Quartiles: Playtesting & Redesign process.

Well we tested Quartiles today.  My roomies and I.  One had played before and the other was their first time.  It took an hour for the first round. I’m wanting to get that down quite a bit.  That hour was primarily due to rules explanation and helping grok the process along.  Of course, more kinks discovered, the need for clarification and consistency on rules, text on cards and costs of some powers.

It’s definitely clear that we need to get some color running on the prototype stat.  I currently don’t have numerical labels on the colored chips I’m using that I bought cheap. We also ran out so it’s clear I’m going to need more than just 10 chips of each color/value.  I created the tokens tonight and started the card redesign.  Well the design of the tokens, they’ll be made by The Game Crafter, of course.

The other thing I’m going to do, due to the length of the round, is reduce the number of tiles and cards drawn each round.  My ideal goal is 4 rounds (keeping with the quarter theme).  I was having players draw 5 tiles and then draft 5 cards.  Based on the average length of the subsequent rounds (the first was an hour or so, the second 2 were about 40-45 minutes, which is waaaaaay too long), I’m going to make it 4 tiles and 4 cards (also keeping it consistent with the theme of fours).  The issue of course is that these tests have been 3 player games.  I admit that half way through the second round I got a bit bored as did one roommate.  The third round picked up once the new player started figuring out strategies to use for gameplay.  In some sense it dragged the play out further, but in others it made it interesting to see what she was going to do.  I think this will be a game that will get quicker with play once you get the gist of it.

That said, we only played 3 rounds and it took 2.5 hours.  Started at 2:50 and ended at 5:20.  That’s waaaaaaay too long.  Again some of that is expected on a first play but not that much.  I’d *like* to have it play up to 5 players, but I’d be satisfied with up to 4.  One thing my roomie who’d played before reminded me was that we made it so you can turn in 3 stars to get a single number so it helps if you’re missing some numbers and want to complete a set, but don’t like any of your power/abilities on the cards.

The more I think about it, the more I think I want to have more uses for star tokens.  We have it as “extra credit” with the cards (you choose between using a card as a score or paying star tokens to use it as an ability/power – so there’s a tradeoff — I *really* can’t wait to test this out with game designer folks to give a more mathy/nuanced critique and approach, since I’m kinda sucky at combinatorics and the economic side of design (which is not the best considering games are fundamentally about math).

Here’s an example of the new token design and card back design.  Keeping with the Quartiles/School theme, and as a parody of Five Star notebooks (and the star motif).  The tokens will be circles, the black exterior portion of the square is just the extra coloration for bleed.

Just now I designed the gold star token/sticker look for those stars (so they look different from the 1-6 token), so I’m attaching it as well.  I think it looks pretty decent for a gold star sticker appearance.  The little edge gives it that “peel-off” look.

The front of the cards will be notebook paper (I think I mentioned this previously).  I’m thinking the box would either have art that looks like a backpack or perhaps a school with chalk written QUARTILES on the board with 25, 50, 75, 100 – a piece of paper on a students desk with a grade and outside window showing kids playing 4 Square.  I think the latter idea probably conveys the total concept more and is less bland than just a backpack appearance so will probably go with that.

My next goal will be to get the layout of the new card design (making sure everything is within the print borders), I think I’m going to go with the Minicards instead of the Microcards.  I was thinking the full sized cards, but I think mini might be large enough.  Once the layout is reconfigured it shouldn’t be too hard to finish it up since it’ll basically just be more of what I’ve done.  I may or may not use the method of conditionals than Nand used in his example (see previous entry for link to BGG post he made). It requires an understanding of a keyword of Nandeck that is different from what I’m used to, coding wise, so it’ll just be a little more work to grok.  But it’s probably more powerful, as well.  It’s certainly fewer lines of code than the ridiculous number of IF statements I required previously.  And an image of the tiles as well.



Quartiles, Graffiti Royale & Andromeda’s Got Mutant

Hi neglected page.  Ever since I got my job in March I haven’t had much time to update you, as I’ve been busy hooking people up with Triple Plays and 300/300 mbps intertubez.

Anyways, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been working on projects, I most assuredly have.  Not as frequently as I used to, but slow and steady progress.

My current main focus is a game I’m calling Quartiles.  It’s a board game using a tile placement and set collecting mechanic. After a quick prototype play session I felt good enough that I worked more and sent a pre-alpha prototype to The Game Crafter.  Further testing let me arrive at a theme:  School.  Chalkboard, papers, grades… The name Quartiles lends itself to that.  Here’s a couple pics of the prototype:

I used Nandeck to create them – first time using Nandeck.  A little funky to use, especially w/more advanced scripting, I just had a basic script for these first two pics.  Using that theme concept, I redid the art for the tiles, using a “chalk” art design and a blackboard style background.  The cards will eventually look like notebook paper, and the top portion will look like hand writing for the set (2 2 2 2 in the picture below) and the “grade” (50) will be in red to look like a graded piece of homework.  The bottom half represents powers and abilities you can spend your “extra credit” points on.  I have a lot of playtesting and revamping to do on this.  But even on the first playtest I felt pleased enough at how it turned out that I think has a lot of potential for a simple set collecting game.

I already have an “expansion” planned (probably will just be more cards with the base game) but it would be called Advanced Placement.  And the idea for that would be that you’ll have to fill in the blanks of equations using the numbers you collect.  So instead of just a set, you’ll have to MATH in order to get points.  I might even have “levels” for the Advanced Placement so you could have simple add/subtract for younger kids, but then mult/divide for older kids and maybe some really out there stuff to allow for people to make their own equations:
Tier 1: _ + _ = 4
Tier 2: _ * _ = 6

Tier 3: _ + _ – _ = _

Where you could create your own combinations/sets in tier three.
I’m thinking you could really do super easy “preschool” type games where kids just try to collect a set of numbers and for every set they get a card, and whoever gets the most cards wins or something.  So they don’t have to deal with a number like 50 or dealing with more complex things.

I’m also working on the Graffiti game (previously called “Paint the Town” I’m now thinking of calling it Graffiti Royale (to play with the theme of players competing to become the royalty (kings/queens, etc…) of a city (King/Queen being a term of art in the graffiti world.).

And my 3rd idea that I’m excited about is a game based upon creating mutants.  A sort of talent/dog show, and I call it “Andromeda’s Got Mutant”.

Finally –  here’s the script I used to make the blackboard style square in Nandeck: