Tuesday, September 19

Jorvik Second Prototype

Last night I got to spend some time on construction as The Wife was out, I made another copy and started yet another. I'm slowly getting through my pre-orders. I'm hoping to get four done this week before my parents arrive for the weekend. Mum and Dad are going to take a couple of copies back to Bristol with them, and I'm hoping to finally deliver a couple of copies to friends.

I thought I'd update you on the progress of my second game Codename: Jorvik. It's going to be a quick and simple 2-player card game. I'm aiming for a nicely-themed filler. A few weeks ago I came up with a first prototype copy with the cards made from bits of paper with pencil squiggles on. It was designed to be played against myself as a tool to sort out the initial balance. I used it in a couple of games against The Wife, and the paper cards were blatantly insufficient. They were see-through, so you could see which card your opponent was going to draw next. Also, the squiggles weren't expressive enough for someone who didn't design the game to understand.

So I've made a second prototype. This one features cards made from actual card, with a slightly more expressive squiggle and some additional information. The cards feature no artwork yet and the backs are plain, but it's a start. Here's a photo of a few of the new cards:

I've also made a few changes. I've changed the distribution of the cards to make the game flow more, and I've added a few new card types. Initially, I had some very powerful cards, which I thought were too powerful. As there were only a couple of them in the game, it's very possible for them both to end up in one player's hand. That leads to that player almost certainly winning. That's obviously unacceptable. So what could I do to solve the problem? Here's some options:

  • I could remove the powerful cards
  • I could power down the powerful cards
  • I could add more powerful cards

As unlikely as the last option sounds, it reduces the chance that one player will get them all. In the end I chose options two and three, I reduced the powerful cards, and I added some more even less powerful cards. I'll play like this a few times and see how it's working out.

Since the last few games I've also had some more ideas. When developing Border Reivers I started with a very complex idea and over a couple of years I simplified things until I ended up with a streamlined game. With Jorvik, I started with a very simple game, and I'm finding it too simple. The game needs a bit more to it. So I'm going to be trying out some more ideas to give it a bit more depth. I'll have to be careful though - I don't want to over-complicate it.


andyb said...

deck protector card sleeves (of the type used for magic: the gathering and other collectible games) are good for turning paper prototypes into a deck of playable cards... although your jorvik cards look a bit too square for that (I'm guessing they need rotational symmetry).

Do you usually do a lot of playtesting against yourself?? For some reason I always find that less appealing, which is why I have two game designs which have been on the go for ages...

The first is at the stage where I have a good set of rules, and a laminated paper prototype, and the game just needs lots of playtesting... but I lack people I can rope in to test it.

The second I've become bogged down in designing complex systems... the game is meant to be complicated, but it's taking it's toll on my enthusiasm.

Jack said...

Good idea about the card protectors - I'd not thought of them.

I generally try to sort out the balance play against myself as playing a broken game is no fun for anyone. Once things settle down and I've a better idea how it works (and that it works) I play exclusively with other people, that way I can get feedback and find out how the game plays when you don't know what your opponent has got/is going to do.

Good luck with your designs, Andy - you'll have to bring them along to BM or a con sometime and show me.