I promised a write-up on The Stockpile this week, but what I really want to be doing is developing. It's strange, blogging. Writing is kind of my second love (Or first love, depending upon how you look at it), and oftentimes, I enjoy doing this more than I enjoy developing. But at the moment, I am elbows-deep in the new Set 2, and it is going smashingly. If anything, there's far, far too much information for me to sift through. History has this really weird habit of having conflicting information, outdated information, and information in languages that simply don't exist anymore. Which leaves a really awkward amount of empty space where we know that stuff happened, we just have no definitive proof of what that stuff actually was. We have rumor and hearsay, but how much of that is actually truth? They do say that the victors write history, and there exist things like the Voynich Manuscript that to this day remain undeciphered. And then you add in things like the destruction of the Library of Alexandria and the Grand Library of Baghdad, wherein we (Humanity) lost countless historical documents. How do we know for certain that everything that's written is true, and that everything that's written gives the whole picture? We really can't, and don't. But even so, there's so much information to go through and so much creative control over how to represent factions, and I'm having a blast doing the research to find out more about the parts of history that I haven't yet (I stumbled across stuff about the Mauryan Empire last night, and lemme tell ya - Bad. Asses).
But that's not what I'm talking about this week. As cool as theme and flavor and history are, and despite how vital they are to the game, it's the mechanics that make Siege what it is. And one of the coolest mechanics that we've introduced with Siege is The Stockpile. In the stockpile, you keep track of your resources - Morale, Food, Metal, Wood, Stone, and Gold. And if you want, you can keep a running tally of your Logistics and Command Ratings there also. The Stockpile operates on a simple base-10 system, where no value can be more than 10 at the *end* of any Season. This means that during the turn, you can accumulate more than 10 of any single resource, but by the end of the Season, your stores just can't hold more than that. And any resources you accumulate within those parameters follow you from Season to Season. So, while you may only have a single Lumberyard on the field, you're not entirely out of luck. You also get to build up resources for huge structures, immense armies, and so on.
There are a couple nuances about the Stockpile, though. First, food spoils at the end of each Season. So if you make it, eat it. It will not keep. This is kind of a control mechanism as well as a flavor mechanism. For those of you just joining the game, you primarily produce Food equal to the number of territories you control uncontested (Referred to in the game as 'Friendly Territories'), and each army eats a food. This is a great balancing factor, and a really good reason to go grab territory early and often. It also encourages not sitting back, because you'll be at an inherent disadvantage food-wise if you do. Secondly, Command and Logistics are not "Spent" in the same way as other resources. They're just static ratings that tell you when you can play certain tactics, or when certain things become available to your Empire. For instance, if you have a Logistics rating of 6, you may play any number of tactics that equal 6 Logistics in the same season. But the cool thing, is that your Logistics doesn't deplete when you do this - You don't lose Logistics or Command when you play stuff. You only lose the values when the card that provides it stops existing. As a result, if you play 6 Logistics worth of tactics, and have a card that triggers off 5 Logistics, then you still get the bonus from having 5 Logistics.
Now, aside from the concept of the Stockpile as a new CCG concept, there are some really key interactions with how the Stockpile works inside a CCG. First and foremost, you're not 'Tapping' resources, they're there regardless of whether or not you have structures to produce them. To borrow from Magic: the Gathering, were 'Armageddon' a card in Siege, it would do very little comparatively. Sure, you're not going to produce any *more* resources if all structures were destroyed, but the one-sided nature of a card like 'Armageddon' is lessened, the cheapness factor nearly entirely nullified, so much so that I think a card like 'Armageddon' could work rather well in Siege. Will one ever exist? Probably not, but I never say never, because I've actually had crazier ideas for cards in the past. But beyond the obscure ramifications of cards that probably won't exist in Siege, this brings up an entirely different dynamic on how you play the game - One that I don't think I've even fully grasped yet. For instance:
Let's say that you have five cards in your hand, five structures on the board. Your structures are 2x Lumberyard, 2x Mine, and 1x Market. In your hand, your cards cost MW, MMWW2, WWWW1, MMMMMM, and MMMMW1, respectively. In your stockpile is 5 Metal, 2 Wood, and 3 Gold. What the Hell do you play first? What's your best combination? What do you play first, second, third? This is what makes the Stockpile such a great addition to the game. This part, along with Territories and Simultaneous Turns, makes Siege a true 'Strategic Card Game'. And there's no 'right' play for the above. All of that depends upon what you're facing, what your opponent's setup is, what your Morale is at, and so on.
Stockpile Management is something that I'll go into more detail about in the future, but for now, I'll just be introducing concepts to you guys. In the future, we'll be doing open calls for testing if anyone is so interested. I'm going to sign off for now and put some more elbow-grease into Set 2. Next week, I'll be talking a bit about the process of development, and perhaps starting to rewrite my Treatise on Research and Game Development! Stay tuned!
I wanted to update you folks on some progress things and go into a bit more detail about the game. Today, I'll be talking about progress - Where we're at currently, what we're doing to move forward, and how close we are to getting there (I'll answer that one right away - We're freakin' close)For those of you who have been with us for a bit, you know how much Siege has changed during the development phases. From just Attack / Armor to the addition of a Strength stat, the addition and subsequent subtraction of the Siege deck, and the addition of the Siege mechanic. The addition of Morale, the redaction of Markets as a non-basic structure (And Gold as a non-basic resource)... The addition of Logistics and Command, the removal of Ranged, the reintroduction of Ranged, the implementation of Cities (And trade), the concept of card draw being less vital and food being our dump resource... All of these things have led us to this point. And what point is that? Well, as of a couple weeks ago, we began finalizing set 1. And I'm proud to be able to say that we are currently at 100% development for set 1 - entitled "Rome vs. Greece". And yes, those are the first two factions that we'll be introducing into the Siege engine - Roman Legions, strong and loyal, ready to march at the Caesar's orders... And Greece, stalwart and smart... Prepared to defend their homeland against all invaders. And while I won't say anything about future sets, necessarily... If any of you ask the question, "Will ______ be a faction you explore soon?" The answer is 'Yes'. Yes we will. Except for Canada.
We initially had plans to release a particular subsequent set after this (Brad and I have been wanting to get our hands into these factions since day one), but changed gears shortly after set 2's initial development, and ended up with an even better concept - to be announced quite soon. And we've been working feverishly to get set 1 to a place where we're both comfortable with it - and we've done it! But not only that, but we've also been working quite hard at getting Kickstarter things ready, getting distribution models updated, working on our business plan, finalizing artwork, contacting distributors, and so on. And while the vast majority of our past has been development on the game itself, we're now to the point where we're no longer interested in making changes to the system.
Through all of these changes to the game, we've finally landed in a place of balance and a place where it feels right. New elements don't disrupt the game, and old elements don't stagnate the way they do elsewhere. Power Creep isn't nearly as much of an issue with Siege as it is in most other games (I'm looking at you, PoxNora [I beta-tested PoxNora, and tested it in the clusterf- that followed])... And of course I say these things, Siege is my baby. But mt point lies in the system - It is so easy to mold the way we want it to be. It's such an open platform, there are literally limitless possibilities with the game engine. Listen to me, speaking like Siege is a computer simulation. But it kind of feels like one. I can't say too much about it, but at the end of the day, I've dreamed many, many more things that are possible with Siege than we're putting into it currently. I guess my point is this - the platform that Siege creates by existing is far more important than what we do with it now. Siege as a platform and as an engine has so many ramifications, so many possibilities, so much impact to the concept of gaming in general, that I don't even think that Brad and I quite grasp it yet. But this is good. This is longevity. this is where the game needs to be, and where it's been heading for the past... What, four years? These things don't happen overnight, and we've poured limitless hours away from loved ones trying to get this project off the ground. And I'd be pandering if I said that it was all for you guys (But in most cases, it is - I want you guys to be happy with the efforts we've made), it's for us too. Honestly, a good portion of our time has been spent playing the game that we love instead of making the game that we love, but that also speaks vehemently to how much fun Siege is (No one's disliked it yet, which gives me unbelievable amounts of confidence at the game's success). I've had a blast playing the game and analyzing the cool aspects of the system, and just envisioning all the things that Siege can make possible. Knowing how close are to launching just makes me giddy.
And now we're almost there. We need artists, and art. We need talent who can invoke emotions that no one else can invoke. And this will take a while. We are using our savings for this project at the moment, but we'll be opening funding projects in the not-too-distant-future to help with costs. And if we can get the project funded by fans of gaming and games and history, then we can keep making these things for you. Because Siege certainly isn't the only thing that's on our list to do. Siege is the starting point. It's the point at which all of my decades of thought and creativity (And Brad's too) can be channeled and shared with the world. It's the concepts and ideas that make people happy - this is why we do this. I want to see people happy. And I know that sounds trite, but it's the most honest truth that I can provide. Those of you who have known me for years know that I'm not exactly a run-of-the-mill, everyday guy. In good ways and in bad. But I try my best to make a change for the positive. And I think that if I can better someone's life, whether it be through making them smile when they crack open a pack of cards, or whether it be through a briefcase of money I leave on their doorstep on Christmas Eve, I want to be able to make that difference. And that's where Siege comes in. I've never had a concept quite like Siege just plopped down on my lap like this. I've been blessed enough to be able to work on this project with Brad for a number of years now, and my faith in it is just through the roof. Everyone that plays the game loves it - we know it's a hit. It's just getting word-of-mouth out there about the project, who we are, and what we're out there to do. And I hope that I can make a living at it while I'm doing it, because this is what I love and this is what I live for. It's quite literally my childhood dream.
But enough of that. On to actual game stuff! First, I'll be talking about simultaneous turns. This is perhaps the most difficult and most overlooked part of the game. Most people fall into two camps - Those who notice the simultaneous turns right away and flip out about it, and those who have no idea until the game's over and I mention it to them. It's strange, because those who don't notice the simultaneous turns are sort of shellshocked by the concept afterwards, but are overall happy with them. The execution is so smooth, and fits so well with the concepts of Siege and what we're trying to do with the game. I can't imagine doing something like Siege - Or any type of Strategic Game, really - in anything except simultaneous or real-time now. And I'm the type of guy who loathed real-time strategy. I played the original Command & Conquer for all of seven minutes before throwing the controller down in anger, frustration, and hatred. I loved Warcraft (Specifically Warcraft II), but I could never get past half of the missions - I loathed the concepts of RTS. Games from my childhood like Utopia and Sim City - All real-time, but I abused the Hell out of the pause functions of these games, because I just couldn't handle it any other way. As a result, I quickly adopted turn-based strategy games as my own, but Siege kind of changed all of that for me. I now understand why games like Vandal Hearts worked as well as they did - simultaneous turns rock socks. It's as simple as that. It's completely even, perfectly level playing ground. There are no inherent advantages or disadvantages in it - Nothing depends upon, "Oh, if I had won the coin flip..." There's none of that nonsense. It's all flat ground, so to speak. But simultaneous turns make Siege possible - You don't have to sit and wait for your opponent to do something, you can look across the table and see what he's doing and how his stuff is interacting with yours - When your armies move, his move also. It's as simple as that. Your troop movements are key, your build orders are key, if your general were to notice the shield wall that your army is facing, he would - in actual, real-time, decide what his best course of action is. And that's freakin' cool. But it's less impressive to explain and more impressive to show. So any of you who want to hit me up for a game in the next few weeks, feel more than free! And I'll show you why simultaneous turns kick ass.
But this isn't the only thing that sets Siege apart from every other game - Not by a long shot. Along with simultaneous turns, we have the Stockpile. The Stockpile is another really unique, amazing concept - One that I don't even have a full grasp on yet. In other games (Like Magic), there's less resource-management. You count your lands and then you count the numbers on your card. In Siege, you go a bit deeper than that. But that is a topic for next week. Next time, we'll talk about the Stockpile, resources, and the concept of cost. As always, feel more than free to contact either of us with questions or if you'd like to playtest!