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Karnak - Open World Sci-Fantasy WIP

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Karnak - Open World Sci-Fantasy WIP

Postby mikemacdee » Sunday June 13th, 2021 6:42am

Didn't know where else to post this, but some of y'all might get a kick out of it.

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Karnak is...and experiment, I guess. I was trying to make an open world adventure thing, and in a lot of ways it actually kind of works (and in a lot of other ways it doesn't).

You play one of four different ne'er-do-wells who are drafted as "heroes" after a barbaric warlord has the royal family killed and holds planet Karnak and the rest of the Khepri System hostage. Your goal is simple: break into the warlord's home and kill him.

Pulling it off? Not so simple. The warlord is a supreme badass and will kill you if he so much as sneezes on you. So you run around this tiny desert planet questing for the locals in order to build your glory level high enough to match the bad guy. Any enemy you encounter you can evade or even barter with to avoid a fight.

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There are a few mechanics I'm fond of, but may be part of what doesn't work with this system.

One is the magic system. Casting a spell is a process: rather than exhausting the spell to instantly shoot a fireball, you have to collect components and fetishes, and perform sacrifices to get the tribute needed to activate the spell (which usually results in a big reward). Every item you find in the game can double as a spell component, so in theory you have no shortage of stuff to use in spells...provided you have the right combination of components.

The other mechanic is the questing system. You usually get quests from people in cities and towns, and they can range from "go fetch this item and bring it to City X by the end of the week" to "take a drunken demoness on a tour of all the world's temples" to "find a suitable groom for my crazy daughter or you'll have to marry her instead!" What makes this interesting is the Neighbor characters, which are like enemies that aren't hostile toward you: they start at random places each game, and each one is unique and connected to specific quests. So one hero might be escorting a pretty gal to a spaceport to escape the bad guys, while another is out to kill her to avenge someone she wronged, bringing the heroes into conflict with one-another.

Also the time system. Each round is a day, and heroes spend up to 12 hours to perform actions one or two hours at a time. Finding the sweet spot for how long the calendar should be has been a real task, since it appears every test session has ended at the two week mark--1/4 of the board's calendar spaces. I'm half tempted to just have the calendar be used to keep track of time related to quests, and not an endgame scenario where everyone loses.

Oh, yeah, that marriage scenario I mentioned earlier? You can totally get married and take your wife on your adventures. You even get a house and a dowry for it.

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Heroes can work together, but there is incentive to be the one who kills the bad guy: he becomes the Hero of Karnak, and decides the fates of the other three losers.

Ultimately I'd like to pare this down into something smaller and easier to jump into, cos this game definitely has a learning curve. But once you know how everything works, it can be pretty fun....I think...Haven't had anyone test it with me yet.


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Re: Karnak - Open World Sci-Fantasy WIP

Postby StratosVX » Sunday June 13th, 2021 1:08pm

I think it sounds interesting. I can tell you from my past experiences with DragonStrike that I'm personally not a fan of every play through having a time limit. To me, the biggest detractor for that game was that I would very likely die if I didn't finish the quest before the dragon showed up. I preferred HeroQuest where you could explore the dungeon you were in. I mean this in regards to a game over event that happens if enough time passes. I think the time limit on quests is a good idea though.


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Re: Karnak - Open World Sci-Fantasy WIP

Postby Davane » Monday June 14th, 2021 4:16am

StratosVX wrote:I think it sounds interesting. I can tell you from my past experiences with DragonStrike that I'm personally not a fan of every play through having a time limit. To me, the biggest detractor for that game was that I would very likely die if I didn't finish the quest before the dragon showed up. I preferred HeroQuest where you could explore the dungeon you were in. I mean this in regards to a game over event that happens if enough time passes. I think the time limit on quests is a good idea though.


I am the same, but I do enjoy games where an arbitrary time limit is replaced by increasing difficulty, so you end up with a granular time limit based on how well the game has been played up until that point. This can add a much needed sense of urgency that an arbitrary time limit provides, but still enables player agency for play time extensions.
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Re: Karnak - Open World Sci-Fantasy WIP

Postby iKarith » Monday June 14th, 2021 8:45am

The balance of the two extremes of taking as long as you like vs. a point where there's an automatic game over is often homebrewed in HQ: A threat dynamic. Take what time you need, but the longer you take, the more dangerous the game becomes.

In games like Dungeon Run, there's a cooperative element of the game until someone gets the prize, then the game becomes "Kill the guy with the ball", more or less. In Forbidden $LOCATION games, every turn, something happens that makes the game gradually more difficult, with random event spikes that make the game gradually more difficult (with an ultimate game over condition—but you usually won't make it that far!) In games with cooperation/defection, there's a point where the defectors win if the collaborators don't identify them. AHQ, Dungeon Crawl, and Mice and Mystics all have threat mechanics where you want to get things done before they come into play and make it harder. Each a different one, actually. Cursed City … is irrelevant because GW had it on sale for a bit over 20 minutes or so. ;)

The hard limit in the Forbidden games ensures that the game WILL come to an end, but what'll kill you in these games is the loss of a necessary objective or characters dying. Oh, what was the dungeon crawler game that had the same dynamic? I can't remember.
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Re: Karnak - Open World Sci-Fantasy WIP

Postby mikemacdee » Thursday June 17th, 2021 9:47pm

iKarith wrote:Take what time you need, but the longer you take, the more dangerous the game becomes.

That's a large part of the time limit here, but it's not too polished. Basically after so many days, the villain becomes stronger, and therefore harder to beat when you confront him. In theory. Again, the game doesn't seem to run long enough for that to be an issue before someone is tough enough to beat him and win the game, but the calendar mechanic DOES work for quests which have a deadline, so it might be kept just for that.


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