Game Design is Messy

After my most recent post, showing the changes and updates that we've made to Seventh Cross, I got a comment asking about many of the mechanics and paradigms that we had been testing in the boss-battle focused versions of the game, and what would happen to those segments. I started to put together an answer, but it got detailed enough that I felt it deserved its own post.

In designing a game, as with any kind of art, you don't know exactly where you will end up when you start. In my designs, I build a rough outline of the feeling that I'm trying to capture, and then I throw different colors against that canvas until the idea starts to take shape in a way that I want it to. In the Seventh Cross design diaries I've posted so far, you can see how the game's scope and focus have shifted as we develop, and how one core idea can mean a lot of different things.

With Seventh Cross, my goal is to create an immersive adventure game. For many versions of that game, I put a heavy emphasis on boss battles. However, that portion of the game grew and grew to the point where it eclipsed the other elements we wanted to introduce. When the boss battles were the most fun and interesting, the exploration had to be heavily reduced due to time and mechanical constraints (as learned in the v10-14 versions). With a compromise between both, I would only achieve a half-baked battle system and a lackluster adventure segment (as we tried in v15 and 16)

It became clear that to do battles on a scale and depth that I wanted, I would have to cut out much of the exploration and adventure gameplay that I had in my original scope, or end up with a very lengthy and disjointed experience as I tried to force all of the disparate mechanics into one game. It wasn't possible to make a full adventure game, and a full boss battle game, and keep things fully cooperative, and keep the legacy aspects I had in mind, all in the same box.

This faced me with a difficult decision. Which game was the real Seventh Cross? In the end, I decided to step back from the boss-rush version and produce the game that I felt was more resonant with the original adventure/exploration path I had set out on. This game would allow me to keep most closely to the vision expressed on the project's overview page

These kinds of tough choices come up fairly often in design. As many elements are added and removed, it's easy to forget the original vision behind a game, to decide that your plan is obsolete, or simply to succumb to the temptation to go in a new direction from your first intentions. 

The important thing to take away from these culls is that as long as you keep your good ideas on reserve, nothing is truly lost. All the knowledge and innovations we gained from testing out the boss-rush game will come in handy for upcoming projects. It's much better to deliver two focused, complete, and tightly built games than one all-encompassing hodge-podge, after all.

I have big plans for the boss-battle game as well, but I have to tackle one thing at a time. I'm confident that both of these two games will turn out better for not being forced into one another's molds.


Also, I want to say a special thanks to all of you who have been following along with these updates and who have been leaving comments, encouragement, and questions. It's good to know that people are interested in what I'm working on. It really pushes me to think hard about the choices I make, and to make sure I'm delivering on all of your expectations.

I look forward to sharing more complete versions of both of these games with you in the near future!

Seventh Cross v17 - Spooky Haunted Castles

Seventh Cross v17 - Spooky Haunted Castles

Yesterday, we tested Seventh Cross v17, which was the culmination of another 3 weeks of work. I'm happy to finally report that the test went splendidly! I think we have a game structure which we can flesh out, refine, and vary enough to create a Level 99 Game on top of!

The World of Seventh Cross, and Transformations in EXCEED!

The World of Seventh Cross, and Transformations in EXCEED!

The important thing to know about the world of Seventh Cross is that the monsters were human, once long ago. In their pursuit of power and knowledge, early humans made contact with otherworldly forces. By listening to the secrets whispered from beyond, they could tap into untold power.

EXCEED Season 2 is LIVE!

EXCEED Season 2 is LIVE!

Join the Fight now on Kickstarter!

Featuring 16 new heroes and villains from the new original universe Seventh Cross, EXCEED Season 2 includes over 140 incredible illustrations, a stylish early 20th-century horror theme, and mythos and monsters from around the world and throughout history.

Each fighter possesses the potential to tap into the forces of madness and transform into a terrifying creature. Will you unleash your darker side to win, even at the cost of your humanity? Follow along with the project and find out!

March Community Contest: Alternate Costume Design!

Open now through April 3rd

In our Extended Editions of BattleCON: War and BattleCON: Devastation, we've included alternate costumes for characters featuring new variants and abilities. This March, we give you the opportunity to be part of that tradition by designing your own custom costume!

Community members are invited to design and submit a custom costume for an existing BattleCON character. The entry consists of two parts: A visual description of the character, and an alternate Unique Ability that works with the character's cards and tokens.

The theme for this costume contest is Earth Day (which is on Saturday, April 22)! We'll present the contest showcase on that day as well!

Crafting your Entry

  1. Any BattleCON character from War, Devastation, or Fate is eligible to receive an alternate costume. Characters from unreleased games or expansions should not be selected.
    1. Characters may use their own UA-related components, or UA-related components from other BattleCON Characters. For example, you could give Shekhtur Elemental Tokens, if you wished, and if they work within the rest of her kit.
    2. Characters may repurpose or reimagine their existing UA-related components. For example, you could cause Eligor to gain a power bonus from Vengeance Tokens, instead of a defense bonus.
    3. Characters may have new UA-related components. For example, you could give Lesandra a new set of familiars, with different effects and names than her existing ones.
    4. If Styles, Bases, or Finishers from the character's default kit interact with their new costume UA differently, make note of these interactions in your entry.

    Entering

    1. Each person is allowed one entry to the contest, so make it count!
    2. Entries are to be .RTF or .TXT files that contain the following:
      1. Your real name and email address - If you want to be credited under a pseudonym in our showcase, include that pseudonym here too.
      2. Character's Name and Costume Name
      3. Description of the costume Appearance - You can include reference photos and sketches, but this should primarily be text.
      4. Alternate Unique Ability, plus any notes and additional explanations.
      5. Aside from this, your entry may optionally include a brief explanation as to how the theme inspired you to design the character in such a manner.
    3. Attach your .RTF or .TXT file to an email and send it to ithry@level99games.com with the Subject Line "March Costume Creation Contest".
    4. All entries must be family friendly. We will not consider costumes that are inappropriate or mature in nature. If you are confused as to whether or not your character is considered PG-rated, it likely means that it is not!
    5. All entries must be in our inbox on or before midnight on April 3, 2017. Any characters sent after this will not be considered. Sorry!
    6. Remember that by submitting your character idea, you are granting us permission to print/sell it at a later date, and to share it with the community!

    Judging Criteria

    We will judge each entry according to these criteria:

    1. Originality - Does the costume surprise us and inspire us? Does it shine a new light on an existing character and let us get to know them better?
    2. Theming - How well have you captured the theme ("Earth Day") and integrated it into your design?
    3. Mechanics - How well do the new mechanics function on the game table? Is it fun and balanced to play?
    4. Technique - Is the new UA explained cleanly and are its ideas executed well? Are all the loose ends in the character's kit tied up neatly?

    Prizes

    • (1) Grand Prize - Alternate Art of your custom costume by one of our series artists, 10 copies of your Alternate Art Character Kit, plus First Prize awards. Your costume may also be included in future Extended Editions or as a promo at Level 99 Games events.
    • (5) First Prize - $20 Gift Code in our online store, plus entry into the showcase!

    Thanks for getting involved in the BattleCON Community, and good luck! I can't wait to see what you come up with!

    - Brad Talton