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Subject: [WIP] Balletomane (2-player PnP-contest 2017) Contest-phase rss

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Douglas Ramsey
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Balletomane

Leiseus
2-players
10-15 minutes
Ages 8+

Manual
PnP-file
PnP-file (greyscale)
PnP-file (text-only)

Story
Claude & Sabine are both ballet choreography students and for a class assignment they have to choreograph a ballet, consisting of 3 acts with 8 dancers. It’s their first time working together and it seems they keep arguing about the choreography. They just can’t agree with each other and during the presentation to the teacher, they instruct the dancers to do moves that fit their own choreography. The problem they both have is that some of dancers are Claude's friends and some are Sabine's – so some will only listen to only one of them. They both know the teacher will grade them separately, so they both have to make the best out of the situation.

Objective
Balletomane is a 2-player game, where each player tries to impress the teacher with best choreography (dice combinations) by manipulating the dancers (dice). Each turn, a player yells instructions to one or more of the dancers (play an action of the card). After each player yelled 3 instructions (turns), the players need to explain to the teacher which part of the choreography they have done (reveal combination on their last card) and they both receive a grade (points on the card). A full game consists of 3 acts (rounds).

In short
This is a sort of Texas Hold'em with dice, using cards to manipulate the dice and work towards a combination on one of the cards (cards have both an action and a goal/combination) that will determine their score. Most points after 3 rounds wins.



Components
9 cards (in PnP-file)
8 dice (preferably in 3 colors (2/2/4) but not necessary)

Contest info
2017 Two-Player Print and Play Game Design Contest, categories:
Best Use of Theme
Best Casual/Gateway Game
Best Art/Graphic Design
Best New Designer
Best Game

The game is sorta contest-ready. Any comments are appreciated!

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Douglas Ramsey
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Re: [WIP] Balletomane (2-player PnP-contest 2017) IDEA phase
2017-05-08
Artwork is put in the cards, small redesign. Still don't have a printer, so I have no idea what it looks like when it is printed, so let me know. I have updated the manual with more examples and comments from the BGG-members Roxanne Clark, Mark Fuhrman, Martijn vd Lee, as well as my own playtesters. Thanks guys!

If anybody can give me tips on how to balance a game, let me know.

2017-05-04
Files are uploaded: Manual &
PnP-file. There is no art, but the game is playable.

This is the first PnP I have released and therefor also the first manual I have written. I have not let anybody read the manual yet, so I have no idea if it's clear. All I know is that is it is really really hard to write one (let alone format one using MS Word).

There is currently one fault in manual: the example for 2. plie (value-1 in the actions-paragraph) should obviously 2 -> 1. I will change this later.
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JK
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Re: [WIP] Balletomane (2-player PnP-contest 2017) IDEA phase
Hi Douglas, and welcome to the contest. It is great to see such an imaginative theme.

You have until 8 May to complete your components and get them posted.

Cheers,
JK
 
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James
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Re: [WIP] Balletomane (2-player PnP-contest 2017) IDEA phase
Sweet idea! Interesting mechanics, nice art, nice size. I'm very interested.
 
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Douglas Ramsey
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Re: [WIP] Balletomane (2-player PnP-contest 2017) Component-phase
It is component-ready now! The manual doesn't have explanations about the dice combinations, but I hope those are all clear enough. If you have any comments/suggestions, let me know.
 
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Roxanne Clark
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Re: [WIP] Balletomane (2-player PnP-contest 2017) Component-phase
douggie wrote:
This is the first PnP I have released and therefor also the first manual I have written. I have not let anybody read the manual yet, so I have no idea if it's clear. All I know is that is it is really really hard to write one (let alone format one using MS Word).

It is the bit of designing that I dislike, and the most exasperating.

I use Serif PagePlus to do all of mine, and design my cards in it as well, at least then the formatting is seldom a complication. It is a fraction of the cost of the Microsoft packages (especially if you by a slightly earlier version as the tweaks are seldom major) and does nearly everything that you'd get from the more expensive counterparts. It also has the advantage of publishing directly to pdf too.
 
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Douglas Ramsey
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Re: [WIP] Balletomane (2-player PnP-contest 2017) Component-phase
MeOldMate wrote:
I use Serif PagePlus to do all of mine, and design my cards in it as well, at least then the formatting is seldom a complication. It is a fraction of the cost of the Microsoft packages (especially if you by a slightly earlier version as the tweaks are seldom major) and does nearly everything that you'd get from the more expensive counterparts. It also has the advantage of publishing directly to pdf too.


Thanks, I will check PagePlus out, if it's easy and cheap, then it's worth it. I was actually thinking about getting old LaTeX out of the closet, but I also always wanted to learn InDesign to see what's so 'professional' about it (I can also get that one for cheaper).
 
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Roxanne Clark
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Re: [WIP] Balletomane (2-player PnP-contest 2017) Component-phase
I have just had a first look at your cards and the info is tiny. Since I love doing the graphical bit is it ok with you if I fiddle with a few designs tonight and send you a redesign? If you have some artwork ready that you could send me a link to then I can get that in too (as I am aware that time is growing short here).
 
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Douglas Ramsey
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Re: [WIP] Balletomane (2-player PnP-contest 2017) Component-phase
MeOldMate wrote:
I have just had a first look at your cards and the info is tiny. Since I love doing the graphical bit is it ok with you if I fiddle with a few designs tonight and send you a redesign? If you have some artwork ready that you could send me a link to then I can get that in too (as I am aware that time is growing short here).

Thanks for taking a look. I just realized I haven't printed it out myself to test the design. :\ (I don't have a printer at home)

You may fiddle with the design, but I can't promise you it will be the final design. It will probably help me out a lot though in getting more insights in creating a PnP. (plus the earliest I will post a next version is tomorrow evening) Thanks!
 
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Mark Fuhrman
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Re: [WIP] Balletomane (2-player PnP-contest 2017) Component-phase
I would also agree that the info is way too small. I'm assuming you'll be adding art in the middle of the cards? (if not for this contest than later, perhaps?) Even so, it would really be helpful to have the important information of the cards bigger, so one does not have to squint.

Also, I'm a little confused on the Arabesque scoring- it says "number of uneven", when the example shows even numbers (which is incidentally the same wording as the Plie). Is this a typo?

Furthermore, just a minor thing, you could maybe change "uneven" to "odd"... but that's a personal preference thing- just makes the distinction a little clearer.

Lastly, related, I'm at a loss to understand why the scoring for the Arabesque is so much better than the Plie. It seems to me like they should be equal. Even given the manipulation of dice, you have roughly equal chances of getting even and odd numbers, so why the vast difference in points?

Granted, I haven't actually played it yet, so maybe I'm missing something in my understanding that would click better once I actually play.
 
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Roxanne Clark
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Re: [WIP] Balletomane (2-player PnP-contest 2017) Component-phase
Here you go a quick switch around but still with lots of room for art:-

The treble clef is to make it clear that that's the score section!!!!
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Douglas Ramsey
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Re: [WIP] Balletomane (2-player PnP-contest 2017) Component-phase
MrSaturn17 wrote:
I would also agree that the info is way too small. I'm assuming you'll be adding art in the middle of the cards? (if not for this contest than later, perhaps?) Even so, it would really be helpful to have the important information of the cards bigger, so one does not have to squint.

Also, I'm a little confused on the Arabesque scoring- it says "number of uneven", when the example shows even numbers (which is incidentally the same wording as the Plie). Is this a typo?

Furthermore, just a minor thing, you could maybe change "uneven" to "odd"... but that's a personal preference thing- just makes the distinction a little clearer.

Lastly, related, I'm at a loss to understand why the scoring for the Arabesque is so much better than the Plie. It seems to me like they should be equal. Even given the manipulation of dice, you have roughly equal chances of getting even and odd numbers, so why the vast difference in points?


Thanks for checking it out and posting it here. They are indeed typos (same with the amount of points), you are right, I accidentally copied my template file instead of the correct card. I should be ok now and I did change it to "odd", but now I wonder if it should be odds and evens?

The text on the card should be bigger also. That's what I got for not actually printing the file (I should really buy a printer).

MeOldMate wrote:
Here you go a quick switch around but still with lots of room for art:-

The treble clef is to make it clear that that's the score section!!!!

Thanks for your input! I wil certainly use it as inspiration. What I actually liked about having the information on the left and right side is the fact that you can fan the cards to the right to see the actions and fan it to the left to see the combinations, but yes, I don't know how it will be with art. I really need to check it out with the art in order to see how it works (and print it of course), but will have time for that tomorrow.
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Roxanne Clark
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Re: [WIP] Balletomane (2-player PnP-contest 2017) Component-phase
douggie wrote:
What I actually liked about having the information on the left and right side is the fact that you can fan the cards to the right to see the actions and fan it to the left to see the combinations.

I realised that but with a hand of just 4 cards it is easy enough to move them around to see all of your choices.
 
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Martijn van der Lee
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Re: [WIP] Balletomane (2-player PnP-contest 2017) Component-phase
Just playtested your game and have some feedback.

I like the game concept. In particular I like the theme, which is quite unusual both in and of itself and as a general somewhat effeminate subject matter; those types of subject matters are rare.
The implementation of the concept, however, I feel can be improved. As it is, I wouldn't play this game again. With some improvement, I think it can be a game I'd enjoy. Mind you, those are my own opinions and feelings, which may ignore considerations I'm not aware of.

First off; a simplified recording of the game session:
* Turn 1: 2/4/5/9 vs 1/6/7/8. score 4pt (card 2) vs 5pt (card 7)
* Turn 2: 6/5/9/8 vs 1/2/3/7. score 11pt (card 8) vs 3pt (card 3)
* Turn 3: 1/6/9/3 vs 8/2/5/7. score 3pt (card 1) vs 11pt (card 8)
End score: 18pt vs 19pt (right player won).
I alternated starting player; left, right, left

Theme
* Love it!
Components
* The color of dice isn't really required to be yellow/blue/green. It isn't even required to have different colors at all if you can keep them separated physically. Perhaps specify that any 8 dice will do, but colored prefered; it might stop people from trying the game.
* The cards are difficult to read with the small text (in particular the action) and especially the constant rotating of the cards necessary to read the text; I found this plain annoying.
* The scoring requirements for the Pirouette card is difficult to understand.
* Pirouette action text is a bit ambiguous. I understand you can (and must) roll either two different dice or the same dice twice, but this wasn't immediately clear to me from the text on the card. Refering to the manual is a pretty significant "tell"
* For playtesting only; would be nice if the card ID was a bit larger.
* Pointing out the completely obvious; the card designs are a bit blank. Perhaps Pixabay has some CC0 images you can use for prototype cards? (i.e. https://pixabay.com/nl/vintage-ballet-ballerina-dans-1817555...).
Rules
* Chase action; Copy action on the same dice or copy action as if anew.
* Chase action; What if used after a reroll+discard action; play card action or also do reroll+discard, or allow player to choose?
* Cambré action; Copy value TO own dice only or own dice + shared dice?
* Discarding cards; should cards be open and/or closed? For the "reroll+discard" move, it would be nice to keep the card closed, but in many cases the card has to be open. I played with all cards open on the discard pile except when "reroll+discard", as that made the most sense to me. It does affect use of the "Copy last action" card action.
Manual
* Manual states it's ages 6 up; with all the math involved (even thought it's basic arithmetics), I don't think many 6-year-olds could play it. I think 8+ at the very least.
* With all the reading and comparing of cards, the game probably takes longer than 10 minutes. If you know the cards by heart it may go a bit faster, but still I think about 30 minutes is closer.
Gameplay
* Second player has a very distinct advantage due to being the last to mess with the dice. I'd suggest having an even number of rounds and switching start player each round to counter this advantage.
* The scoring of the cards feels quite unbalanced. The ease with which a score can be obtained and the value of that score seems detached. Getting 6 odds (nearly impossible) gives 9pts; 5 different dice (quite easy if last player) gives 11pts.
* I found with 4 cards each player and 1 discarded it becomes somewhat predictable what the other player is aiming at. A few more cards would make "reading" the other player more difficult.

My main concerns are the card layout, the score balancing and last player advantage. In particular if the game feels more balanced, I think I would enjoy playing it again.
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Nick Shaw
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Just downloaded the latest PnP card PDFs. The low-ink one is fine, but the colour one, despite being over 70MB, appears to be a totally blank page. Not sure what's wrong; I tried opening it directly in Chrome, and also in Adobe Reader, both showing a blank page...
 
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Mark Fuhrman
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njshaw2 wrote:
Just downloaded the latest PnP card PDFs. The low-ink one is fine, but the colour one, despite being over 70MB, appears to be a totally blank page. Not sure what's wrong; I tried opening it directly in Chrome, and also in Adobe Reader, both showing a blank page...


I had that problem in Chrome this morning as well- tried it on my work computer in Internet Explorer, and that works for me.

That artwork is amazing, btw!
 
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Douglas Ramsey
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MeOldMate wrote:
I realised that but with a hand of just 4 cards it is easy enough to move them around to see all of your choices.

Yeah, you're right about that. In the new version I have the scoring in bottom. Thanks!

Tynes wrote:
Just playtested your game and have some feedback.
....
My main concerns are the card layout, the score balancing and last player advantage. In particular if the game feels more balanced, I think I would enjoy playing it again.

Thanks a lot for play-testing it and posting your comments on the game. I don't have a lot of time to reply to everything, so here's a quick reply:
- Thanks to your comments, I have changed some text on the cards and in the manual. It's good to hear when some things are not as clear as they are in my head.
- I started with ages 6+, but I got comments from people that it felt somewhat complex at first. Forgot to change it.
- I really need to buy a printer so I can test it out before posting it. Now I'm guessing and am dependent on the printer of other people. I enlarged the font a bit, but am not sure if it's still too small. Or... the next time I'm going to make a sheet with all the different size so I have reference how large the font size are on paper.
- In my play testing, our rounds went pretty fast once we knew the basics. But then again, that's with me explaining cards and rules while playing, so I guess I will here from others here how long it takes them.
- Second player has an advantage, that's true, but the optional rules are now the basic rules, so there's a bluff element, where the player who played the last action needs to state his/her combination first.
- I have some other ideas for cards, but I haven't tried that yet. This game was actually designed with the 9-card nanogame contest in mind, so that's why I still have 9 cards in my head.
- Yeah, the scoring is bit hard to do for me. I have no idea what a useful methodology is for that. I did it more by head and feeling and with some playtesting, but this is something I really need some practice for.

njshaw2 wrote:
Just downloaded the latest PnP card PDFs. The low-ink one is fine, but the colour one, despite being over 70MB, appears to be a totally blank page. Not sure what's wrong; I tried opening it directly in Chrome, and also in Adobe Reader, both showing a blank page...

Sorry, I didn't know what happened, something with the export went wrong. When trying to open my Illustrator file now, it is corrupt. Luckily I had a PDF of an older version, so I uploaded that. The scoring in the first 2 cards is bit different though and I'm not sure if I'm allowed to fix that. Ah well... Thanks for reporting it!

MrSaturn17 wrote:
I had that problem in Chrome this morning as well- tried it on my work computer in Internet Explorer, and that works for me.

See above for what happened. Thanks for trying again!
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Douglas, since your file became corrupted, I'll allow you to replace it with a fixed version just this once. Please check the upload is OK, then make no more changes till after voting is completed.
Cheers,
JK
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Nick Shaw
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douggie wrote:
Sorry, I didn't know what happened, something with the export went wrong. When trying to open my Illustrator file now, it is corrupt. Luckily I had a PDF of an older version, so I uploaded that.


Super, thanks, that worked! The artwork is fantastic.
 
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Martijn van der Lee
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The color art looks awesome. Trying to print it now. Hope the text shows up better.

Just a question out of curiosity; what is the white circle on the top-left corner of the cards supposed to be for?
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Downloaded and will be crafting soon to play.
 
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Downloaded yesterday...
The artwork is truly artful, but the icons at the bottom are still too small for my old eyes.

Maybe you want to make them a bit larger?

Thanks,
Dark.
 
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Douglas Ramsey
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Thanks for checking it out everyone!

DarkPadawan wrote:
Downloaded yesterday...
The artwork is truly artful, but the icons at the bottom are still too small for my old eyes.

Maybe you want to make them a bit larger?

Thanks,
Dark.

Yeah, I already got comments about that and a good lesson for me is to put more effort in trying to find a printer to test it out. Unfortunately, I can't modify the files anymore to enlarge the text, but the text-only version has way larger text if the color version is not playable or you.

Sorry, writing the manual took way more time than expected, so I didn't spend as much time to the graphic design as I'd liked to.

Tynes wrote:
The color art looks awesome. Trying to print it now. Hope the text shows up better.

Just a question out of curiosity; what is the white circle on the top-left corner of the cards supposed to be for?

I was planning to add icons in there, but I unfortunately I didn't have enough time to do that.
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I played your game with my wife last night. It was enjoyable, and like everyone else, we love the art and theme. Even though playing the game feels more like a pub dice game than choreography, we appreciate the attempt to give it a different feel.

As you already know, the cards are hard to read. But I would also like to second the notion that turning the cards side to side to read text in different orientations is problematic.

Quote:
- Second player has an advantage, that's true, but the optional rules are now the basic rules, so there's a bluff element, where the player who played the last action needs to state his/her combination first.
I would suggest keeping bluffing as an optional (or advanced) rule. We didn't use it (partly because it's not a mechanic that my wife enjoys). It seems to rely on knowing the cards well, and so unnecessarily complicates learning the game. I would encourage you to find a better way to balance out the second player advantage.

The game setup works very well. I like the choice to hide (lock) or expose your personal dice before seeing the last two common dice. I also really like that playing actions limits your goal possibilities.
My wife was a bit frustrated because she felt she often wanted to use the action on a card to get to that same cards goal. I don't see this as a problem since making hard choices is part of what makes a game fun.

I hope you find some of this helpful.
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Though I love the theme and the art is a great start, from a quick read through, the theme of the game doesn't seem like it matches very well with the game play.

As for figuring out size of something without printing it, I take a real playing card, put it on my computer screen, and scale the thing I'm printing until it's about the same size. (Most printed material, however, are easier to read than what is seen on a screen, even a very modern one.) That will at least give you a basis to start from.

Will you be working on this further after the contest is over?
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