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Subject: Forbidden Stars Redux rss

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Samuel Bailey
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Hello everyone. I'm Samuel Bailey, one of the designers who worked on Forbidden Stars. Ever since GW and FFG broke up and my dreams of a FS expansion died, I've been thinking of new ways to bring FS back to life in some form or the other. I have loved reading over all the fan expansions that have been posted here (great job to everyone who contributed!) and its a constant inspiration to one day do a full rework.

Well, today is the day that I would like to get things going.

When figuring out how to do a redesign there are several important problems that need to be solved.
1. A new theme needs to be decided upon and developed, since 40K cannot be used again at this time.
2. Some mechanics need to be altered so that it is a different game than the one published by FFG, this needs to be a redesign not a reskin.
3. A path to publishing needs to be found. Game design is my day job and my night job, so while I would love to have the time to put into a passion project, I can't justify doing the work of a full game without the possibility of it being offically published. I also think that a game of this caliber deserves fantastic art and great minis!

Theme

I have considered lots of themes, but my top 3 are what follows:
1. Another sci-fi IP of my own making. I have a detailed galactic IP that I have worked on for years, with plenty of interesting races to draw inspiration from.
2. Gods at the creation of the world. Tiles are laid at the dawn of creation, while gods of various aspects struggle to recover powerful relics and establish their dominance over this new world. These also could be gods fighting over the universe itself with cosmic forces at their disposal.
3. A steampunk world with various factions fighting across floating islands with zeppelins and steam-mechs.
4. This one is a little out there, I will admit: Supernatural factions (vampires, witches, werewolves) fighting through Gomorrah on the last night before its destruction.

Which one of these is most interesting to people? Any other ideas?


Mechanics

My major contribution to FS was the combat system and the victory system, as well as doing a majority of the development with combat cards, events, etc. These mechanics I am comfortable leaving mostly intact, though I would like to find ways to make combat a little shorter, as it can drag on in some situations.

This mostly leaves the order system as something I would like to change. It works very well, but its a design that came out of Starcraft and was further refined by James Kniffen, not myself. While I think having some sort of hidden order system is key to the game I make, I want to come up with something that is different than the one in FS.

What other mechanics do you think could use some change or stand to be reexamined? Which mechanics should remain untouched?


Publishing

The two major routes that I see to getting the game published is either self-publishing through Kickstarter, or finding a publisher willing to put the effort into publishing a big box game like this.

I am a designer/developer at heart and don't believe I have the skills to do a kickstarter by myself. So while I am open to the possibility by partnering up with some other experienced people, its not something I would pursue by myself.

That leaves finding a publisher. I have talked with a few people who do publishing about possibilities in the past, but nothing serious. If you are a publisher that would like to talk seriously about the possibility, send me a message!

So those are a few of my thoughts about getting the project rolling. Discuss!
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Robert Kuster
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Hi Sam,

Exciting, we always wondered if expansions were ever possible for FS but a new redesign sounds promising.

Personally a Sci-Fi theme is best and something very similar to the order system otherwise it wouldn't feel the same.

I would back a kickstarter if it is done right, has lots of support, good minis and art.

Robert
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Samuel Bailey
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Thank you for your thoughts, Robert!

I have some ideas for the order system to keep the feel the same, but the mechanics slightly different. Need to test them out though.
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Roger Reisinger
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My only request woukd be to design it around 6 players, and maybe add an alliance mechanic. Something like in Struggle of Empires where alliances are formed once per turn and last a full turn.

One of the most complained about aspects of 4x games is that ‘exploration’ usually isnt what people want it to be. Maybe you could think of a way where you explore out from your homeworld to new systems, but scrap the dangerous or empty system concept as that usually leads to unbalanced gameplay.

Oh, and do sci-fi for sure, or historical and aim for a Here I Stand type concept without the religious aspect.

Cheers!
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Linda Chov
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FS is a top 3 game for me, and my favourite combat system in all of gaming.

I'll follow this very, very closely.

All i'll ask is: please don't change too much. Vampires vs. goblins or whatever sounds a little silly, to my ears. The game is sooooo good as is, aside from combat being potentially a little shorter (although, how?) any other changes scare me robot
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K
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The combat system in Forbidden Stars is maybe my favorite in any board game, so good job on that. I know you want to make it shorter and I dont want to rain on that goal, because I know a lot of people would like that, but I really like the 3-round system that makes it a mix of playing for the short term (killing opponents figures) and plasying for the long term (morale victory). And its at its best, imo, when mind games come into play. The ability to customize deck deck-building to make your faction lean more in one direction is really cool too.

As for the order system, I really don't think there's any reason to be restrained by it, yeah. I love both Starcraft and Forbidden Stars. but the order system is in need of a bit of an update i think. I love its quirks and love those games for what they are, but it could stand to be much improved:

1) The way the stack is cool, but makes turn order matter _A LOT_. Like, way too much I think.

2) A lot of the so-called 'hidden orders' are a lot of showmanship about nothing. There are these dramatic reveals, right, but if you place an order in a system you're not in, i pretty much 100% know its an advance/mobilize, for instance. There's a mixup between tech research and base building perhaps, and if someone plops down two orders in another system you sometimes have to figure out if its two attacks, or if its an attack and build. but I think if there are going to be hidden orders, there should be a lot more drama, surprise, and prediction involved instead of experienced players being able to determine what someone's placed orders are. In Starcraft we at least had to wonder where the gold orders were.

I'll go ahead and make a request for serious development and thought going towards a team mode in addition to the FFA game. 2v2 was one of our favorite ways to play Starcraft, and the orders system actually really shined there, because there were cool combos you could pull off with your teammate. but even more team work would be welcome! There aren't enough dudes on a map games that support team play IMO.
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Samuel Bailey
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More players and a built in team mode were definitely something I was hoping to put into a FS expansion. It would be nice to have those in a remake. More players would require more factions though, and that would drive up the price if there was more than 4 factions in the base game.
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Roger Reisinger
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Samuel Bailey wrote:
More players and a built in team mode were definitely something I was hoping to put into a FS expansion. It would be nice to have those in a remake. More players would require more factions though, and that would drive up the price if there was more than 4 factions in the base game.

Price shouldnt be a factor in tour considerations. You could increase msrp by 50% to US$150 and there would still be lots of interest.

Use KS and build a solid business plan with ample time for marketing. I would think anywhere between $400k and $700k would be a target you could meet provided the design choices you make give your redux an original feel.
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William Roop
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While a steampunk themed world would be AMAZING to play this game in, I think the system (with alterations of course) lends itself MOSTLY to space. In this spirit, I suggest a multi-verse of warpgates and black hole tunnels. Different dimensions or planes could allow you to introduce a multitude of races, fleets, worlds and technologies. Instead of 1 base game, you could introduce the product as a set of "fleets" with each person bringing their fleet box to the table. Included would be a homeworld tile, the ships of the fleet, 2 or 3 random space tiles, cards and a rule sheet to support the fleet, dice and tokens appropriate to the game.

If you MUST put out a base box, make it 2 common fleets with all the needed components and the base ruleset.

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Zack
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Samuel Bailey wrote:

1. Another sci-fi IP of my own making. I have a detailed galactic IP that I have worked on for years, with plenty of interesting races to draw inspiration from.
Well, if you've worked on it for years this seems like a perfect opportunity to finally use it, no? Plus galactic sci-fi theme fits extremely well to the 4X faction warfare game.

I know it's not going to gain a lot of followers on this particular forum, but another possibility would be to go with fantasy factions Warcraft-style or post-apo Fallout-style. Generally every setting that has well drawn out unique factions fighting over resources and land control will work well.
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Rick Spray
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This would be great, even though I just dropped a hundred on the fan made factions. shake That said, I'll still buy this one as well.

1. Definitely want Sci-Fi space theme.

2. This would require a ton of playtesting, but I would at least like the current combat for 2 player games. I know a lot of complaints about the length of combat is for 3 and 4 player games. Maybe, modify the combat system but keep the original as an option that doesn't cause imbalances. I love the combat system as it is, but have played it exclusively as a two player game.

The order system is another unique part of this game I love, but I understand others complaints about how, in many instances it is really not as big as what one thinks. I just don't see any way to change it, while giving me that same tension of trying to wait out my opponent to play certain ones last to make sure they don't get covered.


3. I would go Cool Mini or Not. While I don't need the most elaborate minis and all the extra production, I would take neoprene mats, extra factions, rediculous miniatures, and all the other kickstarter exclusives that they could push out, and would be willing to pay close to 200 bucks for all of it if it is even close to the game this is now.

That said, I wish you the best and hope you can pull off exactly what you are looking for for not only your own benefit for this community of great FS fans.
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Samuel Bailey
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Cool Mini or Not could definitely do a great job providing quality content to a game like this.
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Adam McLean
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So glad you're still interested in doing this .... I will definitely be along for the ride.

As far as what you're asking:

1) Theme

I'm also partial to sci-fi, myself and my gaming group are not interested in fantasy at all (Yes, I know WH 40k sort of blurs that a line a little) ... and I think that if the universe is entirely made up, you won't be limited by timelines, factions/races, theme matching, and so forth (not to mention the IP nerds complaining). You'll be able to design it and balance it however you'd like, along with a nearly limitless ability to expand/adjust it.

2) Mechanics

This might be a little tougher since the token order was a big deal in FS, and an excellent feature. I really like it but understand the need for possibly change .... maybe something more along the lines of simultaneous, but secret, order placement to areas/locations, such as in A Game of Thrones, but rather than reveal them all, allow each player to choose 1 and execute it leaving the rest face down?
Or, Maybe a hand of 'order cards' that they draw randomly or choose specific cards from ... they put them in order and execute the top one (or choose which one to play). Maybe those cards can also be upgraded similar to the combat cards?

3) Publishing

Sadly, this one I can't help you with, but I can guarantee that I'll support it either way. I don't know what kind of market is out there, but if done right, I imagine people will latch on.


PS ... and I'm happy to play test *hint hint*
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Tim Chase
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I’d prefer to see a different theme than sci-fi... It’ll be tough to achieve a favorable comparison to the theme of Forbidden Stars.

Also, since I own Forbidden Stars, and they won’t be compatible, I’d personally like to see something different enough to warrant wanting both.
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K
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Samuel Bailey wrote:
Cool Mini or Not could definitely do a great job providing quality content to a game like this.

I would hate to see such an excellent game as I imagine this to be tarnished by kickstarter exclusives or bloated by excessive stretch goals though (if they chose to go the kickstarter route)
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Jordan Francoeur
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Hey, super interested, I've designed a few games that are ready to selfpublishing and going to be launching a kickstarter soon enough for my first one. Is there a platform to collaberate? I've played SCBG and see its flaws through and through, game length being one of them, with a game like this I see 3 hours being a good length, any longer and I think you'll loose some appeal. If anything I'd like a theme established first, maybe epic fantasy? or do you want to keep it scifi? I like both, but I haven't seen any humans/orcs/dwarves/elves kind of thing yet? I like the command system too, it breaks down the turns and decreases down time, action selection is the key, smaller actions that amount to a bigger spectrum of development build/expand/develop/recover start again type thing? Maybe a dashboard of options. I assume it'll have a modular map, resource managment. While combat will happen outside this as it occurs. Just throwing ideas out there.
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Erik Killops
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I don't know hard it would be to aquire the licensing or to work with Catalyst, but I would love to see this as a Battletech board game!

There is so much content in the BT universe and it uses space and ground units. I think if done right it could work really well. If Catalyst was willing to work with you on this that would help solve the publishing problem.
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Bart Walczak
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Personally I would prefer the theme no 2: Gods at the creation of the world. SF is great, but there is quite a lot of SF games around, while this theme is pretty much unexplored. If not, then 4. Supernatural Factions.

Speaking of which, my dream is the - now kind of abandoned - Planscape setting board game (based on Planescape setting for AD&D 2nd ed. and later on Planescape: Torment cRPG). This one would fit both themes - faction wars and gods
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Adam McLean
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SirHandsome wrote:
Samuel Bailey wrote:
Cool Mini or Not could definitely do a great job providing quality content to a game like this.

I would hate to see such an excellent game as I imagine this to be tarnished by kickstarter exclusives or bloated by excessive stretch goals though (if they chose to go the kickstarter route)

While I don't mind exclusives and content stretch goals for risking a little money on a project ... Kickstarter at least can give someone an idea of what and how much to produce before jumping in. However, I do like component upgrades if it increases the quality and durability of the game.
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Mateusz M
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As for the publishing part, maybe try to speak with Phalanx Games? They know how to prepare good kickstarter campaigns, they're not afraid of ambitious and not so easy and mainstream projects (Uboot...), they seems to like publish games focusing at the wars and battles, and - last but not least - they're good at making rethemes and reeditions (Hannibal & Hamilcar, Nanty Narking/Ankh-Morpork)...
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Michael Wheeler
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If we're throwing possible themes out there, I would hate to leave Babylon 5 unmentioned
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Scott Vranes
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I am 100% behind this - I really hope this comes to life!

My two cents...if you were to do sci-fi, you might run into the realm of trying to compete with FS a bit more than what is comfortable. In my opinion, seems like you could take it in an entirely fresh direction with the theme. There seems to be quite a bit of sci-fi and fantasy out there right now, and, though I really like those genres, I'd be happy with a change.

Would you consider a historical or historical-based fiction theme? Something like the late Roman empire, with the infighting amongst the various barbarian nations, or something akin to the viking/saxon invasions? Or middle ages with the various smaller European kingdoms fighting? I'm thinking of eras with multiple aggressive factions fighting it out. Perhaps a bit in the COIN vein, but with much more crunch.

That wasn't in your initial write up, but just throwing it out there.

I'm interest in wherever this goes, though! Glad to see you in it!
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Maxence L.F.
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Hi Sam,

First of all, thanks for this amazing game ! FS is definitively one of the best boardgames in my collection.

I am thus 100% behind you with this project !

Concerning the theme, maybe (and if it is possible) the Dune universe would be a good candidate for the game.
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Samuel Bailey
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Big Brother wrote:

Concerning the theme, maybe (and if it is possible) the Dune universe would be a good candidate for the game.

I would love to do a game in the Dune Universe! Sadly the license has been picked up by someone else after many years of no dune games. Gale Force 9 has it I believe.

My concern with doing FS in Dune is the lack of space combat, and the focus on politics and trickery over war and combat. FS is war over anything else.
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Joshua Schutte
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(random thoughts of mine, sorry they don't flow well, but wanted to get them down)

I'm a huge fan of both Starcraft and Forbidden Stars. There are parts of each game I love and hate. The programming command stacks are very fun and could be themed into any game. The clockwise placement will always encourage certain action based on player turn order, removing that or giving more choices would be great.

Combat I really like both systems. Be neat to come up with a game where you could keep both (for variety) involved. I understand for balance reasons why you were limited to 8 dice in FS. This is not a fun limit. I'd encourage you to keep the systems similar but refined with fun and speed prioritized. There were already mega long games for only 4 players. 6 player Starcraft while fun, is even longer than Ti4. Be neat to theme into the Android universe with corporations fighting for new worlds (or Alien(s)) universe themed. I also enjoy asynchronous games so don't make all the factions so similar. Everyone doesn't have to have the same X units.
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