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.

Strengthening the Theme:  The "theme" of Space Frontier was always supposed to be having an awesome space adventure.  The problem with that was our way to win, which was to appease a somewhat vague and nameless overlord empire, didn't really resonate with people playing.  A sense of accomplishment and goals were lost because nobody quite knew what to think about this empire, which was evil I guess, maybe.  So, John and I have been tightening that space adventure theme and based upon brainstorming and player feedback we have come up with the Relic System.

Gold, platinum, and in fact any form of monetary currency in Space Frontier has been removed, because... it was boring.  Money has a place in a sort of smuggler's space drama type game, but we didn't see our game fitting into that mold.  Instead we wanted adventure, so we added Ancient ruins and Artifacts.  Since money was used for virtually nothing more than trading for goods and research, we just made artifacts a collectible resource that fed automatically into research.  Research now grants players Relic Technology cards, which are power-ups that are attached to fleets.  We hope that this will make fleet composition even more dynamic and battles a bit more unpredictable.

Player Interaction:  The biggest problem with Space Frontier's game-play was that each player tended to fly off in a direction and play "space solitaire" and harvest resources and build ships until they had a gigantic armada.  Once that was done, players would finally go and blow each other up, but because the fleets were so large and powerful, it never lasted very long and the victor often won by lopsided landslides based off of a few key dice rolls.  Artifacts are now a finite resource.  Relic Cards can now be stolen from fleets that have them equipped.  There's a reason to go after certain positions because unlike with infinite resource mining, time is of the essence.  Getting a player off a set of resources RIGHT NOW is important, and it can't wait until you have an ultimate armada because by then it will be too late.  We're hoping that this makes game-play more dynamic and different every game.

Weak Sauce Command Missions:  One of the problem John and I have had with the command missions is that we needed to make them simple.  While this made them functional, it unfortunately also made them boring.  John is dreaming up mechanics for a mission/event system that calls for players to put aside their differences and work together, or face the consequences.  While this isn't a reality yet, and may not be at the time of our Kickstarter Launch, John and I are committed to improve the current lackluster Command Missions as much as we can.  We're working on better cards now and our usual Wednesday Playtest at Greenlake Games should have them up and running.  I've also got a few other friends and their families who have never played the game to give me some more feedback later this week.  We'll have to see how it goes.

Next update will focus on the latest art I've received from Space Frontier's artist, Chris Pritchard, and how long we've come in terms of visuals.  As the Kickstarter Launch draws ever closer, our art continues to look more and more finished, but will it be enough to inspire backers with enough confidence to buy?


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