RUGBY LEAGUE BREAKOUT
UPDATES & FEEDBACK
There have been quite a few changes in the first couple of seasons. The online version of the rulebook should be up to date, so the stuff repeated here is probably redundant. Defences are now called separately for each tackle rather than for each possession. The effort, hardness and offside boxes have been removed. They're still in the rules - but the value is fixed at TWO. Any loss of yardage is now limited to one yard. So you're playing for positive yardage - you don't really have to worry about going backwards.
Game reports are now delivered by email as PDF file attachments. The files are bigger (which means they're slower) but they're easier to handle and it does mean you can read your report on-screen without printing it. Some people still have problems with spam filters, but there's nothing we can do about that. Anti-spammers are nearly as silly and obsessive as spammers. PDF file attachments should be safe. The format doesn't appear to do anything except define display and print formatting.
The following paragraphs are for discussion and feedback. A game like Rugby League Breakout improves over the years with experience, but that can only happen with good feedback. The GMs usually don't get to see the game from the player's point of view.
The system for making line breaks needs to be considered carefully. The point of the current system is that it's deterministic, decided entirely by the choices you make and the players you've got. Something more like Gameplan, involving a chance of a breakout of each play, and it only being the probably that's determined by your decisions, is more realistic and might give a better feel. We could show the breakout chance is the report, to make it more visible, and we could include visible "smoothing" to reduce the luck element (or simply calculate the good luck and bad luck and include it somewhere else - like when allocating LPs).
At present turnovers are a risk according to the play called. If we're staying with the game being deterministic (not using random numbers) then these could be non-random as well, with a mixture of guesswork and an accumulating risk (we add up the risks you take and the risks the defender plays for, until they reach 100% and then the ball gets spilled). Penalties could work in a similar way. So they'd be apportioned - instead of relying on the luck balancing out over time.
FEEDBACK - SKILLS, POSITIONS & PLAYS
There's no chance the first version of the lists of skills and plays includes all the things that the game really needs. There are sure to be some plays missing from the playbook. We can only improve them if players take a good look at their teams and decide which skills and positions you want to be able to get into play - and how those relate to the plays available. What we need to know is what other combinations we've mised out - given a guy playing this position with those strengths, how would you be looking to get him into the play? Also look at real life players and relate them to the skills in the game. Are their skills we've missed?
Quite a lot of the descriptive text in the game reports is still "generic" rather than giving details suitable to the context (eg. saying "lost possession" rather than how, or just saying "penalty" without saying what it's for). Have a think about what sort of descriptions and variations would make sense, and let me know.
In keeping with the game being squad based, if we decide the offside, hardness and effort options are not going to be values you can set for yourself, how about we make them part of the player strengths? So these are things different players bring to your game, and you can only add them or take them away by shuffling your team or changing your players. It'd actually BE more complicated, but it would LOOK simpler and more in keeping with the theme.
A lot of kicks are being missed because you've got poor kickers. A 10-skill kicker is only going to hit about 50% even from short range and the figures will be worse from longer range (but there's still a small chance of success even from around 50 yards). I think the range should probably only apply above fifteen or twenty yards (at present the chance of scoring reduces by 5% for every five yards) but should probably fall quicker at longer ranges (perhaps, above twenty yards the chance falls by half the excess). But I'm not going to change it yet. Let's see what happens as the game goes along a bit further.
One error in the rulebook is that it says penalties are awarded only on sixth tackle, but it should say at the end of the possession - including when you lost possession before the sixth (in the software, that's on sixth tackle, but from your point of view it's on any tackle).
TACTICS vs TEAM BUILDING
Those of you who've read what I've written on the subject (see the Gameplan section of this website) will probably realise the design of this game is about resolving the play-calling versus team-building conflict. Gameplan is a play-calling game, and different rosters just shift the balance of play around. Rugby League Breakout isn't a simulation game: it tries to simulate to "feel" of rugby league rather than the game itself. If the design works as intended, then your play calling in this game will depend on your team strengths, and the results of each play will depend on how the individual players match up against each other.
THINGS NOT INCLUDED
At present we haven't included rules for fatigue, injuries or interceptions, all of which are in the design and could easily be added later. You also can't kick earlier than the sixth tackle, even if the whole defence is up offside, and there's no variation in your starting field position (so no positional play... but positional play is dull - we're sticking to playing just the highlights).
At present players can't change positions and they can't play out of position (those are two different things - the first is about squad development and the second is concerned with adjusting to individual opponents). But we've got the core of the game, and we need to get the balance right with a group of real players before we start fiddling with improvements.
DEFENCE AGAINST KICKS
At present we don't have a separate defence for sixth tackle when you're expcting a kick, but we think that teams don't actually differ in how they respond. The full back and wings drop back and the half backs sweep behind the line. That doesn't mean we can't add it if we want: at present the results of a kick are pretty random, and it would be good to keep the variation and reduce the random numbers by letting the defence guess at what the attacking is going to do. So we'll keep the idea in the list as something to look at again, sometime in the future.
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