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Orion Mcclelland
United States
New Jersey
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Hey all! So I've been working on this idea for about a month now, and it's becoming pretty all consuming, so I wanted to start putting feelers out to see what people thought of the thematic direction I was taking with my project. I haven't posted much on BGG before, so I don't really know what's a normal stage for people to start sharing things, but I thought it would be fun to share what I have. So to that end:






 
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Russ Williams
Poland
Wrocław
Dolny Śląsk
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Re: [WIP] Concept art for an alternate reality, western themed game.
The externally hosted images aren't displaying (at least not for me); I suggest uploading them to your personal BGG gallery.

https://boardgamegeek.com/images/user/1357941/cloud3x3
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Benj Davis
Australia
Summer Hill
NSW
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Re: [WIP] Concept art for an alternate reality, western themed game.
They're coming up as Forbidden if I try to open them in a fresh page too.
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Orion Mcclelland
United States
New Jersey
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Re: [WIP] Concept art for an alternate reality, western themed game.[LINKS FIXED]
Thanks guys. My mistake.
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Orion Mcclelland
United States
New Jersey
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So I've decided it might be fun to record my thoughts as I develop out this game over time. Salt, is intended to be a 4x game with a western theme that is not at all historically related. I have a couple of goals designing this game, which include making a game with an epic 4x feel, in a package that's not to difficult to follow for new players. I'm also not a huge fane of games that take 2 or 3 hours to play, so I'm hoping to also create a game that can be played in 60 - 90 minutes. My GF is not a gamer per say, but it is something that we can do together, so I enjoy creating games that can provide enjoyment to both hardcore and non hardcore gamers.

In Salt, players will choose one of five gangs who will be exploring new territories, creating mines to produce resources, hijacking players and locals, and researching magic abilities. All of this will be with the goal of completing one of several global objectives and ultimately, controlling the most salt in the territory. As a game moves forward, the world will evolve, the global economy may shift, and players will have to choose their actions carefully, as the things they do may benefit their neighbors as much as it benefits them.

It's been a lot of fun developing this out, and even if my gaming group is the only one that ever plays it, I'm enjoying the process. I decided a while back that I was just going to make game design my hobby, and it feels good to get back to my game design roots. Currently, this game is pretty playable (even in a single player format), but I want to move beyond the pen and paper stage into a more developed form of the components, because I do feel that adds to the experience. If anyone has any thoughts on the design, those are always helpful. Thanks. Cheers.
 
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Orion Mcclelland
United States
New Jersey
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So the first component that I've started working on is the board. I think this is the direction I'm going in so far. It's hard to balance my art style in a way that gives a cohesive look to the game, and this is my first time doing something like this. For now, I think this is good enough and will get me started.



And more closely, the tiles will look something like this



 
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Orion Mcclelland
United States
New Jersey
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The game makes use of a standard poker deck for combat. I printed out a test deck to see if I liked the feel. I think I'm going to end up developing this deck out further, as well as change the back, but I was pretty happy with how the test deck printed. Although, they are darker than I expected, so I may have to account for that next time.



This is the general direction I think I want to go for here.




That's it for now. Hopefully I can get some gameplay footage up maybe so people can see how this plays. I know it's hard to piece it together just from some random concept art and components. Cheers for now.
 
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Orion Mcclelland
United States
New Jersey
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Just finished another concept piece. I think this may be my favorite one so far. This piece is for the miner's union gang. As I was painting it, I wasn't exactly sure how to make miners interesting. It was kind of hard, because I felt like if I just drew a few people around a mine, it wouldn't really invoke any kind of special presence in the world. I don't know how it came to me exactly, but as I started to work, influences from the triad / yakuza / and rockabillies started to come together in my head. I really like how this started to turn out, and it brought together this idea in my head that the Miner's Union is a group that sticks together, and hold loyalty in high regard. In general, they're not trying to be violent, but at the same time, they will respond to displays of force in kind. I only have one more group to go. Hopefully a similar kind of inspiration comes to me as I'm working through it.

 
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Orion Mcclelland
United States
New Jersey
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So did some more work and took some photos of a play test session. One of the things I developed early was a solo play system. This helps me test out ideas in a more evolving way, and to proof out some of my theories about the game. In its current form, some relatively simple rules can create an interesting simulation of play. Ultimately, I see solo play as a good way for new players to get a handle on play mechanics, as well as a meter for me to balance against.

So what you'll see here is starting setup including the player board, the research track, the starting territories, and the end game objectives.







The game starts out relatively small



But over time the board develops quite a bit.


And by the end it looks like this.


Some a few things that I learned from this play through. The AI beat me in this setup, which was expected, but it was by a fairly high margin. I may need to make sure that the AI scaling is correct, and that production isn't too lucrative compared to exploring. That should be pretty easy to fix. The bigger issue, that will be harder to fix, is that exploration kind of encourages that long tail. I guess that makes sense, because you're exploring farther and farther out, but it doesn't really encourage player interaction. That may be fine for the type of player that doesn't really want a ton of interaction, but this maybe could be adjusted a bit. I especially would like for exploration to have more of a feedback loop with the rest of the board, such that, exploration influences the board, and the board influences exploration. This is the type of stuff I will probably look at more over the next few play throughs.
 
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Orion Mcclelland
United States
New Jersey
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Hi guys, it's actually been a while since I updated this thread. I've been traveling, plus working on a few other projects. So there have been two major updates to the progress of the game.

The first update comes in the form of test components. I was finding that with pen and paper components, it was hard to communicate the rules and flow of the game. This left players confused during play testing. In order to get more rules in front of players as they are learning, I decided to start building some test components. I mentioned this in another thread as I was designing them, but the first thing I built where these player boards.




I really like how they came out, they have a semi finished feel to them, and I think it's great having this information in front of players, and easy to access. I want to work on the spell boards soon to bring that same rules clarity to the magic/tech system.

After working on the spell boards, I started working on map tiles.
I had created these images a while ago, so all that was needed was just taking a weekend to get the images printed, glued, and cut around the cardstock i was using from before. The end result was this:




The final piece that I worked on, and this is a but on the crazier side, is dice. I wanted to move past the sharpie on blank dice phase, so I 3D printed a few dice (after learning how to model 3D dice, hahaha), and this is what I have now.




This is obviously far from a complete game, but these components go a long way to making this feel like a real game, and I think that makes a difference when play testing. It also makes a difference when play testing to have rules easily accessible, and information easy to make out, so I like these improvements so far. Sadly, even with these improvements, I found that it wasn't enough to achieve my goal of easy playability for new players, so my final major game change has been to move from a free form action system, to a card based mechanic for choosing your actions. In hindsight, it's kind of obvious why games use these kinds of mechanics to streamline the number of initial choices players have to make, but I guess it was part of the learning for me to see how you arrive there after play test. I think what happened was that the original game had 4 actions, explore, produce, attack, and cast magic. Over time, each one of those actions gained sub actions to reflect certain nuances of the system. As the designer, it was easy for me to see how those fit together, you do this thing, then you do this thing, but as a new player it was a lot to take in that there were some 12 micro actions that they had to choose from every turn. So over all, I think this is positive progress. I really like the kinds of choices the game is starting to make player decide, and I think it will be more solid moving forward.
 
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