Face Off 3.5 was an unmitigated disaster.
I was worried that the personalities were not strong enough relative to equipment. It just seemed, thematically, the strongest person should be twice as strong as the strongest equipment. I made this change without really thinking about it. It was, after all, just numbers. And I wasn’t making that big of change –Alpha personalities were moving from 7 base power to 10.
But this small change made the weaker personalities dead cards. We went through whole games without ever playing certain cards. I thought I could fix this by giving weaker personalities combos that made them bigger, but this failed as well. Now all strategy was gone from the game. You either had a good combo in your hand and played it or didn’t.
The game that had felt so close suddenly sucked and didn’t really know how to fix it.
It happens sometimes –steps in the wrong direction. And I’ve learned it is not something to be afraid during the design process. There are other games I’ve designed that you will never see because as soon as I made mistake in the design process, I gave up. I thought the whole system was flawed or boring or not smart enough, so I chucked the whole thing. That’s what happed to Mayhem. And Studio Exec. And the Kings Court.
Face Off was spared this fate because it was at the time themed to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And I always return to Buffy things.
You see the Game of Awesome grew out of my attempts to write a Buffy Smash Up set. Not for commercial use or anything. It was just because my pals and I like Smash Up, and I like Buffy so why not. The only problem with the Buffy Smash Up set was the Buffy cast was too large for Smash Up deck conventions. Someone very important was going to have to be left out of the personality deck, and that sucked so I started with the Game of Awesome. I quickly added my other favorite things. Star Wars. Star Trek. Archer. The Big Bang Theory. The fun of working with these characters saved Face Off.
After the failure of version 3.5 and 4.0, I got serious. I got mathematical and started making charts. I figured out how the bones of the game was working a how to make it better. After brief stint of replacing power with symbols and making players look up power on their own player charts (a really cumbersome and bad idea), I learned that all I had to do was compress the numbers back down to pretty close to where I had initially placed them. Instinct was now backed up by data. Face Off 6.0 was in fact awesome. So awesome I though maybe there was an audience for such a game. So I had to do the hardest thing a creator ever has to do. I had to kill all my favorite parts of the game and start over thematically.
To see how and why I killed my babies, tune in next week. Same bat time. Same bat channel. Same goofy jokes.