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Terraforming Mars» Forums » General

Subject: Upcoming Dashboard System for Terraforming Mars! rss

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Chase Norton
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6/23/2018 Update

So after my super lame first image (in original post below), let's see if I can clear things up here.

I played a game of TM last night using Lodestone, my Dashboard System. Lodestone was very well received and drew attention from tables across the room.

Our table was plenty long, but the depth was not great, so I was able to securely fasten all of my game information to my Lodestone board. Bumping my board as it hung off of the table was not an issue!



I used my current dial design (which is still in early development). Even at it's current iteration, I found it very easy to use (I know, I made it so of course I would like it...) I tried to be critical of it as much as I could.

- It did require a bit of explanation to other players of how to read my resource counts. One end of the dial was 0, and the other 9. A block attached to it represented 10. So a dial half way with a block attached is about 15 resources. I will keep this in mind and see if I can think of something more intuitive (I am not sure what is more intuitive than a dial though)

- It was extremely easy and fast to use. I was always the first to complete the production phase as other players reached for cubes and changed out some for larger or smaller blocks.



The other player used constructed walls around her resources. She enjoyed using the system overall. She really liked having her player info elevated which is something I hadn't really thought of. It allowed her a bit more room to manage cards below the edges of her Lodestone board.

Another gamer came from a different table to check it out, and was really impressed with the Card Rail which held all of my green cards. (I had one with a few blue cards to the side I didn't get a picture of). He said that could be a great product by itself!

As always, please check my site for more images and sign up for email updates on my progress.

www.lodestonegamers.com


ORIGINAL POST

Hello everyone!

I wanted to reach out to the Terraforming Mars community to get feedback on a new product I am designing, as well as bring awareness to it as I get it ready for a Fall Kickstarter.

Lodestone is a universal dashboard system that can be used with nearly any game.

This is an image of a simple player setup for Terraforming Mars.



On the player sheet, you will see the MC is tracked with the traditional cubes. A tray / token cup is built with an amazing tool called the MagnaBracket. This piece can stack, pivot, and link for a crazy amount of versatility. Notice above a bunch have been linked together to create a shelf for your player hand. The ends and arms are easily taken off and on via magnetic connections (which also hold them firmly to the board).

Next item I wanted to show you is the MagCube (I know, names are a bit cheesy). This cube is very fun to play with, and also super useful! It holds firmly to the player sheet via magnetic connection. The best part is, inside is a ball magnet that spins to face the direction it wants, so you don't have to place the magnets a certain way for them to stick. I am considering offering a range of dice using this mechanic in the final KS.

Finally, take a look at other resources. They have what I am calling the MagDial (seeing a pattern here?). This gal will become quite a bit more streamlined soon, but this version kicks butt too. The clear window shows you what value you are tracking with the 0 to 9 dial (numbers will have higher contrast in future versions). To track a tens place, either place a MagCube on one of the arms, or stack two dials on top of each other. One tracking the tens, and the other tracking the ones. In other games, you can place any token you want behind this window to show what it is tracking. VERY handy.



Lodestone is coming along great, but I still have a long way to go. Feedback from the Board Game community is vital to ensure I am offering the best possible product when it comes time to launch the KS, so I appreciate any comments and criticisms.


Make sure to subscribe to this post if you are interested in design progress as I will update with pictures of new designs. You can also subscribe to our mailing list here to keep up to date and have a chance at getting a review copy of the product:

LODESTONE Newsletter Sign Up

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Jonathan Kinney
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First of all, let me say I always appreciate when people try to come up with solutions to challenging problems. And resource tracking in Terraforming Mars certainly is that.

For me though, I'm not sure I like what you've done for the resources themselves. I like looking over at what my opponent has when I make certain decisions. And the dials make it difficult to figure out what they have without asking. And if you ask, you give away certain things. So what you end up doing is asking "hey everyone can you tell me what your resource count is?" just to find out one specific resource for one specific player. One solution may create another problem.

Sorry to be critical. Good luck with the project!
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Chase Norton
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jonocop wrote:
First of all, let me say I always appreciate when people try to come up with solutions to challenging problems. And resource tracking in Terraforming Mars certainly is that.

For me though, I'm not sure I like what you've done for the resources themselves. I like looking over at what my opponent has when I make certain decisions. And the dials make it difficult to figure out what they have without asking. And if you ask, you give away certain things. So what you end up doing is asking "hey everyone can you tell me what your resource count is?" just to find out one specific resource for one specific player. One solution may create another problem.

Sorry to be critical. Good luck with the project!


Do not feel sorry at all! That is valuable input. Now, going forward, I can keep in mind that tracking methods need to as visible as possible from a table distance.

Naturally, I try to make things small and compact which works well for the player with the board, but I agree it is not a good 'universal' solution when considering visibility across a table. Thanks for the feedback!

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Bryan Thunkd
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jonocop wrote:
So what you end up doing is asking "hey everyone can you tell me what your resource count is?" just to find out one specific resource for one specific player.
And even that prompt may be enough to tip your hand.

Yeah, not being able to see other player's current resources is a big issue.

Also I'm not sure what the green and brown gizmo below the cards is for... Is that supposed to be your hand of cards? If so, I don't think it'd be terribly useful. If that's supposed to be played cards, then the event cards shouldn't be visible, the blue cards need to be visible and the top of all the green cards needs to be visible, especially the top right (which is currently obscured).
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David Mcgamin

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It looks like you've put in a lot of work on this, but I just don't care for the way it looks. It just looks busy, manipulating the dials seems "fiddly." and the numbers are hard to read. It reminds me of the error that was made using red text at the bottom on the cards in ED Battlecruisers:

https://boardgamegeek.com/image/3025842/eminent-domain-battl...

Sorry if I sound overly harsh, I just think the game looked better without that stuff on there.
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Mil Myman
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Seems to me it would be better to track production with the dials and resources with the cubes that come with the game - using the shelf like you did with the MC. This would preserve visibility and make it easier to gain and spend resources. IMO.
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Bryan Thunkd
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Also, if Thermalit is in play, people will actively be trying to get more than 9 heat cubes. Even if they aren't, heat is often useless after the temperature maxes out and so accumulates. (And "Then don't track it" isn't a good answer as there is at least one card that lets you spend heat for TR's and you might luck into it later on.)

I've also seen players with 10+ plant production, so limiting the resource count to 9 wouldn't be appropriate there either.

And I've seen players who have a decent production of steel, or titanium, end up with no cards to spend their stockpiles on. (And that's not even counting if the award for most steel/titanium is in play).

There's also the award on one of the expansion maps for most steel/power.

So honestly, I don't think I'd ever be comfortable using dials that only went up to 9. (Even if my opponents could read them... which they probably can't.)
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The Trevithick Family
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I can definitely see how this product can be used to streamline other games, but I just don't think it is right for Terraforming Mars.

The dials are very fiddly and significantly inhibit the visibility of the count. The quantity will also exceed 9 in pretty much every game.

I feel like the bracket hold the MC cubes would just get in my way as I reach for the cubes.

The card holder is blocking critical information. We need to see the tags in the upper right and the cost and requirements in the top left at the same time. Some blue cards will need room to have cubes placed on them too.

The only pieces that looks useful for TM are the Magcubes. Holding down the player sheets is a huge problem and it looks like the cubes might fix it.

Dont let all of this feedback discourage you though. I think this system will be of great assistance with lots of other games, just not this one.
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Bryan Thunkd
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Phil Fleischmann wrote:
Seems to me it would be better to track production with the dials and resources with the cubes that come with the game - using the shelf like you did with the MC. This would preserve visibility
Knowing other player's production is important too though. There are cards that reduce opponent's production and you want to play them when you can ding someone. Asking "Does anybody have power production?" gives away that you're looking at playing one of those cards and might tip them off not to play a card that increases their production.
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Chase Norton
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Thunkd wrote:

Also I'm not sure what the green and brown gizmo below the cards is for... Is that supposed to be your hand of cards? If so, I don't think it'd be terribly useful. If that's supposed to be played cards, then the event cards shouldn't be visible, the blue cards need to be visible and the top of all the green cards needs to be visible, especially the top right (which is currently obscured).


That is a rail used to hold your player hand in this example. I will have a dedicated card rail that holds single and small stacks of cards (think cotter pin), but this is one possible use of the MagnaBracket (the green and brown thing).

I bought Terraforming Mars a couple weeks ago to test with this system. I have my first game planned for this Friday night I am looking forward to quite a bit. I bet I will find many of the same criticisms you guys have after my first TM playtest. So far the system works excellently for coop games, but I am sure there will be quite a few issues to resolve in the competitive realm. I am up to the challenge!

DC680 wrote:
It looks like you've put in a lot of work on this, but I just don't care for the way it looks. It just looks busy, manipulating the dials seems "fiddly." and the numbers are hard to read. It reminds me of the error that was made using red text at the bottom on the cards in ED Battlecruisers:

https://boardgamegeek.com/image/3025842/eminent-domain-battl...

Sorry if I sound overly harsh, I just think the game looked better without that stuff on there.


Thanks for the feedback! The dials work pretty effortlessly in person, but the text has to change. I don't find the current state of the MagDial acceptable myself. (Keep in mind these are still prototypes that could change drastically based on your feedback!)

Thanks again for the feedback everyone! You have all confirmed a few nagging suspicions regarding the MagDial. It will be overhauled, keeping table visibility in mind. The many uses of the MagnaBracket don't seem to be plainly identifiable in pictures (based on feedback from multiple sources), so that is something that needs a video demonstration, which I will be making in the next week or so.
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Doug Moore
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add an option for a full 3D printed items for the forest, city, oceans and various other tokens for the board.
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Vance VanGogh
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I don't understand the card holder/bracket thing at all. Like it's just an outline of where to place your cards? It doesn't hold anything, as this isn't wall mount and we're not fighting gravity, and the brackets don't appear to be on or even touching the cards.... so what is it doing?

For that matter I don't get the "cup" for the money cubes. It seems so thick as too potentially hide the cubes you do have (from yourself, not other players, as that side is open, and I don't really see any use to it?

I echo the sentiment of the previous poster that there may be something worth wile here, but I'm not sold on it's use in Terraforming Mars.
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Vance VanGogh
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Do the dials 'click' into place on the numbers, or are they free turning and potentially could be set in between the numbers?
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Mil Myman
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Thunkd wrote:
Phil Fleischmann wrote:
Seems to me it would be better to track production with the dials and resources with the cubes that come with the game - using the shelf like you did with the MC. This would preserve visibility
Knowing other player's production is important too though. There are cards that reduce opponent's production and you want to play them when you can ding someone. Asking "Does anybody have power production?" gives away that you're looking at playing one of those cards and might tip them off not to play a card that increases their production.

But you can easily see the position of the pointer. Yes, they could be a bit bigger, and the numbers could be easier to see, but it's fairly easy to distinguish between 0 and more-than-0. And it's also easy to see if player X's steel production needle is further to the right than player Y's steel production needle.

And the OP already described how to track productions greater than 9. (Which could also be improved upon.)
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Hey Vance, thanks for the feedback.

I developed this system originally to take player elements off of the table to reduce necessary space to play large board games. I am an Arkham Horror / Fantasy Flight player primarily, so that is a HUGE problem with those games.

Terraforming Mars doesn't take up that much space, so going beyond horizontal isn't necessary. That said I made the setup shown tilted up by 45+ degrees.

I will get another picture up in the post to show a more minimal layout intended to use flat on the table, with simple small walls around resource areas for instance. That will protect cubes from moving around too much during play.

The dial will click into place for sure. The version pictured does not, but I have already created click joints in those MagnaBrackets and will be applying those to the next version of the MagDial.

In the end, maybe only the MagCubes will be useful for Terraforming Mars, but I showed a few examples of other elements in use.

I suggest taking a look at the link in blue text at the bottom of the post to see the original use of the system and more games that are using it. Some of the elements might make more sense then.
 
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If I'm going to build a wall around the resource areas, I'd rather just use an overlay.

How much will this cost? Overlays are too expensive for me to want me to invest in them.
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waxbottle wrote:
If I'm going to build a wall around the resource areas, I'd rather just use an overlay.

How much will this cost? Overlays are too expensive for me to want me to invest in them.


More than one overlay, hopefully less than two or three. The difference here is that you can use this for any game. Which is a HUGE difference.

So when Terraforming Mars is no longer the hotness, you can move this system to your favorite new game.
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Pardon my apparent ignorance, but what is a universal dashboard?

Are you going to play in your car and hence need to hold cards some other way than just holding them?

I just do not get the usefulness of this.
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Lil Blue Spider wrote:
Pardon my apparent ignorance, but what is a universal dashboard?

Are you going to play in your car and hence need to hold cards some other way than just holding them?

I just do not get the usefulness of this.


Are you familiar with Dashboards (and overlays) in general? They are products used to help keep player information organized and stable during play. Some games, like the recent Zombicide games by CMON, even feature included dashboards.

Currently, every dashboard is custom made for a specific game, with a predetermined component layout in mind.

I set out to create a Universal Dashboard. One that can be reconfigured to any game, and set up to the players personal preference. You can design your dashboard layout any way you choose, and you don't have to buy a specific dashboard for every player for every game that you would like to use one for.



The product does not seem to click with most people from photos and text descriptions, so you are not alone there. In person I get overwhelmingly positive remarks and interest when I take it to game nights. I think videos will help out a lot when I get to those in the next few weeks.



 
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i absolutely love the spherical magnets inside the cubes. that's brilliant. They look square in the picture tho?
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Stephen Meyers
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I don't get it.

See no use for this at all.

Walls for the resource cubes??

Walls for the cards?? Just what is that contraption?

Nope not for me.



.

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It's an interesting idea and could work for other games. However, even after only playing a handful of games I can see it isn't right for TM. I agree with all the above critiques of the dials. In addition, I think even using them for production can tip your hand. Honestly the existing trays that simply corral the original cubes seems like the best solution there.

Nobody has mentioned (that I saw) that the card fence won't work here either. #1: The cards in TM smear vertically, not horizontally. #2, you can end up with a whole lot of them and there's no telling how many until the end of the game.
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claudermilk wrote:
The cards in TM smear vertically, not horizontally.
When played... but the device pictured seems to be a card holder for unplayed cards in your hand.

I don't think any sort of card holder will work great. There's potentially relevant information on all four corners of the cards. I know that I shuffle through the cards in my hand on a regular basis re-evaluating what to play, and looking at prerequisites, costs and effects (and very less often, VP's) is something I need to do for that evaluation. A card holder would only work if the cards are completely side by side with no overlap... which can be quite wide if you have 16+ cards (which I do on a not infrequent basis).
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I just want to thank everyone again for the comments!

I have learned a lot about how NOT to present the product to a new audience laugh

I made the mistake of throwing together a layout that didn't make much sense for the game and taking a zoomed in picture of it, so it is no wonder why so many are confused by it.

Tonight I will be playing with some strangers. If they give similar responses to those on this thread, then I know this product is not right for this specific game.

I have used it in a large Arkham Horror LCG game, and the reaction was unanimously positive. So either the product is difficult to communicate through images and text, or it truly is a mismatch for Terraforming Mars.


To get a better idea of the scope of the product, make sure to check out my website

https://www.lodestonegamers.com/

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David Mcgamin

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The images on your website make much more sense. I honestly didn't even know the idea was to prop the whole thing up.
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