More rambling notes and musings I'm jotting down here in the hope that they coalesce into something fun people would like to play.
While doing some research on the internet I remembered some articles Mark Rosewater wrote on game design a while back. MaRo is the public face of the design and development teams for Magic: the Gathering and writes a regular column on game design. He knows his stuff on this topic.
His Ten Things Every Game Needs articles are a good checklist to run every budding game idea against to see how it holds and identify possible weaknesses.
So let's try it here.
As a recap from the last post, my idea is for a game where the player takes on the role of a succubus-summoning warlock and uses their sexy minions to gain control of a kingdom behind the scenes. Nothing about this is set in stone. Rather than ye-olde-world-fantasy, the kingdom could just as easily be a corporation, or army invading hell-space, or even a college for warlocks. The succubus minions could be intelligence agents. You get the idea. What I'm trying to do is think up a monster girl game that's slightly different from the usual path of smashing mons into each other (coz, I'm awkward like that! :) )
Let's run through MaRo's points and see if that helps to clarify things.
The player is a warlock capable of summoning demons and other monsters. Their goal is to take over a kingdom (or other similar organisation) by gaining control of various key pieces. The kingdom is represented by a deck of cards.
Having a central kingdom deck opens up possibilities for solo or collaborative play if the central deck is capable of defending itself. The solo option in particular might be important. I want to try and keep the sexy if possible, but there's a danger then that most players might find it too embarrassing to play with others. Personally I'd prefer to aim at a niche audience than water everything down for a larger audience that probably wouldn't even notice it.
This is the mechanics. From the rough concept we know each player is able to cast spells and summon monster girls to do their bidding. These monster girls are then able to seduce and bring NPC characters under the player's controls. The rule system should determine how and when the cards can be played and captured, and also enable players' to interact with each other.
And the first warning flag.
One problem with the concept is it might not lead to interaction between players. They could end up working their plans in isolation, with the winner randomly determined by which kingdom cards get turned over during the game. To get around this the game will need plenty of cards that can disrupt an opponent's strategy (but not so many it becomes overwhelming) and the game should force conflicts over the various kingdom deck cards.
4) Catch-up feature
A lot of games suffer from a snowballing problems. That's when an early advantage for one player increases their chance of further advantages later on to the point where the game is effectively decided in the first few turns and the rest is an annoying grind to a foregone result.
With the concept's theme, a player with more puppets has more influence and is closer to a goal of total domination. But they're also more visible to authorities trying to weed out corruption. Assuming the kingdom deck contains random negative effects (e.g. witchfinders and paladin heroes), having these disproportionately affect the leading player will give the other player(s) chances to catch up.
The pull to get the game finished.
As MaRo says in his article, in Magic the power level of the cards ramps up as more mana is available to the player until something will go unanswered and end the game (dragons cost more to summon than goblins, but they typically end the game in short order if they're allowed to stay in play). There's also an alternate loss condition where a player runs out of library, so even long games will end eventually.
I probably want a resource system - start with low-level succubi and spells, but open up access to much more powerful demons and magic in later turns.
The easiest termination condition is have the game last a set number of turns.
A more complex condition (and one I'd like to make work) is for it to be provided by the kings in the central deck. For that condition to work there needs to be reasonably fast cycling through the central deck to make sure the relevant win conditions make it into play before everyone gets bored.
Cards are good for this. Players need access to 'trick' cards to surprise the opponent. That means we'll need spells as well as succubi. The central kingdom deck can also be a source of surprise factor if seeded with cards that have interesting impacts on the game whenever they're turned over. Having a random deck of cards determine these events also adds to replayability as the game should play out differently depending on what order the kingdom cards are turned over in.
Different factions in the kingdom deck. Different factions of monster girls available to the player. They should play differently and open up different routes to the end-goal. For example - succubi might be good at seduction and temporary charms, other monster girls might favour taking pieces off the board entirely (e.g. carnivorous plant girls eating them), an angel faction might favour disruption by making it harder for kingdom NPCs to be seduced.
Playing a warlock with a harem of hawt monster girls. Sound fun? ;)
The last two points are easier for this concept. It's a top-down concept, in as much as I have the background and flavour first, and I'm trying to come up with game mechanics to get that across.
Sexy monster girls. I'm also trying to reinforce the sex being important by making the game about seduction and corruption rather than fighting.
One question of flavour is where to turn the dial in terms of atmosphere. Cute monster girls or sensual-but-deadly femme fatales? Crude sexual humour or gothic elegance? Light and fluffy, or total grimdark?
Also easy. A fun, sexy monster girl card game for an audience that likes things like my stories, Kenkou Cross's Monster Girl Encyclopedia and Monster Girl Quest. Here's where I might need to rein in some of my own grimdark predilections so as not to scare everyone off! ;)
Still very vague and general. I'll see if I can start throwing out more concrete mechanics in future brainstorming posts.
Thoughts and suggestions in the comments appreciated!