I Blame the Game

I’ve been lax on making iToysoldiers better.  There’s a sorta good reason for it.  Two, actually.  The first is every so often I need to step back and let it run without me tweaking stuff to see what breaks.  That and to kind of give me a break from staring at the site.  The second is that I’ve really gotten sucked into a new game.  Well, it’s not new anymore.  The game’s “Stellaris” and it’s absolutely fantastic. I’ve been playing it to death for about a month.  Now that I think about it that’s like 8% of the year and that makes me sad.  I’ve waited too long.

So let me take a moment to kind of talk about some good stuff I’ve taken from my break.  The premise behind Stellaris is that you’re in charge of running a vast galactic empire. It’s from the same guys that made Hearts of Iron.  The depth of this game is amazing! You can pretty much customize everything and run the kind of empire you want, develop ships and military they way you want, name ships and planets and people.  The list goes on and on.  It’s the game I’ve been looking for.

Part of what’s so appealing is that you can “role play” your society.  You can enslave other races, build a scientific power house, anything.  It’s what you can usually only do when you play tabletop games like we do because there’s a flexibility that isn’t usually present in computer games.  And that’s the cool bit: The story of your empire.  I’ve often commented on how we can add more narrative elements to our games – move from World of Tanks to Hearts of Iron.  In other words, put our miniature wargaming battles into the context of a story that makes the battles matter.  I’m not talking about simply whether you win the prize in the league or tournament but whether your stalwart band is able to defend the bunker against vile raiders and thus prevent a loss of supply lines in the campaign.

What miniature games have right now is pretty decent for handling minor battles.  Tree or ladder campaigns are great for stringing together a series of tabletop games to represent a particular engagement or battle.  There’s even a few rule sets that aim to deal with planetary or regional conquest.  What I don’t see a whole ton of, at least in sci-fi/fantasy gaming, is a system to capture the logistical challenges of a large scale campaign.  I’ve found that Victory By Any Means provides a really good starting point for this kind of thing.  It includes rules for all sorts of mechanics for handling logistics, fleet building, movement, combat, politics, etc.  I cringe at the thought of actually running a campaign using the rules though.  Lots to keep track of and without some sort of “manager” it’d be hard for players to keep track of what’s going on unless they’re really close friends who hang out a lot.

But I’m digressing a bit.  I think I need to revisit the Narrative Campaign manager on iToysoldiers and try to make it easier to use.  The stories of our battles are important and you folks deserve a great way to handle running a narrative campaign. If you have any suggestions on improvements for the manager or some thoughts on what’s barred you from using it to date I’d love to hear them.  Computer gamers should NOT be the only folks who can have complex and rich environments in which to battle. I want to help.

Okay.  And now… I’ve been absent and for that I apologize. These breaks are good for me and in turn for you ‘cause I return refreshed and ready to tackle problems.  Thanks for your patience.

Carpe Acies!
Rob