Heavy Gear now and in the future

Though it is far too early to be talking about specific release dates with the success of the Kickstarter (Fulfillment Fall 2015) we'll soon be announcing what will happen after the kickstarter rewards are sent out.

Ideally we will be then focusing on bringing other faction models also to plastic as the price point improvements make the game much more competative. Naturally any players who prefer the older metal figures will be happy to know that the current range of metal figures and parts will remain available. 

The darker side?

If there is one thing that has always attracted me to the world of Heavy Gear it's that though there is a lot of military conflict it occurs in a world that is distinctly not post apocalyptic. If anything society could be on the cusp of a golden age like has never been seen in the history of humanity. And while this world of conflicting ideologies creates more than enough dynamic tension, even if it is not in the context of an invasion of Earth forces, sometimes you kind of want to play the bad guy.

Almost uniquely Heavy Gear does not have any defined bad guy, an evil nation. Even the Earth government does not go in for wholesale murder or genocide, though what is happening via geoengineering on Utopia and Eden might qualify.  No, I'm talking about the Mad Max scenario. Like many I went to see the film and thoroughly enjoyed it. Don't drive a car within two hours of seeing that film, you'll get pulled over for sure.

 

Performance or survival?

There have been a number of philosophical design points that are apparent to a person picking up heavy Gear for the first time and one. A clear one is that you pay more Treat Points Value (TV) for a model with better weapons and attribute scores. 

 

The one thing we don't do in the Force lists is tell you exactly what to put on the table to make your army a real force on the tabletop that is more than the sum or its parts.

 

There are some basic concepts and synergies that you the player can use right away to get the most value out of the TV that you are paying to select your forces. A really important fact to remember is that there are specialists and there are generalists and then there are the lowly trooper Gears that form the backbone to many forces.

 

Balancing for Big, or Small?

There's a certain art to balancing games, one which always begs the question, what game are we balancing for? In terms of Heavy Gear the Edition and resulting rules change has meant that we had a distinct opportunity to change the scale of the game, and by that I do not mean the scale of the models (!). This blog is going to be a trip down memory lane of how we got to the current army construction in the Living Rule Book.

 

Heavy Gear has always been written from the perspective of a military force with all the accompanying support elements. You have your Gears as the Mainstay of mobile tactical units, tanks for heavy fire support, and infantry for claiming ground with air power being a support element. There was always a disconnect with me in the old Heavy Gear Blitz with how the squads were purchased, by the unit when the game never really supported more than three units.  So when the chance came to really shake the game down to it's core and ask how it was going to be played we had to answer a very important question first: How big/small is this game supposed to be?

 

Finally... we get to share!

One of the hardest part of the Game designer/Line Developer job is how you get to be buried with the rules for so long that it never seems like those small incremental changes will ever result in a finished document.

 

One thing I've noticed though is how its affected my son. He's 7 and is big into Lego and Plasticine and is constantly leaving his creations on my work desk. I doubt there's another kid at his school who could describe the theory of how mecha/robots/vehicle differ from each other. But I'll spare you from the terror that his goal of an army of snake-mecha would bring to the Heavy Gear universe and just focus on the Living Rule Book Beta rules that we are dropping later today.

 

What's new? Well... A lot really. And then again most of it will look very similar unless you've been there in the trenches watching them change step by step.

 

Running the old Relay... (Preview)

In the forthcoming update/rewrite of the beta rules (due out as soon as layout and final checks get it ready) there are not a lot of new parts. There are some sections that have been eliminated and you can find the list of those here.

 

A truly new part of the rules debuted as part of the satellite uplink section, the ability to relay using other models as intermediaries. This concept is now being extended to any model with the Comm:X trait.

 

Fire Dragon Preview

As the layout is still ongoing I'll continue with some previews and explanations for some decisions made along the way. A lot of the work for the new Heavy Gear rules has been to make sure that the new rules could faithfully render models from the field manual. In some cases a straight port became more and more impossible and some radical new directions had to be taken to be true to the design but balance properly. 

 

The South strider the Fire Dragon is an example of this. The Fire Dragon has always stood out as one of the most odd looking models in the South range. Six legs in a game where most other models have two and four at most plus a rounded. bulbous feel makes it a very alien looking strider.

 

Progress, progress, progress...

Deadlines are great.

 

They make you knuckle down and make decisions that have been put off for far too long. Here's a rules decision that has been made in terms of the Living Rule book, and some of the thinking and process that went into it. This rules decision is one that developed from one concept to another as I delved into the thinking behind what a Stealth technology is and what it does, and doesn't do. 

 

I'm going to use the Stealth trait as the example because it is one trait that there has been a lot of back and forth work on. The trait has settled nicely, though the why and the how of the rule, and how it functions in the game, is worthy of some discussion.

 

Living Rulebook Beta sent to layout, and stuff.

There are times when you are sad when you're wrong, and this is one of those times. Back before the Kickstarter I said that there would be an update of the Beta rules soon after the kickstarter, and then I got to work reading e-mails, making notes, and blitzing the forums, and I don't mean the DP9 forums, but forums everywhere.

 

And I got feedback by the ton. Some was errata along the lines of "I think this is what you want this to mean" to the always excellent "this example is backwards" to my favorite "We play tested this and had a lot of fun, but had trouble understanding X".  Some sent in full battle reports and some just commented on forum posts. There have been gut checks and statistical arguements galore and conversations both online, on public transit (random gamer encounters), and in game stores. Everyone I talk to has their own perspective on the game and what it can, and can't be.

A design manifesto

There are always some questions that pop up asking for clarification on so I've pulled and updated some answers from my own game bible. When it comes down to brass tacks I always like to remind players that there are any number of lenses you can view the game through, and it is fine to choose a viewpoint that is different from the standard one. The important part is to choose to have fun playing the game with your friends!
 
Note: There are a lot of aspects that get considered when choosing how parts of game design impact parts of the rules. For this blog I'm focusing almost exclusively on the core considerations, not any minute of the rules.
 
The Heavy Gear Manifesto (Game design brief)
This edited brief describes the goals behind the new edition Heavy Gear rules.
 
The Vision: To make Heavy Gear a classic and modern Intellectual Property that can be a popular cultural device for games and stories set in a science possible fictional future where humankind must face it’s own worst enemy, itself.
 
The Goal: Our goal is to create a fun and gripping tabletop combat game where between four and twenty models a side face off in a tactical combat scenario. A scenario should last about two hours. The game setting is realistic/tactical with a cinematic flair. 
 
 

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