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Subject: WIP - Exfiltrate Xenos 9 -Now with 100% more free print n play! rss

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Jared Barry
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NOTE 5/25/15: Beta Playtest Print n Play now up here: http://www.madapegames.com/#!exfiltrate-xenos-9/co35

Beta Rulebook here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/qqdzjrikm2g25is/EX9%20Beta%20Ruleb...


Some recent photos:








/COMMENCE OLD POST


Greetings all, this thread will be for the progression of a game design I've had on the back burner for a bit while I was developing Dawn of Steam.
With Dawn of Steam this community was so helpful so I hope that this thread can be just as beneficial.

While designing DoS I was wargaming more then anything else and a result it's a tense dice rolling 2-player card game.

Exfiltrate Xenos 9 is more an homage to the games that have been capturing my fleeting attention (and holding it more importantly*) for the last year or so.
Games like Euphoria, Lords of Waterdeep, Betrayal at House on the Hill, and Seasons.

I'm sure you're saying to yourself well those are all very different games, indeed they are but those are some that I've really enjoyed mechanically, which you will see in the use of worker placement, drafting, map tile placement(with a twist*), and a challenge mechanic resolving with no dice at all.

So lets dive into the concept so far (still in early playtesting) players will assume the role of an unfortunate soul who has been imprisoned in a massive science fiction prison complex. Placed in cryosleep, preserved to be used as test subjects for genetic restructuring.
The complex known as Xenos 9 has lost funding after falling out of favor with the emperor. Abandoned, many of the prisoners in cryosleep fell into eternal sleep as the life support systems ran out of power.

But your not one of those prisoners, you awaken from a sleep you thought you'd never again escape. The twisted experiments that have branded you with inescapable nightmares have also given you strange power with which to escape and reclaim a second chance at life. You must harness this new power in order to escape the prison before the demolition sequence initiates, sending the whole prison plummeting 100 meters down to the jagged lava rock being crashed upon by wave after rolling wave.

Gameplay now, to start the game players will each randomly get a character card.



These cards will tell you what your occupation was prior to incarceration, your main 3 stats Might, Agility, and Hacking, your Talents which each give you different buffs (see the legend below), as well as your willpower cache which is where you will place your willpower cubes (you will spend these on your turn).



On a players turn they allocate a cube somewhere on this action board worker placement style. Limited spots is always fun.





Placing these cubes will grant you either:

a. Mutation card: these are what you will use to boost your stats in order to win Challenges. Also they represent your life, run out of cards in your hand and die, time to pick a new character. These are drafted at the start of the game after characters are dealt, because drafting is fun (proof: sushi go).

b. Challenge card: these will allow you to draw cards up to your Hacking value from the Challenge deck and pick which one to attempt. These will have a static Might, Agility, Hacking that you will need to match with your stats to succeed and reap the rewards.
Fail and you will take damage to your hand. Each card will have a Victory Points value at the end of the game player with the most VP wins. You can get a token worth 6 VP for having the most passive mutations (Mutation cards that remain in play).

c. Extra Talent: grants you an extra talent until the action board resets.


Players all start on a starting tile then on each player turn a tile will be drawn from a deck and placed connecting to another door thus expanding and building a new prison each game.


You may notice that each door is a color corresponding to the stat values Might, Agility, and Hacking. This is because by matching two doors of the same color players on either of those tiles may now receive +1 to that color stat.

I'm still trying to come up with some fun stuff to throw in that would give players an extra reason to adventure around.
I'm thinking certain tiles will have a token on them for an extra challenge card or extra mutation card when you get the token.

Another important decision I'm still tinkering with is controlling the end of the game. I'm thinking at the start of each round you place a time token on the starting tile, when it reaches a certain value the game is over. This way players can plan for the end game.

I'm interested in hearing your thoughts so don't be shy.

Any thoughts on the general idea would be much appreciated, I look forward to the positive progression of this game through the aid of this glorious tabletop community.

-Jared ninja

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Jared Barry
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Re: WIP - Exfiltrate Xenos 9
Been pretty busy with starting shipping on DoS haven't had to much time to work on this the last couple days.

Busiest time of the year at my day job as well so currently there 6 days a week.

However I have been musing over the EX9 victory condition situation a bit.

Here is my favorite idea right now, at the start of each round a time token is placed on the starting tile, when it hits a set value (9 perhaps?) players add up victory points to decide the winner who escapes the prison, the other players fall in the demolition to the rocky wastes far below.

These VP will be gained mainly by completing challenge cards which will grant rewards and VP at the end.

Player with the most passive mutations would also get an extra 6 VP.

Heres a cute idea, the player with the fewest Mutation cards in hand when the game ends gets 8 VP. Call it something like Living on the Edge Bonus.

What do people think about that ending to the game? Meaty enough, or negative?

I'm also thinking of having some other modes, possibly a pvp variant where players can directly screw each other more.

I'd love to hear someone elses thoughts on the idea.

I should be able to get the first nice-ish prototype together next week then I can share more about how it went. Probably with tons of revisions to ideas.

Until next time,
-Jaredninja

+Here is another character card concept.



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Jared Barry
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Re: WIP - Exfiltrate Xenos 9
PS I just finished reading Dune, so that's a heavy influence on the theme right now.
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Nate K
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Re: WIP - Exfiltrate Xenos 9
steamlich wrote:
PS I just finished reading Dune, so that's a heavy influence on the theme right now.


Well, if you're going to be influenced by sci fi literature, it's hard to find a better choice than Dune.

The game seems cool, but fighting for VP has never felt very tense for me. I'd prefer an endgame that doesn't require several minutes of rules-checking and math before a winner is declared. That's just my bias, though--there are probably plenty ways to do VP that many players find compelling.
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Jared Barry
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Re: WIP - Exfiltrate Xenos 9
So progress has rolled along, we have gotten some play testing done on the alpha prototype.

Initial problems that popped up included:

1. No reason to move around the prison once in a strong spot (stat boost wise).

2. Low player interaction. Players were just off working to get points independently. No real interaction except the occasional damage splash.

3. Challenges far too easy. This is expected as with any prototype numeric values will need to be tweaked.

We'll talk about our potential solutions at the end of this post.

Positives (hidden & anticipated):

- We added an icon on some tiles(45% or so) that would indicate a face down random memory fragment token placed on that tile. This provided a quick and simple alternative way to get points when grabbed with an action on that tile, without doing challenges. The shards were worth anywhere from -3 to 3 victory points and represented rediscovering your clouded past. Sometimes you discover good memories and sometimes you remember painful ones.

The cryosleep has a side effect that causes amnesia, that's the theme we justified for it.

- The race to get a bonus 5 points at the end of the game for having the least cards in hand/the most passive mutations in play was a fun little change up at the end. This was an unexpected success.

- The turns were fast and led to fairly little downtime between turns. Always a plus.

- Games were really close at the end point wise. Around 5 or less points between players.

Potential Solutions to Initial Problems:

1. To solve the movement issue, we are considering having a prison entrance type tile always on bottom of the stack, if the game plays long enough you get a bonus 5 points for ending on that tile. Needs refinement to make this not an annoyance for slow moving characters.

2&3. Our solution for these is a joint solution for these perceived "problems". We are thinking of making the challenges much more difficult and allowing players to cooperate on a challenge for shared rewards. This currently is in testing but seems like great fun so far and adds a ton more interaction.

An idea paired to this is adding a mutation card that will allow a player to back out of supporting a challenge to essentially screw over your neighbor. Otherwise I think we won't allow backing out once you've offered support.

Another potential idea is adding random negative mutation card in the deck that act as world event type cards that will affect everyone.


Thanks for tuning in for now and I apologize in advance for the very likely grammar shortcomings as I write this up in my off time at my day job.
-J

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Jared Barry
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Re: WIP - Exfiltrate Xenos 9
Here is some eye candy for those who like that sort of thing. Picture is 1000 words or what not...


I present a challenge card design mock up.
 
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Jared Barry
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Re: WIP - Exfiltrate Xenos 9
Another neat idea is having certain tiles embedded with a spot for a player to place a will cube to gain a neat benefit while on that tile. Anyone care to brainstorm some fun ideas for these?

Steroid injection station = get 2 will cubes back when you use a will power action here.

Sentry-Beast control room = Mind challenge to hit someone for a damage or two.

More from me at a later time.goo
-J
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Jared Barry
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Re: WIP - Exfiltrate Xenos 9
Hard at work on refining this one a bit more.

Most work right now is going into the player interaction aspect as I seek to improve it. The addition of players cooperating on challenges so far is bringing a ton to the game. I will share more soon friends.

For right now enjoy this, the wip memory fragment tokens, as players explore the prison freshly awakened from cryosleep they are in a state of amnesia, now they must uncover as much about their past as they can before the prison demolition sequence initiates.

Certain tiles get a random memory fragment token when they are placed, take your action here and get the memory fragment which is worth points at the end of the game ranging from negative to positive points.



 
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Jared Barry
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Re: WIP - Exfiltrate Xenos 9
Ps I bought a 1" round cutter from Michaels for prototype tokens with spray adhesive, linen stock prints, and chipboard, so if they come out good this weekend I could share a tutorial on here if anyone is at all interested.
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Jared Barry
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Re: WIP - Exfiltrate Xenos 9
1 Day Later...


The token experiment was a failure /weep hysterically
The cutter from michaels died on me after I punched 7 or so tokens post spray adhesive on everything.

Bummer, the 7 or so came out beautiful though, I guess ill be trying the other way I saw with a hammer and 1" round punch.

Just sharing so no one else tries the same thing I just did.
n,,n

Testing night here though so hopefully some progression this evening.
 
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Jared Barry
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Re: WIP - Exfiltrate Xenos 9
Tons of progress made, ready for the help of my awesome peers.
I've just posted the beta rulebook and print n play in the original post.


Give it a look and help me refine the heck out of it please and I will help you with your project if I can.

My printerstudio cards will be here next week then I will try to film a whole game for discussion.

Thanks for hanging around friends,
-Jared


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Jared Barry
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Re: WIP - Exfiltrate Xenos 9
ps play-tests have been going very well, people are seeming to enjoy this one much.

Help me achieve clarity in my rulebook, I am still a padawan rules writer, teach me your ways master jedi lurking in the shadows.
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Ian Johnson

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This looks like a really interesting concept, and the graphic style of it is very appealing.

Couple of initial thoughts/questions that you might be able to clear up for me:

When players support another player to complete a challenge card, who gets the reward if they are successful? Just the player who initiated the challenge, or everyone? Equally if they fail the challenge who takes the negative consequences? Or is there some negotiation between players before they decide to lend support? Are conversations like this possible:

Supporting player: "The reward is three mutation cards. I'll help out if I get one of the cards."
Initiating player: "Ok, but I draw all three and give you the one that I don't want. And if we fail, then you take half the damage."

Thematically, the idea of the game ending after a certain number of rounds and the player who has scored the most VP being the one who has recovered enough memory to have worked out how to escape feels a little odd. It also means that there is only one person who can escape, and therefore doesn't encourage me to help anyone complete their own challenges (especially if there's no sharing of the rewards).

Could this be reworked so that any person who has acquired a certain number of points from the memory fragments and makes it to the entrance/exit tile before the game timer runs down escapes? That way it is possible for more than one player to escape the prison, but an overall winner could still be determined on who has the most victory points...?

Looks like an interesting concept though, and I really like the idea of people working their way through the prison together in the early game, then splitting off to try to escape before the others later on... Potential allocation of victory points for escaping before other players? X for escaping first, X-3 for second, etc...?

Hope you get some good play testing feedback from other users :]
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Jared Barry
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Great feedback Ian!

Currently the player who initiates a challenge gets the VP while assisting players get the benefit printed such as "PASS: Assisting players each draw 3 Mutation cards..." In which case all assisting players receive 3 Mutation cards out of activation without spending any of their own Willpowr Cubes.

Sort of a weighing the risk vs reward type thing currently.

I hadn't thought of it that way, I love the idea of a target number of VP and getting to the exit allowing multiple players to escape while still having a definite scoring system.

I'm going to run some tests this week and see how these concepts could be integrated into the design.

At one point I tinkered with multiple "scenario" type missions to be played as an option but ended up going with the more bunches of replay value style euro points grab.

Thanks for helping me out by sharing.
 
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Jared Barry
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Might as well throw this out here as well, I'm a graphic designer by trade and love to do game related freelance work at an affordable rate if anyone ever needs help with a project please don't hesitate to get in contact with me through the Mad Ape Games site contact page.
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Jared Barry
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Also I'm running a promotion where if you share a picture of you playing EX9 or the PnP on the Mad Ape Games facebook page then I will send you a free prize pack.

How long I run this will depend on how popular the promo becomes. I'll probably limit the prize pack to around 10.
 
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Charles Ward
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steamlich wrote:
Might as well throw this out here as well, I'm a graphic designer by trade and love to do game related freelance work at an affordable rate if anyone ever needs help with a project please don't hesitate to get in contact with me through the Mad Ape Games site contact page.

You give a great impression.
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Jared Barry
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Thanks Charles, I appreciate that.

Have word that a couple folks are trying the game out and doing the print n play challenge.

Probably have room for 4 or 5 more interested to receive prize packs for helping test the game.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!
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Jared Barry
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Alright friends, you may have thought you were finally rid of me, alas I have an update on progress.

I received the cards from printerstudio and have been proceeding with playtesting. Here are some pictures.





Picked up Suburbia a couple weeks back and have been playing it tons with my group and surprisingly my gf who games rarely, enjoys suburbia a lot!

I'm trying to see what lessons can be learned from the excellence of that title and applied to EX9. Mainly how the mechanics/theme appeals so much to non-gamers or light gamers.

Back to EX9 though, the Bad Blood cards randomly in the mutation deck have added a fun out of activation threat meaning players are more worried when it's not their turn. Nice added tension, and working on integrating Ians idea for negotiating the reward in given situations.

If I can make streamlined negotiation work it would help clear up the clunkyness of some of the challenge card wording.


I'd love to hear any tips for deciding how regulated the negotiations should be.


More next time, and thanks for tuning in,
-Jared


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Jared Barry
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Interesting development. The game in it's current state is dangerous.

Game of Thrones dangerous, in that it is killing characters left and right.

The current penalty for death is you get a new character and discard your most valuable vp source (challenge\memory fragment).

Returning to the game with a number of willpower cubes equal to the number of players(max 3).

Not sure if this is all a bad thing though. Maybe as evidenced by thrones, people like the threat of death looming when enjoying some good ol' fiction.

More testing required...
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Jared Barry
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With the new printerstudio cards I added more active mutations providing larger stat boosts to see how testing would respond to more challenges being attempted.

It can be dialed up a bit more imo, the challenges are still leaning on the difficult side.

Interested in testing with less bad blood cards but I think they are fun when the threat is always looming.

Currently mutation card composition is 60 mutations to 20 bad blood.

I'd love to get some fresh eyes on the print n play.

I could be a friend, I don't bite.
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Alex McArthur
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Been hoping to check this game out, but my computer just got busted, so ill look at what I can on my kindle but won't be able to try it till later.
Filled out the survey (how will you pick a winner when you don't ask any info about the person?) And hopefully will do the play test this week.
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Charles Ward
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steamlich wrote:
...I'd love to get some fresh eyes on the print n play.

I could be a friend, I don't bite.


I downloaded the rules and it looks great. Do you have a low ink version? Any videos made so far? Very interested.
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Jared Barry
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Hey guys sorry for the late replies, the survey wasn't forwarding to my email so I thought I had 0 responses. n,,n

Because of the error I didn't realize I had no way to get in touch with survey takers.

As such I just revised the survey insert with an email form, fill it out to be included in the raffle. (I'll run it in August).

Great responses now that I'm reading them, someone is worried about the time frame for games running off number of players. It could be short for 2 players. I agree that this is an odd way to do things and causes 2 player games to be short at about 20-45 minutes.

Should I bump this up to a consistent (4-6?) number of rounds no matter what?

Got a lot of great feedback one of my favorites "Which sections of the rules were unclear/need further clarification? These rules were MUCH easier to follow than Clash! "

So my rulebook writing is improving with time, yipee!

Charles: I will work on a low ink version to put up. Working on a video also.

Thanks for tuning in!
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Jared Barry
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I'm thinking about removing hand size limits from the game. (Currently 7).

This would allow ultra cautious approaches to the survival aspect.

Also still trying to find the right mix of cards for the mutation decks.

Last idea for tonight is a way to form more unique tiles with neat effects. However the tiles are a bit small for lots of text. Leaning towards maybe 3 symbols total for distribution on the map tiles, 3 including memory fragments of course.

Time to brainstorm the new ideas, healing station perhaps to allow free card draw outside of cube allocation. Perhaps controlled evolution to grant any one talent for the duration of the round.

More tomorrow on this advancement hopefully.

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