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Subject: A brief history of the Phobos Falling game rss

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Harvey Cornell
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Mansfield
Texas
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I first started developing Phobos Falling in summer 2014. My wife and I playtested it quite a bit and loved the game. We chose to focus on other game designs for a while since Phobos Falling is a cooperative game and we thought it might be better to establish ourselves with a more conventional competitive format game before trying to publish a coop game. We have a number of other designs, several of which are quite mature. One of them, V.I.P.E.R Ops, is currently a finalist in the Cardboard Edison Contest.

When we heard of the Thundergryph Survival game design contest we decided this was the right venue for us to present Phobos Falling, since it is a survival game. Although the game is very fun to play and has been playtested by a dozen or more people and was very well received, there was one major concern we needed to address: the game took 4-8 hours to play.

Over the 2016 Christmas holidays we made a concentrated effort to get the game down to a reasonable playing time. First, the space station was reduced in size to reduce the player's problems. Two shuttle bays were removed (leaving only one). Next, the event card deck was reworked to speed up the pace of the game. Due to the difficulty this added to the game, the initial damage state of the space station was reduced to regain the play-balance. Next, we changed the game from having a random initial set of damaged space station systems to having a set of fourteen predefined scenarios that are thought out to achieve the desired play-balance. We will likely include the random damage start as an alternate way to play, but for now, the focus is on the the predefined scenarios. Finally, we simplified the requirements for outfitting the shuttle for the trip back to earth to speed up play.

The result of this redesign is that we now have a game that plays in 1-2 hours and is tense, exciting, and incredibly fun!

In addition to the changes above, we have expanded the number of available characters to play from six to ten, and have been tweaking the character's abilities for balance, variety and fun. We now have a Commander, First Officer, Science Officer, Operations Officer, Helmsman, Chief Engineer, Mass Mover Officer, Quartermaster, Chief of Security, and Marine Commander. The large variety of characters with different skill sets adds a lot to the replayability.

We replaced two rooms on the space station with others that are more interesting and get more use. The old rooms were a third Cargo hold, and the Sick Bay. The replacements are the Science Lab and the Mass Mover station (think transporter room from Star Trek).

Next we tweaked the way computer data is used to create the software needed by the crew. This change simplified the board and some of the cards decks.

All in all, the game is playing VERY well now and we are focusing on getting the components ready for uploading to Gamecrafter. The rules have been written and after one last review and edit this weekend will be made available here.
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Joe Preiser
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Sounds interesting. I'll keep my eyes open for future posts.
 
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