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Subject: Todd Sanders: Current Projects rss

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Slev Sleddeddan
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What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?
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Re: Aether Captains - Current Projects
I like the small change to the T. Another wiuld be a slicght curve to the crossbar. Just look at the general shape of the Mjolnir worn by modern Astrau practitioners.
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Evan Derrick
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Re: Aether Captains - Current Projects
Todd, you are becoming the king of the redesign. This looks fantastic.
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todd sanders
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Re: Aether Captains - Current Projects
thank you both. most kind. i have my good design days and bad ones. like us all.

bernard - that would be a fun contest for me to run. here is one of my games - now re-design it
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todd sanders
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Re: Aether Captains - Current Projects
i am sure some of you have been wondering just what goes on the 677 cards in the game.

well... the first 362 cards cover all the characters in the game.

each character has a name and what type of being it is and a unique reference number

there are additionally 12 attributes used for combat and encounters (and in the origina game the attributes were written out as - RePutation which, while i understand why, has real no bearing on the game, labelling is graphically like that and i think just makes things look more cluttered frankly)

and also

and who their relatives are
and what their abilities are
and if they start with any weapons

and what their alignment is (good, evil or neutral)
and whether they are offspring
and whether they are going to Ragnarok
and if they are male of female (for seduction/mating purposes of course)



as you can see there can be a lot of information. conversely some characters will list very few things (other than the attributes)

the artwork above is in no way indicative of anything. i just wanted to see how it all packed in there.

now to tear it down and rebuild it.

the abilities numbering schema is rather quirky as well. having the numbers go out 3 place values adds little.
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Re: Aether Captains - Current Projects
I may have missed it earlier, but what is the Hammer of Thor all about, anyway? How does it play? The information on the game page is somewhat lacking in detail. I get it can have a bunch of people play, and it has something to do with getting ready for Ragnarok, but how does it actually work?

BTW, particularly to Nick, I apologize if my earlier post came off a bit snarky. I meant to toss a couple of smilies in there but apparently forgot. My text-based sarcasm has been coming off much more harshly than intended the past few days. As an attempt at a do-over:

I see your point on the feel of symmetry to the board, but it's exactly that feeling of symmetry for what (I think) is actually a fairly unbalanced board that makes the lines on the hammer so appealing. It's like one of those pictures that at first glance looks normal but when you look closer you see all the little details that are just wrong. I think that's a very neat effect.
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todd sanders
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Re: Aether Captains - Current Projects
the main game (solitaire works differently, based on fulfilling quests) works like this (this is a game for 3 to 362 players)

to win you have to be a. on the winning side during Ragnarok and b. have the most reputation (based on you, your followers, items and what you've done during the game in terms of combat and such) - so it competitive team cooperative with 1 ultimate winner


players choose characters (# of good and # of evil must balance) and gain any follower/items they begin with. they track all this on a separate player aid sheet. you have counters for the main characters that go on the map. your main character card and all other cards you keep in your play area

during each turn:
1. a number of offspring cards are drawn and placed on the board under their types in different decks

2. the player groups (each player controls a group) now move all or some characters around the cosmology (drawing a fate card to spice things up)

if they meet other player groups or encounter other random offspring/characters they then do 1 of 8 things (each side choosing one)

a. attack
b. con
c. follow
d. seduce
e. evade
f. challenge
g. negotiate
h. befriend

there is an encounter matrix and you can use whatever spells/items/abilities you have. this part of the game has some RPG elements in how you seduce and trade items and befriend and such

if you attack/challenge there is combat which can gain you more reputation VP

3. the season changes and this causes some places to freeze and other things to take effect.


eventually someone pulls Ragnarok from the fate deck and everyone who is able to go to Ragnarok from your group goes and you combat to the death - good vs evil players.



for a 2 player game, 1 player is thor, the other is odin. highest reputation VP wins when Ragnarok is drawn

for a 1 player game you play thor and you must complete 16 tasks before Ragnarok. there is a built in AI script for all of the solo encounters

that is the quick outline of the game

so it has RPG elements, some wargamish elements and you need to accrue as much power as you can on your side for the final battle where you fight in teams. an amalgam of a number of things and this seems fairly standard for games of this period when the hobby we know today was being created in large part.


and here is a first crack at an organized card, trying to separate out layers of information a bit more hierarchically. i need to see if the abilities list can be ordered alphabetically, which i'd prefer or whether it is a weighed list.



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Kyle Currie
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Re: Aether Captains - Current Projects
Oh no! Did you not end up with scans of the version with all the awesome character art on the cards? It looked like every one used a different, hand-drawn-style image. I was really looking forward to seeing some of that art
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todd sanders
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Re: Aether Captains - Current Projects
yes i do have scans of everything. the printing on most of the cards is terrible and a lot of the text is over top of the portraits (which are monotoned either in sepia, black or light blue) so i'd not be able get good images if they were well printed.

i have some things in mind to differentiate the important characters in the game (those that appear named on the counters). always a work in progress, nothing carved in stone yet!
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Re: Aether Captains - Current Projects
Conceptually, it sounds very interesting, though I can see how it could get bloated. What are the decimal numbers next to the abilities and Gerd?

Looks like a nice clean layout there. Will it have different backgrounds for the good/neutral/evil folks? How big are these cards going to be? Seems like a lot of info to try cramming on a standard size card.
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todd sanders
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Re: Aether Captains - Current Projects
the decimal numbers refer to 2 sheets of abilities/weaknesses/instincts. i don't know why the original designer added in so many decimal places.

yeah some bloat for sure but that is, for me part of the fun, to understand how these early games, which have a large bearing on what we play now, worked.

in the case of 4.202 (which would be more easily written as 4.2b) will follow only - this creature will follow a group containing any of the characters named, if the characters named are not in the group treat this instinct as if it were 4.200



the 300 some character cards will be 2.5"x3.5". i was hoping to make these smaller (to save PnPers time and energy) but i dont think i can. i could of course do everything with counters and a large reference book you'd just look stuff up in but where is the fun in that.

i do intend different background (as well as different card backs) for each type of alignment and some sort of icon (for now the shield with a G means good) on the card

my placeholder icons over on the right hand side of the card designate - goes to Ragnarok, is alignment Good, and is male

female characters also have an asterisk notation in the original edition i believe showing whether they can have offspring or not

the Frey card i am showing is one of the most dense for information. most cards don't have the big list in the lower left. i am using it as a good stress test case for the design.

the character cards are tracked on your player aid for the group you control. so the 12 attributes are your starter roll so to speak


and i am renaming this forum thread to just "Current Projects" from now on which reflects what it has become
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todd sanders
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Re: Current Projects
here is a quick look at an evil character



different background, evil instead of good designation.

it will take me awhile to design all the icons i need so that they match each other and work with the general feel of the design overall
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todd sanders
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Re: Current Projects
managed also tonight to finish the draft of my article for Evan's blog on designing games. let that sit for a day or two then final edits and off to Evan.
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Michael Ptak
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Re: Current Projects
Just a thought, but have you considered adding an icon/symbol shadow to the backs of the circles behind each attribute to show what it is?
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todd sanders
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Re: Current Projects
a good thought yes. something to explore
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Nick Hayes
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Re: Current Projects
dumarest123 wrote:
female characters also have an asterisk notation in the original edition i believe showing whether they can have offspring or not

You could use the rune Ing:

It stands for fertility, which makes sense thematically but might be a harder read. But if I had to choose an asterisk or a custom icon, I'd go with Ing.
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todd sanders
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Re: Current Projects
yes bringing in runes as icons is a good idea
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todd sanders
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Re: Current Projects
trading days between Hammer of Thor and Star Smuggler seems to work. about 25% done with the rules/event books for Star Smuggler. i should be able to release the books within 2 weeks.

they are taking a bit longer than Barbarian Prince did because i am changing the dice rolls from a paragraph format to a list format for easier readability

and yes i'll be doing A4 and letter size PDFs. and will probably do single and double sided versions of each as well
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todd sanders
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Re: Current Projects
based on nick's comment and futzing around without purpose by me i've decided the icons for each race in HoT will be rune symbols. on the left i've matched rune shape to race based on visual representations i wanted to provide about the races (built out of a couple of rune alphabets). i think all of these runes differ enough visually to be read easily. on the right i am showing the elder futhark rune alphabet (one of the oldest) and i've matched race to the meaning of the rune (listed on the right, from what wikipedia and other web sites tell me)



my explanations of the purely visual leftside icons

the Alfar are the overgods (like Manwe Sulimo in the Silmarillion) so they have a blank icon, for being first

the Vanir are the older paganish gods of fertility and so i borrowed an icon from my Ragnarok game of a stylized version of the Yggdrasil

the Muspellon include Surt and the forces that will bring about Ragnarok
so they have a stylized crossed swords

the Aesir are the chief gods and the one dot here represents odin and his one eye

the Guardian has an arm extended in a 'you shall not pass' way

Helheim, being the realm of the dead, i liked this rune for its feeling of an eye closed in death

the Jotun gets a reverse rune which felt a little like cracking ice or a winter pine tree

Elves/Humans get a path or a journey

Norn/Valkyrie have a icon with 3 prongs like the 3 main norn goddesses, also looks a bit like a trident

Dwarves i picked a rune mainly that looked like a made object

for the Animal i chose something very visually simple

and the Offspring gets the double X (ing) that nick mentioned (in the game these can be from many different races).


so two possible design directions. the elements on the left i think add something visually. the ones on the right add a slight subtext if you know what the runes mean.

any opinions?
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tom franklin
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Re: Current Projects
*sigh*

I'm really going to have to build this one, aren't I? All eleventy-bizillion cards and the board, right?

*double sigh*
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todd sanders
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Re: Current Projects
don't forget the 120 counters. there is them those as well.
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Kyle Currie
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Re: Current Projects
I'm not sure why but at first glance I thought you meant these were going to be runes that symbolized the different attributes on the cards and I was like "uh...the ones on the left are going to make it easier to remember" and then I realized these were just the race identifiers.

In that case, I'm actually rather conflicted about my choice.I really like what you did with your own runes, because they match the style AND do get across the information you're trying to go for quite well. However, I also love the idea of traditional Norse runes, as it adds more authentic history flavor to the game. I don't know. It's really a tough call, I'm completely split down the middle here. Someone else will have to make the call
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Michael Ptak
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Re: Current Projects
Do you really need one counter per character for Hammer of Thor? Or can you represent them with generic pawns?
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todd sanders
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Re: Current Projects
there are 2 types of counters in the game. several of the characters have their own counter because they are the leader of groups that you send out, there are other generic 'elven group leader' type counters as well.

in your player area you setup your group leader card with his/her followers beside them and all your weapons and magic items. groups can split off and be rejoined.

i think this is definitely one area where pawns could be used yes. really depends i suppose on how much 'flavor' you want if you are pushing around counters by name. definitely none of us are going to play the game with 362 people. the solo game uses just thor, the 2 player game thor and odin i believe. so that could be easily streamlined.

another savings i am looking at is quite a number of the fate cards have very little text on them. these could be replaced with number chits, drawn from a bag or bowl and referenced on a table.

lastly, half sized cards might be utilized for the weapons and items cards (depending on what i have to pack on them) so i could get 18 mini cards to a single page which would cut down on some game crafting.

all in all the game is an interesting puzzle for me intellectually about how graphic design functions in a game like this and what it can do to the clarity in a game

it may come down to that i do this build and it is like Magic Realm. intriguing to look at but some real dedication to PnP build.

i learn from each game i design myself or reboot and that, right now, is what keeps me going on these projects.
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Joe Mucchiello
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Re: Current Projects
dumarest123 wrote:

the Guardian has an arm extended in a 'you shall not pass' way

Dwarves i picked a rune mainly that looked like a made object

Small, on a card sitting across the table, don't these symbols look a bit too similar?
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todd sanders
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Re: Current Projects
yes, one of those will need to be changed. i'd like to find something perhaps to be representative of the Brisingamen necklace the dwarves fashioned for their icon. i might cobble a few runes together for that
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