Monday, 1 September 2014

Q&A - First Law: Override (Part 1)

Greetings friends!

I think it's safe to say that enough time has passed for me to answer a little Q&A. These questions are all the usual ones you get, I did a similar one via my first podcast for both MaliQuest and it's offspring; CRYPTS.

At some point in the future I would like to do a follow up, a Part 2 if you will, and if you have any questions I would gladly here them.

What is First Law: Override?
I think I've answered this enough already, but to keep the Q&A complete I'll throw it out there once more.

First Law: Override is a cooperative scifi campaign based miniatures role play game where players work together, join different groups for support/aid and engage in timeless adventures.

What size board is First Law: Override played on?
FL:O is played on a two foot by two foot board (2x2).
The reason behind this is that encounters in FL:O are supposed to be quite tight and focused with NPCs rarely reaching as high as double figures but each one being of importance.
Also FL:O has many different settings, from the industrial cyber punk setting of The Block to deep space itself, a wide range of terrain can be used and so keeping the amount actually needed for each setting helps keep both costs and availability as manageable.

How does FL:O play out?
Combat and encounters for FL:O is all done with dice where the choices made by the players have drastic effects on the game.
As there is no Games Master or 'GM' controlling the Non Player Characters (NPCs) these are controlled via the players in a Round-Robin manner, however the actions of the NPCs are dictated by a very straight forward AI structure outlined by a series of character types. What this means is that every mission presents the players with a puzzle that they need to solve in order to progress. Failure to solve the puzzle however does not mean the end of the game thanks to the Story Arc System or SAS.

What is SAS?
SAS is how the stories play out. In short think of the 'choose your own adventure' novels that many of us read in our youth. Each story has a series of missions assigned to it; let's say 25 missions. However in a single play through you will only see a small number of these missions; say 3 of them.

What will happen is a number of choices are made available depending on what players may decide, for example; kill all NPCs and complete objective, sneak past NPCs and complete objective, fail objective. If you did a). Kill all, then turn to page 101 and do mission A, if you did b). Sneak past NPCs then turn to page 101 and do mission B, if however you did option b). and failed the mission, turn to page 306 and so mission F.

Then the following mission would in turn branch off depending on how you complete it (or fail) until you reach the final mission which would give different results depending on how you complete it. Fail all of them and you will likely loose equipment and possibly stay bonuses and/or XP, succeed at everything and you could get some sweet rewards.

Sounds good, so how do you prepare at designing a game like this? What is more important, Story or Rules?
After reading and listening to lots of people talking about game design via blogs, podcasts etc I have come to the conclusion that the standard format is to create a solid ruleset and then fit the theme and story around that.

I have argued before about how designing story first can in circumstances be more important than rules, and it is my view that in this sort of situation this is exactly one of those circumstances.

With most games the focus is on the gameplay, where the fun is had pitting the wits of one player against another player, for this to be enjoyable a solid ruleset is required. In FL:O the story is everything. The SAS needs to play a story in a certain way, in order to do this you need to know a number of things including but not limited to; the limitations of the universe created and what a character can and can not do. If you miss any if these bits out then the SAS can not be designed to take into account player choices, instead the game end up with players looking at their results and trying to shoehorn them into the few poorly selected pigeon holes available.

So is FL:O a Competitive or Co-Operative game?
FL:O is a 90% Co-Operative game, this is thanks to the lacking of a full time GM and that all players share the same major mission objective, however there may be some situations where they have private missions at odds with other players and how they play out depends on how the players negotiate this with themselves.

The 10% Competitive is to allow for an arena style expansion that I have planned where you and your buddies can take your characters into a Sponsored Arena Tournament and earn currency by fighting each other. Combat is brutal in the Arena Tournament, but thanks to Re-Spawners is never permanent.

What about priority? Is FL:O a Primary or a Secondary game?
I would argue that FL:O can be a primary game in the same way that Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) is. That is to say for those who's boxes are ticked and feathers are tickled it can easily slip into their game of choice, but like D&D many gaming groups can play it as a secondary game that sits alongside their main games, perhaps a club that meets every week might play through a story once every 4 weeks or similar.

Finally what sort of missions should players expect?
These are split (currently) into three types:

- Action: You're in a location with an objective and NPCs, how you deal with them is up to you. Terrain can be anything from industrial to wilderness.

- Investigation: You're in a deserted location; a facility or a spaceship and you have an objective to complete, but wait what's that sound coming from the air duct? Terrain is mainly indoor.

- Space: You're in the depths of space piloting a ship and have an objective to complete but hostile NPCs, how you deal with them and the objective depends on not only on your gunnery skills but also your pilot agility and timing.

These missions can come in any number of order allowing for something that should appeal to most fans of the sci fi genre.

And on that note; it's good night from me! Stay safe and I'll see you Fringeside!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

No comments:

Post a Comment