Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The last stretch

I have been rule editing like a madman. My wife has been helping me (like a madwoman?). We are getting really close to having the Citadel of Madness and Grab the Loot! ready. Terran League of Defense Robots might not make it this year - but perhaps it will. We are hoping that it does anyway.

I have also been making some movies for my submissions to the ION award. Here is the first one that I have completed.

My PlaytestHub is in a semi-open alpha state right now. It still has a few more things I want to do to it before I open it up for a public beta. Most notably, I want to see how it is that one user was able to make two copies of themself in the database.

I have also started working with Chauncy on Deception again. The new changes add some complexity to the game. I really want to retheme it as a sportsball game. The goal would be to either cause all of the opponents "ballmen" to have "career ending injuries", or to gain 5 points first. the game would still require 3 to 4 players to play, and it would still continue till one team was entirely knocked out or one team got enough points.

Friday, November 10, 2017

The lonely Citadel

I was a little bit bored. I was the only person awake, and I didn't want to edit my rules for The Citadel of Madness (formerly known as The Madness Place) any more. I wanted to play a game, but I don't own any solitaire games. I bought a pnp copy of Pentaquark, but have somehow never got around to printing it out.

I have also recently been listening to the Ludology podcast, and I liked their episode on solo games. It made me think I could make one. Given this situation I decided to see if I could come up with some rules to make The Citadel of Madness a solo game.

I came up with a few modifications that made the game into a pretty interesting (in my opinion) solo game:

  • Every action you remove a time token from the game. If they ever run out you lose.
  • Every time you pass do the following:
    • Return all time tokens to the pool
    • Build a new device that is not owned by you -or- modify a device that is not controlled by you (the rules are more complicated than that, but it amounts to that basically)
    • Score a room card for an imaginary opponent. You must win before he does.
I played a game, and it worked out. When I won, the opponent had 14 points to my 16. Additionally, I had only one time token left, so if I had done any worse I would have lost. In fact, if I hadn't won on that action, my opponent would have won after I passed (two actions later).

I know that I made The Citadel of Madness myself, so of course I would like it, but it really seems like I could get a publisher for this. I am thinking of trying to pitch it to a few publishers after I submit it to the ION Awards this year. If everything goes well, perhaps it could be signed before summer :).

Friday, November 3, 2017

We are all Mad here

The rules editing for the Madness Place is finally calming down. The only change to the game's rules during the entire process was making it so that if you do an action it has to have an effect on the game's state for it to be a valid action.

The Flavor test has greatly improved as well:

They called you Mad, but could a madman have created a revolutionary living-brain extractor? Yes! You could, and you did it for SCIENCE!Not only did the fools not understand you, but The Tyrant even called you a criminal and sentenced you to repair The Citadel. A harsh sentence considering your ‘crimes’ were all for the furthering of science. No one has ever escaped this capricious, maniacal, homicidal, and irrevocably evil sentient castle.But, you will show them! After all, you were born with The Madness - a gift of supernatural understanding of all sciences. Build as many twisted abominations of science as is necessary to get the castle repaired so that you can earn your release from this thinking death trap.After that, make them PAY for their insolence!You WILL rule THE WORLD!

I have also been testing out the recent changes to some of the room cards, and I am pretty happy with the balance. Here is the coolest new room card: 
It isn't technically representing a room to repair, but an in-universe action that you could take to almost guarantee victory. Apparently the Tyrant came over to visit the prisoners in the Citadel, and you can assassinate him and throw his entire empire into chaos. It won't get you out of the Citadel for sure, but it probably will (assuming that you have repaired a few rooms already.)

Alison and I have played a few games with the new room cards, and the changes to the balance have been good. The dual cost rooms are cheaper, and the single cost rooms are more valuable, and everything seems to be working in a manner that keeps scores really close.

We did discover that we had too many time rooms in the room deck - a player with a pretty good hand and a really really lucky setup of room cards could win the game on turn 1, which was super annoying. There was about a 48% chance of your hand being good enough, and about a 1 in 1,400  chance of the room draft being good enough (you had to have 3 of the top 9 cards come from a set of 5 cards in the deck), but I have made it so that 7 of the top 11 cards would have to be exactly correct, and pushed the probability down to about 1 in 5,200,000.

It is still possible, but the chances are vanishingly small, and even if it happened, it wouldn't be obvious to a first time player how to take advantage of it. I think that it will not affect that many players of the game.

The reason why we noticed that this was a possibility was that I got a perfect set of three room cards showing up in one of our games by about turn 6, and won because of it. Alison still had a chance, but I had a better chance because I built a time machine and scored all of the high value time cards. For this to happen with the rebalanced room deck would take not just 3 of the time cards showing up, but all 7. If all 7 of any type of card showed up, the player that could score those cards would win for sure, so Time is not unusual in this respect any more.

In other news: I am still making icons, and also still making a playtesting website. The website is almost done, and the icons are a never-ending task, so I will never be done with them :)

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Rules editing helpers FTW

I have gotten some great help on editing the rules for The Madness Place. They are looking much better now than they used to. I have yet to work on Grab the Loot and Terran League of Defense Robots, however.

I have also been spending a lot of time working on PlaytestHub - which is nearing feature-completion. I have only one major feature to implement. After that, I will probably do some refactoring, alpha test it myself, and then open it up to a 'public' beta test (perhaps first for the people that are supporting me on patreon, and then to BGG next).

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Extra life

I am nearing completion of an alpha version of the website, however I am not so sure that I will be able to work on it as often as I was planning originally, because I just realized that I need to get seriously involved in rule editing for the 2018 Ion Awards.

My documents that I am working on are Terran League of Defense Robots, Grab the Loot!, and The Madness Place. So far I still have a daunting amount of editing left on them. Fortunately the kind folks over at BGG are helping me out a lot, not to mention my kind wife, who is way better at this sort of thing than I am.

I am also planning on volunteering for Extra Life this year. I will be streaming board games (and some video games) for the local primary children's hospital. If you are interested in donating you can find information about how to support me here.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

A fix to the rooms of the Madness Place

Alison and I played a game of the Madness Place yesterday, and we had some changes to make after we were done. I am recording them here so that I remember them.

The game went well. We ended the game with me ahead by 2 points (15 to 13). Alison would have won in one more action, so it felt really tight. We played in about 45 to 60 minutes (we didn't record the exact times, but we put on a movie for the kids, and it ended about at the time that we were done discussing possible changes, which took about 45 to 30 minutes).

We agreed that the recent changes to the passing mechanism (the person that passes first gains an immediate +1 time energy on the following turn for every time they are skipped) seemed to be a good way to deter the player/players that are ahead from taking tons of extra turns.

We decided that the Citadel's Output mat should be double sided, and should have on one side printed a non randomized setup. This will help setup to be easier on the first few times playing the game.

We laid out the room cards and discussed possible ways of changing them to make the scoring work a bit better, and discovered that some of the card combinations were not actually represented the same number of times as others. This made building red/yellow or green/blue engines more powerful than any other combination. That might have been what Daniel was talking about when he said that the scoring felt "off".

We made changes to the rooms to fix this, and discussed the balance of the various room relative to each other. We also decided that the game should go to 16 points instead of 15 (if we changed the rooms like we said, since it introduced more high point cards into the game).

Friday, October 20, 2017

Oh Noes!

I just realized that with the ION Award coming up at the beginning of December, I need to work on my rules documents!

The games that I am going to be preparing this year (if I can get them ready) are: Grab the Loot!, Terran League of Defense Robots, and The Madness Place.

I expect that things will be pretty busy over the next few weeks.

I have also almost finished my playtesting website. A few more features and it will be ready for an alpha release.

Here's to hoping that I can get it all done.