Archive for May 14th, 2008

Keep Both Hands on the Wheel

2008 May 14

I don’t know if anyone’s noticed, but many of the things I’ve been thinking about for Blacktop Slip make it a glorified Agon-hack, probably because I’ve been playing a fair bit of Agon at SGBoston lately. I’m definitely thinking about the positioning rules and the range strip when I imagine cars struggling to outmaneuver each other during a race or chase scene.

I’m also thinking about the evocative way Agon ties the hands of the players to the hands of their characters, having attack dice rolled in your sword hand and defense dice rolled in your shield hand. Clearly this works well for car chases too.

– You can drive with both hands, maximizing your control.
– You can drive with one hand and shift gears with the other.
– You can drive with one hand and shoot a gun with the other.
– You can take both hands off the wheel and shift while shooting.
– You can take both hands off the wheel and shoot with both hands.

Likewise, you also have one foot (assuming you’re the driver).

– You can maintain speed.
– You can slow down slightly.
– You can slow down a lot.
– You can increase speed slightly.
– You can increase speed a lot.

Ideally, there’d be optimum speeds to keep your car at while in certain gears, similar to the optimum range for weapons in Agon. If optimum for Third Gear is 25-50 mph, if you’re going 70 (or 15) in Third Gear, you’ll definitely be facing penalties to driving or possibly even suffer damage to your car.

I was also thinking that gear may determine how many cards a vehicle moves forward in a single turn (since, as the last post described, tracks are measured in playing cards), but that movement happens at the end of a turn, after all the things happening in a turn have been determined. This way, when all cars are moved, players can describe what happens to them, including them rolling over and exploding, or how they pulled an amazing drift around a sharp turn, etc.

Building the Track

2008 May 14

I was playing with my Hot Wheels cars a bit this morning and I noticed that playing cards, when laid horizontally, are the perfect width to represent a 2-lane highway relative to the size of the cars. Bingo, now we have a way of creating tracks, laying down cards beside each other and angling them to create curves and overpasses and whatnot. And cards also provide a way to measure positioning. A car can either be on the same card as another car (racing side by side) or a number of cards ahead or behind it.

I also just discovered an old French card game about racing called Mille Bornes, which has neat mechanics for encountering obstacles. Hmm…

Dammit, now I actually have to go see Speed Racer.