Posts Tagged ‘project update’

2014 Project Update

Posted: February 4, 2014 in Game Ideas
Tags: , ,

Here we are again; my annual very-late “new year!” post. So what’s changed since last year? Well…

Not a lot. And yet, some quite significant things. As is traditional, I’ve hardly made any progress on any of the games on last year’s list – instead starting a whole set of new projects that I can leave half-finished for next year’s update. However, two new projects are worth mentioning.

The Council

This one’s unusual in that it’s computerized. I can’t remember which came first – the game idea or just the desire to do some programming. Anyway, whatever. You play members of the monarch’s inner council in a fantasy world, trying to appear devoted to the monarch and their rule, but actually working to further your own agendas and interfere with each other’s. No prizes for guessing what TV show inspired that setup. The interesting thing here is that it’s turn-based like a Play-By-Mail game, so as long as you submit your turn before the administrator runs their turn (weekly, maybe), you can do it at your own convenience – which I hope will make it easier for people to schedule games around busy schedules. Unlike a PBM, though, I want this to be a story- and character-focussed game rather than a tactical one – and initially I’m aiming to use the Apocalypse World engine to help with that.

I have got a basic website in place, but no real functionality yet. I’d forgotten how much time coding takes :-( So this is kindof on the backburner already. Easy come, easy go. But it’s been surpassed by…


Ok so yeah please ignore the monstrously dull working title. This is a one-on-one game where you play a master thief (or other kind of ne’er-do-well) in, again, a fantasy world – focussing on character development and tension, and trying to minimise interaction with real-world cues like dice and sheets and stuff (though it’s far from absent entirely). What’s particularly exciting about this game is that I might actually make it; it’s the first game ever, I think, that I’ve taken beyond just the idea and a few brainstormed notes – I’m actually at the point where I’ve got first-draft concepts for most of the mechanics, and am in the process of gluing them together and producing an actual rulebook which I can test. I’m really excited!

A couple of shout-outs… First, if you think this sounds interesting, you might want to look at Will Hindmarch’s Project Dark Kickstarter, which is another fantasy sneak game (but I think will be quite different from mine in fact). Second, I’ve recently been helped a lot in my design brainstorming by the ReForged G+ Community. If you’re interested in game design, you’ll find some interesting people here willing to help answer questions, read texts, playtest, and so on.

And The Rest…

And as ever, there are a few bits and pieces that are nothing more than a paragraph or two of notes at this point, but I’ll mention them anyway:

  • A whole suite of small games set in the same fantasy world but exploring different aspects of it – a bit like Vincent Baker’s Sundered Land. Thief would be the first of these, but I have sketch ideas for maybe eight or ten more.
  • The Wake: the game opens with a murder in a small community, and follows the repercussions of that murder throughout the community. Some aspects of whodunnit, perhaps, but focussing more on the drama between the characters as they come together or fall apart in reaction to the awful event. The “GM”, such as there will be one, probably plays a detective inspector investigating the murder. (Again, you can spot an obvious TV influence here if you’ve been watching the same stuff I have…)

And that’s it for now. More to follow, sooner than usual I hope :-)

Oh dear. Has it really been a year since my last project update? But I haven’t got anywhere with those projects!! (And I notice I’m even later posting the “new year” update this year, too.)


Well, anyway, here are the projects I’m currently working on – for very loose definitions of “currently” and “working”. In fact, better: Here are the projects I expect to be disappointed about when I come to next year’s project update post.


This is the current top-of-my-list project. Intrigue and backstabbing among fantasy noble classes. (Three points for guessing which TV show sparked this idea.) In particular I’ve noticed a bit of a trend in indie RPG resolution systems to declare intentions up-front (to greater or lesser degrees of explicitness) and I think this doesn’t work for characters full of secret agendas. I’m wondering if I can design a resolution system that doesn’t require that. My current draft is based on a bribery model, where players offer each other tokens (of some value TBD) to persuade each other to accept the statements they’re making.


This one (character drama under a military sci-fi veneer – think BSG) hasn’t got much further since last year’s post. I’ve laid out an initial draft of the stats and basic moves, and I’ve got some good notes on character generation, particularly about playing multiple characters – which will be a crucial part of the game, I think. However, since it’s based on Apocalypse World, it requires an awful lot of writing up the moves associated with different character options – and I don’t feel I’m learning as much from that as I am from writing a game from scratch, so it’s taken something of a back seat.

Scary Monsters And Super Creeps

After reading Ron Edwards’ “Setting And Emergent Stories” essay (link is a PDF), I thought this game might be a good one to try it out on. I basically want to take the Unknown Armies setting (magic and horror, but very human, in contemporary urban setting), hack out the silly bits and hack in some more homegrown stuff, and then write mechanics for it to drive the story from the setting as described in that essay. (Edwards even quotes it as an example of a setting which would benefit from such treatment.) I’ve got some mechanics for specifying the setting, which I’m pleased with so far – but again this is kinda on a backburner for now.


And similarly, I reckon the Battletech universe has some cool thematic stuff going on which could be used in a setting-driven emergent-story game – so I might give that a try as well. I haven’t looked at this much yet, but I do know that mech battles will be fought using Mobile Frame Zero :-D

Escape From Nightmare City

Unlike everything else above, this is specifically a one-shot game. I’m trying to provide a good automated Antagonist – i.e. one which runs itself using mechanics and doesn’t require a player to “GM”. I want all the players to be playing protagonists, trying to escape the pick-your-dystopia Nightmare City, and have the game itself present good dramatic challenges. (So far I’m using a deck of cards for the Antagonist rules.) Obviously the details of any challenge will need to be fleshed out by the real human minds at the table, but I’m wondering whether the structure can be handled automatically.

Until next year…

Well, that’s all the stuff that has real work done on it (however minimal) and concrete design goals / questions to answer. A few other pieces which are just scribbled notes:

  • Tales of Suburbia: some kind of supernatural mystery game set in a leafy suburb. Just flavour so far, really.
  • Retinue: the characters play the henchpeople of the super-powerful ruling class. What stories do these normally-overlooked characters make?
  • The Watch: distrusted protectors of a dark fantasy world. This trope has come up a lot recently, but I wonder how interesting character dramas work when you operate at the edge of civilisation.

Let’s hope I can make a bit more progress this year! In particular I’m going on a roleplay holiday in Spring, and it’d be great if I could take a game along to playtest… :-S