Master Mines

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May I Present Mecha v0.1

Okay everyone, here is the first beta test copy of my game.

With the release of this beta version, I have dropped the name Neoborn Genesis Honor Blade and have officially renamed it “Mecha.”  Kinda catchy I hope…

Anyone interested, please give the draft a read.  I welcome any and all feedback.

Mecha Version 0.1 

Edit: Made the link work and corrected a typo.

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June 13, 2008 Posted by | Mecha | , , , | 2 Comments

Mastermines…um…help?

Not ready to call for a Mastermines Unite! quite yet, but after voicing some of my fears to Matt last night, I decided the time has come for me to ask of you some help.

I am 95% finished the final beta draft of NGHB last night (sounds like I am a commitment phobe…final/beta/draft)  I just need to proofread it which I will be done with on Sunday come heck or high water.

Anyway…I want to send the draft out but my biggest concern right now is that I’m not explaning things well.  Does anyone have the time to go through a 55 page doc and just see if it makes sense?  I don’t need a playtest (not complaining mind you…) I just want to make sure that the words I used make sense and as Matt put it if I am explaning how to get from X to Y to Z that I haven’t unintentionally left out steps A, B, and C because I do them automatically.

If anyone is cool with it, can you comment here.  I know how to get ahold of everyone on the list.

June 12, 2008 Posted by | Mecha | 3 Comments

Neoborn Genesis Honor Blade…slowly…

Well I have been working to get the .5 draft of the game up and running.  Basically, the draft I have been working on, and part of why I have been so silent is that I am trying to make this a beta playtest draft.  I hope to have something soon.

June 11, 2008 Posted by | Mecha | 2 Comments

Second SRS Testing

So far Clint Krause’s playtest of the second Neoborn setting is going extremely well.  The game system seems to be a lot of fun and we almost had a TPK during one of the mecha battles.

This was an important step in the game’s evolution because it means that the combat is challenging enough to make players care.

Right now, I think we’re in a really good place.  We’re down to answering the minuate-type questions.  Whether something should cost 2 or 3 points, what a multiple here or there should be, etc.

After that…we’ll probably spend 3-5 sessions playtesting the final SRS (Setting Reference Schematic).

My current goals for the doc are to get it ready for beta playtesting.

May 26, 2008 Posted by | Mecha | 3 Comments

Neoborn Playtesting

We’ve made a pretty significant jump in NGHB playtesting.  I am no longer GMing the game.  Instead, Clint Krause is running the game using a setting he has developed and will be included in the book.

Being a player in the game is easier than I would have expected.  I believe that Clint’s game stays true to the game (which isn’t too difficult as he has been playtesting NGHB since day one) and he’s staying true to the the SRS’s genre.  In some ways I’m jealous, he’s doing the militaristic Robotechy genre so he has more mecha models and archetypes to play with, plus he’s a lot more able to inject humor into his game, whereas Godblind, the SRS that inspired me to write NGHB in the first place is more dark and a bit more specialized, a la Big O.

Has anyone else who has designed a game been a player in their own games?  Is there something I should be looking for?

May 12, 2008 Posted by | Mecha | , , | 2 Comments

News from the Front

The playesting continues to go well.  At some level, that is an ambiguous statement as what does well really mean?

What I have learned from the playtests is the following.

1.  My playtest group has fun testing the game.  I’ll be the first to admit that at this point in the playtesting, fun is far secondary to testing out various mechanics and seeing how they feel, I think it’s a nice fringe benefit that everyone wants to play the game.

2.  The system does not prevent fun from happening.  Well…for the most part.  There is nothing inherent to the system that prevents fun from occuring.  Yes, a few of the things written into the game have bourne out to be pretty lame, but those things were correctable without having to invent new mechanics.  (This applies to last week only.  Before that, the game went through some pretty serious overhauling.)

3.  The game seems to bring forth everyone’s creative juices.  The current incarnation of Neoborn looks NOTHING like the original version except for the cover page.  I have found it amazing that I can advance a design goals and after a little bit of talk, normally the playtesters and I can figure out a solution to the problem.  I feel that is a tribute to the system we’re building and to the excitement that is generated.

So that’s all good…

Sunday will be the real test.  Normally what happens is the playtests go on two week cycles.  One week we overhaul a major ruleset, the next week we play.  The week after that, we overhaul something else.  If we overhaul nothing this Sunday, I will feel like I am one step closer to success.

My Question

So here it is.  I am going to be asking this a lot.   I have started pondering the section of the game on setting up campaigns, story arcs, etc.  So please, tell me of your experiences with other mecha games.  What worked?  More importantly, what did not?

Also, while I cannot make everyone happy, I do want to support as many possible playstyles as I reasonably can.  So…what are you looking for in a mecha game?

April 24, 2008 Posted by | Mecha | 2 Comments

Playtest Report

I’ve playtested NGHB four times now and it has been educational.  The first playtest was a total bomb.  The second time worked well.  So I thought that things were getting close to a solid state.  Then after a large playtest on Sunday we decided some things needed some tweaking.

It’s not a complete revision, but it’s not a small change either.  It is definitely something that will cause me to need to re-playtest everything that has been playtested so far.  Fortunately, it’s not a major revisions and my players don’t seem to mind tweaking their characters after every session.

The one thing I have somewhat cognizant of is that Neoborn has really changed.  On first draft, it was highly narrative with lots of story bits scattered throughout.  The game has evolved to be far more tactical than I had anticipated when I wrote the game.  Though even that is probably not true.  I think that I wrote a game without realizing it and we’re slowly chipping out and finding the core.

Ultimately, I have created a game that my players seem to like (okay, the players helped with a lot of their suggestions) and it’s something I enjoy running.  So that’s good.  I don’t have any regets on any of the changes, except maybe I didn’t think of them first… 🙂

I just find it odd that whereas once I was lamenting creating rules for tactical combat, now I am finding myself deeply involved in a very tactical game.  However, I am finding that I am keeping it in a comfortable space (some narrative elements and it’s fast enough) so that it’s still mine. 

So here’s my question to you MMers.  Please talk to me of how your playtesters affected your games.  I want reassurances that when your group got ahold of the game, some pretty big changes were wrought on the rules.  Game design has certainly destroyed my illusions of my own infallability and I’d like to hear other stories of changes that your players have made.

April 16, 2008 Posted by | Mecha | 8 Comments

Neoborn: The Second Playtest

So I got the chance to follow up on my less than successful playtest with a far more successful playtest.

Before I get into it, though, I wanted to share my playtesting methodoly.  I find that my approach to testing my game is the same way I test software.  In software, you write code and then you test just that piece of code to make sure it functions properly.  These tests are more controlled and more limited in scope.

 Once you are reasonably sure that the code works, then you move to integration testing where you see if the code functions within the scope of the entire program.  The code may do fine with the test cases that you give it, but once it is part of the software, it can be exposed to different test data which may or may not conform the expectations upon which the first tests were based.  The code must continue to work reliably given all kinds of crazy inputs.

That’s kind of what I am doing.

I want to make sure that the subsystems are all functional and that they stand on their own.  Once I am fairly sure that they work, I will test the entire game as a whole.

So in my latest playtest, we gave the combat system another going over.  I had an idea for the way combat should work and what I found was that I was almost there.  I had an inspiration where I took my basic range mechanic and tweaked it to be more tactical.  Clint took that idea and hammered out what I think is going to be the the range and movement mechanic for Neoborn.  That was good.

The playtest also exposed some issues with the way range affects weapons.  That, too, was good.  Though for largely different reasons.   I think, though, that if I get that part working, the combat subsystem will be ready for the next phase of testing.

So…I am either really close to testing the full game or just kidding myself.

March 25, 2008 Posted by | Mecha | 2 Comments

NGHB: First Playtest

I did the first playtest of NGHB (still it’s title, for now) using the Godblind SRS.  Here is what I took away:

The Good

  1. The Godbling SRS had enough situation in it to create characters the players seemed interested in.
  2. The interplay between pilot and mecha appears to be working well.  The fact that things in a mecha are easier (more dice) appears to be working well.
  3. A few of the mechanics I was iffy on appeared to elicit what I wanted.
  4. The Conflict Resolution system looks to be doing its job.

The Bad

  1. There’s too much in chargen.  During chargen, I was naming off what happens and there was some concern over the number of things that can happen.  In fact, I skipped one whole section that I don’t think will mechanically make much difference.
  2. Ineffiencies and optimizations aren’t working for mecha.  Basically, the rule in the book is that for each atttribute, the player decides a situation in which the mecha excels (optimization) and does poorly (inefficiency.)  This works well for the pilots, but not for the mecha.  In fact, for the mecha it just is a way to power up a few more mecha.
  3. I am going to file this under “The Bad” but it’s really a good thing I know.   I need more rules.  For instance, one of the characters attacked a building last night and I literally wrote the rules for attacking inanimate objects on the fly.  Which is probalby one reason why I need to revise them.

The Ugly

Fortunately the only ugly (so far) was the way I GMed.  😦  Sadly, I got so fixated on watching the conflict mechanic work that I forgot about silly things like stakes and story.  I shall try not to let that happen again.

At least I think that was the only ugly.

March 10, 2008 Posted by | Mecha | 2 Comments

Why the Name Neoborn Genesis Honor Blade?

Someone asked me why Neoborn Genesis Honor Blade.

Here’s the short explanation.  I thought is sounded cool.

In a longer explanation, I was reading about the various Robotech series and their original titles: Super Dimensional Fortress Macross and Genesis Climber Mospeida.  (Not sure if Mospeida is spelled right.)  I was also thinking about Neon Genesis Evangelion and started to realize there was a pattern.  Mecha anime titles largely seemed to be composed a few real words and a word that was utter nonsense (macross, mospedia, evangelion.)

So I got to thinking about what words I wanted and came across avalon and genesis.  Battle, honor, and blade soon followed.  Then it was merely a process of combining those words together to see which ones evoked the proper feeling.

I thought about Avalon Battle Blade, Genesis Battle Slave (slave being a slave both to battle and destiny, but it just seemed like a choice that would largely backfire.)  Also, I was missing the nonsense word.  Avalon Honor Blade and Avalon Honor Slave were also considered.  At one point, I thought I might just call it Boomers.

So I started thinking about NeoGenesis Avalon Battle Blade.  NeoGenesis didn’t seem right somehow.  In my mind genesis (birth of a universe) and born (birth of a human) seemed to make some amount of sense.  And before long, Neoborn was … born.

I’m interested in getting feedback on this naming scheme because I don’t think NGHB is going to make it to publication because it is too close to Neon Genesis Evangelion and admittedly I had NGE on my brain when I came up with NGHB.  I am looking for something which evocative of mecha badassery and would not mind suggestions at all.

March 3, 2008 Posted by | Mecha | 9 Comments