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Breaking the Modern Miniature Game Mold

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PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2007 8:29 am 
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Unctuous Toady
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runequester wrote:
The games that are "successfull" by those definitions do so by forcing people to buy, in order to stay competitive.

They are usually all "bring what you want", tournament style stuff, which mandates buying lots of "official" mini's to stay competitive.


Yeah, that sounds right. The current big games ARE like that, but could a game break out of that model?

What if a game focused on tactics rather than army list selection (like 40K currently does)?

What other ways could a game succead without resorting to simply copying 40K? Especially when so many people seem dissatisfied with where 40K is going?


Truckler

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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: Thu May 10, 2007 9:04 am 
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I think that is the reason why I like to play Necromunda and have no interest in 40K or Warhammer.

Necromunda is a small investment compared to building an Army.

Plus I watch friends who play piss an moan about needing to buy new items every time a new Codex comes out or when one of them figures out how to destroy the others on the battle field with a new unit type.

The same thing is happening to D&D now that Wizards of the Coast took over. First thing they did was rewrite the game system.
Buy new books and bang, now it's 3.5. Ok buy new books. Oh look here are the advanced rules, bang buy new books.

Sadly it has become the nature of the beast in war gaming of any kind.

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PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2007 9:12 am 
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What if a game company released a great set of balanced and complete rules and then focused on releasing miniatures for them?

Imagine releasing the Necromunda rules and two metal gangs initially, and then releasing new miniatures continously after that. The new gangs wouldn't need new rules, they would just be cool miniatures and new gangs.

It sort of like the current system, except you don't force people to buy codexes/army books. The key of course is having a great set of rules that empower players to have fun games without constantly forcing them to buy more army/faction specific supplaments.


Truckler

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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: Thu May 10, 2007 5:42 pm 
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Historical wargames work along those models already. THe break with the GW model is that its rare for the same company to make both mini's and rules, and that historical figures "cross over". I buy lots of Battlefront figures, but I dont like their Flames of War rules.


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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2007 12:43 pm 
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Truckler wrote:
Imagine releasing the Necromunda rules and two metal gangs initially, and then releasing new miniatures continously after that. The new gangs wouldn't need new rules, they would just be cool miniatures and new gangs.

My problem with this is the same problem I have with AT-43. Sure it may be a good game but with such a limited number of armies to play, I'm going to pass. Maybe in 3 or 4 years, there will be lots of cool armies but by then it might be too late.

Look at when 40k started. It had space orks, space elves, space dwarves, space marines all set in a Judge Dreddesque universe. It was familiar and accessible with just enough originality to hold it together. It wasn't until much later that the universe started to form its own recognizable look and feel. So the game world started out as a simple excuse to fight with minis you already had (orks, elves etc) but adding in Space Marines or whatever to make the battle fresh. Heck, they even had battle reports early on with Space Marines versus medieval armies.

When I first heard of AT-43 I was stoked. But back then, I though the game took place in 1943. The idea of aliens invading in the middle of WW2 was cool. I still think it would have been a better way to do it. That way Rackham would only have to come out with the alien minis and they could rely on preexisting 3rd party minis to fill in the gaps. They get a regonizable playable game world to start and, simply by moving the game time forward, can channel players into their own house minis such as US Marine with Laser Bazooka or Japanese Officer with Power Sword or whatever. It also allows the buyer to play the game as a sci-fi game or a straight up WW2 game (assuming the rules are decent).

Instead we get two uninspired human faction (Communists!?! WTF) and a few similar looking aliens.


Aaron


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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2007 2:52 pm 
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I totally understand what you're saying Akkala. I was absolutely attracted to Rogue Trader because it was like a complete and fully fleshed out world/universe. Now that you bring it up, I should mention that I have a long standing dislike (ok, an outright loathing) for settings that offer too few factions.

When I was a kid the GI Joe cartoon was on when I got home from school. It was ok, but too predictable. Each episode you knew that GI Joe would fight Cobra and no one else. It was a terribly limiting setup, but one that was predictable given that the show was designed solely to push products. That's how modern miniature games have become, everything that happens in each game's universe is totally geared towards selling products. Rogue Trader seemed different than all that.

Of course, Rogue Trader was from a different era as well. Back in the 70s and 80s miniature games that required a game master or referee were more the norm. However in our current day tournament games are the gold standard. I don't think that the tastes of the miniature gaming public will ever move back to the game master run games as opposed to tournaments.

--------------

Anyhow, point well taken about games that start with a good foundation and then build from there. I suppose what makes the games really sell in the end is how much they can inspire people to get involved in them. Part of that is the miniatures themselves, but a lot if it is setting and the options that players see themselves as having.

So where does all this leave the state of modern wargaming? Or what are the pitfalls and problems that many games suffer from?


Truckler

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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: Fri May 25, 2007 9:51 am 
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To make a computer game today requires millions of dollars and hundreds of employees where it once took two guys and a $30 copy of TurboPascal. The increase of investment required just to compete comes at the cost of a more conservative outlook. That's why computer game shelves are filled with games that are either a RTS, FPS or a 5th or 6th version of a game that's already a proven seller.

The same is true for minature wargames. Just look at the difference in production values between Laserburn and the latest 40k rulebook. Its not even close. Just to compete your going to need investors, cost projections, sales forecasts, employees, etc, etc. All that leads to companies taking a more conservative approach and sticking to what's been done. To top it off, the rulebooks themselves are money losers. You can't justify their production if not as a loss leader to sell miniatures. That's why you see so many games that require you to use their own house brand miniatures. This leads to fragmentation among gamers who can only play against other people who've bought the same game they did.

The future may seem bleak but consider this. Not too long ago, board games were a relic of the past. That is, until one game changed all that: Settlers of Cataan. Here's a game that sparked a revolution in board games which are more popular than ever. It did this by having mechanics that are easy enough for casual gamers and deep enough for hard-core gamers. Now, inovative mechanics in boardgames are the rule instead of the exception. Plus it focused on what board games can do that other games, such as computer games or video games, can't: player interaction.

How much player interaction is in a typical game of 40K? Not much. The game would be better, and is better, when played on a computer. I'm not sure how that can be fixed, but when designing a new game that has to be a primary consideration. Why would a player go through all the time and expense to field a miniature army instead of just playing Combat Mission or Medal of Honor?

Truckler wrote:
I don't think that the tastes of the miniature gaming public will ever move back to the game master run games as opposed to tournaments.


Umm. There already is a huge number of minature gamers that regulary use game masters. They are called RPGers! I feel that the split between mini gamers and RPGers is largely artificial. Some games have tried to bridge the divide. Savage Worlds has a mini game supplement but its largely unsuported.

If I were producing a game today, I'd make one rulebook that is an RPG, a skirmish game and a full-on wargame. All in one book and all with similar (if not identical) rules. That way I can sell supplements and adventures to the RPG players and minis to the wargamers. All which drives the sales of the rulebook and creates interest and value in the game world. Because its the game world, through books, comics and computer games, where the real money is.


Aaron


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PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2007 12:01 pm 
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Most historical games will use a referee in some format. Just bacause they dont sell it at borders, doesnt mean it doesnt exist


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2007 3:34 pm 
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I have a book on game design and marketting you might be interested in. I can get the title and ISBN if you want.

To me, success would be a little more realistic. Having a game available across the world would be great, but a little unlikely. If I could get a game into a few stores, and make more money than the thing costs, I'd be happy. Also, the internet makes this a lot easier. You can have a webpage that supports the game, and you can contact stores in other states/provinces, and even countries, to check interest or manage accounts. Every game started small (if I recall correctly, I think Cranium was first sold in Starbucks' or something).

One idea that popped into my mind concerning miniaturs. A game without point costs. Basically, think of the troop selection chart for 40k. Instead of speanding points on units that are better or worse than others, you need to pick a certain amount (for arguements sake, lets say 2 troops and 1 hq). All troops are of equal power, although they have different abilites and equipment. Instead of setting a point cost for the game (like a 100 pt army), you set unit type (like, say. 1 hq, 2 troops, 1 elite, and 1 fast attack). Everyone has an army the same size, just with different specific abilities.

Also, instead of having vastly different rules for different factions, have a basic set of rules for everyone (VOID has a series of troops that are exactly equal in every army). You could get some variation by having a small number of special rules for each faction (think the space marine chapter traits.

Not sure if you follow any of this.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2007 3:43 pm 
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I follow.

Necromunda has a similar thing with the factions (certainly with the House gangs), they have the same stat line, but different models and common skills (and now weapons, but don't get me started :-( )

However, i see a problem with your troop selection idea: some soldiers are just better than others, for example aspect warriors are better than guardians (aspect warriors are elite now aren't they? but you get my point). Your idea could work if you were specific how many soldiers each unit of allocation was worth (1 conscript for x mercenaries or whatever). It would still be a points system, just a highly streamlined one

But i don't see how you could do this for characters without losing a lot of their individuality...


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2007 4:18 pm 
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shiver85 wrote:
However, i see a problem with your troop selection idea: some soldiers are just better than others, for example aspect warriors are better than guardians (aspect warriors are elite now aren't they? but you get my point).


Easy. This Aspect warrior unit you speak of would not fall into the same selection slot as a regular troop. You would be restricted in how mnay of this troop you can have. Your opponent would then off set this troop by selecting one of similar power.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2007 4:26 am 
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Quote:
If I were producing a game today, I'd make one rulebook that is an RPG, a skirmish game and a full-on wargame. All in one book and all with similar (if not identical) rules. That way I can sell supplements and adventures to the RPG players and minis to the wargamers. All which drives the sales of the rulebook and creates interest and value in the game world. Because its the game world, through books, comics and computer games, where the real money is.


This was tired by FASA with the Mech Warrior game back in the 80's.
I remember because I bought the book on role playing characters for it with out realizing that you needed the whole game system in order to play it. I was not to happy at that point. But it had all the stats and skills for all the personal you would need to run your Mech Group. Pilots, mechanics, support troops, etc...

It was a good concept IMO.

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I have a book on game design and marketting you might be interested in. I can get the title and ISBN if you want.


ScooterinAB I would like this information please.
Thanks
wfw

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2007 2:15 pm 
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Quote:
One idea that popped into my mind concerning miniaturs. A game without point costs. Basically, think of the troop selection chart for 40k. Instead of speanding points on units that are better or worse than others, you need to pick a certain amount (for arguements sake, lets say 2 troops and 1 hq). All troops are of equal power, although they have different abilites and equipment. Instead of setting a point cost for the game (like a 100 pt army), you set unit type (like, say. 1 hq, 2 troops, 1 elite, and 1 fast attack). Everyone has an army the same size, just with different specific abilities.

Also, instead of having vastly different rules for different factions, have a basic set of rules for everyone (VOID has a series of troops that are exactly equal in every army). You could get some variation by having a small number of special rules for each faction (think the space marine chapter traits.


I agree with Shiver on this one. Even though I think you've got a great idea, once you've got units/characters that are equivalent but have different skills, you get into the dangerous territory of "I don't take damage from falling...yay...YOU CAN DISARM MY WEAPON ON A 4+! That's so much better!".

Any variation you add between factions is of course going to be scrutinised by the percentage nazis, and a removal of points is a cool idea, but it is near impossible (I feel) to make 2 units of equivalent value with totally different abilities/equipment, and not have one with a greater advantage. Points allow you to differentiate between units so no one feels ripped off (unless the points aren't balanced, then more probs occur). I'm sure GW didn't predict the "Swords Win" flaw in Necromunda, or they would've changed things.

Points allocation and 'creating equal but different armies/factions' has always been the sticking point for me. Necromunda is a good example of it done well, but not perfectly.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2007 2:30 pm 
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As an alternative approach to points:

In the Necromunda Pit Fighting system my assosciates and i came up with, the points thing was sort of inverted: there wasn't really any rules to limit your own fighter, in terms of advances, equipment etc. But if your fighter was much harder or better armed than your opponent, you had to gamble a lot of credits to see any decent return on your wager.
that is to say, you could make your fighter as hard as you liked (as in =][=) but there was a drawback to doing so.

No points limit, rather the ratings of opponents measured against each other


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 5:19 pm 
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This is an interesting topic and i would like to sontribute but i will need a few days to think about what i want to say...

In the meantime, wfwhite59, and shiver85, you mention rules. I looked in the rpg section and couldn't find your rpg system wfwhite. Are you going to post it? Shiver, i would like to know more about your pit fighting rules as well.


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