Designer Notes

When I first started out on this game, I had a number of ideas I wanted it to contain.

The first aspect was a variation of the _Nine Billion Names of God,_ as a way to get people to cosplay as cultists and try out different combinations of chants to see if anything came of that. I've been play testing for several dozen hours though now and so far nothing. Maybe after a wider release?

Secondly I wanted to try and make a game that has knowledge as your primary skill. Knowledge is a part of being good in many different games, but too often I feel like it is A) too small a part of being good or B) the knowledge is too rote and regular. As an example of A), in CounterStrike you want knowledge of the map and generalized tactics, but far more important is being able to reliably headshot someone in less than .3 seconds. Or to put it another way, if you think of being good at the game as a combination of skill curves, dumping time and energy into the game-knowledge curve will only take you so far, and the that curve's effectiveness caps out very early. Dumping time and energy into getting good at headshots is a much more long term and rewarding path, and has a much higher ceiling in how far it will take you and how much you can improve at the skill. Starcraft has a similar problem, where strategy is helpful, but ultimately it is far less important than being able to juggle 5 tasks at once and split marines like a machine. As an example of B), I would say chess, where you need a large knowledge base to succeed. However, at least in my eyes the knowledge is mostly uninteresting in that it is repetitive and sort of gruel like. There isn't any distinguishing characteristics or bumpiness or flavor to it, it is just endless configurations of the same basic pieces and mechanics.

Much closer to my goal is a game like Dominions 4, which relies heavily on knowledge and is a partial inspiration for my design. In Dominions, there are a huge number and type of moving parts, and knowing the thousands of spells and how they interact is crucial to playing well. I like how Dominions captures the dynamic of Glen Cook's Black Company books, where you have the Taken (century's old wizards), and one of the reasons that they are so scary is not necessarily that they are so powerful, but rather because they have just seen everything before. New spell or attack or tactic? Oh yes, I remember that from 250 years ago at the battle of so and so. A pro player in Dominions can do that, and can put together/counter some really powerful and obscure combinations. The downside to Dominions of course is the time investment needed. It takes hours to competently do one turn, and if you can invest hours more on top of that all the better. It makes the game impractical to play for people who have anything else going on in their lives, and leads to emotional roller-coaster since you have to invest so much into a game. So I wanted to keep the positive aspects of Dominions, but speed it up and get rid of the time-investment problems. Also I wanted to avoid the endless drama around Non-Agression-Pacts and how long they should last for. :)

I'm not sure I've succeeded in this goal. I feel like in the end Chant Savant comes down to a more complex version of rock-paper-scissors, where for a given "rock" you need to be able to give the equivalent "paper" in quick order. To a certain extent this is a limit of the input methods. You could make the game more complex, and meaningful terrain and positioning and control, but this would require something more than pure voice control.