Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Off the Checklist

And so, instead of getting back into Leviathan which I sorely need to do, I’m still busy cleaning up some other items off my design list.

Item number one of my “Things to Do List” is finished and shipped. Minsterpool is off to GCOM contest. Recently, I got an email detailing some information about the contest, indicating when each of the games will be played, and a short description of each game (there are 10).

Of interest is that one of the names of the designers sounded familiar. A quick google search for “Andrew Parks” did, indeed, pop up a BoardGameGeek entry for him, with a few published games. I’m assuming he’s also demonstrating his game as it does not have an official “demonstrator” tag attached to it.

Item two was tweaking PocketCiv a little bit. There’s a two-fold reason for this.

One, from a game design standpoint, There’s been enough comments on the game about it’s ability to beat up players in the early Eras. So I’ve tweaked and scaled a few of the Events down a bit early on.

The second issue is more of a marketing kind of thing. By updating the game, it gives me a really good excuse to keep the game “fresh” on BoardGameGeek, by bringing it up to the top of a forum list for a day or two. Like most things that go unheard, games on the Geek that don’t get much attention pretty much die a silent death. Conversely, every time PocketCiv gets a mention on a forum, it gets two or three more ratings. So, instead of just a blantant ad for the game, updating it periodically gives me a reason to re-introduce it.

Occasional updates also indicate a certain level of “customer support” I’m willing to give, as opposed to just letting complaints and comments rot away into the ether. I hoping that this should make the geeks who are on the fence about the game have a little more interest in trying it out.

And as item 2.5, I’m also experimenting with additional scenarios with PocketCiv based on a few comments. Also, I can’t say that I’m not influenced at least a little bit by my recent Nintendo DS games I’ve been playing.

I’ll probably go in depth a little more on this project at some point. But in general, it works like this: unlike the first 10 scenarios, which were just a random collection of various setups and goals, this next set will follow a story line, building a mythology as the scenarios are played out. This is pretty much following the videogame model, where every little mode plays similarly, but advances an overall story. This makes the game somewhat more compelling, as the “story mode” pushes you along in the world. Unraveling hints about a greater world, and gives it a little “just one more page” addiction. Notably, this is a moderately small experiment for a board game format (even though I believe it has to have been done before; probably at the very least HeroQuest did something similar). And so, as the story progresses, new rules are added and abilities are learned.

And, oh yeah, I’m adding magic to the mix using some new mechanics. So while I could just easily make the Advance Tree larger, or add a few new resource types (the easiest way to expand the rules), I am actively expanding the world instead, and trying out a different way to drive a solitaire game.

Fun stuff to play with. Until I get annoyed.

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