A random assortment of baddies...
This last Thursday, Bits of Legend made it's Play Test debut. A lot of stuff was expected to be broken and boy did Bits of Legend not disappoint in that regard. I expected the bosses to either be too easy or too hard, the character classes to be unbalanced, and of course the entire system was in question. A lot of people complimented the design and some even suggested it needed to be on kickstarter right now, but I knew a lot of changes were in the winds for Bits of Legend. No game ever starts out "right."
The first playtest revealed two issues. The first being the overall game length and the downtime between turns. Both of these are crippling in the current form and, that night, changes were made. You see, once the Lv4-6 quests came into play, the enemies were a lot tougher and the number of enemies needed to defeat the quests became too much. This lead to a game where, 2 hours in, nobody had reached Lv7. Which is very much far away from the estimated 90 minute game I wanted. Now I'm looking at 3 hours, at least. So I went ahead and gave the players choice to skip certain types of creatures.
Holy shit, did that change things up dramatically. Suddenly a 3+ hour game became 90 minutes. All play tests after this change made the average end game 18 turns. (out of five games) Once the time problem was solved, I could focus on the bigger issues in the game design. These were the issues I found (meaning few players noticed it) that need to be addressed.
-Long Setup Time: Sorting, shaking, placing 90+ tiles takes time. Then consider sorting and setup of the beastiary and grimoires, and yeah... about 20-30 minutes setup is not acceptable.
-Exploration Deadend: As the world fills out to the point of being able to spawn any monster, people just quit flipping tiles. Of the five games, players typically stopped exploring around 40% of tiles revealed. Need to find incentive to keep laying tiles.
-Character Imbalance: There is a noted difference in character strength when there was really no intention to create one.
-Table Space: When all set up, Bits of Legend is huge... need to make it smaller.
-Monster Balance: From easy end bosses to powerful dragons, the balance here is a mess and will just take play after play to get working right.
Those were the issues I noticed... now for comments from players.
-Color Coding Symbology: Being able to easily see the color combinations needed to spawn different monsters would be a HUGE step forward. All symbols being white makes turn planning difficult.
-Player Downtime: Some turns could take a long time, reducing these times would be great.
-Uncanny Valley: Game references 8Bit Classical RPGs, but looks too high res.
-Battles need more depth: Everyone agrees that the bosses are nice with their system but there needs to be a better system that isn't just math grinds. Then again...
-Needs more world activities: Most agree that the battle system right now is fine and just requires a better variety of things you can do in the world itself. This is the point where it's time to create splinter games.
At this point, I've seen the flaws and the potential of the design. Now comes the hard part, going forward.
One of the lovely end bosses...
The following changes are currently planned for Bits of Legend.
1: New world building solution: The current problem is the world is not being explored/flipped. Many are searching for their quests on the board, not making them by further exploring. I need to come up with an incentive to encourage world exploration. Be this bonuses, dungeons, quests, etc. Something needs to change here and I think adding more and more content to the world is the right path.
2: Beastiary Board + Markets: Right now, the Beastiary is a selection of cards, with no real order. The cards themselves are too large for their function. With the "stacking" mechanic designed on the fly, it's time to abandon monster CARDS in exchange for TOKENS. I can keep the art except put it on a board where the tokens will be kept. Right now, monsters defeated are kept as trophies. Now I want to make them also stand in as currency and include a new market system supporting the purchase or use of items. This also means I can add in more battle depth like "Blind" and "Poison." Making a board to support all this seems central to Bits of Legend moving forward.
3: More Unique, More Characters: You would think offering six characters would be awesome, right? But those characters are currently only palette swaps with a unique talent. Making character sheets double sided would allow 12 characters to begin with, but those characters also need to be more unique. Maybe introducing a leveling system where different characters get different talents as the game progresses and alloting them a set number of times they can use these talents... play balancing this would be a bitch.
4: Introduce A Point System: When players are given a choice of which monsters they want to beat, who in their right mind fights a Dragon to level when a Centaur is worth the same? The race to the end game creates a tendacy to find the easiest way through. What if the new monster tokens also had a Prestige system built in? Where if a player manages to beat the game, there's still no promise he'll win if other players were doing more?
5: New Quest/Reward System: A way to encourage world exploration is to make the world huge and varied. By adding side quests, players could be forced to explore the world further to receive bonuses like equipment and prestige towards the end game. This would also add flavor to avoid the game becoming a themeless grindfest.
In the coming weeks, I'll be trying to rethink these concepts and pushing for more and more changes. One thing is for certain, the current concept has a LOT of people excited. So now comes the long and annoying task of simply balancing and finishing the game. If all goes well, next years Origin will be shopping for a publisher.
Cleric... needs... nerfed... badly...
And now for the contest. Sorry spammer for Adult Dating Site, you're not eligible. Rolling 2 d6's, I came up with 9. From the top to the bottom (of eligible posts), SuperMonk4Ever is our winner of a copy of Haiku. Send me your mailing address (also, wait a couple weeks as I'm in the process of rewriting the rules).
At Origins, I received a copy of Resident Evil: The Deck-Building Game along with the premium play mat which they do not sell. Since I don't care much for the game, I wonder if I'll be giving it away on a future blog post...
LOOK WHO CAME: