Wednesday, 29 July 2015

How it feels to be totally pwnd in Override

Greetings friends!

Last night me and Tom played a game of Override over Vassal with some interesting results.

For starters after playing our game with miniatures on a real board the other week (first real in person game for months) using Vassal just isn't the same.

So much about this game is visual and about the use of height. To varying degrees this just isn't possible with the use of Vassal.

Secondly; I got totally pwnd! Not only did I make bad decisions but I was outmatched and outgunned at all occasions.

Looking back over my results I can see that part of the problem I faced was down to trying my best to allow every model compete in all situations - giving them all close combat as well as ranged weapons. Really I should be instead giving certain units certain weapons and making the most of them that way. All those ranged units with melee weapons add up to about 100Nt wasted. Same with those who are melee focussed but given shotguns.

I understand where this mentality comes from; it's left overs from games like Necromunda where you needed to have every gang member compete in both situations. This isn't the case in Override. Instead with Override, as every game is limited by the points you can bring you want to be as cost efficient as possible. If you have a melee unit, you want them to be as good at melee as possible, and you want to use all their actions to maximise this. Any actions which are not utilising them to their full potential are wasted actions that could be better spent doing something else.

This is something that forces like UEF are particularly useful for as with the right equipment they are able to divert Interact Actions from one model to another (such as allowing a single dude with a missile launcher to make 3 shots in a single turn).

So what happened?

For starters the game was rushed. We were short on time and looking to test a couple of things/changes but only had 2 hours to do so.

Now playing a game of Override in 2 hours is actually quite easy to do once you are familiar with the rules. Where other games celebrate having a low model requirement of 8-12, Override tends to have 3-6 models each side. When each unit can only do 2 actions a turn, that's only 6-12 actions per side per turn!

The problem we faced is 2-Fold:

1). As we are still testing and re-testing, we can't just 'play a game'. Instead we have to analyse what we are doing and if that is fair, balanced and fun.

2). Tom & I like to talk while playing our games, and before the game and even after the game. In last night's case, with 2 hours available, 30minutes of those 120 minutes had passed before we even started placing terrain! This isn't a bad thing, but being aware of the time limit I almost certainly didn't take the time I should have to ensure I was making the right moves.**

** Also I had lots of things I wanted to test out; fun new gadgets if you will, things like the Teleporter for my Hacker. As such I made the classic MMO "Watch this!" mistake (you know the one, you just learned a new ability, so want to try it out, have everyone looking at you, jump in front to the group, do your thing and then immediately faceplant).

Then there was the case of bad dice. When I tried to attack with things like my HMG equipped with a DigiScope, I rolled high, when it came to injury rolls at the end of the game, I rolled low killing off 3 of my force instantly loosing their skills and equipment. Harsh but at the same time we had previously played many games (maybe 5-8) and had only 1 death. It's not a flaw with the rules, only bad luck.
- However, considering we're looking at people who were hit dead-on by Bio-Seeking Explosive rockets, it's not particularly surprising that they were killed. It's not as if either you or I could survive that sort of hit.

But you know what? I had a blast!

I really enjoyed it, every moment of getting my Kratel ass handed to me was sheer fun! Largely because it felt right. As my Red Claw ran towards the enemy base, out stepped a dude with a missile launcher and maintained peace through superior firepower!

Now let's be honest, how many games have you played where you had your ass handed to you? Where you were out smarted & out gunned at every turn, but you still enjoyed every minute of it?

Until next time; stay safe and be excellent to each other!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

#OVERRIDE: Introducing Anchorage Falls

Greetings friends!

Today I would like to introduce you to a new location on Honos, the world that Override is set:

Anchorage Falls
Designation: City
Location: Northern Central Badlands

Located in the middle of the Badlands strip, nestled under a plateau of the southern Midlands region, the city of Anchorage Falls is a sight to behold for travellers the world over.

As a city itself Anchorage Falls does not provide much of note. It has a thriving industry in building the mining and research equipment utilised by the HMC but even this pales in comparison to the automated super-factories located in New Brasilia's industrial district. At night it's western sector comes alive selling all manner of goods and pleasantries to titulate a prospective buyer, but in turn this is nothing compared to even the most tame of market places held within the dust battered walls of Free Port. It's housing is mid-range in quality, however is only available to those who work within the city limits. Looking at the city from such a view it would appear at most unremarkable.

What Anchorage Falls has available to it however is it's water refineries.

From atop the Midland Plateau the Azure River descends in a waterfall rivalling Niagra in height and from which all water available within the Badlands is harvested and distributed accordingly. It is from this waterfall that the city received it's name.

As time has progressed Anchorage Fall's location has been realised as a site of great contention as every organisation and entrepreneur with the available capital has attempted to acquire the rights to the city for exclusive control of it's water and distribution to Free Port, the Block and the neighbouring towns, until recently none of these acquisitions were possible.

In the past year however the city's importance has been recognised by the Accord itself with the political powerhouse issuing a decree of ownership to ensure the fair distribution of water to all. At least within the city limits of Anchorage Falls. Once stock has left the city and reached the towers of the Block then whichever crime organisation currently controlling each sector is free to apply whatever levies they see fit.

Anchorage Falls is the only city on Honos which is under the direct control of the Accord, and as such with continuing escalation in tension between both the Accord and Reaver organisations, has become a regular site for trade negotiations and conflict resolution.


So that's the fluff, but what does Anchorage Falls offer players that none of the other cities do?

In short: a near modern setting. Anchorage Falls' architecture is a lot less glass and plastic, and instead it's buildings are more concrete and metal.

This is where your 28mm modern day terrain comes in, or even your 40k if it is more industrial and less 'scifi-gothic'. The city still has height available to it much like New Brasilia or even The Block, but where as New Brasilia is white and blue plastiglass spires and The Block is rusted and polluted industrial-hive, this is concrete tower blocks.
- Think the London skyline only without the dildo-shaped gherkin.

And that is Anchorage Falls.

From here on while we work on Book 1 we are unlikely to introduce any more cities, and instead (if deemed desirable) may introduce a notable town or settlement. But this should be it in terms of cities.

Saying that, we have plans for more than just 1 book, and with every book the storyline is due to progress. So who knows what else is to come? Maybe you'll see Free Port raised by the UEF or the Block turned to rubble by HMC D-Charges?

Until then; stay safe and be excellent to each other!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Friday, 24 July 2015

Sunrider Academy: A Second Opinion

Greetings friends!

How often have you played a game, watched a film, listened to music or read a book and felt totally emotionally involved with it?

For the past number of years you have probably seen a meme along the lines of "The Feelz!" and in recent years I have seen this applied to countless games including the Bioware cash cows of Mass Effect and Dragon Age. Personally however, despite greatly enjoying a number of these games my emotional involvement was marginal.

Enter Sunrider Academy, a game which managed to unlock my stonewalled heart and for the first time in years feel empathy for fictional characters.

Now this game was recommended to me by a friend who after watching a stream of me playing Corpse Party and going bright red from embarrassment of having to narrate the line "butter my pooper" on air, thought having me narrate this game would be a laugh riot. After only twenty minutes of trying this game however I was sold on it!

What is it?
So Sunrider Academy (SA) is an adult visual novel or VN. What this means is that most of the events of the storyline are pre-written and require minimal input from you as an audience to read. It still requires reading however as all dialogue and narration is written but appears in easy to digest chunks displayed over the top of a static image depicting the scene going on. More often than not this is in the form of a background with a character or two imposed in front.

You may have noticed my use of the word adult and I will come to that in a bit.

What is the story behind SA?
So SA follows the story of young adult called Kayto as he starts his second year at Sunrider Academy; a school set on a fictional scifi world where as well as managing his social and scholastic lives he also has to somehow achieve the impossible in the form of a bet he made with his younger sister to get a serious girlfriend before the end of the school year.

So far so much normalcy. We've all been young once where the idea of being single, getting a girlfriend and all that jazz was the most important thing ever, so it's not as if it is hard to relate to.

What is more however is that the character and his exploits are almost a parody of real life. He isn't just a loser, but he is a mega bumbling loser. When he tries to impress a girl, he will almost always say the wrong thing, and the few times he actually does come across as suave and intelligent that is always when his younger sister arrives to put him down.

This parody carries on further, but again - more on that later.

Is there any actual 'gameplay'?
Yes. At it's core SA is a statistic management game.

Thought the events that unfold you will have a series of things you need to do, like overseeing club practice for the school Swim, Kendo & Science clubs (all of which are captained by the girls who go on to be your friends and girlfriend(s). Everything you do that furthers your statistics increases your stress levels, and you can reduce your stress by doing certain activities like playing games at the local arcade. Doing so however reduces your intelligence (another example of parody right there, losing intelligence in a game by playing another videogame) so at every stage you need to keep your beneficial stats like intelligence, charisma, fitness and luck as high as possible, while keeping your stress levels as low as possible. If you get too stressed you will get sick, and eventually die.

At times this mechanic can get repetitive and even a little boring, but that is inter spliced with story and interaction with the other characters, and it is those stories which keeps you carrying on, not the game play itself.

What's all this about 'parody'?
Ok so before I go any further, this game is actually a spinoff of another game, that game being Sunrider: Mask of Arcadius. In Sunrider you are a spaceship captain who has to save the galaxy with a crew comprised of the same girls you have as friends in SA.

The idea here is that SA is not a sequel to Sunrider, but instead a "what if?" in another universe.

Throughout the game references are made back to the original game, sometimes as knowing nods to the audience, other times as self mockery of itself. An example of this being when you confront the captain of the Kendo club about how much her club is in arrears, which she declares in an exaggeration is enough to buy a nuclear warhead. Obviously in this reality it is nothing like that, but the joke being that in the original Sunrider that was how much it cost to buy the Nuclear Warhead Upgrade.

A lot of these references past me by due to the fact that I have not played the original Sunrider, but do have it queued to play in future, however with this knowledge as an audience member you can still clearly see what is meant to be a nod or joke and I did not find that detracted any from the experience.

At the same time the game is very much self aware, often joking about the lead character (Kayto) and how his whole life previously was spent in front of his computer playing dating sims, while I as a player am sat in front of my computer playing a dating sim.

Sunrider Academy is very much aware of this, and will on regular occasions bash itself and it's own genre; like how if you impress your sister with a certain dialogue option she will make a joke about her approval rating increasing to which you will reply about it not being an EROGE (erotic or hentai game) which this game is.

These continuous tongue poking at itself leaves a strong sense of light heartedness running throughout the entire game. It never takes itself seriously and in doing so encourages you as an audience member to do the same.

What about humour other than self parody?
Sunrider Academy is a freaking hilarious game! Between the polarised initial attitudes of the characters and the eternally perky personality of your little sister, there are moments where I actually had no choice but to laugh out loud.

The writing is so fluid and organic that jokes and moments that in other situations might feel forced and put on instead feel natural and genuinely funny.

Maybe it is because I am male myself, and so the constant pathetic nature of Kayto is less observed and more felt, but on more than one occasion his situations were ones that I too had gotten myself into at school, or if given the same circumstances could see myself getting into.

Despite being a fictional setting in the far future this game is still relatable and that is where it's humour stands strong as it mixes the ignorance and naivety of youth with the pressures of growing up.

What about other emotional involvements?
Ok so I said earlier that I have not been this emotionally involved in a game in a long time, and that is not just from the humour.

As the storyline progresses you learn so much about the other characters as they organically shift from the extremely polarised personalities into rich in depth characters, and on more than one occasion I caught myself getting swept up in the emotional turmoil of teenage romance and even shed a tear or two as the storylines progressed and characters grew closer or were torn apart.

But of course each story is different.

You see there are 4 girls in the game you can attempt to romance;
Asaga - The hyper ball of energy leaving a whirlwind of destruction in her wake.
Chigara - The shy intelligent girl who was forced to run the science club but wishes she could spend her time baking pastries.
Sola - The quiet mysterious girl who works in the local shrine and appears lost in her own thoughts 99% of the time.
Ava - The stern strict friend you've had since childhood. She looks down on you for being a bit of an idiot but clearly has more going on in her life than she is letting on.

You can only romance one of them, and each story will provide you with a different experience. Some are truly sad and emotional, others are funny and uplifting while others are just total headfucks!

To get all of these reactions out of a single game not only requires replay but means that for at least the first 4 attempts, your story will play out differently.

What about the adult content?
Ok so as I mentioned before; Sunrider Academy is an Adult Visual Novel. There's no getting around this, there is plenty of T&A and other adult content, to the extent almost as soon as you start the game you are presented with a hyper-happy opening sequence with an over-the-top-upbeat Japanese song and suspect imagery meaning that you are under no illusions of just what you should expect from this game.

Just how adult the game is, is up to you the player.

As the game is available on Steam, and as Steam has a rule about not selling any sex games, all the scenes in SA have been stripped out and replaced by either censored content or removed altogether. It is my understanding that while the game is still playable in this form that certain scenes do not make so much sense without the adult version to make sense of it all.

That however is not something I can personally vouch for. As I hold two copies of the game on my computer, one uncensored and one censored, this way when I build up the courage to actually stream this, with hope what I will be streaming will not be XXX rated, but to date I have yet to play the uncensored version.

But like I said, as a user you can control the adult content by visiting the website for the developer (Love in Space) you can easily download a patch to put the missing content which also adds additional game modes and further options.
- In short the uncensored version is how the game is meant to be played.

So it is a sex game?
I am shitting you not when I say that simply labelling the game as a 'sex game' is putting it down too much. Yes there is (graphic) sex content within, but what makes the game strong is the depth of character and storyline and I honestly believe that if the game was built to not have any of that content that it would still be a strong game.

Saying that, I must also admit that as someone unfamiliar with the whole 'Waifu' scene, I do not know other people's expectations or standards. Perhaps there are reasons that these scenes were included that I as a stranger to them is unaware of, or maybe it is simply as the creator put it on his

Does this mean you are now a fan of VNs or EROGEs?
To me that question is like asking if liking one book or film makes you a fan of a whole genre, or books!

No I am in no way sold on the idea of dating sims or visual novels, enjoying one does not mean I am a fan of the genre, and I mean this simply due to a lack of understanding and exposure.

What I am sold on however is the writing talent of this particular writer/author and as such as mentioned before I have already downloaded the original Sunrider game (which as it turns out is free on Steam) and depending on my experiences with that may be looking forward to the sequel Liberation Day.

Would you recommend this game?
As always this is a difficult question for me.
I found this game really emotionally involving and as I opened with; for the first time in a game I felt "the feelz". But as with everything, not every game is for everyone.

If you have never tried a VN and we're interested in giving them a go then I probably would say that for me this was a good introduction, largely due to the combination of storyline and stat management so you feel like you are doing more than just letting a story play out on your screen. I think that without this extra mechanic the game would have still been enjoyable, but perhaps I would have taken more for granted and not appreciated the story based breaks as much as I did.

If however you are familiar with VNs then of course I have no idea if I should recommend it as I do not know how this compares to what else is on the market. Instead I would welcome you to reach out to me and let me know what you think is the best you've played and why.

On that note, as always; stay safe and be excellent to each other!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Friday, 17 July 2015

Of Lizard Brains & Blog Posts

Greetings friends!

So it's been a funky couple of weeks down at Chez Loxley including travelling across the country, playing an in person game of Override, talking about Override, being unwell, adventuring through dense overgrowth and spending more time than I should playing a Visual Novel (more on that another time when I can figure out how to discuss it without sounding like dirty perv).

But I wanted to reassure you all that I'm very much alive, just kind of hibernating at the moment while I wait for my body to recover.

In the meanwhile i'd like to have a quick chat with you all about an expression I've been using a lot recently.

I first heard (or should that be read) this expression in the thoroughly captivating book Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay.

That phrase is of course The Lizard Brain! The first time I read it, it captured something in my imagination, the perfect description of instinct.

Of course I learned shortly afterwards that this is a common phrase and has been in use for literally decades. So I'm a little behind the curve on this one.

But today, while looking for a good description for someone in the office who questioned the meaning in my context, I came across an interesting blog post: Quietening The Lizard Brain.

Give it a read, and while I can see in the comments there is some dispute over the writer's scientific understanding, the principal of it being the region of your brain that covers instinct is still strong.

What I find most interesting about this is just how much I disagree with the principal of this post.

Essentially (and correct me if I'm wrong) but the author suggests that we as people should be suppressing our Lizard Brains, that it is this part of us which has the addict relapse, and every other form of "I don't know why I did that" idiocy.

This may be right, it may be wrong, but I was left with a strong feeling that actually the advice was misleading.

If the Lizard Brain is our primal instinct, then is this not a part of us that we need to listen & acknowledge?
- Note; I am not saying act on.

As people we all suffer from the Duality of the Human Condition. We spend millions on cities & skyscrapers only so we can go on weekend retreats to get 'back to nature'. We thrive in communities and long for a home of our own but often poll as having a 'fear of being tied down'. As a species we thrive on conflict both physically and intellectually, but we go to green rallies and run around with 'down with the armed forces' banners.

If one part is our intellectually evolved brain and our Lizard Brain is the primal side, then surely quietening one is only going to make things worse?

There are many analogies I can use; a pressure cooker, anxiety & stress, hell even water in a pipe will do! But one thing we have seen as a universal truth is that when you try and stop something that wants to be let out, if you put a lid on it and try to suppress it, the pressure builds until the end result is an explosive release!

These things need to be released, and it's a natural part of life itself. It's why when we develop technology and tools that deal with pressure we keep that in mind; do we want s gradual release? or do we want the explosive release?

Surely the same would be true with the Lizard Brain?


In what is pretty much archaic psychology, you had Pathos & Eros, the sides of your unconscious that dealt with destruction & love, both of these are primal reactions; we're looking at Flight 'n' Fight combined with our need to reproduce. These are part of who we are and need to be acknowledged.

We all have in ourselves the potential to do great things, but also do great harm and what is the difference between them if not tempered control?

Aggression can bring an athlete to the peak of their performance, or drive someone to hurt an innocent bystander. What is it that is causing the aggression? What is it that drives you to perform well in certain circumstances or feel a strong desire to punch someone's face in others?

We're talking about the Lizard Brain again.

How many times have you heard about someone mentally snapping, of the metaphorical straw that broke the camel's back? What causes this snapping? For a good natured office worker to one day put down their pen, unsling their tie and open fire with a handgun into their coworkers?

It's not because they spent too much time listening to their lizard brain, it's because they didn't spend enough time!


Now don't get me wrong, I would never put myself on a pedestal as the master of a grounded personality, but I can take a lot of crap from people. I channel it into something that is beneficial and fun to do - in my case it's playing video games and shooting hundreds of pixels on a day to day basis.

Sure loads of people do this, but do they realise why? Is it just for fun or is it serving a purpose? For me it is largely purposeful. For those moments my lizard brain is king! As I walk down the hallway of the virtual world, my M41A in hand ready to shoot the next drooling xenomorph that jumps out with jazz hands, my lizard brain has the reigns, it's controlling my instincts and reactions and is ready to serve white hot lead justice to whoever my chosen target is for that night.

I've made peace with my lizard brain, I know that it is a heavily defining part of my life and to listen to it and acknowledge it's presence is a strength not a weakness.

For so long now as a people we have tried to distance ourselves from our primal cousins, to say that we are above and beyond the animals that not so long ago roamed our forests and woodlands. But give someone the right little push and you will see there is very little difference between us and a monkey bashing in another's head with a rock, or a wild beast rutting on a full moon.

Just think for a moment, what's better? Quietening? Or Tempered Control?

The differences are marginal but wide reaching.

Until next time; stay safe and be excellent to each other!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Thursday, 9 July 2015

#OVERRIDE: Evolving a Race - Part 2: Realising Potential

Greetings friends!

So where we left off we had the initial ideas behind the Hydan and Kratel. But for anyone following along at home, you'll know that this is nothing like the end result we have today.

Without further bumph, let's get on with the realising of the final product.


First up was the Kratel. For months they remained as we had them before, as bug like 'Clickers'. Then came the formation of the game itself and the creation of the working title Gang War.

With Gang War the needs of the race changed. It was less about fluffiness and more about practicality. Just what models could players use to represent a Kratel gang, be then Imperial or Red Claw?

Now remember, when Override first began, the Kratel were going to be few and far between, appearing mostly as a few NPCs experienced via the previous game format that was more focused around tabletop RPG and strategy. For this reason I had sourced the Shasvasti (or however you spell them) from the game Infinity. They didn't have tonnes of suitable models, but if you only needed a few for NPCs then this would be ok.

Now we were looking at a gang based skirmish game, and as such a greater volume of suitable models was needed.

It was around this time that the Infinity line was being expanded with their redesigned Morats, and one model caught my eye in particular:

Just look at this guy! He is clearly alien, he is impeccably sculpted and imposing in a way that I had almost never seen before on a 28mm model! In addition to this he captured something else in my mind's eye. Intended or not, this model looked like a more heavily armoured version of a Yautja Predator, something that has been a love of mine for the past 15odd years, and if you remember was one of the Space Warrior tropes I listed in my previous post.

So this got me looking, and I saw the new Morat Aggression Force starter set:

Just look at these guys! We have basic infantry, a flame thrower, and a dude in heavy armour, holding an Eff-Off heavy weapon that just looks too bad ass!

Without even meaning to, my search for models was leading me to create the redesigned Kratel. With just two purchases I would be able to have a Leader model, a dude in Heavy Armour with a HMG and 4 basic gang members (plus a female that was at the time surplus).

And so in a fell swoop the 'Clickers' were gone. The Cockroaches of the Galaxy instantly replaced with this race, but who were they? What was their story?

So back to the drawing board I went and out came my lore scalpel.

First to go was the insect-like appearance. That was easy to do, after all it was one of the last components to be added to their character type.

Next came their factions. We had the Imperials and Red Claw. Seems good to me! No reason that needs to change.

What else?

What about rather than cutting, we start adding? Let's look at the rest of the Morat line:

Well looky here! These guys as well as looking awesome look almost tribal.

So things are starting to fall in place and we're delving into more and more of a deep and rich story.

Where as before we were looking at what was essentially a gender war, now as well as that we also have the differences between advancements in tech vs tradition.

The Red Claw have moved on from simply being freedom fighters into instead being paragons for the old ways. The ones who remember the ways of their tribal elders, of honour and virtue that the Empire have sacrificed on the alter of technology.

But hold on a second, what about this empire? They sound like a bunch of pretty bad guys! How can we expand on that?

We know that they are matriarchal, treating males a little more than slaves and breeders, but what else?

We've introduced advanced tech to them saying that the Empire is all about being progressive while the Red Claw are about the old ways. Let's step back and look at human history, about the continuous almost inherent desire for power and corruption. What sort of organisation that is ruled by an authoritarian personality as you would see in an empire but is also progressive and pushing technology while squashing traditions of old and free thinking?

Now we're in the remits of the Fascist party, Nazi Germany & North Korea. We're no longer looking at just any group, we're looking at dictatorships and regimes.

From here the Imperial Regime was born. A group of Kratel who were strong enough that they didn't need to worry about reprisal from other groups, where they could set their own rules and laws and treat their citizens however they wanted!

Holy shit! Without even realising we have just created a setting that is ripe for decades of conflict and story about how we got there, but is also believable and realistic in the present.

But how did the Imperial Regime get to where they are? What drove them to establish their empire of oppression and tyranny?

Well last post we covered the Hydan. We know that the Hydan reside in their space-based crystal Bastion, but where were they before that?

Of course it all falls into place! The Hydan resided as the dominant species on Krata-Prime!

We have already stated that the Hydan were the most technologically advanced race in this region of the Milky Way known as The Outer Fringe. And what happens when two species are kept in close proximity of the other and one is more technologically advanced than the other? The advanced dominates the less advanced!

We've seen this in our own history, the strong controlling the weak. We like to pretend it doesn't happen anymore, and in some cases that it never happened in the first place, but it does and it did! It's human nature.

No; it's living nature. All life as we know it dominates over those that are its submissives or inferiors, if it happens on Earth, then why not on Krata-Prime?

The images are coming to mind now; towering crystal spires ruled by the Hydan while their Kratel slaves perform the menial tasks of their master's discretion. It's so very Roman & Egyption.

Like wise, what else did these ancient civilisations do? They didn't keep all their slaves purely for manual labour and war. Some, normally the less imposing females, were treated to a better life living as hand maidens or harems. In some cases they were even taught to read so that they could perform the desired tasks of their masters better.

What if the same happened here? What if the Hydan rulers kept female hand maidens to assist them? In a world where superior technology is what governs their control, these maidens would need to be taught how to use at least the most basic of tech in order to perform their duties, meanwhile the male slaves are left butting heads against each other to prove who is the strongest.

We also know that for some reason the Hydan left Krata-Prime, as they now reside in the Bastion. What if they abandoned the world to whatever terrible fate it was destined to? Leaving the Kratel behind? Leaving their own basic technology behind!

Those maidens with their basic understanding of this technology would be instantly catapulted ahead of the male slaves, especially if that technology included access to suppression collars, tasers and other tech allowing the females to maintain control over the male brute strength!


Let's just stop for a moment and look at this! We have not only established a look for this race, but we have created 2 feuding factions and a history going back generations! What's more, we didn't create this ourselves. These events created themselves. Through an almost organic flow of events the biology & history of this race has established itself in what I think is a believable race that could possibly exist within the confines of this fictional area of space.



Earlier we covered the Hydan and how their earlier involvement with the Kratel would have formed the current imbalance they now are experiencing on Krata-Prime that spills over into Honos the world where our game is set.

But what about them? What models would make a suitable Hydan swat team?

That was a more difficult one, and something I am still not 100% sure of, but I think I have a few options available.

So initially I took a look over the Infinity line, the most obvious to me being the Tohaa range, and what a range it has!

Just look at these beauties! Throw in some line troops and you are good to go, plus colouring goes a long way here. You could easily use the same model, paint it say white and blue, and it's a Wraith. Black and Red however and you have a Trydan on your hands!

Maybe however you don't like this? Maybe you'd rather something more universally available?
Games Workshop Eldar anyone?

Ok maybe this isn't your thing either, perhaps you want something a bit more techy? Let's pop back to Infinity where we see the Yu Jing faction:

Or keeping with the tech side of things let's have a look at some of the hundreds of other great model ranged out there! What about MERCS?

From here we reached an issue; the appearance of their faces is going to a big factor. With Kratel I can say that they are broad chested, with strong jaw lines and jutting foreheads, and that still leaves you with a lot of choice, but with Hydan it's not that easy.

Then we reached the atmosphere idea.

What about if Hydan struggled to breath in Human atmosphere? Let's not say it's impossible, but it is awkward for them. For this reason they make use of a wide array of technology to overcome this issue from dermal patches known colloquially as Gills (this allows for full face models) or nasal inserts to help break down the atmosphere (again, full face models) or rebreathers for partial faced models, OR full faced masks/helmets. The last allowing for any model that has a head fully covered! It's a simple change that drastically widens the selection and makes every single one of the above listed models equally viable as a Hydan.

Hold on! We've contradicted ourselves here!

Earlier we established that the Hydan & Kratel previously inhabited the same world. If so how can the Kratel breath fine, where as the Hydan can't?

Well this is an awkward question, of which there are 2 possible answers;

1). The Hydan did not originate on Krata-Prime and instead occupied it as a sort of colony.
2). The Kratel's natural resistance to toxins, radiation and hazardous chemicals means that they are not effected by whatever it is in Human atmosphere that effects the Hydan.


And that is that! In the space of 2 blog posts we have created a base template for 2 alien races, and then expanded on that template in some areas, and cut out sections in others. We have looked at their history and inter and intra species relations until we are left with the finished article.

There is still room to expand with the Hydan; why did they leave Krata-Prime for example (there is a reason, but that's staying shtum for now) why did they enslave the Kratel in the first place (shtum) and what are they like outside of the Special Forces Wraiths and Organised Criminal Trydan?

I guess only time will tell!

Until next time; stay safe and be excellent to each other!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

#OVERRIDE: Evolving a Race - Part 1: Primordial Designs

Greetings friends!

So it's been a while, but today I would like to treat you to a little behind the scenes in how we go about 'Evolving a Race' for the game First Law: Override.

Now when I say 'Evolving', I don't mean in the same way as say Darwin or even Pokemon. No I mean how a race goes from a primordial idea into the finished article.

For this we are going to look at the primary two alien races; The Kratel & The Hydan.

As a summary the Kratel are the brutish, warlike race of Override, while the Hydan are the technologically advanced, highly intelligent but almost devoid of a moral compass.

I should probably point out, this is where a lot of my work nowerdays comes into play. As the World Builder or Teraformer of our duet, it is my role and responsibility to create races who are not only realistic and believable, but also fun.


To begin with we look at the Core Principle. Just what trope does this race follow. Are they the plucky Human who survived against the odds? Are they the intelligent but arrogant Space Elf? Maybe they are the honourable Space Warrior? Could they be Space Traders valuing currency above all else? Maybe they are a small school of Space Monks?

These are just a select few tropes used in every single Sci-Fi.

Now I know what some of you may be thinking; "Why copy what someone else has done? Why not create something 100% original?"
- Well that question has 2 main problems: 1). It's next to impossible. You want to find something 100% new and original in regards to these sort of tropes? Good luck! Even looking at recent Sci-Fi TV in the forms of Star Trek & Babylon 5, you will find so many alien races all covering different ideas, the chances of a 100% original idea? Good luck!
2). It's not always easy for the audience to relate to. People like to read something and attach it to an existing schema, this is how we are wired. You may not even be aware you are doing it half the time, that is how schema works, but we like to create categories. Once we have these categories we can then create sub-schemas and individuals who are juxtaposed with those schemas. But we like to have them to begin with.

For those interested, the Hydan is the Space Elf, made famous in wargaming in either attitude or appearance by the Eldar, Tau and Tohaa and in TV and film with the Vulcans, Mimbari & Space Jockeys. These are creatures who often look just like Humans with one, maybe 2 notable physical differences. They are always technologically advanced, see Humans as primitive and often use a series of crystals, gems or semi-organic for their technology.

The Kratel however are the Space Warrior, probably most known by the Klingons and Predators (Yautja), but also the Naan, Luxans and Krogan. The Space Warrior is often less technologically advanced than the Space Elf, but more often than not more advanced than Humans. They are almost always Humanoid in appearance, but more distinct from Humans than the Space Elf. They value melee combat and will almost always have some sort of honour code that they abide by. Where as the Space Elf will see the Human as primitive due to a lack of intelligence, the Space Warrior will more often see the Human as weak, but admire their resourcefulness and ability to adapt.



Once these tropes are pinned down, some fleshing out began. I began with the Hydan, of which little was directly planned.

I knew I wanted them to be athletic who were very high-tech, almost certainly focusing on a crystal or similar technology. This was largely for one reason: aesthetics! The lore was going to be very Human focused, with colour schemes focusing on greys, browns and black. We're looking at military shades of colour and rust covered walls. A crystal tech for the Hydan would provide a strong contrast to this really setting themselves apart.

They needed something else, and from that came their almost reliance on stealth tech. Here we are looking at a race who almost entirely relies on technology for everything, their weaponry was going to be the best on the battlefield and their protection would be the same.
- Now I ask you; ever been shot by a gun? What about punched really hard? I'm sure one of those you can relate to, and you will agree that unless you are quite literally in an immovable tank, if you do not have the physical resilience to take the blow, it is going to hurt. So how should a race 100% physically feeble have the best technological defence on the battlefield? By not getting shot at all! Enter stealth tech!

Here we are, an image forming of a high tech space elf who is able to kill an enemy while being totally safe itself. How does it do it? Up close? Of course not! Doing so puts it's precious body at risk! No we're looking at a sniper rifle! So a sniper rifle powered by crystal tech. Sounds interesting! And they have stealth tech! In other words we have a total glass cannon! It can shoot from far away and be safe from reprisal, but take away its tech and you have one vulnerable space elf!

So that's the template for the Hydan. What's next? Attitude!

Yeah, attitude! How do these Space Elves, or Hydan act? Well we know from their trope that they are aloof, arrogant and have a massive superiority complex, but what would that do elsewhere? Surely they wouldn't live with any other race? Of course not! They'd live in a glittering tower of crystal powered by their own unlimited energy source, floating in space allowing them to always look down on others.

Of course this attitude would bring them disdain, very few non Hydan would get on with them, but they wouldn't understand why, instead seeing themselves as the eternal victim of their own superiority.



Enter the big boys! The Space Warriors!

How are these guys different to both Humans and Hydan? I know! They're Imperial! I can see it know; The Kratel Empire! It rolls off the tongue!

Ok what else? What about if we made then more feral? After all if they are more like the tribal races of the Space Warrior, there needs to be something almost feral about them. Let's take a look at nature, what do we often see? Strong females!

That's it! The Kratel Empire is dominated by an Empress, not an Emperor!

Ok this is starting to take shape already, a brutish warlike race who is ruled by an empress (sounds a bit like the British before WWI).

I dunno, I don't like the sound of that. It seems very 2-dimensional. Not much scope for character...

...hold up! What if not everyone agreed with the Empire? What if the Empress was truly dominating, a real man eater (literally in the case of bugs) and the playable group were the ones facing off against her? Yeah! A rebel faction trying to take down the Kratel Empire! Imagine the propaganda ideas that can be thrown around!

Also let's go back a min... What did I say about bugs? Yeah they are like empires with the queen bug controlling the drones, interesting idea! Let's roll with that!


So what are we left with?

The Hydan, a race of humanoid high-tech users who will be physically frail but should look imposing as ranged snipers and the like. As a community they are aloof and separate from Humanity, mixing only when they deem Humanity worthy of their time.

The Kratel, a race of Humanoid bugs who should be physically strong and tough but who's culture is in turmoil from civil war and/or terror attacks.

Looking back from the current writing, these descriptions do not fully (if at all) match the end product, but about a year ago this was what we had.

You'll notice that no attempt to fit them in with existing model ranges or similar is present, with the focus instead being on developing the races from a reverse evolutionary state.
- By that I mean I didn't start off with a primitive creature and advance them into a state to see how they would end up, but instead start off with a semi-end result in mind and then go backwards to see what they would need to be like to fulfil those requirements.

For those familiar with the end result you will probably be surprised and curious about how we got from this stage to the final product. It is this that I hope to bring to you soon in Part 2 - Realising Potential.

Until then; stay safe and be excellent to each other.

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Friday, 3 July 2015

All Quiet on the Honian Front

Greetings friends!

It's been a while since my last post and for that I need to apologise. Due to a viral attack, lack of sleep and a heatwave I haven't had the energy to open my eyes most of the time, never mind post a blog.

So you are probably wondering where we are, right?

Well where we left off we had just released the V0.1.6.2 rules pack.

Since then we have been redoing the scenario missions, including scrapping most of them entirely with new ones, like Assault of Precinct 313. It was fun but just really work in its current form. We also merged some together, like Domination and Double Domination are now a single scenario.

We have made the occasional tweak here and there, to a stay here and there, nothing ground breaking. The main thing however has been three fold:

1). Adobe inDesign
My collaborator; Tom has been most kind and during my bout of pure lethargy, taken the reigns and converted what was a .doc file into the publishing software inDesign. I don't know how much of what has been done can be safely released to you Joe Public, but it looks good! The layout, graphical style, etc, it looks like something that I myself if it were in hard copy form would happily pay real money for.

2). Tidying Up
So with the import into inDesign, that seemed the perfect opportunity to streamline a lot of things, go over a lot of it and tweak to make it flow better, sound better and correct typos and inconsistencies.

What we're looking at here is less raw game design, but more tidying the whole thing up and what I would call 'the boring but necessary stuff'. Remember, with the release of we basically finished the core pack and now need to tighten up the screws and make sure what framework we have created is strong enough to support the weight of others.

3). Lastly and possibly most interesting is a bit of work on Book 2. I can't reveal much about this, but it will allow you to take your gang/troop/force into a very different game and compete for their lives against a truly inhuman foe. Tied in with this has been numerous discussions over how things need to be handled; like progression of our named Mercs. We have already read about some in the short stories like Jinn and Karus who will be recruitable special characters, but we had to look at how stories evolve characters. This raised questions on how should the characters be reflected? Should our Mercs be stagnant and unchanging, or should they get new profiles as the story/books are produced, and how should players determine which to use? All of this has been engaged in depth, and I am super excited to reveal all this in time.


I have also appeared on the Flock 'n' Awe podcast where I had a good 2hr interview about the game, and I have been trying to get a little painting done all the while indulging in videogame bliss and trying to grab as many hours sleep as possible.


So that's the current state.

Yes everything is quiet on the Honian front, but do not think we are sitting on lorals. Far from it.

Anyway, I need to grab more of that before mentioned sleep, and so until next time; stay safe and be excellent to each other!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley