Developer commentary

Discussion in 'The Red Line' started by Blackwell Hird, Oct 15, 2014.

  1. Blackwell Hird

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    Hey guys, Blackwell Hird here, co-developer of Falling Stars. As the game gets closer and closer to production and then release, I'll be posting in progress pics, artwork and previews here. This is your chance to give me feedback and discuss the game as it take final form.
     

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  2. Blackwell Hird

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    Okay so with three votes, its a majority to the Component Preview. Please note, all these pieces are pre-production prototypes and are subject to change. I also made them by hand (and the graphic art) and we've also been playtesting with them a lot so apologies for the "worn" look.

    In falling Stars, the ships you command are individual characters with their own strengths and weaknesses, not disposable units to be hurled at your opponent like a sci-fi food fight. To that end each ship has a bespoke ship board as seen below.

    [​IMG]

    this contains all the information you'll need to pilot and maintain your ship. We want every piece of this game to build the universe of falling stars, rather than cramming exposition into the manual and cards, so here we've designed the ship board to look like a tactical readout of your ship; a command console if you will. The most important part however, is right most section which reads "System Load-out". This dial shows the 4 key systems of your ship.

    [​IMG]

    It also serves as your ships health meter. As it takes damage, the dial rotates based on how much structure you lose, which then also lowers the effectiveness of all other systems on board. The color will change from green to an angry red the more damage you take to allow easy visual reference of you ships status at a glance; about all a busy commander has time for.

    [​IMG]

    That's it for today, get your votes in above for what I'll display next!
     
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  3. David Lowry

    David Lowry Editor

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    Looks amazing! Keep up the awesome work :)
     
  4. Maurice Fitzgerald

    Maurice Fitzgerald Moderator
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    These look really nice, I love how the ships are distinct. It makes you feel invested in them and care about them and not treat them like fodder.
     
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  5. Keith T

    Keith T Member

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    very nice!
     
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  6. Blackwell Hird

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    Cheers, we used to have these cards that you moved little plastic blocks up and down to track damage to specific systems... but we don't have rules that granular to make each system viable as a target or to target them at all, so this wound up being the most efficient solution to that. And also, if you sneeze, your ship no longer ceases to be ;)
     
  7. Blackwell Hird

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    Also, to all and sundry, please: Any questions of comments, let fly. This is for you guys to get a sense of the game and to perhaps even influence its development.
     
  8. Blackwell Hird

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    Also, please do vote above, that will determine what I put up next.
     
  9. Blackwell Hird

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    Okay so this week as per the poll, we have more component previews. This week I'd like to show you how you customize your ships in Falling Stars: Redline.

    Here you see a normal ship board, all vanilla and cool looking. (No it won't have the brass button, we're having our own bespoke plastic rivet made. Also I'm a horrible cameraman when shooting on the fly) Those eagle eyed among you may notice that the shape of the ship board is very asymmetrical. This is for a reason.
    [​IMG]

    That reason is that at the start of the game, each side buys their ships using points That's the big black number next to the green number. (so every game ever). The trick here is that for an extra 25 points you can swap out your existing weapon and maneuver card load-out (more on that in the future) to give your ship a new purpose or role.

    As you can see here, this Galaxy Cruiser has now become a command cruiser (yes its the wrong name at the bottom of the new card. Remember; prototypes ;) ). To the left of the card, and new section has been added that fist snugly onto the corresponding section of the ship board and tells you what new toys you have to play with. This also replaces your weapon and maneuver cards with ones bespoke to this variant of the ship. These will be included with the "Load-out" Card your seeing here.
    [​IMG]

    Lastly, oh yes there's more, some of these load-outs will come with an additional subsystem. This one requires the "CIC Sub System", which attaches to the "Sub-System" Slot at the bottom of the ship card. Like so
    [​IMG]

    This sub system, comes with three "intelligence packet" counters. You can spend them once a turn to let a commander (More on these coming soon) re-roll a failed check. This is huge because these checks are used to repair system damage, do tricky maneuvers, gain bonuses to combat and defense, and even have all your ships move and fire as one!

    Its a cosmetic upgrade sure, but another subsystem may come with new cards to buff your allies, or fighter launch bays, or mine laying facilities... it means that we're never limited to just one variant of a ship. Look at today's navy. The same chassis can be endlessly re-purposed to fill multiple rolls if need be.

    Next week I'd like to put up some artwork (its really cool) and some lore, but as always I leave that up to you guys. Use the poll at the top to tell me what you'd like to see and I'll be checking the forum every Tuesday and Thursday!
     
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  10. Maurice Fitzgerald

    Maurice Fitzgerald Moderator
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    This is looking epic!
     
  11. Jim Zabek

    Jim Zabek Administrator
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    Yeah. Those components make it really come together. I still can't believe Blackwell cut them all by hand.
     
  12. Blackwell Hird

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    Yeah, as a former industrial designer, Presentation is everything to me. Oftentimes a contract rested on how well I could prototype. As a result I learned how to take Blue Foam (the kind in your walls) and make it look like porcelain. This... this was easy. cutting out 10 of them plus upgrades... that was hard ;)
     
  13. Blackwell Hird

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    I'd also like to say that the sub systems will all look different in shape as well as apperance so as not to confuse.
     
  14. Maurice Fitzgerald

    Maurice Fitzgerald Moderator
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    That's great to hear, it'll add good variety without potentially breaking things with too much customization.
     
  15. Blackwell Hird

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    That was our thought as well. After playing a ridiculous amount of Star Wars miniatures, we keep finding more and more ways to make ships that by all rights bend the game into unrecognizable shapes (Tie Phantom, I'm looking at you with your target lock and adv. sensors). It ate my Corvette in 3 turns 8(.
     
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  16. Maurice Fitzgerald

    Maurice Fitzgerald Moderator
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    Yea, I'm a big fan of keeping things for the most part "stock" with a few additions or variants allowed. Just as in the real world, there are some variants. When you start allowing too much customization, you open things up to breaking. Keep it simple, let the game be more about getting the most out of what you have not getting the most out of what you can concoct.
     
  17. Blackwell Hird

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    Cheers everyone. I think I'll take down the poll for now as I've only ever gotten 2 votes on it and just continue with the component previews and possibly a lets play soon ;). Also, instead of imbedding the images in my post, I'll upload them at the bottom and refer to their file names from here on out (much easier)

    Sitting comfortably? Good, because tonight, I have for you the second component of your ships trifecta: Weapon Cards. Each ship has a selection of weapon card bespoke to that ship class and load-out. This is the front of the card (see Fig A).

    Okay I know what your thinking, deep breath, don't panic, I'm right here. The weapon cards in Falling Stars: The Red Line represent the most innovative difference from any other miniatures game Instead of referencing a book for special features, rules and charts on how the weapon works, then cross referencing the model for where and how, each card carries all that info in an easy to understand (once its been explained) manner.

    Starting on the top left (Fig B), we have the weapon type. If you roll a critical on your dice, this gives an additional effect to the weapon.

    Beneath that we have how far away it shoots. This is measured in Hexagons

    Beneath that we have How many Dice it rolls. More on that later.

    While this means each weapon on a ship needs a weapon card, it also means you never have to refer to a chart. It also gives you a tangible sense of how powerful your ship is. If you hold a lot of cards, chances are, you have a lot of power ;)

    The directly to the right of the numbers is this weird window thing (Fig C). This is the pasty resistance of the cards. This is the ARC or direction and area it fires into! The base of each ship is marked with F, S, P, A, or Fore, Port, Starboard, and Aft, and also divided by the hex faces (Fig D).
    Line the card up with your base with the top of the card facing the F direction, and you can see where the card fires into (Fig E)

    Cool huh? now everything you need to know about your ships weapons is right at your finger tips.

    The rest of the Card (Fig A) at the bottom are the special characteristics of the weapon. Above the am is applied to the shields, below the arm is applied to the Hull or "Structure" in this game.

    Last but not least, we have the Back of the Card (Fig F). You notice here that again, this game is designed for ease of play and, more importantly, set up. Each card has the name of the ship it belongs to, and what configuration. If it goes with the CIC load-out, or the Breaker load-out or the Pulsar load-out it will say it on the card to make organizing them easier.

    And finally (told not least right!) we have another cool feature. You notice how the tops of the cards say "ready" on the front (Fig A) and "Fired" on the Back (Fig F)? It just so happens these parts line up with your ship card like so (Fig G) so you can track which weapon shave been fired!

    The team may be a little please with themselves over these cards. Next week though, we'll give you a glimpse as to how the ships move.
     

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  18. Blackwell Hird

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    Hello everyone, its that time again!

    this week we'll cover the last bit of your ship: how it moves. Okay sesame street aside, this is really cool. Normally in miniatures games, all your movement is done via inches, rulers and guess work, with complicated rules for how many turns, how wide a turn or how long a turn is, ect. Then I played the xwing miniatures game and thought... this is fun. Movement is actually fun.

    In games, the core aspect most people notice but don't realize are how fun your moment to moment gameplay is, IE what your doing to interact with the game world form moment to moment. If Mario didn't jump like he does, that game would never have succeeded.

    Thus we went at the movement in Falling Stars the same way: a mechanic that is as much a game in and of itself as just a function of a larger whole. I give you: Movement Cards (Fig 1)


    As with the weapons, Each ship will be given a hand of cards tailored for its weight class (9, 7 and 5) for small medium and large ships. Each card contains directions on how that move occurs, and how many points it costs. On The back, it will display the ship it goes with and the ship loadout (some loadouts need specific cards to represent the changes made to the ship, Fig 2).

    When you play these cards in a string (Fig 3) they form a COURSE. The trick is though, A) you play them face down in the order you want to use them and B) everyone plots their course (1 per ship) at the SAME TIME. Oh, and you not allowed to use your fingers. You have to make your best guess at how the ship will move according to your cards.

    Now your not only planning your movement as an extension, its genuinely tense seeing if your course will even work, and if your end position reflects your original intention.

    There is one last rule that slots this whole thing together though, and that is: Space. When you start moving in space, its bloody hard to stop. Some of this is reflected in the moves themselves (Fig 4). This one sees your ship slewing sideways before overcoming its inertia to turn.

    But mostly this is represented in that the last movement card you played becomes THE FIRST CARD OF YOUR NET COURSE!. This means pulling to sharp a turn could leave your ship spinning out of control for a turn as it tries to regain control.

    And this leads us nicely into the final aspect of movement that makes piloting a ship worth while. Sometimes, when things have gone truly wrong, you need to gamble on your ships ability to escape. These are called emergency maneuvers (Fig 5). These maneuvers can be played directly from your hand over-top an existing course card to change the ships direction at a moments notice. But you may suffer damage (Fig 6) if you pull to hard a maneuver.

    So, a completed course would work something like this (Fig 7)

    That's all this week. until next time!
     

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  19. Maurice Fitzgerald

    Maurice Fitzgerald Moderator
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    I love this idea, although I'll mostly curse when I try it for the first time as I go all over the place. lol Very cool concept, can't wait to see how it works.
     
  20. Blackwell Hird

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    Heh, it works pretty much like you'd expect. First game I played, My dreadnought used all its movement points on a turn and as such spun out of control for 2 more turns, lazily pirouetting into the center of the board . It encourages careful planning with big ships, and darting maneuvers with the smaller ships. Another game we played, my small ship hit full burn forward, and almost sailed of the table because I had to use that same forward as the start of my next course.
     
    #20 Blackwell Hird, Nov 11, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2014
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