Master Mines

We’re digging RPGs

Mental musings for NGHB

The following post is long, winding, and should not be read by anyone. 🙂

So I took the boy on a long work tonight and got to really thinking about NGHB, some of the stuff I read on the link misuba sent me, and a random comment made by Paul Czege and so now I am going to throw some mental vomit on the post and see what sticks.

First, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want from NGHB and why I wanted to write the game in the first place. Like I said in my initial post, I want to have a game that contributes in a meaningful way to the mecha anime genre and so that means I need to have certain things like invincible robots piloted by very vulnerable humans.

And I keep coming back to this idea that the mecha are largely window dressing to the larger story line. That in no way detracts the coolness factor for me because there are times when the mecha combat is a central tenet for pushing the story along and well…frankly…because it’s giant robot combat. I feel like anyone who picks up NGHB will come to the game because they like mecha anime first and likes any other mechanics second in the same way that one plays Capes or With Great Power because they like superheroes first and those games unique look second. So mecha combat in.

Then again, I don’t want the system to be overly tactical combat with combat rounds taking 30 minutes over a battle map with multiple copies of the rulebook open and debates about what exactly an attack of opportunity it is.

That being said, what is it about combat that makes it such a key compontent of mecha anime and anime in general. I think it serves two purposes. One, most of the time the characters in anime are awesome combantants, but usuall have a mess of personal issues. Combat both illustrates that contract and gives us a breather from the emotional stuff to watch stuff get blowed up. (In fact, one thing I noticed in Gundam Wing is that there is far less nonessential combat later in the series than in the beginning where perhaps the big robots are needed to keep things interested before we care about the characters.)

The other thing that combat does is force the characters to choose. In the end, I think that the key dramatic currency of any game is the choices characters make and combat is an area where choices really have an immediate impact (do I kill the enemy trying to surrender? Do I use a dishonorable attack? Do I go after Dr. Evil or do I save Mary Jane?) So then the body of choices that the character makes and other people’s reaction to those choices is how a character grows via anime. Hiro’s decision to sacrifice his Gundam to stop the base from being destroyed was a choice he made, but it also radically altered the way the other Gundam pilots felt about him…as well as his enemies and Relena.

So all this I have decided two things:

1. Combat GOOD!
2. Choice and the reaction to choice may need to play a huge mechanical part in the game.

Of course, I just got done reading Capes Lite and it got me to thinking about choice so I may decide something else tomorrow.


July 15, 2007 - Posted by | Mecha


  1. Hmm. My immediate reaction is “So why not construct things such that non-combat scenes are about setting up mutually incompatible alternatives and combat scenes are about choosing between them?”

    Comment by ptevis | July 20, 2007 | Reply

  2. It’s a good option. Off the top of my head, I would say that I think non-combat situations can also lead to choice but that’s a gut reaction.

    Comment by commondialog | July 20, 2007 | Reply

  3. I would say that I think non-combat situations can also lead to choice but that’s a gut reaction.
    Sure, in the real world they do all the time. But you can structure your game in any way you want. It might also provide for some interesting scene pacing ideas: you only go to a combat scene where choices are on the line — if I remember some Gundam Wing right, difficult choices were often being discussed or argued about right before the pilot’s called off to fight.

    Comment by Ryan Macklin | July 20, 2007 | Reply

  4. That is true.

    It’s certainly a good idea, but it’s one where that will definitely set a course for my game and one that I am not 100% committed to yet.

    I think my next post needs to be all the garbage floating in my head and then I need to start sifting from there.

    Comment by commondialog | July 20, 2007 | Reply

  5. but it’s one where that will definitely set a course for my game and one that I am not 100% committed to yet.

    Fair enough, but to point out my own design experiences: I have scraped large elements of my designs before, after learning the don’t work. However, that isn’t to say I didn’t learn something from them. That’s also to say: progressing in the wrong direction is still progress. 🙂

    Comment by Ryan Macklin | July 20, 2007 | Reply

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