Friday, April 12, 2013

Writer's Nerves and Components

As anyone reading this will likely know, I make art in a number of different disciplines.  My writing "portfolio" (I don't have a goddamn portfolio) includes plays, comedy sketches, the beginnings of novels and screenplays, music journalism, travelogues, some really terrible poetry, some halfway decent songs, reams of personal journaling, and, among other, other things, gaming rules and prototypes.
Tonight, though, a sketch of mine is entered into a competition over at the Second City, here in Chicago, where I make my home.  After a decade of performing and writing, I still get restless and anxious as these things approach.  I don't want to write any sketches today, I don't want to edit the short play that some very talented actors workshopped for me last night (and which desperately needs the edits), and I don't want to listen to my friends be happy and excited for me.
So today all I'm going to write about is Flect.
Flect, as I've mentioned before, is the first game I made; it's still under development, especially since the game has had little playtesting and some very unrealistic component mechanics (the latter has done nothing to help the former).

As per the long post below, I've been tinkering with a 'Hect' board, that plays with the relationships between Pentagons and Hexagons, and which was also an attempt to solve a problem with the current Flect prototype: There is almost certainly an advantage to holding more Facets than the other player, since they can not be Affected.  Having a Hex of Facets around the Center creates an even number of Facets, but also an even number of Hues; the possibility of a tie at the game's end becomes that much greater.
Since I'm thinking at this point that this is almost certainly meant to be a 2-player game, rather than a "2-5 player game", as I had originally envisioned, dealing with odds and evens has become tricky.  Another problem? All of the Hues currently have six Spaces in each; meaning each Hue can wind up a tie in and of itself.  And if one Hue can be a tie, the whole game can end in a draw.  Do I leave this as it is? Borrowing from my Black Sky board, I could make the central Space in each Hue a non-space, which would make every Hue have five controllable Spaces.  It would also limit movement.  And it would reduce the length of the game, by reducing the number of legal moves.  And it would make my Flect board look a lot like my Black Sky board, even more so than it already does.
So there's that conundrum, regarding a possible solution to my problem with ties.
I've also been thinking about alternate scoring.  Reward contiguous groups? A per Space bonus? A per-Facet penalty? Some sort of symmetry bonus, for having the most of each Space?
That might make it more complex, or it could just be more complicated.  Hmm.  Let's move on to something where I actually had a useful change to try out.
So the dice as playing pieces thing.  It worked for a few reasons; one, because Flect, as a bag game, would be a neat way to sell a bag of d6's.  Two, because a six-sided die was a game piece that could represent any one of 5 players, as well as "6" for unclaimed spaces.  I may still go with dice, because of all those reasons.  But it is most likely going to be just a 2-player game, and for playtesting purposes, I've got a way to make this easier.  No dice, no rings, keeps the "You can not Affect the last player's move) rule.

2P PnP Components:
- 41 coins
- The board
- That's it.

The idea being, for playtesting 2p purposes, Player 1 can be tails, Player 2, heads.  When you Affect your Spaces, just put down or flip the existing coin to your side, and then put an additional one on top.  Your opponent can not Affect spaces with two coins.  On your next turn, pick up all of your two or three top coins, and repeat.  Of course... you could just make them all be d4's.  1 = Player 1's regular spaces, 2 = Player 2's regular spaces, 3 = Player 1's last move, 4 = Player 2's last move, and empty spaces are just that; empty.
Huh.  I do have a superstitious loathing of the number 4, though.
Yeah, Flect needs a lot of work.  But my gut tells me to leave it alone.  Alternate scoring? Try that out with Hect.  Flect currently has an elegance that I'm proud of, especially once it's pared down to a two-player (or still, maybe just maybe a three-player) affair.  But it for sure needs playtesting.  I might try out the base for a bit, and then roll out some variants.  You can always roll back.

Alright, that shook the nerves a little bit.  Mostly a lot of chasing my own tail, though.  Next week'll be better.  I'll muse on simultaneity, and simultaneity's biggest problem (that I've faced); priority of resolution.
Here's this, though.  A 2p PnP single-pager with the basic rules.


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