When I started to build Oath, I had a very limited sense of what I wanted the game to be like. I really can't overstate this point. Most of my other projects brim with specificity, even early in the design. Oath was different. I knew that I wanted a game to tell something like a multi-generational story and I wanted that story guided by the decisions of the players.
Last week I mentioned how the origins of Oath were complicated, spanning many years and many influences. In fact, for a long time it wasn't clear that my work on this material would even coalesce into a game
I've been working on Oath off-and-on since Root was in development. Like Root, the origins of the project are complex and go back several years. I'll be detailing the design as well as its thematic and mechanical antecedents (and arguments) in posts over the next few months
Despite its dense, interactive design, Vast: The Crystal Caverns scales very well across its player counts. Still, for my money, the game thrives at three or four players. At three players, each role can easily understand the capabilities of the other roles. This transparency makes for tighter, meaner games. At four players, the delicious emergent alliances have enough space to twist the players into all sorts of strange configurations
During the early stages of Root, Patrick was indispensable to the game’s development. He guided the project, establishing its ethos and its general shape. But, once development heated up after the Kickstarter was completed, he started turning his energies towards the studio’s next project, Vast: The Mysterious Manor. At this point TMM had been in development for over a year. In some respects, the design was about as far along as Root, but Patrick wanted more time with the design.
Over the past two months, I’ve had a lot of folks ask me to continue writing designer diaries on the game so that they could keep up with development. This was always a tricky proposition for me, because, for one thing, most of the changes were small and I didn’t know if everyone would want to read a thousand words on why I changed a +1 to a +2. All the same, I enjoy writing these posts.