Brand new games: some extra "How to" points

This is the place for games which are currently being created and developed, and where the designer is listening to feedback from other players. The game is not ready to play, and the designers are not looking for sign-ups - indeed, they may have no intention of GMing the game themselves when it is finished. But your input is welcome!

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Brand new games: some extra "How to" points

Postby Pedros » 31 Aug 2011, 12:52

We've had a lot of newly designed games proposed here lately, and many of them have started. Some of them have been extremely successful, others less so.

It's great that there's so much creativity around, but there are a few things to watch out for before you get the game started. I will be leaning on designers fairly hard to make sure these points are dealt with before starting. I know that once you've had the idea and drawn a map you can't wait to get started - and the prospective players probably feel the same as well - but better for everybody if the wrinkles are ironed out first. And remember - if you're new to GMing here on PlayDip, you'll need to check with Pedros before you can GM at all, and you probably won't be able to walk straight into your enormous, complicated game first off! (viewtopic.php?f=135&t=29099#p474444)

If the rules for your game are basically standard then the only issue is the map. With any new map there's a fair chance that there will be some weaknesses; post it early and give people time to comment; be willing to adjust. There are some very experienced players out there and their ideas might make the game much better to play.

House rules If you're new to GMing then you'll need to write these from scratch, or at least copy somebody else's. I'm thinking of providing a kind of tool-kit for this (keep an eye on GM Matters), but they need to include everything from deadlines to NMR policies and surrenders, and how you want orders written. It will save problems later as well if you announce from the outset your attitude to things like draw proposals (when can they be made? In public or private? DIAS or just some survivors? What about concessions to a solo winner? When there's a proposal, how long before it's a dead one, and does the game move forward whilst you all wait for that time?)

Game rules There needs to be one easily accessible post where players and observers can see exactly what rules you're playing under. Some games start with rules which are confused, which cause complications later. A link to an existing game's rules (either here or elsewhere) is fine, but don't assume that just because a game's been played before the rules are perfect!

All rules should begin with a statement like "The standard rules of Diplomacy apply except where stated below" If you can't write that, then the game doesn't belong here - it should be in Other Forum Games! Make it clear if you're playing initial builds ("Winter 1900" style), Build Anywhere, etc. But it's when you come to your special rules that it gets tricky. Just at present beowulf is developing Mercenary Diplomacy, and the rules are getting more complicated, and the questions keep coming, day by day. If you don't get them right at the start, it could ruin the game - a recent example of a game not ruined, but made less enjoyable, is given below. Once again, be willing to take time and be willing to think again and make changes.

Finally, discussions about this should be kept public - private discussions about developing rules are unfair on other players, and also mean that you're reducing the extent to which changes get discussed.

Example: Deviant Diplomacy. Recently tarheel82 introduced Deviant Diplomacy to the site. It was drawn from the Variant Bank, and both he and the players could be forgiven for assuming that the rules are clear and work well. However, it became clear as the game went on that there were a number of unclear issues.

The game is played on the standard map, but at each year each player can propose a rule change, and there is a vote to decide the one to be implemented from then on. There are a few restrictions on possible proposals, but there isn't anything to say that you can't propose that the rule-change rule should be abandoned, and that's what somebody did - successfully. Is that OK? (Seems to destroy the point of the game!)

Also, you can't propose a rule which will result in the immediate elimination of another player. That seems fair doesn't it? Except that according to standard rules elimination only happens in the Build phase, which means that strictly speaking no rule can mean the immediate elimination of a player, because the rule changes don't happen then!

So, be careful!
"Sooner or later, one of us will stab the other. But for now we're both better off as allies" (kininvie)
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