Saturday, November 30, 2013

NaGaDeMon 2013 Day 30: The End

Today is the end of National Game Design Month.

Over the course of the month I designed Moar Moai and Roguelike.

I would say that Moar Moai is pretty darn playable, and that Roguelike is at least barely playable.

Moar Moai has one open point of contention right now, and that is the exact way in which artifacts turn into control over the adventurers. I think that I will end up with players having perfect control over what 'cards' they get (although they might end up as tokens on a specific part of the mat instead of cards), but not know what 'cards' other players have until the scoring round actually starts.

Roguelike is still largely unbalanced, and I have never played games with the new weapon cards that I have invented because I have never printed them up (here in California I do not have access to my card creation equipment). Perhaps next week I will do that. It does seem to work without the tokens (+1 etc), but needs a mat to be printed up to make it really work (so that you can record what item is +1 or +2).

Perhaps I will continue to work on both of them, but I would like to also work on Dancing Robots again.

I hear that my artwork guy has produced some more artwork for it (for the record, the image to the right is his first sample artwork that he produced before things got a little crazy).

I have not been working on the Dancing Robots website for a while, so when I next look at that perhaps I will have some good changes to make.

Last night we played a game of Two Rooms and a Boom. I feel that the game is a pretty cool idea, I love the time based mechanic and the fact that the game is so open to many different play styles. The kickstarter campaign ended up with over 1000% funding, so that is super cool. Perhaps we will see copies of the game in stores some time soon. The best part about the game is the frantic trying to make a decision in the last seconds of the game.

The worst part of the game is the suggestive text on many of the cards. A card would have an ability that says 'you can't show other players this card' and it would have flavor text of 'I have castration anxiety'. The flavor text is just for flavor (so it is entirely unnecessary). I wouldn't feel comfortable playing this game with my children (that is my children when they are old enough to play the game) with the current version of the cards that already exist. For this reason I did not back the game. In the future if there is printed a version of the game that is more family friendly I will probably purchase it, but as it stands I would not want it in my house.

Last night we also played about 7 games of Avalon. Both teams won repeatedly, and people seemed to have a fun time. We added Percy, Mordred, Morgana, Merlin, and Assassin (some games with one of them and some with the others). One player (Amanda) won every time, but other than that I think that everyone won and lost some games. It was fun.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

NaGaDeMon 2013 Day 28

I have made good progress on my NaNo games (both Moar Moai and Roguelike) over the last two days.

We played a few games of Moar Moai, and we had some modifications to make.

First of all, roads have been removed from the game entirely (they seemed to just slow down the speed at which people get their statues out, and they give later guys in the turn order an advantage that doesn't seem to help the game balance out).

Additionally the explorer cards seem to be too random for some players (they do not seem powerful enough, and if you don't get the ones that you want it can suck). We have considered a few possibilities for fixing it:
1) Draw two cards for each token and discard half the cards right before playing the explorer phase.
2) Exchange tokens for cards on a one for one basis, selecting which cards you get (making AAH cards not have additional effects, but making it not known what you can do)
3) Discarding tokens for one of the three explorer effects (Explore, Dig, AAH!) (No cards, perfect information)

Each option provides a different feel: the 'look at 2x the number of cards' just makes you more likely to get what you want but still not guaranteed, pick your cards gives you exactly what you want, but other people still don't get to see what you have, the discard tokens option gives you the ability to pick exactly what you want, but everyone know exactly your capabilities (so you can figure out exactly what move is a winning move (that might make people think a long time since they can figure out exactly what is their best chance of winning with enough thought))

I have not decided which one is the best option yet.

In terms of Roguelike, I have played a few games and decided that the need for more weapons is real, that you should draw starting equipment until you get at least one piece of armor or weapon, and then one more card (discarding the other ones so that you have one weapon/armor and one of anything). Additionally the change that gives armed monsters more equipment is beneficial.

I have never made it past level 5, by the way (though the math would allow for someone to win the game is entirely reasonable).

I am trying to figure out how to give monsters the full benefit of the equipment that they are wearing without giving the player the knowledge of what the equipment is. This seems to be something that is not possible to really do (unless the equipment randomizes after you pick it up, so they could have better equipment than you finally get, but I don't really like that). Perhaps it would be better if the equipment provided a set bonus amount that simulates the benefit of wearing it but did not match the benefit exactly. Something like +1 armor for each armor/cloak, +1 attack for each weapon/ring/wand might be enough.

I don't have much time to see what would work, though, so I will have to come up with something fast.

This week we also played some more Resistance (with the Avalon expansion), and some Forbidden Island.

Finally, we played a game of cribbage (which is a really good game as far as I am concerned, though it has a lot of rules).

I will end with some pictures of Roguelike in play:
End of Level 1
End of Level 2
 Being chased by 3 rust monsters on Level 3:

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

NaGaDeMon 2013 Day 26

We are in the final stretch. I have been changing the rules of Moar Moai a lot, and I was pretty happy about them. After two games last night I am wondering if the penalty of road building is a little too steep (having your roads used by everyone for all time). Perhaps road building should be removed completely. I will test that option out over the next few days and see how that affects the balance of the game.

I am also trying to figure out a way to remove the tokens from Roguelike completely. This will allow for the game to be much smaller. I will test that out some time today and see if I can figure it out.

We played some games of Moar Moai  last night as well as The Resistance and Forbidden island. Everything was pretty fun. Hopefully we can end up playing more games tonight as well.

Friday, November 22, 2013

NaGaDeMon 2013 Day 22

Yesterday we played a 3 player game of Moar Moai. With only 6 fish per player the fish ran out too fast. I have to figure out a happy medium (we are working with a very narrow range, since 8 is too many and 6 is too few). Perhaps I will tweak the equation so that I don't have to go to 7 (7 is a messy number since the fish should be divided in half and placed in two zones).

I am sort of getting worried about finding a dominant strategy in this game. It seems as if the person with the most people always wins, and if that is the case, then this game is a very boring one. I need to figure out if there are other viable strategies.

Also, I have been working a little on Roguelike, but it keeps making me play game after game of UnNethack. Perhaps I will be able to focus more on it over the thanksgiving break.

By the way. I really like chess variants. Some of them end up being pretty small (the last one I played was that you could capture your own pieces and that pawns could move backward as well as forward (but still only attack forward)), but some of them are huge (the biggest change I can recall was one where if you captured a piece your piece would defect to the opponents team (kings were immune to this). This was a really different game because you had to always weigh the value of your capturing piece against their piece, and most exchanges like that were not worth it (for instance, killing a knight with a knight was basically throwing away your knight, and killing a queen with a knight was throwing away your knight to downgrade their queen to a knight)). It is a fun thing to just come up with some arbitrary rule change and see how the game plays out.

Recently I have been considering a stupid chess variant: Table Top Strategy Chess. You have to have tape measures and straight edges and your pieces can move only certain distances, but they can move freely in 360 degrees of direction. There is no way I would do it, but it was a fun thought experiment.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

NaGaDeMon 2013 Day 20

We played a four player game yesterday with the new rules, and there was a serious problem: Too many fish.

We just couldn't seem to break through the fish barrier to the point where the fish began to be depleted. I have decided to reduce the number of starting fish to 6 per player because of this problem. That will allow a population of 12 people to be supported without a problem, but any more than that will begin to eat up the fish.

A third person also told me that deep sea fish should be worth more... I really don't like the idea, but it seems like a common enough complaint that I need to address it. I just don't know how to do that yet.

Also, as I was complaining about having to separate my cubes at the beginning of every game Bob told me to get more bags. I had never thought of doing that. This, folks, is why it is useful to have your managers play your games with you.

Finally I changed the map to include a place to put the Explorer cards. Not really necessary, but the map is big enough to accommodate it, and it didn't seem to hurt.

In other news: Templar Intrigue was fully funded and reached its first stretch goal, so I will be receiving a copy of it some time next year.

Playing Roguelike has made me want to play Nethack again, so I installed it on my phone and played some last night. It is quite a fun game.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

NaGaDeMon 2013 Day 19

I have greatly simplified the rules of Moar Moai. I don't know whether they will stick, but I played a game with Alison last night and she liked it a lot.

The bulk of the changes were to remove the ability to mine stone and chop trees, and roll them into the build canoes, build statues, build roads, and move statues actions. This also makes it so that the trees are infinitely more likely to not be sitting around in someone's stockpile during the respawn phase (which is a good thing for the tree population size).

The game ended up with Alison in the better overall position (since she had more statues than me), but I was in a very strong strategic position (I had the furthest advanced statues as well as more cards). She would have won if the explorers made it to the third location or further, but she didn't draw two 'explore deeper' cards, so I carried the day.

If you are interested in seeing the how the game looks currently, the rules document is here, and the images are here: Track, Mat, and Map.

Roguelike is undergoing slow changes right now since I am focusing more on the ecological destruction game right now. I can't work full bore on both.

Also, played some Avalon yesterday at lunch. It was fun. I plan on playing Moar Moai today (I have already had people accept my invite.)

Finally, I backed Templar Intrigue on Kickstarter. It sounds fun. I will tell you what it is like when I get it next year.

Monday, November 18, 2013

NaGaDeMon 2013 Day 18

I have been having a hard time finishing my recent rules changes to Moar Moai. For one thing I want to cut out more of the game than I want to cut out (which basically means that I am conflicted about how much to remove.) The game works fairly well, but needs to be simplified to be played in the amount of time that I want to play it.

Also, I have been spending a lot of time with Roguelike (and getting car repairs, but that is another story). I have printed up cards for Roguelike, tried to play it with my wife and found that in order for it to be playable a lot of impromptu rules had to be made. The game was crushingly hard (which was the goal), but I feel that to give it a more Roguelike feel there needs to be more equipment. I probably hurt less than ten monsters during the game because my wife and I had one sword between the two of us, and I was wearing the armor.

We played a game of Ticket to Ride over the weekend with some light gamers. I don't love the game, but appreciate it for the quality that it has of being playable by light gamers (hopefully leading them to play heavier games in the future)

I also introduced them to Resistance Avalon, and they enjoyed it quite a bit. The last game we played came down to the last round, and the assassin failed to guess Merlin (although one spy did have Merlin pegged).

Friday, November 15, 2013

NaGaDeMon 2013 Day 15

I worked a bit on the changes to Moar Moai, but then I got side tracked by working on Roguelike.

I think that I am ready to do a first printing of Roguelike and see how it works out. I have already made all of the room/hallway tiles, the mundane/enchantment tokens, and created all of the cards that I can envision needing (at this point in time). The current boss is named the chromatic dragon, and as it stands it should be nearly impossible to kill (it hits first due to its breath attacks, has perfect armor (no sword in the game can damage it, even when it is sleeping), and enough hit points to withstand a blast from a wand of death (the only other monsters that can survive a wand of death are all undead).

The expected way to kill it is to blast it twice with a wand of death, but perhaps enterprising players will find other ways.

I played a game of Moar Moai with Chris this morning. We were trying the new rules (the ones with purchasing cards and such), but during the last turn Chris realized that he couldn't win under any circumstance, so we just called the game. Perhaps next time we play we will get to test the card buying.

I also played Avalon yesterday. It was very fun. I was surprised how much the new roles helped out. I will play it over thanksgiving with my family (both sides).

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

NaGaDeMon 2013 Day 13

Yesterday I didn't get in a game of Moar Moai, but I did rework some of the rules and redraw some of the images. I have uploaded the results to the usual places. For those who don't want to scroll down, the rules document is here, and the images are here: TrackMat, and Map.

I still have a little more work to do before I feel that I am ready for another big playtest, so It might not happen today.

I have been working on Roguelike a bit as well. I have been considering how I would randomize the identities of the potions (wands, and scrolls as well), and I am starting to think that I will have to have "bubbly potion" cards AND "potion of healing" cards. The item deck is full of "bubbly potions" and when someone drinks one (or ids it) they draw a card from the identified potion deck and see what it does. From that point on you place the "potion of healing" card face up in the playing area with a bubbly potion token on it (so future bubbly potions don't have to be identified).

Randomizing the equipment seems much easier. The game treats a weapon or armor like it is normal until you put it on. Then you immediately identify it by drawing a token out of a hat. There are way more 'mundane' tokens than there are +1 or +3 tokens. To be safe you can id all your stuff before putting it on, but identification should be fairly unusual, so it is not expected that you will have tons of scrolls of Id hanging around.

The people at work have all bought Resistance Avalon, so I might play it at lunch today. if I do, a report will follow.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

NaGaDeMon 2013 Day 12

Yesterday at lunch we had a four player game:
Players: Taylor, Dave, Chris, Antione
Taylor, Dave, and Chris all started by grabbing four fish and two resources each. This allowed for them to all grow to six people.
Antione opened up by grabbing six fish, so on the second turn he ended up fishing last (his population fell back down to four because of this, and he remained there most of the rest of the game). I have considered changing how things are done to prevent some from getting all the fish that they want and others from getting much fewer fish. Perhaps I will come up with something useful soon.

The early game was dominated by canoe building and starting up building statues.

Taylor, Dave, and Antione all ended up with the same number of statues (8) and people (4), and Chris ended up with two statues and 5 people. The statues were placed such that Chris was winning in positions 1-4 (he was the only guy who moved his statues very far), and Taylor was winning in position 5. There was a three way tie for position 6. The tie breaking is likely to change to a  more complex scoring method, and the scoring phase is also in need of a rehaul. Taylor ended up playing his explorer cards correctly and therefore won the game (though I felt that Chris should have really been the winner since he would have won in 4 of the 6 places, and he also played his explorers right (he just was overwhelmingly in the minority in terms of where people wanted the explorers to go.))

The things I learned because of this game:
1) More fish (seriously, Mars Needs Fish)
2) Fewer trees might be useful, this would speed up the game a bit, and I want the game to be speedy. Perhaps we should even give people starting wood (for second turn canoes if they desire)
3) The AAAH! cards are definitely a real part of the game in the future. We hadn't been playing with them, and after the game people asked for explorer cards that move the explorers back (people who had never read the rules, so they couldn't have been influenced by them).
4) Consider making explorer cards be rewarded based on something (having extra stone or wood at the end of the game?)
5) Consider making explorer cards cost more based on how many have already been bought/rewarded.
6) Perhaps reorder the player mats to make boxes appear in the correct order (first to last).
7) Complex scoring method: when there is a tie, it might be best to tiebreak based on who has the farthest unmatched statue instead of by who had the most people. For example:
          Q 5 4 3 2 S               
Player 1 | | | | |1| |
Player 2 | | | |9| | |
Player 1 wins
          Q 5 4 3 2 S               
Player 1 | | | |9|1| |
Player 2 | | | | |2| |
Player 2 wins
          Q 5 4 3 2 S               
Player 1 | | |9| |1| |
Player 2 | | | |1|1| |
Player 2 wins

8) Consider playing till the islanders all die off instead of till the last tree falls. This would allow for a strange endgame.

I will try to convince my wife and sister in law to play tonight (and we might play during lunch - hard to say).

Also, I will update the rules as necessary.

Finally, I have been working on (in my non-More Moai time) a solo/cooperative Roguelike board game. I will post about it when there is something to post. (Like the game is playable or something like that).

Monday, November 11, 2013

NaGaDeMon 2013 Day 11

The weekend was a rough one for my game.

On Friday we had someone leaving the company, so we had a farewell lunch and didn't get any gaming done. At home my wife and I played Forbidden Island (more about that later). Saturday we had sick kids, so most of the day was spent taking care of them, and Sunday was Sunday. Alison's sister Katie (who enjoys gaming more than any of my other sisters or sisters in law) is staying with us for a week as she does some student teaching as part of her training to get a degree, so I am hoping that this week will see a few more plays of my NaGaDeMon game.

Now, Forbidden Island is a cooperative game where you play as a team against the game itself. The story is that you are an explorer trying to gather four mystical artifacts form an island that is sinking into the sea and then escape the island (probably to sell the artifacts for massive zorkmids, but that is beside the point). The game could probably be played by eight year olds without too much hand holding, but if you have a precocious child they might be able to figure it out younger.

The game is pretty simple, but the randomness of which parts of the island sink make it still loseable (not to mention the fact that you can set the difficulty, which allows you to play at a level where you are comfortable
(or not so)).

During the game that we played on Friday Alison and I were 3/4 of the way through the game when a 1 in 11 chance got us (the one remaining place to get the cup sunk under the water as the first card revealed after the water rose again). That sort of thing cannot be planned for (I don't think that it is likely that we could have stopped it as I was shoring up fools landing and Alison was claiming the piece of rock, so both of us were too far to have shored it up anyway). That was the first time that we lost.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

NaGaDeMon 2013 Day 7

For those who don't want to scroll down, the rules document is here, and the images are here, here, and here.

I played two more games last night trying to emulate Bob and Antoine and figured out about how many of each resource you need to have in order to play the game without running out of anything. I have fixed the rules so that they reflect this (having more statues was a weird side effect of this, but it is possible for a large group of starving people to churn out statues.)

I fooled around with AAAH! cards being added to the explorer deck. They make the explorer phase have way more options. I don't think that they add unnecessary complexity, but I will keep testing them to make sure. They sure seem powerful, though.

The game feels like it is fairly well balanced, however it needs a lot of playtesting to clean it up. I don't know what I am going to do with the rest of this month if I am unable to get enough playtesters to help me out. As of yet I have been pitifully unable to get people to play my game. Usually I can easily get half a dozen people to play, but I have with all my effort only gotten four people to play. I need to work harder.

Perhaps if Friday is also a bust I will decide to make four insufficiently playtested games in one month instead of one reasonably playtested game.

We played a game of Resistance at lunch yesterday in which I brought my final plan to fruition: winning the game as a spy via playing 'No Confidence'. The game is still a fun game, but I can't think of anything else that I want to do when playing it.

Today at lunch we had two entirely unsatisfying games of Resistance (one where the spies didn't know who was on their side, and one where the spies were all so obviously on a team that when one was outed the game was over).

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

NaGaDeMon 2013 Day 6

I didn't do anything last evening, but yesterday during lunch I had my team lead Bob face off against Antoine (another team lead). It was funny to see how they played so differently than my wife and I did.

They both focused heavily on getting more guys than the other player (team leads... go figure). After watching their game I decided to add back in the pieces that I took out two days ago.

I also ordered more pieces to use for the game. They should arrive in a week or so.

It is hard to get people at work to help play-test for me ever since I introduced them all to The Resistance. I am glad that I convinced them to stop playing Bang (as fun as that game can be), but it is sort of annoying to have to fight to get even one person to play your game.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

NaGaDeMon 2013 Day 5

I played two more games last night. Fairly extensive changes to the rules followed the games.

I realized that permanent canoes are great for the game, so they are a reality right now. This allows players to more easily commit piscicide, and allows the game to end due to not only the loss of all trees, but also due to the loss of all fish.

The number of canoes can be reduced to 8 as long as there are only 32 fish in the game because 8 canoes can entirely empty the deep ocean out in a few turns (assuming that the shallow ocean is also empty)

I also realized that pigs are superfluous, and I removed them. The players have to be a little bit more careful when they are fishing, but the game is still very playable. (perhaps even more so due to the simplification of the rules and the lessening of the number of parts).

Finally, I decided that 16 trees is enough for 2 players. Perhaps with 4 players 32 trees would be better, but until I get four players I don't need to worry about that.

The point gathering phase of the game can be super fun (there was a situation (of which I will post a picture below) where the player who played last was guaranteed to win if they played their cards right.)

As you can see, the player on the left has more guys, so he wins if the explorers stop on level 1, 4, or 5, but the player on the right wins if the explorers stop on 2, 3, or 6 (the three orange cubes are also statues, I just ran out of maroon ones). Both guys were dealt 3 sit around cards and two explore cards. I will let you work out all of the possible combinations, but it ended up that the guy who played first would lose if both players played perfectly.

I will try to get some people to play at lunch today. Hopefully that happens. Either way I will update the rules and keep working on it.

Monday, November 4, 2013

NaGaDeMon 2013 Day 4

I have taken a small diversion and made a map, some mats, and a scoring track. The game rules are still located here.

I think that the next step is to test how the game changes when canoes change to persistent objects.

map: place wood, shallow fish, deep fish, and stone here:

Placement map, cut this one in half and give one copy to each player:

Extra parts and score track. Put the canoes and statues that haven't been built here (as well as the built roads, statues, and the unused meat and dudes.):

Sunday, November 3, 2013

NaGaDeMon 2013 Day 3

Today Alison and I played a game (first multiplayer game, woo!) The game went fairly well. We fixed up some rules and had to play to the very end to determine who had won.

First of all, we decided that doing a hybrid choose/gather rule (where the first guy to pick is not necessarily the first guy to gather) is a bad idea cause someone can commit guys to doing something (mining for fish, for instance) and then have all the fish gathered out from under him. If this happens because of an event card it is ok, but if a player does it to another player that seems rude.

By the way, I drew on a piece of paper to make the game board. We decided after the game that we need a separate scoring track as well as personal mats. That will be rectified soon.

Alison thought that the game was less confusing than she initially expected it to be (that is a big plus)

With two players who are neck to neck you cant really just chop the last tree (and that can draw the game out, what with the vying for points).

Alison didn't really like the explore phase (it is an interesting problem, but fraught with the danger of holding out too long or playing too early).

We also don't really have enough cubes to play a huge game. Perhaps I will have to order more.

Finally, Alison thought that the game was fairly well balanced if both players are not actively trying to destroy the economy.

Perhaps next game I will try to do that.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

NaGaDeMon 2013 Day 2

Yesterday I decided to make 'MOAR MOAI'. I started coming up with rules and such. I made decisions as to which cubes I would use for which resources. I also counted the cubes. Here are the results:

maroon  16 5 stone/statues
yellow  20 stone/statues
red     32 meats
orange  39 trees
pink    37 dudes
blue    36 fishs
green   33 plant
total  213

I got the cubes from a really cheap source, so they are super low quality (also, I got 13 bonus cubes, so I am not complaining.)

I decided today to change the cube coloring a bit, and cut down the amounts for most of them:

maroon  16 Statues
yellow  16 Canoes
red     32 Pigs
orange  32 Stone
pink    32 Dudes
blue    32 Fish
green   32 Trees
total  192

I played a few solo games and changed the rules a bit from my original vision of them. As they currently stand, they are here. The first game I played ended with no points having been scored. The second was much better. The third was also better than the second. Perhaps it will be pretty good by Monday (or at least playable for my co-workers over lunch.)

As I was playing a solo game, Andrea (my three year old daughter) asked to join in. I explained to her the general concept (these are your guys, they can get food and cut down trees and dig up rocks. you can only get these fish because they are closer to the island, and these ones are in the deep water.) After my explanation she said:

"This guy will get fish and this guy will make bacon, and this guy will cut down a tree to make a canoe."

I hadn't told her that there were canoes in the game, but apparently that was the reason for cutting down trees in her book. She is very smart. She also knew that killing a pig got you bacon.

Also, yesterday we played a game of Inspectres Unspeakable (as our yearly Halloween RPG). It ended up pretty fun, although I might decide to limit the amount of sub plots that can be going on in any game (there were three major goals the whole game, and we ended up having characters trying to punch, poison, and cast spells on each other quite a bit.) In the end two people went insane and one person was eaten by a dark god.