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Ocean Traits, Artist sketches, a call for trait ideas, and a free copy of Oceans

Nick Bentley
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Reposted from Nick Bentley Games



Cover art character sketch


The thoughtfulness of BGG commenters is a constant surprise. When we started writing about Oceans, we didn't expect readers to help us design the thing. We expected death threats and sarcasm. But BGG isn't like the rest of the internet.

First, BGGers helped us name the game. After more than 1000 reader votes (here and here) and a long comment thread about naming, the working title is now Oceans: An Evolution Game, for which commenters are almost entirely responsible. We'll be surprised if it doesn't stick.

Then commenters produced a 218-comment thread of suggestions about the species boards, some of them head-blow-uppingly brilliant. That discussion deeply informed our thinking and the game will be better for it.

Now that you've been so helpful, we repay your help by soliciting more! The task before us is perhaps the most fun part of making an Evolution game: the traits. But first, we have early sketches to show you.

Sketches

Catherine Hamilton, the illustrious wildlife artist who did the art for the previous Evolution games, is doing the art for Oceans too. We're lucky to have her because demand for her work has gotten even nuttier lately. She also loves marine life and has attacked this project with uncommon gusto. She's given us a cover-art character sketch and three trait sketches.

You've seen the cover sketch at the top of this post, but here's another one:



...and here are the traits:

Tentacles


Brian would need to change his wetsuit if he came across this beast on one of his dives


Transparency


Notice the plankton obscuring half the fish. It's only when the water clears that you can see the transparent fish.


Filter Feeder


a gentle giant


We want your traits

Now's a great time to suggest trait ideas because we're entering a phase of intense work on them. There's a free game in it for you (see below for details)

To brainstorm traits, you may or may not want to see the current traits (spoilers!) and the current rules (more spoilers!) It's all a work in progress so don't expect perfection. Note these aren't living documents and they'll go out of date fast (like, by tomorrow).

Here are our design goals for each trait:

Fun - if it isn't fun the other constraints are pointless
Iconic - everyone has heard of the trait and associates it with the ocean
Functionally thematic - creates game dynamics you'd expect from it
High dynamic value - its power waxes and wanes with game state
Not over- or under-powered
Interacts and combos with multiple other traits in cool ways
Easy to understand
Expressible in few words (and errata-free)

Every constraint is important. Satisfying all at once is brutally hard, and astronomically harder when you haven't played the game. Most of you haven't, so it'll be tough to be brilliant. But we can have interesting discussion in any case, and we've learned not to underestimate BGG.

To get you started, here are some iconic ocean things for your edification:



Free copies of Oceans incoming

If you have a trait suggestion, put it in the comments here.

We'll let this thread bake for two weeks and then pick our favorite suggestion. Its author will get a free copy of Oceans upon publication.

In the event we use a suggested trait in the game, its author will get a free copy of Oceans, credit for designing it in the rulebook, and our gratitude.

It's possible we'll use traits proposed here as promo traits in the Kickstarter campaign. In that case, their authors will get attribution and kudos in the Kickstarter campaign.

We hope the thoughtfulness and civility persists here, so future anthropologists can one day point to us and say "There was once a place on the internet that was not engulfed in stupidity and flame..."

From the Sea,

Brian and Nick

Previous posts in this series

Announcing Evolution: The Oceans
Building a food chain in Evolution: The Oceans
Designing the Species Boards in Evolution: The Oceans (plus a free game offer)
The biggest difference between Evolution and Oceans (besides the fish)
Bluffing and Surprise in Oceans

Click on the "subscribe" button at the top of this post on the right to follow our journey. We'll post something every 2 weeks
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