So in an effort to try and become more organized and structured in my game design life, I’ve recently started using Google Keep as my web homepage, encouraging me to finally keep to-do lists and such. While I’ve theoretically had a to-do list as a recurring Outlook reminder, and Outlook has a great Task functionality, a recent spate of listening to the Board Game Design Lab podcasts (fantastic website and series, btw!) encouraged me to not only do this, but to use a psychology trick in the process: putting lots of small, almost effortless tasks on the list, so tackling the occasional big object feels like a continuation of my momentum rather than trying to roll the boulder up the hill from scratch.
Apologies for the quiet week! I’ve been doing some creative writing, and didn’t manage to quite coordinate to get in a playtest of Mistgore last night. Next week will see game testing resume as normal, ideally, and I’m hoping to get some blind playtests going for Holy Press and Green-Circuit Mercs, so their rules can be refined to the point that they’re only waiting for final art for production/publication!
Today, I’m going to get the game design I meant to do earlier up! We again return to good-old Boardgameizer for the design prompts.
The Unused Prompts
To be honest, this one is just too open-ended. I feel like this is possibly a solve-a-maze game but with hidden or partial information, but not sure and not really feeling that the prompt “grabs” me. That said, given the constraint a perfect name would be “Sneaky Buggers.”
I don’t know what it is, but the idea of math and word games tends to give me hives. The Theme and Victory condition here don’t help much either. Presumably there could be a game somewhere in here about trying to lie in a classroom vocabulary test and basically other players trying to sabotage your efforts to BS through the test, but again it doesn’t really grab me.
Just a small update: I had a chance to playtest the newest iteration of Green Circuit Mercs with my loving and long-suffering wife, and a minor miracle occurred:
While she normally is a fan of board games, she’s markedly less so for card games, especially competitive ones, so already there were two strikes against it. In addition, I am absolutely terrible about explaining my homebrew game rules to others in a logically concise and coherent fashion, and she is a very competitive and precise player: this was another strike, as it can often end up with me accidentally forgetting a key rule that throws a game into turmoil.
Still, after a slight bit of eyebrow-raising during the initial rule explanation, we hopped into it and she grasped it straight away, and proceeded to almost steamroll me. I lucked out with an aggressive early game that managed to provide the Tech cards to supplement my Cyborg deck and help me win more bids than I otherwise would have in the late game. After it was all said and done, I won by a relatively-narrow margin, and she said she had a lot of fun. The only dislikes she had against it were just with the competitive and card-focused aspects of it, which again were issues with the game style as a whole rather than specific mechanical issues with GCM.
Overall, I’m incredibly excited. Now all that’s left is getting some blind playtesting in so the rulebook can get refined and streamlined; I’m also looking to do the same with Holy Press, as I have a relative who has offered to do artwork for it for free!
Hopefully there will be more of that to show off in the coming months, but until then I at least have two games basically ready to get fine-tuned and published! I’ve joined Cardboard Edison’s Patreon, and this gives access to their Compendium of game publishers looking for submissions. I’m incredibly excited to be able to submit my game to multiples of these, and while a game design contest is all well and good for publicity, this might be an even better way to break into the industry and start to make my name known.
Anyhow, that’s it for this week. Next week tune in on Monday for the next Boardgameizer design, and the next iteration of the Alien Ambassador rules. Cheers!
Sidenote: Whoooops. This was supposed to be posted last Friday, and I completely forgot about it sitting in my drafts.
So I had a chance to try Green-Circuit Mercs yesterday evening, with the new player-specific decks and the revised Threat values. I have to admit, I was incredibly nervous going into it: previous GCM playtests had left me a bit discouraged and worried that I was going down the wrong rabbit hole for how to address the previous issues with enjoyability of play.
It went fantastically.
First, a side tangent for Mistgore and Mamluki/Boatbuilders: the Mistgore playtest documents are ready, but while they are ready I’m still working on expanding the available warband lists to include Pirates, who focus on lots of enemy control despite not having a lot of armor or overt melee/magic power. Playtesting for Boatbuilders/Mamluki and the next iteration of Green-Circuit Mercs hasn’t happened yet, but will be happening later this week.
Moving on to a current mini-project…
As you’ve probably sussed out from previous posts and such on the matter, but I’m good friends with the designer of One Page Rules, Gaetano Ferrara aka “OnePageAnon.” I quite like the rules, and feel it’s a refreshing breath of fresh air compared to the original game systems he’s adapted and streamlined.
That said, Gaetano focuses a lot more on the wargame-scale side of things, while I definitely like mixing my chocolate and peanut butter and focus more on skirmish games and RPGs.
Just finished tweaking the cardset, and not a ton to elaborate on beyond what was touched on last week. Basically the changes made were:
- Fixed imbalances with player # vs Threat, so now it should be a reasonably achievable goal rather than a hopeless task
- Swung the points for Techs and Plants upwards, so you’re only getting an average net loss on the first round of cards. The abilities also got a very, very healthy injection of power and utility, so it should now feel like using an ability is a powerful thing, instead of an annoying and nigh-worthless bonus
- Each of the 4 Bidding decks is now built around a heroic theme: Trickster, Highguard, Biosmith, and Cyborg. They focus on, respectively, losing bids, winning bids, Plant cards, and Tech cards. Hopefully this should add more layers of nuanced choice, and add some interesting strategies for play in addition to kicking the door open for more hero Bidding decks in the future.
Going to be trying it out tomorrow, along with the prototype for Boatbuilders; I’ve got a very good feeling Boatbuilders will be a fairly good hit with not a ton of changes needed, but I definitely want to polish the dickens out of it before marking it off as finished.
Got a chance to do some playtesting of Green-Circuit Mercs yesterday, and while the feedback was very valuable, it was clear there’s a lot of changes and a lot of balance needed before the game is ready for publication.
As the deadline for this is in less than a week, unfortunately I don’t think its possible to make these changes and playtest the revisions in a timely fashion to get it done and ready to go; that’s the downside to having only once/twice-a-week opportunities for game playtesting, something I’ll touch on in the closing thoughts. Still, several players expressed interest in playing/buying a final version of the game, and I’d rather revise it until it’s a solid hit concept rather than generate a bunch of assets and rush the publication of a game I know isn’t mechanically sound just to hit the contest deadline.
Revising our schedule to account for this, we get:
Cardboard Edison Award: January 31st
- Holy Press: Submitted, at Prototype step
Trick Taker Challenge: March 6th
- Green-Circuit Mercs: Not submitted, at playtesting step
- 2017 Northwest Luci Award: April 7th
- Alien Ambassadors
- Button Shy Wallet Game Contest: April 23rd
- Boatbuilders: Playtesting step
- Mamuki: Playtesting step
- Thunderglyph Survival game contest: April 30th
- Hunter’s Quarry: Design step
- Big Box Challenge: June 5th
- No design yet
- Gamelords Dungeon Crawler Challenge: August 15th
- No design yet, although I have a strong inclination to use a previously-shelved rough outline idea for a Legacy-style dungeon delve game.
The detailed breakdown of the feedback and my thoughts/changes on them is below the cut!