Is it actually a game yet?
Hello everyone, thanks for tuning into another blog post about this cool looking, but kinda iffy to play game, Food Time Battle in Space. Well... I say iffy, but very recently, that might have changed somewhat. Both my friends and my teachers at University all agreed that FTBS is a beautiful looking game, and anyone familiar with how Kickstarter works, you know that means dollar signs. I put it bluntly because I don't really agree with that phenomenon, but unfortunately it seems to be the case, artwork wins over gameplay.
However, I am a designer, and if my game is going to look good, then darn it if it isn't going to play well either.
Food Time Battle in Space is slated to release after Into the Mine, and of course, after Blockers: The Stacking Game, which has already had it's successful Kickstarter and is almost ready to be shipped out to backers as I write this post. Anyway, I mention those two games because, originally (about a week ago) FTBS was going to be a great departure from the type of audience that those two previous games catered towards. It was going to be a medium to heavy weight resource management game which was very slow and strategic, with a lot of moving parts to take care of. Considering my common playtesting group loves Into the Mine, you can guess how well that session went over...
A very harsh right turn...
I then went back to the drawing board, allowed my business brain to take a crack at this design as well as my designer brain, and I came to the conclusion that this needed to be a card game, both for the business, and for the audience that I am slowly gathering with my games and Kickstarters. My goal with every Kickstarter is not to make as much money as possible, but to get as many people to play the game as possible, so part of the design process included "How can I make this a £10-£15 game".
This is how the card game currently looks. Each player has ingredients that are appropriate for the type of restaurant that they own, and the aim of the game is to place down the number of ingredients that the customer wants in the right order in order to complete their order (I said order a lot then). You can also get bonus rewards like more stars or abilities if you can include a certain number of luxury ingredients in that order. The win condition is first to 5 stars, wins!
There was originally a slight issue with this version of the game. Essentially, the customer cards were way too difficult to not only beat, but to obtain the bonus rewards. The whole idea of the game, the core mechanic, was deck manipulation. I wanted the vast majority of the abilities you could gain to be ways to manipulate what you draw from your deck, to give you more control over your hand. This is why I love input randomness so much! Because it is random, but if you have the abilities to affect the randomness a bend it to your will, it can be a very powerful feeling when you can pull it off. However, in the initial version, the customer cards were just way to difficult, so no one could obtain these abilities! After two days of tweaking and patching, we got a playtesting session together which had multiple victories and fun times all round.
There is still a long, long way to go with this game playtesting wise. I want to work on a better system for customer distribution, because currently the game ends before you get to the more difficult, yet higher rewarding customers. There is also a lot of balancing that needs to be carried out for the game to feel fair, but for all players to feel powerful. Currently, every player feels incredibly powerful, but some abilities that the players obtain were considered way to easy to get in comparison with how powerful they were. A lot of the feedback in the notes that I received from the playtesting session were incredibly helpful with regards to this type of balancing. Overall though, this is a very solid start.
Thanks once again for reading, and hopefully in a months time, there will be more to talk about with regards to Food Time Battle in Space!
Intoduction to Into the Mine.
Into the Mine, as it currently stands, is a tile placement game themed around medieval fantasy Dwarfs going into a mine to collect minerals for an alchemist. See below for the complementary video to go along with this blog post.
These images above is an outdated version of Into the Mine inspired by the game Armello. The very first iteration of Into the Mine was a very, very basic placement game where you controlled what other players could place down in an Uno type fashion, and the first player to fill their 25 tile board would win. Of course, almost all games ended in a tie, because there wasn't enough ways to affect the game. On top of that, 20 turns ahead, which was when the deciding what players could place down actually affected the game, was way too far ahead for players to plan towards. So, in natural Niall fashion, I initially made a massive over correction in terms of things you can do and ways you could affect the game as the player. With the version pictured in the images above, games would take forever and there were too many steps to actually getting started playing the game (There were phases like, "everyone goes to market" where there would be bidding wars over items and whatnot. However, I did like the idea of having different Dwarfs with different abilities. This allowed for every game to feel different, as not only are players likely to get different Dwarfs each time to play as, but their opponents are forever changing as well.
How the game, as it stands now, came to be.
Learning how to Tabletop Simulator.
Due to the current situation that the world is in, playtesting outside of my immediate family is very difficult to do. So, I learnt how to make prototypes in Tabletop Simulator. Apparently it is incredibly easy, it only took me an hour or so to learn the ropes and boom, Into the Mine can be played by anybody in the world. So easy! Check the video out above to see gameplay of Into the Mine in it's current state, like I have iterated already, there are plenty of cards and abilities still to be changed, but the core gameplay is there for sure.
That's it, for now.
Next post is going to cover either playtesting, or artwork. That depends on if the artwork is commissioned and done by then. I am going to be recording playtesting sessions as well as retaining notes from the sessions so I can go over them in detail. I have gotten a lot of questions about how to manage playtesting, such as how to keep your emotions out of it, and whether you can trust your friend's opinions or not. But all that will be covered in the next post.
Thanks for reading and I'll see you in the next one.
Hello, my name is Niall Crabtree, and this is my comprehensive blog showcasing all of my game development endeavors and successes, as well as essays on game design.
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