The Many Trials of A Colorful Game

I’ve been heads-down refining the mechanics for A Colorful Game. Here are some of my discoveries from the 10 playtests that I’ve had so far:

Issue

Games were way too long. (1+ hour)

Resolution

I took care of this by minimizing the card count. Put the game at a smooth 30ish minute playtime. That’s the goal!

Issue

The game was also far more complex with decisions than I wanted it to be. You have to place AND move a tile—ugh! Too much brain juice to spend on what to do best. (I watched a player’s life flash before their eyes for more than 10 minutes, hoping to glean some forgotten wisdom to help them make a decision.)

Resolution

This was advice from another designer: Don’t make players have to add a new primary color tile to the play area AND have to move another tile. That’s a lot to deal with during a turn.

Note that doing this also helped to reduce the playtime to around 30 minutes.

Issue

Scoring points is just altogether difficult sometimes.

Resolution

Wild cards and bonus points! I added some cards to the game that let you fill in any blanks with a color of your choice. For example, if you have a contiguous path — orange, orange, green, purple, purple — you could play a wild with that to treat the green as a part of your path.

Also, if you scored with three or more cards, you get a bonus point; four or more and you get three bonus points!

IMG_0910
Wild card; but no bonus points for you!

This new format for the game helped shape it into the quick abstract strategy game that I was looking to make. That’s a huge milestone!

I’ve playtested this new version quite a few times and have found some new challenges to work through:

  • Games are a little too short now. It’s difficult for a player that’s behind to see a chance to come back and try to take the win.

    Idea to test: I’m going to add cards to the point deck or have the discard shuffle back into the deck.

  • With the introduction of wild cards, games feel like they’re not strategic enough (a little too luck of the draw).

    Idea to test: I’m going to add more wild cards and make them have a greater negative impact on players who use them.

  • Once you score a path, you remove all of the roads that you used to score that path with. That reduces momentum and gives too great an advantage to the first player to score.

    Idea to test: I think a “pick a color, remove all roads for that color” method can give the right balance of changing the play area in a fun way and not making players feel like they’ve got to start from scratch.

  • I need to work out how the game ends a little more. Right now, the game ends once the point card deck is depleted and neither player can score on their next turns…it just feels like an odd way to end the game.

    Idea to test: A “first player to x points” win condition should fix this. I just need to test whether this is fun and try to discover what “x points” value is best.

That’s all for now! Until next time…

New Site, Who Dis?

Quick update for everyone who has followed my board game development diaries over at underthetabletop.com. I’ve rebranded myself! With a new site, comes a new me. I’m going to discontinue (or at least tone down) my inner critic interjections in my articles.

You can’t get rid of me that easily

I’m also going to soon be releasing a couple of quick print and play card games in the coming weeks. These games are designed to be short, 2 player games. I want to change some theme and design on them first before releasing them. They’ll both be free of charge!

Why would people want to print something out on fresh paper that is already trash?

I’ve also completely redirected all underthetabletop traffic here. You’ll see updates on news, access to the games that I develop, and other good or at least ambivalent stuff here at Otherworld Games from now on!

Otherworld Games? Because everyone wishes you were on another planet and couldn’t talk to them? Ha! Am—Am I right?

I’m also working double-time on playtesting and creating artwork for one of my longer projects, Oath. It’s a working title, and I’ve recently noticed that another company took the name recently…so I’ll definitely need to figure out another name. Trademark names if you like them—lesson learned.

W—Well that was a dumb move, dummy! Get it? Because you’re dumb? Please stop ignoring me

Soon, I’ll have information on how you can download the free print and play games. I’ll have another mailing list and some feedback forms up. I’m going to be pushing the playtest circuit harder this holiday season on into next year for Oath. Of course, I’ll document my process along the way. I’m eager to get these things out there in front of everyone!

How dare you be this positive! You can’t silence me — I have rights! You can’t just block me out like this! I’m lonely

I’ve got some fun stuff on the way. Some before the end of the year, some well into summer of next year, some I can’t even fathom yet. Are you excited yet? I’m excited. I know I have literally nothing to show you except old print and play links…but I’m getting there. Bear with me! And thank you all for your support.

My Promises to My Future Self

I have the corniest reason for selecting this picture of a mountain top as my featured image. I took this photo while backpacking for a couple of days in the North Cascades. This is Colchuck Lake. My wife and I took this trip as a sort of pre-honeymoon, a few weeks before we got married.

Gross.

When I took the photo, I thought it was neat how the mountain was reflected on the water. I’m using the photo now because it’s sentimental and reminds me of a time when I was granted quiet, peaceful reflection. Mainly, I reflect on how lucky I am to have an amazing wife who supports me and to be surrounded by people who also have an interest in what I’m doing here.

I’m ready to take the next step forward and turn this design thing from a fun hobby into something real.

This is a board games blog, not live journal (is that still a thing?)

I’ve got a few things that I believe I’ve got to change to really get me there. I hope that I don’t lose people during this transition, but I think it’s for the better. Here’s what I’m talking about:

  • I’m working on an official name for the entity that I design games under. It’s not going to be “Under the Tabletop.” I really haven’t cared about an official name so far. My thought process on this is that I should have a game close to ready, something to really show, before I brand my work. Nothing is set in stone yet and as such, I have nothing more to say on that. But I’ll keep everyone informed along the way. I’d rather make this change now than later when I have a game or two being kickstarted and I don’t really know what to call myself.
  • Some time early next year, I’m going to close down Under the Tabletop and redirect all traffic to a new site. I’ll still keep up my development diaries, although they may expand somewhat.
  • I likely may not continue the whole “drink and review” thing. I haven’t written a drink and game pairing review in a while. It was fun, but my time so far has been so consumed with creating things that when I get to play a game with someone, I want to enjoy the moment. The drink and game review began to feel like a chore. At first, I thought it was a great way to show everyone that I’m actively participating in the board game community, but I think I’ve got different ways of showing that now.
  • I’m going to take on at least one smaller project and have it ready for a kickstarter campaign by March 2020. When I mean smaller project, I mean a shorter-paced game that you could likely fit in your wallet or a tin can. I have a few ideas on what that looks like and I’ll definitely keep everyone posted on that.

Thanks to everyone who has followed me thus far and I hope that you’re all there after my vaguely worded changes. (I promise, I’ll have more to come once I settle on a name and set up a C corp.)

My Button Shy 18 Card Game Challenge Extravaganza

Here’s a short update.

Thank goodness

Last month, I participated in the Button Shy Games 18 Card Game Challenge. Here were the terms of the challenge:

  • Make a game that only consists of 18 Cards
  • All cards have to be identical — no exceptions

I made a game where, from a grid of cards of primary colors, you create sequences of secondary colors. You then take a certain amounts of the cards involved in creating that sequence.

I titled my little card game: A Colorful Game

I’m not sure of the details or outcome of the challenge. If I don’t win —

Which is likely

Which is likely (oh no, I’m agreeing with my inner critic) — I’ll release my print and play version for free. If I somehow do win, I’m not sure what will happen to the game.

I’m also debating whether to enter this month’s challenge to create an 18 card game that doesn’t allow for a table or play surface (all cards must be in players hands the whole time).

Anyway, here’s a short gameplay demo video of A Colorful Game where I play an intense session against my dog.

The Lo-Fi Print and Play Version of My Game, Oath, is Ready for Download!

That image of the crab nebula has nothing to do with my game, but now that I have your attention:

I finally have a lo-fi print and play version of Oath ready.

You can download it here.

After playing, please consider taking this survey to help me understand what adjustments I need to make to the game.

Thank you for your support!