Game Design #3 – Code Mage Part IV

The next part of my story is where I really start making some bad worse decisions. I will be sure to point them out as we go along but this one may stretch over more than one post. So, to summarize the biggest mistakes briefly, this is point at which I: started a company, paid for a website, hired artists, recruited my partner as my social media expert and PR guru, and tried to do a crossover comic book. Had I been slightly more delusional, this is when I would have also started my Kickstarter.

Of course it would have been a mistake. But I feel privileged to know that a lot of people would’ve funded this project just because they care about me. But do you know what people don’t care about?

Games that can be played on a chess board.

Code MageAnd that brings us to Code Mage, which is a game you might come up with if you’d just watched: Tron, the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Spartacus, and Searching for Bobby Fischer back to back. And in case you’re wondering, yes I did.

In Code Mage you take on the role of a wizard in a cyberspace world known as the Simulacrum. You have an avatar-construct which you pit in battle against the avatar of another wizard in an arena known as the grid(chessboard). If your avatar is killed or pushed off the grid you lose the game.

At first your avatar is bare. But soon you’re able to equip your avatar with mods like: claws, piston fists, laser eyes, armor, shields, rocket launchers, and steel whip legs. All the things a girl needs on a night out.

In addition to your Avatar, you also have these large cubes(dice) that alter the board state. These cubes can be moved around the grid and manipulated. They can also take damage and be destroyed.

Finally, you have spells and threads which allow you to further impact the game with your wizardry. Spells are generally more expensive and require game time to activate. Threads are generally cheap and are played immediately. All of this is paid for with resources which you gain at the beginning of each round.

The primary mechanism which all of these objects revolve around is a dice system that I came up with while working on Das Schloß. While the system is quite clever it forces players to refer to charts for everything from how successfully you cast your spells to where you do damage. Basically, I recreated Battletech with wizards.

My goal was to essentialize a skirmish level miniatures game and make it playable in 30-60 minutes. This should’ve been my mission statement. It mentioned nothing about a chessboard or convoluted charts or tracking damage with a wet erase marker. And it sure doesn’t mention making it a collectible card game.

We’ll get back to that.

I played through my initial prototype several times before bringing it to my playtesters(family). Always do this. No one else wants to play something that doesn’t work. It will keep your friends and family from getting burned out playing your half-baked games.

It had potential so I played it with my son and he thought it was great. And then I played it with my partner and she thought it was great. I was ecstatic. No more lackluster encouragement from the family. No more chucks on the shoulder. I was happy and they were happy.Code Mage Game Boards

I made a real game.

The other designs were just warm-ups. It was just a matter of ironing out a few rough spots in the mechanics, investing in enough art to get this thing on Kickstarter, and my reputation as a game designer was assured.

You know, this was all meant to be a bit tongue in cheek but talking about this game has me a bit excited about the world and the ideas. My son asked me a month or two ago: “Could we work on Code Mage together? I really liked that game.”

Oh my, would you look at the time. The next entry will be about my first ever open playtesting event at my friendly local game store(FLGS).

Status: To Be Determined


3 thoughts on “Game Design #3 – Code Mage Part IV

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