Wednesday, January 31, 2018

28: Vector Mayhem

Having recently finished the prototype version of all of Space Frontier's Components, I have been able to broaden my prototype creation. No longer do I plan to to go to the printers and then manually cut each game out by hand with a hobby knife. Using the services of The Game Crafter ( I am able to print-to-order as many Space Frontier prototypes as I want. I've already used their site for some card printing as well as physical components, but never had a complete prototype ordered from them. I plan to make my first complete order in less than a week.

Part of the reason I've held off this long though is their printing templates are all very specific, so it would require me to make a lot of small custom tweaks to all the pieces to make them fit into their molds. I didn't want to do this until I had all the pieces in a relatively finished state and a complete list of them. Now that the prototype's completion is out of the way, I started editing and uploading all of my components to their site for printing, but there was one problem.

The Game Crafter does not offer a .75 inch x 1.5 inch rectangle shard piece, so printing Cruiser and Harvester tokens for cheap isn't possible. Now what The Game Crafter does offer is a "custom punchout" board that allows you to make any piece shape you want, but it is much more complicated than a regular printed piece of cardstock. For starters, Space Frontier was created primarily on Photoshop and the Custom Punchout requires a vector file.

I downloaded Inkscape ( and had some issues learning that program but quickly got everything up and running. I soon had something that looked like this and (thought) I was ready to have it uploaded and made.

Continued after the break:

Thursday, January 25, 2018

27: What took so long?

So 1,300+ days has come and gone and I think a pretty reasonable question is, why did it take such a long time? Well there's a few answers to that and I'll try to break it down in a few paragraphs.

Rulebook Overhaul: The Space Frontier rulebook started off as I assume most rulebooks do. As a loose collection of somewhat ordered game rules that are written as soon as they were conceived. Before our Kickstarter we tried to organize them in a logical order but in general the rulebook needed a LOT of work before it became approachable.
It was functional, and we had several reviewers figure out how the game worked using it, but it wasn't professional looking or nice to use. It has since had 2 major re-writes in an attempt to make it more approachable. The first was to break it up into a basic and advanced sections, which was the brilliant idea of my girlfriend who was an immense help for that process. It then needed to be reworked again to add in a variety of graphics I had created, which I finished on Dec 31 of 2017. It was my new years resolution that year. I made it with like 8 hours to spare, so you know, plenty of time.

Mission Overhaul: Space Frontier has had mission cards since the very beginning. John and I knew that the best way to add flavor and theme to the game would be Mission Cards... but for a very long time they were bad. Old mission cards either overwhelmed players with too many goals that they couldn't complete, were ignored, or just helped people win harder once they started winning and perpetuated a snowball effect that wasn't fun. The new and current format for mission cards was only concocted out of many brainstorming sessions between John and myself after dozens of play-tests.
Once we had the new format and created 6 initial cards and tested them in a few games we knew we had what we wanted. Multi-step but still simple missions that caused players to re-think their mid-game strategy and interact with each other more, while still being simple enough that all their information could fit on a single card. Overall I'm very happy with missions as they stand and think that other than from some graphic design work and a place for art, meaning bigger cards, they are perfect. Right now we're sitting at 15 missions and they all feel very fun during playtesting.

Pirate Overhaul: Pirates are something that has also been in the game since the beginning and like missions they have over gone many changes. Pirates started out as an entire deck of random enemy encounters and have now become a single new component, the Pirate Carrier. We always wanted pirates to be a wildcard. Pirates were the game element that rewarded or punished the player who liked to gamble, but they just felt too random as an entire deck of varying strength. The Pirate Carrier as it exists now has a set strength, but can get more or less strong based on player interaction and a bit of random chance. Now you know how strong the pirates will be, you just never quite know if they'll show up. This is a lot more fun because you can weigh your odds and roll the dice rather than going in blind. Making of the new pirate components was done entirely by me and it took a long time due to the complexity of the component.

Additional components: Space Frontier has come a long way and had a lot of components added. After our Kickstarter Campaign failure, no new money went into art, so everything had to be created by me. I'm a fairly artistic person but am no expert by any means, so I had to cobble together what I could from our existing elements as well as create some components entirely from scratch. Fairly simplistic art like the Mining Outpost or Conquest Marker that is in our newer editions took me a few days to make. Complex pieces like the Pirate Carrier or Mission Cards took weeks to months due to the amount of data we needed from players, my own artistic limitations, and the brainstorming required to understand exactly what I wanted represented by these new pieces and how their visuals interacted with the rules. Redoing the Trade Deals was the most painful. All 70 of them had to be remade after we conceived a new system of presentation.

There were also spurts of creativity and times of drought. Sometimes I would work on Space Frontier 7 days a week and sometimes I would go 3 months without touching it. There was also periods were I wanted to get in 2-5 playtests before I made a decision about something, and getting people to play a 3 hour game isn't always super easy to set up.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

26: 1300 days later, Space Frontier, The Resurrection

So. Here we are 3 and a half years later. Our Kickstarter didn't fund. It went pretty well actually, netting $12,279 in pledges, but falling quite short of our $35,000 goal. If you don't fund in Kickstarter, you don't get anything, and so it ended up costing John and I about $1,000 in now lost forever add costs.

And so momentum petered to a halt. But it never did stop.

I have been working on Space Frontier since my last blog post, just a lot more intermittently because I got a full time job and have had one ever since. The first months of Space Frontier, when I was updating this blog semi-regularly, I was unemployed, and I considered Space Frontier and its development my job. However with full time work came a lot less free time, and so my energy and time was spent on many other things.

But still some Space Frontier. Always a little Space Frontier.

Our plans actually didn't change much after we didn't get funded on Kickstarter, it just initiated a new harsher reality. All the things that I couldn't do very well or very fast, I had to do anyway, because we didn't have the money to pay somebody fast and talented to do it instead. So Space Frontier has been developed very slowly, due to that lack of free time and money to hire professionals to speed up the process.

So why now? Why after 1,300 days would I bother to update this Blog? Well, the reason is actually very exciting. The reason is because the game is done. Space Frontier is done. I'd still like to get some more art, and there will always be play-testing and rulebook tweaks, but the core mechanics, components, and lastly the full color rulebook are complete.

That means that new print-and-plays, prototypes, and gameplay can all happen. It means that a new Kickstarter is a potential reality. It means that I'm more excited than I've been in... 1,300 days about Space Frontier. As always there's a lot of work to do, but I'm not dreading it anymore. No longer is it the seemingly insurmountable task that was years away of completion. Completion is today and a new set of goals is tomorrow. I regret not keeping this blog updated throughout the last few years. I've certainly thought about it many times, but I hope that actually doing it signals how exciting this is.

I'll have new updates soon about the state of the prototype as well as other thoughts.

It's good to be back, in spaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

25: NVS Gameplays Review and Interview

About week ago, NVS of NVS Gameplays released 2 videos about Space Frontier. This was particularly appreciated because it was totally unsolicited. He contacted us and offered to do a review of our game because he thought it looked neat. Very flattering.

Speaking of flattering, both his Impressions Video (above) and Overview & Rules Video are overflowing with praise. Makes a game designer feel good. The reason I bring this up however is because I recently had a chance to talk with NVS about his experiences with the Space Frontier Print and Play and conducted a little Q&A session with him. It took him a bit to respond back because he's busy with other review projects, but he did respond all the same. As the person with perhaps the most experience using our Print-and-Play format, I really wanted to hear what he had to say; and he said this:

NVS Gameplays Interview:

Aaron -
What other board games have you played that were similar to Space Frontier?
How did Space Frontier differ from those games?

I'm trying to rack my brain for other games that I've played that are similar, but I just can't seem to come up with any. I know I've played games that utilize similar mechanics as Space Frontier, (I'm not the greatest at giving examples, but things like Exploring Tiles from Settlers of Catan, Building Up Your "Fleets" of Workers like Agricola, etc), though Space Frontier has gathered all these game mechanics into one place, and created an amazing game around it. While these other games may have stood out from the crowd with their 1 mechanic, Space Frontier has allowed you the freedom to use whichever mechanic for gaining Influence Points you'd like, so your game is played how you want to play it.

More Questions and answers after the break:

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

24: Space Frontier Review by UndeadViking

Lance Myxter, the very awesome UndeadViking, has posted a very in detailed Space Frontier review over on his Youtube Channel. UndeadViking has hundreds of board game reviews on his account and also a lot of related content over at Please do check out his other fine content but in the meantime, watch this glorious review that picks up on all the subtle nuances of Space Frontier's design and tells you how to play as well.

-Aaron Dona,
Freeze Dried Games

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

23: - Kickstarter Launch Day!

Today is the day.  After numerous trials and tribulations, it is finally here.  Kickstarter Launch Day.


Our Kickstarter campaign is going to run from May 20th to June 28th and our funding goal will be $35,000. That sounds like a lot, but in order to make the game affordable for everyone, a larger print run of 1,500 units is required.  When accounting for start-up tooling costs as well as shipping pallets across the ocean and then to backers, that's the number that it has to be.  What money is leftover John and I will use to finish the game's art.  We have stretch goals planned for over the $100,000 mark, which is probably too optimistic but we'd rather have a plan now then try to come up with one later.  Rest assured that the money will be used to improve game components, add custom dice, and finally miniatures to replace the cardboard cutout fleet markers.

Minimum pledge to get a full copy of Space Frontier will cost $39, but a pledge of merely $1 will give backers access to the Print and Play version of the game so they can try it out for themselves to see if they want to commit to a higher pledge or just to help John and I out on play-testing by sharing their experiences.  If being immortalized within the universe of a board game is your thing, there are also several pledge levels that allow backers to name some important element in the game, such as player factions, planets, or trade guilds.  Finally, if you're crazy, made of money, or just REALLY want to support the project (perhaps all 3), there will be an epic level reward that involves a double sized version of Space Frontier with 3D printed miniatures scaled to fit the new 2X sized map.

To say I'm excited would be an extreme understatement.  Please go check out our page, ask questions, give us feedback, and tell anyone you know who you think might be interested in checking out Space Frontier and potentially helping to make it a reality.


Thursday, May 15, 2014

22: May - State of the Prototype

The latest Space Frontier Prototype is done.  So far I've sliced out 2 copies and the only reason I don't have more is my aching hands.  Seriously.  You can only wield a pare of scissors and an Exact-o-knife for so long.

Overall, the game feels good.  Play testing is finding less and less faults in the rules and overall games are completing faster and players are having more fun.  The rulebook was finalized about 5 days ago and despite slight tweaks has remained intact.  I'm looking to get a lot more people to play Space Frontier and so I've been trying to set up a Demo Day over at Card Kingdom in Seattle on the 19th of May.

The Kickstarter launch date is actually even closer than that.  John and I are looking at 2 PM on May 17th.  As of this post, that is less than 48 hours away.  We have a lot to do.  In the meantime however I wanted to show off some pictures of the completed Prototype that has been the fruit of over a year of labor.  I'm quite proud of it and hope that its quality speaks for itself.

I will have more updates soon about our Kickstarter Campaign, the game box, and overall news in the coming weeks.

More Pictures are after the break.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

21: April - State of the Prototype

Exciting times in Space Frontier production as our 4th and final Prototype (before the Kickstarter is completed anyway) is currently being printed. I've been working like mad on the cutting mat trying to slice out our game as fast as possible. Looking at the prototype pieces side by side really is staggering.  Our new one just blows every other old prototype out of the water. The map tiles are very difficult and time consuming to cut out but the cards are done.  Next will be market shards and a few other miscellaneous pieces and then... WE'RE DONE!  Cards are finished as of this afternoon and I think it will likely be 2-4 days until the rest is done.  This means that the launch of our Kickstarter Campaign is very close.  Hopefully within the month of May but certainly before the end of June.  I'll post some complete game shots as soon as a complete prototype exists but for now I'll stop talking and start posting pictures.

More Pictures below the break!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

20: 1000th Hour

Remember back in February when I promised updates?  I sure do.  I meant it too.  The reason for this posting is because I wanted to showcase progress, but nothing has been finished.  I have been hard at work though and I wanted to express that.  I keep track of my hours worked on Space Frontier, and yesterday I reached a pretty impressive milestone.  Hour 1,000.  This makes sense, considering I've been working on the game for about a year and have spent 20 or so hours a week on average working on it.  I talked to John about this and he asked if I included our time talking about game design on the phone with him and I said no.  We agreed that 100 hours was a conservative estimate.

Point is, progress is being made constantly.  Delays abound, but the core of the game has been looking really solid for a long time and now we're just improving things or tightening the mechanics.  As a final note, I took a screenshot of my computer screen with a lot of the new stuff on it and wanted to leave it here for people to see.

I hope to get a "STATE OF THE PROTOTYPE" done before the end of March, but even if I don't, know that progress is being made and John and I are hard at work.


Friday, February 7, 2014

19: Aaron's Rules Writing

I feel that this song accurately describes Aaron's grammatical abilities while writing the rulebook.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

18: Blowing The Dust Off This Blog

December.  It's gone.  And it's been February... It's been February for like a whole week.  What happened to all my promises of productivity and board game completion?  Life.  Life happened.  Nothing more interesting than that.

So does that mean more of nothing?  No!  John's made a special trip up here to work with me.  He's here for 10 days.  During those 10 days we're going to get stuff done.  We have to.  It's our last chance for quite some time and we're going to take advantage of it.  I'm excited.  Excited enough to make this blog post and make more promises of progress even though that backfired on me before.  It's gonna happen.  I'll try to keep things updated here but might be too busy to make that happen until after the fact.  I will however, do my best.  More updates soon.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

17: Where The Heck Did November Go?

So I'd like to apologize for the lack of updates to the blog, specifically because I said that there were going to be a lot of updates... I feel really bad about that.  Sorry.

I have had to pick up a second job because money has been tight and that has eaten into project time.  Throw a few illnesses (first John, then me) into the mix and the holidays and time had been passing by at an astonishingly fast rate.  I won't go ahead and promise lots of updates soon or in the future because it's already apparent I can't accurately predict my ability to do that.  However I will say that progress is being made, more slowly than I would like, but it is still being made.  Hopefully by the end of December I will have some shiny new prototype images to show.

Our goal of a December 3rd launch date for the Kickstarter has of course come and gone and we're looking at Mid-January at the moment.  This is an optimistic prediction but far from an impossible one.  In the meantime I've got work to do on Space Frontier and hopefully some more stuff to blog about in the near future.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

16: November - State of the Prototype

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a long time or perhaps those who have been looking through the archives will notice that the date of this post is November 3rd.  Originally, that was going to be the launch date for our Kickstarter Campaign but for many reasons it is not to be so.  The largest of which was, Space Frontier was just not quite ready.  Other reasons include the vacation of Undeadviking which would have brought him into conflict with out launch date and unable to have a review ready.  I also discovered a cheaper but more labor/time intense printing method that saves John and I a lot of money, but isn't nearly as convenient.  We've chosen to go with that because we are so desperately low on funds.

I wasn't nearly as prolific with updates in October as I was in September, but that was not because of lack of update material, rather the opposite.  There has been SO much to do this last month that I've had little time to spend on the blog.  I'm going to try to rectify that for November, but in the mean time, the prototype has continued to advance as the last pieces of art from Chris Pritchard pour into my inbox.  While there is no new printed map or cards yet, they are in the process of being finalized, and there are also fantastic pieces from the mundane ore and asteroid to header images that are just plain beautiful.  See the images below the break.

Monday, October 21, 2013

15: Making The Game More Fun

So there hasn't been an update for 3 weeks and that is not at all because there has been nothing to talk about.  Rather the opposite.  The last several playtests of Space Frontier have revealed that our theme isn't as strong as it could be, and the game needs more player interaction.  The game is just not as fun as it could be right now and John and I have been very hard at work to spice things up a bit.  This has unfortunately delayed our launch schedule, but hopefully not by more than a week or 2.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

14: October - State Of The Prototype

So it's been about a month since I started this little blog and this is a halfway point.  The plan is to have our Kickstarter up and running on November 3rd, about a month away.  I haven't shown a tremendous amount of what the game is or actually looks like on this blog yet, always hoping to have a better version soon.  In the last month the prototype has seen a lot of play-testing, tweaking, and upgrades.  This post will be the first of what I hope to be monthly such updates that details the changes and improvements that Space Frontier has seen since the previous month.

Without further introduction, have all the pictures.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

13: Awesome

*Zhap pew pew*

12: A Day Late And A Dollar Short

So if you read the last post you'll notice that our goal was to have a post over at BoardGameGeek by Friday September 27.  And then we didn't.  While we were a day behind on that, John and I did get a chance to meet with Chris Prichard today and talk about several things, including but not limited to card templates for command missions as well as box cover specifics.  Afterwards John and I worked for about 5 hours tightening up the rulebook and preparing our BoardGameGeek post.  We may have been a day past schedule, but we got it done and up.

Here it is! Space Frontier over at BGG!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

11: Kickstarter Timetable: Fighting Against Doubt

So I've talked a lot in previous posts about Space Frontier's Kickstarter Campaign and how it's going to happen "soon."  I don't think I've stressed though, just how soon.  I touched on it briefly in post post #7, but I wanted to emphasize just how tight the upcoming schedule is for John and I.  A few days ago, we sat down and hammered out a timetable of what we had to get done and by when, and I think it shocked both of us just how fast time has been moving and how little of it we have left.  Here's the resulting calendar.

9/23/2013Meet with Chris Pritchard and finalize art requests
9/27/2013Start post on Keep it contiuously updated and involved
Playtest Playtest Playtest and tweak game/rules
10/1/2013Contact 3D Artist about asteroids and 3D ships
10/6/2013Update Blog and Facebook Page to look betterer
10/13/2013Get asteroids from 3D artist. Inquire about 3D ships
10/14/2013Have prototype game finished. Begin uploading templates to Gamecrafter
10/19/2013Order Prototypes from GameCrafter
10/27/2013Kickstarter page approved for Launch
10/27/2013Kickstarter Video finished and ready to go
10/28/2013Contact Richard Bliss Game Whisperer about Campaign
11/3/2013Launch Kickstarter Campaign
11/4/2013Launch Banner adds on various game sites
11/10/2013Have 3D Ship models from 3D artist. At least 2. Hopefully 4+.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

10: Opportunities On The Horizen

So in the last few days several very interesting things have happened and I thought "why not blog about it?" Alright; here we go!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

09: Taking The New Combat System For A Spin

So on last Tuesday night, John, myself, and a mutual friend of ours got a chance to sit down and play Space Frontier together.  This would be the first time that the new combat system was tested with all the custom dice that I'd painstakingly created.  Overall the game was fun and our friend, who had never played it before, enjoyed it.  The play-through tested a lot of rules besides the combat system that hadn't been employed together in a single game, and the amount of useful input was staggering.  Here's some thoughts on the game and how it plays so far.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

08: Inventing a Space Theme

So... Space.  It's been done before.  Lots of times.  Probably the biggest names in terms of Sci-Fi space are Star Wars and Star Trek, but there are Thousands of different fictional realities that have a space setting in modern media.  Just like most any other setting, all the most basic story plots have just been done before, so making yourself stand out among the multitudes as far as board games goes can be difficult.  Just about every mechanic has been done before.  Just about every theme has been done before too.  So how is Space Frontier unique?  Well like many before us, John and I have taken elements from things we liked and tried to discard what we didn't.  Plus, some little spins of our own.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

07: Managing A Schedule With No Time

So last blog post I put forth my worries about finances, but perhaps even more pressing is the scheduling of time.  Because there's not enough of it.  But of course there wasn't enough money either, so they share that similarity.  Let me cover just a few ways my time is being split in all directions right now.

Monday, September 16, 2013

06: Managing a Budget With No Money

John and I knew from the beginning that the biggest hurdle to developing our own board game was going to be money.  John is a poor college student and I have been struggling to find work in this economy until only just recently.  Scrounging up what little money I could, I put forth about $250 and John generously matched that.  This represented my entertainment budget for about 3 months and I had to make many sacrifices, but with the greater goal of a completed Space Frontier, it was one I was willing to make.  Now, approximately 6 months later, that money has long since run out and we've once again scrounged together as much as we can in order to launch our Kickstarter.  And as it turns out, launching a Kickstarter is expensive.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

05: Always Improving, But Seemingly Never Finished

One thing that I didn't quite grasp before I tried designing an entire game from scratch was just how much things change during development.  I had the notion in my head that a game starts as a good idea.  The designers would then work with that idea and continue to tweak it until it was perfect and the game was fun. After all, it was so easy for me to see the "right" answers to the shortcomings of other games and how to fix them, the answer should be obvious for my own creations as well. Well that's just not how it works, at all.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

04: Designing a Combat System: Fun Dice-Rolling

So when Space Frontier first started out, John and I decided that we wanted ship variety, but not so much that it would be overwhelming.  I came up with 3 basic ship archetypes, the fighter, the frigate, and the cruiser (which was known as the "capital ship" for a while until we changed it for thematic reasons).  So we had our 3 ships and we wanted each to have their own style.  The fighter was supposed to be cheap, fast, and maneuverable.  The frigate was supposed to be slow and heavily armored, with tracking turrets that easily took care of fighters.  The cruiser was supposed to be a behemoth of firepower and doom, but unable to effectively bring the full power of its weapons to bear against the agile fighters.  I say things like "fast" and "slow" but how do you even represent that in a turn based game?  Well there are a lot of ways, and this blog post is about where Space Frontier's ships to ship combat started and where it has ended up as of this post.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

03: Art is Hard When You Can't Draw

Neither John nor I have any noteworthy 2D artistic skill, which of course poses a problem when you're trying to make something as visually based as a board game.  I mentioned in my first post about our artist Chris Pritchard, but I didn't find him until months into the project.  At the start, John and I were on our own.  Even if we had artistic talent, we still needed to decide what the game would look like.  Not just how would it look but how would it feel?  What would be its style?  John informed me that the board would have to be hexagonal shaped and when I asked why he just told me that just about every space game in existence uses hexagons.  Turns out he was right.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

02: How Does Space Frontier Play?

So I've given you a brief overview of how Space Frontier came to be, but not really much more about what it's actually like other than "space game."  Well I've been working on a summary of what the game is, what its all about, and how it plays, and this is what I've come up with.

Monday, September 9, 2013

01: Humble Beginnings in Space Exploration

About 6 months ago I was in a phone conversation with a friend of mine named John.  John loves board games and had recently gotten me to try out several types of games I'd never played before and I really enjoyed them.  It was no surprise then when our phone call topic turned towards board games and John suggested that we design and make our own.  I was a bit taken aback by this.  "Can you even do that?" I asked him, to which he responded that he really had no idea.  So we did some research.