Laruna: Age of Kingdoms "Pacing"
Hey guys, just a little more insight into tweaks going on to get LAOK ready for your game tables!
This tweak is all about pacing. Pacing may not seem like a very exciting subject when talking about a new game, but it is very important. Ever play a video game that takes a ridiculous number of hours to get to a point that you actually feel is enjoyable? Yea, well just imagine playing a board game that takes too long to get to your turn or where you have to wait for a long time just to get to the fun stuff. Not a good thing.
For shorter games, the issue of pacing is much less likely to even come up, but for significantly involved or time consuming games (which LAOK can easily be), you want to be sure players are always engaged and anxiously awaiting the next thing occurring. This led me to thinking about how 4x style games have a built in exponential effect. What I mean here is that decisions and investments made early on in gameplay will have exponentially larger effects the longer the game goes on. This is inherently a very precarious detail. You want the less involved start of the game to go quicker, but you don’t want players to be rushed into silly or bad decisions since those decisions will have dramatic effects later on.
When looking at the overall experience that LAOK was creating for players, it became obvious that the early turns (the first few seasons/years of the timeline) were very snappy and easy for players to go through. They improved their kingdoms, recruited basic soldiers, began seeking trade partners, allies and even victims. The issue was that these “early” turns seemed to be taking up too many of the finite number of turns the game had. If a game session had a timeline limit of 15, that meant there would only be 15 turns of the game. Personally, I feel that is a sort of sweet spot as far as time to play and amount of turns to act in, but that isn’t necessarily true if the first 6 to 8 of them necessitated the baby steps often taken in those “early turns”. What we needed was to cut that down to about 3 turns, so players could more quickly get to the real meat of the game - watching their decisions take hold and reacting to their enemies.
Enter “Numbers Tweaking”. It occurred to me that all of the mechanisms in place work just how we wanted them, but what we were after could be achieved by simply tuning all the early game resource costs/yields. Essentially, if upgrades, troops, etc, cost less resources or the players had access to more resources, they could more quickly establish their plans and get to the parts they loved most.
What did this mean? Well every cost and yield in the game got retooled. We swept across all of the relevant values and slightly adjusted them towards achieving the desired goal. The result thus far is about 2 to 3 turns less build up than before. This makes 15 turn games feel very good, but shorter games still need a tad more. We are examining alternative methods to expedite short game plays, such as beginning play with a number of kingdom upgrade tiles. The experiments continue and I’ll of course keep you guys clued in when some clear winners reveal themselves.-John