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Vehicle Design: Limits or Anything Goes?

 Post subject: Vehicle Design: Limits or Anything Goes?
PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2006 9:15 am 
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Unctuous Toady
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Now I'm mainly thinking about 28mm games here, but I suppose the basic idea holds for all systems and scales. When it comes to rules for designing vehicles it seems to me that you basically have to different extremes.

On the one hand, you could have a system that just lets you build any kind of crazy model and then you just pay the points for it. This is pretty much what 40K's Vehicle Design Rules attempt to do.

The other extreme is a system with set structures or matrix for designing vehicles where players pick and choose from a set of options to build a vehicle. This system doesn't give you the unlimited creative freedom the above method does, but it promises to be more balanced. Also if the system is internally balanced then it lets players compete with each other in terms of not just battlefield tactics, but also design. This is a big deal in a lot of games , everything from Battletech and Car Wars to Necromunda and 40K. Designing the units that you will take into battle can an exciting and challenging aspect to a game.

So which system does everyone prefer? Or maybe a hybrid of some kind? In the past I was really most interested in making a system that let you design anything. But now, I think I'm leaning towards a more structured system where vehicles would have a set number of sub-systems that players must fill themselves. Some sub-systems would be things like:

Engine/Power Plant
Sensors/Targeting Systems
Crew Compartment
Armor
Weapons
Movement Type
etc.


Truckler

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2006 10:58 am 
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Gunner
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I'm definitely in favor of the structure type system like Car Wars uses.
I am a big fan of the VDR as set down by GW and use them quite often, but always in the theme of my army. Unfortuanately that isnt always the case with some players I have run into. A structured system would hopefully cancel out most of the 'war machine of doom' that a lot of players like to design.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2006 8:01 pm 
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I've never seen complex free-form design rules that are well balanced. Hell, most games using pre-designed units don't meet the grade, either.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2006 8:15 am 
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Master Sergeant
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I much prefer an open-ended system.

I always disliked limited systems, which really only allow you to fill out a template in a number of combinations. Like the rogue trader dreadnought design rules, from what I remember of them. For most purposes, you had a limited amount of resources/points to put into your dreadnought, so if you made it faster, it had to have lighter armour, or if you made it tougher, it had to be slower, that sort of thing.

That works well for a system where everone is using the same basic format for their vehicle, based on the same technology, but it doesn't work when you are dealing with multiple levels of completely different technology.
For example, where as one race may only be able to achieve a 5:1 (of whatever given units things are being measured in) power to weight ratio, another, more advanced race, may be able to achieve an 8:1 power to weight ratio. They may have more powerful engines, or they may simply have materials that give better protection at reduced weight. So the upper limits of speed/mobility and protection are different from race to race, or technology level to technology level.

That's why I preffer an open ended system.
Also, I don't think either system is inherently more balanced than the other. Balance comes down to how well written each creation system is.

However, if I was going to make a system for competitive use, where I specifically didn't want people concocting just any old crazy (&#$@!) for their army, I would make separate vehicle creation lists for each army, or for each technology level.
So each army/technology base would have its own sets of limits and templates that can be filled in, in different combinations.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2006 12:44 am 
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RobbieBuckshotLaFunk wrote:
Also, I don't think either system is inherently more balanced than the other. Balance comes down to how well written each creation system is.


RobbieBuckshotLaFunk wrote:
However, if I was going to make a system for competitive use, where I specifically didn't want people concocting just any old crazy (&#$@!) for their army, I would make separate vehicle creation lists for each army, or for each technology level.
So each army/technology base would have its own sets of limits and templates that can be filled in, in different combinations.


Is it just me, or are these two comments contradictory?

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 09, 2006 8:34 am 
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Master Sergeant
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No.
I could have explained it better though.
The second quote means I don't want people making up weird stuff that doesn't fit into their army. No Eldars with tracked vehicles, that sort of thing. So I guess more specifically I mean 'background adherant competitive play'.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 09, 2006 9:01 am 
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Unctuous Toady
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Robbie, I think we all understood where you were coming from.

A totally open ended system would let players field Falcon grav-tanks with battle cannons or imperial vehicles with Necron weapons mounted on them. Nobody wants that. Okay, some people do, but they just don't get it. Ultimately what defines a race is not only what they do well, but what they can't do.

So if a game is to be successful as a commercial product then its vehicle rules should be...

1. Balanced
2. Consistant (in terms of fluff - see above examples)
3. Encourage purchases/conversions

To that end, I think the a limited "slot based" system would be the best.


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The game designers themselves know these values are not realistic and they do not intend them to replace or invalidate the fluff. So let's get on with our lives and not fixate over the cosmic ramifications of game mechanics which we already know are streamlined for larger forces at the expense of detail.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 2:28 am 
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How about taking a leaf out of Warzone 2100's book?

Granted, it was a PC RTS game, but it had a very cool building system. You could select a combination of chassis, propulsion, and weapon system to construct whatever you wanted. Of course, it wasn't as simple as that. Every option had advantages and setbacks. But there were no "fixed" designs, and you could field whatever you wanted to - as long as you were prepared to pay the price.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 9:55 am 
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Unctuous Toady
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cykotek wrote:
How about taking a leaf out of Warzone 2100's book?

Granted, it was a PC RTS game, but it had a very cool building system. You could select a combination of chassis, propulsion, and weapon system to construct whatever you wanted. Of course, it wasn't as simple as that. Every option had advantages and setbacks. But there were no "fixed" designs, and you could field whatever you wanted to - as long as you were prepared to pay the price.


Actually my original concept for the whole idea of a such a slot based system comes from a few different sources that use it. One of them is the computer game Star Siege, probably really old by todays standards. But you built mechs (HERCs) and you choose the basic body, then you had to choose an engine, a power plant, sensors, armor, weapons (limited by size vs type of hardpoint) and then each mech had a couple of equipment slots that would fit all kinds of cool things. The system gave you a lot of more to make unique and specialized units. Unlike 4th edition Battletech which came out not long after, which used the actual paper and pencil design system but was still much inferior and less interesting.


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Venator wrote:
The game designers themselves know these values are not realistic and they do not intend them to replace or invalidate the fluff. So let's get on with our lives and not fixate over the cosmic ramifications of game mechanics which we already know are streamlined for larger forces at the expense of detail.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2006 2:23 pm 
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I think the slot system sounds like a good way to go. The trick would be to balanced the system so that it was still competative and fun. If you would do that, then you might have the Magic the Gathering of miniature games. Can I buy stock now?


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2006 11:20 am 
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I was just thinkning "Star Seige" myself, Truckler. :) Each race had several different Chassies, which were similar to the other race's in terms if weight category, top speed, etc, but each race had different components, and special weapons you could use. And the different vehcles had limits on the size of the power plant they could take, which engines were allowed, etc, etc. I was just thinking you neede a slot or two for 'special' items like increased ammo capacity, or energy storage. maybe a nano-repair module :)

I like the template design with different templates and options for each army.

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