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Blog Game Design Games Lingua Franca

Lingua Franca design journal (Jan 18, 2022)

The concept of Lingua Franca started when I got into social deduction and party games a few years ago. I had an idea for something that imbued the spirit of Mysterium but had a bit of the word association of Codenames.

I initially wanted to add a deck-building element where you can play words in interesting combos. This contest was the excuse I needed to try something like that out. It didn’t work. Cards were too busy and players were hamstrung by not having the right suit to play certain words. A week ago, I got rid of the deck-building elements and stuck with a simple limited communication concept. Someone draws an icon card and they have to get their ally to guess the matching icon card by communicating through word cards. A word card has three words on it, and the player can only tell their ally how many of those words relate to the icon card but they’re not allowed to state which ones.

I playtested that version, which is the version available right now. It worked! Most importantly: It was fun!

My next steps are to turn the “icon cards” into “illustration cards” and improve the graphic design and artwork of the cards across the board. I also have some ideas for how this game can be played competitively with teams or still cooperatively with an increased player count. I’m also itching to playtest a variant where players take turns: One draws an icon card and the other guesses the matching card, then they switch roles next round.

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Blog Game Design Games Nine Muses

Nine Muses design journal (Mar 10, 2022)

Balance tweaks have come to Nine Muses!
After a few playtests, some problems arose:
• Some players noted that it was difficult to see some iconography due to a lack of contrast between icons and background art
• There were some instances where a Muse couldn’t be released as players couldn’t get the proper resource
• There wasn’t enough distinction between resources (Why do I care about craft vs science vs ethics?)
• There was at least one instance where I had accidentally created an “infinite loop” of stealing that could only be broken by players doing something that wasn’t to their benefit to break the loop for everyone
• Some Muses were too highly favored over others due to their market gains
• It was missing a certain “je ne sais quoi?” that could take it from a good game to a great game

So how did I solve these issues?
• Special abilities! Poetesses don’t just give you victory points! Each Poetess has one unique ability that players can take advantage of as long as they have the Science
• I carved out some mechanical importance for each resource: Craft is best for changing the board up but VP turn in is low; Science is the only way to use Poetess abilities and has decent VP turn in, but it’s harder to hold on to; Ethics is the rarest resource but has a HIGH VP turn in compared to the others.
• I added a white stroke to the icons to make them stand out more against the background
• Slight tweaks to each Muse’s marketplace to ensure that players can get Craft with every Muse

Both the PnP & Digital have been updated. Let me know how these changes fare as you call upon the muses!

Rules
PNP Files
Playincards.io room

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Blog Game Design Games Nine Muses

Nine Muses design journal (Mar 1, 2022)


Let there be art! I’ve added art and improved the overall graphic design of the Nine Muses cards. Also finally have a banner. (Displayed as featured image.) No changes to core gameplay. Art has been added to both the PNP and the playcards.io versions of the game. I’ll keep improving the art over time. Mainly, adding more detail to the clothing with patterns and such.

Rules
PNP Files
Playincards.io room

Categories
Blog Game Design Games Nine Muses

Nine Muses design journal (Feb 21, 2022)


After working through several playtests and toying with digital platforms, I’ve updated Nine Muses with new rules and it’s now available on playingcards.io!

Rules
PNP Files
Playincards.io room

Categories
Blog Game Design Games Nine Muses

Nine Muses design journal (Jan 25, 2022)

Version 1.0 of Nine Muses is here!

I’ve only been able to playtest this against myself, so I’m looking for feedback from others on the general gameplay, tension, and fun in this.

I have some sample art. This is WIP as well as I’m still experimenting with an art style, so it’s subject to change!

Terpsichore card sample art

One open mechanics question: How do I make muses being called to you—specifically the Knowledge “locking” mechanic—more dynamic while maintaining balance?

Right now, you drop Knowledge (resources) on a muse to “purchase” them. This gives you an advantage in the action economy AND a stable action—you don’t have to draft that muse anymore and worry about it being taken. A part of this process is that you place Knowledge on the Muse Card and it stays there, locked. This allows you to keep resources safe for a higher end game score. The issue I’m seeing, though, is your Muse is worth the same amount regardless: the VP on the card + resources “locked” on the card. I’ve got to think through this a bit more…