Today I thought I’d talk about where we stand on preparing the Infinite Earths game for open beta-testing. Originally we’d planned on releasing the first materials for the open beta-test in late December. Unfortunately, I’ve spent the past three weeks sick with acute bronchitis, leaving me with little interest in anything other than stopping coughing.
Rather than release half-written or otherwise inferior material, we’ll be delaying the release of the beta-test material until at least late January.
In the meanwhile, though, let’s talk about some of the changes to the system that we’ve made during our beta preparations so far:
- Revamping the “Primary/Secondary/Tertiary” Role Structure: One of the consistent problems with character creation was the slotting of Fighting Style, Persona and Vocation into the role structure was that players had some difficulty thinking of them as being “slotted.” Instead, we are changing the three roles so that players can identify each as the role they are “Basic,” “Good” or “Best” at. Every character can choose one role for each. We expect that this will help speed the character creation process and make it more intuitive for new users to pick up.
- Culture as a Game Structure: We had previously introduced a “Culture” dynamic where, depending on where characters were from, they would have a specific culture which would open up new talents for them, and prevent them from taking other talents. As we examined this, we felt it was an unnecessary complication and removed it from the game. For characters with a cultural background they would like to explore or take talents in, there will instead be a new Cultural Background talent which will allow them to Bolster various skill roles in situations where their background would help (climbing rigging if from a Seafaring background, for example).
- Streamlining the Fighting Styles: Some of the feedback we got on the Fighting Styles was that they provided too much benefit to characters; it appeared as though, no matter whether a character was basic, good or best at fighting style, the character’s fighting style was the dominant aspect of the character. As a result of this feedback, we are streamlining the fighting styles so that they have a powerful, unique characteristic that defines them instead of the multitude of non-unique talents that they were built from previously.
- Improving Vocations: The Vocations have also been improved, and many of the Vocational talents have now been made more general, making them available to more characters. Additionally, we have redesigned the vocations so that characters can take more skills more easily. Previously, each vocation had certain skills that it had to have, and choice was allowed only after mandatory skills were taken. Now, there are no mandatory skills, but all vocations have a limited list of skills which they can become Experts in. Expert skills are always bolstered. We feel this will make leveling Vocations easier, and will provide similar power and greater versatility.
- Defining Personas: This has been one of the toughest aspects of the system to get right: the Persona. For a while in late alpha-playtesting, Personas were an only vaguely-defined role with no real “choice” involved. This was unlike our other roles, and we didn’t like it. So we’ve since defined three new Persona roles for players to choose from, each with their own customizability: the Champion, who gives of himself in order to benefit others; the Scoundrel, who manipulates situations to his advantage; and the Individualist, who straddles the line between selfishness and selflessness and finds his own way. The trick was to make the personas broad enough that every personality trait and type didn’t need to be defined, while at the same time making them defined enough that they still felt uniquely different. Time will tell if this new design will be successful.
Well, that’s all for now. Time for me to go rest up and try to recover some strength. And breath. I wish all of you the best of health and remind everyone (as if you need reminding) to go see The Hobbit! See you next week!