleased to discover that the match went 55 (Jiujitsu) to 45 (Karate). It's not perfect but for something that was not developed with the simulator it's well within tolerances.

Even better: while the Karate guy could not get up and did not have ground-fighting skills his higher damage-per-strike meant he got his licks in anyway: it wasn't just a blow-out. I couldn't hope for anything better from the system.

How Come We're Not Letting Grapplers Beat Strikers?
One of the great realizations of modern mixed martial arts tournaments was that "pure grappling" was superior to "pure striking" inside of ring conditions. It is also believed, by many (including me), that people who train grappling often train at a higher intensity level than those who train striking (most karate classes are not training for a full-contact ring fight where as most grappling arts are). I think this is important: it's not easy to knock someone out with one shot and once a pure striker is down they lose a lot of options against a skilled grappler.

So what? Why don't we reflect this?

Well, (1) we kind of do. The "Ground and Pound" attack works pretty well in JAGS if you can pull it off. That's what we're seeing in the JiuJitsu-vs-Karate fight. If the Karate guy had a little more cross training (i.e. had something that gave him "Ground Fighting" skill) he'd do a lot better. This "reflects reality" pretty well as I see it. Secondly (2) We're less interested in conforming to a specific view of reality (even if it's one we generally hold) than in making a fun game. In many, many fictions highly skilled (expert-level) karate characters are quite dangerous to just about anyone and we want to reflect that. The way the battle goes (with the karate fighter getting taken down and then fighting at a disadvantage) is pretty much exactly what reality says happens (the difference here, so far, is that the grappler is more or less standing and opts, for now, entirely for strikes rather than submissions).

What's out of whack is how much damage the Karate guy can do in the exchange: it's probably a little higher than real life dictates. Also out of touch is the time-span: we know that in MMA rings although some fights are over in 12 seconds most last more than 60 (10 JAGS Rounds). That's way, way more than most JAGS fights. We also know why: there isn't the constant level of engagement that a JAGS fight has--there's a lot more circling.

We actually have a sketch of rules that approximate that: if you don't win Initiative by enough more than your opponent (and its secret) then when you come in to strike you are pretty darn open for a powerful hit. This rule would tend to have both parties "circling," waiting for a "really good initiative roll" or otherwise trying to draw an opponent in (or just going for it and taking the risk). Our examination of this has led us to believe it wouldn't lead to better games so it's not in there.

For similar reasons we don't subscribe to grappling's observed dominance in sport-fighting.


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