Thursday, February 27, 2014

First the Worst play mat v2

Turned out the card sizes were too small, so I redesigned the "My card / Your card" space into a single round space (as it makes not difference who plays the card). This gave a little room up the top to add rules and a scoring pad. I like the idea of an aggregate score to be seen in one place by everyone, but I'll see how this goes.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Craft the World review for Notorious

A lot of Craft the World is based on Dwarf Fortress, which is also part of the design of Notorious, so this
review will be more of a reflection on how CTW adapts DF to a tighter, more zoomed-in play experience.
For one thing the dwarves don’t seem to generate as much character and affinity from the player. The dwarves each have individual names, look slightly different and have skill sets to make them unique, but they all just seem to mill around like ants doing their own chores. Even when selecting a dwarf when taking control, it’s easiest to just grab the closest dwarf for the task you want to do rather than specifically looking for somebody. Even swapping through the dwarves, it’s hard to see where they are on the screen. I find myself looking at the stats at the bottom and the activity they are doing rather than their location.

TAKEAWAY: Position is important for building affinity with the individual dwarves. If a minion card is selected in notorious, highlight (and center?) the minion on the screen.

Although you can give dwarves specific equipment, it feels somehow divorced from the task that they are doing. If I set out 8 squares to be dug out, I can potentially have 5 of the 7 dwarves appear to complete the task. In DF you can specifically assign a role to each dwarf and, due to possibly long term play & familiarity with the game, those roles can be very tight indeed. 1 dwarf is the miner, 1 dwarf is the carpenter and possibly the lumberjack. These are chosen before you embark and plays a significant role in success of your fortress for the first season. This raises the barrier to entry significantly because you need to know how to play the game before you start, but it raises your affinity with individual dwarves as you have crafted them personally and know what they should be doing. Continuing on from this, narrowing down the roles for new dwarves during the rest of the game raises the barrier to entry, but also increases affinity.

TAKEAWAY: When the number of minions is limited, assigning them specific roles adds to affinity. When the minion count increases, this can lead to a bogging down into micromanagement. In Notorious, the player can change a minion’s desire to dig and then designate generic digging locations, or they can increase the desire to dig at a specific location. With defence, a general raising of desire for defence will make the minion defend their home territory, whereas a targeted defence will make them defend a specific point. Multiple targets will give a patrol.

There doesn't seem to be any discernible difference in skilled dwarves performing any better than unskilled. This leads to a feeling of nonchalance about who is performing what task. There needs to be feedback on why the skills are important to make the player care about who has what skill. In DF, legendary miners are possibly 4 times faster and produce more spoil. This adds to the desire for sending the right dwarf to the task and gives incentive to investigate and learn the traits of each dwarf. In DF the dwarves also level up by performing the skill rather than skills being assigned by the player. This also adds to the incentive to keep specific dwarves on task.

TAKEAWAY: There needs to be a discernible difference when elevating an action.

Another way to increase the player’s affinity with minions is to gift them items from the treasure. This can be done in a number of ways:
Gift – have a way for a specific treasure to be selected then gifted to the minion. This gives a 1 time happiness bonus & increases minion’s knowledge & affection of the player’s name. Note this can have a negative effect as the minion’s memory now has an imprint of the player’s name that can be discovered by other players.
Desire for reward – have a way for the player to transfer ownership of a treasure item to the minion but also associate it with activities they have completed. It may or may not be associated with your name. This gives a bonus to the activity that is being rewarded.
Raise the desire to take an item – there is a natural tendency for minions to have selfish desire for items that they see. Raising one of these desires for the selected treasure has no association with the player’s name or with an action. Note that assignment of ownership is controlled by each minion so an item can have multiple owners (leading to potential fights).
Give item back – have a way to drop the desire for an item so that they abandon it or possibly gift it to another minion. Can also gift back to treasury by raising benevolence of the player’s name.

Gifting items with gems attached and then imprinting the minion again will be one of the main ways to permanently lock in items and improve the minion.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

First the Worst play mat

Woke up yesterday with an idea to make the play mat for First the Worst . Still needs a little work (like adjusting the print to proper card size) but should help in playtesting.