Episode 3 – “Everything takes longer than it takes”

Game design does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of hard work to bring a plan to fruition. As mentioned before, the concept for this game was conceived seven years ago, and much hard work took place between now and then to bring it to pass. The last year and a half have been the most intense. Many changes were made to the game, but some basic concepts were agreed upon in the very beginning and remained throughout the design of the game:

  • A glossary would be created from the very outset of the design. This would bring clarity to the game design, and eliminate confusion in terminology. We have seen too many games that used the same term for multiple things, muddying the rules. The glossary proved invaluable not only for this, but also helped mold and shape the game rules by helping to streamline them, and in other ways that are hard to describe to someone that didn’t actually go through the process. Not only this, but the glossary will be included in the game rules for the players’ reference. Few, if any, other games do this – one of the many unique aspects of our game, and one we felt was extremely important. 
  • The rules are the rules – We determined, from the very beginning, that, even though rules may be added to accommodate future game expansions, the core game rules would not change, and would be relevant in any future expansions of the game. Too many board game designers had to change their rules to accommodate future releases, because they were too short-sighted in their design when creating the original core game. We vowed that we would never do that to our gamers, who invested so much time and effort into the original game release. To aid in this effort, Scott has thought out many expansions to the game ahead of time. If the launch of the core game is successful, many game expansions will soon follow, and rest assured that the core game rules will not need to be altered to accommodate the expansions.
  • A quick reference sheet on the major aspects of game play will be included. This is also something lacking in most games of this type. We as a team felt it was imperative to include it.
  • The game would include a lot of decision-making. The aspect of decision-making would be a key part of the game. For example, negative consequences may have to be absorbed by a player to result in a positive outcome for the team. Danger would lurk close by for those who took too many chances, something that could lead to devastating consequences for the team.
  • The game would have a combination of cooperation and competitive aspects. A situation may arise where a player, once friendly, may turn on their team, given the right circumstances. This aspect of the game is unique, and brings a level of tension to the game play that is very real.
  • Optional game rules would make the game play as challenging as anything experienced gamers would desire. 
  • The game play would be easily understood by a 12 year old, but entertaining and challenging for any hard-core adult gamer. We want this game to be able to be played by all, from 9 to 99, and with any experience level.

As game development and testing progressed, we found many design concepts that complicated game play without adding any entertainment value. These designs were changed for the better in many ways:

  • The original dashboard for the game was “monstrous” – it had too many slots for too many things, and was streamlined substantially in the final design. 
  • Standard American playing card size was chosen for all the cards in the game (except for the enemy faction cards). This size of card was ideal for our game, since it gave us the size needed for legibility, easily handled and shuffled, and yet was still small enough not to be a burden spacewise.
  • It was determined that characters could move in any direction – it was not to be restricted in any way. This greatly simplified the process of determining range and moving characters. No rulers or other special ways of determining the limits of character movement were needed – just count the number of squares and go.
  • A major feature of the game, the turning of a player into an enemy, was also over-complicated and confusing at first. This was reduced to more simpler and easier to understand logic that made it a more viable and entertaining aspect of the game. 
  • The way enemies detected players and how they were revealed was originally based upon a die roll. That was revised to revealing the enemy by range to a player character, and not on a die roll. This made it very clear and predictable when an enemy would be revealed to the players.
  • Player deck cards were revised extensively. Many cards were removed because they did not add play value to the game – either they were too complicated to use, or they simply would never be used in the course of game play. Some things, such as relics and modifiers, were made into their own decks, pulling them out of the main player decks and offering them to players in a different way that made more sense to the spirit of the game’s overall themes.
  • Many artistic design changes were made to make symbols and text more legible on boards, board enhancements, cards, tokens and documentation. Token functions were added, some removed, and others made so that they could be shown in an “on/off” or “open/closed” state by reversing the colors on the opposite side of the token, in a manner consistent across the entire set of tokens. 

It is interesting as a team to look back on all the changes that were made from the original concepts, from board shapes, layouts and enhancements, to the revision of major sections of the rules to streamline the game and make it more fun and playable. Many things we thought were essential to game play really weren’t, and other imaginative things were added to make it that much more exciting.

It is our hope that you gamers will appreciate all the hard work that went into this game, a game that I am sure you will enjoy, not only the first time you play it, but every time thereafter.

Drone Concept – Artwork by Scott

Back to News