Plaid Hat Tech and Games

Updates and musings about what I'm working on at Plaid Hat Games.

Archive for Joseph Arthur Ellis

1 , 2  Next »  

Recommend
13 
 Thumb up
0.05
 tip
 Hide

Summoner Wars Online 1.1.0, and what's up next!

Joseph Arthur Ellis
United States
Ashland
Ohio
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: Summoner Wars fanMicrobadge: Defcon StatusMicrobadge: RaxxonMicrobadge: Ra fanMicrobadge: Star Wars: Rebellion fan
Version 1.1.0 of Summoner Wars Online has been released!
https://summonerwars.plaidhatgames.com

There are 2 major updates:

First, the core rules have been errated to not allow a player to play more than 1 active event with the same name at the same time. We'll be updating our rules PDF soon and future printings of the rulebook to reflect this change. The change is implemented here in the app. A future expansion will also have this change noted in the physical printing.

Second, on a trial basis, I have changed all public games to be custom decks allowed, and 3 days per player. While we're still in this "underground" mode before we really promote this game once it has single player and Steam versions, I want to try to help people find public matches as much as possible. Feedback on this change welcome. (For private games, you still get all the options.)

Here are the other updates and improvements in v1.1.0 of Summoner Wars online:
* Video background disabled on mobile
* Forfeit button makes it clear that it's during your turn only
* Click a turn in the game log to go back to the beginning of that turn
* Option to show a blue outline for cards you control and a red outline for cards your opponent controls.
* On large enough screens, circle icons that show each player's active events instead of a separate tab
* Players on the subscription who received Tundra Orcs and Phoenix Elves have been granted permanent ownership of them.
* An update messaged added to the home screen to help direct players to news.
* Protect bug fixed. (Can now attack a unit with Protect at range rather than only the adjacent)
* Deployed a lot of code to ready us for translated versions soon.

What's Next

I am done with 95% of the work for the Familiar Tales app (more info and preorder at https://preorder.familiartalesgame.com !) and so my focus this week has returned to progressing Summoner Wars Online! It's really exciting as I can finally get to some improvements I've been thinking about since before the 1.0 release. Here's what I'll be focused on the next couple weeks:

* Improving performance of online games - especially speed of server response. (And also not waiting for the server response when not necessary.)
* Improving animations and UI
* Adding personal and global stats.
* Working toward the first localization releases.

Once I get through those, we'll start working on single player modes. We're really not that far from the Steam release. Please continue to send bugs to swbugs@plaidhatgames.com.

I'd also love to run another official tournament ASAP. If you have an opinion on the format, let me know below!

Thanks for reading, I'm looking forward to diving back in even more with Summoner Wars Online in the coming weeks!
Twitter Facebook
12 Comments
Fri Jan 21, 2022 8:00 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
19 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Post-PAXU Blog Bonanza

Joseph Arthur Ellis
United States
Ashland
Ohio
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: Summoner Wars fanMicrobadge: Defcon StatusMicrobadge: RaxxonMicrobadge: Ra fanMicrobadge: Star Wars: Rebellion fan
Welcome back to the Plaid Hat Tech and Games blog! It's been a few weeks and there's lots to talk about, so this post is extra long!

I'll talk about all the work I've been putting into the Familiar Tales app, where my gaming life is at post-PAXU, next steps for Summoner Wars Online, and some gaming trends that are motivating me.

Back from PAX Unplugged

5 of us in the Plaid Hat crew had a blast at PAX Unplugged. Considering how much I still have to wake up with my 4-year-old son, getting several full nights' sleep had me energized, even as our days were busy and draining. We demoed and sold a whole bunch of Ashes and Summoner Wars, and did a ton of press and media demos for Familiar Tales. It was a huge success and the buzz for Familiar Tales is especially through the roof.

Having the full mask and vaccine requirement had me feeling great about the con. There's nothing we can do for 100% safety, but that's not what I need - what I need is to be somewhere where everyone is doing their part to keep us all safe.

Some non-Plaid games I'm excited about coming out of the con:

* Kabuto Sumo: Probably my favorite game I played at the con, it's light silly fun with just enough going on. I wouldn't change a thing.

* Lost Ruins of Arnak: Heard about this a lot last year and resisted its call, but another staff member got it handed to them suddenly at the end of the con. I have read the rules and am excited to play. Both the deckbuilding AND the worker placement seem a little lighter than in Dune Imperium - instead it feels like the meat of the game is in resource management.

* Ethnos: An oldie that I've never got around to buying, so I picked it up at the con, I think everyone I game with will like it a lot.

* Slay the Spire: Was with our developer Nick, so of course I had to get a Slay the Spire tutoring session. He helped me attain a couple new levels with the Ironclad. It's strange how much fun it can be to play this video game WITH someone else.

* Nicaea: This wasn't at the con, but it arrived in the mail while I was gone. If only it'd arrived sooner I'd have several plays in already! As it stands, I've read the rules and even wrote out a rules summary to help me get a handle on everything in the game. It's not a complex game but the ramifications of each action are hard to parse out at first. I think and hope that I'll be in love with it after I finally play it. It's my first game from Hollandspiele.

Familiar Tales App

The last few weeks have been 100% Familiar Tales app work as we near the launch of the game. The app is now public at https://www.familiartalesgame.com in beta. Some of the coolest stuff and the biggest challenges I've been working on:

* We integrated a full tutorial into the app. I am so excited and I feel you can learn the game just from the app without the rulebook if you want. The only issue is that you're not told to go to the app until the end of setup in the rulebook, so some might miss this opportunity for that reason. It is very video game like. We have just enough information in the app - whose turn it is, the danger level, and what each character starts the campaign with - that we can ask players what they want to do thematically and hold their hand along the path for the first page. Try it out when you get the game!

* Music continues to be super cool but also the riskiest part of the app to rely on, since it changes dynamically with the player turn and danger level. I THINK I've got the fully loaded music system working, but some devices don't have enough memory for that, so I also have a streaming option, and sometimes the music just turns off. Still figuring that out. Hopefully reviewers are understanding!

* There is also a rulebook glossary in the app. And best of all, when you're just reading entries or the tutorial, if you come across a glossary term, it's automatically linked to open up the glossary if you want some quick information!

Overall, the basic functionality of how the Familiar Tales app affects gameplay didn't change much from Forgotten Waters - it's minimalistic and aimed at enhancing immersion rather than taking players out of their game. So it's these ancillary functions that are the big leap forward.

Summoner Wars Upcoming

My Summoner Wars work has sat dormant while we finish up the Familiar Tales app, but that will change very soon! Here's what I can't WAIT to get pounding away on every day in the new year:

* Other languages: A lot of the work here is already gone, will be great to officially launch in other languages.

* Animations: I have big plans for improving game animations and making everything smoother and clearer.

* Online speed: I have some solid ideas for how to make moves faster.

* Balance: Still discussing this stuff. Right now I'm considering pushing for a small set of errata to temporarily try out (Ice Ram nerf, Mass Heal buff, etc) temporarily in the app, without any promise of it becoming permanent errata, as an experiment. The other option is the matchup table I proposed in the last post.

* Single player - this is still the main thing we want to get done before launching on Steam and then making our BIG push for the app. Right now, although it's not in beta, we're treating it more like that from a marketing perspective. We feel that when we have the Summoner Saga mode and Challenge mode in, that will be the best entry point for a huge number of new players to potentially hook in.

Game Trends and Ideas

On the drive to Philly for PAXU, Colby and I had a lot of time to shoot the breeze and toss around ideas. I started talking about how gaming is trending in my demographic (30s, busier than ever due to work and/or young kids). Most all of us are gaming way less than we want.

Digital games can cover the 2-player fix, and the puzzly euro fix, but the digital offerings do not really cover one of my favorite genres - the big multiplayer territory control, political maneuvering (whether explicit or emergent), units on a map games. This is my favorite way to interact with my game groups, and there is not really digital version of this unless you want to get into a complex video game like Civ 6 (which isn't on Mac anyway).

We had some initial discussions of what we could do in the digital space to rectify this, and I'm super excited. Keep an eye out, if we have some play testing opportunities, I'll definitely post about them here.
Twitter Facebook
8 Comments
Thu Dec 16, 2021 5:20 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
12 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Familiar Tales launches! And more on SW balance

Joseph Arthur Ellis
United States
Ashland
Ohio
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: Summoner Wars fanMicrobadge: Defcon StatusMicrobadge: RaxxonMicrobadge: Ra fanMicrobadge: Star Wars: Rebellion fan
Welcome back to the Plaid Hat Tech and Games blog! Still catching my breath from our big pre-order launch yesterday, and I have some updates for you on Summoner Wars Online.

Familiar Tales

Yesterday, we launched our pre-order for Familiar Tales! It's been going well so far, and we have a wealth of content coming, a stream from us, a how to play video, and a couple preview videos from some talented creators.

If you don't know much about Jerry Hawthorne, he's our in-house master designer, who created the mega-hits Mice and Mystics and Stuffed Fables. He's an incredible storyteller and I've never been more excited for one of his games. The fantasy world it is in is great, and the mechanics Jerry landed on for taking and resolving actions is just a blast.

I've gotten to work on the app for the game, which will work much like the app for our game Forgotten Waters - mostly delivering narrative moments with full, professional voiceover, with a couple other quality-of-life functions. But this time around, I'm adding Windows and Mac clients in addition to the web site, plus in-app tutorial/setup/rules, and we're doing some really cool stuff with music that's not out of the ordinary for big-budget video games but might be unheard of in board games.

If you traditionally dislike apps in board games, I implore you to try out Forgotten Waters and Familiar Tales. In my (not so?) humble opinion, we've created a model for how to enhance a game experience without intruding on the actual on-the-table experience. Frankly, the Forgotten Waters app couldn't be simpler - it's quite a small bit of code - yet it's regularly called out as the best app ever in a board game. It's not how much it does, it's how it affects the board game experience.

Please check out our pre-order site at https://preorder.familiartalesgame.com and consider supporting the game, or at least signing up for our newsletter so you get notified of new preview content as it arrives!

Summoner Wars - Potential Near-Term Updates

As I wrap up work with Familiar Tales, I'll be at some point moving back to Summoner Wars Online. So excited to finish taht and release it on Steam, which will also infinitely improve the web version.

But, before diving into those larger tasks in SWO, there are a couple things I'm considering doing in the short-term to improve everyone's experience.

The first is simple - eliminating 1 or 2 options for game length. We don't have enough users as of now to fill out all these out, and the 45-minute timer is not great anyway until I have a better system for seeing if somone is online, or intruding on your device more to bug you about your turn. The question is, stick with 3-day and 14-day, or just go to 3-day only? Let me know your opinion below.

I read through all your opinions regarding post-release fixes and balancing the meta, and I appreciate all the thoughts. We may consider some of these more elaborate plans in the future, but for now, Colby came up with an idea that I'm eager to try out as an experiment, that is the simplest idea yet. Here's the pitch (this would only affect base deck games by the way):

Every matchup has a rating. Let's say that Vanguards vs Savanna Elves is rated Vanguards+3. This would mean that, at the end of each of the Vanguard player's first 3 turns, that player gains 1 magic. These ratings are updated every 2 or 3 weeks on a schedule automatically, based on the results of previous games played. A matchup that's even does not change. A matchup that is lopsided gains +1 for the faction on the short end of that stick. Besides being implemented automatically in Summoner Wars Online multiplayer games, there is a dedicated web page where these ratings are automatically kept up to date. So whether you are playing online or in person, it's easy to implement - not just for English but for all languages.*

The pros of this strategy are: Easy to implement, flexible, keeps the digital and analog versions of the game in-sync, and is pretty clean and easy to understand. The cons are, it doesn't affect custom deck games, it doesn't allow us to fix particular problematic cards, and it leaves (for now) some of the tantalizing possibilities of experimenting with cards and deckbuilding symbols on the table.

Anyway, would love to hear your thoughts below, but it is likely I'm going to try out some version of this system in the near future - it's not necessarily permanent but the idea has a lot of merit, and since it's super-easy to implement, some version of it will at least be tried out temporarily. So I'm open to hearing if you hate the idea, but what is more helpful if how you would implement this particular idea.

*A lot of people were wondering in the last post why I had said I'd like to keep changes to numbers only, not text. Foreign partner versions are a big reason why. Once you get into localization and translation, every change to text becomes a daunting task to pull off without error or without getting versions out of sync.

I think that's enough for today! I don't have a big game design thought for you, I'm deep in the coding! Thanks for reading!
Twitter Facebook
15 Comments
Tue Nov 9, 2021 5:08 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
17 
 Thumb up
6.33
 tip
 Hide

Summoner Wars makes progress!

Joseph Arthur Ellis
United States
Ashland
Ohio
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: Summoner Wars fanMicrobadge: Defcon StatusMicrobadge: RaxxonMicrobadge: Ra fanMicrobadge: Star Wars: Rebellion fan
Welcome to the return of the Plaid Hat Tech and Games blog! Today is all Summoner Wars talk, with a scheduling note up front!

PAX Unplugged

Colby, Jerry, Niki and I will be at PAX Unplugged! Colby, Niki and I will be driving there together in Colby's minivan. Come see us at the booth (masked)! Maybe we can get a live game in of Summoner Wars. Also, with the little spare time I'll have, I'd love to get a game of Twilight Imperium 4 together if anyone's interested.

Summoner Wars Online

Welp, I've been absent from this blog, MOSTLY from working super hard on Summoner Wars Online, especially to get us to 1.0. There's still lots of improvements to go. I continue to gain skill at improving the animations, and I have some ideas to take that to the next level.

I've got a big list of to-dos in order to launch Summoner Wars on Steam. Besides doing the actual Mac/Windows configuration, and bug fixing, the following is on my list:
* Coding the Saga Mode single player campaign written by Mr. Bistro.
* Creating the Challenge Mode, which gives you series of standard games against AI but with a puzzley-twist.
* Fully integrating Cloaks and Skyspear Avians into the public app.
* Adding personal and global stats, MAYBE even ELO rankings (if you have opinions on this, hit me up in the comments.)
* Improved animation flow and more animations.

I'm also working like crazy trying to get ready to translate Summoner Wars Online into multiple languages.

We hope to make a big push when we release on Steam, to try to extend our reach, and I think the single player modes will be key for this. It'll likely be a couple weeks before I can get started on this list, but it should come along quickly once I get to it.

Balance

Since the core of our community right now is the most competitive and highly skilled players, I've been getting a LOT of messages asking about if we'll balance the game with errata/changes in the future. Also lots of suggestions on how to do that. I really can't respond to all the messages about this topic, so I'll address it here, and maybe a conversation is more possible in this thread.

The short answer is, YES, we are very interested in doing that, but we are NOT in a rush to do it soon or to settle on a method. There are a lot of pluses and minuses to every possibility, and of course more than one approach might be used.

* Updated starting setups: This is the least intrusive option, as we can publish a "competitive" set of starting setups, and it's not really errata - we could keep printing the physical sets as is. However, this is the most limiting option, as there's only so much you can do here (I'm not 100% sure if it would even work to balance factions), and it doesn't engage with the online system in an interesting way.

* An actively evolving online world: This is on the other end of the spectrum from updating starting setups, in the "it's a feature not a bug" category. In this version, we would have regular updates akin to X-Wing Miniatures Game. They would be announced on a schedule, and they would be online only because none of them would be considered to be permanent. We could even write story reasons for temporary, fun changes to mix things up (Elut-Bal suddenly has the Martial deckbuilding symbol!) while aiming to improve balance overall (0-cost mass heal!). There a lot of positives to this - we could experiment more, as the changes could go beyond just pure balance, and it wouldn't alienate the physical experience too much, if things tend to normalize back toward the printed after a couple iterations. However, it does run the risk of making the physical version feel too out of date or out of touch.

* The third option is standard errata. Choose a small handful of changes, test them rigorously, and announce them as the new normal. Our full subscribers could then get the updated cards and we'd update future printings. This keeps the physical and digital game most in sync, and incentivizes subscriptions, but subscriptions are harder to pay for outside of the USA due to shipping, and it leaves people who were early adopters but can't subscribe feeling left out. This is also somewhat limiting - we'd only ever want to do stat/setup changes, not text changes, so that it'd be easy to have a crib sheet.

What will we do? I don't know. But I wanted to let you all know, we're thinking about it. Let me know which kind of changes you like best in the comments.

Design Update

Early in this blog's days, I mentioned that I was working on faction designs for the Obsidian Dwarves, the primal/fire deck. I wanted something with big power but risk to yourself and was having trouble coming up with anything beyond the aesthetic.

Eventually, Colby and I sat down and brainstormed together, and the results were great! We've got a whole deck designed that've played a handful of times, and it is an absolute blast. In fact, it may be the most ready-to-go of any of the 3rd-cycle decks.

I won't give away too much, but the summoner tends to "heat up" and then "cool down" over time in power, and you have a lot of interesting ways to use that power and manipulate it. We are also trying out our first champion structure and dang is it cool.

I will try to be back next week with more here! Thanks for your patience as I shut it down for a while when my head was down coding for a few weeks.
Twitter Facebook
16 Comments
Wed Oct 20, 2021 9:57 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
13 
 Thumb up
1.25
 tip
 Hide

I'm Back! What's New in Plaid Hat Tech and Games

Joseph Arthur Ellis
United States
Ashland
Ohio
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: Summoner Wars fanMicrobadge: Defcon StatusMicrobadge: RaxxonMicrobadge: Ra fanMicrobadge: Star Wars: Rebellion fan
Hi all! Thanks for your patience while I neglected this blog the past month. At the beginning of this month, I took a week-long vacation with my family. Before I left, it took a lot of work to set things up (especially playtesting) to be productive while I was gone. Once I got back, it took me a couple weeks of sprinting to catch back up and get my bearings.

But things are back under control, and weekly-ish blogs will resume as before.

Summoner Wars Playtesting

After we had success finishing up playtesting Phoenix Elves and Tundra Orcs on the beta app, I worked hard before leaving for vacation to get our next deck in an enforced rules state for just our playtesters. That way they can play asynchronously and without having to manage all the rules themselves. The result is pretty amazing, as our playtesters now average 20+ total games per day. The data we get is incredible, and we'll attempt to playtest in an asynchronous way going forward, with early playtests being here at the office where needed.

The flipside is, our Master Set decks are getting heavy play in the beta app, and a couple decks are coming out strong, around 60% for Savanna Elves and Polar Dwarves - and even better in their best matchups. This is really fine for casual play - skill will matter the most there, but less than ideal for competitive play. This is outside of what I'd like to see, and I've had discussions with our developer Nick about whether we'll ever do anything about it. Some playtesters have advocated starting setup updates to Nick, and it would be cool if those could get the job done in helping. That way we could just release "competitive" standard starting setups but not have to errata cards. BUT right now it's not our highest concern - more like something to keep in mind for the long term.

Summoner Wars Beta

I just released Summoner Wars Online Beta 1.6.7-beta. The changes include:
* Fixed a bug where Ice Golems would be at 0 life but still live due to Ollag, then get Mind Controlled but not immediately die.
* Added sound cues for Polar Dwarves, Phoenix Elves, Fallen Kingdom, Vanguards, and Savanna Elves. (Tundra Orcs still to go.)
* Made it so the page doesn't have to literally reload when you exit a game.

Adding in all the sound is a lot of work. Donald put them together a while ago (which is itself a daunting task) but I kept putting off adding them because I knew it would be a slog to add all the cues.

Next on my plate this week is some quality of life things, such as a dedicated options page, menu navigation sounds, not reloading the page when going to the "next game" in multiplayer, and lifting the music up so that it doesn't necessarily restart every time you change games. Then, the deckbuilder. (We need it for playtesting especially!) If all goes well, this will be interrupted at the end of the week while I help pack the physical Master Set. But with the chaols of good shipping right now, that's no guarantee.

Gaming Lately

Real life gaming is back here in Ohio, USA! We've had some company game nights, which have included Parks, Masquerade, Dune: Imperium, Red Rising, Secret Hitler, and Deep Blue. Also, while I was on vacation, I got to play all of the following, mostly with kids: Memory Palace, Race to the Treasure, Crossing, Barenpark, Eggs and Empires (will defend this as better than Libertalia, it is a hill I will die on), and Castle Panic. Also played the first couple games of Oath with the final product.

It's absolute bliss playing all these games in person. Even fiddly games with lots of shuffling and tokens and setup and teardown are so much more worth it in person than online, for me. Nothing energizes me like participating in our hobby!

Furthermore, Plaid Hat Games is tentatively going to Origins and Gen Con this September. I can't wait, and if you read this blog, I'd love to play a game with you this fall at a con!

Will see you next week, with some more involved design discussion, but so far this month, have spent more time playing games than developing them.
Twitter Facebook
5 Comments
Tue Jun 22, 2021 9:25 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Summoner Wars Online Beta 0.6.6 deployed

Joseph Arthur Ellis
United States
Ashland
Ohio
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: Summoner Wars fanMicrobadge: Defcon StatusMicrobadge: RaxxonMicrobadge: Ra fanMicrobadge: Star Wars: Rebellion fan
New beta released, a few small fixes:

* Crash fixed related to units being referenced in code that weren't on the map.
* Occasional ability to Raise the Dead twice removed.
* Email notifications sent less often - if you've already been notified on other games but haven't taken your turn, you're not sent a new notification.
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Mon May 24, 2021 8:11 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Summoner Wars Online Beta 0.6.5 deployed

Joseph Arthur Ellis
United States
Ashland
Ohio
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: Summoner Wars fanMicrobadge: Defcon StatusMicrobadge: RaxxonMicrobadge: Ra fanMicrobadge: Star Wars: Rebellion fan
A few bug fixes are in:
* Spirit of the Phoenix fixed to show the full name when zoomed.
* Event text properly shows symbols.
* Bug fixed breaking some games related to forcing (example: Breakers control an Undead Archer, destroy a unit via a force away from a Deceiver, Undead Archer soul shifts, freezes.)
* Primal/Frenzy fixed to always allow legal attacks against enemy units.
Twitter Facebook
1 Comment
Fri May 21, 2021 6:24 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Research as a Game Design Tool

Joseph Arthur Ellis
United States
Ashland
Ohio
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: Summoner Wars fanMicrobadge: Defcon StatusMicrobadge: RaxxonMicrobadge: Ra fanMicrobadge: Star Wars: Rebellion fan
Summoner Wars Release

Summoner Wars Online Beta 1.6.4 released:
* Forceful Attack works on units only.
* Frenzy and Primal Fury require adjacent enemy cards on both ends.
* When a card is returned to the battlefield after being discarded/destroyed, it is considered a new unit and so could sort of attack twice in 1 turn.
* (Big one, most likely to lead to problems) All card text is now generated by the app rather than from an image.

The point of that last bullet is to get a step closer to playtesting in a playtester-only version of Summoner Wars online, and for translating the app into other languages.

Playtesters have been patiently waiting while I've been in a lull, so my next priority is actually coding the Cloaks so they can start up again.

Otherwise, the top priority is still sealing in secret information.

Research As a Game Design Tool

I've listened to and read plenty of board game design discussions and tips. One tip that I can't recall hearing is that you should read about the subject matter you're designing for.

Regardless of how deep or detailed your game is, you should gain some perspective by reading books on your theme before you get in too deep. Reading is informative, can help you avoid stupid mistakes, and it can be inspiring, and even the smallest improvement your game gets from your research will have been worthwhile.

(Note: I'm not a great reader, but I am able to push through when I have a good reason. If you just hate reading, then consider some other form of research like audiobooks and/or documentaries.)

Before Forgotten Waters, my main contact of pirates was the Monkey Island video game series, a favorite of mine, as well as the Disney Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Even though we knew we weren't going for a realistic style, I set out to read some books to gain more knowledge.

First I read Treasure Island by Robert Lewis Stevenson, and I have to say, it's still a phenomenally entertaining book. Then I read The Republic of Pirates by Colin Woodward, a history book. Then I read On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers.


Even though we weren't aiming for a historical setting, all those books helped shape how I thought about piracy and what your typical pirate was like. In the end, it was On Stranger Tides that had the biggest impact on Forgotten Waters. In that novel, the emergence of magnetized iron has caused magic to slowly recede from the Caribbean. This inspired me to imagine a world where magic used to be commonplace, but something had pushed it out and made life ordinary over time.

I pitched Isaac on the idea of our first scenario being about a captain whose mission is to bring magic back into the world by finding a magical stone. Isaac added the ideas of the place "beyond the ocean's edge" from which no ship had ever returned, and how the stone was necessary to go there. If you've played Forgotten Waters, you know that became our introduction scenario and the plot device that framed the entire game.

Now, as I daydream in my spare time about the game I've mentioned previously about experiencing a space 4x game from the viewpoint of those being discovered and colonized, I've gotten to the point where I need to read again. I've got a vacation in a week and a half, and I've ordered the following books so far:
* Aloha Betrayed: Native Hawaiian Resistance to American Colonialism by Noenoe K Silva
* An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
* Unworthy Republic: The Dispossession of Native Americans and the Road to Indian Territory by Claudio Saunt

If anybody else knows a good book on the topic of imperialism from the perspective of those with less power, please let me know. Especially instances that don't involve the United States, since I'm even more ignorant on that front. Even in a space fantasy world like the one I'm creating, understanding the real history can improve the game. Even in a fairly abstract game like the one I'm creating, even a small tweak to the theme could go a long way, and I expect these books to have a much bigger influence than that.
Twitter Facebook
3 Comments
Thu May 20, 2021 8:45 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Playtesting for Fun and Profit

Joseph Arthur Ellis
United States
Ashland
Ohio
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: Summoner Wars fanMicrobadge: Defcon StatusMicrobadge: RaxxonMicrobadge: Ra fanMicrobadge: Star Wars: Rebellion fan
Welcome back to the Plaid Hat Tech and Games blog. This week, I'm talking about the finalization of the Starter Set factions in the beta, localizing our content, and the early parts of game design.

Tundra Orcs / Phoenix Elves Complete

Thanks to all who played Tundra Orcs and Phoenix Elves during the last week! They have now been finalized, with the final change just deployed: +1 life for Grognack, putting him as the hardiest summoner by far at 14 life - FIVE more life than his nemesis Queen Maldaria.

It was a weird experiment to finalize the playtesting in public. Overall, I don't consider it ideal for the consumer. But it was REALLY helpful in this case.

We're hoping that in the future, our Summoner Wars playtesting will mostly be on a private version of Summoner Wars Online, as it's WAY easier to play for our playtesters and us too on this platform. It was pretty neat this past weekend to just get in like 10 games myself, without any serious effort. We've got Cloaks up for playtesting next, and they are in a fairly mature state already, so we're definitely going to try that.

Next up on my slate for Summoner Wars Online is prepping for translators and sealing secret hand/deck state.

Localization

Besides basic Summoner Wars Online stuff, translations is the name of the game for me over the past week.

Working with translators is a big part of my job, and a big part of the job for our graphic designer, Kendall, as well. I don't know how other publishers function, but to us, a lot of the way we make things work is working with partners in other regions and getting our games all over the world in a lot of languages. Forgotten Waters is published in seven languages, and we're not done there yet. And our games have a TON of text to translate, now both physical and digital translations.

I spend time every week in emails and tools helping get translations on our digital stuff right. Forgotten Waters itself, our remote play app for Forgotten Waters, our Forgotten Waters DLC, and now Summoner Wars Online is stuff I'm working with translators on currently. If you want to do web development, get ready to learn a lot about localization, and to spend a lot of time on it.

Early Game Design

I mentioned a couple weeks ago having interest in making an imperialist game from the opposite perspective - the players playing as planets being absorbed into a mega, galaxy-wide empire.

I've had this idea for a long time, but I think mentioning it in this blog helped spark some real gameplay ideas for me. The players will have access to the megapowers of the empire, getting access to better turns - but only one player has access to each megapower at a time. This is kind of a Puerto Rico/Twilight Imperium system - when you use the power, other players can follow, but you control the timing and get an advantage in the action.

I love the action timing puzzles of games like Twilight Imperium, and I'm hoping this game can do a lot of that. Using your turn's action as an important resource, as well as how long initiatives you start, will be a key thing.

Generally, this is how my game design process is - start with theme, then focus on mechanics, then circle back to theme. As I was sketching out ideas for these mechanics, I started to wonder if some of the stuff I was coming up with really connected to the theme - and thinking about how each mechanic relates specifically to planets being absorbed into an empire helps keep me focused and keep the design unique. One thing I came up with last week - besides some other standard resources, planets start the game with 6 of a non-renewable resource that represents their cultural uniqueness and the resources unique to their planet. The resource is treated as a wild, but unlike other resources, this resource never goes up - you have your 6 to use, and then it's used up forever.

I love great game design mechanics, but I'm still amazed at people who say they design mechanics first. I always need the theme to guide me and inspire me.
Twitter Facebook
1 Comment
Tue May 11, 2021 6:07 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Summoner Wars Online Beta 0.6.2 Deployed

Joseph Arthur Ellis
United States
Ashland
Ohio
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: Summoner Wars fanMicrobadge: Defcon StatusMicrobadge: RaxxonMicrobadge: Ra fanMicrobadge: Star Wars: Rebellion fan
Full blog post later today, but wanted to do a quick deployment:

Bug fixes:
* Colleen's reduction is now AFTER considering some of the more "inherent" strength boosts (like Frost Bolt).
* Colleen doesn't affect friendly priests.

Tundra Orc adjustment:
* Smashers at 4/6 for 3. This is where we had them for forever. Changed them for the beta at my request, and I have finally come around to others' perspectives after playing games all weekend.
Twitter Facebook
2 Comments
Mon May 10, 2021 3:25 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls

1 , 2  Next »  

Subscribe

Categories

Contributors