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!
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.
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.
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.
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
I think the responsible thing to do at this point is to pretend that I didn’t just lapse for over a month. Instead, we are going to move on as if nothing happened. Forget this whole thing…
So the contest is over. The Estate didn’t make it into the finals, and obviously did not receive any commendations or mentions. What I will say is that having received the game in the mail and spent the better part of an hour putting the stickers on the dice, it does look pretty great. What should follow this sentence is a picture of said dice, but instead, I’m just going to reiterate my lack of camera and move on to the next thing.
PUNCH came out even better than I expected. I’ve played it repeatedly over the past month and everyone has loved it (except one person who had exceptionally bad luck and couldn’t catch a break). The only problem I ran into was that I didn’t anticipate the darkening of the images, and I have to re-color some of the artwork for clarity and appearance. Again, pictures will appear when I can borrow a camera from someone.
Here, then, is what I actually have been working on recently. While Shima was given an immediate 1.1 upgrade (mostly because of Alex), my first game, Manic Mechanics, has been awaiting the same treatment for some time now. I’ve been addressing many of the issues with the boards that players mentioned, including the clarity of where a player can move from a given spot. The above image represents my solution to this complaint, although it shows the fact that I still haven’t been able to work out how to represent the junk piles. I’ll deal with that soon.
In the immediate future, I’m looking to officially release the two most recent games. There are some graphic tweaks to be done on both of them, and a thorough spell-check of The Estate is in order. The fact that I wrote the entire story portion in a few hours led to some atrocious spelling and grammar mistakes, as well as some plain old bad writing. In fact, you can look at the one card I posted and find some. I know I did moments after posting it.
So in short, I didn’t disappear for a month, I haven’t made a series of stupid spelling mistakes, and any evidence to the contrary is slanderous propaganda.
Sunday has long since come and gone, and The Estate barely made it in. I think I had twenty minutes left on the clock at the time of submission. This, of course, means that I have spent the last few days finding terrible grammatical errors on the story cards. Here’s one now:
Apparently Mario is narrating this story. I know it would really add to the moment if I found myself face-to-face “with-a two shambling figures! It’s-a me!” Most of the errors are like this; remnants of old sentence structure lingering within the finished blurb. I’m not going to address this right now though. I think I’ll wait until I get it in my hands and can make a comprehensive list of the errors. This can go on the Manic Mechanics schedule, which is roughly 2 months per correction apparently.
Speaking of getting it in my hands, I’ve also finished and ordered PUNCH! I didn’t make rules because, well, I know how to play it already and I don’t anticipate it ever being played outside of my presence. That and I really struggle with rules. I also ordered a game not of my own design, and when I get it and play it I’ll probably post some sort of review of it.
Oh, and Manic Mechanics again. I played a really intense game over the weekend, and the players had some excellent suggestions for the game. The 1.1 update is a post-graduation priority, so in about a month these ideas will probably start coming up here.
AND ANOTHER THING: Masterplan Mondays have begun again, and now Alex and I are working with a mutual friend, Morgan, who gave us the gift of the Shima colors. He’s been working with Alex on another project, and we managed to rope him into this one. His perspective is really different from ours, and it has rocketed the project forward. For my part, I’ve started working on a new set of building tokens. Here’s a 3D mockup of a game in progress (sort of).
That’s it for this post. Not really my most focused effort. If the shipping and handling gods smile upon me, I will have pictures of the printed games early next week. If not, Masterplan images should increase in frequency soon. Until then.