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!