Posts Tagged ‘development’

This Must Be Said!

For me, the one aspect of publishing a new role-playing game book that took the most getting used to was actually getting feedback. I figured from the outset that Cosmic Patrol would probably be a love-it or hate-it book. While the rule set has some hallmarks of traditional RPGs, it lacks a lot of their crunch. Focusing hard on a really cool setting and story-driven mechanics isn’t for everyone, and I was fine with that.

Still, I was incredibly nervous when the Cosmic Patrol Core Rulebook released at Gen Con 2011. Working on games like Shadowrun, BattleTech and Leviathans is great and I take a lot of pride in those products, but this was totally my own idea and that scared the crap out of me. Thankfully, many folks really liked the game and some great reviews started rolling in.

The biggest honors by far were being on the shortlist for the 2012 Origins Awards and being nominated for the Best Game Ennie Award. We didn’t win, but man, what an honor! I’m still shocked, to be honest.

Thanks!

And now for something completely different…

Last week I promised I’d talk about the upcoming Cosmic Patrol adventure book, The Moon Must Be Ours. I’m pushing that to next week, sorry. Instead I wanted to ask a quick question: What other genres/themes would work with the Cosmic Patrol rule set?

I’ve been scribbling notes for a fantasy-themed world called Goblin Patrol, where the players are goblins stuck in an adventurer’s world. In one awesome Cosmic Patrol review from Idle Red Hands, they played a 1970s funk version called Soul Patrol. What are your ideas?

15

01 2013

Digging into the Moon Dungeon

Well, 2013 is upon us and I’m doing steady work on The Moon Must Be Ours (TMMBO).  At this point of development, it’s all about outlining and specifications. For other game lines, like Shadowrun or BattleTech, this can be pretty in-depth process. Line developers have to weigh considerations like target page count, writing budgets, art budgets, playtesting and the general target release date, to name a few.

Thankfully, by design, Cosmic Patrol books are relatively simple. Each book is targeted at 136 pages and feature the basic sections: intro fiction, rules, gazetteer, characters and missions. Given the flexibility of the rules, a lot of the real effort goes into world building and mission creation. And surprise, that’s the most fun, too.

Lunar Engineering

In the Cosmic Patrol universe, the Moon is one giant Moon Man fortress. It’s been tunneled out from the surface all the way to the core. Any Patrol invasion of the Moon would have to navigate these rooms and tunnels to complete the mission.

Knowing how the Moon would be framed, I then made two goals:

  1. a choose-your-own-adventure mechanic for moving from room to room
  2. a mechanic that offers easy, normal, hard and insane difficulty settings

I didn’t want a lot of variable monster strengths and trap tests (that’d lead to too much referencing, IMO) so decided that difficulty tracks would be based on the number of rooms players would have to clear to successfully complete the adventure.

With those prerequisites in mind, I turned to a RPGer’s best friend: charts! Flowcharts, to be exact.

EasyNormal Hard Insane

Now these aren’t in the actual book, but are used in the dev process to assign exits for each room. Each room takes the format of a Mission Brief with the room’s challenge or threats and a choice of exits based on what difficulty you want to play at. If you want a quick adventure, go with the Easy track. Want a bigger challenge? Use the Hard track. And then you can mix and match as desired, creating your own custom adventure.

Over the next few weeks I’ll go into more depth on how the room structure works, but I do have one cool announcement to share now!

Create-A-Moon-Room Contest

During the development of Into the Cosmos, we held a contest for players to create a rocketship and mission for inclusion in the book. We’ll be doing the same thing for TMMBO, reserving two or three rooms for player-created entries! I’ll have more info on the contest later. Good luck!

07

01 2013

New Year, New Post, New Forums

Happy almost 2013! The new year will be the Year of the Snake in the Chinese calendar, it’s the 400th anniversary of Galileo discovering Neptune, my birthday falls on a Tuesday and NASA’s MAVEN Mars orbiter will be launched. And while we at Catalyst have tagged 2013 as The Year of Shadowrun, there’s another Cosmic Patrol book on the way!

The Moon Must Be Ours!

In keeping with out general schedule, The Moon Must Be Ours (TMMBO) should publish around late July and be available in time for Gen Con and is a new type of the book for the game. Where Cosmic Patrol was the core rulebook and Into the Cosmos a setting expansion/sourcebook, TMMBO is a plot book taking players through the Patrol’s invasion of the moon.

If you’re familiar with the Cosmic Patrol universe, you know that our nearest neighbor is the home of advanced humans, the Moon Men. These guys are mysterious, super intelligent and possess the power of dynamo-psychism (mind powers). They’ve also forbidden any human landings on the Moon, claiming it as their own private world.

With no other choice, the Patrol had to accept the ban and went about its business exploring the cosmos at large. As more threats to human existence were encountered, it also drove home the fact of a major, mysterious threat right at humanity’s doorstep. For Cosmic Patrol Director Dyson, that won’t stand. And let’s just say the ensuing invasion doesn’t go well.

TMBBO takes a choose-your-own-path structure that I’m excited to put together and playtest. I’ll get more into that mechanic in a later blog post. For now I just want to get back into the habit of blogging every week or so.

FORUMS!!!

Yes. They’re new, stronger and prettier. Go sign up now!

The last iteration of the forums was based on phpbb, and it was a headache to maintain. Then it broke during the busiest time of the year and I finally just wiped the thing out. The new version is based on Simple Machine Forums and should work much better. For now, new memberships have to be admin approved (there’s still an issue with emails and the hosting service, working on that) but that shouldn’t be a big hassle.

So there we have it! New year, new forums, new book!

29

12 2012

Cosmic Patrol Development…

Last summer, our intrepid graphics guru, Matt Heerdt, pitched us a game. As with Leviathans, the cover image and a few short paragraphs sold us on the concept.

In a nutshell, it’s Buck Rogers meets Flash Gordon, but in a new, original setting: rockets and ray guns away!

Now Catalyst Game Labs has published three mega-tome RPGs in the last three years (376+ pages each). While we’re very proud of that work, the idea of immediately launching into another huge, massive, number-crunching RPG wasn’t appealing to anyone. At the same time, we love RPGs and we love creating new universes… Read the rest of this entry →

26

05 2011