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.

No comments:

Post a Comment