8 Hour Game Hours 7 & 8: Not quite the home stretch.

Okay. So. I very broadly hit the goal of creating a rules lite, diceless game system that could technically be played, but I’m going to give the final results a kind of mixed rating? The equipment system is not there, there are references to special abilities but no framework for such, there’s no elements of narrative control that I was hoping to include. What I have is less an elegant foundation on which an end user could build whatever they wanted and more a stripped-down chassis which a skilled mechanic with the right tools who is willing to get their hands dirty could use to build something, with a little effort.

Still! It’s something. And I think the timed/deadline approach had a positive impact on my design process and keeping me focused. So, I’m going to extend it. In a previous update I was talking about extending the system through a series of similar focused work days. I’m going to give the base system itself a little more time, though. Specifically, I want to see what I can come up with in 24 hours. Not all at once! I have too much going on for that. I doubt I could find two more 8 hour work days in the next few weeks.

But a few half-days, here and there? Totally doable. So I’m going to log the time I spend working on it and see what I can come up with in 24 hours total. This 8 hour session gave me a more realistic idea of what I can do in 8 hours, so I think a (distributed) 24 hour design schedule is totally doable.

Here’s the final updated link for now. Again, this is with no polishing, minimal editing for order or clarity, and not at all the preferred newbie friendly, strictly-defining finished version. Future updates will still be tagged “NDO” but not “8 hour game design”, because, not 8 hours.

8 Hour Game Hours 5 & 6: Skills and Such

Okay, so, my attempt to update my progress on the hour has turned into every other hour. Skills took me longer than I expected, in part because I indulged in my love of specificity and in part because I had to stop and consider some sub-systems for performance skills (I loathe the idea of a general all purpose entertainer skills) and for knowledge skills that are culturally bounded. I’m pleased with what I came up with for both cases, although as with the entire document as a whole, the presentation will probably need to be unified and cleaned up.

I have two hours left in the day. I suspect that to reach my goal of having a completely playable, self-contained if simple game, I’m going to have to make the equipment system more bare-bones and abstract than I would like; i.e., define weapons and armor in terms of general classes, and pretty much leave everything else up to improvisation. This is partly because of time constraints, but partly because I’m trying to make a base system that is universal and agnostic to setting, which means either having an incredibly large and detailed equipment sytem with everything from stone knives to phaser rifles (not going to happen in one afternoon) or leaving the equipment system skeletal, to be filled in for particular settings.

With that in mind, I’m going to proceed and try to wrap this up in the allotted time as planned, but I’m setting further goals for myself: take time to develop this bare-bones system into something more fleshed out for particular genres/settings, using a similar approach to this. I’m going to start by expanding my 8 hour game design into 24 hours  (not concurrently! Rather, three working days) to turn it into a high fantasy adventure game, with appropriate equipment system, magic system, etc.

Updated link.

8 Hour Game Hour 3 & 4: Getting into character creation.

Hour 3

I’ve now covered defining the basic attributes. Nothing really revolutionary here. It didn’t take me an hour to come up with the text I added… I spent quite a bit of time sketching out schemes for how the more advanced pieces will fit together, so I can lay the groundwork here.

I expect the 4th and 5th hour to also go to character creation, as I have to define secondary attributes derived from the basic ones (won’t take too long) and skills (which likely will). When that’s finished, with three hours left, I’ll start working on both more detailed examples of conflict resolution and combat (which will kind of go hand in hand), and then see how much time I have left for fleshing out other parts.

Updated link.

Hour 4

…okay, apparently I was so hyperfocused on this that I didn’t remember to hit publish before I flipped back to my word processor windows. Well, up above is what happened in hour 3. Hour 4 has gone about how I expected it to. I finished secondary attributes and am 1/3rd of the way through a basic, bare-bones, settings-agnostic skill list.

As I fill out skills, I’m starting to think about complexities like how does something like a perception check function in a diceless system based on resource management? For you to know you have to spend any resources to try to detect an ambush, you have to be told there’s something to detect.

Possible solution: assume that alertness, rather than action, is an ongoing state of being. If you spend X resources in a day on general alertness, that stands for all Awareness operations where you’re not actively searching/scrutinizing. You could up your alertness at any time (subject to normal maximums), but not get points back by decreasing it.

This would allow it to function similar to passive perception in recent editions of D&D, in that it would allow the game runner to compare values without alerting you what’s going on. It would also keep the risk/reward model intact, because if you decide to spend more resources for alertness early on, you don’t have them, but if you wait until you think you’re in a dangerous situation to spend them, it might be too late.

I’ll probably have an updated document at the start of Hour 5.

8 Hour Game Hour 2: Conflict Resolution & Character Architecture

In the second hour—the first hour of real development—I sketched out a basic conflict resolution system for NoDice Odyssey (pronounced “Nodyssey Odyssey”) that substitutes resource management for dice while still maintaining an element of risk/reward calculation. Inherent in this system are some basic assumptions about character architecture and design, which will be my next step.

As I hit major milestones such as this, I’ll be posting links to a snapshot of the document. Note that it’s understandably rough and doesn’t have all the normal definition of terms and introduction of concepts I would put in an RPG doc to keep it accessible.

Link here.

Going into hour 3 as I come back from a brief lunch break, I’m focusing on character creation, which will involve fleshing out those six basic attributes and defining the generally available skills. When that’s done, the game will be technically playable as a very light, setting-and-genre-agnostic system, albeit one that can’t handle special capabilities (magic, superpowers, psionics, etc.) or equipment.