Friday, September 22, 2017

The result of the feedback.

So, now I am ready to figure out how to incorporate the feedback of yesterday:

 Madness Place:
  • I have already removed the discard a meeple for a energy, and add an energy to the output.
  • I have already lowered the number of free actions to 2: access device, and balance.
  • I have made the person that steals a device pay an energy to the person that they stole from. This should make stealing still a deterrent to building awesome devices, but not as powerful as it used to be.
  • Storing resources is now energy cost free, however it does cost a turn.
  • I also have to figure how the scoring is off. Daniel said that he felt that it was off, but didn't elaborate. 
Either way, these should not be horrible changes to make, and I should be able to test them fairly soon.

I think that the changes to Grab the loot will be as follows:

First changes (try these immediately, keep the ones that I like)

  • Split the different finishes into setup choices: nice captain that doesn't shoot people, or mean captain that shoots one or more people
  • Revealing (1 or 2) new behavior card each round (not turn)
  • Revealing fewer behavior cards with fewer players
  • Having multiple meeples and only getting them back when they fall off
  • Placing captain meeples every turn, not just turns that have net gain
Another set of changes that I will try:
  • Rotating the first mate each round
    • clockwise? counter?
  • Making fewer treasures for fewer players and more for more.
  • Make coins cheaper, and a more generic currency. Grab them all the time, or spend them to gain abilities. Weak abilities give coins as well, and expensive ones cost coins.
  • Cards should also each have themes.
  • Possibly block row and column both with meeple
  • Split nice and mean cards to remove actions that are mean.
Some new abilities should also exist:
  • Grab a coin as a noop. (always available)
  • Pay coins to see the bottom of the deck. (always available)
  • Show the bottom card to another player (if playing cutthroat)

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Feedback braindump.

I met up with Daniel Peterson from Mayday Games tonight to show him some of my games. We ended up playing two games before we finished. He liked some things about them, and provided a lot of helpful feedback. To get it down before I forget it, here is a brain dump:

First we played Grab the Loot. It didn't really play well with two players. I need to play games to balance it at that point.

Grab the Loot:

  • Coins should be used as a cost and should prevent you from taking better actions.
  • Grab a coin as a generic space.
  • The being forced to move your meeple to a different card makes for interesting decisions
    • I just had an idea to block the row as well as column.
  • The randomness of the finish is not well beloved.
  • Cards should come out faster.
    • Talked about revealing new card each turn.
    • I think perhaps each round could rectify the problem also.
  • Modifying greed was very cool
  • Exponential should stop at some point.
  • Focus on the cutthroat element of the game if that is what people like.
  • You should have cost to get effects.
  • Placing captain's meeples are cool. You should place more of them
    • perhaps once a turn
  • Talked about having multiple meeples, and you get them back when they fell off the end of the board.
  • new abilities:
    • Show bottom greed card to another player
    • look at the bottom 2, or 3 for a coin cost
  • pull out cutthroat cards when playing more euro style
  • add in cutthroat cards when playing more take that
  • Another idea I just had was reducing the treasure count for fewer players

Madness place:

  • Streamline it
  • The timing is weird
  • Turns after someone passes should be limited
  • Remove all or most free actions
  • Some abilities (storing, sacrificing meeples) should be "free", and only cost a turn.
  • This game is the "right depth" for Mayday game's current direction.
  • Think about turns as a resource.
  • Building machines are fun - the game has real potential if it could be smoother
  • Powerful machines seem to break the game - no matter who plays them
    • Idea: when you steal the ability to use a machine, pay the energy to that player.
  • The scoring felt like it did not work for him - he thinks that the math is off.
I am happy with the feedback, and I am going to sleep on all of it and write more about it tomorrow. I will certainly be making some more changes to the games in the near future. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

More work on Grab The Loot

I had the guild look at Grab the Loot again. We played with 4 players, and had a good feedback session afterward. Here are my notes:


  • Not enough treasures changed hands - I need to up that!
  • Have a player that gives an extra blocker/worker?
  • Use a cube for the extra guy
  • Player that steals more?
  • More swaps to fix the treasures changing hands problem
  • Double your lowest item value as a player ability?
  • When cards fill up, discard them
  • What happened to the card that removed one person's meeple and gives one coin to that person?
  • Are coins too powerful? Perhaps 4 is a better scorepoint?
  • Cards that pay a coin to gain 2 items, or the reverse

All in all, I am ready to make some changes. I will likely have new PNP files ready in a day or two.

I have also made a lot of progress on playtesthub. It has the ability to add games, look at games, and mark games for playtesting. You just now need to be able to actually playtest them and give feedback.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

My latest idea

Not too long ago I made a survey about what people were having a hard time with when it came to designing great games. I have collected the results, and decided to make a website that connects playtesters to game designers.

The biggest things that people complained of was not having enough time, not having enough playtesting, and preparing to submit games to publishers or put games up on kickstarter. This website should directly help solve the second problem, and if I make it correctly, it should also address the first and third problem as well.

Designers will have to spend "points" to get their game to sort to the top of the list of games to playtest, and the only way that points can be gained is by playtesting other designers games and providing feedback. Once you have points, you can apply them to your own game, or you can sell them in a marketplace to designers.

Thus people that just want to get their game playtested without helping other people out can pay for that privilege. This addresses the time issue. Additionally, people that want to just play games can even make money off of playtesting as long as they are willing to sell their points.

The third problem: preparing to submit games to publishers or kickstarter them is also helped by this website, because the feedback that players give to designers is visible to anyone that wants to see it, so the player will be able to point to the feedback that their game has gotten and use it to help convince people that it is worth looking at.

I think that it has a good chance of working out.

In other news - two of my games made the cut in the 2017 Iludo game design competition: Moar Moai!, and The Age of Vikings. I am preparing to send out prototypes this week so they can be further judged.

Additionally, I am entering "Grab the Loot!" into the Mint Tin game design contest. I just need to pare it down a bit so that it fits into the tin easily.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Wanted: a faster infinity

I tentatively made changes to The Madness Place recently, but haven't tried the game out until tonight. Here are the new rules:

  • Turns are now one action each (With the exception of balancing a device, which happens as part of modifying the device)
  • After players pass, the player who passed first goes first the next round.
  • Get energy from the castle only at the start of each round.
  • storing keeps energy between rounds.
  • draft and rooms repair refill every round.

We tried out the new rules at the BGDG meeting, and it went fairly well. Here are my notes from the playtest:

  • Make sure to note that Any modify requires balance
    • Balance only the worst balanced device on a swap
  • Using time should be a free action
    • Gain access to another player's device too?
    • Store energy too?
    • Add energy to the castle's output too?
    • Balance a device too?
  • Turns are too small
    • Perhaps group actions?
    • Perhaps spark increases actions per turn?
    • Perhaps minions left on your mat increase actions per turn?'
  • Make a connection between Modify and Balance on the randomizer.
    I thought that the playtest showed some really cool emergent behavior that came from the new changes. The players were worrying that the other player would grab things before them, and this was really fun to see happen. It made the game less of a multi player solitaire, and more of a dynamic interactive game.

    Additionally, there are better and worse flavors of infinite. The player that won had a better infinite engine than the other player. Making something that can net 1 energy of any color in 6 actions is worse than something that nets 1 energy of three different colors every action.

    I think that I want to try and increase these aspects of the game even more.

    Other thoughts:
    • Double color cards? now that all of the effects are on the randomizer, do the cards need effects at all?
    • I need to change how using another player's device works. Perhaps the player can place a pawn on the device to mark it as their own, and then activate it with a meeple. Perhaps the pawn can be moved with another use of the "mind control" ability? Now that infinite speeds matter, this might be fair.
    • Do I want to limit the number of minions that can be drafted a turn? Everything else is limited
    • Should the room cards replenish all the time? NO.
    • Should storing stuff be time always?
    • We played that creating a device created three cards of the device... is this good?
    • Should players be able to pass as their action to only reset their personal stuff? That might be fun to try out.
    I am really happy with how this game is working out. I hope to get it ready for a contest soon. Perhaps even this next Ion award.

    I was planning on playing a 6 player game of Grab the Loot instead of The Madness Place, but we didn't have 6 extra people at the meeting, so we ended up with TMP.

    Finally, I am about to retheme the game as a generic mad scientist steampunk game because it has been nearly a month, and the Foglios have not replied to my email asking for permission to use their setting.

    Friday, August 4, 2017

    Busy times

    I have been doing so many thing recently that I have forgot to write any blog posts.

    For one thing, I have been playtesting a new game that Seth Jaffe (creator of Eminent Domain and other fine games) is designing. The game is called Automatown, and is about building robots that build more robots for you until you have enough robots to take over the world. For an early prototype it is pretty fun and well balanced. I have had an idea that I have been sitting on for a few years about building snowmen that build more snowmen. This ends up being thematically really similar, but my ideas for mechanics were way different than his.

    We have played it at work a few times, and the people are interested in seeing his new changes. Being that today is Friday it might end up being a skateboarding day, so perhaps we will not get to play it, but perhaps we will.

    In terms of my games, I have gotten a few games of The Fatal Flaw in, and also played a game of the Madness Place. I am thinking of giving the BGDG a final look at Grab The Loot before I try and pitch it to Mayday Games. Perhaps Daniel will like it more this time (now that I have made it have more moving parts).

    I have some changed to the Fatal Flaw based on playing it with more than two players, and I expect that more play will lead to more changes. I have also been working on a new game that doesn't really have a name yet. It is another re-creation of the support mechanic.

    I have also submitted games to various contests (I don't really remember which ones right now, but needless to say I have submitted them).

    I need to finish cleaning up Terran League of Defense Robots, but I have been waiting for the results of the "Survival" contest, and they are overdue. Perhaps this means that I am not a finalist in it :(.

    Finally, a new dominion expansion has been announced. I look forward to hearing more about it.

    Wednesday, July 12, 2017

    Another playtest of "The Madness Place"

    We played a four player game of The Madness Place at the Board Game Design Guild meeting last night. Here are my notes (with my current thoughts in bold):
    • Perhaps the current draft mechanism should be revisited.
      • Should we keep all of the untaken cards from the draft? (instead of wiping them each turn)
      • Should each player have their own draft which they can work on during other player's turns?
      • Both? I think that the mechanism definitely wants something to change. Having two players makes the down time pretty small, but with four players it was too long. Having cards to think about during other player's turns would help, but the real problem (I think) is that a turn might take too long.
      • Perhaps I need to restructure turns to make one action per turn? that would be a huge change
    • Why are "green glowy things" yellow? Hmm that has to change. They should perhaps be green.
    • How does using another player's device work when it comes to meeples? This was not well defined, but I have decided that the player that is using the other player's device should provide a meeple in order to do it.
    • Turn order should be nailed down on the randomizer mat. Agreed. What is possible when?
    • Empty hand should perhaps trigger a draw or two. I am fine with that. Slim games would be faster if that were the case.
    • Should the back of the cards also tell what is on the front? Seems like a lot of info to me. People rarely want that info from the back of the card. If other people bring it up I will consider it.
    • Infinite loops are fun. Yay! I think so too.
    • Make it very clear that you don't have to balance every turn or every run - only when you modify. This is a persistent problem.  I need to do this even more so than I have done before.
    • Perhaps a new character that can freeze certain draft cards as an ability. Consider it done.
    • Revisit building and activating in the same turn. I have given this a lot of thought in the past, but perhaps the game has changed so much that this is viable now. I am willing to give it a try.
    The other people liked the game - it is becoming pretty good. I just need to make sure that the rules are easy enough to understand, and that the new cards do not break the balance. If I decide to reduce turns to one action, then I will have to do a lot of balancing, but perhaps that would be better than what we currently have for four players (when turns are thoughtful, and take some time.)