Thursday, August 4, 2011

Theme in Fall From Heaven 2

As part of the design work for EitB, I found myself asking the question: what is FfH about?

If you had asked me that question originally, before I had started working on the tech tree, I would have told you that Fall From Heaven was about specialization; that there are many different paths to victory, but they each require a commitment from the player to a particular path.  Additionally, I would have told you that the areas in which you could specialize were:
  • Infantry
  • Archers
  • Cavalry
  • Recon Units
  • Wizards
  • Priests and Disciple Units
I was wrong.

I would say that FfH is about Magic and Religion.  A large portion of the technologies on the tech tree are about either Magic or Religion.  The economic and mundane part of the tech tree feels scatterbrained and somewhat unfocused, but the Magic and Religion parts feel well designed and thoughtful.  Each technology in those areas feels like it fits.

This observation has played out again and again in the FfH PBEMs that I've spectated.  Conflicts between players have never been decided by whether or not a player decided to go archers or axemen, but rather by spell choice and usage, priests, and summons.  All but the very best mundane units are ignored, and most units do not ever have a reasonable opportunity to see play in any particular game.

What does this mean for design in EitB?

I was running into a lot of difficulty trying to differentiate the various Mundane specializations from each other.  Now I realize that what will probably be best, is if I redesign the mundane parts of the tree to emphasize the religious and magic lines.  Mundane units in EitB will be the supporting units behind your religious and magic specializations, as they are in FfH, but they won't be tied to a tech tree that pretends that the Mundanes are the main show.