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Subject: 4P 2015 - Week 0 discussion thread rss

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Gil Hova
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(If you're not sure what 4P is, here's the introductory thread.)

4P starts next week! Let's start talking about our games.

Mine is a co-design with Richard Gibbs of 64 Oz. Games. Its working title is Meltdown. It will be a real-time tactile game, in which players must grab geometrically-shaped pieces and fit them into each other while blindfolded. There will be an app (currently just a proof-of-concept Perl script) that tells the players which pieces score most for them.

There is a bunch of new territory I'm hitting here. It's my first co-design, and my first time integrating an app with a board game. But I'm very excited to work with Richard; I love his focus on accessibility, and I am really interested to try out this challenge of designing for a non-sighted audience.

I'm also excited to integrate an app into the game. It's an opportunity to inject some theme and humor into the game, as well as a nice way to hide information, track the game state, and make scoring easier.

Like any 4P project, I know that I won't have anything close to a completed game after four playtests. And it will be a challenge testing this game in public, especially in a noisy location. But I'm really curious to see where this game takes me!

What will you be working on?
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Seth Jaffee
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Gil, I'm glad to see you're doing your 4P thing again this year!

I hadn't intended on participating per se, but I happen to have put together a couple of new games recently, and have been testing and iterating on them...

In October I finally played a design I wrote 2 years ago, and now two months later I feel it is very nearly done. It's called Crusaders: Thy Will Be Done, and I should really get some prototype pics up on BGG for it... there are some on my Cumbersome blog.

The other one is a brand new one, so this might qualify for 4P in January (though I might count this week as when I start)...

The new one is about the Pony Express. I came up with this idea in November of this year, prototyped it over Christmas, fiddled with the components the other day and sort of partially played a 2p game, made some changes, and played a full 3p game today.

I suppose that's 2 playtests since Dec 26!

I'm going to make some changes based on today's game, and play again as soon as I get a chance (maybe tomorrow). This time of year is good for playtesting, since people are in town or off work for the holidays.

Come January, I'm sure it'll be more difficult to get people together to test.

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Rocco Privetera
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Hi Folks! I'm going to try and do the 4p this year as well.

I've been really, really frustarted with my game design work lately. As sometimes happens, my real world life kicked me in the ass in the last year, between some bad health issues that cut back on free time, and then having to get a new shittier job for the health insurance that further cut back on free time. I've been supposed to go to a bunch of playtests in the last two months and had to miss all but one. Sigh...

So I'm hoping I can get my stuff together FOR THE 4P!

Even though the spirit is to do the same game for the four sessions, it sorts of depends on time (i.e. can I iterate the design changes revealed from the previous playtest fast enough to be ready for the next one)? So I might show up with a second game if I don't get the changes built in. Hopefully not.

I will be primarily testing MEGAJAIL, a semi-coop about players running a jail in a sci-fi setting. Players primarily manage incoming prisoners and housing them. As the game progresses it gets harder. If the jail riots, everybody loses; the game goes a set time, and if the jail doesn't riot first, whoever housed the most value of prisoners wins.
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Chip Beauvais
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Meltdown sounds promising (and challenging!)

After I finalize my ChromaCubes puzzles, I've got some new ideas for Mission Control (from Protospiel 2010), and a 2-dimensional take on Dead Man's Draw. I hope I'll have time to get in a playtest or two (or 4) before the start of February.
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John duBois
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I have a couple games I hope to work on with 4P, with the priority evolving as I'm able or unable to get playtester and/or publisher interest:

-Odd Socks, a 2-4 player deduction microgame
-Avignon, a 2-player "tug of war" style microgame
-Bread and Circuses, a 4-10 player social negotiation/economic game.

Listing multiple games primarily because a single game - with rules explanation - of Odd Socks or Avignon typically takes 15 minutes or less, so I'm hoping to get multiple games into a playtesting session.
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Tom Hardy
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I'm also new to be entering this year. I will be testing a game that i have been thinking of since about a month and i plan on entering it in the upcoming 2015 Solitaire PnP contest.

My game is called Creator Of Evolution and it is a game where you try to create and evolve your own world. It is a game played in 2 phases - the formation phase and the evolution phase. In the formation phase, you form your planet with some simple tile laying and get water in your planet through volcano tiles and create and adjust factors like wind and clouds. The evolution phase is based on creating species on your planet, moving them, breeding them, mutating them to form other species and preventing their extinction. Different species also tend to interact when the come on the same tile resulting in events according to their characteristics. At the end of the game if you have 30 or more living species on your planet, you win.

The game is still in the Idea Phase so i don't have a prototype ready yet. Hence i might be testing with just drawings on papers the first time maybe. But i will most probably have a playable PnP later. I hope that this won't be an issue. If it is that you have to test only PnPs, i would then probably go with my current bicycle racing microgame - Cadence. This is a micro 18 card racing game featuring a race between 2 bike racers along a 6 card circuit.

Thanks for posting this challenge! A real good way to motivate for solo playtesting.

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Rocco Privetera
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Don't feel bad about testing an idea (or even just presenting it). I've done that before. Hell, I think all designers have at some point showed up with a badly broken design that is unpolayable and instead of playing the game you all sit around and discuss it instead.

As a matter of fact, Megajail came from that exactly, with the guy who started 4p!

So there.
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Seth Jaffee
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sedjtroll wrote:
The other one is a brand new one, so this might qualify for 4P in January (though I might count this week as when I start)...

The new one is about the Pony Express. I came up with this idea in November of this year, prototyped it over Christmas, fiddled with the components the other day and sort of partially played a 2p game, made some changes, and played a full 3p game today.

I suppose that's 2 playtests since Dec 26!

I'm going to make some changes based on today's game, and play again as soon as I get a chance (maybe tomorrow).

Edit: I did in fact play a 4p game of The Pony Express tonight, with all the new tweaks and changes. It went alright, and mostly let me know that I have to reduce the severity of the Hazards.

Considering a few other things, like adding Items for players to get at the beginning (before riding out), potentially reversing the tie break order (reverse turn order rather than turn order), and adding 2 towns to the map (and 3 cards to the deck).

But the overall structure held up. So that's good. I still want to change the map so you go back and forth rather than loop around to the same Post Office, but until I can revamp the map I'll stick with what I've got.
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Rey Alicea
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Hi Gil,

I think this is a great idea you have here.

The game I've been play testing mainly with co-workers and family is called Thicket.

The inspiration for this game came from the game called Sprouts.

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Aurèle A
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The concept of 4P is really interesting and motivating. I will participate and will try to playtest my prototype "Take me to your leader" which is a science-fiction action programming game. I am currently completely redesigning the game according to previous playtests and I hope to get it settled in time to start playtesting it soon.
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Chip Beauvais
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Yesterday was my first playtest of Mission Control, as documented here:

http://flyingsheep.com/MissionControl/4P.2015.1/

Not a lot of analysis, but some pictures and some notes. Hopefully future reports will be a little more in-depth.

Great way to start off the new year (:
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Seth Jaffee
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sedjtroll wrote:
sedjtroll wrote:
The other one is a brand new one, so this might qualify for 4P in January (though I might count this week as when I start)...

The new one is about the Pony Express. I came up with this idea in November of this year, prototyped it over Christmas, fiddled with the components the other day and sort of partially played a 2p game, made some changes, and played a full 3p game today.

I suppose that's 2 playtests since Dec 26!

I'm going to make some changes based on today's game, and play again as soon as I get a chance (maybe tomorrow).

Edit: I did in fact play a 4p game of The Pony Express tonight, with all the new tweaks and changes. It went alright, and mostly let me know that I have to reduce the severity of the Hazards.

Considering a few other things, like adding Items for players to get at the beginning (before riding out), potentially reversing the tie break order (reverse turn order rather than turn order), and adding 2 towns to the map (and 3 cards to the deck).

But the overall structure held up. So that's good. I still want to change the map so you go back and forth rather than loop around to the same Post Office, but until I can revamp the map I'll stick with what I've got.

For anyone interested, I played a 4p game of The Pony Express today. It went alright, but I really think changing the board will be a good fix.

I came up with a 2p variant yesterday, but haven't tried it yet.

Not sure I have any significant changes to make until I change the board. Small tweaks, yes, but maybe not significant changes.
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Rocco Privetera
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For those of us involved I'll update mine here as well.

Right now my 4p challenge is for MEGAJAIL. Megajail is a 2-4 player game where players are prospective Megajail wardens-in-evaluation in a sci-fi setting. It's... I hesitate to call it semi-co-op... but I guess that's the closest thing we've got. Everyone is competing to prove who is the best warden by housing the most criminals with the least problems. SO the highest score wins, but if the jail boils over into a MegaRiot, everyone dies and nobody wins.

The game basically follows a sequence where you get new Prisoners (Cons) and Facilities (think Cells, Rec Rooms); deal with some new Events; assign resources and roles; use resources (build new cells for example); try to arrange the Cons into the cells without generating too much Unrest; then calculate unrest and manage the game state.

The crux of the game is that the Cons have various requirements (Humans must be put in a warm, NO2 cell, whereas the Slaib,a rock-like race, prefer to be in a Solar gas cell). Putting a Con in a cell they can tolerate but don't like generates Unrest. Oh, and if an Event says a Dispute is going on between two Gangs (like the Uplifted, a pro-tech gang and the Mafia) then they generate Unrest when they are in the same cell. Same goes for races. And of course, you could have a Robot Mafia in the same cell as a Slaib Triad guy. You get it.

I've had a handful of tests in the alpha versions before last weekend. The last one I had a fellow make some suggestions around simplifying things, so I had re-designed it from scratch with that in mind.

The playtest for 4 players went pretty well. I mean yes, I'm going to have to completely re-do everything. But what I'm looking for is that "spark" where people are having fun (even if the game is slow or clunky or broken). I sort of got that vibe from my testers! So that's very good.

There were about 20 things that came up, so this is still pretty early in the iterative process. The biggest ones were:
- game in general is too slow and clunky - I tend to design from the "start with a ton of theme and ideas and crap and cut out stuff" school.
- buying/building new facilities/cells broken. You buy new Facility cards using other ones as currency, but in this version, you only get 1-2 new cards a turn, and the average low-level card costs at least 3 (and some more).
- Role Selection slightly broken. Right now there are 4 roles players choose - an Active Warden (who picks resources and roles first), an Operations Officer (who picks roles 2nd), a Facilities officer (who picks third) and a Human ? Resource Office who picks fourth. What this means is the H?RO is always stuck with the H?RO role again.
Criminal Activation clunky/broken. Some things criminals do (like Fight or Escape) is triggered by events... but sometimes an Event says "activate a Con" and then the Con might have a Fight action on their card. It was confusing how/when they got activated.
- Paroling Criminals (and other penalty tokens) have no teeth. Right now if you can't fit the Cons in your Cells (and nobody else takes them) they go back out on Parole. The player with the most sent out in the current turn takes a penalty token and if they end the game with that token, they take a VP hit. However this just meant the token bounced around and nobody cared. A lot of the penalty tokens worked that way.
- a player in last place has a hard time catching up. Need to come up with a not-obnoxious way to help the guy in last place.

So for this coming Saturday, here's what I'm doing (and will hopefully get done). I can't fix *everything* in one week so I have to pick and choose, so here's the order. Remember I need a few hours to re-assemble!

1. Streamline turns (there's an action or two I can consolidate)
2. Speed up resource allocation and role selection and come up with a way to fix the role selection.
3. Gotta rebuild/re-balance all the costs of the facilities.
4. Make the Penalty cards have some teeth. Players suggested keeping track of some kind of negative VP during the game which effects the final score, so I'll be implementing something like that.
5. Probably not have time, but maybe figure out better ways to activate the Cons.

Then have a "test" playtest with my close friends before the "real" playtest on Saturday.

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