April 1, 2015

Telepath Tactics March 2015 Update

Note: what follows is an April Fool’s Day prank post. I’m leaving it here for posterity.

Hello folks! With the release of Telepath Tactics nearing, I’ve been thinking long and hard about the direction the game is heading in.

One problem that comes up a lot when I speak with other developers is that strategy RPGs are really slow-paced. Sitting and thinking just doesn’t speak to the modern gamer. Modern gamers want adrenaline-fueled action! They want split-second decisions! They want extreme sports! (Just…without actually moving or burning any calories.)

The sad fact is, there’s no room for a game with this slow pace and complexity in the indie space. Telepath Tactics has been rejected from Indiecade outright for multiple consecutive years while action RPGs with only a fraction of its depth have sailed into the festival with no trouble. Hell, I couldn’t even get it in as an eSport despite its local multiplayer mode, thanks to the prevailing perception among the indie elite that a game must feature minimalistic, action-packed gameplay to qualify as an eSport in the first place.

It’s taken a long time, but the message has finally sunk in. Battles in this game can take over an hour. An hour. That’s, like, an entire Game of Thrones episode. Who even has that kind of time to devote to just thinking and strategizing? Indiecade judges certainly don’t! Other game developers don’t. And actually…I don’t either. I’m an Adult, and that means I’m Busy, and that means I can only devote brain power to games in discrete 5-to-10 minute blocks. Any more than that, and I get distracted by car payments and taxes and mortgages and stuff.

So that, friends, is why I’ve decided to get with the times and change the battles in Telepath Tactics to real-time-with-pause.

Now, before you react: I know that this seems like a pretty drastic change for so late in the game’s development cycle, but I have been assured by my peers in the indie game development scene that this is for the best. If you think about it, real-time-with-pause is exactly like turn-based! Except that the turns happens continuously, one after another, seamlessly, without any time to stop and think in between them. But because it’s real-time-with-pause, all you have to do is hit the space bar every few seconds to try to figure out what the hell just happened in the preceding few seconds, and you’re set! Exact. Same. Thing.

To speed things up further, I’ve also decided to reduce the player’s maximum army size to no more than 6 characters. That will cut the duration of battles to 1/10th their ordinary length, and will thereby allow me to sandwich in ten times as many battles at 1/4th the level of tactical complexity. Multiply all those numbers together, and what do you get? Time savings, that’s what!

…I think. Wait, hang on. What’s 1/10th times 10? It’s…it’s 1? Huh. Okay. So, I guess maybe that doesn’t actually impact the time it takes you to complete the game. But still! The decreased complexity of the fights means that you’ll only have a fraction as many hard choices to make during that time, which means you’ll have more time to think about real-life hard choices, like whether to pay your mortgage or your car insurance, or how to cope with the fact that your wife is leaving you because you can’t get accepted into Indiecade. Like an Adult.

Thanks for reading, tactics fans! I can’t wait for you to see the exciting new direction this game is heading in!