on Nov. 8, 2012, 7:48 p.m.
In preparing development for the next generation of Saga Machine games we've got a lot of mechanical bits and bobs to get a handle on. Between the core rulebook, companion and all the setting books we've got hundreds of traits and stat blocks. All these mechanical bits can make altering the game system a complicated process, as changing one trait can mean resulting changes in scores of stat blocks; and altering a core game mechanic can mean changes in every such block.
To better handle these sorts of changes, and to prevent errors in consistency from cropping up, I've been working on a computer program to handle much of the book work in the process. Basically this computer program will read in the current text of all our traits and stat blocks, and be able to parse them so it knows much of what they mean and which depend on which. In this way when we alter the cost of name or a trait or something, it can automatically go through and make all of the necessary resulting changes. Naturally, this may require some work and still require some manual nudging, but in the end it should pay off.
Having all this information in a format a computer can understand also buys us a number of other interesting benefits. For example, if we want to know the creatures with the 10 highest strengths in the entire bestiary, it's as easy as running a simple query. Or if we want to know the average stat of a creature of a particular level, it's just another couple queries. This allows for a variety of different ways to run quick "sanity checks" to make sure the spread of abilities adds up.
It also has the benefit of helping other potential projects in the future. For example, if we ever wanted to write a Character Creator program, having a database of traits and their requirements gets us half-way there already. Most of what we would need at that point is just to write the interface.
Look the announcement of a basic version of this trait database later when we announce the public Beta for our upcoming game based on Indian Mythology.