As Deadzone has evolved it has become more of a family of games than a single thing. Or, perhaps a better way to describe it, Deadzone is a game that can be played in a number of different modes, several of which spin it off into what could have been separate games in their own right. Some of these have been explained in detail, others only mentioned in passing. I thought it might be interesting to look at why we’ve taken this approach and where it might be going.
Designing a game that suits a wide variety of different gaming groups and styles is rather more complex than designing a game that focusses solely on one. However, it’s obvious from the feedback from you guys that there is an interest in a variety of gaming styles. I’m also keen to design games that offer a lot of play value for their cost because that’s what I want when I’m buying. Squashing as much fun as possible into a game seems like a good idea to me
It is, as I keep being reminded, not the easiest way of going about things, but as long as I’ve got the opportunity I reckon it’s worth putting in the effort to make my games as good and as versatile as they can be. Hats off to Ronnie and the Mantic crew for backing me up in this and having faith. More nervous souls might have blinked…
Even so, boldness alone cannot do it all. Sometimes it’s simply not practical to fit everything into one package as my vision for what it could be is bigger than that. This is what happened with Dwarf King’s Hold. Deadzone too looks likely to spread well beyond its original spec as a simple 2 player game, and that’s fine by me. If someone is happy just playing that original version then none of the additions cause any problems – it’s still a solid core. I just think it can go into so many other interesting places at the same time.
So what are these different modes?
- The Classic Game. Two-player, single mat, one-off battle. Two players play the game and then pack the armies back into the box. The game takes an hour or so. You might play a couple of games in a session, but there is no link between the battles and no experience gained by individual troopers. Things like different missions, variable terrain set ups, zombies, random items and so on all add to the replayability of this mode as no two games ever need to be the same.
- Classic Campaigns. These are made up of a series of classic games. The history of a force carries over between games with individual troopers gaining new skills and equipment, or being injured or killed. Typically these campaigns would involve many more players than would take part in a single battle, with opponents swapping around and fighting in different combinations over a period of weeks. Individual battles are often the same as a classic game and it is the rules that govern the developing history of the forces which give this mode its character.
- Narrative Campaigns. These are similar to classic campaigns in that a force will develop and retain a history. However, they differ because the individual games are scenario based and tell a more developed story. This story dictates and often limits the options for reinforcements, equipment and so on, as well as including a number of campaign specific scenarios and missions. The results of one battle will dictate the next scenario, and in this way a single narrative campaign can be played through more than once with different results. Typically this would be played through by a small number of players, often only two, and sometimes in a single session or long weekend.
- Solo Zombie Hunts. The zombie rules can also be used as a full enemy to give a solo game against a massed horde. I’m developing a small solo campaign for this mode which will be playable through in an afternoon. Fun and a bit lighter in some ways as nobody really takes zombie games too seriously
- Multi-mat Games. Two-player games with more than one mat as a battlefield. Playing lengthways down a two-mat battlefield gives a different type of game as there is a longer approach/position phase, plus long ranged weapons play more of a role. It’s possible to use light vehicles as there is enough space and ground to cover.
- Multi-player Games. Usually on more than one mat, but possible to play on a single one. These games pit teams of players against other teams of players – in effect taking a large two-player game and breaking each side down into sub-commands. Introduces an element of co-op play into Deadzone. Naturally I’ve slightly spun this by saying that even though each side shares a common goal they also retain separate missions for the sub-commands.
- Solo Games. Probably the most difficult to do well. An AI system plays your opponent so that you are, in effect, playing a normal two-player game against an invisible friend. At least, that’s the aim. Of course, it won’t be exactly the same as playing against a real person, but at least you always have an opponent!
I’ve described these as separate modes, but you can actually combine several of them very successfully. For example, a classic campaign could include multi-mat and multi-player games as part of it.