End of summer update from Otherworld Games

Hello Otherworldly Beings,

The end [of summer] is nigh! Here’s an update on what Otherworld Games has been cooking over the season.

Color Space digital is available FREE on Tabletop Simulator

You heard that right. If you have Tabletop Simulator on Steam, you can download and play the digital Color Space mod right now for free. Give it a try to see if it’s the type of game you’d like to play in the physical world.

A poster for the game Color Space, out on Tabletop Sim for free. Kickstarter for the physical edition will be available next year.

Color Space physical edition Kickstarter has been delayed…

Due to the rising cost of freight and materials, the Kickstarter for Color Space has been delayed to some time next year. That just means there’s more time to playtest. 😀

One Last Job is in a contest!

Back in July, a little 1-card print-and-play game known as One Last Job was launched. It’s free to download and play right now, as long as you’re willing to print and cut out a card and 2 player aids. You’ll also need a small collection of assets. (Dice, chips, cubes—that sort of thing.)

Title art for the 2-player dice-rolling game One Last Job

That’s it! Oh wait, actually…one last thing

A new game is in development! With the working title “Cosmic Voyage,” this is a co-op game about space exploration and scientific discovery. Think of something that fuses together the vibe of games like Tokaido and Forbidden Island but has unique aspects such as career advancement and dealing with mental health on an extended space mission.

It’s still in early prototype stages but it’s coming along nicely. We actually just played a new prototype today and the game is fun and solid! More on this in the future.

Okay, that’s really all for now…see you around, Otherworldly Beings.

June updates from Otherworld Games

Happy Summer!

What a time it’s been. The pandemic has rearranged and marred our lives but it looks like we’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel across the globe. Fingers crossed! Here are some updates on what this small design studio. (I mean, really small, since it’s just one person.)

I neglected to give a May update and almost neglected a June one. Apologies for being so absent. Life and other projects sort of took me over for a while there. I’m coming back with some strong updates, though. I’m also working on publishing a book of creative fiction scifi short stories and building out an Etsy store to sell my art prints—but enough about that. Let’s get to it!

Introducing One Last Job, a free print and play game

In an effort to be more active in the board game design community, I decided to enter the 1-card print and play design contest hosted by Board Game Geek. I’ve entered One Last Job, a two-player, rootin’ tootin’ dice recruitin’ game. You face head-to-head against someone, recruiting crewmates—in the form of dice—and rolling them to use their abilities.

Logo for One Last Job

Every aspect of this game, the mechanics, the artwork and design, all of it was made by yours truly. (Remember where I said I was the only person at Otherworld Games?) HOWEVER, this game still wouldn’t be possible without the amazing people who helped me playtest it; one of those being my wife and partner in crime. Thank you!

A photo of me playtesting an earlier build of One Last Job against myself.
Me playtesting an earlier build of One Last Job against myself.

Download the print and play file, print it and play it, then head over to my entry thread and leave a comment in the thread to let me know what you think!


Neat, but what’s going on with Color Space?

I’m still on track to kickstart the Kickstarter for Color Space on Nov 2nd. I’ll be talking the game up a lot more around that time. I’ll need all the support I can get to make Color Space a reality. Mainly money. Right now, I’m trying to settle on physical products for the game, including the game itself. What do I mean by that? I mean I’m trying to figure out how Color Space will physically look. Check out some of these prototypes!

A photo depicting four physical variants of Color Space. Top left: cedar and wax. Top right: acrylic glued in acrylic. Bottom left: epoxy. Bottom right: cedar and epoxy.
Four flavors of Color Space. Top left: cedar and wax. Top right: acrylic glued in acrylic. Bottom left: epoxy. Bottom right: cedar and epoxy.

But I want to play Color Space now!

Good news, everyone—you can do that thing! My lovely wife made a Tabletop Simulator version of Color Space that you can download yesterday. (Or today if your time machine is broken. My point is is that it’s been out for a bit.)

Grab this FREE mod and fire up the old Tabletop Simulator!

That’s all for now! Keep your board games cool out there. You know, so they don’t melt their assets off.

How I approached iterative designs for Color Space

Color Space has gone through several revisions to get to where it is now. Before it was Color Space, it was called A Colorful Game…

Imagine this folded into a double-sided card. You’d turn to reflect which color was active.

It was a 3×3 grid of cards that you shifted around to make your color, which you randomly drew at the beginning of the game. First player to make ten of their color won. It soon evolved to getting points for making combos of colors. First to score 30 points won. I designed it for one of the Button Shy Game’s 18 card game challenges. Don’t think they gave it more than a glance. They went with games that were far more visually attractive. But I knew I was on to something and I needed to take the board game design process from start to finish. From idea to a fun product that you can buy.

Then, I added hex tiles, representing primary colors, and roads, representing secondary ones. You had a hand of cards and you’d create a path of color combos, then play a card from your hand to collect points. Something wasn’t quite right, so I just removed the cards. You then just needed to create paths. Depending on the path, you could collect a certain number of roads. First player to collect five of each secondary color won. That’s when the game became Color Space.

I’ve been playtesting and working on design iterations of Color Space for a few months now. The game has progressed quite a bit in that time. I’ve changed the design aesthetic a few times, but for the most part it’s been a similar game across the board—no major changes. That’s always a good place to be.

With the trajectory I’m on, I should be able to put this game on Kickstarter this fall (2021). I’ve still got things to do. Videos to make; photos to take. I’ve got to publish ads about the game. Oh, and I’ve got to finalize the designs and make sure that I’m getting a prototype back from the manufacturer I’m working with that has the best quality.

I’ve also got to think of pledge tiers. I think the aesthetics of the logo and box art design are fantastic. I’d like to make some prints and t-shirts for higher tiers. Beyond that, I’ll likely reach out and ask what potential backers want to see.

After all this time, Color Space is almost ready to launch. I couldn’t be more excited. I hope that anyone reading this will be too, especially after seeing some of the gameplay videos.

…Speaking of which, I’m going to go work on that stuff. Until next time!

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…

What I’ve Been Playing Lately

The my favorite thing about the holidays is that it brings people together…for board games. Here’s what I’ve been digging this holiday season.

Mysterium

Mysterium is a cooperative murder mystery party game. Psychics conduct a séance to divine how someone died in a mansion. One player plays a spirt that can only communicate to the other players (the psychics) through abstract, surrealist imagery. Players must work together to formulate the suspects, locations, and objects that were involved in the ghost’s demise.

The key challenge to Mysterium is that the ghost is not allowed to speak or signal through expression any indication of the correct answers to the other players. They can only hand abstract and surrealist depictions on cards to the players to help clue them in. (For example, if the school teach is a suspect, the ghost may hand me a card that depicts a mechanical, letter delivering turtle with a helicopter propeller on its shell.

La Mancha

La Mancha is a fun party game—if you were to only invite Lit majors to it. (Which sounds like a dreadful party.) It’s based on the classic Spanish novel penned in 1605, Don Quixote. In La Mancha, everyone plays a self-appointed knight errand that must woo women, gain powerful weapons, ride their trusty steed, and of course: tilt at windmills.

Where La Mancha shines is that there are different types of event cards (Romance cards, Encounter cards, etc.) and the player who draws that card becomes a judge for other players. Other players must use cards in their hand, which have excerpts from the novel, to construct a story or poem depending on the situation that convinces the judge to give them that card or an item card! This leads to an atmosphere of knowing a bit about what makes your fellow players tick. The judge also gets a slight bonus for just being a judge.

Shobu

Shobu is a two player abstract strategy game in the spirit of Go. Players control their own set of stones on four small boards, each board with a 4×4 grid. Your goal is to push all of your opponent’s stones completely off the board.

They must make two moves on their turn, in this precise order:

  1. Passive: Move your stone up to two spaces in any direction without pushing another stone.
  2. Aggressive: Make the same exact move with one of your other stones on another board. (This time you can push your opponent’s stones around.)

This game requires a lot of domino-effect style thinking. Most of the strategy revolves around positioning your opponent in a way that prevents them from making their own aggressive moves.