Embracing the Oubliette

Future God Games: Dev Blog
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Leap of Faith

John Paul Messerly
United States
Sherman Oaks
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After some more sketches I'm feeling good about the basic layout and symbols for each card set. I still need to decide how much variety I'm willing to commit to. I would love to have a unique illustration for each card but I also want to finish the game in the next 6 months so the level of detail will decide how much I'm able to do. So far all my initial color studies and paintings were done on the ipad at low resolution. I need to decide if high level of detail and resolution is more important or if a playful and intuitive creative process is more important.

Touchstone:Oubliette thumbnail studies

still searching for the right symbols and the scale and perspective to best capture the correct mood.

If looseness and spontaneity are key then I'll keep painting on the ipad but if detail and professionalism are key then I should shift back to working in illustrator. Its a strange decision because I love creating art but once the designs and layouts are done the process of finalizing can feel tedious because most of the creative decisions have already been made... I'm really trying to keep this from ever feeling like work. Years of doing figure drawing from life has taught me that your attitude when you are creating always shows in the final product so keeping the process continually spontaneous and free is important to imbuing the final art with the same passion.

Next phase - color keys and fonts

It is now time for my final leap of faith with this endeavor. Later this week I will be finalizing the LLC paperwork to form my own company in order to self publish Touchstone:Oubliette. Its both very exciting and a little frightening but these moments tend to be the ones that will later define out lives...

other thoughts:

BloodBowl:Team Manager -
I've avoided this game for quite a while because of similarities in theme to my latest two games but now that my designs are final I feel more comfortable checking this out. I was horrified to find that I never formed any connection with the teams or any of the players. This scares me a little because this game offers coaches similar levels of control over characters and team development.

In BBTM it often feels like I don't have enough control over my players or how the team develops to feel like I'm really managing a team. These random elements can definitely allow for more re playability by not allowing you to always play the same strategy BUT it also can make the game so random that you never really care about anything that happens. Even though the gameplay mechanics are drastically different the flow of team choices and development through a season is very similar to Touchstone:Oubliette so there are definitely some important lessons to be learned from this game.

Zed Deck -
This is a game I've always enjoyed the design and core gameplay but always felt the endgame lacking. I prefer games that end with a game winning event rather then games that end with a non event and then have awkward moments as everyone counts up victory points to find out who won. The game has two objectives, the first is to simply survive and the second is to collect as much stuff as you can (or get best high score).

I keep coming back to this game because the usability is perfect. The game is so simple that all the components can be held in your hand (so you can even play while standing in line) and requires no setup or sorting to play. In many ways it reminds me of a very streamlined version of Onirim with a more interesting set of core gameplay decisions and no reshuffling during gameplay.

I've always been drawn to the survival side of this game but never to the high score element. Unfortunately if you play only with survival in mind the game beaks down. So as a personal design challenge for the holidays I'm working on a slight redesign of the game. The goal is to find a way to re balance the game to make it work for survival mode and split the deck into sets of chapter that can be combined in different ways to get a more coherent story arc and more control over difficulty.

The current redesign makes it so you can draw a single resolution card for free but if you want to improve your odds you can spend one 'supply' per extra card you will draw (3 cards max). This makes supplies very valuable and means that you are always gambling with your limited supplies in the hopes of getting more. Next the deck will be split into chapter of 18 cards each and each chapter will have stronger equipment and more difficult challenges, A play through will still be played with a deck of 54 cards (3 chapter) but you can combine different chapter to add more challenge or just explore a new area.

Hopefully I will find time to explore this more without interrupting development on Touchstone:Oubliette.
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