Friday, April 06, 2007

Silent Hill: Sell Your Soul

So, you all know that I like Silent Hill. Heck, let's say that I love it. Now, it's not the kind of game that I necessarily enjoy playing, not because it's got a bad interface or crappy graphics. Neither is actually the case (SH4's item system could use an overhaul, though). In fact, I can't play any Silent Hill game for any significant amount of time because, frankly, these games are scary as sh*t. Also, when I was but a lad, I was heavily into trading card games. I blame my mom, who, thanks to some kind of Consumer Reports "best gifts" guide back in the 90's, bought my brother and I the short-lived Alien vs. Predator card game. I was unaware at the time that you could actually increase your card count via booster packs, so the Marines always lost, because their deck sucked. Anyway, it wasn't long because the Pokemon craze sucked me in. Not so much the Game Boy games (I only played the first two) but the trading card game. I joined the Pokemon League, earned two badges (before the craze switched to Yu-Gi-Crap), and spent ever spare cent I had on booster packs. At the height of my enthusiasm, I had acquired well over one thousand individual cards, only a few of which ended up in the actual play deck. I also bought the Game Boy Color game of the trading card game, and I actually still play it today. It's a really fun game.

However, TCG's are nerd crack, and I realized that maybe I should spend less money on this "fad" and spend more time drawing dinosaurs. Also, the game's format changed after Neo 4 and, in my opinion, looked and played like crap. Be that as it may, I kept one of each card I had collected and stuck 'em all in a giant binder. These days, I'll still leaf through comic shop boxes of individual cards, looking for singles from that era which I lack. Just recently, I had a brief obsession with Sabertooth's UFS card game, but that really didn't last too long. UFS is a much more complex card game that really has a lot of, you know, rules. I'll still play it with Nelson, but we make some slight exceptions to the rules from time to time (only playable by Tira? But we don't have Tira. Everyone can use it!).

So what have we learned? I have a weakness for Silent Hill and a weakness for trading card games. I also found this awesome site where you can create your own posters, calendars, photo frames, and...oh cards! So I put the two ideas together one day and created something like forty-five cards, with images pulled from Google. The card game is pretty simple. One player uses monsters (they play as Alessa) and the other uses heroes (they play as Dahlia). Kind of like the AVP game, there are Location cards which are used to create an in-game map. Some Locations have unique properties. Monsters and heroes both have all sorts of stats relating to attacking, moving on the map, and avoiding opponent's attacks. Every hero and every monster has unique properties. For example, Harry Mason over there gains +20 to all stats (agility, strength, and defense) while engaging two specific monsters. And if he's killed in a Nightmarish Location, all the creatures in that area are instantly destroyed and the Location in which fell becomes Pure (Real).

The cards have gone through several changes. There were things I initially liked (like that icon in the upper right) that I later found overwhelmed any kind of simplicity I was going for. Keeping track of stats during a turn became a chore in itself. Adding elemental effects, I felt, would be pushing it. So anyway, I'm not sure what the "goal" of a game would be. Controlling the map would be nice, but certain Location cards are either Pure or Nightmarish by default, so at the beginning of a round, at least 51% of the map will be either/or, so that doesn't work. I've also thought about extinguishing all the heroes or monsters to win, but that seems like it would take forever given any particular deck's construction (60 cards). Clearly, there are still things to work out, but I like the idea! To help players during their attacks, movements, etc., there are all sorts of Event cards which add effects to certain cards or actions.

While the Pure/Nightmarish Location theme is specific to the Silent Hill series in general, I'm not entirely sure what purpose it would serve in this card game. Because it is such an important part of the series, I definately want to incorporate it in some meaningful way in the card game. Controlling the map alone doesn't seem like enough. It's telling, however, that in the games, monsters only appear in nightmare areas. Just like in Jacob's Ladder (which provided the inspiration for the original Silent Hill), the character passes between the pure and nightmare realms without necessarily knowing they have done so. Perhaps in this card game, heroes only encounter monsters in Nightmarish areas. A lot has to be worked out, really. For example, a character's Agility rating effects whether an opponent's attack actually hits or not (this is all accomplished with a d6 die). Afterward, a character's Defense rating determines the final damage done. Great, right? Well, should those be separate numbers on the card, or should Agility=Defense?

And what about the Attack rating? Does that only apply to melee attacks? In this card game, heroes will usually be equipped with Weapon cards (Handgun, Shotgun, Mace, etc.), so should they even GET Attack ratings? Monsters won't be able to use weapons (except Monkey Men), so they'll usually be attacking with melee attacks. This leaves heroes with ranged weapons at a huge advantage ("ranged" weapons, under the current scheme, can be used from one Location away from the enemy's location). Maybe I'll make it so that heroes MUST be equipped with weapons in order to deal damage, but that monsters can always attack. Yeah, I like that. There's a definate advantage/disadvantage there.

So, in the writing of this admittedly quite long blog, I have actually decided on ONE aspect of the game that I really like. Now that's progress. Tell me what you think, readers, and if you have any ideas for how the game should flow or how cards can be used, please suggest them. Next Friday, I'll be in Homer for the weekend. Otherwise, I'd tell you my idea for a kickass Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops card game!!!!


lantaro said...

you're a faggot.

but i love the ideas.

Luke said...

dude. nice.

i didn't check your blog for like a week and there's THREE count em THREE new posts. Great times. :)!