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Social Games 360

So it’s been a while, I haven’t read too many major fluff ups between social games creators and indie game creators in the last week or so. So here is my take on social games, my full 360 degree take, the games, the people, the zeitgeist.

!. Have I played Farmville!?

No I haven’t played Farmville.  I checked out what I could of the Agency’s marketing game until it fatally bugged out on me, and I played a bit on one of Metaplace’s releases named something to the effect of My Vineyard. Oh and a tiny bit of Vampire Wars. The big thing these games hammered home to me though is how NOT NEW this genre is. It’s a slight variation on the themes of browser based MMOs and web games  to better take advantage of flash and the social networks they’re built on. Not to say those changes aren’t significant, but they aren’t an opaque existence which I must wholly dive myself through in order to understand. In fact, having existed on several social networks they’re a fairly transparent lot.

(Web Games are of course an evolution of door games, keeping the relatively asynchronous portions while muds took the other branch and focused more on how they could be with more synchronous connections. Door games were an evolution of mainframe games where everyone had to be physically at the same machine at some point in the day, making them an obvious starting point for games where all the players would connect to the same machine just now over a network. So contrary to hype, social games aren’t the newest multi-player computer game genre EVER, they’re actually a relatively minor evolution on the oldest multi-player computer game genre ever.)

@. Dear Other Developers, This is Why People Find Them Fun

Take a second and think of your favorite PC game. Now ask yourself, at it’s core what are you actually physically doing while playing that game. For most new games that can be summed up as “clicking at a point on a screen”, for fpses it’s “pressing buttons and moving the mouse while clicking at the right time”, for older games it was “pressing buttons on the keyboard or 10-key”. Whatever we might delude ourselves into thinking these basic actions are actually kind of fun in and of themselves, even ye olde hardcore gamers  and developers, though you may not remember it now, had a point in your life when you just hit buttons to see what would happen next. Hell, the Diablo 2 ‘Cow Level’ was designed specifically because players tended to click on damn near everything. This is still an important point of game creation, make it juicy.

That’s not all it takes, otherwise the casual gaming revolution would have come so much faster for everything that isn’t solitaire. The difference is not in all the psychobabble inducing game mechanics though, those are just a second order to the metrics they use, and the metrics aren’t the answer either. The most important part is exactly the same as why gamers have been meeting up at QuakeCon, and made PAX the wild success it has been, bringing it up in casual conversation later. That’s the whole secret, it’s something to talk about. It’s so that you can thank a family member for sending you that sheep when you were having a shitty day, so that you have an excuse to friend that exceptionally hot potential love interest sitting next to you on the bus. It’s a part of your life, and all of their lives, and so all told something that helps to make you part of their lives.

Not fired up by that… me either. Still, as far as I can tell that’s how it is whether I much give a damn or not.

#. It’s Not an indictment

Saying that social games tend to be simple, is not really an indictment of them. The only way that the major social games can get the kinds of numbers they do is by NOT being a major part of people’s lives. All of these discussions though are dominated by people for whom gaming is a major part of their life, either their gamers who take their gaming seriously enough to define themselves by it, or developers for whom it’s a matter of basic employment. For most of the people playing Farmville and Mafia Wars, it’s a completely throw away decision, I have a couple minutes to spare, do I spend them on Farmville or Solitaire… decisions… For the most part though, it should be a throw away decision. Gaming for most people should be a distraction, something entertaining and away from their otherwise very busy and high functioning lives, not a life sentence.

Even amongst developers some of these games should be given fair credit, simple is hard. Being able to think of something that is simple and simply fun is one of the hardest things you can do. We WANT to make things overly complicated, to add just one more… feature, and resisting that urge and making something simple and tight is extremely difficult.

$. Zynga is Not Indie

Having said all of that, it’s gotten really annoying. It may be true that Zynga is not funded by one of the major publishers, but that doesn’t make them part of the indie games movement. Even if the word technically fits, it doesn’t matter because the movement is not tied to the pedantic definition of the word. That’s also part of why a shortened or slang version of the word is used rather than a dictionary word. Just not being published isn’t what it’s about, you can’t be part of a movement by default. Indie is about not wanting to be beholden to publishers, to their way of doing things and their priorities. Zynga is the EPITOMY of their priorities. They are about wringing money from customers no matter the methods, and placing financial gain above any desire to make good games. Even on the outside issues they are opposite, the use of player metrics as a concept of a game’s worth does nothing to address problems of local peaks, and their clone everyone else strategy is antithetical to the creativity first games-as-art ideals. Don’t even get me started on where they don’t fit with games-for-change.

I get how that can come across as elitist, but that’s just too damn bad. People have been making games on their own for forever, it only became a movement because some of those people decided that just ignoring the problems wasn’t enough they needed to be fixed. Trying to say that people who have done jack all to fix those problems, people who have embraced the very core of those problems, are the best of the movement is insulting… VERY FUCKING INSULTING! Want me to stop bitching about Zynga, okay, it’s real fucking easy, STOP TELLING ME TO BE THEM! STOP TELLING ME I SHOULD WANT TO BE PART OF THEM! STOP TELLING ME THAT I SHOULD HAVE ANY GOD DAMN MOTHER FUCKING THING TO DO WITH THEM… AT ALL! God fucking shit but that does get me frothing. I’m not really all that annoyed with Zynga’s existence, obviously some of the things they did are completely unethical and I don’t like that, but the mere mention of their name didn’t used to send me into a frothing rage. It’s their god damn apologists that are driving me nuts. I think a lot of indie devs out there had much the same view, not us so not something to care about, but then there was this whole thing about how we should be them… and that… well I’m ending this topic here before I turn into the hulk.

%. Social Games Don’t Have to Be Farmville

One of the web games I played back in the day was Neveron. If you compared it to the last web game I’d played before it, it was like night and day… like comparing some silly soccer minigame with Football Manager 2010. There isn’t anything inherent to social games that says they can’t be deeper and more complicated, and I’m sure if I spent lots of times playing all the social games I could get my hands on I’d find some that already are like that. The problem is, if you’re entire sorting functions for viewing them are by popularity and by date added, then there really isn’t any way to separate out those niches and see what they have to offer. By definition then, the most findable games are the most popular, the rest is always going to sit at the bottom. Also as I pointed out recently, 5 people’s 5th favorite is always more popular than 2 people’s most favorite. Getting anywhere near the top of a list where the highest end are in the tens of millions means designing for an audience in the millions at least, which makes for a certain amount of unnecessary homogeneity and designing to be lots of people’s less favorites. Now obviously this is mostly about Facebook, but as they are the big name for the moment, it’s their rules that you’re really going to be playing by in the end.

You can still use word of mouth, obviously, but the simple fact is that, if you’re going to design those more complicated games, Facebook is a poor portal to open on. Combine that with the fact that most times it’s the only portal you can really open on and I think it starts to become fairly obvious why we aren’t being bombarded by news of crazy new social games.

^. Wrapping it up.

And there you have it, social games are not Jesus Christ, nor Lucifer. They aren’t out to steal your lunch… and they won’t on accident either. It’s good that we have more selection, more job opportunities, and more design opportunities, they are not going to single handedly save the industry from itself though. If you are a designer who has decided to stick to more traditional venues, you haven’t made an irrevocable mistake that will result in drowning under a new tide ushered in by social games. If you’ve decided to make social games, it’s okay, we’re not going to burn you at the stake, really. (At least I’m not…) Neither group has some monopoly on rightness though, and neither group should really be as insulting to the other as they have been.

Maybe this is just me since I can’t pull up any corroborating posts at the moment… but to an extent, throughout the volleys back and forth I’ve always felt like there was some intent in every post to force people into the discussion. Those kind of hyperbolic, “not with me, well then you are just a(n) (unethical bastard/dinosaur in a tar pit) and are completely and unequivocally wrong. Your silence is merely proof of how right I am.” I don’t know about anyone else, but even if I don’t feel particularly strongly about something, seeing that attitude makes it hard for me resist blasting them into a new dimension for sheer arrogance.

P.S. I still think vapid is a perfect descriptor, it should only be insulting though if you think they aren’t supposed to be.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I like music. I like it a lot, actually. Of course, I’m no great musician, and I couldn’t tell you what makes one band great and another just so so. Still, I’m listening to music more often than not, and I’m probably not alone in that.

When I play games, there are quite a few times when I’ll listen to the packaged soundtrack, but then switch to my own music for further playthroughs. For MMOs I may even just switch over immediately. I’ve found that my mood, and in-game activity are very closely related to what I queue up. Some zen-like mining in EVE is accompanied by ambient and meditation, while intense combat in Crysis would warrant some nice hard rock.

Of course, music tends to tie itself strongly to memories. For instance, I can’t hear the music from the movie “Thousands Cheer” without thinking of the Garuda camp in Zelda 64, which I beat while my family was watching the movie in the other room. And other times a particular song will come on and I’ll be right back in Starlancer during an intense dogfight.

To me, those songs make up a soundtrack of my gaming life. Funny thing though, if I were to go back through and find them all and compile them into an album… it would seem unfocused and confused. Show tunes next to System of a Down, next to SR71, madness! But to me it would be a pleasant walk down memory lane.

How about you all, do you have any tracks that put you right back in a game?

When it comes to game design, we’ve seen a few interesting aberrations over the years. Especially since the rise of the computer, though many of the more recent oddities predate computers. One of these aberrations is the vertical game design.

In a vertical game design, the core concept is one of linear, upwards growth within the game. In the majority of cases, this growth is conceptualized through the growth of an in-game avatar. As a player plays the game, the goal is to increase themselves to better reach a goal or challenge. Probably the leading characteristic is the significant change in power as a character plays the game, making serious competition between players at different “heights” virtually impossible.

In contrast we have a much older tradition, that of horizontal games. You could probably site Chess as an excellent example of this. The basic idea being that all players are theoretically even on the board, it is the decisions they make and the tools they choose that differentiate them.

So which is the better system? I could beg off responsibility and say there isn’t, but that would be unprofessional. The simple fact is that despite their having different strengths, horizontal design is, in my opinion, simply better design. With proper implementation, a horizontal design can be flexible and reactive, light on it’s feet, and allows you to focus your time on the game’s design, rather than on the content’s design.

While the current standing argument is that vertical is more appealing to the masses, I don’t particularly subscribe to that. Our teeming masses are still people that play poker, and the occasional game of monopoly or trivial pursuit. What each of those games has in common is that they are all horizontal. Each was designed to be accessible and fun, simply succeeding at those two points will do more towards collecting the masses than making it vertical ever will.

After all, if vertical game play were really that great in and of itself we wouldn’t be swimming in an ocean of dead mmos, would we?

Do we really have to choose one or the other though? Personally I rather like what I call pyramidal designs. Designs in which players can either expand their options or power up. Some things that I would consider key to this are, first do not invert the pyramid the bottom should have more options than the top not the other way around, and second, get used to working with graphs, most of your design decisions are going to have to be made in a way more similar to plotting along a graph than feeling it out.

Personal notes aside, as game designers we need to focus on the strength of a core design. Horizontal design lives or dies by how well you design the core system, but because of that it is infintely extensible and scalable. Vertical design has built in hard limits that require your content designers to be the people responsible for making or breaking your game. I don’t know about anyone else, but personally I don’t feel very comfortable with that.

- Insired by
Tobolds MMO Blog – Horizontal Expansions to Vertical Games
Serial Ganker – Horizontal Expansions
Blogerati – Theorycraft: Horizontal Is Cooler Than Vertical

Earlier today I was looking over the minutes for the first meeting of the CSM. While doing so I stumbled across this offshoot thread on system sovereignty. As I read through the various thoughts and suggestions posted I invariably found myself shaking my head in disappointment.

The posters in the thread certainly don’t come across as unintelligent people, and even the concepts they put forth aren’t bad in and of themselves. Still I can’t shake this feeling that I’m watching a deeper issue at play here. This does provide an interesting working example though, so let me explain.

In EVE players can own their own bits of space down in 0.0 space. In an effort to allow people to not have to be on at all hours twenty four seven, and create a certain amount of stability in ownership, they created a system to shore up an alliances sovereignty of their own systems. The way it worked was that alliances would build and place their own POSs (Player Owned Stations) and those POSs would grant them a certain amount of sovereignty over the given system(s). Those POSs would need to be destroyed one at a time, and any system may have several, from the edge inward in order to be able to shift sovereignty and make those systems usable by your forces.

The problem that created though is that it forced the sheer number of ships required to even challenge an entrenched enemy up into the server breaking numbers. A problem that has seen active discussion for pretty good piece of time now and we can be fairly certain the devs are talking about it non stop as well.

So where do I come in with an argument? Well, I think we have run into a problem where everyone is discussing rules for a fundamentally tool related issue. There are two things I know that come into play here, the first is that when it comes to two equally advanced forces Nathaniel Bedford Forest* said it best, “the firstest with the mostest”. It’s the simple truth for any symmetrically advanced combat where MAD is not on the table. Second is that players will discover and (ab)use the most successful/efficient tactics almost without exception. Therefore, I believe the answer is not to change the rules governing the game, but to implement the tools necessary to change the most efficient set of tactics.

First we need to create something to break up the groups. A good suggestion here would be to create a capital ship module that would do extreme amounts of damage to large structures, but would also create a huge radius around it which would damage other ships without regard to alignment or standings, the damage being inverse to victim size of course. You could also add battle cruisers that are basically a ship-gun capable of doing reasonable damage to a cap ship out at ranges of 300-400k, but who take a penalty for every ship within 300k of them and are naturally shy of fitting slots.

The hope would be to simultaneously decrease the typical fleet size for dreadnoughts, increase the number of battle cruisers in fleet engagements and spread out the combatants to take advantage of 3d space and gang warfare. Obviously it’s impossible to know from discussion how exactly all of these will effect the game, but the basic concept I’m trying to get across is that you can’t rules your way out of a tools issue. Just as you can’t use electronic controls to fix bad mechanical design, nor good maintenance to solve poor engineering or architecture.

Especially in sandbox environments, I feel that one should always focus on providing the players good tools. You may not always be right, but at the end of the day at least the player gets to keep their shiny new tool.

Thought I’d take a few pictures and let people get to know the “work environment” that I’m plugging away at.

This is the view from the doorway, you can see the couch I’ve started sleeping on the last few days and the desk hiding away to the right back there.


The desk… well actually it’s a table, but I like to call it a desk. Makes it sound more official.



Of course I use the space to draw copious amounts of concept art…



And other equally important things.



Good news is, I always have my drafting table to fall back on. Even if it is missing the screws to allow it to tilt up.

The work environment is treating me well so far. The boss is a neurotic bitch though. ~.^

Platformer
(Haven’t decided on a title yet.)

Presently I’m working on a platformer. I went ahead and spent a hundred bucks on the Torque Game Builder, so far it’s looking like money well spent. TGB comes with a nice set of basic tools that have allowed me to get the basics up pretty fast, also the scripting language is based on C# syntax so I’ve found it rather intuitive so far.

I knew before I began that I was going to be using 2d art. 3d is great for certain things, but I just don’t have the time and money to make a something in 3d that looks good and moves fluidly. The major sticking point of pixel art though is that you have to draw every frame yourself, so for now I’m focusing on trying to build a unified style.

The main character has been slowly evolving.





Some shots of the game I have running at the moment.



Anyways, the script isn’t coming along as fast as I want. Still I do have a general direction for it to go.

I’ve been drafting and redrafting this in my mind. Over and over I’ve sat down to write it, but it always kept coming up too emo. Today, a little piece of the puzzle finally fell into place though.

I quit my job a couple days ago, well actually I quite over two weeks ago but the date on my notice was up Saturday night. While I’m living at home I’m going to focus in on my art and development skills, try and get a game or two actually built and generating revenue. I’ve built within my head a lot of resistance to this path, going over major concerns bit by bit and building many solid arguments as to why not to do it. But at the end of the day my impulsive side won out, as it often does, and here I am with a whole lot of time on my hands.

I can’t really say that I’m sure this will work out, a single person working on their home computer hasn’t been a particularly successful business model for a while now. On the other hand though, what I can say is why I’m doing it, and why it has to be done this way.

This blog post was written many months ago. I wish I could say that was a down point in my life, but for about four years prior to that and to this day I’ve been stuck in a pretty bad fight with depression. Right now I’m on a high, I don’t consider suicide every day! What always kept me alive through the lows though was a couple things, first, I hate pain, second, it wasn’t my right to inflict that much pain on everyone around me.

I’m the last to make friends and the quickest to cut and run from those relationships… hell I’m not sure I honestly know the meaning of the word friend, perhaps they were all just passing acquaintances. In some strange twist of life though, I live for other people. It used to be what got me from one minute to the other, knowing that I had people left to live for right then that second. My whole decision making rationale is based on how it’ll help or effect others.

There are entire worlds and societies that live inside my mind, growing and evolving, shifting and blending. I’m not sure when exactly, but eventually I came to the decision that that was my purpose for being. My reason to exist, to open up those worlds for others to see and explore, for someone else to escape into even if only for a short time. The problem with working for EA or any other big name company then, is that I won’t be creating those worlds. I’ll be creating their worlds and their marketing departments latest pet project worlds. Sure I could probably just consider it deferred living, but why would I want to spend any time not contributing to my reason for existence?

So I guess you can consider this the figurative opening of my own company; even if the literal opening will be some time in the future, near or far. Oh and you don’t have to worry about EA or ActiBliztrosity buying me out. I’ve thought long and hard about those possibilities, and honestly my soul isn’t worth the money, besides, it doesn’t belong to me.

Its already been signed away to all of you.

- Sara
Amateur Desktop Philosopher

Sorry for missing yesterday. My job has decided to amp up the stress and waggle my schedule around like a car in Crackdown. If anyone reading this is head of QA, or head of design, for a major gaming studio, please give me a job…

Anyways, useless pleas for escape aside, here are todays.

Single Player
Journeys in Desolate Lands

Adventure game based on various post apocalyptic themes. You are a precog venturing around the ruined future, trying to find the catalyst of this future. Intelligence operatives constantly record every word you utter while in this dream state, allowing you to be brought back by making a verbal report of the catalyst. Each progressive future will show the changes made because of what you found, and how the government reacted.

Multi Player
Strange Rectangles

A bunch of people play rectangles that are a float in a large blue field. You’re mission is to find circles of different colors and stay on top of them to suck them dry of points. Green is the most, blue is second, white is third, red is fourth and grey is fifth in terms of points given. Gameplay is actually more similar to bumper cars, with a few power-ups (larger size, energy shield that makes you temporarily untouchable, a little bouncy ball you can throw at someone) scattered about.

MMO
GOD Online

Players choose an archetype order, chaos, nature, technology, they then choose a set of 6-10 powers. Players then enter the dynamically generated instance where they and the members of their party are matched with the appropriate number of players from the other archetypes. The goal in an instance is to convert all of the people to either one archetype or two complimentary archetypes. The towns cannot follow gods of opposite denominations, for instance a town can worship both nature and chaos, but not both nature and technology. After all the peoples in a town have been converted to any of the faiths, there begins a fifteen minute countdown in which players may command their followers in bids to convert more or destroy other players followers. At the end of fifteen minutes or when two non-opposing archetypes have been completely eliminated, players take in followers equal to the number of followers they have left alive.

These followers are then used in up to eight player cooperative PvE RTS battles to capture skills and artifacts as well as advance the story campaign.
(Yes Caab I’m looking at you, and Gig too. Next time I’ll be more original I swear. No Peter Molyneux I’ve never played your damned game.)

Need something to practice on while I try to work on SW, so I’m gonna try and post 3 game ideas a day. Single Player, Multi-Player, and MMO, one each. These have to be new even to me, so I can’t just like walk into my mental library of IPs and ideas and just pick one up off the shelf and dust it off and call it new. Todays are being made up as I write them, tomorrow’s may have more thought invested in them.

Single Player:
Sky Pizza!

You are a pizza delivery man working at the Cloudy Crust Pizza Parlor at the top of the Sky Works, a moving flotilla of civilian and merchant marine sky ships that has become it’s own trade center. You basically para-glide from stop to stop trying to deliver your pizzas within the time limit. Meanwhile Pizza Pirates attempt to steal your cheesy goodness and block your route. You get awards for speedy delivery which will be proudly displayed at your pad, the main menu. There are also “good citizen” achievements scattered throughout the world as optional side activities to do if you think you have the time.

Multi-Player:
I Can’t Believe it’s Not Quake

Ironically named as other than being an FPS it has nothing at all to do with quake. Players run around with paint-ball like grenade launchers, but when shot a player switches teams, the idea is to make everyone a member of your team. Pacing should be very fast, with levels that are comprised of jumps and twists and turns. Players may pick up weapon secondary fires, like the sticky grenade which makes a certain section of the map slower to move through, the paint mine which works pretty much exactly like it sounds and the uber tub, an area of effect paint with very small amounts of ammo.

MMO:
Cuddles in a Basket

Cuddles are cute little fuzzy balls with about a thousand teeth and couple mouths, you begin your cuddly life in the bottom of a basket. The goal is to get out of the basket and into the next basket, end-game consists of exploring the laundry room. You can move up by pulling someone above you down, you can move down by pulling someone below you up, you can make a lateral move by biting or gnawing your way through the local area to the next spot. A higher tier can only be founded on the backs of cuddles below. The higher up in the tier you are the more identity tokens you get per fifteen minutes, identity tokens can be spent customizing the name and appearance of your cuddle. Likewise the further baskets down the line add even more identity tokens. When you get out to explore the room, the evil dust bunnies will attack any cuddle of a certain color on a certain day. You can fight back and move them around and trap them by changing color. Raids will be ventures under the washing machine to scare away the filthy uber-bunnies, will require many different colors working in concert as they have to navigate many hurdles which require the basic team climbing needed to get out of the basket in the first place.

Projected time till players reach the endgame – heavily varies. Some servers may get out in hours, other servers may never even get out of the baskets.

So the temporarily titled, and logo-ed, Mercs has entered it’s alpha stage. Play testing is very much so appreciated. (No I have no miniatures or easy cool looking print-outs…)

Pre-Game

Before you even set up the game, you and your mates are going to have to set a limit on things like unit numbers and budget. I’d recommend starting out with 8 units and 10k, to keep it small and tactically interesting.

Then you’re gonna want to print out the Character Sheets and Quick Play cards. Each player gets one character sheet per unit variant(any units with the exact same equipment and stats get the same character sheet.), and a quick play card per person.

You can then reference The Armory to find equipment for your units. Equipment cards like that for the SMG are coming for almost all equipment, but for now are limited to ammunition and the SMG. Check the bottom for what stats to give your units to begin with. Stats aren’t on a point buy system, but instead you assign the already drafted numbers to specific fields.

After you have your units set up, you and your mates can then decide whether or not to include officers. Officers are named units which should be appropriately rare, they have higher stats and gain twice as much from leveling up.

At some point, you are going to want to prepare your playing area. There really aren’t any hard or fast rules as to where to play, any surface with objects that can be used as cover is acceptable. Just be sure to grab a tape measure, or buy a 24″-32″ dowel and mark it off at every inch. Cut out some 1″ by 1″ squares, mark one side with an outwards pointing triangle of a color unique to you, and then write numbers on them sequentially. (Units are technically 1.5″ tall) Voila, play space and army all assembled and ready to go.

In order for stealth play to work, each player must have a map of your play space, with scale in inches well marked.

First Turn

First things first, you’ll want to roll d%100 all around the table. The lowest roll wins and play continues clockwise from there. Each player then rolls %100 and adds 60 to that roll, all units belonging to that player begin with that value rounded up to the nearest ten, or their highest possible morale. Players then set their units in their designated starting areas, or simply across the table from each other if the start points are not designated.

Exception Notice: In Extended Campaign Style Play, defenders always go first.

Movement

Every unit begins with movement points equal to the tens column of their run stat. You may expend 1 mp to move one inch, or 1 mp to kneel, record this in the quick play card by putting a K in the final column for the appropriately numbered unit, an additional mp to go prone, or 1 mp to switch to stealth mode.

Running – expending MP to move has no negative effect on your chance to hit, nor chance to be hit, it’s considered sound tactical movements.
Standing – If you remain standing, your movement rate remains normal, you take a -10% to your to hit, and a +10% chance to be hit.
Kneeling – If you are kneeling, each MP will move you only 1/2″, you take -0% chance to hit and +0% chance to be hit.
Prone – If you are prone, 1 mp will equal just 1/4″, you take +10% chance to hit, and -10% chance to be hit.

While in stealth you remove the unit from the table and instead work on the small map available only to you. Each unit has a spot statistic, much like run, you simply take the tens column and multiply it by 1.5, that is your spotting radius. Anything stealth that enters that radius has to roll below (their stealth – half your units spot) in order to remain hidden. When the spotting radius of multiple units overlap, their spotting is cumulative where the overlap occurs.

While half way behind cover your opponent rolls with -20% to hit, and -20% chance to spot. Full cover removes chance to hit and chance to spot entirely. Soft cover, such as bushes or open bar fences, offers only a -10% chance to be hit.

Attacking

You may attack with any unit at any point during your turn, provided you have the MP to afford the attack. The MP cost of an attack is dependent on the weapon and firing mode, you should have The Armory readily available with that information.

You may fire on any unit within your weapon’s maximum range. You simply take your marksmanship ability, add any bonuses to hit, and subtract any penalties to hit, and attempt to roll below that number. 00 being the traditional critical hit, which does double damage.

When you are within 2 inches you gain a +20% bonus to hit, within 1″ gives you an additional +10% to hit.

Morale

When a unit is hit, it must succeed at a soldiering check, roll below their soldiering stat, or they will loose ten morale. When a friendly unit is killed within 6″ you make the same check, but apply double the penalty, 20, in case of failure.

If a unit falls below 30 morale they will expend all remaining mp to travel back to their starting point and off the map, removing them from play, for two turns. After two turns they recover 10 morale.

The death of an enemy adds morale dependent on the level of the killed enemy. The rule of thumb is 10 morale per level, and 20 morale per level with officers. Also, every inch +Z (upwards) adds 1/4″ to your units effective maximum range.

———-

Phew, it’s done-ish.
If you notice anything missing, or anything I didn’t cover or that isn’t covered in more detail in the army, please feel free to ask me about in the comments or in private messages.