Friday, November 30, 2007

Game Diary Summary - November

I made a post on another website for my game, and got a few hits on my site from it. So, at least a few people took the time to take a look. ;-)

Over the weekend I made a good start on the planet's section (ie: planet stats). I outlined what each stat represents and then I created a graphic to show how the stats are presented in the system profile. I'm a little stumped on figuring out the size of moons for the planets. Since the moons cannot be larger than the parent planet, I must either figure a way to make the moons smaller than the parent by either rolling on the planet size table or by having a different size table for moons.

I over came the moon-size issue, and got as far as atmospheres last night. However, I need to redo that graphic I mentioned in the previous post. Although it looked okay at first, now it looks like crap. I'll probably have to redo it from scratch. *Sigh*

I'm happy with what I got done yesterday: I got as far as the governments, including descriptions for each one.

I worked on the Law Level section. I'm following the basic d20 rules for licenses (restricted, military, etc.) and tying them into the level of law enforcement on a planet. For example, more restrictive governments will outlaw military licensed items, whether the characters have a permit or not. Also, I'm combining this with additional info like how much police enforcement takes place, ID checks, etc.

I've completed the different tables for the planet profiles, although I may need to add one or two others for modifiers. I just need to add them into the rules themselves which I will try to do tonight and this weekend. Really happy with the progress I've been making lately.

I got a lot done over the weekend, but of course I couldn't gotten more done. I completed the carts up until the Starports. After that, I'll turn to commodities/trade, which is the other big part of this chapter.

I've been going over commodities, and I'm wondering if I need to simplify some of the later planetary profile values. Right now I have Raw Materials, Agricultural Production, Industrial Production, and Wealth Index. Each has a number between 0 and 10, with the original belief that this would impact trade (supply and demand). However, this maybe be too complicated so I need to think more about it . . .

I think I have a handle on commodities now, although it's going to be a chore to test it all. Also, I'd like to incorporate random events which will impact quantities and prices: otherwise, these will be too static instead of changing from time to time.

No, I'm wrong. I need to work more on it (the commodities). Once I started doing some rudementary tests, the system fell apart. :-(

Okay, I'm cautiously optimistic that I've gotten the commodities working now, and I also added random events and their descriptions. Now, I need to do more experimentation with both systems and planets, and then see how well it works with the commodities, etc.

I haven't had a chance to do too much the last couple of days, but I should be able to work on the game tonight. I did look at some images on the Daz3d website to get some ideas for additional creatures for the Encounters chapter however.

Tonight and during some of the weekend, I plan to test the whole system creation process (as mentioned in my previous post). I just haven't had a chance to do it yet.

I did a lot of testing over the weekend, and found a few things I need to evaluate. The main issue are the trade related stats (raw materials, ag production, ind production, and wealth index). Also, I need to look at the modifiers, because they seems a little harsh. One interesting thing I found was that, even in a system without many planets, the moons for the gas giants were able to support life as well, acting as mini-planets in their own right.

For commodities, I've been debating about the base quantity available versus needed. Even if I use the same number for both as the base, the actual result will depend a lot on an individual planet/moon. I'm still not sure I want to use the same base number for both, but I'll do some testing and see how it works out in practice.

I made more adjustments and did more testing last night. I found that raw materials were a little too frequent, so I changed that slightly. I'll try to do more testing tonight if I can.

Perhaps I'm getting old, but sometimes I see the results of a decision I made a week or more ago and now I can't remember why I picked that choice or what I based it on. In this case, I have the GM roll a 1d8 for the size of a planet instead of the 1d10 he rolls for all the other stats. I'll need to look at this more, but I believe it was just an oversight. It would be better to have them consistent (ie: everything roll 1d10).

During the Thanksgiving holiday, I mostly worked on a map of the Imperium. Basically, I took a map of a real country (in this case, China), flipped it upside down in Photoshop and then traced the borders, including provinces. I had to modify some of the borders so they would work better, and then added color and a hex background for scale. It came out pretty good and it was the correct size that I had envisioned.

I decided not to use sectors and subsectors, which is what the Traveller games (among others) use. I decided I wanted something more "organic" looking. That's why I used the map above with the provinces, both of which give a very organic look. I may go back and follow hex sides for the borders instead of the lines that are currently used. I'm not sure if I want that, however, a) because it would remove some of the organic feel, and b) it would be a real pain to do. ;-)

Well, I tried to use the hex sides last night a couple of times and it was a serious pain. However, I just thought of another message to do it, so I'll try that tonight. Even so, doing the entire Imperium map would be very challenging and time consuming.

I had wanted to have the map organized by region/province/district, but I wasn't sure about the regions. Then it came to me last night in bed that I used to talk about Core and Rim regions (plus a middle one which I forget), so I'll use that. I will group the provinces that way.

Last night I worked on the province in which Aldorus, the capital planet lies. I don't have a name for the province, or the two districts within it, but I'll figure that out later. Meanwhile, I did roll to see which hexes had star systems (a total of 92). Btw, the three regions of the Imperium are Imperium Core, Middle Rim, and Frontier Worlds. Using the main map, I made a rough outline of how many provinces are in each region.

I decided on the 26 province names, including the one for Aldorus (called Jova). I also updated the main map to include the region names and then numbers for each province (which will refer to a list of the names).

I've been working on Jova: first I rolled 1d20 for each hex to see which ones held star. Since there were over a 100 hexes, that took forever. So, I decided to add formulas to an excel sheet, which allowed me to create as many random numbers (which is what the die roll is) as I wanted within the range I wanted (1 to 20). I then added some additional sophistication to the process by adding some more complicated formulas. Anyway, long story short: it allows me to work much faster. Of course, it would be even faster if I had a computer program to do the whole thing, but this works for me and my lack of programming skills. ;-)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Imperium Map

I created a space map of the Imperium. I wrote about it in my November game diary (11/26), but I wanted to post an image of it here (or at least a version of it). This image is much smaller than the original, and I had to save it as a jpeg to display it on the blog. In short, it looks better than this. ;-)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Game Diary Summary - October

I'm basically done with the combat section of starships. I need to add the drones and a few other things and then I'll be done with the starships chapter. Over the weekend, I also worked some more on the abilities to reformat them and reorganize. Last week, I did some of art work for the game, including new design for the Tshirts. I got one in the mail and it looks pretty good.

Before I start on the next chapter, I'd like to go back and tidy up some loose ends in some of the previous chapters. The next chapter, btw, will be about creating planets and star systems, as well as info on interstellar trade.

Last night I finished reorganizing the majority of psionic abilities. I just need to go back and redo the prerequisites for each. I would also like to add some additional starship related abilities.

I worked some more on psionic abilities, and reviewed some notes for the next chapter on planet creation. I had dinner with my sister who's been studying graphic arts. I've looked at her work and I've been impressed. I suggested that she do the cover of the rule book and she seemed interested.

I continued research on the planets chapter, specifically star system creation. I don't want it too complex but I also want to keep it believable.

My sister sent me a draft image to look at. It looks pretty good.

I've been thinking about the planet stats. I'm using a system similar to Traveller, namely the UWP (Universal World Profile), except with different stats. For example, I'm not having a government value and I'm going to have three additional stats: Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Industry. These last three will impact the kinds of products that will be available or needed for trade. I'm also thinking about adding a Wealth index as well, again as an impact on trade.

While i was lying in bed Friday night, I thought of some prose for the beginning of the Planet chapter. However, since I didn't write it down, I'm not quite sure I'll be able to write it down now. :-( Such are the perils of the creative process.

I worked on that prose yesterday and I think it's done (after several drafts). I also went through my To Do List and completed some of the items there.

I've written nearly 20 new starship related abilities, although I still need to add them to the rules.

Last night I added the new abilities to the rules.

This evening, I added the last three ships to the starships chapter. I still have a little bit more to do with that chapter before I'm done (finally) with it.

I've decided to go ahead and add the government as one of the planet stats. Although the Imperium is the main government, each planet can have a local govt so i need to reflect that in the stats. I'm also using the stats differently than how Traveller used it. I'm really using the "UWP" as a snapshot of a system, which is why I'm calling it the System Profile instead of UWP. It's only supposed to give some very basic stats which the GM would then flesh out with individual descriptions for each system and the planets therein.

Over the weekend I added drones to the starship examples and also added the descriptions for the last three ships i added on 10/10.

I have this week off, so today I've been sitting at my desk working on the star system data. Again, I'm trying to make it playable but still believable. I've been having some hair pulling moments, but I'm slowly slugging it out.

Thunderstorms have kept me off the computer much of today, but I did manage to add some stuff for the planet chapter. It's actually text I wrote more than a year ago during a previous attempt at writing these rules. However, now that I add this to the rules, I see how much my writing has degraded over the years. Maybe I'm just in a lull but it seems like my ability to write has gone down hill as I've gotten older. They say that the 30s are the peek of a person's cognitive abilities, but I'm already at the end of that time, pushing 40. :-(

I looked at what I had put in yesterday (from my young days) and didn't like it. ;-) So, I mostly redid it and made it more readable and less dry. I think I'm happier with what I did today (which is good)!

Today I worked more on the calculations for stars and their respective orbits. I made a few changes, but I'd like to do a little more experimentation. Of course, it would help if I didn't suck at math. Grrrr.

After a week vacation, I'm back to my day job. This means I only have time to work on the game in the evening, if I'm not too tired to think. ;-)

10/26/2007 I was able to work a little on the rules this week, but not a lot. I started getting into the star system creation part, but that's about it.

Although I had some frustrations on Saturday, I was still able to get work done. On Sunday, I had no such problems and got a lot done. All in all, I've completed the star sections of the system construction rules. I still need to get down to the more detailed planet rules.

Couple of things: I think I'll rename Chapter 9 to Star Systems instead of Planets since that better describes what's included. Also, I've been looking at the index for the game and I really think I need to add more creatures to Chapter 6. There just doesn't seem like very many there, although I had thought I'd release an expansion later with more creatures . . .

I put an updated post on the Pen&Paper forums yesterday, just to show that I'm still working on the game, etc. The previous post was way back in March, which surprised me. It's amazing how fast these past months have gone by.

For the system creation rules, and the rules for creating each planet, I've attempted to make sure things are in a logical progression. In other words, stats found in Step A will modify what's in Step B, etc. That may sound obvious, but I've seen some rules elsewhere that jumps around a lot, which can be very confusing in a complex process.