December 15, 2008


Most interesting systems are fragile. I always knew this, but trying to create one has forced me to really learn it.

I'm trying to craft a set of rules for a fairly simple turn-based hex grid game. Each piece can move once a turn. Moving onto another piece (attacking) generates a battle, and one side may retreat from the battle. Pretty easy to follow.

Except that it turns out that I need to get everything juuuust right for it to work strategically. Does an attack count as a move? Once a battle is won, should the winner move onto the space? Should the retreat move backwards or should the retreat movement be at the player's discretion? Further, when attacking confers an advantage, when is it ever advantageous for a player to move a piece to a space adjacent to an enemy piece? Wouldn't both players then just dance around each other?

I've tried to solve this last problem by adding a "boost" mechanic, in which each piece can move twice after a 5-turn cool-down. There are all sorts of other little fixes that I've found necessary. Retreating pieces can retreat into any space surrounding the one right behind them except the one in which the battle took place. Pieces that win a battle can move afterwards, but losing pieces can not. Et cetera.

And while my tone might suggest that I'm frustrated or upset with all this, the truth is that I revel in this sort of puzzle-solving. This is game design, and it suits me.

I'm hoping to have Meridian feature-complete within a week.

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