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Krosmaster Custom Map “Big Money”

5 Jun

Recently, I’ve been playing quite a bit of Krosmaster Arena, and they’ve been running a map contest on one of their community sites. I decided to try my hand at a map for the game, with a unique mechanic that plays with the shop/item systems the game has, which are one of my favorite parts of the game.

For my map, I wanted to make a somewhat simple mechanic that changed the flow of the map somewhat significantly, but moreso than that, I wanted a map where each set of map edges made for a significantly different tempo and game.

A fight has broken out around the cottage of a master jeweler. Some say that hidden in his modest home are massive coins, of great value to the demons of hours and minutes. They would certainly reward you greatly for them, as long as you can get ahold of them first!

Overview:
So, before getting into the special rules for the map, let’s look at the map itself. The North and South sides, when played from, make a game with more money (but still relatively less than the original maps,) more and earlier shopping opportunities, and significantly more “walls” which block LOS. In ccomparison the East/West matchup has longer sight lines between camps, less early money, and the ability to have two units on crates at the end of turn one! The unobstructed sight lines between the lines of crates make for tense and lethal exchanges between ranged-specialist characters, while the map being separated into vertical “lanes” makes it difficult for melee characters to gain an edge, and makes it tough for ranged teams who’re content in holding their crates to collect and spend money. In the playtests we had, while it wasn’t impossible for a mostly melee warband to win, it definitely put them off on the wrong foot.

Now, for the special rules!
The Big Kama:
The big kama is a special coin that spawns in the center of the map, and can only be redeemed at your spawn row’s shop. In a default tournament kit where the players do not wish to use a more thematically appropriate token (such as the large metal kama or simply a coin from their pockets,) use half of one of the unused bushes to represent the big kama.

Spawning – The first time a player rolls a dofus icon during their tension roll (obviously, before it gets changed to another icon,) that player places the big kama token in one of the four spaces in the center of the board. I’ve found that the big kama coin from the kickstarter does a great job of playing the role of the coin… almost as if it inspired the mechanic Wink

Interacting – It costs 1AP to pick up the big kama. When picked up, the big kama is placed on that character’s card. You can’t spend it just yet! While on the character’s card, the character is affected by the following powers:
Heavy: This character can’t be moved by spells.
Hands Full: This character has 0AP.
When a character with the big kama reaches their team’s spawn shop (these are the yellow squares on the edges of the board,) the coin is automatically redeemed! The player who just turned in the coin then takes up to four free shop actions, spending up to 12 kamas (so they could one gold reward, two jade, four granite, or any combination costing up two 12 kamas.) After taking their shop actions, the player to their left places the big kama in one of the four center yellow spaces again.
If the character holding the big kama is defeated, he drops the coin! the player who defeated them places the coin on a space adjacent to the character who was defeated before they are removed from the board.

Changes:
Initially, the coin began the game in play. But, since there are four spaces where the coin can go, it created a slightly unfair advantage for whoever the coin was closest to. Then, I playtested a few games where the coin spawned on the first tension roll, but sometimes you just plain don’t get a tension roll in a game, and I wanted to make sure it spawned pretty much every game.
Also changed from the initial version was the trees around the yellow squares. The initial idea was that they weren’t even trees, but just abstracted blocking terrain to symbolize the building the coin was in, and as such, there was more terrain in general around the center. This didn’t really enhance gameplay, and made it somewhat easy to get the coin, as long as your opponent hadn’t blocked off both sides of the hut with you in it. How it’s built now, players are taking a serious risk spending a turn or two getting the coin if there’s an opposing character threatening the center from the crates.
Lastly, when characters died, they used to drop the coin right where they died. I changed the mechanic to have them drop it next to them, to make it more reasonable for players trying to steal the coin away from the team that has it.

Strategy:
Obviously, redeeming the coin is a powerful perk. However, being able to pressure your opponent while they are essentially down a character while turning in the coin can be equally powerful. I did have a game where Nox slipped past the enemy lines to sit on the enemy’s coin shop and prevent the opposing coin-carrier from turning it in; a revised-for-production version of this map might have two of those shops on each spawn line, but I’d like to playtest that some before making that change, as I feel the sparse shops help make the game more interesting and tense, as diverting a character away from the action to buy can be a very serious choice.

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RE: How Long Can Video Games Matter?

22 Oct

I just recently read Mitch Dyer’s thoughtful, albeit somewhat depressing article at IGN titled “How Long Can Video Games Matter?” I enjoyed it, but throughout the entirety of the article, I had some thoughts that I felt were applicable to the topic, and decided to write a response.

If you haven’t read the article, you should. While bleak, it’s a frank look at games as an art form. If you just don’t care to, I’ll do my best to sum it up: In general, games are commercial products as much as or more than they are art, and games will not withstand the test of time like other forms of media.

I agree with this in large parts, and there is a large gap to be covered due to technological restraints. That is to say, when you watch Nosferatu, the actors you see are human. The footage is old, and there is a suspension of disbelief that the viewers must go through, because it is a silent movie, but it is not a large suspension of disbelief for the moviegoer to relate to the characters and step into the world that the movie is creating. Early games, on the other hand, are about as relatable as a series of abstract objects, because that is literally what they are. If you were to play Combat or Adventure, your character is a symbol. These games are no more relatable than a game of chess- perhaps even less so, as you can’t directly physically manipulate your avatar like you could a piece in a board game.

However, to continue the metaphor of board games, is chess somehow less timeless or less memorable than newer games with higher production values? If my player pawn looks fancier, the game has intricate parts and a beautiful board, is it, as a whole, more lasting than chess? This question is pretty rhetorical, as chess’ value has been proven over the years. So what is it that we should be looking at here? The comparisons that are drawn between film and literature as art, and games as art, are definitely tenuous at best.

I’ve always considered games as art, but when you compare the age of videogames to film or literature, games have an infinitesimally shorter lifespan. How many books written in the first fourty years of written word were worthwhile? When you look at the history of film, it is compressed much more, but one of the first films ever made was of a horse galloping. I’ve never heard any arguments made that “The Horse In Motion” is something that’s important to preserve and display for its content. So if our arguments for the longevity of “classic” games lie less in their mechanics and evolution, and rather in their ability to connect with the audience and tell a story, then I would agree that there are many games that don’t even attempt to qualify. The first twenty years or so of game development has almost been a proof of concept phase for what is yet to come.

Perhaps the discussion should be “Do Video Games Matter Yet?”

And yes, the idea of games as a brand and as a product greatly damages their staying power, if only because there is an impact that is taken away from art when you reproduce it on an annual basis. If Shakespeare had to create a new play every year to keep eating– oh that’s right, he pretty much did, and a large portion of his work is seen by many to be dismissable. But in comparision, a very large quantity of movies and books that are produced are lost to time, embraced by few or none, and forgotten. I remember hearing many producers talk about the games and projects that the developers abhor, “We have to make the games that make money, so we can make the games that make memories.”

What feels like the most apt question now is “Can we make Video Games Thrive and Matter?”

New site!

1 Apr

Hey there! This is my new site, currently being hosted by wordpress. I’m in the process of analyzing the wordpress features, then I’m going to decide if I should go back to the previous style of site (hopefully with a bit more work put into it,) or stick with this one.

If you run across anything broken, please throw me a quick email. Thanks!