Thursday, March 04, 2010


Not that I'm obsessed or anything, but I've decided to actually finish the Shipwreck game, instead of letting it linger for other exploratory designs. Unfortunately, it's a hard game to prototype; and through various machinery of my free will and accidental programming, finishing the prototype is turning out to be a nerve racking affair, with a lot of wasted "sticky-back" printer paper.

The game includes 120 small cards which need to be on thick, chipboard-style cardboard, and I'm using illustrator board for it. These cards either contain data point clues, or cards with windows that reveal specific clues when placed over the first set of cards. Unfortunately, after mounting and cutting, it turns out that my program was "building" the cards wrong, which entailed another set of printed cards. After which, I noticed that some of my data entry was wrong, which entailed another change, reprint, and mount.

Then, when I thought I was finished, I came to another, better conclusion to how the game should be constructed, which required another set.

But I think I finally have it right now.

The next problem which I think I have solved is the way the clues are recorded for the player on the data sheet. Back when it was simply "fishin' for 'recks," I just had a data sheet with a copy of the map, and a player could mark up multiple maps for each wreck he was currently involved in hunting for. It worked, but I wasn't happy with it, and I never could come up with a better solution. However, with the new DaVinci Code-styling of the game, which involves three different "stages" of hunting and piecing together clues each with it's own slightly different approach of clue gathering, the simple map marking technique won't work.

And so I've come up with a two sheet solution. The first sheet to the left here is a data grid for each of the three stages, cross-referencing the important information that is gleaned from clues.

The top part is the ultimate goal of finding a gate. This is done by combining artifact cards (of which there are three types, A,B, and C). Each set of artifacts reveal a clue data point to the location of a gate. Two or three of these data points will reveal the gate location.

The middle part is for shipwreck searching. Shipwrecks are located by directional vectors from each of the five cities, plus a depth rating. By triangulating enough of these data points, you can find a shipwreck.

And the bottom part is for locating which shipwreck an artifact is on. Each city has a different combination of buildings. And researching an artifact in a city will reveal that shipwreck, or give you a building of the city that can reveal the shipwreck's name.

Page two over here on the left is a simple representation of the map and the important data points for triangulating the clues, and a list of actions the player can take.

By folding page two (the map page) in half inward, a player can create a "cover" in order to keep page 1 secret (also folded in half). Page 1 is folded outward, so that the data grids are on "both sides" of the half-sized page of paper, and allows for easy flip access to both halves, and easy cross-referencing of the data grid to the map. Of course, the map can also be used for taking notes.

At least, in theory, this all seems to work well. It's up to the unforgiving world of playtesting to see if actually unfolds as well as it does in my mind.

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