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Game Design Notes (and other random thoughts)

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"Progress on Just in Time" or "My first attempt at making tokens"

David Gregg
United States
Franklinville
North Carolina
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My WIP Just in Time has been in the hands of publishers for review for a while now and since the whole process takes a long time, I've been keeping busy by continuing to tweak things with a focus on shrinking the overall size of the game into something more manageable. For a while I had some to a standstill, until I decided to make a PnP version of Love Letter themed after one of my favorite childhood (and adult for that matter) video games: Super Mario Bros.



At first I was borrowing the red crystals from Ascension: Deckbuilding Game to use as VP tokens, but I really wanted to find something more "Mario-y". Then I happened across a lovely article on how to create your own chipboard tokens and knew I had to give it a shot. So I bought a 5/8" arch punch (was close in diameter to the wood tokens I used to use).



Since I was going to be making tokens anyways, I decided to make a new copy of my prototype for WIP Just in Time (version 8 now). Decided that since the tokens were pretty small that I could shrink almost all of the components and then went ahead and printed every possible combination of token I could possible use, just in case. Ended up with a total of 348 tokens for Just in Time plus the 13 for Love Letter for a grand total of 361 tokens... Final game will use far less.

Here's all the tokens for Just in Time punched and bagged:



To say the least, my arm was sore and my arch punch took a major beating:





Mario coins turned out really good though!



While the tops of the tokens look good, the bottoms are really roughed up and often aligned poorly (newb alert). Here's a shot comparing tops / bottoms of Just in Time tokens (top row = top of tokens):



As for the actual Just in Time prototype, here's the board with rondel:



City cards added:



Tokens added to city cards (letters A through S):



Player tokens placed:



Initial event tokens placed along with their damage markers:



Whole game now packs up quite nicely!



Lessons learned:

First off, I'm going to get a bigger arch punch (probably 1") since constraining myself to the size of my original wood tokens was stupid and it'll give me more room to work with iconography etc. Secondly, I plan to nab a block of scrap wood somewhere to do my punching on so it doesn't dull my punch blade so fast (though my cement block outside looks pretty cool now...). The player tokens will likely get swapped back out for wood bits as I think making them stand out from the other tokens is important. I do like the overall design of the event and damage tokens, I'd just like to see them be a bit bigger, so I plan to print some different sized ones on standard paper just to get a feel for what I want before ordering a new punch. Also of note, swinging a 3 lb. steel mallet over 360 times leaves you with a really, really sore arm... lol.

Hopefully will be able to get some plays of the prototype (and Love Letter!) in very soon
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Mon Feb 11, 2013 12:37 am
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Nightfall, Video Games and Just in Time

David Gregg
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Franklinville
North Carolina
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Lots of little blurbs today

First up, before I get to the normal stuff... coolcoolcool IT'S MY BIRTHDAY WOOT!!! coolcoolcool



Had a small pool party this past weekend with family and best friend. Having lots of good food to celebrate and otherwise trying to relax a bit. Good times.

Nightfall

In case you've missed the announcements, the iOS Nightfall version has been on sale for 99¢ as the release of iOS Martial Law approaches.

Nightfall: Eternal Darkness (base game and Nightfall: Martial Law combined) is for sale. Cheapest I've seen it so far is on Boards & Bits for $32.49.

Playtesting for NF7 is coming along great. We've finished testing it against previous sets and are now starting to mix several sets at once to see how well things mix together. Feeling pretty happy with the overall balance.

Also completed some more work on my prototype for a card creator website. Looking quite good imo and will have it posted for all to tinker with in the near future.



Video Games

Guild Wars 2 beta weekend event #3 was a blast. Ended up playing mostly Asura (though I did run through the Sylvari character creation and the first few levels). Had some epic encounters and nabbed a couple great screenshots:


Overlooking Metrica Province




Fighting a huge overly powerful fire elemental




My Sylvari character that I plan to main



With my guild Bound by Nails [BbN] starting back up, I've been looking into more options for the members. My latest VOIP service of choice has been Mumble. I've been running the server software on my personal PC so far, but will want something more dedicated to the task whenever it is that I open up access to the entire guild. I asked around on Reddit about my options and got some great answers. Seems like if I want to manage things on my own that I'll need a VPS and just so happens that Amazon's free tier can handle the job for up to 100 users. In addition to a VOIP service I've also decided against setting up a guild forum and instead am opting for a subreddit aka /r/BoundbyNails. For something the size of a small-medium guild this should do basically all the same things while remaining free and can support quite a bit of various content.

One of the Guild Wars 2 focused shows that I watch is Tales of Tyria and in there latest episode Freelancer from Team Legacy went over one of his strategies for manipulating gaming markets to obtain a great deal of profit. For those interested, here's a spreadsheet of his market example and of course the actual video:



Also in the video gaming genre, I've been playing a bit of League of Legends lately (I'm S3rvant if you wanna group up). So far I've only gotten to level 7 playing coop vs AI and have been focusing on Ryze, but it's been great fun. Really wish I could find a good way to obtain riot points without needing to spend cash though... the gem market in Guild Wars 2 has me spoiled... So, back to Ryze: did some calculations based on how well he's boosted from mana and ability power and came up with the following item build order:

Name Cost
---------------------------
Sapphire Crstyal $400
Meki Pendant $390
Tear of the Goddess $205
Boots of Speed $350
Sapphire Crstyal $400
Sorcerer's Shoes $750
Amplifying Tome $435
Chain Vest $700
Glacial Shroud $425
Blasting Wand $860
Archangel's Staff $1,000
Blasting Wand $860
Needlessly Large Rod $1,600
Rabadon's Deathcap $1,140
Cloth Armor $300
Cloth Armor $300
Frozen Heart $650
Blasting Wand $860
Void Staff $1,000
Amplifying Tome $435
Sapphire Crystal $400
Sheen $425
Blasting Wand $860
Null-Magic Mantle $400
Lich Bane $950
---------------------------
Total $16,095


While I know that in real matches you have to adjust your build strategy on the fly I still like to have a good plan going in and am frequently able to get down to Sheen, though I've yet to make it to Lich Bane. I can say that with this build Ryze has some tankiness about him late game and can burst down most enemy champions that he encounters (I went 13/6/6 in my last game). Tis much fun.

Just in Time

Ideas for this one are starting to float around in my head again. Might be time to gather up the gaming group and get back to work! Most of the tweaks I'm come up reduce fiddliness and a couple I think just make it work better overall. Here's the list:

1. Instead of shifting the entire timeline backward at the end of each turn, just shift the players forward... no clue why I never thought of this before, it's so much easier to actually do.

2. Instead of buildings starting off with expensive effects and needing to be upgraded to offer a discount on their effects, the buildings will start free and be damaged by new events, increasing the cost to use the ability. This solves two problems for me: removes fiddly gain of disc from upgrading as now it makes since to gain a reward when you fix damage and before having everything getting cheaper over the course of the game during the cities impending doom felt kinda immersion breaking, so having things getting more expensive feels a lot better. I'm also thinking that a fully damaged building can't be used at all, forcing you to either abandon using it or invest an action repairing it first, with smaller buildings being easier to reach this point. Damage repair will most likely be "up to two per action point".



3. Once the last event has been placed in the timeline, the game moves to a sudden death state as time-space attempts to restore itself. Instead of only moving your own color-coded events down a slot in the timeline, now all events move down a slot, meaning the game will end in a furious rush to prevent a last minute defeat for the players. While I'll have to be careful with balancing the sudden death (don't want it to be too hard), I think it will do a great job of getting rid of the boring last few turns from before.



4. I'm considering adding tiles that cause additional effects ala Castle Panic such as: draw more events, shift all of the current player's events down an additional slot, damage every building adjacent to the current player, etc. Might not need this with the reversal of building damage, but it's something that I plan to implement if needed to keep the pressure up during the mid-late game.



5. I'm also thinking about swapping out all the chipboard bits for cards. Since the timeline will be stationary now, I don't need super sturdy event tiles while shifting things around and mini-cards such as those used in Ninjato may work out really well (and would give me more options for setting up the game such as having two stacks: one for locations and another for event type). I'm still debating what I want to do about the location tiles. I like having a modular board, but as-is you can have broken setups when all of the most powerful locations end up next to each other. I think I'm either going to have to move to a static board (which means better artwork for the board in the end) or semi-modular by having different backs on the location cards that match up with certain places around the board allowing me to force the powerful locations to be spread apart.
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Wed Aug 1, 2012 12:26 am
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NF7 Slowing Down, Guild Wars 2 Beta & League of Legends

David Gregg
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North Carolina
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NF7 Slowing Down

Just a quick mention here: Nightfall 7 is narrowing in on its final balance with playtest teams mixing in older sets and finding fewer and fewer things to tweak. Which is great! Means I have more time to spend on other stuff like the card creator website I mentioned a while back (almost have a function prototype woot!).

Also on the Nightfall front, AEG has been working on a dual package of Nightfall and Nightfall: Martial Law for a reduce price. While I haven't actually seen it for sale personally, I have seen some reports by others who've found it already. Also, Nightfall of the iOS variety is on sale for $0.99 to celebrate the release of Martial Law as an in-app purchase.

Guild Wars 2 Beta

In case you've missed the plethora of announcements, Guild Wars 2 is having their final beta weekend event this coming weekend Fri-Sun. I'll most likely remain on the same server as I've been on so far (Isle of Janthir) and will definitely be exploring every little nook and cranny of the Asura zones (I'm saving Sylvari for release). Probably still going to play mesmer, but will likely be focusing on crafting and PvP this time around.

As for BWE3, looks like we'll be seeing a new level 17-20 zone that sits next to the Asura, Human and Sylvari zones as well as a new sPvP map. Vistas have been added to map completion which are supposed to be somewhat harder to actually get to and then reward you with a cool cinematic view of the area (I think they're pretty neat). Some other little additions too such as a Norn bar brawl and the gem store is actually going fully live for this event (buy gems for cash now, get to use them now and even though they reset for launch, you'll get them again, so no money is lost).

ArenaNet has given out a ton of beta keys for this event and I've been participating in contests etc. to try and nab keys for my friends, but am still one key short of covering all my friends, so if you happen to have a spare key, please keep me in mind.

League of Legends

So... apparently there's this game that has someone of a large following called League of Legends and I have somehow completed overlooked its existence until recently. Turns out, it's pretty awesome! Not a lot of maps to play on, but the game play mechanics are interesting and so far it seems to not require as much dexterity as compared to other real-time strategy games (I'm looking at you StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty).

I'm just getting started with the game having only done the tutorial games and then just one match as coop vs AI. Already seeing a ton of depth and have been doing some research on wikis to see how I want to gear my characters and such (so much to consider...).

Also for those who don't know me well, I tend to take one or two hobbies and obsess over them crazily until they wear off a bit and then move on to others, bouncing back and forth on my favorites. That said, board games are still around, but definitely taking a back-seat to video games currently. Doesn't help that I'm low on funds currently, so the collection is stagnating (not that it matters, I still have games that we haven't played). Once the "new" wears off a bit on GW2 and LoL I expect a nice resurgence in the board gaming side of things.
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Wed Jul 18, 2012 2:42 am
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Nightfall: Dark Rages, NF7, Guild Wars 2 and The Wildlings

David Gregg
United States
Franklinville
North Carolina
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Nightfall

Nightfall: Dark Rages has arrived! Well, it's arrived at my house anyways

Some pics from my phone's (pitiful) camera:

Box top, side one and side two (now with finger slots!):


Box bottom and end (both ends are the same) as well as the box opened with cards sorted and rules pamphlet out front:


Cards themselves turned out great Now to get my group together to properly break them in

Also on the Nightfall front, NF7 playtesting has begun and already about to be on the 3rd card iteration. Several small tweaks in the first couple versions (new mechanic is interesting to balance). Tweaks slowed down a bit with this 3rd version and I suspect will remain slower as we focus testing on various cards. Once the set is internally well balanced we'll start mixing in the older stuff and see how the new cards fare.

Guild Wars 2

So there was another Beta Weekend Event this past weekend for Guild Wars 2 and I got in a ton of game time. My original plan was to play each profession for a couple hours in sPvP to give them all a fair shot and then use that to figure out what my main would be. Thing is... that didn't sound like much fun. So, instead I created characters for a few other professions that I thought held potential for my style (thief, necromancer and guardian) and leveled each a bit in PvE until I felt I had a decent grasp of their core mechanics. None were as fun to me as my mesmer. Mesmer is definitely what I'll be as my main. So, at least I have that figured out.

Next step was to unlock every single weapon skill so that I could decide on which weapon sets I wanted to focus my play on. In BWE1 I ran scepter/torch and staff with a focus on mantras and condition damage. This time around I thought I'd give greatsword a good run through as I'd heard that a lot of people liked it, but... I found it lacking. Sure it has a couple interesting skills along with a mass knockback, but its DPS wasn't very good and what little control it offered wasn't really enough. Next up was duel wielding a pair of swords. I figured that I wouldn't like swords as I'm not a huge fan of melee in general, but these... they were awesome! The main hand sword especially has great skills including an auto attack that applies vulnerability, a massive damage attack that also gives you evasion and in case that wasn't enough the third skill summons a clone while crippling the opponent AND then gives you the choice to teleport to the clone, immobilizing your opponent, both of which are considering leap type finishers.

surprise

Off hand sword was good too, but it didn't take long to find an offhand that I liked even more. Enter the pistol. The pistol is ridiculous. Fourth skill slot summons a phantasm that unloads a ton of damage from range via duel pistols (still need to check if these count as finishers). The fifth skill fires a shot that bounces on up to 3 enemies, with first being stunned, second dazed and third blinded. Suddenly my trusty torch from BWE1 wasn't performing all that well in comparison...

I still had a few others to try out, including the focus, which is pretty cool too. Its fourth skill puts down a long field that gives allies swiftness and cripples opponents, which also counts as a combo field. Staff has some pretty cool skills too, including a mini-teleport backward and an excellent AoE that includes a fear, but the cooldown is a bit long to really make staff feel like a "must have" for me.

In the end I went scepter/pistol and sword/sword (but I think I actually prefer off-hand focus over the sword) and had a blast. Absolutely loved opening up with my phantasmal duelist and then channeling the scepter's confusion skill dealing tons of damage right from the start and then lobbing a few balls of energy over to work toward a clone while the enemy closed the distance. When the opponent started winding up for an attack, I'd just fire the stun, swap to swords, summon the clone, teleport over to the enemy, hit a couple times with the auto attack to apply vulnerability and then as the enemy finally winds up for another attack I flurry to avoid the damage (and usually defeat the enemy at the same time). The overall damage output of the set combined with its burst damage was ridiculous. Ridiculously fun that is!

For the curious, here's the exact weapon sets / utility skills that I plan to aim for in BWE3 (didn't include traits since the calculator hasn't been updated yet):
http://www.gw2builds.org/create/bwe_1/mesmer#3.1.2.2-1.15.8.....0.0.0.0

Oh and I'll most certainly still be playing Sylvari



The Wildlings

I acquired a copy of the Mouse Guard Roleplaying Game Box Set, but have so far only gotten in a single session with the kidos. They liked it, but the amount of rules in the game has them weary (even though I'm the one managing everything...). The RPG that first got me thinking of running something for the kids was when I first about the development of The Wildlings Player's Kit. John Harper did an amazing job on the kit and I was excited to see the eventual release of a GM guide, but one never came. Recently however another member of the forums where the original work was posted has uploaded a modified version and has provided some decent feedback with how to run the game (with additional info in the works, hopefully).

So in preparation for trying it out I've ordered each of the standard sized translucent poly 7 dice sets from Cool Stuff Inc. and have had some copies printed locally: 4x copies of the player kit (front cover, pages 2-5 and map as back cover), 1x copy of the initial quest and 10x copies of the character sheet. When I first mentioned the game to the kidos, comparing it to the only other RPG they know of (Mouse Guard), they weren't so happy about it ("does it have a huge rulebook too?!"), but when I revealed the tiny player kit's rulebook they relaxed and are looking forward to trying it out.

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Thu Jun 14, 2012 3:21 am
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Basic game idea, Guild Wars 2 info, PC work and some sporty events

David Gregg
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Franklinville
North Carolina
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Basic Game Idea

Had an idea a few days back about making a game with chess-like movement, but where the movement patterns change throughout the game. Original idea was to give the players a small hand of cards and let them play 1 each turn so that they can have some secret info, but it could work out just as well with fully open info and/or no player hands, just having a deck of cards and revealing one each turn to adjust the moves with.

I think I'd still like to pursue this idea, but first I'd like to get a new chess set (do not currently own one) so that'd I'd have some nice pieces to easily tell apart during playtesting, but also because I value having a chess set around as a common abstract to play with the kidos and any others that visit my place.

I do still think that a hex or triangular grid would be better for this game, simply because it would offer far more possible patterns for movement vs having to use the simpler movement patterns via square spaces.

As I mentioned in the original post, I'm not a huge fan of abstracts (hurty brain), but with the reduction in number of pieces along with the changing movement reducing analysis paralysis (hopefully), this might turn out to be one that I could enjoy.



Guild Wars 2 Info

While waiting for the next beta weekend event I've been keeping an eye on the GW2 subreddit for new info, videos etc and stumbled across an interesting engineer skill chart that inspired me to try making a chart of my own. So far I've really been enjoying the mesmer, so I made a large skill breakdown for it. One commenter asked for a necromancer version and even though I don't plan on playing that profession, I think I might still work on the chart for them just for something fun to do.



With news that the next BWE is this coming weekend I've been nailing down my plans. The wifey and kidos already know that I'll have door closed and headphones on (nice to have some support for personal time). Currently I'm planning to spend a decent chunk of time in sPvP with each of the professions to try to nail down which I'll be playing as my main, but I also might spend some more time in PvE with my mesmer (since it won't be getting deleted) to try out the crafting system a bit.



PC Work

This has been a very busy week for me with PC work. My church has a clothing ministry where people donate clothing, we wash it up and then give it back out for free to whomever wants them. I happened to notice that in the back of the storage area for these clothes were 6 computers just laying around, so I asked about them and turned out that they all were in need of repair. So I volunteered and have been working on those since. Fortunately 5 of them were the same model, so was able to fully reformat, reinstall and update just 1, then clone its hard drive over to the other 4, saving me several hours of updates etc. The 6th one is a nicer model, but its red graphics card channel doesn't appear to be working (didn't see any popped capacitors or other obvious damage to the card), so we'll likely be ordering a new card and then I'll finish getting that one good as well.

Also for the church, last week's sermon was a fantastic message about adoption, one which a prisoner has requested a transcription of. Our pastor contacted me to see if I knew of any transcription software (I do not) and so I ended up volunteering my decent typing speed (just tested at 96 WPM) to manually transcribe the message for the guy. Unfortunately our pastor talks just a bit faster than I can type (only because he keeps using words that I don't normally type... lol), so ended up having to play the video back a bit slower (yay VLC) so that I could keep up.



Also had a coworker ask me to work on a PC for him that he just obtained from a friend. At first he wanted me to crack the guy's password (XP passwords are rather easy to crack and/or simply remove), but he ended up just asking me to format and reinstall everything similar to what I'd been doing with the church computers.

Good times



Some Sporty Events

My mother recently setup a huge above-ground pool at her place (her attempt to get the family over even more often than we already are, lol), so we've been over there a ton as the wife and kidos absolutely love to swim. I don't mind it myself, but I have a weird skin condition thing where my skin dies at a very rapid rate when it remains exposed to liquids (found this out the hard way when employed as a dish washer for a diner). So anywho, hasn't been a big deal really aside from one time last week after being in the pool for a couple hours:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
I rubbed against one of those plastic rings that you dive down to grab and the friction caused enough layers to pull right off to draw blood in a couple places...

Wasn't able to swim for a few days after that, but it's all healed up now.

My wife's also been bugging me constantly about scheduling a trip to the ocean (her whole family LOVES the ocean, I could care less), so surprised her a bit with a trip to Myrtle Beach this past weekend, which ended up being a pretty good trip. Was very surprised that everyone was able to get in lots of swim time without anyone suffering from any real sun burns this time around (last time I got sun poisoning).

gulp

Other than swimming, my BFF and I also managed to get some time to head over to a local disc golf course (highly recommend btw) and had a great time. We remained tied for the first third of the game or so before he finally goofed a couple throws giving me the lead. A bit later into the game I attempted a jump over a tiny muddy creek-like area (looked like water had ran there, leaving behind a long trail of mud), but my last step ended up being in the mud and so my jump was short, landing directly into the mud itself and sinking my left foot into the stuff beyond my shin... To say the least Daniel got a huge kick out of it.



I ended up messing up a few shots, giving him the lead again, but was able to catch back up by the end, being tied again on the final hole. Was quite the epic match, especially when Daniel missed his final throw, giving me the win by 1 point! I've very much been enjoying disc golf and plan to visit another nearby course soon that Daniel found out about.

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Mon Jun 4, 2012 4:15 pm
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Recruiting Playtest Teams, More Nightfall 7 and Nightfall Card Creator?

David Gregg
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Recruiting Playtest Teams

In case you didn't see the announcement in the Nightfall news forum, I'm looking for more playtest teams as I prepare to ramp up for testing Nightfall 7.

Requirements:
● Must already be very familiar with the game mechanics, preferably from all currently existing sets.
● Must be able to print your own cards for playtesting, including all sets not owned and yet to be released.
● Must be able to playtest and report playtest data at least once weekly (under-performing groups will be removed).
● Each member of your group must be legally able and willing to sign an NDA from AEG (just basic don't blab type stuff).

If your group meets the requirements and enjoys trying to abuse/break your games, please geekmail me your name, email, the size of your group and a small bit about why your group would make a good playtest team. This is not a first come, first served type deal as we need quality more then we need quantity, though I will consider additional teams if there are several good candidates.

Also, should anyone be in the Asheboro, NC area, my group has a couple open spots.



Nightfall 7

With playtesting of NF7 fast approaching, I've been working hard to finish up the scripts that I use for generating each set. I completed the set of scripts that I use for generating the color layouts for the cards a few days ago and then optimized the script that I use for looking for how the new cards will combo with existing cards today. Once all that was done I assembled an Excel spreadsheet with all of the info and posted it to the playtest forums to begin collecting ideas.

Once everyone has had some time to post their thoughts on the set and any ideas for specific cards they may have, it'll be time to start assigning effects to the Excel sheet, run it by the rules lawyers over at AEG and then finally convert that Excel sheet into playable cards to get started. Here's a sample of what Nightfall: The Coldest War looked like at this stage:



Nightfall Card Creator

I've had this idea brewing for a long time now, that the Official FAQ / Encyclopedia could be migrated to a sleeker interface over on AEG's servers and then add a new feature on top of it: a card creator for players to submit and vote on each other's ideas.

Here's what I imagine:
● Top of the front page is divided into 3 columns: hot, top and new
● Each column has its top card in either half or full size for easy viewing
● Underneath the top card is 9 more (the top 10) with only a thumbnail and card name
● Underneath these top 10's would divert to a blog style where news and such is posted
● Navigation includes various ways to look up existing cards and to view submitted ideas
● Submitted ideas can be commented on, voted on and even propose revisions on by other players
● News could be used to hint at upcoming mechanics so that players could tinker with submitting fitting ideas
● When designing a new Nightfall set, we could pull ideas from the site, giving credit in the border to the person who submitted it
● I think this system would encourage a lot of player involvement in the series and would help drive more interaction online.

If AEG likes the idea and would provide the space (database, etc) I'll likely work on the backend coding and get this up for everyone ASAP. So far some of the guys are thinking that a wiki would work for the encyclopedia part, but I would want a card viewer somewhere on the page so help prevent needless click-throughs to simply look at the cards. Something like what I use for the booster pack variant is very simple to implement.

As for the "create a card" stuff, a wiki might not be the best format. Something that allows for easy sorting and viewing of the various ideas along with a decent voting / comment system would be ideal, something like the Guild Wars 2 build site GW2Builds.org.

Using the GW2 site as an example: replace the warrior symbols with small thumbnails of the cards being created (or simple emphasis on colors used along with minion vs action), card name to replace build name, card text added directly below name, remove word count and game version columns, then add a column for the number of comments:

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Sat May 19, 2012 11:43 pm
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Nightfall 7, Game Design Jam and Guild Wars 2

David Gregg
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Nightfall 7

Well we've begun reviewing the final production copies of Nightfall 6 and that means it's time to start working on Nightfall 7. The first step that I'm working on now is writing a custom script that I use to figure out the optimal card colors. Given that there is a limited number of unique color combinations that can be used, I'm going to have to start repeating some of them as we move forward. However, I can at least focus on keeping repeats to a minimum and of course ensure that any cards having matching colors have very different effects.

Also on the Nightfall front, the iOS initial release has been going very well. A few hiccups here and there, but overall the reception has been quite positive. From what I've seen of footage online it looks like Playdek has done a great job and will continue to improve the current release as well as develop expansions.



Game Design Jam

Had a nice chat recently with Clive Lovett, a fellow game designer, who is trying to put together a Global Game Design Jam this fall. Essentially he's looking for amateur game designers to group up in various areas around the world, forming teams that can then be led by an established designer.

The teams would work together over a 48 hour period in the attempt to cooperatively progress their game ideas as much as possible during that time. So a dedicated design session with multiple creative minds focusing on single projects. I imagine it'd likely be a lot of fun and I wouldn't be surprised if a few projects progress all the way to completion. Depending on how my schedule looks this fall, I may very well look into leading a team in my area.


Random image that felt good for this spot...


Guild Wars 2

Guild Wars 2 will finally be available for pre-purchase tomorrow (guaranteeing access to beta weekend events from now until retail release of the game)!

From all the beta footage that's been revealed so far, I'm pretty sure that I'll be playing an Elementalist, though I'm not sure yet whether I'm more inclined to play a Sylvari or a Charr. For now, here's some great Elementalist PvP footage:



Time to Move

My sis managed to upgrade her apartment from a single bedroom on the 2nd floor of her complex to a 2 bedroom on the first floor. Just in time too, as she's getting far enough along that it's going to be getting very difficult for her to handle all those stairs, not to mention needing the additional space for my nephew. On the downside, with each move means that someone's got to do the moving... and since it's for family, I'm obligated. Normally I wouldn't mind so much, but I'm just getting over a cold, so it definitely stressed what little energy I had. Oh well, good times were had regardless, so I guess I can't complain too much.

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Tue Apr 10, 2012 3:34 am
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Nightfall iOS, Epic G4GG Win and Kickstart Exocomics

David Gregg
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Nightfall iOS

In case you missed the announcement, Nightfall released yesterday for iPod, iPhone and iPad! From the screenshots and gameplay footage that I've seen it appears that they've done a great job with the UI though I won't be able to try it out myself (no iDevices). I'm hoping that if this release goes well that they'll expand to other platforms such as Android and possibly even Steam.



Also on the Nightfall front, I've begun working on NF7, though really all I'm doing right now is coding some scripts for finding the optimal link colors for this set and talking with AEG and playtesters about what mechanics we want to focus on. I think this cycle (NF7-9) is gonna be pretty interesting based on talks so far.

Epic G4GG Win

I've been participating in the Games for Geekgold lotteries for a few months now and am enjoying the overall exchanges. I've listed a few things and I've won a few, but this most recent win has definitely been the most epic. I only bid a single GG giving me a 0.05% chance to win and came out winning The Last Starfighter Combat Game, Cthulhu Dice, Sirocco and Red November! I was really only after Cthulhu Dice and Red November (thus the low bid) and have since already worked out a trade for the other 2 games with the person who had bid the largest chunk of GG to that lottery (950!!!).



Kickstart Exocomics

One of my favorite webcomics, Exocomics, launched a Kickstarter campaign a few days ago for printed (and digital) editions of their comics (and have already been fully funded!) so I must absolutely get involved financially. I plan to support at the $65 level to nab both books that they're offering.

=^.^=

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Fri Apr 6, 2012 4:53 pm
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MACE West, Podcast Questions and More

David Gregg
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MACE West

Just got back home from MACE West yesterday. The con lasted from Friday through Sunday, but I had to work most of Friday, so only managed to get down there as things were starting to wrap up for the evening. Did manage to try out Wooly Bully with the family, which while being a light game, was pretty decent.

Saturday was my main event day as I ran a demo for my WIP Just in Time, a demo for Nightfall and a Nightfall tournament to round out the evening. The Just in Time demo went very well with the guys enjoying the overall mechanics. Only real comment was that the game wasn't quite keeping up the pressure as I had wanted (we were able to catch up with the tasks being created). The players had some good ideas for various ways to tweak the difficulty that I'll be trying out very soon.



As for the Nightfall stuff, I mixed all 4 existing sets together so everyone could really see the various cards and even made the starters decks from 1 of each available starter so they could try out the new ones. The demo had 3 players (not including me) and went very smooth with everyone picking up on the game right away. Two of the guys who demo'd ended up playing in the tournament with a total of four participants in the tourney (I didn't play). For the tourney we played a sort of End of the World Series (4 rounds, no elimination) with everyone swapping seats between games and the player with the least total wounds being the winner. We also used the Aggressive Wounds variant to put extra emphasis on quality deckbuilding, which the players enjoyed quite a bit. At the end of the 4th round we actually had a tie between the top two players, so they played a final 1v1 game with standard rules (2 player draft rules). The final winner won a copy of Nightfall: The Coldest War.



I did have a bit of downtime Saturday between demos, so I wondered around a bit to see what was going on at the time and found a game of Lords of Waterdeep. I've seen this one being mentioned a lot on BGG lately, so sat down to watch the game. For those that don't know, Lords of Waterdeep is a Dungeons & Dragons themed worker placement game. Players are dealt a character card (note: not 100% on my terms, so don't quote me here) which give them a secret way of gaining points at the end of the game. Players also receive a couple quests (public knowledge) and a couple intrigue cards (kept private) which give them 1 shot abilities to mess with their opponents or otherwise affect the condition of the game. Players start with a certain number of meeples of their color and take turns placing them in various locations around the board. Location abilities vary from gaining new quests to building new buildings which contain new locations to recruiting heroes for your party to playing those intrigue cards. Your heroes are represented by colored cubes (fighter/warrior, rogue/thief, wizard, cleric/priest). If you have enough gold and the correct combination of heroes to complete a quest at the end of the turn, you gain that quest's rewards. The game plays a fixed 8 rounds and the player with most victory points at the end wins. Overall I thought it looked like a great game (added at #2 on my want geeklist), looks to be rules light (rules are short and easy to understand) while maintaining some nice depth of strategy (looked like plenty of combo engines and ways to mess with people).

Podcast Questions

I caught wind that Tom Vasel is going to be putting together a podcast discussing Christian game designers, so offered up my time to assist. Looks like he's being swamped with such offers though, so he's asked me to put together a short 3-4 minute clip and send his way. Now the reason why I bring this up is that I'd like to see if you guys and gals have any questions you'd like me specifically to address. I know that some have questioned how my religious beliefs relate to Nightfall's theme, so I'll most likely be addressing that one, but I'd love to hear what other questions the community might have for me.



Just in Time

After the demo at MACE West I'm starting to feel pretty good about the game. I plan to work on some ways to add additional bursts of tasks to the timeline occasionally to keep the pressure up and that should pretty well wrap up the majority of the core mechanics. For this version I added some minor penalties that can occur each time a task is generated, but they only effect players that are in the same day as the task, so they don't always take effect and sometimes can hit multiple players. Those extra little penalties made things pretty interesting as someone's d8 roll would land on your day and you had to see what penalty awaited you. Now that the core mechanics are pretty well solid, the main things that I need to tweak is the balance of the location abilities (and to make sure each is useful and/or fun) and to make sure that the difficulty is balanced for 2, 3 and 4 players, preferably with a few difficulty options as well (easy, medium, hard).

cool

Guild Wars 2

Guild Wars 2 will be available for pre-purchase starting April 10th and one of the benefits is guaranteed access to their beta weekend events for the remainder of the time up until release day. I think the game looks awesome (as if you couldn't tell from my want geeklist) and plan to order the digital deluxe version ASAP. Can't wait to try out the various professions that I've been reading up on and watching on YouTube these past weeks. Originally I was planning to roll a Sylvari Mesmer, but the more I see in the vids, the more I find myself drooling over the Elementalist and the Charr is really starting to grow on me as well. Perhaps I'll just make 1 of each.

arrrh

New Hire

We had a spot open up at my workplace last week and as I'm the new trainer I got to see how the applicant process works and am working on training the new guy starting today. I've seen how training works already, but last time was done with the previous trainer, while this time I'll be on my own. New guy is looking pretty like a pretty solid, nice guy, so should be pretty easy to train. Still, wish me luck.

Reddit Awesomeness



If a video never loads for ya, try this page instead.
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Mon Apr 2, 2012 3:11 pm
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Playtesting, Gaming and MACE West

David Gregg
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Got in a good bit of gaming this weekend between a get-together with my folks and a dedicated gaming day with my BFF and our mutual friends.

Playtesting

Our dedicated gaming day was yesterday and involved myself, Daniel and Mitch. Mitch has been working on his own game design project and our first game of the day was to playtest it. I won't go into much detail on mechanics etc as that's for him to discuss, but I'll say that it is coming along very well and Daniel and I both enjoyed the overall mechanics. Some things still need balance / tweaks of course, but I can definitely see it being a game that goes all the way to publishing.

Later on in the day we also got in a game of my WIP Just in Time, this time as a pure cooperative. Mitch had to leave a bit early, so I played with Daniel and his wife. Overall I'm pretty happy with the switch to pure coop as it lets the players be a bit more tactical with location upgrades and helping to make each other time travel to best beat the game. Unfortunately we found things to be a bit easy and by roughly 2/3rds through the game we had caught up with the game's threats to the point that it was going to be nearly impossible for the game to really do any damage to us.



Fortunately Daniel and his wife both had great input on possible tweaks, so I'll be reworking the following for our next session:

● Some of the locations currently allow solving a task within 1 day of your current time. This is overpowered as we were able to pretty much just focus on getting those locations upgraded and then using their abilities to focus down the tasks around us. I'll be changing these to still allow completing a specific task type, but only on the current day (so will only be helpful if you're far away from the actual task location). This change alone will do a lot to make the game harder, so I'll probably have to reduce the cost on these locations a bit to balance them.

● Currently there are 3 locations that can distort (remove upgrades, force players at location to time travel) which is really helpful if another player landed on a bad day and needs some help, but there's 1 location type that can't currently be distorted. I'm thinking of dropping one of the movement spaces in exchange for the 4th distort type. I'm also debating as to whether I want the distort to remove all of the upgrades or just one.

● Another change that I'm considering to increase the difficulty is for new task to cause some extra damage to the players. Since there are only 4 task types, it should be pretty simple to assign a penalty to each type (lose a time-travel disc, an action point, a location upgrade, etc). At first I was thinking that the player who's ending their turn should suffer the penalty as they place the new task, but now that I'm thinking about it, I have another idea: since these penalties are a bit harsh I'd rather them not happen every turn, so instead of penalizing the current player, I'll just penalize whichever players are currently located on the day that the task is added to. This way there will be roughly a 50% chance that someone will be penalized, but the players won't know who until the die is rolled to assign the task. I think this will add a good bit of difficulty and help to prevent the game from becoming too predictable/solvable.

Now I just need to get the bits updated ASAP for the next playtest session this coming weekend!

Gaming

Saturday evening we celebrated my step-sis' birthday party with my folks, who request to play some sort of game pretty much every time we get together, though they prefer classic card games (Hearts or Euchre mostly) or lighter games (recent favorite has been Ticket to Ride). This time however, we went with an old party fav: Spoons. For those of you who've never played Spoons, it can be hilarious, though you'll need to be pretty quick at nabbing the spoons if you want to actually remain in the game for long. We play with actual metal spoons as I can imagine the plastic ones just getting shattered after a few rounds from the way we play. It isn't uncommon at all to see people diving across the table or wrestling it out on the floor to obtain that last remaining spoon that went flying from the initial grab. We've even had to get the ER involved a time or two (such as when my wife sprained her wrist during such a match).

Was good times, even though I came in 2nd



Back to our Sunday gaming day, between the prototyping testing we also got in a game of Chaos in the Old World, one that I'd heard of several times, but never had the chance to play. Mitch had obtained a copy and brought it with him, so we tried it out. I played the blue dudes, Daniel was red and Mitch was green. I think Mitch was the quickest to understand his win condition and really powered through his dial pretty well, with me catching on fast as well and mostly keeping up with him. Daniel took a bit longer to get his war engine running, but once he did, his points took off much faster then what we were able to keep up with. The game ended via VP's from Daniel with Mitch and I being only a couple dial rotations from our respective wins. The overall game was decent, but the quantity of counters that end up laying around the board seemed fiddly and I'm not a fan of games with overly dark theme such as this.

To wrap up the evening I started up a game of Ticket to Ride with Daniel and his wife, but my wife showed up to retrieve me before we could get very far. As my wife and his chatted for a bit, I showed Daniel how to play Hearts and Euchre so that we could get in some games of them next time our families get together.

MACE West

So this weekend is MACE West and the family is ready to get in some serious gaming! I've got my events lined up for Saturday, specifically: Just in Time demo from 9am - 11:30am, Nightfall demos from 1pm - 4pm and a Nightfall tourney from 5pm - 11pm.



I plan to have the Just in Time tweaks listed above ready for MACE and am looking forward to getting some fresh perspective on the game's mechanics. As for Nightfall, I plan to use the base game mixed in with Nightfall: Martial Law with some specific commons / private archives to ensure some lovely combos / kickers. As for the tourney, I'll be mixing all 4 currently released sets into custom draft decks with each deck containing 2 of each color from each set. The players will play with starter decks consisting of 1 of each starter minion both new and old. The tourney format itself will be a End of the World series mixed with the aggressive wound variant with best final score after 4 rounds being declared the winner and any ties being worked out with a single game of the life total variant. Hopefully there'll be enough participants that I can really mix up the match-ups to prevent playing the same people over and over again.
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Mon Mar 26, 2012 2:38 pm
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