Showing posts with label Alternity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Alternity. Show all posts

Thursday, September 08, 2016

The Second Alternity Design Blog

Sasquatch Game Studio has released their second design blog for their new Alternity game, and this one actually has some meat to it, because they are talking about the core die mechanic for the new game. I think that this will also please a lot of fans of the original Alternity.

We do have to remember that they're still early in the design process, so this can all be subject to change.

The original Alternity used a roll under a target number mechanic. They used a "step die" mechanic to modify the rolls, where the total of other dice would be added or subtracted, according to the difficulty.

The new game is going to use an interesting flip of that idea. You have a target number. Attribute and skill ranks are subtracted from that number, making that the new target number. Then you roll a d20, add or subtract the step die depending on how it is modifying things, and if your roll is greater than the target number you succeed at the action.

While the thinking may take a little getting used to in play, it does seem like an easy enough way to handle resolution.This is going to have a degree of success (or failure) as well, and I think that this will add verisimilitude to the rolling. I am all for adding critical success and failure to game resolution because I think it can make the rolls more meaningful. I know that bidding mechanics can do a similar thing, but I think that you lose some of the uncertainty, and degree of success can add a thrill to a particularly well-done die roll.

So, we're starting to get an idea of how the mechanics will shape up for the new Alternity game, and I think that is good. Since the nature of this new game precludes using the old mechanics that means we need to see how the new game will work. I'd like to see some character creation information up next, hopefully a sample with enough meat to it that we'll get an idea of what characters will look like, and be capable of, in the new game.

It looks like science fiction/fantasy gaming is getting its turn at a resurgence, between the return of Alternity, EN Publishing's role-playing game N.E.W. and Paizo's science fantasy game Starfinder. Since science fiction is one of the genres that I enjoy most, I am excited to see that my tastes are getting some love from RPG publishers.


Thursday, August 25, 2016

The First Alternity Design Blog

Over at the Sasquatch Game Studio blog we are getting the first design blog post about the upcoming relaunch of the Alternity science fiction RPG. We still don't know a lot yet, unfortunately, because the rules are still being developed, according to the people at Sasquatch Game Studio.

I would really like to have something meaty to analyze in this post, but supposition is all that we have to go on at the moment.

This is one bit that stood out to me:
We also want to preserve some of the mechanical “feel” of the old game (remember rolling all the polyhedrals?) while updating the system from a mid-90s design to a mid-10s design.
One thing that I have talked about in podcasts, on social media discussions, and in other places is my dislike of a design choice that was popular in the 90s but has since diminished in popularity (but hasn't completely gone away). This design choice was the idea that, no matter how competent or ultra-competent a character may be, there was always a non-zero chance of failure in their actions. Sometimes, there was a chance that a highly trained character could have a significant chance of failure when trying to resolve a task. GURPS could be particularly annoying with this.

This doesn't mean that I think that characters should never fail at their actions. Far from it.

The thing is, I do think that characters should fail, I just don't think that spending half an hour, or even five minutes, rolling and re-rolling dice in order to be able to pick a lock, when your character is allegedly one of the great thieves of the world to be fun. I know that some do, and that's great. More power to them. This is why there are different games for different people.

While I don't like the idea of having to keep rolling at what should be a routine act, I do think that there should be some form of failure that makes things more interesting. Does the guard rotation notice the characters because they spent more time than needed in the hallway, due to the complexity of the security systems? Does a bad guy get away because the characters could be where they needed to be, when they needed to be there? Why can't we just add some drama to a situation, rather than having to keep rolling dice over and over?

Well, without more detail we don't know what they mean about "updating the system from a mid-90s design." I doubt that they feel the same way about this "whiff" tendency in mechanics, but you never know. There might even be other things that they don't like about it.

I am interested in finding out more, and I hope that these design journal posts are frequent (and that we start getting to see some hints about actual mechanics soon). Another thing that I don't like about that 90s school of design thought is having all of the information about a game, and how it works, wrapped up in mystery. Everything doesn't need to be wrapped up in an NDA these days. We're talking about tabletop RPGs, not state secrets here. To me, trying to divert talk away from how your game actually works says to me that it either 1) isn't as revolutionary as you want people to think or, 2) it just doesn't work the way that you want us to think it does.

Don't insult us, or our knowledge of games.

Anyway, this last bit isn't directed at Alternity or Sasquatch Game Studio. It is just something from the 90s that lingers, and it bugs me.

So, let's see what the next reveal about Alternity will be.