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Brian Compter
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As the seasons begin their inevitable change to autumn, a new game design contest has begun at TheGameCrafter. The challenge for this contest is to design an Adventure Game.
https://www.thegamecrafter.com/contests/adventure-challenge

Scoring Rubric can be seen at the following link.
http://i.imgur.com/pkmXQqu.png

The game is due on December 5th.

I love these contests. They are a great way to stretch the creative muscles and do something a bit out of the ordinary. At first blush I really did not have anything in my game idea collection to draw from so this should be an interesting challenge.

More information to come as the design progresses.
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Brian Compter
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CURRENT DRAFT RULES - Available for comments!

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1fG2Jfcncfhz6E-31D3vZgQdX...
 
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Brian Compter
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Ideas

My first inclination for the game is to make it a post-cataclysm survival game. Games could be scenario based with multiple character options which does well with the requirement for variability in the game.

I don't want to do zombies. And I don't want a hardcore post-apocalyptic type game either. What I am thinking, the vibe I'd like to evoke, is that of the remnants of humanity eking out a living among the crumbling vestiges of long gone civilization. A world increasingly being reclaimed by nature.

What cataclysm? Not saying. I'd like the game to take place a generation or more removed from whatever event caused the calamity such that the current survivors have lived their whole lives up to this point in this new world and have no way of knowing how the world came to be what it is. And ultimately, the how doesn't matter to their survival day to day.

This leaves ample opportunity to fill the game with red herrings which will promote the immersion and theme of the game.

Mechanics

I actually have a little bit to draw on for the mechanics. A while back I envisioned a FTL type space game where you jumped to planetary systems and had to resolve events to move on to the next system. This would be accompanied by a pursuit track of sorts that represented your progress towards a goal and also the pursuit of enemy forces. So there may be certain planets that looked fairly difficult, but they would advance you towards your goal. On the flip side seemingly easier systems may provide opportunities to boost your supplies/upgrades but may allow the enemy to gain ground and inch closer to catching you.

So this is something I can adapt for this game. Or at least I'll try.

We will have Journey Cards which represent locations in the new world which will have events of varying severity that must be resolved. The pursuit track can be used to represent any number of things depending on the scenario.

Events
So how will events be resolved? Right now I am leaning towards some type of dice pool based system. To be honest I don't usually like games with too much luck but I am struggling to come up with a better system that would involve meaningful decisions while still preserving some form of risk management.

Goals

I think for this contest I'd like to do the best I can of course but I would love to do a much better job on my rule book. IN the last contest my rule book was my weakest link. I should do a better job on that.

That's enough for now. I'll be brainstorming some more over the next few days.
 
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Brian Compter
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Notecard Walkthrough
I made a very rough draft of the game on a handful of notecards and walked through the mechanics with my wife.

She had some ideas on making the dice pool work a bit better. On the quality of the game, she said she would probably not like it, but she could easily see how many other people would. At first blush it is not the best or worst review of an early design but I feel its probably enough to push on.

I grabbed a gaming co-worker yesterday and ran through my mock-ups and he said he saw some video game flavor to the game. (he is a much more heavy video game player than I am) Otherwise his reaction was generally positive and encouraged me to forge forward.



A (slightly) Better Prototype
I'm working on crafting up a better actually playable prototype. While I have some ideas on what I'd like to do with graphic design I am keeping things simple for now and concentrating on the pure mechanics.

 
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Brian Compter
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Playtests

I got in a preliminary playtest in this weekend. I don't have a full playset yet. I had only one event deck of three prepared but i wanted to forge ahead and give things a shake out.

Suffice to say, there will be lots of changes. My tests were a bit rough. I'm not fully in love with the game and will admit that mechanics need lots of design work to make it all meld together. Here are my major sticking points.

* I need to reduce the number of -1 goal Journey cards
* Should I track the food resource as one per player or simply as a group? Probably as a group to keep tracking and balancing easier.
* I think the characters seem a bit bland. I would like to make a stamina system for dice replenishment. That would also open up some additional event resolution outcomes.
* For journey cards, 1 event is too few, and 4 events is too many. Need to reconfigure for 2-3 events each. Coincidentally, the number of unique permutations of 3 types of events in groups of 2 or 3 groupings works out to EXACTLY 36 which is the number of journey cards I was hoping to make. I love it when that happens.
* Need to iterate the layout of the events and journeys. Slowing working on all the temporary icons.



Some Thoughts on Event Resolution

One of the things that concerned me a bit was how I was resolving events. Each event would have a choice or a skill check required. Skill checks are resolved by rolling dice from each Character and hoping to meet or beat a required value.

Considering the number of dice per player and the fact that the game will most likely be 3-5 players, that leads to numbers between 8 and 16. I found adding up to six dice per skill check to be cumbersome.

I wanted to think of a different way of doing things, perhaps a way that would not have to rebalanced depending on player count. I was in the car when I thought of the following change.

Instead of rolling skill dice to reach a number, how about rolling dice and counting successes where a success is something like a 4+ roll. A skill check would require as many successes as there are players.

I like this kind of change because it would do two things, 1) automatic balancing depending on player count, and 2) not as tedious as counting pips.

I could then make harder challenges require a 5+. Easier ones may require 3+.

I think I am going to try this type of system out for the next test.

Some Playtest Layouts

I am iterating these designs fast and furious, but here is what I have so far. It gives at least some semblance of what I am working towards.


 
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Brian Compter
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More Playtesting

I've iterated my Journey and Event cards and have them cut and stuffed for testing. I used the new 3+/4+/5+ skill check resolution system mentioned above and I liked it a lot better than the previous method. Plus, it has the added bonus of being self balancing based on the number of characters being played.



Other notes I had:

* I liked the Stamina system I used. Added a layer to the optimization issue during turns.
* Still unsatisfied with my characters. I would like to do something more with them to give players more to do with them besides silently optimizing them during events.
* Hard events are HARD
* Even difficult events can be mitigated with re-rolls by using supplies (don't run out of supplies!)
* May not be enough +1 goal Journey cards to meet most objectives.

I played 2 rounds with 3 characters. Resolved 6 journey cards for 3 distance, and encountered 3 each of green, yellow, and red signs.

The Real Deal

So far I am working with lots of ipsum lorem text and generic LOCATION NAME and EVENT NAME cards. I am slowly working towards writing up real events with more detailed and interactive choices and tests. I am very excited to be putting my ideas down and I think this will bring a lot of spice to the game. I'll certainly need to rebalance things then, so I won't fret too much about getting every value right just yet.

Slowly making progress. At least a little work every day if I can help it.
 
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Brian Compter
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Some preliminary art for the card backs of my main deck types. Not fully in love with them but there is plenty of time to work out the kinks.





Still working on filling out my event list and conjuring up all the terrible things that will befall players as they play the game.
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Benj Davis
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I'm concerned about the scaling based on number of players. I might be fretting over nothing, but the odds of getting 1 4+ on n dice aren't the same as getting 2 on 2n dice.
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Benj Davis
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Oops, posted before I said: Otherwise, it looks promising!
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actionjack JL
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Looking good!
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Tim Davidson
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Game is looking good! The journey cards and overall skill check mechanics look solid.

I notice you use (#players - 2) as a cost in a few places. This is a co-op game with different numbers of players? How how will you balance that? Would it work with everybody for themselves?

I'm also hoping to enter the adventure contest, but I don't have a good grasp on mechanics yet.
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Brian Compter
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Jlerpy wrote:
I'm concerned about the scaling based on number of players. I might be fretting over nothing, but the odds of getting 1 4+ on n dice aren't the same as getting 2 on 2n dice.


That is a good point. I'm going to have to examine that a bit more to make sure that will work the way I think it will.

actionjack wrote:
Looking good!


Thanks!

TimST1E wrote:
Game is looking good! The journey cards and overall skill check mechanics look solid.

I notice you use (#players - 2) as a cost in a few places. This is a co-op game with different numbers of players? How how will you balance that? Would it work with everybody for themselves?

I'm also hoping to enter the adventure contest, but I don't have a good grasp on mechanics yet.


Yes the aim of the game will be a coop with variable party size. I am hoping that the mechanics I have in place will self balance depending on party size but from what Jlerpy has said I may have to take a closer look at that.

I really want to avoid having to balance multiple times.
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Brian Compter
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Testing and Iterating

I had another round of playtesting over the weekend. Once again I worked on the basic scenario and played three characters through as long as I could.

My group ran low on supplies early and started to take damage. A stalker latched on to our party and saw the first real use of my signs mechanic which did well.

I had issues with progress on the Map. I just did not seem like I was making the progress I should have. Afterwards I broken down the Journey deck and made some adjustments. I need to get the deck to behave in a way to make the game feel like an inevitable march towards the games final resolution.

Thus putting pressure to not just survive but also having enough time to accomplish your objectives which incentives minus goal cards in an odd way.

I've already iterated my Journey cards and have a new set printed out.

Art Coming Together

This test also had a bunch of layout work done. You can see some of what I have in mind in the example images below.

My icons are rubbish. I need to work on those. The general layout of my Events cards needs a bunch of thought. At least most of the game is starting to come together.



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Brian Compter
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Testing Intensifies

Over the last few days I've been running tests before bed, working out the scenarios and getting a feel for balance for events.

At some point, I started feeling uneasy. The game seemed too linear. Too bland. Perhaps predictable is not the best word, but the decisions did not seem to matter in the way I wanted them too.

Do I have a game or an activity?

Well I started to really worry about this and decided to put it in front of some gaming friends at work to get an objective opinion. We did not play a full game, just a few turns really.

(note to self, it took about 5 minutes per journey card even with new players)

After getting a feel of the game, they did in fact like it and thought it was a fun idea and liked where it was headed.

Great to get a bit of positive feedback at this stage. I still have a bunch of work to do, and lots of balancing ahead. Onward.



 
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Brian Compter
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A Quick Update

Some other priorities have sprung up since my last update on this project. Long story short, I am going to miss the contest deadline and will be shelving this idea for a while.

I think I will be giving this game some space and come back to it at a later date. For now I have to concentrate on some near term priorities.
 
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Tim Davidson
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Scrapyardarmory wrote:
A Quick Update

Some other priorities have sprung up since my last update on this project. Long story short, I am going to miss the contest deadline and will be shelving this idea for a while.
Sorry to hear. It certainly is difficult to design, develop, art, and playtest an entire adventure game in a couple months. Good luck.
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