Monday, 28 September 2015

The Third Faction: The Evolved Bionids

The Third Faction: The Evolved Bionids

The third Faction in order and in conception, The Evolved Bionids are so called as an emphasis of their nature and theme, which falls under the categories of, Offensive, Assault-oriented, Evolving Adaptability and Evolutionary Versatility, Strong Physical and Genetic Makeup, Biological Technology, Focussed on the Managing of the Evolution and Production of Units up a Tech-Tree.

The underlying idea is that they are a macromanagement-based machine of war that is focussed on economical management, in order to fuel the pawns and processes that form the biological collective that is The Evolved Bionids, managing the evolutionary advancement of the individual components of its constitution, and by extension the race itself, all along the directives of fulfilling their evolutionary aims of advancing their genetics and maintaining the constant production of new biological-lifeforms, most of which are designed for war and the processors for the assimilation of new genes as stock for further adaptation to their surroundings, ultimately creating an endlessly breeding army of physically superior units, far evolved beyond the other races and Factions. Hence, The Evolved Bionids.

When it comes to a race of evolutionary-adapted forces, that by their nature possess use of technology in an alternate form and not in the usual shape it takes, to contest the seemingly more advanced technology of the other Factions (in the standard way as they come with projectiles of energy bolts and plasma discharges), take such means as natural armour and weaponry that are entirely biological in make, yet are of a deceptively strong enough substance to face the other Factions off on equal footing. As it naturally comes with a reliance on biological evolution for the means of warfare, the Bionids are assault-oriented with the emphasis on getting in close with the enemy's forces, where their natural weapons and armour aids them best, in the destruction and decimation of their foes, through claw, fang and teeth. So, among the four Factions, and perhaps on par with The Great Rhuds, the Bionids have a stronger emphasis on close combat comparatively.

As the Bionids were always designed for a playstyle that concentrates on the economical management of accruing large amounts of resources, and then translating them into the production of more units, fuelling the inexhaustible machine of war that is the Evolved, a large part of what constitutes their gameplay are the themes of Evolving Adaptability and Evolutionary Versatility, which follow alongside the idea of what they are attempting achieve with the process of war, the assimilation of new genetic material, and their conversion as a resource for diversifying their evolutionary versatility, for increased survivability through evolving adaptability to the hazards and risks of their ever-changing environment. With that in mind, given the focus of playstyle for the Bionids was always meant to be this way, they have another type of resource to handle and manage, called Genetic Material, which is gained by several means, the chief of them being the killing and destruction of enemy units, and the conversion from there for the Resource Cost of them directly into Genetic Materials. The basic formation of the "Strong Physical and Genetic Makeup" of the Bionids, is formed from the "biological research" of determining the success of Evolutionary Traits or Mutation Strains, by the amount of Genetic Materials you devote to that one particular evolution of your choice and selection.

Given such a procedure, and also as a factor of balance, each Evolutionary Trait and Mutation Strain have to be evolved separately for the Base Strain, and upon which the two Divergent Strains from each of them, gain those same evolutions and adaptations. There is a reason for this, part of it the shift of focus for this particular Faction becoming centrally about macromanagement and production. And almost as if to emphasise that, individual Bionid units cannot be controlled or moved on their own, but rather require "Synapse" creatures, either Hive Kings or Nests, to relay instructions or direct the other Strains which are within a range of 2 hexes from each. I initially had this idea for the Rhuds, I wanted a controlling mechanism that showed the feral or near animal-state of the race, on how they operated more on instinct, given their evolutionary primitivity and presence as a new race on the galactic scene, and was meant to offset how cheap and numerous they can get, but it turned out a wiser and more sensible decision to have that reserved for a Faction like the Evolved Bionids.

Having such a design framework, it was decided too, both by decisive intention and the manner of how the Faction's playstyle evolved towards in the end with the way it worked, the Bionids were always meant to be a highly offensive-based Faction, which is such an approach that is greatly encouraged when playing as them, given the need to accumulate and manage two different types of resources, as the prime basis for their method of economically-focussed gameplay, and so this agenda was cleverly enforced with the full operative of how The Evolved Bionids came to be. The implementation of this secondary resource helped shaped and defined the background and function of the Bionids, first as a further stress of the importance of economy for them, and since this is a race that rely on huge numbers of superiorly-evolved creatures, all of which require great reserves of resources to accomplish, the dynamic of having two different types of resources facilitates and distinguishes the economic engine that characterises the Evolved Bionids.

Understanding this, you will realise why the different Strains are required to evolve Traits separately for just their Base and Divergent Strains. First of all, this has a technical aspect that happens to be thematic as well, since the Strains are quite powerful already in their own right, and having to evolve separately for each increases the choices you can make, both in tactical quality and the quantity of such "research" (more like evolution or mutation) you can make. If one Evolutionary Trait researched affected all of the rest collectively, tactical diversity will be removed and the theme of emphasising how the evolutionary aims of the Bionids are its one, singular and overriding objective, loses focus and thematic value, given the evolutionary process of evolving Traits and mutating Divergent Strains becomes much easier and simplified, as when compared to how I have designed it to work, the tactical viability becomes apparent in the weighing of intelligent options in how you want to evolve certain units, so that they become more specialised for instance, or what units you want to have upgraded or empowered this way, to become generally more formidable or suited for their task or particular method of warfare. So as the design of the Faction progressed, I worked in how, with there being six Strains, or seven if you count the Leader Strain comprised of the Hive Queen and King too, of first the Worker Strain, meant to aid in the economical aspect of playing this race, the Warrior Strain, where very cheap and basic fighting forces that are as yet combat-efficient, can be built, the Stealth Strain, which is almost an assassin branch of the biological war machine that is the Bionids, the Support and Specialist Strains, meant as support or for their specialised effects, and finally, possibly what is the ultimate Strain for the Bionids, or can be referred to as the Crown Strain, named Brute Strain officially, the most powerful forces the Bionids can muster, in terms of damage and toughness, they can all be built with as much diversity in Traits as there are as many of them, since you will only concentrate certain changes in Traits for the Strains you think need them or want them to have, and in this way highlights the replayability of the Faction.

And just like a race of biological terrors, resorting to "Biological Technology" as a substitute for more conventional forms as they come with what we understand as standard technology, that even though seemingly frail from being constructed of substances organic and natural in origin and make, are more than capable of matching in potency and power the armaments of the other Factions. This is important to note, for given how they operate through the controlling of intermediary mediums like Nests and the Hive Kings, some extent in how you lead and control your troops is taken from you, almost as if to allow you a clearer focus on the macromanagement aspects of this race. And true enough it works so, almost as if encouraging you to throw your endless forces against the walls of your enemy's base, overrunning them with numbers in confrontative assault. This limitation of control too, having movement and control of your fighting units regulated by Synapse mediums, allows for more powerful units, that are compensated to some degree by the lack of their ability to be functional without the generating influence of a Hive King. So control over your economy, as well as carefully decided positionings of your Hive Kings are key to winning with this Faction, and at this moment, they appear the Faction that most endears to me, given my own preference for the Zerg when playing StarCraft.

All in all, this was a more complicated race than the first two to design, and the concepts for it stayed stagnant for quite some time, before I made progress by just forcing myself to work and develop it with the stride and pace of what inspiration I had. In my initial conceptions for this Faction, and how they would work, I had a rather complicated and abstract view of how they would eventually turn out, you know, in the way that most ideas usually appear in a foggy way, that seemed rather brilliant and almost impossible in requiring the efforts of a genius to realise, by all margins more work and substance beyond ordinary means. It felt that way for this race too, but once progressing with it, and having to work within the structural dynamics of the rules of the game already established and laid out, it turned out eventually, even if not as fantastic as imagined or hoped for, a workable piece with a very interesting background to it. And with that, I end this piece, with a peace out.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

The Fourth Faction: The Great Rhuds

The Fourth Faction: The Great Rhuds

The fourth Faction by order, although the second to be designed, The Great Rhuds are so-called for their often use of this descriptive adjective in nearly every circumstance. And they are in fact, in some ways the central focus upon which the plot base of Chaos Stone is centred around, given that they are the true inhabitants of the moon, Lunar Stone, that is being fought over, residing in their place of darkness below the moon's surface, a place of eternal night they call The Underempire. In fact, so integrally bound are the Rhuds to the Chaos Stones that are found in great abundance within the moon's surface, that they were in fact, by providence of their highly mutational influence, the sole cause of the incidence and occurrence of sentience among this species of rodent-like creatures, with them attaining a bipedal humanoid form, at the end of this forced evolution by the effects of the radioactive emission from the Chaos Stones. Still, they are basic creatures that do not have the intelligence to match the technology of The Civilisation of Humanity, if not for their great affinity with these Chaos Stones that they have realised the full potential in the efficient use of their incalculable power, and for which they tap and access this potent source of energy more directly and raw than the other Factions, to a greater and no less immense effect.

It is for this reason that I rank them the fourth Faction in order. For the irony of having the position of last, given the Faction's unique relevance to the story. No other Faction has such a close-relationship, almost to a point of symbiosis, with this resource, although they are all essentially fighting over them. And it is this one reliance that allows the Rhuds, with their otherwise rather primitive technological state, to stand up to the forces of the other Factions and meet them on an equal footing, with the raw power represented by the Chaos Stones in its own a means of technology, almost a crux on which the backward society of the Rhuds depends on and is built around, a contrast to the intelligence and sophistication of design, of say the Humans' technological researches. And for which this volatile source of power, with its risks afforded, gains its potency for the very reason of its chaotic and unstable nature. In this way, the Chaos Stone Tech that constitutes the basics of how Rhud Technology functions and is based on, serves the means and supplements the advanced weaponry and warfare where the race is lacking, with the inherent risks from the use of this volatile substance something that only this race can safely afford to some degree, given they treat the lives of their lessers as expendable, a direct result of the rate at which the Rhuds can reproduce their numbers in compensation. As such the potential for such loss in the utility of this dangerous resource as and through their weapons, is tolerable and afforded by them, as they present a threat without distinction to both user and target, trading the exchange of risks that comes with their destructive power, just as it consumes the lives of those who use it.

A trend of significance for this race is their low-average attacking strength. There is a reason for this, for the main themes of this Faction is as follows: Speed, Numbers, Cheap, High-Dependency on Chaos Stones used as Technology, Potency Increased in Exchange for the High-Risk Usage of Inherently Dangerous Chaos Stone Weapons. Their units are arguably the cheapest in the game, and they even have a Tech that allows destroyed Rhud units to have a chance to reappear on the table, and carry on the fight for infestation. Just like a race that depends on cheap numbers, with poor fighting strength, they utilise sneaky tactics such as the mobility of a whole network of cleverly dug tunnels to outmanoeuvre the opposing army's positions, undermining their defensive line by appearing behind them. And as with the theme of Speed, they have many means of generating many attacks at once, making up for the lack of attacking strength by sheer volume. Their expendability is thematic as well as functional, as given how cheap their fighting units are, the risky use of Chaos Stone Tech with their chance for backfiring is somewhat mitigated in cost-effectiveness.

The mini-game within the structural mechanics of how The Civilisation of Humanity is played, is in the accomplishment of Special Operations Mission Cards, of their stated objectives in such cards drawn, which advances the potency of your standing forces by allowing their promotion to elite levels, with the results of them gaining even more powerful skills, although there is no statistical increase, which means some level of skill in tactical application is required in utilising your elite troops optimally, without any unnecessary sacrifices that can be avoided by careful strategic planning. For The Great Rhuds, it will probably be about the creation of Burrows and Tunnels around the board, allowing for the swift movement of Rhud troops around, basically severing and crippling all logistical advantage the enemy forces may enjoy, by virtue of being able to appear anywhere that is not an enemy's base, with proper and correct use.

A lot of the Chaos Stone Tech Research for the Rhuds are focussed around generating more attacks for even a single Rhud unit. Some of these units even come with abilities that promote this same trend of generating so many attacks, the opposition is simply overwhelmed by the quantity, of which supports the theme that the feel of this race tends towards, that of quantity over quality. This is even underscored with how the quality in firepower of the Chaos Stone Tech Weapons, is interchanged by the potential for the high loss of Rhud lives just from their usage of these temperamental weapons, with the sheer numbers of Rhuds that can be mustered by their rate of production and naturally cheap costs, in itself enforcing the playstyle of the Rhuds' as swarming with overwhelming numbers of low-grade attacks. It is through such regulations that the Faction of The Great Rhuds present a significant threat, with the theme of a heavy emphasis of the usage of Chaos Stones in weapons that go beyond the designs and capacities of other Factions, utilising them in addition as fuel for further, more powerful effects, with such power offset by the potential risk of the loss of lives in using the technology in the first place, a crude and yet no less potent dynamic.

There is just one determinating characteristic left, to speak of Chaos Tech Weapons, in how they have a mutagenic influence on the statistics of those units attacked by them. That is another thematic reason for their potency, as with the progress of the battle, even those enemy units that survive against these weapons are slowly weakened and lose their combat-efficiency, which once again synergises with the battle philosophy of the cheap but numerous Rhuds, having their great number of attacks enhanced in strength against an enfeebled foe.

Monday, 14 September 2015

The First Faction: The Civilisation of Humanity

The First Faction: The Civilisation of Humanity

We get on right to it, just as announced by the title, to the first Faction: The Civilisation of Humanity. I shall approach first with a description of the themes that went behind the design of the Human Faction. One main distinction to be made is that The Civilisation of Humanity, as it is canonically named, has a certain tangent away from usual representations of them, the "them" which is "us", in popular science-fiction. Rather, The Civilisation of Humanity is known and called for as a technological utopia, in which the best and height of what civilisation means, in its every protection and declaration of the rights of the individual person regardless of standing or worth, are made equal, and defended by highly humane laws, that are evolved only from the integral "humanness" realised in "Enlightenment", and the cooperation of mutual benefit that comes out of consequence, within the species. In other words, The Civilisation of Humanity is by its default, the most advanced form of civilisation in our gaming universe, by its egalitarian culture, and not just that, but the necessary development of technology that becomes by extension a product of it too, as an ideal utopia will naturally benefit and advance the state of what progress can be accomplished, by the lack of counterproductive and harmful competition, added onto the great efficiency that comes with the workings in common of the best minds of the human populace.

Besides this theme from the background, there are several others upon which the mechanics of how this Faction functions in-game, being Defensive, Ranged, the Promotion of Ranks to Elite Level, and Technologically Advanced. These are the core themes, but as can you see, they are a natural evolution and implementation from the background of the Faction, so the form and shape of how the Faction works and plays, organically reflects them. First, the theme of them being technologically advanced is understood as being highly integral to how us as humans work, live and function. Among all animals, we are the only ones to adapt our surroundings to us, instead of the reverse. And we are physically rather frail, relying as has been always, in order to survive in the wilderness of our prehistoric past, on the action of our intelligence, which has led to our symbiotic relationship with technology, one that we are highly dependent on, as a great augment of the means of our convenience in living.

There is also a theme on the fragility and preciousness of human lives, and how we attempt to resolve that by the act of gaining experience to become stronger and more skilled. Technology aids in this way by getting us more equipped with means to handle and overcome our own innate weaknesses, that are largely physical, and as such, a defensive philosophy evolves and is applied by the technological utopia that refers to itself as The Civilisation of Humanity. The title in the name itself suggests so. This is where the mechanic of promoting Human Units into a more elite level, with each successful completion of a Mission, comes in. And this is also where I have taken, and not completely forsaken, the original mechanic of winning in Nexus Ops, which was to fulfill the criteria written on Secret Mission Objective Cards, in order to gain Victory Points and get enough before the opponent reaches the winning amount as well. Rather than removing that totally, which I realised of course if I was to alter Nexus Ops and resolve its main fundamental issue, being the lack of asymmetry between the four fighting Factions, and have it ported over to become part of the mechanics of just one of them, the objectives of the Secret Missions had to be entirely reworked, as they played out and worked on the premise that the four Factions were essentially the same. This might be one of the design reasons that the designers had to consider in the process, due to the mechanical issues in how the elements had to come together and work, resulting in the four identical Factions.

In other words, a large emphasis of the design is the same as my preference of working, or my design philosophy of gaining function, coming from theme. And I understand well too the shortcomings of such an approach, and it is wisdom that has me being flexible, even if my design philosophy gravitates from working from the basis of theme, and having the function of the mechanics and features to be defined and follow after the appearance as close to the theme, taking resemblance from the suggestion of how it is best represented and taken form. For me, there are two prime reasons, the first being there is a certain irresistable satisfaction for both designer and player, in knowing that the operations of the game are almost perfectly thematically represented and resembled, and close as ideal if the game was a reality. The second is that working from such an approach, of adapting function to theme, allows naturally a seamless balance, as the conspiration of the mechanics follow along the ideal feel and theme, that the design attempts to emulate. Essentially, what happens is the intuitive development of how the mechanics of the game work, on the fundamental structural basis as laid by the background of theme. I would even call it elegance. To understand this, we must note certain important design issues, that is in the end related to balance, of the determinants of what is arguably the hardest part of the game design process, being the determination of the values and numbers, the mathematical calculations of the statistical elements of the game.

Why should one feature have a certain number for a value? That in the end must be considered in relation to each other element, and then the whole, the crux upon which the balance is maintained. And there is a rather elegant and easy way around this, and that is to naturally work from theme to function, since you are acting on the premise of its plausibility as realism, and that when considering the features and factors to each other, theme provides a vague and broad outline for the fixing of those values that constitute the game, and we must realise one important yet subtle point that most are not aware of, or fail to consider. And that is something of relation to the functioning of Reality itself. It is like explaining why is it that our planet Earth and life itself, or those who live in it by extension, have such considerate and perfectly fitting and ideal settings, such as the amount of time we have within a single day, that determines and regulates the conditions of our experience of life, the duration, the amount of work possibly achieved within that timespan, which in the end moderates the speed of the international economic progression, to be so conveniently and ideally fixed, that the momentum of such operations that determines our pace of life, somehow works itself out.

This is the observance of an important concept in regards to how things work. And you wonder that quote from the economist Hayek, "The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.", and what it means. And the answer to that of course is that the regulation of the pace of economic progress, is of course in direct and comprehensive proportion to the unit of the individual, the capita on which forms its own measurement. Thus Hayek's questioning quote answered and explained. It is a question asked on the mystery of how and why economics seem to function, seemingly noticed by the sufficiently clever minds of those in the field of economics, and I suppose one of the critical observances is on how the pace of life in regards to the pace of economic progress somehow synchronises. And you realise now the sum of such actions are so optimally figured, we come to an understanding of how it is the same as it is with game design, in how the fixing of values can be aptly figured out when knowing that of the graduation of the difference of values from each other and the tenuous balance from their interwoven relationship, and you realise once again that same quote on economics, and the realisation where it applies here that it is entirely intergrated structurally because of what can be called a "nature of Math". If the "natural attributes" of Mathematics had not this "logical progression" intrinsic to its rational function, certain ideal computations, such as how a D6 die has a very agreeable numerical relationship to the limits of the to-Hit and to-Wound charts' value of 10, in the game of Warhammer and so on, would cease and disallow its function. It works because the sequence of set values of Mathematics allows us this possibility. Naturally, it is my belief that the function will flow with the theme, and because it is working on the premise of the rationale that the game is analogous to some probable reality, where the events and phenomena have a logical progression, thus so too will the function naturally enter coherence, and both balance and utility emerge in union.

I suppose there's something satisfying when playing a game, and having it emulate as close as possible, in devices and mechanics, the feel of the game when possibly ported over to a "realistic" simulation. And it itself is an indicator of true design skill, since having the design follow so closely after its semblance in Reality, requires some creative measure and ability too.

Moving on, you will realise the themes for the Human Faction has strong correlation to each other, with each encouraging the idea or notion of the other, such as how being a Faction that emphasises the protection of human lives, they have adopted a defensive philosophy, of which the reliance of technology produces powerful weapons that are meant to be used at ranged, thus further serving their doctrine in regards to warfare and military execution, the priority being the precious lives of a faction that holds "enlightened" utopian views, the only fault being its focus on only those from the same genetic stock. So they come together and is summed up quite appropriately.

A part of me hesitates at this point, on the level of detail and scrutiny I go into an exploration of this Faction, but the features as has been said in the emphasis of the themes, are shown in the details and characteristics of the Units, with all without exception being Ranged Units, with some even helpless when caught in Assault or Close Combat, being without the capability to attack in such a situation. On the issue of their tech, which as has been revealed, possess the characteristics of being highly advanced, as well as geared towards defence, suggests all that in emphasis with they do, and can do.

And this is where we get into something interesting. In fact, all the Factions have a mechanic to them that works almost like a mini-game within the Factions' mode of operation. For the Humans, as I have already mentioned, they are the only ones to inherit the mechanic from the original game, but in this purpose, do not rely on it for the gathering of "Victory Points", to win the game, but for the accomplishing of Special Operations Mission Objectives in order to gain Promotion Points, to promote the ranks of individual Human Units into elite ranks, boosting their utility and power. Those that are promoted gain new abilities, apart from the one they begin with, and every Unit can be promoted twice, in other words there are three "ranks", with the first being the default or "0 Rank", manifest as more a condition than an ability, that describes the character of the Unit, and the limits of what it can do. For instance the default Special Ability of the Sniper, or SA0, states that the Sniper may not attack in Close Combat. In a sense, the default "Rank 0" Special Ability is meant to define the character of the Unit, more than anything utilitarian. They are not always beneficial as an Ability, but might act as a limit or margin to what the Unit can do. In this way, a synergy between different fighting Units is encouraged, in the way you use each individual element to support the shortcomings of others, in order to create a powerful fighting force. This is a feature present in the original game that was taken inspiration from, in how the player was at some level, in order to create a powerful yet balanced force, forced to diversify his army into groups that contain both expensive, strong units, and cheap and weak ones, having the weak ones act as fodder in place of the more strategically-important elements and suffer damage, in order to protect the more expensive investments that are the stronger units. This is carried across too in Chaos Stone, but of course, it is on an entirely different level of complexity.

It is at this point that I feel I have revealed enough of the Human Faction, with perhaps the one lack of mention being the aspect of Buildings, and its importance on both a thematic level of background, as well as of use by the Humans. Among all the Factions, Humans have the greatest reliance on Buildings, which by themselves assert the technologically advanced nature of the Humans. They have the most different types of Buildings, with the characteristics of being slightly more expensive than their equivalents in other Factions, as well as being the hardest to destroy, in virtue of their high Defence Levels. Buildings are in fact a very important facet to the Humans, and their requirement in the Humans' deployment, is of high usage and significance, that might have great contribution to the final outcome and contention of the war, between the powers that are the Factions.

It is at this point that I feel I have to say all that there is sufficient, whatever I can at least, the minimal amount of discussion without revealing details that are best left known when playing the game, after acquiring it. I hope however that I have informed enough to tantalise and lure you into temptation, for a game that is as interesting as it sounds. Having we settled that already though? Peace. Out.

Friday, 4 September 2015

The Promise continues...

As I have established, it requires the careful synthesis of elements and features in the design, in order to create a fun, engaging and interesting experience, when making a board game or any other type of game for that matter, an act I have likened rather reasonably to art. Art becomes when style and aesthetics are successfully wielded into a form of grace and elegance, that is as yet functional. Art is in the process, when the expression of the design is achieved in its highest state, while by the guiding force of a person's sharp sense of aesthetics, reveals great skill in the undertaking, a breathless execution of consummation that almost seems intuitive. The mechanics could be distinct and separate, but by their interaction is birthed a cohesive and complex game design, of structurally-sound mechanics and the all-important engaging battle system. I would even go so far as to say that the complexity of the game is the crux on which is built its level of engagement, leading to the elegance and sophistication of its design. That complexity itself lends some form to it being interesting and fun, allowing for a wider scope of actions and decisions made within the dimensions and layers of the game. And the fun is in all the possible imaginings of such decisions you can take, the very interest of the game is in how it plays, basically the allowance of the level of interaction you can have with it, which is of course the core purpose and means of substance of a game, being the interaction of what you can do within it, through actions and decisions of strategy. Also, please do note that to agree with the propositions made in the earlier article, we need to rouse that 0.01% of the world's population that potentially play board games, to buy into mine, which is very much the meaning of this blog. If I get rich, you get more games, as my company grows in interest and investments.

I am not entirely sure how stocks work, but I suppose that is not of strong concern, given my creative ability, which I have down into a science. It is about the power of observation, of noticing and not ignoring the details, having the perseverance to have the sharpness of eye and mind to have a constant track of the many details invoked and assimilated by both experiential exposure and internal deliberation, while at the same time, holding a cohesive "whole picture" of the proceeds. Who says it is impossible to do both together? Not many know my secret life as an idealist, who constantly thinks and dreams of the formulation of ideas and plans, sometimes at a level that many might consider unrealistic, and for me to return to ground zero, but this is of course a very shallow view of the thinking and formulation process. A very two-dimensional view in fact. Just like being able to keep notice of the details that form the structure and substance of the work, while at the same time having a complete picture of it, "looking at the woods instead of just the trees", the question to ask is not whether it is impossible, but which is superior. And I have to say to know and notice the woods is to have you notice the trees as well. They come together, why divide and compartmentalise your thinking and formulising ability? Thinking in this "duality" is more a show of ignorance than anything, and for any that are in executive positions, and are successful in their endeavours, they should have some level of comprehension of the real deal when it comes to any work, to be beyond this dualistic thinking that one cannot have the other extreme. They probably are unable to describe it, or have never given thought to do so, which is of course a function of laziness, and a lack of accompanying awareness. This is part of what makes my feats so incredible.

And do not all works start off exactly as that, as ideas as well? So what I claim to those who have tasted the weakness of becoming "practical", in the face of the challenges of life, is that I have a strength, mostly remarking of intelligence, of my ability in realising those ideas into the exterior. Nothing is too imaginative, that is beyond my ability to express. This idea presented by those who suggest themselves as "realists", of whom I know of a few, are actually idiots. This is intellectual weakness, to suggest that to be grounded, it becomes impossible as to define as unrealistic, the approach of the idealist. To be honest, why is this even an issue? I have made some fair mention of it, in explanation of its cause, and that is because of a loss in coming to terms with the harshness of Reality, in which a certain fear or apprehension is created, forcing people to adopt the idea of being "realists", and deceiving that it is the most practical function, "grounded in practicality", and then they cease to dream too high or far. This is of course a severe lie, and more to do with the person being unable to reach such a realisation of potential.

It is for this that I say I am an idealist that is able to realise the idealistic approach of such into the concrete and practical of the realist, in this way being a true realist in realising and accessing a ceaseless and vast imagination, our birthright to Reality. By other remarks, I have merged the best of both, and dissolve the experience of duality seamlessly, achieving a true coherence with Reality, being a wholeness without any lasting dichotomy. For me, the two approach come together. I am both realist and idealist. And at this point, I realise quite well, the true form of what is interesting and fun, and that is "intelligence". The intelligence of operations, being the choices and actions wielded by the player, that allows for a satisfying mental exercise, absorbing the player and involving them deeply within the gameplay. The stimulation of what is fun and interesting appeals to the mental faculties, for reason of the ingenuity of the designs creating an experience of such involvement, realised by the great plays possible within the synergies and intricacies of the game, that evolves into a seamless play which tests and stretches the ability of the players at it, allowing a very fine appreciation of the game, encouraging especially at the higher levels of competitive play, displays of such tactical finesse, again a stimulus from cerebral activity, and when engaged at that level, reveals the great depth and many-layered dimensions of the game.

And true to my claim of being an idealist that can manifest and realise like a realist, I just had another brainwave for a new board game. Again, this board game was inspired mainly from watching an online Youtube video tutorial on Twilight Imperium (3rd Edition), and it also holds roots to Nexus Ops, borrowing from the same Turn Structure mechanic, almost entirely intact. Is this incredible, that I began a blog for one board game idea, and delayed mention of the finer details of it, only for an entirely new idea to be formed, right at the article that was supposed to finally address the first one? We will address each in sequence of inspiration. And to be honest, there has been many, many of which have suffered the loss of being, well, lost. Lost to memory, but recoverable, for I take only the best, and there are means beyond the norm or the ordinary, to resurrect such lost creative germinations within the thought-streams of the time of my past, within the remembrance of my conscious mind. This is the resort I must use, for I have contemplated and conceived of far too many things, for the rather modestly-sized brain matter I have, to keep complete track of every minute detail, within the complex processes that attempt to house such dense thought-matter. I have been working tirelessly, more of within the mind than of outside it, that has led me to say since my youth that I live within more than without. No human can safely speak of an understanding of me, given the many machinations and deliberations of investigative thought I have endeavoured, of which they have no way of knowing, since most of my interactions with Reality happen behind the veneer of form and appearance.

Interestingly, my own investigations have given me the weapon gained from mere observation, my power to profile others. While others have confessed to not understanding me well, I have these great eyes of insight, for which by my standards of qualification, strip away the mere presentation of their true character and personality. I have of course a track-record of high success to back that up, the score I have been given on my average success is 8/10. The highest I have gotten for the accuracy of my profiling is 9/10. And this is a skill I acquired, although the potential was always latent, and that I can TEACH. Not for free though, nothing is nowadays, not even spiritual help. The same can be said for my games, but really, these are masterpieces of art, and deserve every bit of the costs that come with them. I am not saying just mine, but it is my opinion that games are the very pinnacle of that expression, given the levels of effort required and the procedures that go behind their actualisation. A part of me at this point do realise that I failed in fulfilling that promise from the previous article, but hey, at least you get to know there is another board game in the works, which I will restate as to be inspired from both Twilight Imperium and Nexus Ops. Ciao, once again, of which I accede for your kind tolerance and patience for the unveiling of something promised for some time already, and anticipated as such. It will come, or it has indeed begun, with the revelation of the details of the first Faction, The Civilisation of Humanity. With its name announced, I won't be able to avoid writing about its description at last, and this teasing game will cease. Promise.

There is no such thing as a realist, only one who is incapable of realising grand ideas.

Monday, 31 August 2015

Is it here yet...?

So we got the basic idea: fun and interesting come together when the elements that form the functions of the game, are so well-designed that they synthesise a seamless experience from their interactions. It wasn't explicitly said in the previous posts, but it was implied to some extent. In other words, in the end it took 3 articles to get to a full and proper explanation of the Science of what makes something interesting and fun. And the point was only gotten at the end of it, at least defined so succinctly and concise. You would agree this to be a more direct and astute condensation of what essentially makes up the intellectual draw of what makes a game interesting and fun. So there we have it. Makes one think what I was writing about over the last two articles, eh?

Somehow though, it feels apt to begin for real now. Maybe because we have taken so long. I do realise something though, my imagination back then when we played Risk, didn't allow for the sophistication of board games at the level of what I consider my very first genuine high-quality ownership of one: StarCraft the Board Game. I never knew a board game could be that fun, and so sophisticatedly designed. On this note, we really should start with it. Let it begin, the countdown to one of my best board game creations, possibly ever, and the first to be launched under the name of my company.

Ok, let's take a conservative guess, that 0.01% of the population is interested in playing board games. It has to be more though, because board games are so fun, so we are just being conservative here. That means there is roughly 6,000,000,000 divided by 10,000, equalling 600,000 potential buyers for board games. If your print-run is only in the thousands, you are not making as much money as you can. I mean seriously, you design a bomb of a board game, and you are only making 1600 of it? The world is like a million times that amount in quantity, you can't possibly consider a game that is published and advertised across the world, to be successful with a print-run at that level.

I have to say I have such confidence in the strength of my design for this board game, especially on the aspects of how it is both fun and interesting, a science of my own investigation and practise, which has backed the design process to achieve these two characteristics, that c'mon, the world's population of board game buyers can't just be 1600! Where are all the other several thousands at least of people with the good taste to play board games? I am saying 1600 because I am reading off a website that provides information and guides on the design process, and especially on educating the technical knowledge required for the success of a Kickstarter campaign. And one of their examples for a successful Kickstarter campaign for a board game is a game that only sold "nearly 1600 copies", in those exact words. Either someone doesn't understand the meaning of what success really means, or he has such low ambitions that they are not called ambitions at all, more like wishful or wistful thinking.

Then again, he might mean on the first day of the launch, but from reading it, it doesn't seem so at all. Doesn't this mean that with my expectations, and the quality of the design of the game, on the grounds of it being both interesting and fun, I am looking at a prospect of billions!? Guys, start spreading the word for me, if you want to be stormed in a cascade of many different game creations over the next few years, and especially after I establish my game company. At this point, I am open to the recruiting of any who believe themselves talented, with a portfolio to backup that claim, in the areas of drawing, graphic design, music composition, story idea conception, writing ability, game design, programming, and associated works, which include all aspects of the design process of bringing both digital and analogue games to realisation. I do very well know I can't do it all alone, and frankly, with an ambition that even considers the taking over of large companies like Blizzard, Games Workshop and Fantasy Flight Games...well, let's just say I am the opposite of Mr. Kickstarter there. No aim too high, no dream too impossible...

And are we here yet? Is it anywhere close to the revelations that matter, that this design blog was started for? Which is if you haven't realised yet, the promotion of my first to be published board game, that will set and define the standards of the company to come. And have we come a long way in artful words, yet in over 8 posts, I have managed to delay the description of the board game, in the detail that gets our readers knowing what we are dealing with, especially on those design notions and standards, "how and why is it so fun and interesting", and is it really so?

Somehow, I find it quite untidy to start the details here, given this has been a lengthy post on its own merit, which it has several besides the obvious of delaying the real and crucial details of a game I have hyped so much. All I can say is that it is inevitable; and we will begin it all on the next post, so see ya, it is here for real this time! Promise!

P.S. Remember, it will only be possible with your support of my company and me! I am talking about those prospects of success in the millions, when I sell to those potential ten-thousands of patrons of the Human population that play board games. Looking at that 0.01%, I mean c'mon, board games are off-the-hook when it comes to how fun they are. You mean the total population of board game players don't even reach to 0.01%? Even 0.001% is a fair sum of around 60,000. I can't have it considered a sales success by selling only 1600 copies, and by gosh am I going to prove to you the great intricacy of the Science of Fun and Interesting that went into the ingenuity of the design of this bomb of a board game, if that's what it takes to sell in the numbers that really appear as true success, in my eyes. Thinking about it, which really is more ludicrous, my ambition or the supposed reality? Let's keep on dreaming, and let the comments rain in!

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

There's fun...yet.

But wait yet once again, for I am brought to an important point, that I will illustrate through an analogy. I have heard the greatest wisdom, of the summary of the point of Life, in the words of a Chinese sage: "the greatest happiness in life is to associate with the good spirit (of like-kind) and the greatest misery is to know too much and yet unable to be detached." And it is of the former that forms the basis of my analogy. Just imagine, as I can, since it was very much my youth, that you are hanging out with the best of friends, people who came over on a frequent basis because they enjoyed your company, and the feeling was mutual. At that point in the past, there wasn't much that could be done together, even if we had fun hanging out. Now, what happens when this experience is augmented by the introduction of those high-quality, well-designed board games that I will later become acquainted with, in life, after the years past of my teenagehood? And it follows from there, from the revelation of how much more fun such an experience will be, to be with friends of kindred spirit, and having the chance to play one of the many board games I rate highly on, not by the measures of just good design, but on that genius that comes together as a gestalt of a fun experience, I can safely call "interesting". Noting that the experience would have been enhanced, what makes it so fun exactly?

(On a secondary note, we did play a board game from back then, and it was an engaging affair as I have predicted, as much fun as Risk can provide. Also, the one I call my Mentor among that group was an avid StarCraft player like me, and in fact that whole group I associated with through my elder brother, played LAN games often together. It was by norm, StarCraft Brood War, but I did play some other games with my Mentor, like Dawn of War, which is especially apt, since we both share an interest and love for Warhammer, although him for Fantasy, and mine for 40k. I was introduced first and foremost to Fantasy, but that's another story.)

I think at this point, I can say safely as well, that my point has been brought across at some level. As I have mentioned beforehand, I am in the business of knowing, and then proceeding from there, the making of fun and interesting things. There must be a strong reason in the synthesis and coming together of elements that constitute the design and mechanics of a game, that they will produce an effect or appeal of the eventual product that is able to involve the players, and I believe the capture of that to be the brilliance of the rules, and the boldness of introducing radical elements into the game structure. This was successfully done with Forbidden Stars, allowing each of the four Warhammer 40,000 Factions to do some very nifty and "cool" executions, and make some of the most exciting decisions, allowing some very awesome engagements, by revolutionary bending the rules for some Factions, as they come against a rule and circumventing it, like being able to travel through a Warpstorm, when by the usual application of the rules, this is something impossible and not usually allowed. This feature or implementation suggests to be an interesting notion of itself.

This mentioning is just one of many such ways of stimulus to both the satisfaction of the intellectually-grasping mind, who revel in the mechanical synthesis of a brilliant game design, as well as for those who seek to play "cool" moves, taking them on a thrill of the accomplishment of some truly interesting feats. For me, interesting mechanics are a natural evolvement of thematically-written rules, but that might require another post all on its own. But I suppose it has always been a mental affair, and will always be with board games. You can expect a higher toll on the faculties, compared to the mindless engagement of a first-person shooter.

It should be noted on the reason why I quote the word "cool" (again, I did it), and it is the same one as for interesting. What allows a certain entity to gain the association and attribution of a quality, either interesting or cool, in whatever way it comes? This applies to all other situations, and it marks the development of the faculty of observation, but that's a little beyond our interest of discussion, being of course the creation of these two qualities within the merging of mechanics, in a game. How and why it works is within the domain of my business, being the designing of the best games possible. I say possible, because I believe in optimisation, a related factor to my own perfectionist streak. I believe that there is an optimal and optimised way in the dealing and enactment of actions, reflected in one's choices and methods of approach. I believe in an "ideal state", that can be achieved, with anything in excess of it removing it from perfection. I am not entirely sure how this philosophy of mine, developed along with my personality of near-anal perfectionism, and with the gradual realisations as they came with the experience of life, making me remark to my Guru of then, that "it is about balance", achieving a state ideal and not in excess of both its strengths and weaknesses. Like the revolution of the Dao.

It seems even with the devotion of two whole posts, I have yet to fully resolve and decide on the meaning and occurrence of what and how good design and rule-making lead to interesting gameplay. I suppose that's why the discussion was opened to the floor in the previous post, but if I was to be concrete on "what" constitutes it, from the educated guess of one who describes himself a talented creative, I should first mention that whatever that crucial element is, it has been hinted at in some parts, either by interesting propositions of thought-provoking and possible revolutionary decisions and actions that one can undertake, which the game both thematically and mechanically allows for, that leads to my first point being the thematic integration of the background of the game being coherently incorporated and brought through in a way that stays true to the fluff in a logical and comprehensive way, leading to the feeling that you are really engaged and playing that faction as how they might and should be represented in an actual warfare. Such kicks are the reason Ameritrash holds popular to a huge mainstay following.

The second point would be the possibility of the execution of great tactical and strategic finesse, in the controlling and mobilisation of the forces in the game, as well as the resource management that usually comes with it. This has led me to a realisation that a large part of not just what constitutes the fun factor of a game, but the content of the game's experience itself, is in the choices that one makes, or is allowed to, within the span of the game. These two aspects in entirety might actually be more crucial than the thematic flavour of the background integrated into the character of your favourite race or faction, for it is the crux on which the game functions on and is given life. In fact, this very feature works across all other mediums, whether playing StarCraft on, DotA 2 on Steam, and so on. Without the intellectual factor of clever mental exercise in employing and immersing yourself with the myriad of possible tactical options, and the intrinsic strategic value present already in the framework and structure of the game, the game will never draw the necessary crowd for it to rate. The beauty of optimal design balance only shines through how well-designed the game's strategic package is, all the way from the determining of the parameters of the lowliest unit or worker within the game. And the beauty is shown when they all come together in the perfect execution, creating a most formidable display of those satisfying actions that led to you seeing your ingenious battle plan work in the way you desired; that is a beauty unrivalled as it is optimal, never needing more or to take away from it any less. Certainly the reason we call it cool, and the reason why it is interesting: because it was damn well designed so.

And having quite exhausted and written as much a deal on this issue as I can muster, I will leave the rest of those valid points remaining, to be fed to me through your engagement with the comments, of which will surely nourish the burgeoning, maturing, and nascent creative mind that is both me and my company. Or should it be the reverse?

Friday, 21 August 2015

The Factor of Fun

But before we get on with the exploration of the game's Factions, let's divert our thoughts to an exposition that provides a foremost understanding of the philosophy governing what makes a game fun. The need for this presents itself in having you follow and understand the progression of the design process, in how one of the guiding basis was to make a game that is fun, even as it naturally evolved so, and through this process explain the mechanic that makes not just this game interesting, but expanded upon, philosophise on what makes anything attain the quality of being interesting, in the first place. In fact the question itself is interesting: why and what makes something interesting? This was a past investigation of mine. I am quite the autodidactic expert in this area, and I must support my claim on the sole determinant in this business, to be good, refined taste. It is my belief in the universal appeal and draw of works of good taste, I believe in the idea of objectivity, even in the realm of aesthetics. There are reasons for this, and for a man that has dedicated the early part of his life exploring what makes something interesting, believing in the idea of universal appeal through tasteful style, that is determined on an objective basis in regards to the issue of good design, this comes to be understood on the level as a science, even as an art, with an accompanying philosophy to unveil the ontological nature of.

The whole works basically, and we will go through each one piecemeal.

I will begin by describing the culmination of my theory, given what I can recall mainly, concerning my own studies of interest, towards the study of "interest". And apart from that bad pun or tongue-twister, I will outline my basic philosophy in regards to good design, and this truth like all others, operates on the same fundamental principle that governs all actions and phenomena in Reality. Knowing this allows you to have an increased understanding of the utility of your resources for creative output and story-telling.

What makes something interesting?

A basic breakdown from there might have some put forth the obvious, that not everyone will agree on liking the same thing. For various reasons, even in the most well-designed and reckoned of ideas, with a very apparent high fun factor, there will be detractors, and I tell you what we do with those: WE IGNORE THEM. You must understand, it is usually the case when this is so, is due to certain unique and personal reasons on the part of these individuals, for instance a certain unreasonable preference for computer games over board games, maybe because the player wants his fun fast and yet satisfying to play, and dislikes the requirement of time most board games demand, given a tight work schedule, that doesn't allow for such extensive use of his preoccupations. I believe this to be usually the case, and once again declare the fundamental grounds of objective taste and preference, that it is indeed universal, for which if not, there will be no understanding the specific trends leaning towards products of what is unqualifiably good design. There is a reason for the tendency of the masses, in the arenas of fashion and fun, but it should be noted by a philosopher such as myself, and I do more than just theorise on game design issues, that such a claim or belief in the idea that the mass is always right, is only true in those aforementioned issues. In many others besides, carried into notion by the invention of democracy, what that is popular has been proven by its own device to be questionable, usually, within the test of time. Of which I have digressed.

That is the foundational basis for good design, to rely on your own sense of good taste, and to not operate on the principle of tailoring to the wishes or preferences of the fanbase, but do listen on those areas where their weight applies. This requires a level of astuteness in observation, that might be held as the wisdom gained from experience. The reason for this is very important, because when you approach the design process this way, you are working towards your own self-qualified standards and have full quality control, and you should have a clearer idea on the art of it, since you have taken it upon yourself as your desired profession, so do not cater to the expectations of others, even if there is a clever and sly reliance on feedback, in using the best of the raw data to further enhance and inspire further progress of any of your works. In those cases, the eyes of more, in the admittedly rarer cases where a player has some of that same astuteness you ascribe to your own judgement, apply in the case from the increased probability gained of large numbers in statistics.

The best designers always rely on themselves, because that's why they qualify as designers in the first place, eh? There is no harm though in integrating the usual good idea that appears on forums once in awhile.

Now, the idea of what is fun and interesting goes together rather intimately, but its genesis in people is usually sporadic at best. There are those like from the West, with their education system based around creativity and free-exploration, developing an exponential relationship with those from a place like my country, where there is barely any ability shown in that regard, together with the lack of articulation I mentioned in a past article. In this way, and have been proven to me many times, Westerners are far more creative than the people here, and as I have implied, it is to do with the trend encouraged by their education system. This brings to mind, an anomaly, being me. How then, in this wasteland of null-innovation, that a pedigree of my degree of creativity, exists? I assure you, like most other questions pertaining to life, I do have the answers for that.

It is primarily to do with what I have revealed previously, I believe, on how I came to understand what they mean by to "meet your Maker". And when I realised that, I realised two things, that first there is a deeper meaning of how "I am my own Maker", which applies to me uniquely, in how a large part of what constitutes my personality and understanding of life, as well as my myriad gifts, are born from the constant development of them through introspection, and the heavy thinking on weighty matters, just like any qualified philosopher, starting almost naturally so from as young as I can recall, almost as breathing is to living. For the second meaning, it has come to me as a spiritual revelation on the seeming true interpretation of what those words really mean, and their relation to the journey of life, the crux of which details the progress of one's personal character, as being "made" either externally or internally in my case, as a response towards larger circumstances surrounding your present situation. That could very well be what it means to be a Truth-Seeker, to "meet your Maker", to become self and God-realised, to know Truth, to become Enlightened, to know God, to be moulded and fashioned by the Father Creator, and to be one with the Dao. Do note, the proper wording should be Dao, not Tao, and the religion is Daoism, not Taoism. I would know, I am half Chinese.

This might just be different approaches to viewing the same thing, the same act, the same phenomena, which is essentially the growth and maturation of a child into an adult, gaining a greater and higher understanding of yourself in the process.

So we come to a point of discussing the factor of fun, of what makes something interesting and fun to play. And I should state a strong point in the contribution to this discussion being that when a game's mechanics, and what I will refer to here as the creative gestalt constructed by the game's interacting synergies, it attains by its many aspects, functions and components, such a high realisation of what it can optimally be, that a certain "genius" is achieved, in how the elements come together to devise such a mind-blowing and intellectually-stimulating experience, that a universal appreciation of the game's fun factor occurs. That is the reason for the mass appeal of good design, that some feel contentious, compared to others. To me at least, which is what I am basing this theory off, it is the intellectual and mental stimulus provided by the elements of a game working together, that first interests me, and then strikes across as truly great design.

Balance and synergy is what creates this cataclysmic reaction close to an orgasm. And since I have implied this to be a "discussion", I am explicitly opening the floor to all those who are interested in the science of what's "interest", to counter back with your fiery claims. I presume largely that there will be none. And we get to another point of interest, in regarding why I call this science to be both conjoined with art and philosophy. For the former, it is simply that the devisings that go on behind the curtain of game design is like a creation of art in its highest expression, almost a skill even, a knack in bringing together the harmony of disparate elements, through the grounding laid by the framework of the rules, with true artistry evident in knowing and detecting issues of balance, and the foresight of determining and guessing the progression of the work, steering and guiding with an intuitive grasp, even before it is completely conceptualised. This requires a level skill that can be considered art, and to come up with a game that is fun and interesting is no easy feat for anybody, not even for those who make it seem easy. For me, it has to be remarked on the pace and form of good ideas in my mind. I have been constantly thinking since I was young, that I have even described and labelled myself by the term of being a "natural thinker", if there ever will be such an application of a term. Thinking about it, is there really ever attributed a skillset to game design, as we do with drawing art or composing music? This by itself defines the art of game design as something far above the natural ease as it comes with other type of creative works, given they are more associated to gifts and talents that one are born with, while game design is a wide-field that has no obvious genetic roots.

And of course, the issue of what fun and interesting really is, has the usual weighings and ambivalence of a multitude of numerous standpoints, that characterise issues of philosophy.

Even then, it is my belief, of the black-and-white of reality, and the extreme and absolute views I hold, within a scale of graduation between both colours, or one the lack of, that even if I do acknowledge the "shades of grey", reaching a definition of one of the absolutes instantly puts it on a separate distinction from the grades before, that cannot be approached without attaining a distinguished quality and attribute, something that we call the "gestalt". And so what I attempt to instruct is that I have strong, stubborn views that there is a definitively, optimally, objective idea towards qualities of good taste, of what is fun and interesting, and even of beauty, that one elusive question that has avoided successful conclusions all the way back to the ancient Greeks. It is this one philosophy that will prove the deciding determinant in my future endeavours, and it is hoped I will offer an influence to the world in regards to those matters of interest, concerned by those who always bothered about those slight shades of nuances, that colour and define the creative realm.

So this is the governing background in regards to my philosophy and theories of the creative art. And I have shown and proven that the nature of game design itself, is both science, art and philosophy. I have to admit there is only so many I can formulate now, given certain impairments that are of course no concern to those seeking to comment, but on that note, the discussion is let loose and opened now. Would love to hear the thoughts to add onto my own repertoire, and I can't help but feel some interaction with my future clientbase would be good promotion of business and rapport.

And so it ends here the basic background of where my creative tendencies come from, and the start, the beginning of my first major project into the international market, Chaos Stone the Board Game. Can we begin now already?

Also, here's something of interest for you, since we are on the topic: