In addition to my many other projects, I started on working on my own game. This is the first gaming project that I've started that I'm tooling away with, trying to create a game from scratch. I've built within other people's systems before, and it is already daunting.
A big part of the underlying system here is based around the things that I enjoy in games. Elegant systems that we see coming out are something I'm incredibly fond of, and I'm trying to find a way to keep gameplay fast, and keep players engaged.
One of the biggest things that has been frustrating me lately has been the strict demarcation between "combat" and "noncombat" characters that occur in various RPGs. My gaming group plays a lot of Call of Cthulhu, and it seems to be a regular occurrence that they specialize into various roles, leaving them unable to operate well outside of that role. This follows the basic theory of economics giving the need for specialization, and it has served them well. They're usually able to take on most balanced challenges between this and being prepared for what they go into.
The result, however, is a lot of roleplaying that isn't necessarily fun. Players find themselves on the outside of various scenes, as it mechanically reinforces someone else having the spotlight. The downside is they're often completely out of the game at that point, and that's when cellphones come out and minds start to wander.
One of the first things I came across was wanting there to be both specialization for different characters so they can each have their own role, but also for it not to be along the combat and non-combat demarcation. Everyone is capable of communication, and even the most battle hardened of soldiers have a plethora of skills that matter outside of combat.
To achieve this, I've been toying with a couple of different ideas. An early one that I considered was creating a requirement for a number of skills to have to be noncombat, not dissimilar to how Call of Cthulhu has Interest Points during character creation. As most players of Call of Cthulhu know, this often leads to bizarre circumstances like the professor who is also one of the world's best snipers. I don't begrudge players trying to ensure their characters survive, but naturally this led to me to consider a different tact.
The current system that I'm working on for a very early alpha test, then, is based around a presumption that the same skill can be used both in and out of combat. Being a gigantic and powerful soldier, for example, will mean that you're also intimidating and know how to do basic soldiery tasks. A paragon of leadership is a great leader both in and out of combat. The list goes on.
I've got an early alpha coming up, but this is definitely going to be a new feature as I start to talk more about game design and the like. Next up on this specific topic is going to be dealing with the parts of the game you're excited for, and the parts that you aren't.