I'm sure that all of my screaming hordes are currently obsessing over the nebulous "game design" I've been trying to nail down. I have not forgotten you! How could I, when your imaginary cheering fills every waking moment?
No, I've been carefully THINKING. In addition to playing spades and spades of games. But thinking, too.
You see, I want to make the game both GOOD and EASY TO PROGRAM, relatively speaking. I know a LOT about game design theory. And I have lots and lots of good ideas. The problem is what to include and what to expunge.
One thing I know I want is to support varied kinds of play. This is obvious - most PWG do this. You want to fight baddies? Okay. You want to be a tailor? Okay. Or, hey, let's even break baddy-fighting up: you want to be a tank, a buffer, a summoner, what?
The problem was how to do this cheaply. Also, dealing with the fact that my players can have several characters operational AT THE SAME TIME, it needed to be done with a massive number of vectors of approach. So that any given 'party' (even if they aren't acting in concert) wouldn't be the 'best', save for in specific circumstances.
In a classic game, if you had, say, a team of four, then you were all set. You don't need anybody else's help, because you've got just about all the tactical bases covered. So I need a huge range of character types and specialties, each of which provides an interesting vector to a particular play type.
Unfortunately, the first thoughts are ones of staggering complexity. I can't do that kind of complexity. But EMERGENCE is your FRIEND, and so I've been cogitating as to how to make relatively simple character creation rules that provide for a WIDE range of characters with a wide range of powers.
Similarly, I've been trying to nail down the universe's 'algorithms' such that they are easy to program... and easy to point out as particular play elements.
It's not easy. Right now I've come up with seven different play styles I want to put in the game, and I'm thinking about approaches, and how to put this sort of stuff into a character generation system AND allow them to level up over time...
Funny thing. I can get it to work GREAT if I TOTALLY DISALLOW levelling up. There's a nice fast way to STAB YOURSELF IN THE FOOT.
So, going is slow. Especially seeing as how I'm limping through Half Life 2 at the same time. :P
But thanks for your concern. I promise I'll hammer it out sometime soon, or at least whine about why I couldn't.