Long-belated update!

Heya everyone,

My apologies for such a long delay since my last post. Life has become insane in the last few months, and I’m currently in the process of packing as my wife and I will be moving to an entirely new state here in just a week!

So, a quick update on the progress and status of various projects, below the cut:

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Friday Project Update

Hey folks,

Firstoff, many apologies for the radio silence this month. I’ve had a large load of time-consuming work to deal with, and unfortunately that and other stresses have meant I haven’t had a lot of free time for post-writing.

However, that’s not to say nothing is being done; quite the opposite in fact! I’ve been fortunate enough to be working with my dad in developing the professional-level art for Holy Press. While I’m still working on getting summer game playtesting group together since my primary playtesting group evaporated for the summer when school let out and the undergrads went home, the art is coming along beautifully, and I’m really excited for where the game is rapidly going.

Hopefully by the end of summer, the art creation will be complete, and presuming I’ve been able to get in blind playtests by then and refined the rulebook to iron out any remaining rule inconsistencies or fuzzy areas, Holy Press will be ready to purchase at the end of summer. I’ll also be pitching it hard to as many different eligible companies from Cardboard Edison’s Compendium as I possibly can, so (fingers crossed) I might be picked up for professional publication/distribution!

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An example of an Act tile. I am excited beyond words about all of this

For now, though, I’m going to be probably posting a bit less often as I work through the last of the time-intensive work projects and stress factors. While I’m on vacation next week, the following week I want to make sure I touch on the idea of Buystarter, and why I’m really excited about the idea of using that for RPG and wargame publication moving forward.

Until next time. Cheers!

Friday Project Update: Green-Circuit Mercs

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:

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“Hey Mikey, he likes it!”

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!

 

Friday Update: Gameplay Tweaks

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So, got a game playtest in for Alien Ambassadors. Overall it went decently, but it definitely needs some changes before it will be ready for submission.

What Went Well:

Players really liked the weird actions, and seemed to enjoy the Interference changes as well. I was worried the latter might be too confusing or hard to track, but it sounds like they didn’t mind and liked how it changed it up from just being a basic 20-questions format. I am going to tweak a few of them (the ones that make an answer compounded with another action card), but overall this section went over swimmingly.

What Needs Improving:

The question categories are way, way too broad. While I might be rubbish at 20-Questions, I was only able to guess correctly for 2 of 15 cards. I had originally debated having a list of options players picked from, but had rejected it out of hand due to the sheer # of cards that would need to be added to make the list robust enough to provide some degree of challenge.

One option could be to make the choices as numbered tokens drawn from a bag, corresponding to a big chart of Places, Animals, and Things. While this would solve the issue, it doesn’t address a second concern I noted as I was playing:

There was basically no player interaction.

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Like this, but for board games and fun

Party games survive or die by their group fun-ness, and right now Alien Ambassadors has no player-player interaction other than the rotating interaction of the Translator and the Aliens. I figure I can kill two dangerous birds with one stone here, and roll in the goal of what players are trying to have the Translator guess. I can even call back to the original Alien Ambassadors constraint and have the monocolor cards.

The one drawback is I have to kill the Translator.

Honestly, the alien communication was the most-fun part, and as a Translator I felt more frustrated and useless than engaged and having fun. What we’ll do instead is have a common list of items, depicted by a picture most likely; each has a corresponding card, and at the start of a round, all players get a minute to ask questions using charades to the player to their left, and by the end of the minute they must place their guess by putting a marker on the icon on the board; if right, both they and the other player get a point, and otherwise they both get nothing.

Then the next round they draw new cards to replace the old ones, and do it again with the player to their right. This repeats swapping left/right until the game ends. In addition, at the end of each round, the player with the highest current score swaps seats with the player directly across from them (their choice if there are 2 options), so you don’t get permanently stale combinations of players. Play continues until someone hits a target point goal, say 15 or something.

Closing Thoughts

Now we have a direct player investment in both good charades/guessing, as well as good clues, a general semi-cooperative feeling, and best of all a constant ability to both use deduction as well as the alien language.

So, what do you think of the changes to Alien Ambassadors? Please let me hear if you like this better, worse, or something in-between in the comments and reblogs. Next week I’ll be doing a little design for a game I’ve got in mind called ClikB8, based on the idea of social media news. Until then, thanks for reading; cheers!

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Brief Update for Green-Circuit Mercs

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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.

The new version of the cardset is here, and the updated rules are here.

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.

 

Friday Update: Green-Circuit Mercs Deadlines

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:

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The detailed breakdown of the feedback and my thoughts/changes on them is below the cut!

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Game Design Contest: Playtest Results and Revisions

This weekend was quite busy (our Pom Roger got pretty sick, so any help in donations or spreading the word for our GoFundMe would be appreciated!), but I had a really successful playtest of Holy Press on Saturday, and of Green-Circuit Mercs (and Restoration Games’ Stop Thief!) on Monday.

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I am so jealous of the name these designers snagged. While useful, eliminating playtesting would speed up my publication timeline sooo much…

Both sets of playtests went well, but Holy Press was definitely a huge hit, with all of the players really enjoying it and with a few suggestions for changes that should help catapult it from “Good” to “Great” once the revisions are added in. It also had the much larger group of players and resulting suggestions, so I’ll be addressing it second.

But first, onwards to the Green-Circuit Mercs playtest results!

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