Slight delays and… pattern plays? Whatever.Posted: November 19, 2013 Filed under: Updates | Tags: NaGaReDeMon, Process, Shima 1 Comment
Oh god rhymes. They seem like a such a good idea when you start, but then you make some dumb-ass choice for the end of your first phrase and everything falls apart. Tonight I’m really posting for momentum purposes, not because I have a lot to say. November has been busier than I thought it would be (read: Pokemon has been getting really good), so I really have nothing to show right now except for these patterns.
Some of these patterns already existed, so let’s go through them left to right, top to bottom (think phone buttons).
1: Water – Obviously already used
2: Brown Squares – For my money, too elaborate, but still traditional and possibly good for something.
3: Tatami – New texture that I am using for the Tomodachi. Not actually a traditional texture, so to speak, but it looks nice on the card.
4: Rice Paddy – A great pattern that I really need to redraw, but one that is already used to great effect on the board.
5: Orange Overlapping Circles – Way too harsh for my taste, but it could have some use if we chose a better color for it.
6: Black Hexagons – A really interesting new pattern that I came across and roughly recreated. Could be good as a brown for a new storehouse or harbor texture.
7: Wood Grain – Already used as boats, but if things get shuffled around this could become any of the three “wooden” texture we’ll need.
8: Tan Stars – One of my favorites, and already used in the pasture. I need to redraw it, but otherwise it’s great.
9: Purple Tortoise – A very traditional texture, one that we used for Tomodachi before, but something that I would love to re-purpose because like I said, it’s super traditional.
Right, so there’s that. As I was typing this I did realize I have one more thing to post.
This is some terrible, horrible graphic design, but hey, it’s a work in progress. Later in the week I’ll have a pow-wow with Alex and Morgan and hopefully we (read: Morgan) will find a good way to array the art and information. For now, enjoy the lovely tatami texture, and try not to be frustrated because I CLEARLY FORGOT TO RECOLOR THE HAIR TIE AFTER I CHANGED THE KIMONO TRIM TO PURPLE. FUCK.
The Shima play-test: success?Posted: November 11, 2013 Filed under: Updates | Tags: NaGaReDeMon, Playtest, Process, Shima, Update Leave a comment
So finally I’m getting around to posting these pictures. This is a mid-game picture from our recent play-test of Shima. It contains a good deal of new elements, so let’s work through them one at a time.
The first new thing, and probably the most obvious in this picture, is the little personal islands/circle things. After playing many cramped games of Shima on the shared board, it became clear that A) the shared board gains us nothing and B) there are real advantages to having separate islands, including a simpler scaling from 2 to 4 players. So I bought a pack of index cards and a box of crayons (top left), and we made some little islands. Here’s Ian’s island and storehouse (to be explained) since he had the most artistic approach.
For reasons I can’t explain, he drew his fields in this order (rice paddy, pasture, ocean), then proceeded to set up his storehouse on the ocean end. The intended order is storehouse-pasture-paddy-ocean, but hey, he spent the time drawing nice colorful lines, so I’m not going to argue with him. As you can see, he has workers in his fields and 2 cows in his pasture, neither of which are kobe (which would be denoted by red circles beneath them). He also has 2 fish in his storehouse, and a barrel of sake in-progress. Like I said before, the storehouse is a new concept, and one which we’re using to sort out a few different problems. The first is fish storage. The rule of “half your fish expire” was wonky and constantly caused problems and miscalculations, so now there are just X barrels (12 in this game, but probably 8 or 9 in the final design). We are also using the barrel system to produce sake: players pay three rice to place one rice token in a barrel, and a season later a red honor token is placed beneath it, and it becomes sake. We are also considering a system that allows sake to sit for months on end and accrue honor, but that’s still up for debate.
The other big new feature is the central “harbor.” In this playtest, we each chose a color (Purple/Blue/Yellow) and used the colored winks to place workers at docks on the central board. In this picture, I have a purple wink at the eastern and south-western dock, Ian has yellow winks at the same docks, and Morgan has blue winks at the north-western and eastern harbors. We’re still working out the precise mechanism of the harbor, but it worked very, very well in this primordial state. Morgan’s Diplomat card was just as valuable as in the older version of the game, but it wasn’t as over-powered. Speaking of boat mechanics…
These are the newest version of the boat cards. I’ve moved some things around from last time I posted, and I’ve made an… unusual modification to the rules text. If you couldn’t tell already, they’re haiku. I desperately wish I could do all the rules text in haiku, but the truth is I chose these two to preview because these are the only two I could reduce to haiku form. This may be a task that spend some time on later, because come on, how awesome would it be to have all the tomodachi and boat text written as haiku? Either way, I’ve removed the unsightly harbor texture from the previous version, and I’ve added in the lightened bar that’s present in other printed game elements. The only thing I’m unsure of is how best to represent the prices, and even more specifically how to help the Rice token stand out from the background. The dark lines here aren’t my favorite.
So that’s that. I’ll be finishing up the boats this week, and moving on to some more intensive Tomodachi design soon. We may have an opportunity to play, or at least experiment, on Saturday when Alex and I (along with many others) will be waiting in line at 5 in the morning to get tickets to Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart’s Broadway show, Waiting for Godot. Until then…
Um… more Shima?Posted: November 5, 2013 Filed under: Updates | Tags: Alex Coulombe, Shima, Update Leave a comment
Ok, so this is cheating, but I’m going to post a bunch of artwork up top even though most of it has already been seen here recently.
I realize the majority of these were posted a few days ago, but there is one new one (top right corner) and it is also an excuse for me to premiere the new font: Nuku Nuku by Vic Fieger. I think I should start to credit the fonts I use, even though they are all free and what not. Plus, this is a really fun font that everyone should have in case they do a stylized, Japan-inspired project.
So the Shima party went well on Saturday: there was sushi and root beer, and someone brought a pie! More importantly, we played through an incredibly slow round of the game while debating rules and mechanics, and we came away with a few great ideas. We’ll be changing tomodachi mechanics (obviously), and we’ll work on making the processes involved in premium goods easier to understand. In addition, we’ll be working on a new barrel mechanic that we will use to fix the fish-storage problem. Currently the rule is “at the end of the season, half of your stored fish expire.” This has been weird and confusing, and the barrel thing will fix it. I’ll leave it at that until I download the pictures from the playtest so I have some pictures to reference in the explanation.
Something that we didn’t discuss, but which came up in conversation with Alex later, is pricing. Right now, each good has a set price, and there is one boat that simply pays double. This is not that interesting, and it means the boats rely entirely on their effects for personality. It also means that products never change value depending on situation. Here’s the solution.
Now each boat accepts only a certain combination of goods, and it sets its own prices for each. This means that the boats in the harbor can dramatically change the potential value of your goods, and it encourages you to diversify. Also, ignore the weird stripes in the wood texture, it’s an Illustrator error that I can’t quite work out. The other big thing to notice here is that it now appears that the boats are at a harbor, not just floating in the water as before. This is because we are changing the boat system entirely, and uh, that’s it. Something else that I can better explain with pictures.
So like the title said, more Shima. I’m kind of distracted right now watching Top Gear, so I’m going to get back to that and stop writing this sloppy post. Until Thursday (I think).
National Game (Re)Design Month!Posted: November 2, 2013 Filed under: Updates | Tags: Alex Coulombe, NaGaReDeMon, PUNCH, Satellite Salvo, Shima, The Game Crafter, Update Leave a comment
November is upon us, and according to the internet, it’s National Game Design Month. I’m not sure which department of government makes these decisions, but there it is. So to celebrate/participate, I am doing two things. One is that I’m going return to this hobby, which I have mostly shelved since getting an actual adult job (which is itself in game design, hooray!), and second is I’m changing the name of the month from NaGaDeMon to NaGaReDeMon as shown in the post title. Instead of trying to tackle all my games like I did before, I’ve decided to only work on a few over the course of this month, and two of them are my Alex Coulombe collaborations, so that should hopefully help things along.
First project: Shima
So the original game had 8 different “Tomodachi” that you could hire to assist you at your farm. Over the last week, I created a few more. And even though it doesn’t really matter what they are for this post, I’m going to identify them anyway: Kabuki, Priest, Miko, Gaijin (foreigner), Carpenter, Smith, Daimyo, Ronin, and Sumo. Alex and I will be looking to change the way Tomodachi are hired and utilized, and part of that plan is reducing their abilities from 2 per card to 1 per card, and then allowing players to hire two workers. This should add flexibility and hopefully some more strategy. We’re also looking to radically redesign the board, but that’s for another post. Tonight, actually, I’m having a bit of a playtest party, so expect some pictures tomorrow and a more involved Shima update.
Next project: PUNCH
PUNCH is my only non-competition game, and it’s one that I’ve played with many people and received fairly positive reviews for. It’s also been ignored for a long time, and really doesn’t need that much work to fix. A few months ago I solicited some new colors from our resident expert, Morgan, and recolored all the gems to avoid some common confusions that players have had. Now the suits are shape and color, which allows me to update the face cards in a very pleasing way.
The new face cards feature brighter, color-coded artwork, and a new thick outline that seems to make them stand out. The original printing of the game was very dark and the art got lost in the stony background. As of now, this is all I’ve done outside of some minor wording changes on the cards. I’ll be looking to do more work on this soon, but I wouldn’t expect anything for a little while. This next project though…
Third project: Satellite Salvo
Thanks to the introduction of printed pads from The Game Crafter, Satellite Salvo may be able to exist as more than a print-an-play. The three people who purchased the game could tell you that it is outrageously difficult to play as a traditional board game, and that it’s so fiddly and delicate that it’s almost impossible to make it through a full game. While I’ve played Satellite Salvo dozens of time on paper, I’ve only attempted it once as a board game, and we didn’t even make it through the whole thing. Mind you this game takes like twenty minutes to play, so that’s saying something. Right now I’m trying to work out how to do the Arsenal sheet, and of course, re-writing the rules.
So that’s it. There’s always the chance that I totally abandon this effort and don’t post for like a year, but hey, hope springs eternal. I could be posting every few days if this goes according to plan. Until next time, whenever that is…
Final cards and preliminary boardsPosted: April 21, 2013 Filed under: Updates | Tags: Manic Mechanics, Process Leave a comment
I will be typing very little here, and posting a lot of images. Also, creating these little galleries is a huge pain for some reason. Anyway, here are 4 of the final 25 cards in the new Manic Mechanics.
Feels good to have something from this project totally finished. After a good amount of graphic design, and a handful of rule and ability changes, the vehicles are complete. With that done, I turn my attention to the zone cards.
In my past few posts, I showed some diagrams of the new boards. As of now, the paths are created, but the cards are undecorated. I’ve hit a snag in that department actually. The visual appearance was a major criticism of the original zones, but now that the boards are smaller, I can’t figure out how to fix it. For now, enjoy the simplistic versions. Oh, and these are only 6 of the 24 zones (12 double-sided cards). Later I will do some fun math to determine the amount of racetracks that can be created.
Next post: A Satellite Salvo update, and hopefully some nearly finalized zone art. Actually, all that’s left to do with this game is re-write the rules and prepare the new box. The finished product isn’t really that far off! Hooray!
Rethink of the rethink, and more getting ahead of myselfPosted: April 10, 2013 Filed under: Updates | Tags: Manic Mechanics, Playtest, Process, Shima Leave a comment
This will be pretty brief. The first bit is about Manic Mechanics. Last week I posted a diagram of the new Zone mats, and this week I’m posting another new diagram of even newer Zone mats. I think this design will be better and more flexible, not to mention easier to create.
So now the cards will be more universal. Instead of straightaways and turns, there are just diagonal lines that connect at the corners. What’s more, these cards allow for some interesting, smaller races. Lastly, this orientation creates space for about 7 spots per card, which makes the full 12-card race a very similar length to the original game.
The second thing I worked on this week was the update to Shima. Unfortunately, I’m really not supposed to be doing that. I told myself that I would work on the games two at a time, finishing both before I moved on. But I had a cool idea, and I wasn’t going to just let it go by. Instead, I did a really brief proof-of-concept for a stand-alone Sumo game. If you recall, when Alex and I published Shima, we created separate minigames to differentiate our versions. I added a Sumo game to my version, but it didn’t quite work. This new thing, on the other hand, does work.
Again, this prototype is made of a deck of cards and bits from Rum Run. In this new(ish) game, opponents play cards simultaneously to manipulate the pawns in the small, hex-grid Sumo ring. On the first turn, the players stand apart.
Then the cards are revealed, and the stronger player moves into the center. After that, the players push and pull each other around the board until one is pushed outside of the ring. There isn’t much more to say at this point, but I’m not really in the business of taking pictures and not posting them.
Anyway, I will eventually start to make real progress on Manic Mechanics, and hopefully post frequency will increase. Until then, once a week seems like a good schedule. Stay tuned.
Deep sadnessPosted: April 3, 2013 Filed under: Updates | Tags: Alex Coulombe, Competition, Manic Mechanics, Process, Satellite Salvo, Terra Neo, The Game Crafter Leave a comment
We didn’t win. Super sad. The winning game looks awesome though, so I guess slightly less sad. I’m not going to say any more about Terra Neo until it’s published (soon, hopefully).
Here’s what’s been happening in the meantime. Manic Mechanics is plodding along slowly, but I’ve started to work on something I didn’t expect to do: totally new board design. I don’t mean graphic design, I mean actual design. Here are some diagrams about that.
This shows possible track layouts for 12-card boards. The cards themselves would be the Game Crafter’s Jumbo Cards, which measure 3.5′ x 5.5′. I’m going to be cutting some out of paper to test out the sizing pretty soon. Might even do a playtest. Haven’t decided. Either way, this would change a lot in the game, including actual gameplay elements, since many cards reference their “zone.” If the zones get smaller and more numerous, certain vehicles will be gain power while others will lose power. It’s something I have to look at. But the ultimate goal here is to get this game to fit in a smaller box, which will be possible if I use these boards.
Meanwhile, back at Satellite Salvo, a new print-and-play has arrived. I still need to make some tweaks to it, but otherwise it’s pretty much finished.
The tricky bit here is the folding. By folding the sheet along the two horizontal lines, you get a very cool print-and-play object. The two upper sections stand up like a tent to shield the lower section, which of course is the secret information. All of the rules fit in the middle, so they can be referenced at any time, and the whole thing can fold flat, leaving only the top panel with the Enemy Planet and Arsenal visible. All you need are 5 dice and a pencil.
Well that’s it for now. Not sure what the schedule is in the next week, but my hope is to find some time to get serious about Manic Mechanics. It’s sort of the big project right now, and if I could knock it out I could move on to some other games that are frankly more interesting to me right now. Until then.
I have good news, and I have better newsPosted: March 18, 2013 Filed under: Updates | Tags: Alex Coulombe, Competition, Playtest, Terra Neo, The Game Crafter Leave a comment
We’ll start with the good news. Terra Neo arrived in the mail. Alex and I were able to play the first genuine game with a mutual friend, and it went splendidly.
The game looked great, first of all. The only tough part was how big the land tiles were. It meant we couldn’t actually play a radius 4 game on Alex’s table. It also made the temple pieces (small discs) look super tiny. The Halma pawns, though, were as awesome as we thought they would be. The profile is so nice. Anyhow, the game started off normally: with the special first turn sprint.
Look at those land tiles. Beautiful. And maybe a little distracting. I’m not above admitting mistakes. I was the blue cloud guy, Alex was the yellow spirit dude, and our friend Ian decided to be the jolly fat character. Element wise, that meant that while Alex and Ian both had elements that were only native to them, I shared a land type with both players. If you wanted to get really technical, which I often do, this isn’t the balance you would want in a three player game. Unfortunately, due to cost constraints, we couldn’t include the two additional characters needed to achieve perfect balance. Alas.
This is a great mid-game picture. It shows a partially built world with a huge gash of siphoned land. By this point, Ian had built two temples right along that gash, and he smartly picked the Death card as his first upgrade. I went a slightly different route with my upgrades, choosing a few that Alex and I had raised some doubts about. I really wanted to test the cards to make sure that we hadn’t designed any totally useless ones. Spoilers: we didn’t.
So here’s the end. Final score: Alex 12, Ian 17, Me 19. It really was a good game for me, but Ian seriously gave me a run for my money, especially considering I know everything about this game and had a complex strategy from the beginning, and he had never played and chose upgrades fairly quickly. Alex and I like to think that means the game has a very shallow learning curve, not that it’s strategically shallow. All of that being said, I’m about to launch into a somewhat ridiculous analysis of this game, starting with the winning strategy.
So this was my character. The Wealth card allowed me to access double the amount of cards in the “Source,” which is the four shared draw piles at the edge of the table. The Time card gave me the ability to then swap tiles on the field with tiles in the Source, which for me is now twice as flexible. Finally, the Dreams card gave me bonus points for native land left in the Source. If I didn’t have the wealth card, that would mean I only had four chances, but instead I had eight. In fact, that scoring combination got me three points, and ultimately the win. Something to mention is that I was the only player who was fully upgraded, and if Ian had upgraded with almost any other scoring card, he would have beaten me. Alex was, well, doing other stuff. He was trying to use some under-utilized cards as well, but it didn’t work out for him as well.
The next thing I want to talk about is the thematic quality of the ending. Now, this may not appeal to everyone, but for me, a lot of the fun of game is the implication of the final results. We created a world with unique and interesting geography. There are temples placed all over the continent, each dedicated to a different god of this world. The head of the pantheon is the Cloud God, prayed to by wealthy merchants looking to bolster their finances, and by children hoping that their dreams will come true in the future. His obese brother rules the underworld, sending plagues to the lands above to fill his banquet table with fresh souls. Finally, many pray to the Masked God of medicine, despite the fact that he is both arbitrary and unknowable, hiding his emotions and thoughts behind his mask.
See how cool that is? And once you start to think about it that way, even the craziest combinations start to make sense. I mean, you could really think about the Masked God as a genuine ancient deity. It would make sense that in the past, when medicine was a gamble at best, that the god of medicine would not be thought of as consistent or predictable, but rather cruel and arbitrary.
But enough of my weird world-builder over-thinking. The better news is that the Game Crafter has announced the finalists, and Terra Neo is at the top of the list. The top of a list in no particular order, but at the top nonetheless. So to celebrate the better news, I’m going to stop typing and go to bed. Not like there’s much else to say.
Reluctant Pirate Games 2.0Posted: March 5, 2013 Filed under: Updates | Tags: Competition, Manic Mechanics, Process, Satellite Salvo, Terra Neo, The Game Crafter 1 Comment
Before I begin this post in earnest, I’m going to quickly point out that the Game Crafter has published the list of Map Builder Design Challenge entries, and it is extensive and intimidating. You can check them out here.
So, Reluctant Pirate Games 2.0. An ambitious title befitting an ambitious time. Let me start with a sad, sad picture.
When the Game Crafter updated their website, all old games had to be updated or else they would be un-published. Because at the time I was not updating my website or really doing much of anything, I just let it happen. When I finally went back to the site to check it out, this sad state of affairs greeted me. That “Need help?” button suddenly seemed like it was mocking me. Not only had my successful games become unpublished, but I realized how many games I recently made that never actually got finished. What’s more, it reminded me that all of the my old games could use revisiting. With that in mind, I am launching this campaign. By the end (whenever that is) I will have updated or completed every game on this list. To keep it interesting, I’m going to tackle them in pairs. The first pairing is, fittingly, Manic Mechanics and Satellite Salvo. My first two games, possibly my best, and two incredibly lame alliterations. Can’t wait.
Although I’ve done some text-based work on Satellite Salvo in the past few days, most of my time since Terra Neo ended has been spent going over Manic Mechanics. Tonight I actually sent out a survey to all of my collaborators to ask them what they thought of the potential changes. Let me lay these changes out for you.
First, I want to tweak the card layout and appearance. Like an idiot I put the old card on the right, because I hate intuitive graphics. But either way, you can see the differences are small. Still, any change could be trouble, so I thought I would ask. This card also has a slight change in effect, but that’s not really part of the survey.
I’m also thinking about punching up the artwork with a scribble effect. I’ve made some cards that integrate this fill into the vehicles, but I’m even less optimistic about that idea. Either way, it’s a really simple Illustrator command that produces this, so I’m not worried about big changes meaning big piles of work.
Also, I’m totally changing one of the vehicles (Scorpedo used to be called Warpedo, and it did something totally different) and possibly adding a bizarre wild-card vehicle. It’s called Multiball. Get it? Like “multiple,” but referring to the roundness? I’ll see myself out…
The last two things I have to do are without a doubt the most difficult. One is to fix the boards, which is something I have tried to do repeatedly over the past few years. Every time I try to edit them, I realize that I am as stumped as I was the day I first drew them. The other big problem is the rules. Between these two things I may have actually won the first Game Crafter contest. But I didn’t because the board was ugly and the rules were incomprehensible. So that’s going to be an adventure, especially since I have decided to use this project to teach myself InDesign. Hooray…
What this means for my website is that I will finally have stuff to post again. I will be working on these two games continuously over the next few weeks, with my tentative deadline being Easter. That way I can celebrate by eating donuts again after the horror of a gluten-free Lent. If my posts get increasingly angry until then, that’s why. Let’s hope not.
New banners, and fresh lies!Posted: March 1, 2013 Filed under: Updates | Tags: Energy Independence, Founding Fighters, Manic Mechanics, Satellite Salvo, Shima, Terra Neo, The Estate, The Magnificent Mechanical Mosaic Leave a comment
I was too busy tonight to do the full Terra Neo post that I wanted to do. Instead, I’m just going to point out that if you refresh the page, the banner will change. I made one for each game I’ve designed, complete or incomplete, and a generic one that matches my brand new business cards. Anyway, tomorrow is the deadline for Terra Neo, so I will post to my success at midnight when I submit/order.
Actually, I don’t like that there aren’t any images in this post, so I’m just going to post all of the new banners below so that you don’t have to refresh. Woo!
The Magnificent Mechanical Mosaic
The Founding Fighters