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The last playtest went quite well.  The characters went against an agent and actually survived.  I let them run away in the end, but if they had stayed to fight they probably would have all died.  Which is good.  It shows that Agents are sufficiently nasty.

The playtest showed that this system is actually surprisingly balanced, interesting, and playable.  I’m REALLY pleased with how this worked out.  The only thing that really needs to change is some AP exchange rates.  And that’s it really.  I think experience points, AP, weapon damage, locations, movement, all that works pretty well at this stage.

All of the players have been begging me to continue using the system and actually set something up for it.  This is very encouraging and it’s probably the most powerful driving reward that I seek in game design: people loving your game and letting you know.

As far as setting something up to do more, I’m not sure what I can do.  I’m swamped with classes, I’m already in charge of 3 different clubs on campus, I’m going to FL for an internship over the summer.  I really WANT to continue using the system, but I’m not sure how much farther I can stretch myself.

I will be posting PDFs of all of the resources in the next post after I do some clean up.  Thanks to Tim, Malec, Jo, Mike, and Tyler for playtesting!

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5 Comments

  1. Kyle,

    Glad your system seems to work very well! I suspect there are some more balance issues beyond the AP exchange system, but I don’t know enough in order to see what may or may not work. The best way to tell is to ultimately play the game more!

    You raised a couple interesting points in your previous post regarding how the game feels like the Matrix. Certainly some of the mythology could be reworked to allow at least a team of players to take on an Agent and destroy him; it’s possible to have a game that mentions characters from the films but also allows players to feel like one of them without playing a role.

    Second, the aspect of mystery. Every player who has seen the films will know about the Matrix. This does not mean there aren’t still secrets left to find, as the Animatrix illustrates. There are ways you can work mystery and revelation into your quests without simply retreading old ground.

    Third, what about play outside of the Matrix, in the ‘real world’? This is a second half to the world of the Matrix and it sounds like you could implement the world outside with the robots and the dangers present. Think as well: how might play in the real world affect play in the Matrix and the reverse?

    I suggest bringing the game down to Florida and playing it with the team. I’m sure they would give you some great feedback on the game and ideas for what to improve. Learning from experienced designers is often the best way to learn.

    Great job, and good luck!

    • makkarei
    • Posted May 13, 2009 at 22:41
    • Permalink

    Let me just say that I hate you. I may be a nerd, but I always said to myself that, “Hey, at least I never played a paper RPG.” you ruined that, and worse yet, I loved it. You made one based on one of my favorite stories of all time. My mind was awash in imagery that I can only hint at discribing. Worse yet, now that you got me hooked like a crank junkie, you go to f’in Florida. You are one evil dude.

    but it is one f’in amazing game^^

    • Roucis Kyle
    • Posted May 13, 2009 at 23:16
    • Permalink

    @deserthat
    Agents aren’t invincible. But they certainly aren’t something 1st or 4th or even 7th level characters should be facing. A group of 8th, 9th, or 10th level characters could probably take down an Agent or two, as it should be.

    The mysteries of The Matrix run deep. Every player who has seen The Matrix is going to know a given amount. Every player who has played The Matrix Online will probably know even more. Different levels of knowledge concerning the mythologies of The Matrix is not unexpected. The problem really crops up when my system tries to fill in information that isn’t easily obtained from the movies, such as Bits, RSI Files, and Kill Codes. I’m not yet sure what I want to do about this, but I feel it’s necessary for fleshing out the world.

    As far as revelations, specific information, and characters, that’s pretty much up to the Operator. I already have a few scenarios planned out that introduce characters from the movies, but move in unique directions that separate the characters in a useful and meaningful manner. So again, much of what The Matrix ends up being during gameplay will depend on the Operator.

    Play outside of The Matrix has yet to be addressed. This is for several reasons. Play outside The Matrix would be boring. It would mostly be used for pure role-playing and exposition because little other interactions occur. If play proceeded outside of The Matrix it would probably happen in the Construct anyway. This way, crew members can interact in a Matrix-like environment without the threats of Agents and whatnot. Finally, I don’t feel that rules for interactions outside of The Matrix would be very engaging to the players. I have a few preliminary rules for such encounters, but I have to admit that they seem to distract from the real focus of the game: The Matrix.

    I certainly intend to take the game down to FL for the ZG guys to check it out. Also, I am (tentatively) setting up a network game to play over the summer if I have time for it. I will contact my playtesters and make sure they are up for it.

    Thanks, deserthat, for the comments and insights. Your questions and comments have really help to spur me to analyze and criticize my work. Thanks again!

    @makkarei
    Relax mak, as I said: I am trying to put together a remote play session with the playtesters over the summer. I am glad to hear that you enjoyed it so much. I hope to keep that rolling, nah, stir it into a raging addiction over the summer with the awesome scenarios I have planned out. Keep a channel open, I’ll be talking to you shortly about the summer play. Thanks for the support!

    • snowtigerpro
    • Posted May 13, 2009 at 23:52
    • Permalink

    Ah, the Agent. To put it simply, that battle…was…totally wicked!!! I don’t think that I’ve ever gotten into an RPG battle to that extent. I had so much fun trying to think outside the box as far as ways I could hurt the Agent.

    You did a really great job of preparing us so that we didn’t just end up dying on the first turn, this is really important to me because I get bored/annoyed easily if I keep dying.

    I think that the group we played with worked together well too. You allowed for us to be creative which, in my opinion, is the best thing that a DM can do.

    I can’t wait to battle an Agent again and kick it’s butt!

  2. Kyle,

    Glad to see your game was interesting enough to get Chris hooked on it! When people love RPGs, it is usually because their first experience was so amazing. It is good to be able to remember what gets people interested in different games in the first place and being able to integrate this into your designs.

    Re: “information that isn’t easily obtained from the movies”

    I’m not sure how the information might be clearly integrated with your game system, but it might be possible to create say a tech manual describing the different things your players might encounter. There’s probably a Matrix Encyclopedia somewhere on the web already you can borrow.

    I will say I disagree with your ideas about the outside of the Matrix. There are many things your characters can do there, even if the Matrix itself is inherently more interesting. There are plenty of robots to fight and places to explore rather than simply dialogue and exposition. For instance, what if there is another human colony? What if there is a resource your people need that can only be gathered in a dangerous location? These and other scenarios seem completely possible.

    -Devin Monnens


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