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Subject: Gameplay/Design - Question and Answer rss

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Jason Hill
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Hey Guys,

There has been a lot of lively discussion here lately (which is a good thing - aside from the back and forth personal attacks ;> ). Generally I try to stay back and let people talk, but I thought that it might be helpful to start a question and answer thread to shed some light on the inner workings of things.

I welcome ANY questions.

The more 'hard-hitting' the better (as long as they are civil). From why is the game 'so random' to why is the game 'broken', etc.

Specifics are good.

I will try to illuminate the reasoning, motivation, and gameplay analysis behind the game.

I welcome criticism as being a constructive tool for building better games and a better community. Afterall, we are all gamers here and are in this to have fun.

- Jason

Jason C. Hill
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I have a question regarding the characters starting locations. If a characters normal starting location is not present, why was the choice made to have the hero start in the middle of the board with a free hero card, instead of having them roll for a random building?

One problem this set up has is in the escape in the truck scenario. It is possible for two hero's to start in the middle and get both the gas and the keys on the first turn and leave on the second turn unmolested. I realize the likelihood of this happening is slim, but it can certainly happen.

Now I need to play a few more games where this comes up, but the last game we played 3 of the heroes started in the middle and that game seemed to be a little too hard on the Zombies. Its not so much the extra card that made the game easier but the fact that the hero's were able to start as a group and do their best to meet up with their 4th teammate.

The best games we have played so far were when the heroes started as far apart as possible. Those can go either way and can usually be extremely close and exciting. The ones where two or more heroes started in the middle have ended up a little less exciting. Please keep in mind we used the Die Zombies Die scenario during the game where we had three heroes grouped together. It may have been a lot different with some of the others.

Sorry for the long post. snore
 
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I think it's great that a game designer is taking time to do this, so thank you!

I have 4 questions for your:

-Why did you choose to have a 1d6 roll for move? This can be quite frustrating for many players and sometimes makes it impossible for Heroes to win, especially in scenarios where you need to "run around" (like the 2 web scenarios, for example).

-How often did you have to make gameplay compromises in order to have the game more thematic?

-Do you agree that the game is quite hard for the Heroes to win, or do you feel that the odds are fair?

-And finally, do you prefer playing the Heroes or the smelly Zombies?
 
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What's in the expansion? devil
Actually, I'm wondering if the expansion cards will change any of the "base" mechanics, or have a theme, etc...

Also:

Has any thought been given to "alternate" rules? Specifically to address the 'issues' that some people have with the randomness in the game, etc.

zombie!

...And what's with the Martians? C'mon, spill.
 
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David Knepper
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When will the official FAQ be available?
 
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Jason,

This question comes from someone who is a big fan of your game, excepting for one small factor: While I know that it's thematically appropriate (Zombie movies aren't really bastions of feminism), is the Growing Hunger expansion going to have a little more equity in terms of gender roles? I'm uncomfortable with the objectification I feel is present in the female characters in LNOE (Sexy Nurse, Sexy Farmgirl, and Sexy Schoolgirl). Are there going to be new female characters that don't fit this pattern in Growing Hunger? :-/

(Or are you going to add a male character who runs around in a thong or something, to even it out? )

Thanks for making such a great game, and for taking the time to answer our questions!

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Sean P
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I was wondering if you could elaborate on something I noticed at the end of the rulebook for LNOE. It said:

The Martians Are Coming

Anything you care to share about that?
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Matt Shepherd
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Ahoy Jason,

I'm enjoying the game immensely, but, like some other posters, I'm finding the "two zombie players" rule pretty redundant. Multiple hero players, controlling multiple heroes, arguably have different "personalities" and skills to contribute and manage, but since the zombie players are identical, drawing the same total number of cards per turn, the second zombie player often becomes redundant.

In the games we've played with two z-players, at least, there's been one "active" zombie player and one "passive" zombie player who occasionally contributes to the goings-on.

There's a lot more latitude for a less-intuitive player to seize one of the heroes and run with it than there is for the same person playing the second zombie player, essentially.

Was there rationale behind that decision beyond "two heads are better than one" as a general rule of thumb? Often, games get playtested with accomplished gamers and forget that in these "team-up" situations, younger, less experienced or less tactically talented players will often wind up twiddling thumbs.

 
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Jason Hill
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Zadok13 wrote:
I have a question regarding the characters starting locations. If a characters normal starting location is not present, why was the choice made to have the hero start in the middle of the board with a free hero card, instead of having them roll for a random building?


There are a few different benefits to having Heroes start in the Center of Town - some gameplay, some thematic (I'll try to keep it brief).

From a gameplay standpoint, starting in a Random Building can be very dangerous. If you roll a small building with a Spawning pit in it, like the Barn, you can easily be in a world of hurt in the very first turn. This is even more possible with the Zombie's Choice random result. That being said, some forthcoming Heroes do start in a Random Building, but that is part of their character.

Also, setting a precedent for starting in the Center of Town/Manor House opens up more design possiblities for the future (official and fan-made). It also has the option for giving some of the Heroes a slight head start (on being together, moving around the board, and having equipment, etc) at the cost of not being in a stable place to search for a few turns.

From a thematic standpoint, it is very movie-like to have some of the characters start together and begin the experience of zombie terror by, say, having their old truck break down, etc.


jellospike wrote:
-Why did you choose to have a 1d6 roll for move? This can be quite frustrating for many players and sometimes makes it impossible for Heroes to win, especially in scenarios where you need to "run around" (like the 2 web scenarios, for example).


The variable movement is one of the main things that keeps the tension high for the Heroes. You don't really know how long it is safe to stay and search in one place. One wrong step and you could find yourself surrounded. If you always knew how far you were going to be able to move, it would take a lot of the suspense out of it (this would be good and bad for the Heroes - rolling that 6 for movement can usually get you nearly anywhere).

jellospike wrote:
-How often did you have to make gameplay compromises in order to have the game more thematic?


I never felt like there were compromises made in the name of theme. If anything, the thematic elements inspired most of the gameplay itself and they work hand-in-hand together. The mechanics are streamlined so that the game is open to a wider audience, gamers and non-gamers alike. Many people have told me that they are able to play with their non-gamer wives/girlfiends/friends that would have found other games to be too complex and out of reach. If your gaming group is more hard-core and enjoys more complex games, I highly encourage you to add in house rules for complexity (as expansions for the game are released, it will naturally get more in depth). The game system is a solid foundation and the game itself only has to be limited by the player's creativity.

jellospike wrote:
-Do you agree that the game is quite hard for the Heroes to win, or do you feel that the odds are fair?


Last Night on Earth has years of playtesting in it and the game IS balanced if the players are of comparable skill level. There are a few things that I think people are picking up on from early plays and seeing as imbalance.

- The Heroes have a steeper learning curve to overcome than the Zombies. The more familiar you are with the game mechanics, characters,
and cards, the better a Hero player you will become. The Zombies have a smaller learning curve and as such, it is easier to 'do well' straight out of the gate. A veteran Hero player can still run rings around a Zombie novice (though a lot of the feelings of tension will still be there).

- The game is intended to always feel overwhelming for the Heroes, they are meant to be 'on the run' at all times. The phrase, 'Always darkest before the dawn' is quite applicable here. The game does swing from side to side and although this appears to be based on luck, the real culprit behind it is carefully tuned decks of cards and probability of getting what you need based the player's strategy and tactics (or at least something to stay alive just long enough to win that is).

- There are several different scenarios to play and each has it's own strategies. Some scenarios are harder on the Heroes than others. 'Defend the Manor House' for instance is a very challenging scenario for the Heroes. The scenario is still balanced and does work well, but the Heroes really have to be on their game and work together for the good of the team (not to mention be willing to sacrifice themselves to keep the Zombies at bay).

- The rulebook is very concise. Because of this, all of the information is very imporant. I tried to make sure that all of the fundamentals were called out specifically in the rules (each in its own little box), but it seems that many people are overlooking important rules. It also seems that players have a tendancy to over-interpret the rules and card text which seems to add further confusion.


jellospike wrote:
-And finally, do you prefer playing the Heroes or the smelly Zombies?


That is a hard question. I play both a lot and really enjoy each for their own tactical decision making (I do like to say 'Braaaiiinns!' an awful lot and often find myself saying it out of habit even when I am playing the Heroes).

- Jason

Jason C. Hill
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dreadpirate wrote:
What's in the expansion? devil
Actually, I'm wondering if the expansion cards will change any of the "base" mechanics, or have a theme, etc...


We haven't announced the contents list for the first expansion, 'Growing Hunger' yet, but we should be putting up more info in the coming weeks. I will tell you that there is no specific theme for Growing Hunger, it is a general expasnion that just steps everything up a notch. The 'base mechanics' for the game remain the same, however, there are some cards and scenarios that shake it up quite a bit. For now, you'll have to wait and see. ;>


dreadpirate wrote:
Has any thought been given to "alternate" rules? Specifically to address the 'issues' that some people have with the randomness in the game, etc.


I don't think that we will have any 'rules' to officially address issues that people have with 'randomness', but I do highly encourage players to use Last Night on Earth as a toolbox. Only you know what's right for your group's play style. I stand by the game as being solid and fun as is, but if you want to add house rules galore, go for it!


dreadpirate wrote:
...And what's with the Martians? C'mon, spill.


Too soon to let anything slip on that yet. ;>


Aging One wrote:
When will the official FAQ be available?


Getting the FAQ/Errata up and running is one of those tricky things where you want add in everything under the sun, but if you do, it will become this weighty document that people feel they have to sift through. I am going for the more streamlined approach and once it is up, will try to update it as need be. Hopefully it will be up by next week sometime.


StatSig wrote:
While I know that it's thematically appropriate (Zombie movies aren't really bastions of feminism), is the Growing Hunger expansion going to have a little more equity in terms of gender roles? I'm uncomfortable with the objectification I feel is present in the female characters in LNOE (Sexy Nurse, Sexy Farmgirl, and Sexy Schoolgirl). Are there going to be new female characters that don't fit this pattern in Growing Hunger? :-/

(Or are you going to add a male character who runs around in a thong or something, to even it out? )


A couple of people have metioned this on BGG and I find it a little bit strange. I never really saw it as objectification of the female characters. They are presented in the same way they would be in a B-Horror movie, but they are full-fledged characters with back story and powerful abilities in their own right. Many people believe that Sally is the most powerful and self-sufficient Hero in the game (and with good reason). If you're referring to their outfits, I don't personally think that they are wearing anything that is out of character or particularly 'revealing' (it's not like they are running around in their underwear or even a swimsuit). Also, don't forget that Johnny the Highschool Quarterback is running around in a tank top for many of the images - it's not exactly a 'thong', but easily as 'revealing' as anything the girls are wearing.

Flying Frog games are intended to be family-friendly games for everyone.

Growing Hunger (as well as many forthcoming expansions) will feature additional female characters that have strong, arch-type personalities and appropriate wardrobe. I don't think that you will be disappointed.

As a side note, we have also had many female players tell us specifically that they really appreciate the strong female Heroes the game has.


Kaleljorson7 wrote:
I was wondering if you could elaborate on something I noticed at the end of the rulebook for LNOE. It said:

The Martians Are Coming

Anything you care to share about that?


Too soon, too soon. All will be revealed in time. ;>


MattShepherd wrote:
I'm enjoying the game immensely, but, like some other posters, I'm finding the "two zombie players" rule pretty redundant. Multiple hero players, controlling multiple heroes, arguably have different "personalities" and skills to contribute and manage, but since the zombie players are identical, drawing the same total number of cards per turn, the second zombie player often becomes redundant.

In the games we've played with two z-players, at least, there's been one "active" zombie player and one "passive" zombie player who occasionally contributes to the goings-on.

There's a lot more latitude for a less-intuitive player to seize one of the heroes and run with it than there is for the same person playing the second zombie player, essentially.

Was there rationale behind that decision beyond "two heads are better than one" as a general rule of thumb? Often, games get playtested with accomplished gamers and forget that in these "team-up" situations, younger, less experienced or less tactically talented players will often wind up twiddling thumbs.


It's important to remember that a Zombie Player may only move their own color of Zombies, so both Zombie Players should have roughly equal duty on that front. I can see how a more dominant personality might end up directing things for both players ("move here!" etc), but I think that is as likely with the the Hero team. The main point of having 2 Zombie Players is to even out the teams a little and give the option for some Zombie team strategy. Much like the Heroes, having 2 Zombie Players adds for potentially less cohesive usage of your resources, but to balance out, you get an extra discard each turn (each player may discard up to 1 card) and you are more likely to spawn each turn (keeping both players involved in the action).

Many players do not like the notion of having everyone else against them. With 2 Zombie Players, it allows for an 'us against them' team dynamic that encourages more people to play as the Zombies who might not otherwise. As more expansions for the game are released, I think you will find that the 2 Zombie Players have more options and more independant decisions to be made.

Again I would say that if your group likes to play with only a single Zombie player, adding an extra Hero instead, go for it. It's all about having fun. (just be sure that you balance it out for the Zombies somehow - perhaps one extra Zombie Card to your hand per extra Hero player).

- Jason

Jason C. Hill
Flying Frog Productions

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jchill7 wrote:
I welcome ANY questions...

In your opinion, what's the worst thing about the game? devil
 
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Greg Poulos
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I guess there's more to starting a game company than just having a name... :(
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jchill7 wrote:

A couple of people have metioned this on BGG and I find it a little bit strange. I never really saw it as objectification of the female characters. They are presented in the same way they would be in a B-Horror movie, but they are full-fledged characters with back story and powerful abilities in their own right. Many people believe that Sally is the most powerful and self-sufficient Hero in the game (and with good reason). If you're referring to their outfits, I don't personally think that they are wearing anything that is out of character or particularly 'revealing' (it's not like they are running around in their underwear or even a swimsuit). Also, don't forget that Johnny the Highschool Quarterback is running around in a tank top for many of the images - it's not exactly a 'thong', but easily as 'revealing' as anything the girls are wearing.

Flying Frog games are intended to be family-friendly games for everyone.

Growing Hunger (as well as many forthcoming expansions) will feature additional female characters that have strong, arch-type personalities and appropriate wardrobe. I don't think that you will be disappointed.

As a side note, we have also had many female players tell us specifically that they really appreciate the strong female Heroes the game has.


hehe "They are presented in the same way they would be in a B-Horror movie" I don't know if that's a good argument against objectification. . but, as you say, they're strong and have back stories... I don't find this objectification particularly objectionable as it does fit the conventions of the genre. it's a little troubling that you didn't realize that some people could be upset though.
When there's a mix of male characters, homeless guy, old priest, etc... but ONLY young nubile women it's easy to assume the creators of the game only see women in basic fantasy archetypes.
What were the casting considerations that went into choosing the actresses for the female characters? what was the 'call sheet'? (is that the right term)
Any consideration to perhaps an elderly nun instead of priest? perhaps a 'Kathy Bates in Misery'type for the librarian?

i'm not calling for blood or a boycott or for anything to be changed here. i'm just saying 'it's ok, but you should at least realize the potential for an issue'. Buffy is one of my favorite tv shows and all the girls on the show were certainly pleasing to the eyes. In the pilot of the show there was a different actress playing Willow, she was much frumpier... meh, pretty things are nice to look at.
 
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Political correctness going haywire again ...
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Next thing you will see is people complaining about "This could be our last night on earth" card...

It is a game and the female characters fit perfectly into the theme of the game. Sally on every card looks like a typical school girl. Here character card is the only image that could even remotely reflect anything less.

I can not even believe that this may be an issue with anyone owning the game...

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David Knepper
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StatSig wrote:
Jason,

This question comes from someone who is a big fan of your game, excepting for one small factor: While I know that it's thematically appropriate (Zombie movies aren't really bastions of feminism), is the Growing Hunger expansion going to have a little more equity in terms of gender roles? I'm uncomfortable with the objectification I feel is present in the female characters in LNOE (Sexy Nurse, Sexy Farmgirl, and Sexy Schoolgirl). Are there going to be new female characters that don't fit this pattern in Growing Hunger? :-/

(Or are you going to add a male character who runs around in a thong or something, to even it out? )

Thanks for making such a great game, and for taking the time to answer our questions!


This is what happens when the water in Georgia is sent to Alabama and Florida.
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Thank you for the fine game.

Like you mentioned, players should look at the game as a tool box, if they dislike or question a rule. Here are two such things I have considered due to whims of some gamers at my home.

We give each Hero a guts token at the start of the game. They gain a guts tokens each time they KILL a zombie. Guts tokens allow a reroll. You turn in the token to gain the reroll. It can be used only for that Hero and for only thier rolls.

The Zombie player starts with Zero guts tokens, but gains one each time they give a wound to a Hero.

The other is in regards to the handguns or shotguns. When they run out the player has the option to turn the card over instead of discarding it. This allows them keep the weapon looking for ammo to refill it. Not a big deal, since it still counts against their weapon and item limit.

I find your game refreshing. For those that think the Get out of Town of the Truck can be too easy, I suggest this house rule, No one is left behind. That will make it plenty hairy in a hurry!!

Best wishes,

Sean
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I agree with Mr.Skeletor.
The theme is cheesy b-movie horror films from the 70s and 80s. I don't remember any nuns or librarians who weren't slashed in the first scene.

Jason,
Whats the story behind your gaming company? The copyright suggests that Flying Frog has been around a while but this is the first game you've published. Are you a group of friends who got together and put together a high quality game? Unless I miss my guess, many of your executives were also members of the cast. I think thats great and I'd like to know more about your company and creative team.

On a final note, this is a fun game. Period. Maybe not to everyone's tastes but I can get a group of casual players together for this whereas I always have trouble getting friends together for wargames or even Puerto Rico. For those I go to my local game store and play at a table. On my home table, this game has come out a lot lately.

Thanks,
Don.


 
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My wife loves this game and I asked her yesterday what her thoughts about the way the woman are protrayed. These are her thoughts

Yes they are portrayed in the typical b movie fantasy woman. Sexy Nurse, cute girl next door, hot farmer's daughter. Yes they are sexy symbols and yes they are chessy male fantasies. But she doesnt have a problem with that(she says the pictures are still classier then most things on TV now a days)

To counter she brought up a good point. The boy next door, The jock, the protector in Uniform(the sherif), The mysterous wanderer and the older untouchable man(ie the priest) are all very big female fantasies. As much as men have fantasies about Nurses and farm girls, woman have them about wandering strangers and priests.

Its really kinda sexists that some of the guys here point out the female fantasy archtypes might offend woman without even thinking that the male ones might appeal to the woman.
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AbeLincoln wrote:

I don't find this objectification particularly objectionable as it does fit the conventions of the genre.


yes i agree. i enjoy the "exploitation" genre as well, though movies of ~30 years ago can seem quaint in their now outdated sensitivity free attitudes. though they're certainly not nearly on par with long outdated conventions such as black-face, but perhaps they will be in another 30 years or so.

AbeLincoln wrote:

it's a little troubling that you didn't realize that some people could be upset though.


that's a reasonable statement. "New Exploitation" pieces, such as 'Grindhouse' approach the classic movies of old fully aware of themselves and what they're doing, and movies like the 'Saw' movies may not be as high-brow low-brow as 'grindhouse' but the creators know and fully embrace what they're doing unapologetically. Is LNoE a statement of feminine power like Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Or is it pure titillation? nothing wrong with either of those, but i think the artist should be a little more aware of what they're doing. it cheapens the characters of the nurse, farmer and student who are strong in mind and body to say "they are presented in the same way they would be in a B-Horror move", which isn't necessarily an ideal for young women to aspire to.

AbeLincoln wrote:

What were the casting considerations that went into choosing the actresses for the female characters? what was the 'call sheet'? (is that the right term)
Any consideration to perhaps an elderly nun instead of priest? perhaps a 'Kathy Bates in Misery'type for the librarian?


those are some interesting questions to pose to a designer who wants to open up the creation process. of course, they could sound very accusational if you read them with one eyebrow arched, but then i read them a second time with a conversationally inquisitive tone and they didn't seem so bad.

AbeLincoln wrote:

i'm not calling for blood or a boycott or for anything to be changed here. i'm just saying 'it's ok, but you should at least realize the potential for an issue'. Buffy is one of my favorite tv shows and all the girls on the show were certainly pleasing to the eyes. In the pilot of the show there was a different actress playing Willow, she was much frumpier... meh, pretty things are nice to look at.

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Listen closely gentlemen, I'm going to let you in on a secret.

Are you ready?

Women are just like us. They talk dirty, they have fantasies about jocks, men in uniforms and even bad boy outcast teens. They are not angels who we must tiptoe around.

Seriously, I have six sisters, I'm married to someone who's added three sister-in-laws. I have many female friends and acquaintances. All of them spend money on cosmetics, nice clothes and in many cases sexy clothes.

Women like to be liked. Just like us.
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By the way, where can we get more pictures of the model who plays Jenny?
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First off, thanks for a really fun game. My best friend and I have been playing it non-stop.

We played around with the hero's variable movement rule but in the end we agreed that the original rule worked better. As soon as you know your character will get some minimum movement, the tension is cut in half. This is definitely the good kind of luck.

I was curious about the decision to make the entire hero's card deck available from any building?

We've been putting a few cards in each building and then keeping the remaining pile as the normal Hero deck. So far it has worked well. It adds a little tension because you're always worried the one card you really want is way over in that building.

The game works great the way it is but I was curious as to your reasoning?
 
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How do you feel about fan made scenarios, and have you seen any pop up so far?

I know this is picky, but I WOULD have prefered just a little better music on the DVD...I think it's just me.
 
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Jason Hill
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dreadpirate wrote:
In your opinion, what's the worst thing about the game? devil


For me, so far it's been trying to keep up with supply and demand. ;>


Lockridge wrote:
Whats the story behind your gaming company? The copyright suggests that Flying Frog has been around a while but this is the first game you've published. Are you a group of friends who got together and put together a high quality game? Unless I miss my guess, many of your executives were also members of the cast. I think thats great and I'd like to know more about your company and creative team.


We formed the company about 8 years ago and have spent this time creating games, building the company, and testing-testing-testing. 2007 is the official launch year for us and Last Night on Earth is the first released game. There are many more games that have already been in testing for years and are just waiting for their turn to go into production.

For more on this, you can check out an interview I did with Fortress Ameritrash back in August, just before GenCon.

http://fortressameritrash.blogspot.com/2007/08/interview-jas...


Bobagabe wrote:
I was curious about the decision to make the entire hero's card deck available from any building?

We've been putting a few cards in each building and then keeping the remaining pile as the normal Hero deck. So far it has worked well. It adds a little tension because you're always worried the one card you really want is way over in that building.

The game works great the way it is but I was curious as to your reasoning?


This is mainly to streamline the game and keep the flow and pace where it needs to be. We do have some optional rules along the lines of what you're talking about here (called 'Limited Hero Deck') that will be appearing in a future expansion and will be used for some Scenarios.


daveroswell wrote:
How do you feel about fan made scenarios, and have you seen any pop up so far?


I think that it is great that players are already getting into making their own Heroes and Scenarios (there are already several up here on the BGG). As I said, the game is really a 'Toolbox' for players to get excited and get creative.


- Jason

Jason C. Hill
Flying Frog Productions
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Emivaldo Sousa
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MrSkeletor wrote:
AbeLincoln wrote:
When there's a mix of male characters, homeless guy, old priest, etc... but ONLY young nubile women it's easy to assume the creators of the game only see women in basic fantasy archetypes.


Isn't the whole point of Last night on Earth that it represents the cheesy B movie archetypes? Elderly nuns and Misery type characters (that wasn't a B horror movie) are not one of them, but cheerleaders are.
Your argument is really with the people who made these movies in the 80s.

I'm personally disappointed that LNoE doesn't have any boobs. T&A was as much a part of schlock horror and excessive gore was, but I recognize that FFP is going for a wide audience so i wont complain too much.


You are right. The game is actually toned down. I think it is weird to look for political correctness in a zombie game. I was hoping for blood, rotten flesh and tits. I hope we get tits on an X-rated expansion.
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