Designing on the backburner

If designing was a place, currently it would be a desert, tumbleweeds blowing across the empty landscape. I spoke to a publisher at GenCon last year who said to me, ‘Do you want to be a Designer or a Publisher? Because they are two different things.’

He wasn’t wrong. Although the publishing process of Mech Force has been creative in it’s own way, there’s been little opportunity to get my other designs to the table, which is a shame as I’ve got a fountain of ideas pouring out of my head.

So yep, there’s part of me that’s looking forward to getting to the other side of the campaign so I can get back to cutting and sticking again.

Gencon 2018

The travel was worth it, even the arduous task of geting through LA airport. Gencon was awesome. 4 days of gaming, some really good playtesting of Mech Force and meeting some lovely people.

Feedback of Mech Force was positive. Some more tweaks to come (which I'll discuss in another post).

Counting down

Gencon is just around the corner and I've been spending the last month furiously getting the 'final' print files together. Eddie's finished off all the artwork and it's looking awesome.

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The bespoke dice have turned up from Board Game Maker and they look the part.

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Edging closer to the final product.

I've been quiet on the blog last month, but that doesn't mean I haven't been busy. Eddie's been dropping more artwork for me, and I've been creating the final print files within Illustrator. Here's an example of one of the finished player boards.

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The mech mods on the list next. They're looking exceedingly good. Finger's crossed the main artwork can be completed by Wellycon at the start on June. I'd love to give it a play through with all the artwork ready to go...

An Eye to the future Version 13.3

Up until this point, minor details such as game board size I'd put on the back burner. But as the final version approaches, I had to think about bringing it down to a 'industry standard'. Couple that with incorporating Eddie's great artwork, I wanted to enhance the comic book feel. The outcome is design below.  

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What I've realised is that I need a few more pieces of art (Victory and Engagement Tracks) but it's certainly starting to take shape.

IDML! Version 13 - Constant tweaking

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I've been play testing IMDL! solo over the last couple of weeks. I also took it along to the design workshop last Sunday. Balance is the key at the moment. I've had to redesign the mech mods and the monster strengths. It's either been a 'cake walk' or horrendously difficult.

I'm getting there but a series of little adjustments.

I've also dropped in Eddie's awesome artwork onto the board. He's currently working on the main map at the moment which is going to look amazing.

As you can see I've now moved the scales onto the board. This has kept the card size down to a standard size (euro).

So it's look up. More tweaks, more playthroughs. The last 10% takes 90% of the time...

The Color of Light - version 8

It's been a while since I've updated the blog regarding the Color of Light. Having a long break over Christmas has afforded me lots of play-testing opportunities. 

The game has changed a bit since the last update, primarily with the removal of the cards. What I was finding is they were causing some wild swings in the game, especially towards the end. 

Streamlining has been the focus. Instead of players earning cards, now thy can immediately effect theirs and other players' areas, in the form of shields and druidic power. (see below)

It's also meant a redesign of all the incantation cards but it's been worth it. It now plays well.

I removed some powers as well which were confusing and slowed the game down, namely Reserve Ritual and Drain Circle. One phase removed means a quicker game with less downtime.

I've also introduced player hands to give more choice when selecting a new incantation. This has also worked well.

More play-testing is required but the game has come together a lot quicker than IMDL!

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Version 13 (a.k.a. Dice, dice, dice...)

I've got round the houses and landed back with a dice mechanic. Preliminary play-testing has benen very positive. There's nothing like rolling a handful of dice across a board.

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However, going from a single configurable dice to multiple dice does mess with the difficulty curve. It's taken several attempts to get the right balance. More testing is required but I'm confident this alternative has legs.

The attack dice have two faces for Range damage and two faces for Melee. The Defense dice have three faces. 

Other changes in version 13 include:

  • Re-design of the enemy cards, reducing the size to a standard. (Euro). This has meant that the damage scales have moved on to the main board. 
  • Changing the direction of the scales so the damage now goes down instead of up.
  • Removing the Gym cards and introducing a discount on all skills instead.
  • Moving the Power/speed scale onto the Player mat and iconographising the skills. (Also, starting to use the warrior art as well.
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So, although three back, I feel i'm backing progress. As always, more playtesting to follow...

New Years, new drive!

2 weeks off during the Christmas period has gifted me with some much needed testing and design time.

The Color of Light dice have worked very well, which is awesome. After several playtests, I've also reduced some of the mechanics around bonus cards, which caused some wild swings towards the end of the game. The new shield mechanics which have been used to replace the cards have worked during playtesting, but I'm going to get it to the table a little more to get comfortable.

Unfortunately, IMDL! dice replacement designs I created haven't been successful. It was quite clear within the first 5 minutes, the experience with either wasn't as streamlined, or importantly, as fun as the dice.

I knocked another mechanic using cards, like Dominion. As the player gains more mech parts, they replace more potent cards into their deck. When they engage, they reveal a card per round.

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But again, not as fun. The experience was rather inert. Also it messed with with the engine as the abilities weren't 'reset' in every round.

Shem has pushed me to pursue created my own configurable dice, with assistance from a 3D print designer, so we'll see if that amounts to anything.

In the meantime, I'm going to try another idea with lots of pre-configured dice, like Roll for the Galaxy.. More dice are added to the players pool as they grow their mech. Watch this space...

95% Perspiration (or persistence)...

With The Color of Light game, I've been using standard six sided dice to represent shapes. It's got me so far, but I've now reached the stage where I've have to test the dice with the shapes themselves.

I could get a mold. But i don't think I'm ready for that. So stickers will have to do. That's what I told myself. Stickers.

For 120 dice.

That's 720 faces.

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6 hours...Patience in this game is a virtue...

A Dice by any other name...

So I've knocked up a couple of working prototypes to test...

The first one is a adapting the spinner idea. Now the physical spinner doesn't hit the grooves allowing it to spin freely. It does however, increase the overall size. This can be reduced by getting smaller spinners.

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As you can see I've also added the Power/Speed dial to the 'Control Panel'.

Copying the great idea for Dice Forge, I've created storage plates for the upgrades, which it'll make it easier to find in game.


The second idea is using modified, static face dice and associating upgrade plates with the numbers.

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This is probably more of an elegant solution but i'm concerned the constant referring back to the board with the resultant dice roll might slow combat down. 

I've added symbols to the dice so players can track them when they're involved in group fights.

Because I've moved the dials off player boards, I've chosen to combine them with the Mech templates. This way, players still only have 2 assets to manage.

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What is also means is that each Mech can be different for each warrior which is awesome. 

So 'big' small changes. The game is the same but the mechanic needs to be tested. Some slight alterations to the Airstrike dice will also need to be made.

See you on the other side...

Busy, busy, busy...

Sorry blog. I've been neglectful of late. It's been a while since my last write up. You'll be glad to know the reason for my absence has been all game related. I've been going hard out coming up with different designs and mechanics for the battle dice for IMDL!

Necessity is the mother of Invention as they say. If i can't get the configurable dice, can I come up with a way of reproducing the experience in another way? The answer is a rock solid 'maybe'. Over the last few weeks I've been surrounding myself with cardboard and spray glue, knocking together a number of different options, such as the one below.

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Spinners and configurable plates could work. This particular prototype didn't. The spinner were too long for the dials and caught the plate recesses so I've had to make the dials bigger. This may make the whole thing unwieldy. Playtesting is required. (of course)

I've also come up with another idea of just using d6s and configuring the plates to those. It maybe a more elegant solution. We'll have to wait and see. I'll be testing both out within the week. Fingers crossed...

Mini Welli-con

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I had the opportunity to take some of my prototypes along to Mini-Wellycon last week. It's not often I get to participate in 12 hours of solid gaming. (Not just my stuff). It was tonnes of fun.

I got lots of great feedback. The Color of Light is taking shape. Invariably dice games produce vastly different results and during this playtest I was on a run of bad luck. Some slight mechanic changes will be brought in next version, but nothing too onerous. It's the old adage on the last 10% taking 90% of the time.

One of the players that lent their time to The Road Crew broke it. Which is a good thing. That's going to require some intervention to balance it out.

IMDL! played well. All the more crushing that I'm able to progress with the configurable dice at this point. (See the Publishing blog.)

I've got another couple of ideas that I'm chomping at the bit to work on, but spreading myself between 4 games is probably enough (some would say excessive!) I've got to get each of these into a finished state before starting another...

The Color of Light - Versions 3 & 4

It's great to have opportunities to test prototypes. I'm part of a very forgiving gameing group that gives my latest effort a go.

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I've managed to make some changes after Thursday's playtest, and give it another on Sunday at a Board game convention in Wellington. (It's Your Move). Improvements were made and the feedback was good.

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However, I think the 'tree' gimmick is going to have to go. Although I love the idea of reaching inside 'the tree stump' for the orbs, ultimately it was blocking the board. For some reason, I had this edict in my head that I couldn't have two bags in a game (the other is for the dice.) 

The good thing about play-testing with gamers is that they can then give you a long list of successful games with two or more bags, so I'm going to throw that rule out of the window and try it. Maybe a nice brown leather bag in the centre...

The Color of Light (was Dawn...) - First Playthroughs

I haven't managed to test one of my games on account due to having to wait for a job-lot of dice to show up from China (6 weeks!). Thankfully, Shem stepped up and let me borrow some of his library to test over the weekend.

The Color of Light, (was ..of Dawn) came together really well. Only managed to play it with 2 players, but it played well out of the gate. On to version 3 now but it's just tweaks rather than wholesale changes, which is encouraging. I'll post more details about the game once it's got a few more playtests under its belt. 

I've got some small Wellington conventions coming up over the next couple of weeks. I'll be taking along my efforts to test on the masses. Fingers crossed. Now, back to the guillotine... 

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IMDL! - What's next?

EXPANSIONS! A word that fills me with excitement, and my wife with horror. There's plenty of room for more content beyond the base game. Actually, I'd like to create another enemy set for the standard edition, just to give the players more choice. Currently, there's Aliens, but I've got scope for Dark Ones (Cthulhu-esque monsters), Kaiju (Godzilla etc.) and Rogue Nation (SPECTRE).

What else?

  • More Warriors with different skills. - Expanding to 2 a region.
  • More Mods
  • More associated Dice abilities
  • Different mech tableau with different load-outs. (3 arms, 4 legs etc.)
  • Team play

It's got scope. Lots of scope. First things first though. Let's get the base built!

Version 10.1

Major tweaking territory now...

I took this version to another Game Design workshop.

THE MAIN BOARD

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  • I added some more spaces to the Threat Level.
  • I tweaked the Skill Upgrades and the Minimum VP benchmarks on the Victory Point track after a couple of plays.

VERSION 10.1: THINGS I LEARNT

  • It's there. Games have been running smooth. A couple of suggestions here and there, but the game is working, and it's fun. (Which is the point after all!)