Thursday, August 19, 2010

New Simulator

I installed the new simulator code and changed my 16 AP Normalized Herd file. I then integrated my code with the new codebase (mostly Resisted Attacks) and am running a test. I think there are few kinks to be worked out. The new code will:

1. Give the new martial arts abilities including Kung Fu's "counter-strike" which, it seems, doesn't make that much of a difference but is cool.

2. Success Point testing with strategies for spending

3. Attack Strategies such as "Shoot at range and stab up close" or "mace the guy then punch him" (or whatever).

4. Different types of defenses and blocks (blocks that are better against kicks, for example).

5. Several other things I'm not thinking of at the moment.

Testing SP-pools is going to take some thinking. Their purpose will be several fold:

SP-Pools And Characters
There are a few primary roles of SPs in the game right now and we need to nail them down, clarify them, and then test. Here they are:

  • The Buffer: If you use your SPs to "buff" other characters then there's a complex question of how buffed another PC should get due to your ('altruistic') effort. In this case the test character will be equal points but will then have a "buff" of some SPs. How much better should he be? NOTE: it's kind of a trick question because if Player A is the fighter and Player B spends all their points to buff Player A then Player A should, perhaps, in theory, fight as well as A+B. So it depends on what we think a 'reasonable' expenditure of buffing is ... We don't know.
  • The Loser: There's a trait called 'Some Kind of Loser' which gives the character a pool of SPs which they replenish by failing dramatically or being socially humiliated or something. Basically 'on paper' they seem like a dork--but with their large and (fairly easily recharged) SP pool they kick ass ... for no apparent reason. There are also guys like "Scientist" who get some defensive SP pools because we wanted the Trait to not be suicide in a combat scenario. These characters will walk around with an SP pool but will not be combat PCs. So the 'test characters' (which are pretty extreme combat PCs) won't work for them. What should the test characters be like? The likely answer to this is that we need to know how good an SP-pool of type X is with Y SPs in it: then we simply adjust the costs of those traits to give a certain effectiveness and don't worry about the actual character behind it. That sounds reasonable but it's harder to test than you'd think.
  • Elric. If you have a fantasy guy with SPs due to magical weapons (say, it recharges when it steals someone's SOUL!) then you have to assume that, like the Buffer, the guy is full AP plus some amount of magical gear (that's true whether it recharges in combat or not). So the question is similar but slightly different: how do we design gear that will have a certain effect that is like giving the character more APs? Now, the Normalized Herds don't come in 4 AP increments like the original 'balanced' herds did--as a result it's hard to say if a character who beats the 16 AP Herd 75% of the time is 'really' 20 AP, 24 AP, or what. I mean, you'd think we could say: if you beat Herd X by Y% you are X+Z APs. Unfortunately it's not that simple. For one thing it's about the makeup of that win (how well you do against the FULL ARMOR guys vs the FULL DP guys, for example) and secondly testing has shown that different builds that are theoretically the "same points" perform differently against a given herd ... so it's not as easy as we'd like. In any event, in the 'Elric' scenario we don't have the luxury of assuming that another PC paid dearly for the buffing: we assume that the guy just found his treasure--and that means we need to really understand just what the ramifications of that are.
Fantasy Testing? Or Something Else?
I suspect that although I'll be doing some SP testing in short order the actual, testable application for this stuff will be some kind of martial arts genre. There are several powers that we're looking at for a re-vamp of the Chi Martial Arts rules and SP-pools are one of them. The problem with Fantasy is that in order to nail down the ramifications of anything you need to understand what the whole game is gonna be like.

Take for example D&D 4e's Minions rules. A Minion in 4e is an adversary that does about full damage for its challenge rating. It's dangerous--but it has only 1 hit point. If you don't have a good Area of Effect guy on your team you are much more susceptible to minions than if you do. A good AoE guy can clean out a horde of skeleton minions in one shot while your fighter has to (dangerously) slog through them one at a time while they hit back ... hard.

This creates a certain dynamic in 4e where, if the GM is running things more or less 'straight' you really want that AoE guy with you. We kinda need to do the same sort of thinking for JAGS Fantasy: how much treasure is appropriate for who? What is the role of a buffer in those games? What AP-levels of characters will be expected to fight what kind of monster profiles ... what should a "standard party" be like? And so on.

That's a lot of work.


1 comment:

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