Changing? How? Why? Good questions...
I had great success at the UK Games Expo with Schism. There was barely a minute over the 3 days when people were not sat playing the game and the feedback was, on the whole, really excellent. The number of people that asked if they could buy the game there and then astounded me and gave me a great sense of pride over the world I'd built.
But, over those days, while watching group after group play the game, I started to observe a couple of small niggles. I'm not sure many others observed or felt them, but I did and I started to feel like maybe those areas should (could) be improved.
But, if people are not saying it's broken, then don't fix it, right?
Well, to begin with, I thought so. Then I had a discussion with a fellow designer/publisher who expressed an interest in the games thematic nature. After some playing, he observed a couple of those same niggles (plus his take on removing them). That did it, someone else saw the same niggles I had - they had to go.
Now this was a hard call. I'd long been considering the game mechanics 'finished' - enough so to let groups play it for the weekend at the UKGE and had started planning the upcoming KS. It was tough to stand back and say "my game can get better, maybe I was wrong to stop development when I did". But, Schism went back into development mode. I took the ideas that were passed to me and melded them with my own. Lots of stuff was tried and lots of stuff was axed. Mid-process I sent a copy (as it was at the UKGE) to a trusted reviewer friend to get his take on the game, and then his thoughts on the changes I had in the works. He had some great insights that made me realise the game was headed in the right direction. He also threw a few more ideas my way.
I continued to meld together the input I'd had and mix it up with some new ideas. All the changes were focused on 2 core aspects....
- Make the game more thematic. Live up to the artwork and world building that I and Jesús Blones have created Schism.
- Roll less dice.
After a couple of weeks of constant playing I stumbled over a process that excited me greatly. A mechanism shift that just made so much sense for the game. Since then I have played Schism daily for hours, tweaking the new processes and balancing the game content carefully. What has come out of the other end is a game far superior to what it once was. More thematic, more strategic... just MORE.
At this point, I'd like to thank Lewis Shaw and Nick Welford for really prompting me along this journey of change for Schism - you guys pushed me to turn a good game into something better.
More details of these aspects will be discussed soon, but for now, this is what has changed... (this is totally irrelevant to those of you who have not played Schism over the last 12 months of it's journey, but I'll tell you anyway)...
- The deck of action cards has been replaced with unique 18 card decks, tailored to each characters powers, style and back story.
- The cards, not only grant actions, but also form a dynamic hand/deck management system that has replaced almost every dice roll in Schism - no more D6!
- The system of stacking your hand or deck to perform certain actions with more calculated outcomes makes the game far more strategic. Keep a hand of cards you may not use, but that provide great resistance to attack, or keep a balanced hand with more useful powers that may trip you up in a fight? There are far more decisions to be made to achieve success.
- Characters inherent 'abilities' have been rescaled to impact the game in ways that are more thematic and notable.
- End of turn processes have been automated more to make them smoother and decrease downtime between player turns.
I feel the 'new' Schism is one which will appeal to more gamers and keep groups engaged with the rules set. I believe Schism's lifespan has been increased massively and with it, player enjoyability too.
I am very excited to show you more very soon,
Half Wing Games