Cities: Skylines - traffic 92%
22nd Oct, 2019

All these thoughts of world-building gave me a hankering for Cities-Skylines. So I dusted off a copy, and with thoughts of ECORR and a vague idea for a cell-like structure to the layout, I hit 92% traffic flow in a city of 60K. My aim is always high traffic flow using the vanilla game (one day I'll get into the mods). Using motorway loops to surround the 'cells', with lots of interconnecting bridges between the cells seems to have done the trick.

Pretty green in traffic flow and cash

I think the flow can be improved, and it will be interesting if it holds up as it grows. I seen cities with mods that reach a million citizens! If you play this game, what's your best traffic-flow percentage once you hit 50K or more?

It also gave me thoughts of 'bridging ECORR', and surrounding current flyovers in ECORR, along with the motorways themselves. It would make the completion of London's Ringways more palatable! There is a fun vid by Jay on YouTube. Though the layout of the Ringways would need a redesign 😉

It seems that when I'm not world-building in Sciror, I like to relax with more world-building! Playing about in sandboxes created by others is too much fun. Perhaps one day I'll combine the two and build an ECORR asset for Cities: Skylines 😛 I also loved building in Fallout 4, and in there I built a scrappy version of the ECORR over a road in the Taffington boathouse settlement. I couldn't help myself 😀

What world-building games do you like?

Power Gamers
21st Feb, 2010

I to do not think min/ maxers are a problem per se. There are merely specialising; which is a perfectly natural instinct, and ironically quite 'team player' when you think about it (as a specialist on their own is vulnerable).

Min/ Maxers are merely trying to stack the odds of their survival in their favour. They have an idea that all encounters are going to be direct fights and they need to throw everything at the enemy. It's all about survival (and if they survive it's all glory). It's hard to ask someone to go against base instincts and drives like these. Most young males (and a lot of gamer females) run through hypotheticals (like games) to test themselves. To see if they can win, to beat the system. It's important to them. Older players have less of this type of drive because they have already proven themselves.

This can be neutralised by shifting the goal posts, and GMs have their ways...

Some ground rules as to what is expected can help - merely pointing out that it's a puzzle game not a combat simulator, and that you (the GM) will match the enemies to the power levels of the players; so most straight up fights listed in the scenario will scale to at least be 50-50 (and a real chance of the PC dying without them coming up with some superior tactics!). Those enemies that are weaker than 50-50 are likely to run (why would a little sneaky goblin charge/ stand their ground against an overpowered human?), and 'boss monsters' should usually invincible (to the point they may not even have stats, you fight it: you loose) unless you have a trick up your sleeve. Defeating a boss is a puzzle and will require a bit of lateral thinking. Catching those that run (lower power NPCs) will require ambushes, and shifting the odds of a 50-50 fight will require tactics. You only earn experience on 50-50 fights and the use of tactics.

So no matter how much the min/max; they usually have a 50% chance of loosing in a fight with NPCs who actually want to fight, and the boss monster is 'the boss' and will kick their ass.

'opponent scaling' or 'risk scaling'.

Reminds me of the old Warhammer Fantasy RPG (1E) 'risk rolls', which tended to be 50%...

In conclusion, I think most of the time it's hard to blame a power-gamers for doing what they do - it's a personality trait. If handled with care, and they are made aware of the parameters of the game, it can work to your advantage. However a power gamer will test your resolve. You will probably have to kill them at some point, and do it early before their mindset thinks you were full of BS and they act up. The first 'easy' fight the power-gamer wants (i.e. bullying or picking on mooks) the NPCs should run away, the first 50-50 fight they have they should walk away bloody, die, or surrender. If they walk away bloody and get into another fight - kill them.

I'm sure the non power-games will be ahead of the curve, and start suggesting tactics and perhaps a bit of stealth. However, this is 'adaptive', and what works once should not work again (once word is out that there is a 'gang', that ambushes, operating in the area - NPCs will be weary (and they know the terrain)). It is possible that the PC will intimidate many, but criminal gangs can be powerful and may hunt the PCs down. Usually the PCs are operating in a society, and threats will be taken very seriously. Humans are aggressive. Territory will be protected. (Protected by the NPC version of a min/ maxer!)

When thinking about what an NPC would do, just ask yourself: what would you do in their shoes?

Do not blame the player for power-gaming: blame the system and the lack of in game consequences.

Power-gamers are power-gamers because it often works. Simple but effective. If you want a more sophisticated game, I would suggest the system and game world has to be sophisticated too. You can't rely on 'social norms' and 'unspoken understanding' and what is the 'correct attitude' to make up for an unsophisticated system. A power-gamers will see the weaknesses and exploit them. It's their nature, and that nature is in all of us. In many ways the whole point of RPGs is to have fun and 'cheat the odds', to solve the puzzle, power-gamers are merely starting with the rules (simple tactics lots of maths), those who like the setting exploit the setting (complex tactics little maths): rules hacker - setting hacker.

We are all more similar than different, more often than not...


PS: As for 'centre of attention' you can't beat being a GM

21st May, 2009

My new 'WarSpike' game system is coming on. I knew it was going to be a bit of a challenge considering the scope of the project. It consists of four games covering strategic, tactical, technical and political spheres, each can be played in it's own right, or combined into the complete WarSpike 'Spheres of War' system. It allows you to run games at a club level using Strategic sphere and zoom into the action with Tactical where the clubs members can resolve battles, and even focus into the Technical Sphere to fight duels between champions.

The four spheres allow a multitude of combinations and the Political-Technical combination allows players to run a WarSpike Role-Play Game, yet the other Spheres can be bolted onto this combination to allow a Player character to lead a unit of henchmen using Tactical to resolve their group actions, yet jump to Technical when focused in on the action surrounding the Player Character. The Player Character can even take charge of an army, and run a Strategic Sphere game 'in game', and send off orders that other players who can use Tactical to resolve the battles and report back as to their outcomes.

To complicate matters I want it to be 'realistic' yet 'streamlined', and it's the way combat is handled that the real innovations turn up, more of The ARMA school of thinking than the classic Hollywood nonsense. Along with the interoperable nature of all the Spheres (they all interact seamlessly. Once inside another, like Russian Nested Dolls, only these Spheres are arranged as a strange loop) it makes for an interesting system. A lot to learn, but I hope worth it to those who invest the time, and I try to make it easier as your can start with one Sphere, an while learning that you do not have to even look at the others. Yet if you do look at the other Spheres, you'll find it all very familiar, as they share so much.

Such a complex project took a bit of sorting out, and now I think the WarSpike sites work well together to show each step in the development process. I wanted to include fans in the development cycle, and so all the rules are posted on the WarSpike Development Blog to get some feedback. Once the concepts are sorted they are re-written and posted as Prototyping Pages to gain more feedback on the specific details. When the rules are working they move to the Static Site for all to see.

PDF: Once all of the content slots on the static site are filled the rules will be compiled into a PDF and released for download over P2P networks for free. I will be using magnet links to ensure the correct file is downloaded and hoping fans who like the rules leave a copy in their share folder to contribute to the downloads by other fans. The PDF will be licensed under a Creative Commons licence.

This is not the end on fan participation as WarSpike can be expanded with 'Augments' and source books. Fans can write up their own background (they can use Sciror but that's another story) and reference the rules etc. The only proviso is they can not duplicate the rules - they have to link back to the WarSpike site so players can download the rules. The rules will always be available for free.

I also plan to release a couple of Print on Demand editions, a cheap black and white spiral bound edition with no mark-up, and a premium edition rendered up as an old fight codex, full illuminated manuscript, containing all four Spheres in one massive hard copy. That I will charge for, and it will not be cheap! (If LuLu allowed me to embellish it with gold leaf I would!). This last one is about the only source of 'income' from the project based on product, though I think I'll add in a donation button just in case some one feels generous.

Well, that's what I've been up too in my spare time, and anyone is welcome to pop over and comment of the concepts and rules of WarSpike.