Monday, May 12, 2008

I Need A Vacation From My Vacation

It's almost my birthday and I'm having an existential crisis. You know, looking around my life and wondering where it all went...well, I wouldn't exactly say wrong since even the tragedies have led to the choices which have become the triumphs. But, you know, I realized over my morning cereal today that it's been nearly a year since my cat died and almost six months since my dog passed and I still miss them. And how not very far off from where I was when those sad days attempted to jar me from my rut. That sort of thing.

In short, I'm rather out of it and I'd expect me to become really lazy about things in very short order some time soon. Not saying I'm going to stop posting while I hunt down a remote woodland hut to meditate in while wearing a tinfoil helmet or anything but I have been known.

Today, though, I managed to put aside my imaginary expansion set that's been so captivating me lately in order to hammer out another update for the List. Which is now getting capitalized because I need to personify my hatred for what my past selves got me into. It's got some corrections and a new section and blah blah blah selfpromotioncakes.

Honestly, though, I've seen people linking it and using it and I've managed to track some interesting referrals and nothing could tickle me more. It's, you know, nice to see the work I've put into it being appreciated. I'm just not in a good mood at the moment. Spending a half hour trying to figure out which misplaced bracket was screwing the damn thing up hasn't helped, by the way.

Speaking of those new cards that I've been working on so diligently for a while now, they're really rounding into form. I finally took the time today to set them all out in a spreadsheet where I could play around with the numbers because they're past the point of being interesting concepts and half-hearted designs and into the stage where there are concrete values that need balancing (I know, I'm insane. It's wonderful, isn't it?). Not every card is working as well as I'd want but every card has its stats and a unique innate and four distinct skills and it's a matter of figuring out how to make the ideas work and the numbers feel right. But the design is there and, mostly, I think they're at least interesting and some are even pretty strong.

Also, I was joking before about heading off to make up some items but, apparently, my muse wasn't listening. Haven't gotten all 20 yet (I'm skipping adding any new general items although it's tempting) and the ones I do have are sketchy at best but they're coming along. I'm proud of one, for example, that procs a burning DOT if the range is set to a certain distance. It should work beautifully with one of my cards whose skill list goes berserk when that DOT is in play - but I think it's still fair because the proc happens at one range while the card is better played at the opposite.

Putting it all down in a spreadsheet, though, brought some things to my attention that I hadn't noticed before. Especially in comparison to the existing cards. My cards, for example, average 68hp and 3/2.5/2 resist (Well, okay, those are the median values for resists. The averages get weird because, well, I've done something really cool or really stupid that makes the averages rather messy.). While the original cards are at 70, 2.5/1.5/2.

When it comes to innates, I've got a lot more that focus on raw damage improvement and energy engines. Nearly half of them, in fact. Almost half of them, in fact. While, in the original, the most numerous were what I call "armor innates". Those that, like Ashi's imperviousness to stuns protect a card from something. I'm much more likely to make things difficult than I am to just rip away some part of the game - although since I also tried to make sure none of my innates was duplicating existing ones (I mean, sure, I ripped off a few. I've got one that's Ubuntu's with the serial numbers filed off. One that works on energy costs just at a different part of the combat round.) and the original cards covered those bases, perhaps it's not as surprising. Also showing up strongly in my cards were innates that centered around healing. Which makes sense considering I've got a line of priests wandering around being defensively lame.

When it comes to skills, I'm much less fond of multiplicative skills (XxY) that the original. Skills that cost more than 50 energy, too. Although I suspect both of those to change as I try to balance it all out. It's easy to tone the power of a skill by splitting its damage into different packets - makes it weaker by bumping into resistance more, makes it easier to creep up the power by adding in more damage, too. And, I think, in general, I've been pretty generous with skills and the costs could creep up so I'll get a few more 70~80 heavies in there somehow. One thing, though, is that my cards tend to have fewer attacks. Most cards in the original are loaded with attacks - averaging about 3 each. Mine hover around 2, with the rest being filled up with buffs and debuffs. Since I'm working on a set that rewards more skillful play and I think effective use of juggling buffs and debuffs is one of the signs of a skilled player, I find that fitting. There are also several cards in the original that are restricted to a single range. Either by, like Ashi, having no options or, like Andie, having laughable ones. I've, however, tried to make sure that every card has at least something to do if they're stuck at a certain range. Some cards are designed to get to a certain range but everyone has something useful to do besides hit the rest button - and most have at least some way of causing some damage in their off-range.

Just weird, I guess, and the sort of thing you don't plan for or notice until you look at the grand weave. But, really, I think it's pretty much the way I would have gone if I'd been thinking about it in the first place.

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