Transcendent Game Development pt. I
Hello again. This series is all about the development of the numbers/mechanics of Transcendent. No lore, no historical significance, just pure numbers and reasoning behind those numbers. And so we go...
Let's talk objectives. In Transcendent, there are 25 different objectives, many of which share components. Within those objectives, there are 10 classified as beginner, 10 intermediate, and 5 expert. For the Lite version of Transcendent, there are 7 beginners, 3 intermediate, and 3 expert. To help with this classification, I created a simple points system based on the need for a labor point to complete any part of the objective. It is also important to note that the "average case" was taken into account and not the outlier cases of things such as the player, objective, and market completely aligning during a game, or the opposite of that (which is usually my case).
If the criteria of an objective requires the use of any of the increase, acquire, reset, play, and merge actions, then the objective gets +1 for its action count. Anything that refers to the use of a reaction ability gets +1/2, including effects such as stealing or using a Sabotage. For any text that states to "Merge x achievements", they get +3 1/2 as it takes at least 2 labor points to create elements, plus 1 labor point to merge the final achievement. Since each achievement requires as a third ingredient either another element or the usage of AEther, I used a 1/2. The advantages were fairly hard to classify, as they can chain into each other quite nicely. So any advantage being used would constitute +1 the first time and +1/2 the next time, but only as pairs, so the next one would be +1, and so on.
Does this make dollars, or sense? Let's see what this breaks down like:
And Another One (L)
Merge 3 achievements (A)
Play allies (a) 8 times, Merge 1 A
Heavy Metal (L)
Play equipment (e) 8 times, Merge 1 A
In response (L)
Use 15 reactions (r), Merge 2 A
Limited Resources (L)
Acquire exactly 8 cards in Lite version, Acquire exactly 10 in Full version, Merge 2 A
15 or 17
Market Volatility (L)
Replace 25 cards in market, Merge 2 A
Research Hoarding (L)
Acquire at least 20 cards in Lite version, Acquire at least 30 cards in Full version, Merge 1 A
23 1/2 or 33 1/2
At Any Cost
Lose 20 AEther, Merge 2 A
Hug it Out
Play 7 a, Share 5 a, Merge 2 A
Watch the World Burn
Use 7 Sabotages (s), Steal 5 in-play cards, Merge 2 A
Guest of Honor (L)
Control a Patron, Draw 10 cards outside Clean-up, Merge 2 A
Helping Hand (L)
Control an Assistant, Add at least 20 to resources outside Research, Merge 2 A
Thought Provoking (L)
Draw 15 cards outside of Clean-up, Merge 2 A
A Complete Set
Merge an element of each type, Acquire 5 different e, Merge 2 A
Are We Friends?
Share 5 a, Steal 5 in-play cards, Merge 2 A
As Above, So Below
Acquire 5 different a, Use 5 s, Merge 1 A
Acquire 5 different e, Play 5 a, Merge 1 A
Control a Thief, Steal 5 in-play cards, Merge 2 A
Merge an element of each type, Acquire 5 different a, Merge 2 A
The 40 Thieves
Steal an in-play card from each opponent, Replace 12 cards in the market, Merge 2 A
9 1/2 to 11
Quack Attack (L)
Control a Charlatan, Destroy 5 e, Merge 2 A
The Brute Squad (L)
Control a Brute, Destroy 5 a, Merge 2 A
Thrift Shop (L)
Acquire 8 cards for free, Merge 2 A
My Life's Work
Gain 13 AEther, Merge 2 A
The Midnight Oil
All players must lose 24 AEther during the game, Play 7 e, Merge 1 A
Math time! Let's compare the measures of center and spread of the action points in each category as well as the entire group.
# of Outliers
Ok, well what do we see here? All means and medians are close enough, but we can see that for both green and Lite version objectives there is a larger variance in the action points needed to complete it. There is also a trend where red objectives have less action points than any other category, yet these are considered expert knowledge of Transcendent to complete. From looking at this data, it seems that the red objectives are intended to add complexity and not just more things to do in a turn, which is a good thing. The single outlier, Research Hoarding, happens only when you consider the entire data set, which might be the reason for so much variance in the green and Lite categories.
A common misconception from reviewers/players that haven't read the rulebook, is that red means tough to complete and green means easy, but the intention is to be tough based on their experience of the game and not on having to do more stuff. If you are going to make things more difficult for players, it should not be to give them more stuff to count, but rather less things with deeper thinking. To complete the red objectives, I have seen some players do some wild stuff, and in the end they are eager to brag about their solution to the puzzle. Designer note 1: Make your players feel proud that they won, and want more regardless of their win or loss.
Anything else you notice in the objective data? Let us know in the comments!