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.

A Colorful Game: What’s Next?

Hello everyone, it’s been a minute! Sorry for not posting in a while. I am, as we all are, navigating the virus and other passion projects. (I’m working on a creative writing career—go figure.) Now, my project has entered a phase where I’m playtesting the same build heavily to make sure that it’s balanced. This is important to a strategy game. Both players should be on the same playing field and players executing a fun move shouldn’t be defeated by random chance.

Every game—not just strategy games—needs to make sure that a particular player doesn’t have an unfair advantage. Sometimes this could mean that designers might need to tone down the benefit of a mechanic. You can sometimes have an unfair advantage just by being the starting player, though. I aim to make sure that isn’t the case in A Colorful Game.

I’ve got four things on my plate right now for A Colorful Game:

  • More balance playtesting
  • Design for physical game assets
  • YouTube tutorial video
  • Tabletop Simulator version (with scripting)

The bottom two items are still in their infancy, and I don’t have much to show for them. As for the top two:

More balance playtesting

This is from a most recent playtest. The grey meeple signifies the tile that was just moved. (Players can’t move the tile that was recently moved.)

I’ve been rigorously playtesting with my wife or sometimes playing against myself. It’s coming along smoothly. My big worry right now is that there’s a first player advantage. More testing will see if that’s the case.

Design for physical game assets

I’ve been wanting to make the components out of wood for the longest time. But I’m warming up more and more to the idea of making them out of resin (similar look and feel to modern sets of dominos). Resin is typically heavier than wood, and may have better longevity. Also, resin is typically less expensive to manufacture and generally easier to work with. The difference would mean more rounded corners as well versus wood. Here’s a quick side-by-side.

Resin mockup (left) versus a wooden mockup (right) of the assets for A Colorful Game.

The differences might look minor in Illustrator, but they’ll feel major when holding the physical components. I’ll still stand by my love of wooden components though. I just think they look neater and more unique.

Anyway, that’s it for now. Until next time!

Quarantine, Tabletop Simulator, and Improved Prototypes

It’s been a minute, let me catch you up on what I’ve been up to. COVID-19, the Coronavirus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), whatever we’re calling it—as long as we’re not calling it something prejudiced and hateful—has absolutely delayed plans. I had weeks worth of playtesting on the schedule. All of it erased. These things happen, I know. No one could’ve predicted this, and I’m well aware that my plans to develop a tabletop game being pushed out a bit are the least of everyone’s worries. I can weather the storm.

This doesn’t mean that A Colorful Game is cancelled. Far from it. This means that I’m rearranging my plans to develop a Tabletop Simulator version of the game. My plan was to learn a bit about Lua and scripting later, after I had mostly secured the game mechanics and design and the game was more or less in manufacturing. I’m shifting gears on that.

Uh…what?

Let me reveal a hypocritical anecdote about myself: I currently work in the tech industry and love technology but I severely dislike the efforts to bring tabletop games to the digital realm. Yeah, I’m one of those. I play board games to get away from screens. I don’t judge people who enjoy playing digitalized board games, I just don’t enjoy doing it myself. The only exception to that rule was TheCodingMonkeys digital version of Carcassonne (RIP). Even that was killed off by the horrid gimmicky 3D version that Asmodee vomited all over us. Have you ever bought the perfect piece of clothing, only to have the vendor come back to you ten years later and say, “can we replace that with this designer trash bag?” It’s like that.

Digressions aside, this isn’t about me or my curmudgeon tendencies, this is about getting a game out there that I think is quick, fun and can work on a digital platform. It’s not done, but here’s a sneak peak:

Screen Shot 2020-04-29 at 9.48.04 PM.png
A Colorful Game features limited quantities of tiles that you have to strategically add or move

But what about a version for that whatcha call it…physical realm?

I’m working with someone on the material design for A Colorful Game. I’m leaning toward using wooden assets, but I’m keeping my options open. I want to make sure the game looks good and feels good, but it also needs to last. What’s great is that this game has been whittled down to a few components, so I predict that I can keep the price reasonable while seeking high quality assets.

Here’s a look at what (aside from the rules sheet) is likely to be included in the physical version.

Screen Shot 2020-04-13 at 3.05.24 PM.png
There’ll be 30 roads and 10 tiles included, along with a rules sheet—compact but fun!

What’s next for this puppy?

 

Getting the game into tabletop simulator will allow me to ramp up my playtesting schedule more. A few things that I need to focus on:

  • Rules sheet layout and design
  • Box design
  • Settling on general game design

Then I can start advertising the game more and setting up preorders. All-in-all, I’m looking at this winter or likely early next year before a kickstarter. I’m OK with that. And, hopefully, we’ll be healed enough to be able to seek some good ol’ fashioned tabletop games fun.

Sorry for taking so long to write this. I’ll try to make more frequent updates.

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…