ACE · Writing Series

Writing ACE – Equipment

So I’ve always kind of wanted to talk about the process of making these games. The things I go through and what logic I apply to some of the weirder decisions. And since this site isn’t doing much else, I figure that’ll make a perfect time filler. So here’s the first of many in the “Writing” segments I’ll be putting out whenever I can. In this particular case, I’m starting with a major part of ACE. The equipment.

I started with a list of spy equipment that sounded cool. Then tried to expand to stuff that would be essential. Spent some time fine tuning their usefulness. A lot of time was spent doing these types of things over and over again, eventually ending up with a list I was happy with. It wasn’t perfect, and I’d expand and change stuff as I wrote the other parts of the game, but the equipment list was basically the very first step I took in writing ACE at all.

Of course, there have been some speed bumps. Recently addressed in the 1.2 version of ACE the Hatchet was taken down from a Rank 5 item to a Rank 2 item. It didn’t make sense to me, or the players, that a basic woodcutting and survival ax was limited to what is essentially a super spy level of access when you can buy an ax from wal-mart. My logic for putting it that high in the first place was that it seemed a powerful weapon. Silent, high damage, ranged attack (since you could throw it) and it’s constantly reusable. I was thinking more “badass tomahawk” than “general store camping equipment” when I wrote it. I still felt like it was justified having an item that powerful be that high of a rank, so I added an addendum where the hatchet blade is easily broken after constant use or missing a target. Hopefully this would give any GMs an out if they felt the item was being abused by their players.

Some other equipment was taken pretty much directly from other sources. Several things were basically identical to gadgets used in video games I’ve played. Some things like the Directional Mic and Camo Suit coming from Metal Gear. Barricades and Armor Panels from Rainbow Six. Trophy Systems, Black Hats, and Spider Drones from Call of Duty. There’s a couple more like this, but you get the idea. Basically I absorbed all kinds of media with the mindset “What can I use for ACE?” I wanted the biggest, most interesting, and varied list for people to play with. Because with a list like that, I could give my players a sense of total freedom. When they prepared for their mission, they’d be thinking “What do I have access to? How am I going to infiltrate? What am I going to use if the bullets start to fly? How am I going to get out?” and with a big armory to pull from, they’d have several answers to all of those questions. So, shamelessly, if I saw something cool then I added it.

After I had finished with the gear list and was pretty happy with it, I worked on other parts of the game. Attributes, conflict resolution, etc. But while I did those I kept coming back to the gear list. I kept adding more and having more ideas. Before the first game of ACE ever took off, a player (the same one who suggested the Hatchet change) suggested another piece of equipment (the wedge which had been added in v1.2) It felt really good being able to keep going back and adding to it, never running out of ideas and knowing that if I ever did, I’d get another one if I just exposed myself to more. This train of thought was part of what led me to watching Agents of Shield, which I don’t regret (It’s good even though Patton Oswalt lied to get me to watch it.)

(Ok he didn’t lie, but he withheld truths.)

So there it is. The first thing I started working on for ACE was also probably the last thing I did before publishing the game on my birthday. I started with the equipment and then I never really stopped working on it. Even as I watched or played or read other things, the equipment list was always on my mind. My players have caught the bug as well I think because I keep getting suggestions for additions, which is actually really cool. I don’t speak for the other people who offered suggestions, but I think I liked it so much because it was so different to working on the adventuring gear that you’d put in a fantasy game and it was something I had never really done before.

If you like stuff like this, or you’re in it for the free games every month, why not consider becoming a supporter at patreon? It’ll help me stay alive and do more things of this nature and I’d love to stay alive and do more things of this nature. ♥


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