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Subject: [WIP] Martian Colony - components available - 54 card contest submission rss

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Jeff Pearce
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This is for the 54 card game contest

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1893921/2018-54-card-game-d...

I should hopefully have everything ready for testing in the next few days

DESCRIPTION: Martian Colony is an action strategy game taking place over 8 rounds for 2-4 players. Players will take turns collecting, stealing and trading resources, activating, reprogramming and and upgrading worker Robots and building and upgrading new facilities, while keeping an eye out for Events that could either hinder or boost them.

I've really enjoyed and got into the challenge of designing a game using only 54 cards, and have tried to maximise the number of choices and options available to players.

It's hard to describe, but I will hopefully have a video and the rules and PNP available very soon.

UPDATED with 1.2, 18 JAN 2018,

RULEBOOK 1.2: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1xMxLYlZo2-EB5d4vX4oLouJDry...

PNP 1.2: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1h70qgipbqqQ9G1YIgSRYfVlygG...

SOME (HOPEFULLY) HELPFUL NOTES: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1prtoWh-5VDIpiM7cAzevrTsXRI...

edit: 22 jan 2018

minor edit to description to reflect game changes.
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Mark Perry
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Re: [WIP] Martian Colony Idea Phase/Private Playtesting
Cool! Subscribed!
 
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Jeff Pearce
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Re: [WIP] Martian Colony Idea Phase/Private Playtesting
Finalising the Rulebook, the PNP and video should be up within the next 48 hours. Please let me know if the Rules could use some clarification, I'm thinking of adding a FAQ and detailing each Building.
 
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Mark Perry
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Re: [WIP] Martian Colony Idea Phase/Private Playtesting
You should probably put a message on the contest list to let them and others know that this game is being entered in the 54-card contest...whistle
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Alex Bardy
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Re: [WIP] Martian Colony Idea Phase/Private Playtesting
MarkP1981 wrote:
Cool! Subscribed!

+1 for me... meeple
 
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Jeff Pearce
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Re: [WIP] Martian Colony - Idea Phase/Private Playtesting - 54 card contest submission
The Rulebook is now available - I've used public domain images as needed, and a lot of shapes and tables to make the cards in Word. I hope it makes sense, but would love to hear what people think. I should have the cards up tonight.
 
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Jeff Pearce
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Re: [WIP] Martian Colony - Idea Phase/Private Playtesting - 54 card contest submission
The 1.0 PNP is now available - as is another file which will hopefully help when assembling the game.

Please print this out and give it a try, I can't wait to hear your feedback.
 
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Jeff Pearce
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First playtest at home revealed some major issues. The game is a lot faster than I expected, and you don't get enough time for actions, so I'm going to add an extra action each turn. I'm also going to make the Robots more worthwhile pursuing, and the Buildings slightly easier to obtain and upgrade.

The Rulebook is fairly solid, but needs a few tweaks. Ill hopefully have 1.1 up tomorrow, and would love to hear your feedback on it.
 
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Jeff Pearce
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Another playtest with updated rules and game is feeling much better. I've updated the original post with the new Rulebook (1.1) and the new pnp (1.1)

I'd still love feedback if anyone has tried 1.0 or if you download the new 1.1.

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Jeff Pearce
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More playtesting has revealed there isn't enough player interaction in the game, but I wanted to balance the use of Event cards with anything directed at other players such as sabotage or theft.

The theft of Materials seemed appropriate, and it fit on the card side where you can currently trade or collect, so I added Steal to that side as well.

So an additional action is now available, and as such, I've updated the PNP and the rulebook to 1.2 to reflect this. I've edited the original post, but just in case:

Martian Colony 1.2 PNP: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1h70qgipbqqQ9G1YIgSRYfVlygG...

Martian Colony Rulebook 1.2: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1xMxLYlZo2-EB5d4vX4oLouJDry...
 
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Jeff Pearce
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It is too late for the contest now for any changes. As far as I can tell, no one played this. Not one person. I never received any feedback. I'm gutted and completely at a loss as to explain why. I've played this game now a number of times and feel it's in a good place. But I'm always open to feedback, good or bad. I hope that if you play this now, while your feedback won't help me with this contest, that you do provide feedback, as I hope to continue to refine this game.
 
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Nick Shaw
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Senno wrote:
It is too late for the contest now for any changes. As far as I can tell, no one played this. Not one person. I never received any feedback. I'm gutted and completely at a loss as to explain why. I've played this game now a number of times and feel it's in a good place. But I'm always open to feedback, good or bad. I hope that if you play this now, while your feedback won't help me with this contest, that you do provide feedback, as I hope to continue to refine this game.

I had no playtester feedback on one of my entries, too. Had a few comments on the rulebook, which was great, but no actual playtest feedback. So my co-designer and I just made it the best we could with any feedback from the few times we got our local game group playing it.

Sometimes a game just doesn't gain traction in the development phase of a contest (often when other contestants are busy doing their own game's development and playtesting, so don't have much time to look at / test other designers' entries), and you only start getting decent feedback after the deadline. It just happens sometimes, and there's not much you can do to change it. Just keep posting updates as and when, and drop a hint in the main contest thread occasionally asking for help, and you may eventually get a couple of folks to come help out.

One thing that does often help boost a game's playtests is making the PnP look good. That's frustrating for those of us without much graphic design skills, as designers who have amazing artistic or graphic design skills and/or access to huge libraries of stock images and photos tend to get more traction simply because their game looks more polished. Doesn't mean it is, but that's the way things often go. It's sometimes worth just asking on the main contest thread if anyone could help add some art or graphics to your PnP; people are often willing to help if just asked. If I had any more spare time right now, I'd offer (not that I'm necessarily any good at graphic design!).

Let me give the rules a read through and I'll give some feedback, now I have a little time post-contest-ready date.

Feedback on the PnP costruction: Reading the PnP construction notes, it's pretty confusing which cards get paired up with which. I see 19 cards are double-sided and the rest aren't, and that the double-sided buildings don't need any specific pairings. That makes constructing the PnP tricky (especially as buildings - for instance - aren't specifically labelled with "BUILDING" on them, so you have to infer which cards are which types. Hopefully it's obvious, but it's an extra step needed); and you can't just print front to back, you have to cut everything out and then pair up fronts and backs as required. I'd suggest putting all the double-sided cards together so the fronts & backs are all on adjacent pages for easy duplex printing, then have dummy card backs for the single-sided cards to make the whole thing easier to print overall.

Will get back to you on rules notes.
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Nick Shaw
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Just to confirm the card count & distribution:

- 4 Mineral (double-sided)
- 4 Water (double-sided)
- 4 Food (double-sided)
- 4 Fuel (double-sided)
- 4 Player Action Cards
- 1 Turn Tracker (double-sided)
- 10 Buildings (double-sided)
- 4 Bases
- 8 Robots (double-sided)
- 11 Events
(total 54 cards)

Is that correct? Took me a little while to work that out from the PnP instructions.

EDIT: D'oh, realised it has this breakdown in the rules doc.

Also: How long does the game usually take to play, out of interest?

I'm having a quick play with some graphic design for you, as I had a spare hour at lunch.
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Nick Shaw
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Example mock-up of how a building card could look...

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Caroline Berg
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This reminds me a lot of the old video game M.U.L.E. where you are colonizing a planet with the help of robots mules.

Sorry I couldn't spend more time looking at it - this has been a pretty busy year for me.
 
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Dustin Culbertson
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Senno wrote:
It is too late for the contest now for any changes. As far as I can tell, no one played this. Not one person. I never received any feedback. I'm gutted and completely at a loss as to explain why. I've played this game now a number of times and feel it's in a good place. But I'm always open to feedback, good or bad. I hope that if you play this now, while your feedback won't help me with this contest, that you do provide feedback, as I hope to continue to refine this game.

Definitely know how tricky it can be to get feedback. A few of my previous design WIP posts had crickets as well. We plan on testing every game and giving feedback to designers as we go. So at least you’ll have someone play it for sure!
njshaw2 wrote:
I had no playtester feedback on one of my entries, too. Had a few comments on the rulebook, which was great, but no actual playtest feedback. So my co-designer and I just made it the best we could with any feedback from the few times we got our local game group playing it.
We just played Banquet today and I do have to say we were fans! More feedback coming!
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Jeff Pearce
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njshaw2 wrote:
Senno wrote:
It is too late for the contest now for any changes. As far as I can tell, no one played this. Not one person. I never received any feedback. I'm gutted and completely at a loss as to explain why. I've played this game now a number of times and feel it's in a good place. But I'm always open to feedback, good or bad. I hope that if you play this now, while your feedback won't help me with this contest, that you do provide feedback, as I hope to continue to refine this game.

I had no playtester feedback on one of my entries, too. Had a few comments on the rulebook, which was great, but no actual playtest feedback. So my co-designer and I just made it the best we could with any feedback from the few times we got our local game group playing it.

Feedback on the PnP costruction: Reading the PnP construction notes, it's pretty confusing which cards get paired up with which. I see 19 cards are double-sided and the rest aren't, and that the double-sided buildings don't need any specific pairings. That makes constructing the PnP tricky (especially as buildings - for instance - aren't specifically labelled with "BUILDING" on them, so you have to infer which cards are which types. Hopefully it's obvious, but it's an extra step needed); and you can't just print front to back, you have to cut everything out and then pair up fronts and backs as required. I'd suggest putting all the double-sided cards together so the fronts & backs are all on adjacent pages for easy duplex printing, then have dummy card backs for the single-sided cards to make the whole thing easier to print overall.

Will get back to you on rules notes.
I'm sorry to hear that you didn't receive feedback on your game. I reviewed a few of the rulebooks, attempting to be as constructive as possible, and if I remember correctly, I reviewed Banquet. (just checked, I did). I did like the use of moving the card to denote the passing of rounds.

This was only my second ever attempt at making a print and play to the public. As such, I'm still learning. I wrote this all in MS Word, and I used a lot of text boxes as they had to be moved around and turned certain ways to ensure that all the information was on the cards. It's not perfect, but it's something I'll continue to learn from. I'll definitely be making duplex printing from now on. I made another pdf which hopefully helped with compiling the print and play, and I think I'll continue to do that or to make that part of the Rulebook. I did like how you used the version numbers on the rulebook to help show what has changed.

I was planning on adding more art to the cards, but I am no artist, and I actually did get a logo made by a friend of mine, but I never bothered to use it because no one else seemed to care about this game, and so I just didnt. It can be hard to put a lot of effort into something and not get anything back.

The Building cards were planning on getting a little building icon on them, and some art and icons to help remove some of the text and make them more interesting. The logo I had made was going to be the card back for the single cards.



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Garry Hoddinott
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I gather not a love was shown Martian Colony. I wish Elon Musk more success.
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One K
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IMHO the graphic is the first thing that draws the attention.
I myself will become interested in the board game by seeing the graphic itself. I mean like, wow nice graphic, what is it all about. Nice in here is not like you should have a sophisticated skill, but how you represent the theme with your board game through the picture. After all likes old man said, a picture tells more.

Once again this is only my thought about how graphics affect the audience.

In a simple way: Just give your best shot. It's not about perfect, it's about effort - Jillian Michaels. And the result never betrays the effort.

I'm sorry if I rumbling too much. laugh
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Nick Shaw
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Ok, feedback on the rulebook, as promised!

Typos / clarifications:
- Page 2, setup instruction 3: Says to place robot cards in a row *above* the buildings row, but your setup example shows them below.

- Page 2, setup instruction 5: "Place the Roundcounter in the middle of the place space..." - think you mean "play" space?

- Your example setup diagram has the event deck labelled as "Robot Deck" (in the black arrow-box).

- Page 3, Gameplay: It's not clear - does a player take all 4 actions at once, then play passes to the next player, or does each player take 1 action, in turn order, then take their 2nd action in turn order, etc? Or is it all played simultaneously (I doubt that due to the steal, build and acquire robot actions)?

- Page 3, Gameplay: Says "If Robots are not maintained, they will not work". What does that mean exactly? You can't use that robot this turn? Does it just stay put, or does it get discarded back to the robot deck? Does an upgraded robot 'degragde' to Standard level? Is there a way to track an inactive robot (e.g. rotate the card 90 degrees)?

- Page 3, Actions: Trade: says "...trade any one material to the supply for two of..." - what is "the supply"? I assume that's an abstract reference as there's no 'supply' and it just means decreasing the material by 1 step to increase another by 2 steps, but I think "the supply" needs defining, as it's not used anywhere else in the rules.

- Page 3, Actions: Building Upgrade: Says when you upgrade a building, you "move it up one level". Technically you physically move it DOWN the BASE tracker as the levels start 1 at the top, 2 in the middle and 3 at the bottom. I get what you're saying here, but it doesn't reflect the BASE card layout. Just rephrase, or switch around the BASE card building levels so 3 is at the top and 1 at the bottom.

- Page 4, Actions: Robots: The title includes "DISMANTLE" but the sub-sections call this "Reprogram".

Suggestions:
- Instead of putting the Round Tracker card somewhere in the "middle" of the play space, give it to the Start Player to keep hold of. That keeps the play area clearer, and also marks who the start player is.

- In Gameplay section, you say players take 4 actions, but AFTER that, the next paragraph then says "at the start of each round", and it says it three times in as many sentences. So I'd suggest moving that paragraph to be before the "Players take 4 actions" paragraph, and slightly rephrase it to avoid duplicating saying "at the start of each round".

- I was confused by the way "actions" are counted. I thought you'd rotate the card to perform the shown action. Not until I read the Turn Example on the last page did I realise an action is EITHER rotating the card to get to the main action you want, OR doing the shown action X times (x = # action points). I think maybe the wording of the Gameplay section needs to emphasise this, as nowhere in that section does it say you spend actions to actually perform the shown ability, only that you spend actions to rotate the card. The Actions section does say 'spend one action' but I thought that was back-referencing rotating the card one notch. So I'd suggest defining an "action" in the Gameplay section as: "Players may take [up to?] 4 actions. An action is either turning the Action Card 90 degrees, or performing the action shown at the top of the Action Card. The player may perform the same action multiple times if they can afford to." Something like that? Really, this is action-point-allowance, so perhaps saying the player has 4 action-points to spend, and the available actions they can do are x, y, z?

- Do players have to spend all 4 actions, or is it just UP TO 4 actions?

- The turn example says the player spent 2 actions to gain 2 materials. The Collect explanation however says the players may "spend 1 action to collect 1 material"; it doesn't say you can spend multiple action points to gain multiple resources. I think maybe say "you may spend any number of available action points to gain that many of one type of material", to make it clear you can spend multiple action points?

- The wording "Activate Robot" sounds more like activating a robot you already own, but infact it's acquiring a robot from the Robot Row. Do you then get to actually activate its ability too (because that's literally what the description says - "Activate a Robot, taking it from the available Robots...", i.e. activate it, then take it from the lineup and put it by your base card). If it's JUST acquiring a robot, I'd suggest renaming that action "Acquire Robot" instead.

- Reprogram Robot - you're returning a robot to the Robot Deck - does it go to the bottom of the deck, or on the top? And you then *take* a robot from the available robots row, right, not from the deck?

- Activate/Reprogram Robots: When you take a robot, does the Robot Row ever re-fill? Can't find anything saying to refill it, except at end of round where the row moves along (discarding left-most) and fills 1 robot if no robot was activated that round. So if all robots were taken that round, for example, no more robots come out until the end of the *next* round (as no one can take one the next round as there are none there)? Kinda makes sense, but is a little counter-intuitive. Why not just refill at the end of the round regardless?

- End Game Scoring: Do robots not maintained in the final round still score you VPs?

- Winner tie-breaker: The final tie-breaker says "both players share the victory" - what if more than 2 players tie for the win? Perhaps just say "the tied players share the victory"?
 
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Nick Shaw
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Senno wrote:
I'm sorry to hear that you didn't receive feedback on your game. I reviewed a few of the rulebooks, attempting to be as constructive as possible, and if I remember correctly, I reviewed Banquet. (just checked, I did). I did like the use of moving the card to denote the passing of rounds.

Thanks Jeff! Much appreciated.

Senno wrote:
This was only my second ever attempt at making a print and play to the public. As such, I'm still learning. I wrote this all in MS Word, and I used a lot of text boxes as they had to be moved around and turned certain ways to ensure that all the information was on the cards. It's not perfect, but it's something I'll continue to learn from.

MS Word is notoriously difficult to use for detailed graphical layouts. I use MS Publisher mostly (as it comes with Office in most cases), and is a much more useful tool. Well worth getting to know its intricacies! If you have Publisher, I'd be happy to send you the quick mock-ups I did of the cards yesterday, then you can have a play with them - should reduce the learning curve a bit.

Senno wrote:
...I actually did get a logo made by a friend of mine, but I never bothered to use it because no one else seemed to care about this game, and so I just didnt. It can be hard to put a lot of effort into something and not get anything back.

I know the feeling. You need to decide what you're entering the contest for, though, I think: Just to try to win? Or to get some feedback for improving the game? Or to give you a deadline in which to aspire to actually finish the game's design? Should be the latter two ideally, with the first just being a great bonus if you do win. And if you don't get any feedback, just make the game the best you can in the time you have. I think you've succeeded in doing that - you've completed the design to a level where you consider it good enough that it works as you intended it to. Adding that logo - even just to the opening post here - would give readers that little extra impetus to think "ah, he's actively working on this, and that looks interesting, I'll give this thread a read". People tend to not like walls of just text; if you have a logo, give readers some eye-candy to hook them into reading more.
 
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Sorry about that last statement. It wasn't referring just to this contest, but other things going on in my life currently.

I don't have Publisher, but I am working with GIMP 2. At least I'm trying to.

My philosophy going into this contest more than anything was to try and make a design that was fun and using the limits to do something interesting.

I liked having only 54 cards to play with - and using only those 54 cards to attempt to make a strategy game.

By the way, play time is generally 20 minutes for 2 players, 25 for 3 players, and 30 for 4 players.
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Senno wrote:
By the way, play time is generally 20 minutes for 2 players, 25 for 3 players, and 30 for 4 players.

Nice one, thanks. If I get the rest of the mock-up of the cards finished, I might just be able to get some folks at my game group to try it out.

And yes, the purely-54-cards limit was a great limitation to design by. Not being allowed even a single token makes it a very interesting design space to work within.
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adularia25 wrote:
This reminds me a lot of the old video game M.U.L.E. where you are colonizing a planet with the help of robots mules.

Sorry I couldn't spend more time looking at it - this has been a pretty busy year for me.

It wasn't intentional to theme it to any existing property. Initially, I had the game mechanics made up, but I didn't have a theme. I settled on this as I felt it best epitomised the struggles of living on a new frontier and having to settle a new land, which was what I was going for. I felt fantasy had been done more than enough so I went for a scientific exploration route. Robots fit in because they could be upgraded, something you really couldn't do with workers. And I needed these workers to be soulless automatons, who could just gather and do nothing else. Robots worked with that, and the theme started coming together.

That said, I'm not married to it and the game could easily be rethemed. The mechanic of having four action points but being able to spend them by either using the action or turning the action card was what really started the game off. I had been wanting to do a strategic game and the limits here is what made me start.

I hope there is no copyright issue that arises with this. I daresay the theme, while not popular, isn't completely original and I'm sure there are plenty of games about colonising a new location.
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Caroline Berg
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Considering how awesome M.U.L.E. still is - I'd take being similar to it as a compliment!

I doubt you will have copyright issues - after all, you aren't using robotic mules, and you're set on Mars, not a planet that spells Atari backwards...
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