Gears: Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Thinker While developing Gears I have encountered many situations where I was not sure if the direction I am taking with the game is the right direction. While working on the combat section of the Gears rules I have the problem that the basic mechanic, which I love, is getting in the way all the time. I sometimes wished I had chosen a different base mechanic. There a moments, where I believe changing the system to something like “3d6 roll higher” or even a dice pool system, would make the game much better.

While this change would force me to come up with new solutions to problems I’ve already solved, it would make combat and perhaps even my planned powers system much, much easier to design. There are quite a few things that currently just don’t work as I hoped.  The problem is that I have already put quite some work and effort into the current version and changing something basic like the dice mechanic will probably force me to start from scratch. On the other hand struggling with something I am not entirely happy with seems like a waste of time.

What would you do? Would you try to keep with the current mechanics, no matter what? Or would you change the game’s basics in order to give it a fresh start? I have to admit I am pretty much torn at the moment. One thing is sure, I want to finish that project and release a product that not only I am happy with but which will be picked up and played by at least a few other gamers.

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

13 thoughts on “Gears: Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes”

    1. @Mark and @Rob: The core rules are basically done. And I already released it to a couple of people. So, it's more or less out in the open. The problem is that I don't want to invest dozens of hours in developing powers, etc. when I am unhappy with how certain aspects of the game work. But perhaps you are right that I should get more feedback first before making a decision.

  1. I think there is nothing wrong with rebuilding, or maybe trying an alternate design and compare it. Is it more work? Yes but you have the leisure to do so… My two cents!

  2. At first, I was going to tell you to scrap it and start anew since you don’t seem happy with the direction its going. But you say that even though the base mechanic is getting in the way, you do love it. You must have good reasons for it. So I guess I’m with Rob and Mark, just finish it. Once complete, you can play-test it, tweak it and if need be, rewrite it later.

    Just my two coins worth.
    .-= Rook´s last blog ..A PTG Review: The Stowaway =-.

  3. Make a new version.

    You're still at the beginning and if you have "a bad feeling" about some of the mechanics change them completely – or this bad feeling will always be there, follow you and Gears like a shadow and finally it will grow to big to keep it anymore.

    Don't continue if it's not 100% your way.

  4. For your roll-under system, instead of modifying the target number, rate difficulty by what numbers are too low to count as a success. So in order to succeed you have to roll under your Mastery, and over the Difficulty.

    Example: Bringing the plane out of a spin is a Difficulty 5 challenge. Ace has Pilot at 16. His player needs to roll 6 to 16 on 3d6.

    Also consider not having variable difficulty. All rolls are done at Mastery without modifiers. Less 'realistic' but will make the game go really fast. See Empire of Dust for an example of this.


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