Sunday, June 17, 2018

Tabletop FPS AI system

I've been playing around with a system for NPC movement on a hex grid. I'm making the system for use with an FPS, but I imagine it could be used with some alteration in any number of applications.

I've only done the most basic testing at this point and I'm sure the system will change in a few significant ways (at least in terms of visual representation if not logic) but I think its a good starting point so I wanted to share.

The system I've come up with uses 4 subsystems; 3 small decks of cards and marked paths on hex tiles. These 4 systems are used to create 3 basic ai behaviors. The basic behaviors are Patrol, Pursuit, and Search.

Patrol

Hex Tile
The patrol behavior moves characters along a set of colored paths. Occasionally, those paths will split at a node position.
Patrol Card
When a character is on a node position the players draw a patrol card to find out which path they will take from there. Basically, they will take the first color that makes sense from their current location and if there are two of the same color paths leading from their location they will take the path that matches the direction indicated by the arrow. If two or more characters are ever going to move into the same space at the same time, they all reverse direction.

Pursuit

  
If a character sees something that they are supposed to attack, they will begin to pursue it. They stop using the patrol paths and instead draw a Pursuit card. These cards are essentially conditional statements (IF this THEN do this) with a default behavior if the condition is false (ELSE do this). The condition (IF this) is always if the target is greater than X range AND in the cone of fire (i.e. can the character see the target), and the THEN is either move forward or move forward twice. The ELSE is either to rotate towards the target or to strafe towards the target. This basically means that if the character can see their target they will move towards them, if they can't they will adjust their view by either turning or sidestepping in a direction that will likely make them see the target.

Search

  
Since its entirely possible that a character might lose sight of a target, they also need a behavior to reflect the knowledge that something is out there and they can't see it. For that behavior, they use the Search deck. This deck is similar to the Pursuit deck in that it uses conditional statements to determine actions, but it creates different behavior. The IF this part of the conditional doesn't include anything about if the cone of fire because the moment they can see a target they would switch back to Pursuit. Instead, it looks at the distance to an obstacle. And that distance is always directly in front of the character. And the THEN this behavior can be either to move forward or pause (i.e. don't move), while the ELSE result can be to rotate left, rotate, right, or reverse direction. This gets the character to move around the board in a way that kind of looks like they are looking for something.

Monday, June 11, 2018

I found my tribe. #TNCONF2018

This last weekend I attended the first Tabletop Network conference. Two days of talks from amazingly talented individuals, including some giants of the industry.

There were more talks than one person could actually see so they had to be divided into two rooms about halfway through each day. Thankfully they were being streamed/recorded so I'll be able to go back and see the stuff I missed, and maybe rewatch a few of the talks I attended.

To people who attend a lot of conferences, all of that probably just sounds like what I conference should be. And maybe it is, I haven't really attended a lot of conferences (I did attend GDC once), but I have attended a lot of conventions. And so that is where my expectation was rooted. And from a convention perspective, this was easily one of if not the best experiences I've had.

I think a lot of it comes down to almost a tribal feeling of connection and support. There was a feeling of reverence for the craft. A craft that we all have chosen to share. It doesn't matter if you are a first time designer or a giant of the industry. These are my people. We are all peers in the craft of game design.

I am certain I will be attending next year, and for many years to come. And if you are a designer and you did not attend this year, I would give serious consideration to attending next year.

Worth every penny.

Monday, January 8, 2018

January design update

Continuing the new monthly update format. This time, because a lot of them don't have updates I'm going to have two parts. The first part is for games that have NOT been updated. This will just be a list of links back to the last blog update that includes that game. The second part is for games that actually have an update this month.

Sol Series

Stage: Submitted

Update

Submitted to a publisher. They asked me to test one rules change. I made the change and put a PnP up on a Seeking Play Testers thread on BGG. I haven't heard anything back yet.

About

This is a "Real Time Strategy" game in a box. It is not actually real time, but it very much has the feeling of a real-time strategy game. Basically, units keep moving until you tell them to stop or they can't anymore for some reason.
This is a war game but its a wargame without dice. The random element is player choice. And because the game is based on simultaneous reveal instead of an I go You go mechanism there is always a question about what the best move is.
I'm planning on officially submitting this game to Victory Point Games this Saturday.

Drunken Fist

Standalone

Stage: Entered into a Contest

Update

There is a WIP thread on BGG that is being used for the 54-card contest. Its pushed back to page 5 of that forum at the time of this writing so I doubt there will be any actual feedback from posting on that forum. But who knows.
Not much of an update really... but I wanted to hopefully drive a click or two towards the WIP thread.

About

Two player combat between teams of drunk (if not drunken) masters. The bars just closed and the masters of two schools meet in the street.
This is essentially an abstract game in which the way a game piece moves is entirely dependent on the space they currently occupy. Whats more, the way one piece moves in a given space may not match the way another piece moves in that space.
The game is basically done from a mechanics standpoint. I need to either find the time to do the art or more likely the money to commission the art. Then, I'm probably going to self-publish this one. Its a particularly good candidate for self-publication because it has a low component count (36 cards and 14 counters), and therefore a low cost.

Federation of Sol

Sol series/States of Siege™

Stage: Proofing

Update

I got a lot of feedback from proofreaders that resulted in me noticing some fairly significant issues in the rules. So, the clarifications continue. This is taking the bulk of my time these days.

About

This is my Solitaire epic. Its a States of Siege™ game being published by Victory Point Games.


Humanity has just gotten to the point technologically where it can settle words outside of our own Solar system. Turns out, we aren't alone... And all the locals systems are already claimed by neighboring empires. So... you're going to upset a few Aliens.

Like all States of Siege games, you have to defend a central location (Sol) connected by converging tracks, but it differs in several fairly important ways. The most obvious of which is that instead of being a game about survival, its a game about expansion. You still lose the game if the central location is lost, but you can only win by colonizing 6 location outside Sol. Additionally, the game is driven by dice rather than cards.

This game has a fairly detailed political system including; how your people feel about your rule, how the local empires feel about you, and how they feel about each other.

I'm in the process of integrating proof feedback into the game. Once that is done, it will effectively be out of my hands and awaiting its slot in the Victory Point Games release schedule.

Game Company -working title

Standalone

Stage: Early Concept - unplayable

Update

I've designed a cube tower that I can have built on The Game Crafter... I need to make sure the cut lines are all laid out optimally, but after I am confident of that I'll be ordering one so I can start gross testing of some of the ideas. Everything else I should be able to either pull off my prototyping shelf or print up myself. Hopefully next month will have a significant update on this one.

About

This one is inspired by games like Game Dev Tycoon on the PC. But, since its going to be a board game I figure the games being made should be board games. At this point its little more than a concept. I have a simple theoretical sequence of play and notes about how certain mechanisms might work but nothing I've tested yet.

Ninja Death Battle

Standalone

Stage: Alpha

Update

The publisher I was talking to about this passed on it.

About

What happens when I challenge myself to make a roll and move game? You get a 2 player fighting game in which player action selection is based on players rolling 3 dice, picking 2 and a direction. The game board consists of two major areas; an inner board on which the players actually fight and an outer board where players move a pawn to select their next combat maneuver.

Rules
Try online at Tabletopia

Shrunken Heads

Standalone (although it has almost limitless expansion potential)

Stage: Alpha

Update

I submitted this to a publisher. Not holding my breath, since they are a large company and just started taking submissions, so I'm sure they were overloaded.

About

So, this is basically my take on the Cards Against Humanity style party game. That said, it is nothing like Cards Against Humanity.
Basically, one player is the Doctor and all the other players are Patients. And the Doctor is trying to diagnose the patients. If they succeed, they get points. If they fail, the patients get negative points. So... everyone wants the Doctor to get their diagnosis right.
Gameplay wise, the Patients draw a card that tells them what their condition is and then they make a short statement (in character). They can't directly say whats wrong with them or use any keywords indicated on the card. Then the Doctor asks them up to two questions, which they must answer in character. After that, the Doctor makes a diagnosis. If they are right they take the card and place it face down in front to them. If they get it wrong it is revealed and placed face up in front of the Patient.
I'm pretty comfortable with the rules and gameplay at this point, but need to make new cards. I want about 500 cards in the final product.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

A Video Game I want to make...

I recently watched a whole series of tutorials by Quill18 on YouTube called Mostly Civilized: A Hex-Based 4X Engine for Unity. As a result, I'm seriously considering getting back into Unity to make a game. As you can probably guess, the game in question would thematically and visually (at least initially) be similar to Civilization. That is, it is a 4x game where you start at some point in early human history and progress through various ages. How far, I'm not sure yet.

Where the idea is substantially different is that each civilization is represented by a tableau of cards. This basically means that instead of all the civilizations starting with some kind of special ability, they would all start with the same abilities/set of tableau cards, which they could add to or replace to unlock special unique abilities over the course of the game. As such, there wouldn't be a tech tree either, although maybe tech points or something similar thematically could be spent to acquire a revealed card. Different cards could even have costs in alternative "currencies" if necessary. I.e. some cards could be acquired by spending either science or culture. Another might have a cost in gold or food. I could even have new currencies become available over the course of the game.

Another aspect of the game is the idea of a Nomad. One thing I've always felt lacking in Civilization games (and there isn't a lot) is the fact that you pretty much have to settle where ever your settler spawns first turn. You could maybe move a single space on that turn before settling, but if you wait until turn 2 or beyond you are at a fairly serious disadvantage. One of the cards I want every Civilization to start with is the Nomad card. What it basically does, is give you access to the Nomad unit, which is kind of like a mobile city with certain limitations. Primarily three limitations. First, it can't build most structures (except those that could conceivably be something that can be packed up). Second, it has a limited size of say 3. And third, every time it builds any unit its size is reduced by 1. But if it is size 3 that unit could be another Nomad.

And of course, players could still settle right away or on some future tun. The moment they settle their first city, the nomad "card" is flipped over or replaced by another card that indicates that they can have permanent structures and no longer produce nomads but instead produce settlers. Existing Nomads would still function as Nomads except without the ability to produce further Nomads. Something like that.

Anyway, just a little idea I've been thinking about lately that I wanted to get written down in some way. If I move forward with it, this blog may just turn into the dev blog for the game.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

December Design Update

Continuing the new monthly update format. The number of games with "No news on this game this update" is kind of depressing, and probably a sign that I need to start culling projects... I should come up with a system. Also, I really need a camera so I can get good pictures of my prototypes to put with each project.

Assault on Mount Olympus

Standalone

Stage: Concept

Update

No news on this game this update.

About

This is a 1-2 player tower defense game. Players can play as either Hades attacking Mt. Olympus or as Zeus defending it. I have an early draft of the rules and a map, but I haven't created cards or counters yet.


B-Sieged -working title

States of Siege™?

Stage: Alpha

Update

No news on this game this update.

About

This is a modular States of Siege™ game. The premise is that a town is being attacked by four B movie monsters, each of which uses a slight variation on the games core ruleset and have their own board piece. There are a total of 8 monsters at the moment. To win the game, the player only has to last 12 turns. Winning is rare.
I haven't officially submitted this yet, but I anticipate it being submitted to VPG at some point. If they refuse it I'll probably look into self-publication, as the cost should be fairly low. Of course, if they refuse it I can't call it a States of Siege™and may need to coin a new term. Honestly, there probably should be an industry term for the mechanic anyway... Maybe a converging track game?

C:\Execute_

Standalone

Stage: Playable Alpha - Hold

Update

I really don't think this game is going to work out. I'm officially dropping it and will not have an update in January.

About

This is a programming themed game using the core same basic sequence of play and mechanism for altering the card layout as I used in Rules Lawyer. I created a kit and tried it out. It doesn't feel right at the moment and I'm not sure how to address it.

Calisto Command -working title

Sol Series

Stage: Early Alpha

Update

No news on this game this update.

About

First person shooter. Uses cups and cubes with silhouettes of enemies for targeting. And the simultaneous reveal of cards for player movement. Modular boards.
Deathmatch and capture the flag style games are easy, but I need to come up with a good AI system for non-player characters to create a campaign style of play.

The Conquests of Sol: The war for Europa 2165

Sol Series

Stage: Submitted

Update

The update I guess is that I submitted the game to a publisher. We'll see where that goes.

About

This is a "Real Time Strategy" game in a box. It is not actually real time, but it very much has the feeling of a real-time strategy game. Basically, units keep moving until you tell them to stop or they can't anymore for some reason.
This is a war game but its a wargame without dice. The random element is player choice. And because the game is based on simultaneous reveal instead of an I go You go mechanism there is always a question about what the best move is.
I'm planning on officially submitting this game to Victory Point Games this Saturday.

Dark Age of Sol

Sol Series

Stage: Hold

Update

No news on this game this update. I really need to get another regular campaign going so I can actually test things...

About

This is my custom RPG system. It would be hard to cover it in much detail here without dwarfing everything else here.

Day at the Dawg Track

Dawg series?

Stage: Submitted to a publisher

Update

Another game I've submitted to a publisher this month. A new company. Apparently, they have another submission with the same theme, which is surprising. They asked for a PnP to review it. So, figures crossed. 

About

This is a programmed movement car racing game set in the same universe as my game Dawgs of War. Where Dawgs of War was basically a WW1 airplane combat game, this is sort of set between WW1 and WW2. It sort of plays like a tabletop version of Mario Kart.

Drunken Fist

Standalone

Stage: Entered into a Contest

Update

I entered this into the 54card contest on BGG. That kind of makes this a submission I guess since that contest is being run by a new publisher who might make a publishing offer on the games in the contest. For the contest, I've gone back to using only cards.

About

Two player combat between teams of drunk (if not drunken) masters. The bars just closed and the masters of two schools meet in the street.
This is essentially an abstract game in which the way a game piece moves is entirely dependent on the space they currently occupy. Whats more, the way one piece moves in a given space may not match the way another piece moves in that space.
The game is basically done from a mechanics standpoint. I need to either find the time to do the art or more likely the money to commission the art. Then, I'm probably going to self-publish this one. Its a particularly good candidate for self-publication because it has a low component count (36 cards and 14 counters), and therefore a low cost.

Factory Floor

Standalone

Stage: Playable Alpha - Hold

Update

No news on this game this update.

About

This is intended as a sort of deconstruction of deck building games but it doesn't have any cards. Instead, it uses dice placement on counters to trigger effects.

It plays up to 5 players and I feel like it probably shouldn't be played with less than 3 but it does work with 2.

Each round a number of dice are rolled (3 times the player count) and then the players take turns placing the dice for effects. Effects include generating goods, increasing sales force, rolling and placing more dice. Additionally, those tiles can be linked allowing you to chain effects. After all the dice are placed, players may sell goods based on their accumulated sales force, and then buy new tiles or even stock in each other companies.

There are some really cool things here, but it's just not quite working. I'm sure I'll come back to it at some point with fresh eyes and see something obvious.

Federation of Sol

Sol series/States of Siege™

Stage: Proofing

Update

I'm doing a bit of reworking of the rules in terms of layout, phrasing, etc.

About

This is my Solitaire epic. Its a States of Siege™ game being published by Victory Point Games.


Humanity has just gotten to the point technologically where it can settle words outside of our own Solar system. Turns out, we aren't alone... And all the locals systems are already claimed by neighboring empires. So... you're going to upset a few Aliens.

Like all States of Siege games, you have to defend a central location (Sol) connected by converging tracks, but it differs in several fairly important ways. The most obvious of which is that instead of being a game about survival, its a game about expansion. You still lose the game if the central location is lost, but you can only win by colonizing 6 location outside Sol. Additionally, the game is driven by dice rather than cards.

This game has a fairly detailed political system including; how your people feel about your rule, how the local empires feel about you, and how they feel about each other.

I'm in the process of integrating proof feedback into the game. Once that is done, it will effectively be out of my hands and awaiting its slot in the Victory Point Games release schedule.

Game Company -working title

Standalone

Stage: Early Concept - unplayable

Update

No news on this game this update.

About

This one is inspired by games like Game Dev Tycoon on the PC. But, since its going to be a board game I figure the games being made should be board games. At this point its little more than a concept. I have a simple theoretical sequence of play and notes about how certain mechanisms might work but nothing I've tested yet.

International Air -working title

Standalone

Stage: Concept Only

Update

No news on this game this update.

About

Players are the CEOs of airline companies. Its largely inspired by a video game I used to play with my family, Aerobiz.

The Lab of Dr. Martuesse

Dawn of the Zeds

Stage: Submitted, awaiting development queue

Update

No news on this game this update.

About

So, in this game, you are a Chimp. Specifically, you are one of the Chimps that Dr. Martuesse uses in his lab to try to create Super Zeds. You may be a loyal assistant who wants to help the Doctor in any way you can. Or you may, in fact, be Horatius and secretly be trying to slow down the process long enough for the Police to arrive and put a stop to the Doctors efforts.
This is a hidden identity game in which the hidden identity belongs to the good guy. Horatius is a playable character in the Dawn of the Zeds game. He was added as part of a stretch goal during the Kickstarter campaign.

Law Offices

Standalone

Stage: Playable Alpha

Update

No news on this game this update.

About

This started as an experiment of including every form of card drafting I could think of in one game.

Loboski - working title

Standalone

Stage: Concept

Update

No news on this game this update.

About

This is basically an exercise in how I would approach making a game about The Big Loboski. Obviously, I'd have to retheme it because there is no way I'd ever get that license.

The basic concept though is that players would play the various forces influencing "The Dude". The Dude would be controlled by an AI system that players could manipulate in some way but not directly control. They are attempting to get the Dude to fulfill their victory condition. If at the end of a given number of turns none of the players have gotten the Dude to do whatever it is they need him to do, then the Dude (and therefore the game) wins.  

Market Share

Standalone

Stage: Alpha

Update

No news on this game this update.

About

This is a game about production chains. Want to publish books? Ok, you need to get the paper from a Paper Mill, which will need wood from a Lumber Yard, which will need to cut that wood in a Forest. If you own all of those buildings you can keep costs low. Alternatively, you could buy your paper from the open market, but it will be more expensive :0)
This is basically a worker placement game with a tableau. The tableau is sequenced so that certain things always happen before other things.

Ninja Death Battle

Standalone

Stage: Alpha

Update

I'm talking to a publisher about this. A new publisher who is specifically looking for low-cost starting games.

About

What happens when I challenge myself to make a roll and move game? You get a 2 player fighting game in which player action selection is based on players rolling 3 dice, picking 2 and a direction. The game board consists of two major areas; an inner board on which the players actually fight and an outer board where players move a pawn to select their next combat maneuver.

Rules
Try online at Tabletopia

The Oregon Trail

Standalone

Stage: PreAlpha

Update

No news on this game this update.

About

This is loosely based on the Tokaido engine, but with a bit more dysentery :0)

Politics of War -working title

Standalone

Stage: Concept

Update

No news on this game this update.

About

The core concept of this game is that each player has two roles. One role is that they are a general making military decisions for an army trying to capture territory and resources. The other role is that of the political leadership of one of the countries fighting over said resources. The thing is, that while they are filling both of those rolls, they are not doing so for the same force. Each player is the political leader of the player to their right. Likewise, each player is the military leader for the player to their left.

Power Broker -working title

Standalone... for now.

Stage: Concept

Update

No news on this game this update.

About

I haven't settled on an actual theme for this yet. I'm considering making it part of the Sol series.

Players are influential power brokers of some variety (noble/merchant/priest/whatever) There is a deck of such individuals from which they are randomly drawn at the beginning of the game. Those not play by a player may be influenced, and have powers that may then be used by spending that influence.
The player has logistic points. These can be spent to add influence to a character in play, activate and spend influence they accumulated on a character, manipulate the board (troop movement?), maintenance of lasting effects, or to perform one of their own influence actions.
Over the course of the game victory condition cards are revealed allowing players to gain victory points. Most victory points at the end wins. Ties to the player who has influence over the most characters.

Roll and Rondel -working title (obviously)

Standalone

Stage: Late Concept

Update

No news on this game this update.

About

So, the core concept mechanically is that players will roll a number of dice then place those dice on rondels to determine how far they advance on those rondels. My current prototype uses 4 rondels and players roll 4 dice. They don't have to put a die on ever rondel but they must place all the dice. So they can have a little more control of where they end up on an individual rondel by sacrificing an action on another.

In terms of theme, I'm thinking a medieval trading game. Fairly complex market with multiple towns and trade between them. Player owned businesses. Maybe even a bit of politics.

Scarcity - From Barter to Post

Standalone

Stage: Concept

Update

No news on this game this update.

About

Players start out as primitive tribals societies with barter economies, and over time (and through card drafting) they could end up with more complex economies which give them more choices when interacting with the other players. The idea is that they could eventually mover from Barter to Fixed Asset (gold standard) to Fiat (our current standard) to a Renewable resource backed economy. There is a LOT more to do just in terms of research before I can even get this to a playable state. I am not an economist, but I may need to be close to one to get this right. While still having it simple enough to play it without being one... Honestly, just because of the amount of research I'm going to have to do, this will probably be dropped at some point.

Shrunken Heads

Standalone (although it has almost limitless expansion potential)

Stage: Alpha

Update

I've spent a little time coming up with new cards and editing existing one. At the time of this writing, I'm up to 242.

About

So, this is basically my take on the Cards Against Humanity style party game. That said, it is nothing like Cards Against Humanity.
Basically, one player is the Doctor and all the other players are Patients. And the Doctor is trying to diagnose the patients. If they succeed, they get points. If they fail, the patients get negative points. So... everyone wants the Doctor to get their diagnosis right.
Gameplay wise, the Patients draw a card that tells them what their condition is and then they make a short statement (in character). They can't directly say whats wrong with them or use any keywords indicated on the card. Then the Doctor asks them up to two questions, which they must answer in character. After that, the Doctor makes a diagnosis. If they are right they take the card and place it face down in front to them. If they get it wrong it is revealed and placed face up in front of the Patient.
I'm pretty comfortable with the rules and gameplay at this point, but need to make new cards. I want about 500 cards in the final product.

Quantum Worker Placement Spy Game-working title

Standalone

Stage: Conceptual

Update

No news on this game this update.

About

This game is built on the idea of quantum tic tac toe, which is a game used to teach the idea of quantum entanglement. I'm using it in a worker placement game as a stand-in for conflicting rumors/reports about what agents are doing. Essentially, when placing workers, instead of just placing one worker, you place two workers. Then at some later point, players will resolve workers by indicating that a given worker actually is in that space, which means the other one isn't. This can and will lead to chains of workers being resolved. And when they are resolved they will affect the main board, where the game is actually won or lost. 

Reich

Orders from Above

Stage: PreAlpha

Update

No news on this game this update.

About

Basically, I'm taking my engine for The Chosin Few and modifying it somewhat to work at a much larger scale. The whole of WW2. Its played from the German perspective, but you are not playing High Command. Rather you are one step down and have to carry out orders of those above you. Some of which will force you to make bad decisions. You can selectively fail objectives of course but doing so too often may get you removed.

Stellar Ambitions -working title

Standalone

Stage: Concept

Update

No news on this game this update.

About

This is a BIG concept. 4X with multiple types of FTL. Pulls elements from Twilight Imperium, Eclipse, and Stellaris.

Suicide is Painless

Standalone

Stage: Alpha

Update

No news on this game this update.

About

Inspired by the MASH theme song of the same name.
A very small card game about suicide. It's a push your luck game. You score points while alive but lose points for friends who've killed themselves. Currently, its built around 25 cards, but since there is a contest on the gamecrafter right now for 18 card games, I may try to cut it down. To do so I'll probably have to cut it from 5 players down to 3 and add a card per player.

Surrounded! With a Shotgun

States of Seige™

Stage: Proof/Final Layout

Update

No news on this game this update.

About

Another States of Siege™game, but playable up to 4 players. This one is kind of a love letter to 70's action movies. Players are trapped in a building surrounded on all sides by various hoodlums (think Assault on Precinct 13) and have to fight to survive. Simple mechanism. Difficult choices. And the artist did an amazing job capturing exactly what I asked for :0)

The only thing left for me to do is writing a single paragraph about each of the heroes to include in the rulebook for flavor.

Tradeport of Sol

Sol Series

Stage: Submitted to a publisher

Update

I submitted this to a publisher.

About

In the not too distant future, vast fortunes will be made for those clever enough to position themselves to take advantage of trade between worlds. In Tradeport of Sol, you represent a small faction trying to do just that.
This is an area influence game. The areas being influenced are ships coming and going from the port. The more influence you have the more profit you can get out of the ship.

Trader of Sol

Sol Series

Stage: Alpha/Hold

Update

No news on this game this update.

About

A pickup and deliver style trading game that takes place within the Sol System. Planets move so you will have to consider that when planning your next move. There is a lot going on in this game. And honestly... it kind of ballooned up beyond what it should be. I'm going to need to come back at it with a chainsaw at some point. The biggest culprit is the addition of (or attempted addition of) combat to the game. I've more or less decided that's going but I need to find the time to come back in and make sure nothing else breaks.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

November Design Update

I'm going to try to do more regular design updates here. Even if they aren't that interesting. That is after all the whole point of the blog. To date, I've mostly just updated when I felt like talking about something in particular, but that has led to a blog that is updated infrequently and with each update having little to no continuity with the blog as a whole.

So, starting today and continuing on the first Sunday of every month I'll be doing large updates on my current design projects. ALL of my design projects. Where possible I will include art and links to rules and or print and play versions.

Assault on Mount Olympus

Standalone

Concept

This is a 1-2 player tower defense game. Players can play as either Hades attacking Mt. Olympus or as Zeus defending it. I have an early draft of the rules and a map, but I haven't created cards or counters yet.


B-Sieged -working title

States of Siege™?

Alpha

This is a modular States of Siege™ game. The premise is that a town is being attacked by four B movie monsters, each of which uses a slight variation on the games core ruleset and have their own board piece. There are a total of 8 monsters at the moment. To win the game, the player only has to last 12 turns. Winning is rare.
I haven't officially submitted this yet, but I anticipate it being submitted to VPG at some point. If they refuse it I'll probably look into self-publication, as the cost should be fairly low. Of course, if they refuse it I can't call it a States of Siege™and may need to coin a new term. Honestly, there probably should be an industry term for the mechanic anyway... Maybe a converging track game?

C:\Execute_

Standalone

Playable Alpha - Hold

This is a programming themed game using the core same basic sequence of play and mechanism for altering the card layout as I used in Rules Lawyer. I created a kit and tried it out. It doesn't feel right at the moment and I'm not sure how to address it.

Calisto Command -working title

Sol Series

Early Alpha

First person shooter. Uses cups and cubes with silhouettes of enemies for targeting. And the simultaneous reveal of cards for player movement. Modular boards.
Deathmatch and capture the flag style games are easy, but I need to come up with a good AI system for non-player characters to create a campaign style of play.

The Conquests of Sol: The war for Europa 2165

Sol Series

Submission Ready

This is a "Real Time Strategy" game in a box. It is not actually real time, but it very much has the feeling of a real-time strategy game. Basically, units keep moving until you tell them to stop or they can't anymore for some reason.
This is a war game but its a wargame without dice. The random element is player choice. And because the game is based on simultaneous reveal instead of an I go You go mechanism there is always a question about what the best move is.
I'm planning on officially submitting this game to Victory Point Games this Saturday.

Dark Age of Sol

Sol Series

Hold

This is my custom RPG system. It would be hard to cover it in much detail here without dwarfing everything else here.

Day at the Dawg Track

Dawg series?

Ready for Beta

This is a programmed movement car racing game set in the same universe as my game Dawgs of War. Where Dawgs of War was basically a WW1 airplane combat game, this is sort of set between WW1 and WW2. It sort of plays like a tabletop version of Mario Kart.

Drunken Fist

Standalone

Alpha

Two player combat between teams of drunk (if not drunken) masters. The bars just closed and the masters of two schools meet in the street.
This is essentially an abstract game in which the way a game piece moves is entirely dependent on the space they currently occupy. Whats more, the way one piece moves in a given space may not match the way another piece moves in that space.
The game is basically done from a mechanics standpoint. I need to either find the time to do the art or more likely the money to commission the art. Then, I'm probably going to self-publish this one. Its a particularly good candidate for self-publication because it has a low component count (36 cards and 14 counters), and therefore a low cost.

Factory Floor

Standalone

Playable Alpha - Hold

This is intended as a sort of deconstruction of deck building games but it doesn't have any cards. Instead, it uses dice placement on counters to trigger effects.

It plays up to 5 players and I feel like it probably shouldn't be played with less than 3 but it does work with 2.

Each round a number of dice are rolled (3 times the player count) and then the players take turns placing the dice for effects. Effects include generating goods, increasing sales force, rolling and placing more dice. Additionally, those tiles can be linked allowing you to chain effects. After all the dice are placed, players may sell goods based on their accumulated sales force, and then buy new tiles or even stock in each other companies.

There are some really cool things here, but it's just not quite working. I'm sure I'll come back to it at some point with fresh eyes and see something obvious.

Federation of Sol

Sol series/States of Siege™

Proofing

This is my Solitaire epic. Its a States of Siege™ game being published by Victory Point Games.

Humanity has just gotten to the point technologically where it can settle words outside of our own Solar system. Turns out, we aren't alone... And all the locals systems are already claimed by neighboring empires. So... you're going to upset a few Aliens.

Like all States of Siege games, you have to defend a central location (Sol) connected by converging tracks, but it differs in several fairly important ways. The most obvious of which is that instead of being a game about survival, its a game about expansion. You still lose the game if the central location is lost, but you can only win by colonizing 6 location outside Sol. Additionally, the game is driven by dice rather than cards.

This game has a fairly detailed political system including; how your people feel about your rule, how the local empires feel about you, and how they feel about each other.

I'm in the process of integrating proof feedback into the game. Once that is done, it will effectively be out of my hands and awaiting its slot in the Victory Point Games release schedule.

Game Company -working title

Standalone

Early Concept - unplayable

This one is inspired by games like Game Dev Tycoon on the PC. But, since its going to be a board game I figure the games being made should be board games. At this point its little more than a concept. I have a simple theoretical sequence of play and notes about how certain mechanisms might work but nothing I've tested yet.

International Air -working title

Standalone

Concept Only

Players are the CEOs of airline companies. Its largely inspired by a video game I used to play with my family, Aerobiz.

The Lab of Dr. Martuesse

Dawn of the Zeds

Submitted, awaiting development queue

So, in this game, you are a Chimp. Specifically, you are one of the Chimps that Dr. Martuesse uses in his lab to try to create Super Zeds. You may be a loyal assistant who wants to help the Doctor in any way you can. Or you may, in fact, be Horatius and secretly be trying to slow down the process long enough for the Police to arrive and put a stop to the Doctors efforts.
This is a hidden identity game in which the hidden identity belongs to the good guy. Horatius is a playable character in the Dawn of the Zeds game. He was added as part of a stretch goal during the Kickstarter campaign.

Law Offices

Standalone

Playable Alpha

This started as an experiment of including every form of card drafting I could think of in one game.

Loboski - working title

Standalone

Concept

This is basically an exercise in how I would approach making a game about The Big Loboski. Obviously, I'd have to retheme it because there is no way I'd ever get that license.

The basic concept though is that players would play the various forces influencing "The Dude". The Dude would be controlled by an AI system that players could manipulate in some way but not directly control. They are attempting to get the Dude to fulfill their victory condition. If at the end of a given number of turns none of the players have gotten the Dude to do whatever it is they need him to do, then the Dude (and therefore the game) wins.  

Market Share

Standalone

Alpha

This is a game about production chains. Want to publish books? Ok, you need to get the paper from a Paper Mill, which will need wood from a Lumber Yard, which will need to cut that wood in a Forest. If you own all of those buildings you can keep costs low. Alternatively, you could buy your paper from the open market, but it will be more expensive :0)
This is basically a worker placement game with a tableau. The tableau is sequenced so that certain things always happen before other things.

Ninja Death Battle

Standalone

Alpha

What happens when I challenge myself to make a roll and move game? You get a 2 player fighting game in which player action selection is based on players rolling 3 dice, picking 2 and a direction. The game board consists of two major areas; an inner board on which the players actually fight and an outer board where players move a pawn to select their next combat maneuver.

Rules
Try online at Tabletopia

The Oregon Trail

Standalone

PreAlpha

This is loosely based on the Tokaido engine, but with a bit more dysentery :0)

Politics of War -working title

Standalone

Concept

The core concept of this game is that each player has two roles. One role is that they are a general making military decisions for an army trying to capture territory and resources. The other role is that of the political leadership of one of the countries fighting over said resources. The thing is, that while they are filling both of those rolls, they are not doing so for the same force. Each player is the political leader of the player to their right. Likewise, each player is the military leader for the player to their left.

Power Broker -working title

Standalone... for now.

Concept

I haven't settled on an actual theme for this yet. I'm considering making it part of the Sol series.

Players are influential power brokers of some variety (noble/merchant/priest/whatever) There is a deck of such individuals from which they are randomly drawn at the beginning of the game. Those not play by a player may be influenced, and have powers that may then be used by spending that influence.
The player has logistic points. These can be spent to add influence to a character in play, activate and spend influence they accumulated on a character, manipulate the board (troop movement?), maintenance of lasting effects, or to perform one of their own influence actions.
Over the course of the game victory condition cards are revealed allowing players to gain victory points. Most victory points at the end wins. Ties to the player who has influence over the most characters.

Roll and Rondel -working title (obviously)

Standalone

Late Concept

So, the core concept mechanically is that players will roll a number of dice then place those dice on rondels to determine how far they advance on those rondels. My current prototype uses 4 rondels and players roll 4 dice. They don't have to put a die on ever rondel but they must place all the dice. So they can have a little more control of where they end up on an individual rondel by sacrificing an action on another.

In terms of theme, I'm thinking a medieval trading game. Fairly complex market with multiple towns and trade between them. Player owned businesses. Maybe even a bit of politics.

Scarcity - From Barter to Post

Standalone

Concept

Players start out as primitive tribals societies with barter economies, and over time (and through card drafting) they could end up with more complex economies which give them more choices when interacting with the other players. The idea is that they could eventually mover from Barter to Fixed Asset (gold standard) to Fiat (our current standard) to a Renewable resource backed economy. There is a LOT more to do just in terms of research before I can even get this to a playable state. I am not an economist, but I may need to be close to one to get this right. While still having it simple enough to play it without being one... Honestly, just because of the amount of research I'm going to have to do, this will probably be dropped at some point.

Shrunken Heads

Standalone (although it has almost limitless expansion potential)

Alpha

So, this is basically my take on the Cards Against Humanity style party game. That said, it is nothing like Cards Against Humanity.
Basically, one player is the Doctor and all the other players are Patients. And the Doctor is trying to diagnose the patients. If they succeed, they get points. If they fail, the patients get negative points. So... everyone wants the Doctor to get their diagnosis right.
Gameplay wise, the Patients draw a card that tells them what their condition is and then they make a short statement (in character). They can't directly say whats wrong with them or use any keywords indicated on the card. Then the Doctor asks them up to two questions, which they must answer in character. After that, the Doctor makes a diagnosis. If they are right they take the card and place it face down in front to them. If they get it wrong it is revealed and placed face up in front of the Patient.
I'm pretty comfortable with the rules and gameplay at this point, but need to make new cards. The current set has some issues. Plus I only have 200 or so and I want about 500 cards in the final product.

Quantum Worker Placement Spy Game-working title

Standalone

Conceptual

This game is built on the idea of quantum tic tac toe, which is a game used to teach the idea of quantum entanglement. I'm using it in a worker placement game as a stand-in for conflicting rumors/reports about what agents are doing. Essentially, when placing workers, instead of just placing one worker, you place two workers. Then at some later point, players will resolve workers by indicating that a given worker actually is in that space, which means the other one isn't. This can and will lead to chains of workers being resolved. And when they are resolved they will affect the main board, where the game is actually won or lost. 

Reich

Orders from Above

PreAlpha

Basically, I'm taking my engine for The Chosin Few and modifying it somewhat to work at a much larger scale. The whole of WW2. Its played from the German perspective, but you are not playing High Command. Rather you are one step down and have to carry out orders of those above you. Some of which will force you to make bad decisions. You can selectively fail objectives of course but doing so too often may get you removed.

Stellar Ambitions -working title

Standalone

Concept

This is a BIG concept. 4X with multiple types of FTL. Pulls elements from Twilight Imperium, Eclipse, and Stellaris.

Suicide is Painless

Standalone

Alpha

Inspired by the MASH theme song of the same name.
A very small card game about suicide. It's a push your luck game. You score points while alive but lose points for friends who've killed themselves. Currently, its built around 25 cards, but since there is a contest on the gamecrafter right now for 18 card games, I may try to cut it down. To do so I'll probably have to cut it from 5 players down to 3 and add a card per player.

Surrounded! With a Shotgun

States of Seige™

Proof/Final Layout

Another States of Siege™game, but playable up to 4 players. This one is kind of a love letter to 70's action movies. Players are trapped in a building surrounded on all sides by various hoodlums (think Assault on Precinct 13) and have to fight to survive. Simple mechanism. Difficult choices. And the artist did an amazing job capturing exactly what I asked for :0)

The only thing left for me to do is writing a single paragraph about each of the heroes to include in the rulebook for flavor.

Tradeport of Sol

Sol Series

Ready to submit

In the not too distant future, vast fortunes will be made for those clever enough to position themselves to take advantage of trade between worlds. In Tradeport of Sol, you represent a small faction trying to do just that.
This is an area influence game. The areas being influenced are ships coming and going from the port. The more influence you have the more profit you can get out of the ship.

Trader of Sol

Sol Series

Alpha/Hold

A pickup and deliver style trading game that takes place within the Sol System. Planets move so you will have to consider that when planning your next move. There is a lot going on in this game. And honestly... it kind of ballooned up beyond what it should be. I'm going to need to come back at it with a chainsaw at some point. The biggest culprit is the addition of (or attempted addition of) combat to the game. I've more or less decided that's going but I need to find the time to come back in and make sure nothing else breaks.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Postcard Games

A while back (almost a year now), I experimented with Postcard games. Specifically, I made two games. The first game was a simple conversion of one of my abstract games, Symmetric, to a postcard game without any gameplay changes. And Second I made a very simplified version of Dawn of the Zeds. We ended up handing out copies of that Dawn of the Zeds postcard game at BGG.con last year.

While organizing my computer today, I found the files for the Symmetric postcard game.



I really like Symmetric, but it didn't do all that well for me and the publisher gave me the rights back. I'd like to expose more people to the game so I want to find a way to self-publish. But, abstracts don't sell very well in my experience and given the mechanics, any theme would feel very tacked on. So I can't really justify to myself trying to raise money for a print run.

So, I'm considering selling the postcard instead. Postcards are inexpensive to print even at low quantities so they could, in theory, be a very cost-effective way to publish simpler games.

I would welcome any thoughts on the matter. Would you ever consider buying a postcard game?