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Subject: [WIP] Orbits - Pick Up and Deliver in orbital space rss

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Jared Voshall
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I'm starting work on a Pick Up and Deliver game where the bulk of the gameplay comes down to dealing with orbital mechanics - when to leave a particular planet to get to the next one in a reasonable amount of time, with each level moving the pieces around the board at different rates. This creates an interesting dynamic in trying to hit the next planet that no other game has captured up to this point.

To this end, I'm working on a board which has 3 planetary orbits (where you get your supplies at variable costs), as well as two orbital rings by each of those (one on the inside, one on the outside). At the end of each round, all pieces move one space clockwise around the board, with each orbit having a different number of spaces on it, with the inner orbits moving faster (fewer spaces) than the outer spaces.

There's just one problem... This all takes quite a few turns to play out effectively, and there's going to be many a turn where you will end up just sitting as you fly around the board, waiting to get in line with the next planet you want to stop at. So, I'm going to need something that players can do each turn to improve their position without just moving around the board (after all, when dealing with orbits, you can't move forward or backwards effectively, you simply move to a higher or lower orbit).

So we come to the first problem to conquer with this game. How do I give players something to do every turn without creating an overly fiddly system for players to deal with?

The solution I'm leaning toward right now is putting in a crafting system where players can buy natural resources from each of the three planets, which can then be refined and combined to create finished goods to sell at the other planets for a profit. However, I'm sure there are other options out there, and I would definitely be interested in hearing them!
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maf man
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High Frontier is well worth playing, in general and in helping you think through your design.

perhaps you try using action points or fuel as time vs actual turns as time.
maybe have primary turns and secondary turns. If traveling to X takes 4 turns then you just move your ship there take three markers and each of your next three turns you turn in a marker and you do some action unrelated to your main ship. maybe your conducting space experiments or talking to a ground crew to have some impact on the game as a whole. I'm picking at straws here but I hope your getting the idea I'm going for.
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James Arias
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Maybe a simplified Research & Tech Tree (not as involved as the 4X games have, but something simole to work for to improve move, cargo capacity, maybe upgrades enabling carrying fancy cargo that has special requirements, etc.). That would be fun for me.

Sky Traders also had a market manipulation mechanic that affected commodities pricing. You could also have some kind of investment mechanic.
 
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Man thinks, the river flows.
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I really like your factory-ship concept. It puts contention on your movement mechanic, and that’s key to any good game. I’d love to see a game like that.
 
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Jared Voshall
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Thank you for the feedback. There's definitely some things to consider there, and I'll put some thought into putting together a market system to compliment the movement and crafting segments of the game, and thinking about it, I like the idea of adding a tech tree to the game. Probably not to add additional movement or storage, but gaining access to higher tier goods (which would, of course, be worth more), as well as adding a larger impact to the markets, would certainly be doable.

So, here's what I have so far: Each turn, you get two actions which can be used for the following actions. Each action can only be taken once unless an ability states otherwise:

Burn: You can spend your action to move either one Orbit Up or one Orbit Down. To do so, move your Ship token to a space on your chosen orbit that is touching the space you are currently in.

Craft: You can trade in the listed Trade Goods to add a token to the associated Trade Good that you control.

Refine: You can pay the Refine cost for upgraded Trade Goods that you have researched in order to increase the Quality of the trade good. Each level of quality counts as an additional Trade Good of that type when Selling.

Trade: If you are in the same space as another player, you may exchange Trade Goods, Resources, and Credits so long as both players agree to the trade. If you are in the same space as a Planet, you may purchase Resources at that planet's current rates as well as sell Trade Goods at their current rates.

Play the Markets: You may purchase and sell stocks in the various markets. This can affect the price of particular goods and resources, and can be a strong method for gaining Credits when you don't have any Trade Goods to sell (or it's just taking you too long to get to the next planet).

Still a ways to go on everything, but I think this will give me a good start toward what to focus on.

-----


While I like the idea of Travel Time for simplifying the movement process, it does rather run counter to the core idea of this game, where you're trying to time your movement between orbits, and which can have a tremendous impact on the time it takes to get to the next planet (especially if the planets start on opposite sides of the orbit). It's hard to calculate the exact travel time (at least, until I have a bunch of plays under my belt), I think I'll steer clear of that solution.
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Sammyo Roychowdhury
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I think it would be really cool if you could customize your ship; so by the end of the game, everyone has a unique ship that are capable of doing things that others can't. Assuming that the game, thematically, takes a long time (we are waiting for planets to orbit to an ideal location before travelling) the act of upgrading your ship on a turn wouldn't be unthematic, as every turn takes a long time (in the game universe).

Good luck, and I hope I made sense.
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Jared Voshall
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GoldfishPandaGames wrote:
I think it would be really cool if you could customize your ship; so by the end of the game, everyone has a unique ship that are capable of doing things that others can't. Assuming that the game, thematically, takes a long time (we are waiting for planets to orbit to an ideal location before travelling) the act of upgrading your ship on a turn wouldn't be unthematic, as every turn takes a long time (in the game universe).

Good luck, and I hope I made sense.


No, that makes perfect sense, and is exactly what I'm looking at doing for the tech tree. Each round represents approximately 2 month's of time, and each time the center planet orbits around the center, that is the equivalent of 1 full year. As such, the minimum travel time between planets is approximately 6 months, so there's plenty of time to explain players upgrading their ships along the way. Of course, I'm going to want to plan for longer in order for players that don't quite grasp the movement system to get from place to place anyways, so I expect the in game timescale to be along the lines of 10 years, beginning to end.
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