Scenario Design Resources

sswann

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hey Steve,
That's what I was after;
sort of the "how I initiate the scenario design process".
I was/am curious how people go from the seed of an
idea for a scenario to the first playtest iteration of
the scenario.
co
As i do not have a copy of my how to design article, :cry: I can only suggest reading my article in the CH mag mentioned early on in this thread.
Maybe I should look into an expanded 2nd edition of it? :laugh:

SS
 

Ronnblom

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I read a lot of WW2 books, and when I do, I keep notes with all the interesting (ASL scenario wise) situations I find. Usually, every situation is documented only with a sentence and a page reference. When I've finished the book, I store all the notes in a huge text file on my computer for future use. At some point I might decided to do more research on a particularly promising situation. Then I go about find all the books and on-line articles I can get my hands on, trying to gather as much information about the details of the action, the units involved, time, space etc. Finding out of print books can take months, so you need patience, and when you finally get them, it might well be the case, they don't contain the information you need. All this is somewhat expensive, but at least you end up with a nice little library.

My guideline for when I'm done with the research is when I think it's unlikely someone will be able to contradict anything in the scenario using published sources in any language I know. I want to avoid a situation when I'm half way through the playtest process only to find I'm wrong about which vehicles were there (or indeed there were any vehicles at all) or some other important aspect. If there's something ahistorical about my scenario, I want it to be that way because I purposely made it that way (to make the scenario more fun, manageable, balanced or whatever). Not just ahistorical at random. All the research goes into another text file, specific for this scenario. I only keep brief notes, and I often end up with a terrible mix of German, English and Swedish which makes the gibberish of the Swedish chef makes sense in comparison. When research is "done", you can start working on the details in their ASL form. Often, you've had a rough idea already since the first book you read, but now you start working on the OB, boards, SSRs and VC. I leave the historical text for later. It's a lot of work, and the scenario might well be a dead end. Reaching this stage, I would say it's about 25-50% chance you have a winner.

After a couple of solitary playtests, you probably know if the scenario is going to fly. If things work out, I start transferring the game-related information from the text file to the DTP program and the real Friendly Fire layout. The first playtest with a real opponent I have with something that resembles the final layout, but usually no historical text. I use a source control system (CVS), to keep track of the changes made to a scenario. I find this very useful, and also make you feel more confident when making changes (since you will still be able to easily retrieve old revisions of the scenario). Big changes are uncommon beyond the solitary playtest stage, but small changes are not. I usually end up with having about 50 versions of the scenario.

That's my process. Nothing fancy.
 

Glennbo

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After a couple of solitary playtests, you probably know if the scenario is going to fly.

Big changes are uncommon beyond the solitary playtest stage, but small changes are not.
I agree totally with Ronnblom on these two points. Designers should be good solitare players. The design should be pretty much finished and balanced before it's given it's first "real" playtest. This is also respectful to your playtesters who shouldn't be subjected to raw, unworkable designs that are no fun to play, and require them to do the designing.

Most designers exaggerate their "historical research", and are reluctant to admit that most ASL scenarios are just "made up" from some general description with some lax history slapped on at the end to justify it. :hush: :laugh: Most designers also exaggerate the ammount of playtesting their scenarios get before publishing. These two lies are propagated because the average player doesn't know anything about scenario design, and these are the fallacies they believe in and adhere to...mainly because designers do not think it's in their best interest to step up and disuade the ASL public of these myths. :rolleyes:

If you want to design a good scenario come up with a fun "game" based on a WWII battle, play it yourself until it seems done, and worry about the rest later. ;)
 

jwb3

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I read a lot of WW2 books, and when I do, I keep notes with all the interesting (ASL scenario wise) situations I find. Usually, every situation is documented only with a sentence and a page reference.
Nowadays, I do it the other way -- I document it by photocopying every page in the book that has the least little chance of being relevant!

This is primarily because most of my reading is borrowed, from the library or friends, as I don't have the money or space to keep an extensive collection of my own.

In my earlier days, when I borrowed a book from the library I just scribbled a few notes on paper, or even just stuffed it into my memory, with not the slightest thought in my head that someday I might actually care where the info came from. And I've paid the price, because now I have no idea where to find some of the most interesting battle accounts I ever read, and I'm unwilling to design those scenarios knowing that there's a source out there that has interesting things to add... if only I could find it! So having learned that lesson the hard way, I'm determined to never lose a source again. :angry:

Along the way, though, photocopying also has some side benefits; it allows me to highlight the most relevant info, make notes next to it about what it means to me (such as, "ELR = 3-4!"), and even do the early scenario design work on the backs of the photocopies if I want to. :) It also lets me take a single book and divide it up into multiple folders for the multiple battles it relates to, so everything relating to a single design is in one folder.

Now I just need to actually finish one of them...

John
 

Darrell Andersen

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I finally got around to grabbing Mr. Dorosh's Scenario Designers Handbook.

Well worth it at first glance. Mike seems to have done a very good job not only compiling, collating and organizing lots of great info but it also very nice to see this information translated into ASL-ese.

I think this will be a solid asset. Thanks Dorosh!
 

n3ddy

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I got mine in the post today - well it arrived last week, but I only went into the office today. I am very impressed! It is a great source as a general reference, I think, not just from an ASL POV.

Great stuff!
 

jwb3

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I finally got around to grabbing Mr. Dorosh's Scenario Designers Handbook.

Well worth it at first glance. Mike seems to have done a very good job not only compiling, collating and organizing lots of great info but it also very nice to see this information translated into ASL-ese.

I think this will be a solid asset. Thanks Dorosh!
One part of it that I find myself consistently using time and again is the mini-snapshots of the maps and overlays. So much more handy than trying to dig the actual boards out for reference...


John
 

MrP

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One part of it that I find myself consistently using time and again is the mini-snapshots of the maps and overlays. So much more handy than trying to dig the actual boards out for reference...


John
I printed all my maps out mini-size and laminated them, so now I just have a pack of mapcards to look at if I'm messing around with mapboard configs.
 

Michael Dorosh

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I printed all my maps out mini-size and laminated them, so now I just have a pack of mapcards to look at if I'm messing around with mapboard configs.
Which model of Plano do you keep them in? :bite:
 

MrP

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Which model of Plano do you keep them in? :bite:
Actually, they're scattered around my living room floor being made into a road for my kids toy cars as we speak - does that count as a form of storage?

Seriously though, it's a good idea, saves getting out a table full of maps.....
 

Michael Dorosh

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Actually, they're scattered around my living room floor being made into a road for my kids toy cars as we speak - does that count as a form of storage?

Seriously though, it's a good idea, saves getting out a table full of maps.....
I agree, but only to narrow down. Once the basic terrain types are sorted out using a small reference like the one you mention, I like to pull the physical maps down and move 'em around to figure stuff out and see what they look like "in the flesh" and in combination with each other - or with overlays in place, etc. VASL is good for that too, of course.
 

Graystonw

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Sorta digging up an old thread here, but...

As someone who has recently had their first taste of scenario design, I'm curious about how others approach the topic. Does Ch H play into your design process or do you go by "feel"? How do you determine game length? Do you use / avoid third-party maps and overlays and why?

-G
 

Manilianus

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I didn't finish my scenarios yet, but I generally am fond of Ch H usage. I'm trying to make OB as close to history as possible, and if the outcome would slightly overstrength one side... that's history, nothing's fair. The only point in history where sides were equal were Greek vs. Greek Phalanx onslaughts. I like Phalanx onslaughts, but it's getting kinda boring, where everything's fifty-fifty. I just play it for the onslaughts ;p.

As for the game legnth I'm generally trying to come close to the action time that scenario would depict, but generally varying it by the terrain - if it's hard, then 1.5-2 (max) turns longer. If the battle lasted, say 30 minutes, I divide it by 2, and give it 7 turns approximately. It works fine.

And as for the maps - I'm map sucker, I love historical boards (only quite recenty stopped making love with'em, curse you MMP for the thin cardstock ;p), so I spend my time for looking for historical topography of the area, and then laying it on hexagons. Giving my emotions for Historical Boards, it's strange that I didn't go with ATS, btw. But I don't think I need quadruplicated counters. Maybe in the future.

It's easier for you to make a scenario that isn't random battle, but is based on some events, the OB making is smooth process then. Kinda long, I confess, but I do have all the time in the world :).
 

sswann

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Sorta digging up an old thread here, but...

As someone who has recently had their first taste of scenario design, I'm curious about how others approach the topic. Does Ch H play into your design process or do you go by "feel"? How do you determine game length? Do you use / avoid third-party maps and overlays and why?

-G
I use a mix of Chapter H and 'feel' of the forces involved.

Game length prior to playtest = 1 turn for 100% firing and then the number of turns to move the required distance. (2 turns of 100% firing for city fights.) Adjusted after playtest.

I try to avoid overlays (time consuming to place, never use more than 5) prefer only 1 or 2 if I must use them.

If I use third party maps then I am designing the scenarios for them. Scenarios designed using standard components can be submitted anywhere.
 

chris_olden

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Good call Steve!
Thanks for letting us have a view of how your "design process"
works.
co
 

MrP

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Start at a vanilla 6 turns as a default then adjust as mapspace allows, or how desperate you want the attacker/defender to feel :)

As to forces, it all depends on the sources and the VC interaction. Got a CVP cap, then make sure it's not too easy to go over it. Got to take a shedload of buildings, then don't have a billion AFVs and 3 squads in your OB. Chapter H is your friend in that it's easy reference for sD no's, special ammo etc. I have a little nationality cheatsheet with the various TKs of all the guns on. I once designed a scenario where none of the Japanese guns could kill any of the British tanks......... Not smart :)

Good thread. Oh, and just like Gray did, here's a link to the Monkeys With Typewriters scenario I did :)
 
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