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Subject: WIP: StarSpeed 17 [Components Available] rss

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Indigo Kelleigh
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Project:Orbits is the working title for a space-racing game I'm developing.

Players race against each other on a modular, customizable racetrack featuring multiple planetary obstacles and multiple routes to the finish line. The action of your rockets is shaped by the cards in your hand - Speed cards move your rocket forward, Status cards hinder your opponents, and Remedy cards repair problems with your own ship.

You can race for total number of laps completed, or for total number of points collected during your lap.

Two separate sets will be available using the same rules and similar cards, but with different planets and player colors. This will allow each set to operate independently, or to be combined for a massive 8-player race through the galaxy!

You can see my work-in-progress on the game so far at the Project:Orbits game journal at lunarbistro.com, and check back here for updates as well.

Update! Finally decided on the final name for this game: StarSpeed 17! Link to BGG page and images below!
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Indigo Kelleigh
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Re: WIP: Project:Orbits [playtesting phase]
Reserved for quick links to downloadable updates to the game.

2012-05-02: v0.2 Rules download (pdf)
2012-05-28: v0.3 Rules download (pdf)
2012-07-11: v0.4 Rules download (pdf)
2012-08-01: v0.5 Rules download (pdf)
2012-08-10: Project:Orbits v0.5a Components PDF Pack
2012-08-12: Project:Orbits v0.6 Components PDF Pack

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Indigo Kelleigh
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Re: WIP: Project:Orbits [playtesting phase]
From the latest Game Journal:

In lieu of having any contract work to finish up today, I let myself get distracted into updating the design of the Project:Orbits cards, Planets and Tracks based on the rules I playtested the other night with my daughter. The main updates to the planet tiles include a range of prices for remedies you can buy at different Planets - some planets will remedy your Engine Trouble but not let you refuel, some will remedy an Alien Attack but not help you against Meteor Showers, and there's a range of costs for each Remedy as well.

Remedies can be purchased at these worlds with Credits, which is a new value added on to all of the Speed, Status, and Remedy cards you might have in your hand. This way, if you find that having Engine Trouble is slowing you down and you just can't seem to draw the right Remedy for it, you can stop at a Planet that offers that remedy, and turn in a number of cards in your hand to buy the Remedy you need. In a sense, it's a form of trading, and the only cards that don't have any Credit value are the Equipment cards (which you'll want to be holding onto).

Tomorrow I'll update the written rules to reflect all of this, and then post the updated rules here (I'll post the planet cards and the action deck as well at some point, so you can playtest at home if you want). I still need to test one or two more times before this one's ready for a final release. I'm still not sure about the current Dashboard layout, specifically the scoring area.

At the moment, the scoring area has three different sections, allowing a combination of markers to display a score of up to 499 points. I haven't tried playing a game for points yet, so I don't know how worthwhile this idea is. It might be better to drop the scoring down to just 10, and have the game be played just for laps. The whole point of playing for points was to encourage longer, more intricate webs of planets and tracks, with laps of different length being worth a different number of points (many short laps might equal one or two long laps, for example). I'll have to try playing for points once or twice to see how well it goes.

Also, I haven't yet tried the game with Homeworlds in effect. Homeworlds give distinct advantages to each player, and disadvantages as well. For example, if the player of the Red rocket lands at their own homeworld, repairs are cheaper and they get an extra speed boost when they break orbit. However, if they land at the Green homeworld, repairs are not available, and they must use more speed to reach Escape Velocity. Homeworlds only take effect if all players' homeworlds are on the racetrack, otherwise the dis/advantage is too great for some players.

Playing for points, and using Homeworld advantages are two of the facets of this game that I think sets it apart from most other racing games of this kind, so I'm looking forward to really giving it a proper test. Now that the basic gameplay has (hopefully) been streamlined a bit, I'm looking forward to giving Project:Orbits a thorough test-run.
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Indigo Kelleigh
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Re: WIP: Project:Orbits [playtesting phase]
From the latest Game Journal:



The Project:Orbits v0.3 rules are here!

Added a few new features to the ruleset, including the changes I mentioned earlier, and the ability to Buy a new hand when stuck at a planet. I also some new benefits for the Last Place player, to help keep them in the race - Last Place (LP) player takes two cards at the beginning of their turn instead of just one, and gets to make two plays during their turn. Often this will take them into the lead, giving someone else a chance to be the LP! In the few test games I've played with these new rules, I found that they effectively eliminate the situation where one or more players was left a half-lap (or more!) behind the leader.

I've also adjusted the count of the cards a bit, adding in more speed cards and eliminating some of the remedies. Earlier sets had the Remedies-to-Status ratio at 2-1, but now that remedies can be bought at most worlds, and you can sell a number of cards from your hand to buy new ones, the wealth of Remedies was just unnecessary. I'm going to run a couple games with the new deck of cards (hopefully this weekend if not sooner), and if they're good, then I'll go ahead and publish the cards, planets, and tracks to go along with these rules, and you can playtest it yourself, too!

As ever, take a look at the rules and if you have any feedback leave it here!
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Nate K
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Re: WIP: Project:Orbits [playtesting phase]
How many players does this handle? I don't think it says in the rules.
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Indigo Kelleigh
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Re: WIP: Project:Orbits [playtesting phase]
Ah, maybe not. This game takes 2-4 players. There'll be a second (parallel, separate) set that can be combined with it for 5-8 player games.
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Indigo Kelleigh
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Re: WIP: Project:Orbits [playtesting phase]
Notes from the latest playtest, posted over at the Game Journal:



Had another good playtest of Project:Orbits this week, here's my notes:

Playtesters consisted of myself, Jenn, who'd played the game before, but not with the latest version of the rules, and Rachel, who was new to the game. We started with a single-lap short game of only two planets, and a three-track triangle. This was done just to introduce Rachel to the gameplay and the order of things. Of course, still not being completely used to the new rules myself, we forgot to use the Last Place rules for the first few rounds. We brought them in for the remainder of the game, though, and everyone agreed they helped the game move more quickly. It was suggested that the Last Place rules be made optional, or that it might be better to find a way to limit the first place racer's speed rather than helping push the last place racer just a little bit forward. This game took about 30 minutes, and was a pretty quickly-moving game.

After this race, everyone wanted to try the game with Homeworld rules, so we pulled out the four homeworlds and Rachel designed the largest track I've played yet - nine planets, and 26 pieces of track (out of the possible 17 planets and 36 track cards)! We agreed to just play a single lap on this one, too, since based on my experiences testing so far, I knew it would take a couple hours just to finish one lap. I was about right, this game clocked in at about 1 hour and 45 minutes. Jenn and Rachel both commented how they didn't ever find themselves frustrated with their progress in the game, they didn't notice the time passing (though the alcohol might have helped with that). As the saying goes, 'time flies when you're having fun', so I'm going to take that as a positive. Rachel also commented that she felt the game struck a good balance between really simple games for little kids, and complex strategy games, placing it squarely in the middle-school range of games, which is right where I wanted it to be.

There are a few things I need to clarify in the rules:
- You may only spend more than one Speed card when breaking orbit - not just at any time
- Equipping your ship counts as the Play phase of your turn, you can still take your drift
- Need some diagrams to show the different types of breaking orbit. In the circumstances when you arrive at a planet with enough speed to break orbit, for example, it's confusing to new players. Need to illustrate what happens when you arrive at a planet with not enough speed to break orbit, and when you DO have enough speed.
- Also, need to be clearer about how the speed boosts work on Homeworlds, and also that rivals can't get any repairs. This should be spelled out on the Homeworld card itself somehow.
- When you're in Last Place, and you're given two turns, can you use one of those turns to sell your hand? I don't see why not, but still need to describe that process.
- It was also suggested that the Draw phase of your turn be moved to the end, so you start with X cards, you use/play/discard one of them during your Play, then you draw back up to X at the end of your turn. This will simplify the process of deciding whether to buy a new hand or take a regular turn. Also, increase the number of dealt cards by 1.
- Need to include the details about the size of players's hands when using the 5-8 player expansion.
- The Action cards should have some room for flavor text - just one or two short sentences describing their effects and any limits on their use.
- The combination of moving one space when breaking orbit, and then taking one drift, seems somewhat redundant. It was recommended to remove the drift when breaking orbit, but keeping it at all other times.

And more than a few suggestions were made of things to add to the game to enhance it:
- A token of some sort to remind everyone who's in Last Place. Some kind of space-turtle, I imagine. This could be moved from player to player at the beginning of each round. In this playtest we used a generic yellow pawn.
- There should be some consequences to the player who chooses to break someone else's equipment. Currently they essentially spend three cards (which they then get to re-draw in their next turn), allowing them to clear out cards they might not otherwise be able to use (which is a benefit to the player who's attacking). But with no cost to them, it's almost an unfair move. More testing is in order, I think, as this was the first game where it was used.
- Arbitrary placement of the Planets: An optional rule, where the planets are randomly placed face-down on the track, and when the first racer arrives a coin is flipped to decide whether it will be used as a planet or remain face-down as a track hub.
- Expedited Play rules. This could be anything from limiting the size of the track to just two planets, giving each player two turns in each round, or adding some sort of 'Hyperspace' option. Possibly removing the speed hit of breaking orbit - if you played a high enough card to break orbit, you can treat the planet as a track hub, and just continue on counting spaces. Not sure what these final rules will look like, but I'm open to suggestions that don't change the basic gameplay too much.
- Other ideas for possible expansion sets included Ship's statuses that have effects other than limiting your speed, such as taking away any homeworld benefits you might get ("Can't Go Home Again"), limiting your ability to play statuses on other players ("Ship in a Bottle"), or possibly warping your ship to some arbitrary spot on the track. Cargo might also be introduced, with quests to take items from one planet to another for points.
- Rachel suggested that, along with the Alpha and Gamma sets, a possible third set of cards and racers ('Delta'), as well as a monster box set complete with all three sets and the Hyperspace expansion (The 'Omega' set). We can dream, can't we? Not a big deal for the print-&-play version, but I think the real trick in selling box sets of this is going to be in finding a source for more colors of little plastic rockets.

I think that's it for now! If you'd like to help playtest this game and you're in the Portland area, leave me a message right here and I'll be in touch! I'd like to keep testing it every week or two, and am planning a private playtest at PAX Prime in August as well.
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Indigo Kelleigh
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Re: WIP: Project:Orbits [playtesting phase]
From the latest gamejournal:

One of the things I want to test in the next playtesting session for Project:Orbits is the effectiveness of using icons to tie the Status, Remedy and Equipment categories together. Until now, I've been using matching letters - 'A', 'B', 'C', and 'D' - but have always intended to use icons instead. So, in order to test that, I needed to make some icons! So, here they are: Out of Fuel, Meteor Shower, Engine Failure, and Alien Attack!

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Nate K
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Re: WIP: Project:Orbits [playtesting phase]
The only one I wasn't able to immediately identify (without having looked at the names you listed" was Engine Failure. With all the others, I understood what was going on without having read the post.
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Indigo Kelleigh
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Re: WIP: Project:Orbits [playtesting phase]
I'm going to count that as a win!
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Indigo Kelleigh
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Re: WIP: Project:Orbits [playtesting phase]


In anticipation of the Project:Orbits playtest tonight at Beulahland here in Portland, I'm releasing the latest version of the rules, v0.4. I haven't added much to the cards and planets, the most notable difference there are the different Status Icons in the repair tables, and alternate tracks on the backsides.

The real goal with this version, and tonight's test, is to see how well the Icons translate. Earlier decks used Letters to signify the connections between the status, remedy, and equipment cards, but my intention was always to use icons. So, I need to check and make sure that having matching icons is enough to make that connection. I also want to see how well the game plays when I'm not there to direct it. I'm going to set up a short course for the first folks, to teach them how to play, then I'm moving on to other games and will let players design their own course.

I've clarified many sections of the rules, and simplified the turn order a lot. I took the rules covering selling cards out of your hand rather than playing anything and moved it into the Play phase of your turn. This allows players to do this at any time, rather than only when in orbit at a planet. It also makes the option to discard somewhat redundant, so I took that out entirely. Since this is the first time I've made a set that included back sides on the planets and track cards, I made sure to add those sections to the rules as well.

I also added a section of 'Expedited Rules', designed to speed up the game considerably. One of them makes the game a real-time game, where the racers don't stop to wait for everyone else to take their turn, they just play as quickly as they can until the deck is depleted. Be warned, many of these haven't been fully tested yet, so I can't guarantee a balanced game. I'll be trying a couple of these rules tonight, for sure!

After tonight's test I'll be bundling up a set of all of the components to open the game up for blind playtesting, so keep an eye out here! Thanks!
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Re: WIP: Project:Orbits [playtesting phase]

Last night's play test brought in a couple new players, and some more great feedback. Thanks to Scott Allen, Jenn Wimmer, and Greg (didn't catch his last name) for going a couple rounds with me!

The first thing I learned is that the checkered starting line was confusing, both of the new players thought this was the Finish line and headed off in the wrong direction. I'll have to change that to something else, or change the wording in the Rules. I'd like to have both a Starting Line AND a checkered line, so I'll look into different configurations for that tile.

A suggestion was made that I'm entertaining, where a Racer arrives at a Planet with the EXACT AMOUNT of Speed needed to Break Orbit would receive an extra Slingshot effect and gain a small speed boost. This would add to the strategy of when to play speed cards, and which cards to play.

I need to illustrate in the Rules the speed depletion in regards to arriving at a Planet. The counting gets confusing if you have a habit of counting up to the number of spaces you can move, as opposed to counting down from your top speed.

Tested a couple of course configurations for the first time, including a multi-path track and the first ever use of the Black Hole tile, which surprisingly wasn't as large an impediment as I originally intended.

Our multi-path course was a four-leg course with a shortcut through the middle that cut past the Black Hole. In theory this should have been a deterrent to taking the short cut, but the Statuses didn't cripple us as much as they should have, and we all found it fairly easy to Break orbit. In fact, the one racer who consistently avoided the shortcut did come in last, but only barely, and was very close to the pack the entire time. The multi-path layout highlighted an issue with the Last Place rules that does need to be clarified - when there are multiple paths to the end of the race, the Racer who is FARTHEST from the finish line (in number of spaces) is in Last Place. On this particular course, this removed the possibility of anyone taking the shortcut being in Last Place for most of the race. I managed to get into Last Place on the shortcut, but only because two of the other racers were also on it, and the fourth *just* beat me to the next planet.

The fact that Status cards all affect the racers in the same way was brought up, with the concern being that several of us had at least one Status card for most of the race, and it didn't seem to slow us down too much. It was suggested that there be various levels of Status cards, including one of each Class that would be 'Crippling', as in preventing the Racer from playing any Speed cards until it was resolved. I think this bears testing, but I worry that it will get us back to the problems we had in earlier versions, where players were stuck not being able to do anything, waiting for that one card that would resolve their status while the other racers continued to blow past them on the course.

Another option is to have the Status effects be exponential - One status card reduces your speed by 2, Two status cards reduce it by 5, Three status cards reduce it by 9. This would effectively cripple a racer, making an 11 Parsecs card only worth 2 Parsecs, and making anything less useless.

I also need to come up with a better way to label or explain the Speed Boost on the planet tiles. We didn't play with Homeworlds in either of our two races, but when I showed the new players those tiles there was some confusion as to what the extra numbers meant. I'll have to look into that and do some tester tiles.

In the second race, Greg managed to hoard ALL of the Equipment cards due to a lucky first deal and subsequently churning through the deck by selling half of his hand for several consecutive rounds (it didn't help that he was in Last Place and was able to do this twice on each turn). His super-ship made him invulnerable to any attack, and our only choice was to try to keep up with him on Speed. He did win the race, but only by one turn - 2nd and 3rd came in on the next play.

Two fixes for this situation were proposed: Either limiting the number of Equipment cards to three, or enforcing a speed hit of -1 for each Equipment card over three (only really effective in a 5-8 player game where there'll be eight potential pieces of Equipment). I'm inclined to just limit it to three pieces total, but that you can unequip one and discard it to equip a new piece if you choose. I feel like every Racer needs to have SOME vulnerability, an Achilles Heel.

Also, I really need to come up with a new name for this. Project:Orbits was just the working title, but people have started just calling it Orbits by default. It's a great name, but doesn't really play into the Racing aspect of the game at all. Plus, I just today discovered Orbit: Rocket Race 5000 which kind of ruins BOTH the 'Orbits' name AND the 'Galaxy 5000' name I'd been also considering. When I open it up for open playtesting next week I'm going to start a poll to see what other names people like for the game.
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Dylan Green
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Re: WIP: Project:Orbits [playtesting phase]
I understood Out of Fuel & Meteor Shower instantly. Even before reading what they were supposed to be! Engine Failure I thought was the engine working hard (though I did think, "That's odd, those gears don't look happy"). Alien attack just looked like attack. I couldn't tell they were aliens (flying saucer maybe?).

Great work!
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Indigo Kelleigh
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Re: WIP: Project:Orbits [playtesting phase]
On Choosing Homeworlds:

One recent wrinkle I'm considering adding is allowing players to choose their own Homeworlds from whichever Planets are used to define the course. Each Planet would have Home and Rival modifiers printed on it, to let racers know what the benefits and penalties would be for choosing each Planet. Homeworld rules only come into play when there are at least as many Planets in the course as there are Racers.

The selection process would be similar to Settlers of Catan's initial placement - Racer 1 chooses their Home planet, then each player continues around the table clockwise choosing their Homeworld from among the unclaimed Planets on the course.

The last Racer then chooses a Rival world from among those chosen as Homeworlds. The selection order reverses back around the table counterclockwise until each Racer has selected their Rival world. Each Home world can only have one Rival, and you can't choose the same Rival world as your Home world.

The issue I'm running into is, in any game with more than two racers, as they go around selecting their Rival worlds from the available Home worlds, it's possible to force the last racer's Rival world to be the same as their Homeworld.

So, I'm running into the dilemma of both trying to figure out how to avoid this situation, and also how to resolve it if it does happen.

I could possibly get rid of the limit of only one Homeworld and one Rival per planet (allowing several racers to claim the same Homeworld or Rival world), and also removing the limit of Rival worlds needing to be chosen from among claimed Homeworlds. Removing these limits also removes the need for the players to select their Home and Rival worlds in any particular order, but this would also remove the strategy of choosing certain Planets in an attempt to limit your opponents's choices.

So, assuming for a moment that I'm going to leave the selection process as-is, this scenario could play out, with these options:

Of the two remaining available planets, Racer B places his Rival token on the planet which is NOT Racer A's Homeworld, forcing Racer A to choose his own Homeworld as his Rival world.

Option 1: Racer A's Home and Rival worlds cancel each other out, and they receive neither benefit nor penalty from that Planet.

Option 2: Racer A is allowed to re-place the Racer B's Rival token to Racer A's Homeworld, giving Racer A access to the other Planet for their own Rival world.

Opt. 1 unfortunately makes the process of choosing homeworlds a gamble for the first player, since they will always be in the position of potentially losing their homeworld benefits depending on how the other players choose.

Opt. 2 penalizes Racer B, limiting their ability to choose.

Another possibility is allowing each player to choose their Homeworld and, when doing so, place the next racer's Rival token on the same world. then That Racer gets to choose their Homeworld next, and so on, until all Racers have a Homeworld.

Any other suggestions for how to resolve this dilemma?
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Indigo Kelleigh
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Re: WIP: Project:Orbits [playtesting phase]


Another playtest, another update to the rules!

The big new things in version 0.5 are that players can now choose their own Home and Rival worlds from among the Planets in the course, and that different Status cards have different effects on the Racer's speed.

I've also done a bit of work to designing the additional components for the PnP version of this game, which will be the initial release. I designed some pretty snazzy little rocket-ship pawns in eight different colors, along with Home and Rival world markers. Next I need to design the standard Racer Dashboard and the varying display readouts for each ship. After that, adding the last little bits to each Planet, and then the biggest chunk of this game will be the art for all of the cards in the Action deck.

I'll be sketching some ideas for some of the action cards this week, and will post them here for you to look at.

Also, now that the rules are nearly complete (I think the gameplay may actually be in its final stage of development now, actually), it's time to decide on a final name for this game. I'll post my current list here, and will try to find a way to open it up for a vote.
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Re: WIP: Project:Orbits [playtesting phase]
Also, what's the etiquette on adding a WIP game to the database? I'd like to start posting photos and development art there as I complete it.
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Re: WIP: Project:Orbits [Components Available]
I'm happy to announce that Project:Orbits has finally moved into the 'Open Playtesting' phase! This is the point when the game's components are made available publicly for people to download, assemble, and play on their own! I've been working on this game for several months now, refining and revising it, and I'm really excited to be finally releasing it into the wild!


Get the Project:Orbits v0.5a PDF Pack Here!


The v0.5 Components Download includes the following PDF documents:
Rules-sheets_v05a.pdf: three-page Rule document, with slight revisions from the v0.5 Rules
Card Sheets-poker v05a.pdf: Full deck of 108 Project:Orbits poker-sized cards
Tracks_n_Planets_v05a.pdf: 18 double-sided Planet tiles, and 36 double-sided Track cards
Tracks_n_Planets_v05a-color.pdf: 18 double-sided Planet tiles, and 36 double-sided Track cards with Starfield background. INK HEAVY!
Racer Dashboards_v05a.pdf: 8 cut-and-assemble Rocket player pawns, with corresponding Home & Rival markers, Current Lap marker, and Racer Dashboard

These documents DO NOT feature complete and final artwork, final card names, or even the final game name (Still not sure what to call this thing). The poker-sized cards do not have their card-back artwork yet, either. In fact, all of the cards and tiles are pretty bare-bones on the art front, because I don't want to kill your printers with color until the final art is ready.

Please, download the game, give it a spin, and let me know what you think! I'm collecting feedback here at the forums, and will be seeking help with a name very soon.

UPDATE: I just posted a modification to the v0.5a zip, it now includes a Planets & Tracks pdf with the color starfield background, for those interested in having more color in their game. Also, the repair prices on those cards are lower than on the black-and-white cards. I'll unify that in the v0.6 download, sorry!
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Re: WIP: Project:Orbits [Components Available]

Get the Project:Orbits v0.6 PDF Pack Here!


Version 0.6 now available!

As I should have expected, following Saturday's play session, I've made a few more very minor modifications to the components. Specifically, I removed a sheet of cards from the deck to make Remedies a bit harder to come by (which helps make the Planets more useful in their ability to sell repairs), clarified a few sentences in the rulesheet, and made the repair prices consistent across the black-and-white and color planet sheets.

I also fixed a graphic error in the color Planet sheets, where the trim-marks for the Track cards were visible on every page, even the Planets. Haha, woops! blush

These still don't have the finished art, but I'm getting started on that soon. My NEXT step, though, is deciding on a final name for this game. I've already started a thread looking for suggestions, with a prize of 20 GG and a hand-made set of the final game!

That said, this WILL be the final version of these files to be available until the finished art is ready. I'll continue posting art samples here, and at the game's page (which I'll be creating once I have the right name!) so you can still see the progress. I'm really excited! Finally I've made it to the really fun part of this process - making it look awesome!
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This week I finally picked a name for this game, to replace the codename Project:Orbits, and created the BGG listing for it -

StarSpeed 17: Rocket Racers of Galaxy 5000!

Check out the BGG listing for new art from the game!
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It's been a while since I've updated on StarSpeed 17, but have continued to be busy working on artwork for it. All of the planets for the Alpha set are now complete, and the racer dashboards are about 60% done (the only element needed for these are images of each rocketship, but those will take some time to finish). Haven't really playtested the game much since PAX last month, so there's not much to add there.

Except that, before PAX I would have said that the game is pretty much finished, ready to ship once the art is complete. Afterward, however, I realize that quite a few of the rules are just patches to fix problems with the game. I've been looking more at some of the underlying basics of the gameplay, and trying to define what the actual problems are. Then, once I've got those defined, figure out if the rules in place actually resolve the problems, or if they just overcomplicate things.

For example, the ability for players to buy repairs when in orbit at a planet. This is something that made sense at the time, but in more recent tests, I find that players rarely take advantage of this ability. Originally, the problem this was supposed to solve was that it was difficult to get the repair you needed just from the deck. But this was also back when a single Status card on your racer would completely cripple your ship. Now, however, you can have multiple Status cards, and each one only slows you down some. Even with three Status cards on your dashboard, you can still continue along the course by playing some high speed cards. Plus, the planets offer so few repairs each that it's unlikely a racer will need the repairs being offered when they're in a position to buy them.

So, I feel like with this rule, I have two options:

1: Add more repairs to the planets, making it more likely that the repair a player needs will be available (the extreme here would be to simply make ALL repairs available at any planet).

2: Remove the repairs offered at planets altogether, since players tend not to use them anyway.

An option I've considered is giving players a 'Pit Crew' marker, which can be moved to any Planet (except rival planets, naturally) on a turn, allowing players to buy any repair needed wherever their Pit Crew is. This would be similar in this way to the Home Planet marker, except it wouldn't affect the escape velocity at the planet. This piece might make the remedy cards completely unnecessary, though, as players can simply limp to the next planet and buy their repairs there. Still needs to be tested.

I'm also looking to add in some special Maneuver cards, which could be played in specific circumstances. Lots of testers have suggested the ability to use the planet's gravity to Slingshot your racer for bonus speed, so I'm thinking of adding in a card that lets you do that when Breaking Orbit. I'm looking at some other cards that would give you bonuses as well, like a 'Ride the Comet' card that would give you a couple extra spaces on your Drift phase. Another card that I'd like to try out would be a 'Timeslip' card that you play on an opponent which causes them to lose their next turn.

The last thing that I've been playing with has to do with choosing Home and Rival worlds. I've come up with what I think are some pretty good rules which prevent too many racers from picking the same worlds. For instance, a player who picks Home world with the lowest Escape velocity must pick the Rival world with the highest Escape velocity; no more than two players can pick the same Home or Rival world - if the one you wanted is full, tough luck; the player who picks their Home world last gets to pick their Rival world first; etc. These rules, along with some additions to the section on building the course to accommodate these requirements, will go a long way toward making this a useful strategic addition to the game.
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Indigo Kelleigh
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During my own recent play-test to decide if I wanted to expand or restrict the availability of Repairs when landed on a Planet, I began having thoughts on some more... fundamental... aspects of the gameplay. I found myself going through the motions of the play, taking each of my four Racers's turns, drawing cards, playing cards, discarding. Each player facing roughly the same challenges and obstacles, struggling to get through, and it all just began to feel really tedious.

To clarify, I was getting bored playing my own game.

The one part of the game I've always enjoyed is the endgame, when all the racers are in the final leg, passing that last Planet, and speeding on to the finish line (or at least trying to). When fixing repairs is the least of your concerns, and you just want to lay on as much speed as you can, even if it means blowing out your engine. When all the other players suddenly gang up on one or two of the leaders, in the hope that they can pull ahead on their next turn. I wished there was a way to make the rest of the game that exciting and action-packed.

In that recent playtest I'd been toying with the idea of Maneuver cards, which give a temporary, one-time boost to the player in specific circumstances. One card gives the Racer a couple extra spaces during the Drift phase, the other gives the player a +5 speed boost when Breaking Orbit. I started to wonder what the game would be like if players could play Status and Remedy cards at any time. What if there were other special Instant cards that had to be played immediately, and had more dramatic effects either just on one player or on the entire board?

Let's say a Racer wants to play an 11 Speed card. They would lay the card down, making it clear that's their intention. All the other players, starting with the player to their left, have the opportunity to play a Status card that would reduce the speed they played by 2, 4, or 8. The original player could then play a Remedy card to resolve that status immediately, or take the speed hit. If the next player to the left had a Status they wanted to play, they could as well, continuing around the table until someone chooses not to, or can't play a card to affect the player.

These new status cards would be only temporary, affecting the player only for the current turn. It is immediately resolved when the turn is complete, and all the cards go into the discard pile. No players will keep Status cards on their ship unless the Card explicitly says so. Also, with so many potential Status hits in play, I'm planning on increasing the lowest-level Speed card from 2 to 5, and adding some cards with 13 Speed as well.

There could also be new cards that affect players only during specific phases - cards that temporarily increase or decrease the amount of Drift a player can take, cards that cause a Racer to lose their homeworld, or to choose a new one; Cards that allow a racer to jump into the lead, or which force a racer into last place; Cards that allow a Racer to take an extra turn (even when not in last place), or which cause another player to lose a turn; A piece of Equipment that allows a player to steal 1 card from another player on their turn, and cards that have temporary effects on players with specific pieces of equipment.

I'd also like to play with the Racer's Drift speed, giving them a maximum Drift of 4, and allowing for certain cards that will increase or decrease their Drift throughout the game, not as a temporary effect, but long-term. A 'Friction-Free Hull' piece of equipment that gives them automatic Drift of 4, and an 'Inertial Enhancement' card that knocks them back down to 1.

I realize that even opening the game up in this way will cause the size of the deck to grow tremendously, as there will be a lot of new kinds of cards. But it also allows for more flexible gameplay, I think, and leaves a lot of possibility for future expansion. My hope (and it still requires testing) is that all of these new, different kinds of cards will ultimately make the game more engaging for all of the players, not just the one in the lead.

As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts, especially if you've downloaded the existing components and played the game already.
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