Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Looking Towards the Next Phase: Iron Core Game Development

I still have some files to deliver to WGF, the box art and instructions will all need to be completed shortly after China is through working their magic but the majority of the work has left my hands and is now in the capable hands of the Wargames Factory engineering team.

Now would be a good time to introduce a partner to the DreamForge Iron-Core project, I would like to take a moment to welcome Robey Jenkins.

Robey runs a website and podcast called Precinct Omega, it is through his podcast that I first became acquainted with Robey. Two traits struck me while listening to his podcast, his love of tabletop games and his ability to tear apart their workings, analyze each component and understand how one part relates to the next and then make critical or creative observations about the core mechanics was impressive.

Robey and I think alike, perhaps too much so? But he is far more precise than myself. I can tell you what I like, what I do not like and where I would like to go with a rules section but Robey had a knack for putting the pieces into the puzzle and explaining why in his opinion, the rules section worked or did not work. I have roughly 130+ pages of an overly complicated, poorly written rough draft completed. I tend to work by roughing in complete systems and then working backwards to find a way to simplify the rules section or decide to scrap that section all together. Clearly this work habit is counter productive when you involve another person. It is my hope that Robey will help me curtail some of my habits while injecting a fresh and creative way at looking at each section of rules.

I spoke with Robey a couple of times, first an introduction and then to go over what I wanted Iron Core to look, play and feel like. Robey kindly agreed to review my draft and give suggestions and pointers. He came back with proposal that touched on the systems I had provided but more importantly he proposed a creative way, a system that would add depth and tactical thinking without the use of tables, charts and die rolls. I am a huge fan of rewarding a well thought out strategy while minimizing the prospect of an “I win button” through unit selections or a simple set of opening moves.

Shamefully, Robey’s proposal sat in my email for quite some time as I worked my way through stage 2 of the Kickstarter and all of the finding a new home issues that real life through my way, damn messy stuff that real life… My apologies Robey.

As I mentioned Robey and I think alike, we like tactical games, games that make you think and reward you for doing so. Adding places into the game where each player can affect the game without needing to roll a die, refer back to charts or add a slew of dice modifiers to resolve, points of opportunity, points in the turn sequence for where everyone playing will have the opportunity to have an impact. In short no one sleeps while the other player moves their pretty models about. Can we achieve all this and still have a fast playing and more importantly enjoyable and marketable game? I think we can and I believe that we can check many of the tick boxes.

Honestly I could go on for pages talking about specifics or qualities in a game I find important but that is not what this post is about.

I would like to end in saying that while I am not a fan of design by committee; I absolutely adore customer feedback and when we enter Alpha and Beta I hope to see many of you there testing, breaking and making suggestions to make this the best game possible.


  1. Yay! I loved his analysis of Mecha Front, I think he is justly critical and states his opinion in an even-handed fashion. This bodes well for Iron-Core!

  2. Mark,

    I just wanted to put forward a suggestion for an addition to the Eisenkern troops. Perhaps a nice addition would be some Eisenkern equivalent of the Fallschirmjaeger- A lighter less armoured trooper with an open face helmet. A set of ten troops with specialist equipment such as scout and attack drones' Demolition equipment and anti- amour weapons. Maybe even create a further option utilising fast attack bikes.!

    1. I like the idea, Wolfgang. New troops types, of course, depend upon new sculpts and new casts. Mark can design whatever he dreams of, but if you want to see more Eisenkern in production, get out and spread the word! If we can make the Eisenkern fly off the shelves all over the world, then there'll be all the new units, factions and races we could dream of!

  3. Mark, any hints yet whether the other Leviathan variants are on the cards yet?
    You've now got most of the weapons, so it would only be a case of getting different upper body armor sets and heads.
    I do hope though you'll take a modular approach to the series though.
    I went through the 101 pdf again, and while I like most of the designs, Azazels head doesn't work for me.