Daniel D.
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Starlog 156543 of the Society of Learned, Orderly, and Beneficent Beings (SLOBBs):

As we continued our inspection of the universe, we came across the planet of Geometra, with such low vibrations that the vibrometer practically bottomed out. Intrigued, we went into low orbit to find a scene deplorably unenlightened turmoil; three bitterly divided species, the Trigons, Quadrians, and Cycoids, were in the process of destroying their planet through petty warfare. Being (as we of course are) vastly superior to such crude means as direct intervention, we elected to have our loyal acolytes discretely manipulate events until harmony had been restored in the environment. While this regrettably wouldn't stop the species from fighting, it would at least prolong the existence of life on their planet. Unfortunately, due to Snerdle the Magnificent's uncharacteristically injudicious proclimation that he could "restore cosmic unity before any of you [a reference to fellow SLOBBs personnel] can even blink!", Trunshaw the Wise's rebuttal that Snerdle was "a big fathead" and the general escalation that followed, we found ourselves divided against each other in our attempt to restore harmony. Fortunately Snerdles' concession of allowing Trunshaw to call 'shotgun' for the departure trip restored harmony within our own order.

After we'd finished up harmonizing the planet, Quastnor the Well-Intentioned suggested that we raise the Geometrans' vibrations a couple notches, but after several attempts and Krenton the Implemenentor's objective assesment of the Geometran's spears as exhibiting excessive pointiness, we elected to check back in a few aeons and see how things were getting along


I haven't gotten around to illustrating the cards yet, but here are the rules (I still maight change the illustrations/design a bit)


-I have the rules and 4 card sheets uploaded to Dropbox; the links are posted as the most recent item on the thread or as a .pdf at http://db.tt/BKESvsI (In numeric order) or http://db.tt/35M4RIB (designed to be folded into quarters)
The rules are designed to be folded into fourths; the fist page is on the outside, and the second and third page are side-by-side inside with the second page being first and the third being second. The folded side forms the top of the rules book.

I'd really appreciate any feedback/question on the clarity of the rules and the general soundness of the game. I was trying to balance keeping a constant themematic feel to the game with keeping the rules as clear as in the abstract version (some parts of the rules still might say 'pawns' instead of 'SLOBBers'. I added the 'SLOBBers powers' variant kind of as an afterthought, so I don't know how balanced it is.

Pawns and Scoring Sheet:


I'm working on an abstract card game called Cycles that involves building up systems of positive loops with cards that each have three possible suits and a value of 1-3 for an input and output; each card takes a set value and suit as input and translates it into another value and suit, which can then be used as another card's input value.
I.e.)
(***)-> |**:^^| -> |^^:OO| -> |O:***|->(back to the first card)
Players are scored on forming these systems; each player can only make 2 actions per turn out of various options such as trading cards (each player has a 4-card hand), linking systems, or building off of existing systems. Depending on individuals, gameplay can either be cooperative (jointly building large systems for split points) or competitive (taking over other players' systems by sacrificing cards) or a mix of both.

(Abstract) rules updated as per Sturv Tafvherd's suggestions:
http://www.mediafire.com/?lkskmh7q6q7n7hd
(still abstract) protoype deck:
http://www.mediafire.com/?esixkc3nbees5v4
I am still working on making a digital set of cards; there are 81 cards which can be used in different combinations for slightly different types of games (ie an easy game where cards only increase the input), which is taking longer than I thought as I don't really have any good programs for this kind of work. I think I might just make a word document with a bunch of cards drawn in and type in the suits and values.

For playtesting I've just been using some 3X5 cards which I cut into fourths and drew the symbols on.
Card sheets: (still abstract at this point)

Rules (I'm not sure how readable they are at this size)
-basically illegible
A text-only set of rules can be found at Cycles rule thread
 
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Sturv Tafvherd
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Re: WIP: Cycles abstract card game (for pnp contest)
The mechanics of the game are very promising.

But it "feels" very "dry". In other words, there's not much flavor. It's almost purely mathematical, which might be exciting for some other people who love to talk in abstract terms. On the other hand, the game would benefit a lot from the right flavor. The hard part, of course, is finding a flavor that actually fits the mechanics! (So I don't blame you for making the mechanics pure and abstract. It's really good practice.)


I do have some suggestions -- not for flavor, unfortunately.

Scoring, page 5, item 5.a.i. I would suggest that you simplify it to 1 point per card in a closed system. It's easier to explain that a 2-card closed system is worth 2 points ... instead of having to remember to subtract 1. Same can be said for 5.a.i.1. -- just score shared systems by the number of cards the players own.

5.a.iii. -- I don't understand why having cards remaining in the hand is actually worth points. There was a penalty in 5.a.ii. for leaving systems unclosed, which means that there's a risk in playing the cards. So if you award players for keeping cards, they're less likely to take those risks.

I haven't tried playing the game (kinda need a prototype), but it seems like a player can just avoid the risk until they feel sure that they can build a very tight closed system; meanwhile, they can try to ruin their opponent's system by making sure it stays unclosed.


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Re: WIP: Cycles abstract card game (for pnp contest)
Thanks for the feedback; I really appreciate hearing ways to improve it.
I agree about the theme. When I first planned the game the theme was that the players were some kind of mad scientist-types building giant machines with the pawns being 'minions' (I'm not really sure what you'd be trying to achieve thematically-maybe some kind of alchemy) or else a game where you capitalize on exchange rates between different items by building a network of traders in different areas. I went with an abstract 'theme' (for now) mostly for simplicity and to make sure that the mechanics were sound before I got hung up on art and design, which usually happens to me on this kind of thing.

I kind of just threw the points for cards rule when I was writing the rules up although the rest of the game has been pretty well play tested. I'd agree that it doesn't fit the flow of the game.

I know I had some reasoning behind the scoring system, but I can't remember it (I designed most of the game a year or two ago and returned to it recently). Simplifying it like you suggested would work pretty well.

When I've played people tend to start systems early (because the only time you can start an independent system is at the start of the game) and then focus on either building up their hands or starting new systems. I put in the rule about a seamless system bonus mostly because it's hard to do (there's only 1 of each combination of inputs and outputs), so someone would either have to be lucky or devote most of their actions to trading cards and renewing the card exchange. People actually don't use the contesting systems process much as it usually turns into a card drain which defeats the purpose of taking a system unless you hold on to good cards, which limits your power in contesting it.

Thanks again,
Daniel
 
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Re: WIP: Cycles abstract card game (for pnp contest)
Yadsruht wrote:
I agree about the theme. ...(snip)... I went with an abstract 'theme' (for now) mostly for simplicity and to make sure that the mechanics were sound before I got hung up on art and design, which usually happens to me on this kind of thing.


*nods* yeah, that's not a bad approach; but it may really hurt you in the end. The rough part would be retrofitting the theme to fit in, and you might have already made the mechanics "too tight". You might actually find it easier to think about how the game should work if you had a theme to pursue.


It's otherwise hard to comment on the mechanics, because it's easy to make conceivably good explanations for rules about how things should work when there's no basis/foundation to ground them on.
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Re: WIP: Cycles abstract card game (for pnp contest)
I think I've come up with one theme that would work fairly well with the mechanics; it occured to me that ecosystems are sort of positve-feedback loops, so maybe players would be trying to set up ecosystems (thematically it could be something like terraforming an inhospitable environment or building terrainiums or whatever the term is). I'd have to come up with a few abstracted 'steps'; the ecosystem follows a cyclical pattern, but you don't see things like animals turning into sunlight, etc.

So far my ideas for 'resources' are:
-plant life
-animal life
-organic waste (could represent dead plants/animals, droppings, etc)

each card would have a simple picture of the environmental factor causing the conversion (ie an herbivore might translate plants into animals or a disease might translate animals into waste; it wouldn't be a perfect fit but I think it would work pretty well)

Does this sound like an interesting theme?
 
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Re: WIP: Cycles abstract card game (for pnp contest)
Yadsruht wrote:
I think I've come up with one theme that would work fairly well with the mechanics; it occured to me that ecosystems are sort of positve-feedback loops, so maybe players would be trying to set up ecosystems (thematically it could be something like terraforming an inhospitable environment or building terrainiums or whatever the term is). I'd have to come up with a few abstracted 'steps'; the ecosystem follows a cyclical pattern, but you don't see things like animals turning into sunlight, etc.

So far my ideas for 'resources' are:
-plant life
-animal life
-organic waste (could represent dead plants/animals, droppings, etc)

each card would have a simple picture of the environmental factor causing the conversion (ie an herbivore might translate plants into animals or a disease might translate animals into waste; it wouldn't be a perfect fit but I think ti would work pretty well)

Does this sound like an interesting theme?


Wow! Now that's a darn cool theme!

I can only think of one possible twist you can put on it: make it an alien planet ecosystem. That way, you can dodge any arguments of "hey, that's not how it works!"

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Re: WIP: Cycles abstract card game (for pnp contest)
Good idea! Science fiction is pretty handy like that
 
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Re: WIP: Cycles abstract card game (for pnp contest)
I finished a prototype deck (still abstract at this point) in case anyone is interested in trying the game out. It's 4 pages of ~1.5X2.5 in cards. For an easier game you can play without cards that are the same suit but have a lower output than input (ie OOO:O , OO:O, etc)

http://www.mediafire.com/?esixkc3nbees5v4
 
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Curt Woodard
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Re: WIP: Cycles abstract card game (for pnp contest)
I would really appreciate having the images separately up in your gallery rather than dealing with mediafire if at all possible.

Looks like an interesting game :)
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Re: WIP: Cycles abstract card game (for pnp contest)
You will get far fewer playtesters using mediafire.
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Re: WIP: Cycles abstract card game (for pnp contest)
Thanks for the tip; I'll post a .jpg or .png of the rules and cards. Is it possible to have .pdfs or other non-image files in a gallery or in a place where they can be downloaded straight off of BGG?
 
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Re: WIP: Cycles abstract card game (for pnp contest)
Yadsruht wrote:
Is it possible to have .pdfs or other non-image files in a gallery or in a place where they can be downloaded straight off of BGG?


I think the generally accepted practice on BGG is to upload them to Unpublished Prototype. It still takes some time to get them approved; but at least it's within the BGG.

I've been putting most of my rough drafts on Google docs. Just sign up for an account on mail.google.com, then you get an area in docs.google.com. -- they've got a version of open office online, so I tend to do a lot of my draft writings and calculations using the online word editor and spreadsheets. When I'm ready, I unlock the documents or re-save them as pdfs. And all of that is self-contained in google's servers, so I don't even have to depend on my own hard drive. I can walk into a public library's computer, or some kind of net cafe, and my documents are waiting for me.

Of course, once I'm ready to do some heavy layout work, I still go back to Microsoft Word. I sometimes wish I had some other software to play around with ... but that's what I got.
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Re: WIP: Cycles abstract card game (for pnp contest)
Thanks for the feedback! I just posted a text-only version of the rules at http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/619201/cycles-rule-thread
(I still can't get the thread links to work properly)
 
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Re: WIP: Cycles abstract card game (for pnp contest)
I think I've come up with a theme for it; I didn't really want to re-do all of the cards from scratch, and I noticed that I left most of the card design blank, so I think I'll draw in pictures (probably just doodles given the volume of cards and amount of free time I'll have) of square, circle, and triangle-based creatures interacting. Because doodles lend themselves to a more humorous theme, the 'theme text' (or whatever the term is-flavor text?) might be something like this:


Quote:
Starlog 156543 of the Society of Learned, Orderly, and Beneficent Beings (SLOBBs):

As we continued our inspection of the universe, we came across the planet of Geometra, with such low vibrations that the vibrometer practically bottomed out. Intrigued, we went into low orbit to find a scene deplorably unenlightened turmoil; three bitterly divided species, the Trigons, Quadrians, and Cycoids, were in the process of destroying their planet through petty warfare. Being (as we of course are) vastly superior to such crude means as direct intervention, we elected to have our loyal acolytes discretely manipulate events until harmony had been restored in the environment. While this regrettably wouldn't stop the species from fighting, it would at least prolong the existence of life on their planet. Unfortunately, due to Snerdle the Magnificent's uncharacteristically injudicious proclimation that he could "restore cosmic unity before any of you [a reference to fellow SLOBBs personnel] can even blink!", Trunshaw the Wise's rebuttal that Snerdle was "a big fathead" and the general escalation that followed, we found ourselves divided against each other in our attempt to restore harmony. Fortunately Snerdles' concession of allowing Trunshaw to call 'shotgun' for the departure trip restored harmony within our own order.

After we'd finished up harmonizing the planet, Quastnor the Well-Intentioned suggested that we raise the Geometrans' vibrations a couple notches, but after several attempts and Krenton the Implemenentor's objective assesment of the Geometran's spears as exhibiting excessive pointiness, we elected to check back in a few aeons and see how things were getting along


Just kind of had fun writing that
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Re: WIP: Cycles abstract card game (for pnp contest)
That theme is simply amazing.

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Re: WIP: Cycles abstract card game (for pnp contest)
That's pretty cool. A sci-fi theme that just wakes up the imagination. Kinda reminds me of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
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Re: WIP: Cycles abstract card game (for pnp contest)

Here's a rough doodle of what a cycle in the game would look like; I thought it would be fun if each card formed part of a narrative (even if a kind of simplistic and probably repretitive one). The shapes in parantheses show what the equivalent symbols would be on the cards.

Do you think this basic visual style (It would be a bit more polished but not much-my drawings are pretty sketchy) would work, or would a more geometric approach (like something I'd put together in Inkscape with the basic shapes) would work better?

Here's another; the SLOBBs make contact with Geometran life (not sure if it would really go in the game art)

 
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Re: WIP: Cycles abstract card game (for pnp contest)
I like the sketchy graphic style, maybe try to do one with clean cut line art but another with the style you have and see them side by side.

Also the last image is great
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Re: WIP: Cycles abstract card game (for pnp contest)
Thanks! The guy in the back kind of ended up looking more cheesed off than I'd intended.
Here's a quick geometric version of the three kinds of Geometrans:

And here's a hand-drawn sketch:


Although it could just be my pretty low skill level with using geometric shapes, I personally like the hand-drawn stuff better; it looks more lively although it does look a bit less uniform and 'finished'. I'm also not sure how the SLOBBers (who I'm thinking of using as the pawns-them or their acolytes) would look drawn out geometrically.

What do you think?
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Re: WIP: Cycles abstract card game (for pnp contest)
I honestly think that the hand drawn ones have more "soul".

But the "clean-digital copies" are okay as well... they just don't seem to be "alive".
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Re: WIP: Cycles abstract card game (for pnp contest)
Thanks for the feedback; I think I'll go ahead and use the sketches for the card art.
Here's a quick mock-up of how a card would look (If I'm feeling motivated I might make color versions too); I had to shrink the drawing down a bit to fit on the card, so I think I might either make the cards higher-quality or make larger images.

Do you think the image works with the current card design? Making the 81 cards was more work than I'd anticipated even with a pretty basic layout, so I'm hoping to just repurpose the abstract design. If this works I'll probably just draw on the cards and draw seperate 'SLOBB' pictures for the pawns and maybe make some optional 'Enlightenment' tokens or something similar if people want to use peices for victory points, or maybe a thematic point track with qoutes or pictures or something.
 
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Re: WIP: Cycles abstract card game (for pnp contest)
Here's a sample page of the rules with the themes applied. I decided to make the clipped corners from the card design kind of a motif to tie the cards in. I don't think it would take too much time for me to recolor the corners on the card designs.

I might make the rules a bit lighter to be more printer-friendly. Once I have the rules written up I think I'll go in and add textures and images to the background for a more thematic feel.


sample page of updated rules (designed to be folded into fourths):
 
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Shane Ryan
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sounds like a great theme, will look at rules when u upload some cards for testing! or in the comp lol
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Shane Ryan
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sorry didnt see link for cards!
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Thanks! I'll upload the rules in an easier to read format; it just occured to me that some people might not want to read the online rules half upside-down and out of orderwhistle



I also just noticed while I was uploading that I left out a section of the 'contesting' rules; part 'c' should be (in the origional abstract terminology):
-did a temporary fix (page 12 now has the missing text at the bottom)
 
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