The 5 steps to making an SFM

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The 5 steps to making an SFM

Postby RhazhBash » Thu Feb 23, 2017 10:30 pm

Prelude


When a VFM is submitted the balance team nitpicks it to make it as fair as possible for any faction, but SFMs are reviewed differently. SFMs generally have a lot more factors going into how the game is balanced to where the swing of the game affects a lot. Perfect 50/50 balance isn't what we look for in SFMs, what we look for is a creative game that people would enjoy playing in. So long as there aren't too many issues and no major issues with a game, we don't care if a game is a little bit lopsided so long as it would be fun to play. The point of this guide is to help people new to SFM creation get a feel for how the process works, because experience is one of the most important things to have when making a setup.

There's one big part of SFM creation that can't be taught. The most important part of SFM is how creative the one making the game is. Not everyone is Swordsworth, and some people might read this guide and understand how it works then draw a blank as soon as they open up the spreadsheet to start their game. Just note that a lack of creativity in an SFM can be grounds for a denial if it doesn't stand out from all the other games on the site (Sometimes we might even tell you to submit the same game to the standard queue).

Get ready for a lot of reading, because there's a lot more going into SFM creation than what I put in my VFM guide. I'll be walking through an example 13 player setup I created for this to give examples of each step.

Step 1
Planning your game


Before you even open up google sheets to make your game, you have to know what you're making. I'll use CFM 16 as my example. When Swordsworth made that game his initial plan was both to use the mutation mechanic and to have most roles use voting related abilities, along with most roles having the potential to be town or scum. What you need to do first is decide what special mechanics you're game is going to have, if any, and if you want a general theme for the roles you decide this now. Think your ideas through, because I've seen a lot of people submit mechanics that nobody would want to play. Think about how the game would play out and if you would want to be in that game.

One important point that needs to be made is that you should know your limits. You aren't going to make a Swordsworth level game as your first SFM, so try to keep it simple and fun if you're just starting out. Games have been denied because of overcomplicated mechanics coming from inexperienced players or in games with so many problems it makes the balance team not trust the submitter to do the mechanic right. Last time someone who didn't know what they were doing tried to take full creative freedom we ended up with CFM 17.

I started out with the concept of a low number of PRs initially, but more PRs triggered to activate as the initial ones use their abilities. Most of the roles in the game would be informed that they gain an ability under certain scenarios, but not what they gain or how they gain it.

With that mechanic ready, I decided to stick with a regular 10v3 setup. Numbers can change, but you want a general idea of numbers before you start.

Step 2
Adding initial roles


Generally the way to make a game is to start somewhere and build around it. If there's a role you think fits your concept well or a role that you've been dying to use, add it first. You'll probably have around 30% of the roles finished in this stage.

The first thing I thought of was a 1 Shot Vig who compulsively shoots N1. Whether it hits town or scum determines a PR given to town. I also came up with a Mafia Veteran who gives 1 PR for each townie it kills, up to 2. I went into my google sheet to help keep it organized.

Spoiler: Image

The mechanic isn't very fleshed out right now, so I decided 2 more triggering roles wold be enough. I thought of some things that would be fun to use, and I decided on a Mafia 1 Shot Gladiator who gives power to the Town if he enters the thunderdome and a Jailkeeper who gives scum utility if he ever stops their factional kill.

Spoiler: Image

Step 3
Filling in the blanks


Once you have something to work off of, you have to finish a rough draft of your setup. You just want your spreadsheet filled at this point. Think of what would benefit both factions and give them roles that do that. Citizens can be added if you think town has enough PRs already.

Once I had the concept layed out with the role triggerers, I had to decide on what Town would get from the triggers. I decided to give a Lookout or Tracker from the Vig, a pair of Masons at the end of the thunderdome, a Consort for when the JK stops a kill, and a Daycop and Vengeful Townie from the PGO. Since there were still empty spaces I added 2 dummy roles. Ones who were told they could recieve an ability under a certain scenario but never would. One thing I need to point out is that you should put notes to the side of the spreadsheet if a reader can't tell everything just by looking at the colored column.

Spoiler: Image

All important information regarding the roles should be easily accessable from the spreadsheet. Usually I make a pastebin with rolecard ability text for each role and link it on the spreadsheet and then list any important interactions (ECO) on a second page. The more readable your game is the faster it can be accepted.

Step 4
Proofreading


You're not done yet. You have to go over your game in depth and make sure there aren't any major flaws with the setup and that town has a reasonable number of safe mislynches (Work around kills other than lynches and mafia as best as you can). If you overlook a few minor issues it isn't the end of the world, but a game with too many problems is more likely to be denied than for the balance team to tell you the 3 things to change. If the balance team can't even keep track of everything wrong with a game don't expect us to work with you to fix it all. Make sure there aren't any game breaking combinations of roles or ways to use any role or mechanic that you didn't intend to. If you put a bunch of mechanics together without thinking of how they interact you end up with CFM 12.

After drafting this setup the big thing I noticed is that town barely had any visiting roles and one of the mechanics was based on them visiting scum. I decided to keep that mechanic instead of scrapping it so I changed the PGO to a 1 Shot Werewolf. The lack of visiting roles in town and benefits town gets from that role makes it less unreasonable to use. I also decided that the Vig would ignore the Jailkeeper. No reason for a single role to be able to stop a mechanic and it most likely won't have any effect on the balance of the game.

Step 5
Flavor


The majority of flavor should be done when the setup is finished, however there are exceptions such as flavor inspired mechanics (Hazama from SFM 10). You can pick the flavor for your game before or after you finish it but it's best saved for the end. What you do here is assign flavor names to your roles, create flavored rolecards, and ensure that 5 minutes on the wiki won't break the game.

I've been rewatching Breaking Bad recently, so I'll base my flavor off of that. The first thing I did was decide on what the general town/mafia split would be, or if I would just assign roles at random. I decided that the Mexican cartel would be my mafia and everyone else in the show would be town.

Spoiler: Image

A few things to note about that flavor are that not all town are major characters from the show, and not all major characters from the show are town. If people can confirm themselves as town or catch scum by flavor alone you have a problem with your game. Scum have enough fake flavor names to pass by, and if any scum ask the host for a fake roleclaim they should be able to give them one that isn't already in use.

Once the flavor is up you have to do the most time consuming part. Making rolecards. There's different ways to format rolecards, but the fastest way to do it is to make one and copy paste the format for it in every other role. Remember when I said to put rolecard ability text on the spreadsheet? It doesn't require the formatting that full rolecards have and copy pasting from the pastebin to a rolecard makes the process a lot faster. Here's the rolecard for Hank.

Spoiler:
Hank Schrader

Image

<Flavor text goes here>

You have a gun with a single bullet in it that cannot be stopped. Night 1 you must shoot a player. If you do not submit a target one will be decided by RNG. Depending on the alignment of your target other roles in the game may become activated.

You win with Albuquerque
You lose with the Cartel


Conclusion


If you have an idea for a mechanic that hasn't been done that people would enjoy or ideas for fun nonstandard roles to use then you're ready to start an SFM. Use this guide to help you work around your idea and turn it into something people are gonna remember the way they remember SFM 19.
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Re: The 5 steps to making an SFM

Postby Santa07 » Fri Feb 24, 2017 1:09 am

10/10 except for those awful colours you used in that spreadsheet, you should feel ashamed for hurting people's eyes like that (but seriously - awesome guide for people who might not have made a SFM before)
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Re: The 5 steps to making an SFM

Postby RhazhBash » Fri Feb 24, 2017 2:07 am

One thing I can't believe I didn't notice taking screenshots of the spreadsheet is that the Jailkeeper isn't supposed to be 1 Shot. I was tired and I'm too lazy to fix that.
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Re: The 5 steps to making an SFM

Postby Arcthurus » Fri Feb 24, 2017 9:53 pm

>implying cfm12 was bad

I'll fucking fight you, mate


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Re: The 5 steps to making an SFM

Postby chitownmvp01 » Fri Feb 24, 2017 10:57 pm

Nice job Rhazh, although I'm probably never going to make one myself. Too much work.
Spoiler: Image

Spoiler:
Image
Thanks Burgy!

Thanks Achro!: Spoiler:
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Re: The 5 steps to making an SFM

Postby JazzMusicStops » Sun Feb 26, 2017 5:36 am

:ok_hand:
And you may say to yourself, "My God! What have I done?"

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Re: The 5 steps to making an SFM

Postby TheCow » Sun Feb 26, 2017 1:22 pm

Another thing to do when you're initially planning, you have to figure out if you're making a bottom up game, or a top down game. Are you making a concept and expanding from one point, or do you have an ultimate goal in mind and work backwards?

Both are valid.
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