Hey everybody! I’m starting a new twitch stream every Weekday at 9am CST called… BrainGoodBreakfast!
It’s gonna be at twitch.tv/brickroaddx and I’m gonna be playing BrainGoodGames, prototypes, and other decision-makey type things and talking about their design. It won’t be a long show, just 30mins or so to get the day started right .
If that sounds cool, stop by (or check out the VODs!) Can’t wait to see you there/chat about games (my favorite thing)!
Patch 1.05 is live on Steam! It features a ton of balance tweaks and quality of life reworks, as well as a big leaderboard update and a second major end-game win condition in the Castle! Go forth and spread your buildings far and wide, and bask in the grandeur of your kingdom.
Balance Changes: -Chopped trees give 3 wood (from 2)
-Barbarians don’t walk on bridges at all
-Gives 1VP/Worker die on construction
-Royalty VP face gives 1VP/5 player buildings
-Town hall card now gives 1VP/7 resources (from 1VP/6)
-Farms give 6/5/4/3 food, and are depleted at 3 rather than 2 (still gives 1 wood)
-Hunter’s Hut card “Move 2” -> “Move 5”
-Hunter’s Hut Spawn Rabbit ability now spawns a Rabbit within 3-4 spaces of a Hunter’s Hut (previously within 6-8 of a Home space)
-Killing Barbarian Spawners now gives 1VP
-Have a Church VPs: 4->5
-Have 2 Woodsmen VPs: 4->5
-Have 2 Masons VPs: 6->7
-Have 5 Roads VPs: 5->6
-Have 3 Farms: 7 -> Have 2 Farms: 5
-Added new ability to reroll “action objective” with Crusade face
-Fixed issue with Lumberyard Card (“Work then set to Gather”) rerolling die on board
-Reworked first phase scaling to cap out at 18 points (from 17)
Bugs/Quality of Life
-Added “Current BGG Update” link to Main Menu
-Added save corruption support
-High scores separated into two tables (“Current” and “All Time”)
-Rank updates on both tables when you win or lose, but “All Time” rank will never go down
-Top players page will show your global ranking
-Fixed a bug where quit popup would open multiple times if ESC was pressed again
-“Learn 0/3” text disabled if you’re past rank 1
-Fixed a bug where barbarian spawners would crash the game if there was no room to make a new one
As always, thank you so much for your help and support. Special thanks to Allan, Kenbutsu and K-Rez for awesome balance feedback, and to Gutsman and doiron5 on the Steam forums for submitting bug reports.
Leave a comment below or shoot me an email at email@example.com with your thoughts and feedback. I’d love to hear it! Onwards and upwards!
I’ve been doing some retrospection on the design of SkyBoats and Militia, and I noticed that at least for me, Militia seems to be more appealing for me to boot up and play. Note that I’m not saying that SkyBoats is less fun WHILE playing, but that Militia has some factor that encourages playing it.
I’m thinking that it comes down to the fact that it’s easy for me to imagine playing the first few turns of Militia, and deriving some satisfaction out of it. For example, I can picture in my minds eye attacking a row of enemies including a captain in Militia, and how that might be a fun thing to do. In SkyBoats, most satisfying actions are very nuanced (involving specific setups of boats and wind patterns), and difficult to imagine when not actively involved in playing the game.
So I’ve been thinking a lot more about this concept of the “Imaginabilty” of games, and rating games on this axis. For example, It’s easy to imagine attacking with a bunch of creatures in Magic for lethal damage or pushing a ton of monsters into the water with Gale in Auro, but it’s more difficult to imagine what it might be like to play Agricola or Mount and Blade. (Note: I think this effect becomes mitigated as you become more familiar with a game).
Imaginabiilty requirements can be covered by even a small aspect of the full game, as is the case with last-hitting in Dota 2 (or League of Legends) or microing marines in Starcraft. The key is that the actions are:
1) Simple enough to be imagined in the minds eye and
2) Intrinsically rewarding in some way
Can you think of other examples of games with poor or exceptional Imaginability? Can you think of a better word for the concept? Let me know in the comments :).
Today (Aug. 23) SkyBoats is released on Steam! We are super excited for everyone to try it out and can’t wait to see what everyone thinks! If you want to discuss any of the mechanics or strategies in the game feel free to do so here! Happy Sailing!
We are super excited to announce that SkyBoats is officially funded on Kickstarter! Thanks to everyone who has supported us!
Tutorials have proven to be an extremely difficult aspect of the game development process. In fact, I recently came to the painful realization that “tutorialization” is not actually a word. The tutorial for Axes and Acres was very basic, and a lot of players had trouble grasping the main concepts of the game without using outside resources. Now I think part of this was due to the fact that Axes and Acres had mechanics that people were entirely unfamiliar with. There was no point of reference or relation to help people understand. This was compounded by the fact that the mechanics might have been familiar in some way to people who play a lot of board games, but for “computer gamers” they likely had never come across that sort of thing.
One of our basic tenets of game making is that players should be able to learn and understand all of the rules to our games. This stems from us wanting players to be making strategic decisions, and the belief that you cannot make a proper strategic decision if you do not have all the information you are supposed to have. An example of this being done poorly is Civilization. The Civilization games are so incredibly complicated and even convoluted that it is unrealistic to expect players to have an understanding of all of the rules. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that the game isn’t fun, it does mean that the game is less strategic.
When you are making a board game, you can write all of the rules in a rulebook, and you can reasonably expect the players to read them and understand the game (Provided of course that the rulebook is complete and conveys the concepts clearly). We feel that computer gamers are less interested in reading a set of rules, and would rather jump into the game. Computer games are traditionally taught through tutorials. We have struggled with keeping the tutorial short enough for the player not to get bored, but also long enough to cover all of the information.
We spent a lot of time focusing on the tutorial for SkyBoats and are quite happy with how it has turned out. We played a number of other game tutorials to get an idea of what other games were doing well or doing poorly. We found the tutorial for Faster Than Light to be particularly helpful. After all of this we created a tutorial that we feel is more interesting, engaging, thorough and just better overall than the Axes and Acres tutorial.
We are also using the early ranks to spread out some of the other game mechanics. We hope this will be a good compromise between extending the learning process and getting the players into the game. Hopefully players will have no trouble picking it up and will be able to enjoy the game immediately!
As always I would love to discuss anything here, so feel free to shout at me!
(The Kickstarter for SkyBoats is live right now, and we just passed 95% funding! We’d love it if you’d check it out and consider backing!)
In SkyBoats there are a number of different upgrades that ships can start with, and that can be purchased at the SkyCities. These upgrades give boats different powers in place of a basic fuel providing cargo hold. The basic cargo hold in SkyBoats provides one fuel if used when empty or it can use the wind creation power of the good inside the hold. Most of the SkyBoats start with one upgrade.
When we were designing the upgrades we wanted to come up with mechanics that could be easily learned, but would provide players with a lot of different ways to use them. A lot of these upgrades are related to movement around the board. For example, the blink upgrade allows you to jump over a space, which can be useful to avoid a wind blowing a direction you do not want to follow. The blink upgrade can also be used to grab goods a little distance away and blow back to where you were, or to get yourself onto a long wind pattern to increase your wind meter! We aimed to create a number of different upgrades which can all be used in a number of different situations.
Finally, we wanted the upgrades to function together to create even more interesting choices. We believe that this system creates a lot of interesting decisions to be made by the players, without adding a ton of complexity to the game. It is always a difficult balance between complexity and depth. I think the upgrades we have created do a great job of using up a small amount of complexity, while creating a lot of strategic depth.
Thanks for reading and as always I encourage anyone to share comments, questions, critiques etc.
(The Kickstarter for SkyBoats is live right now, and we just passed 50% funding! We’d love it if you’d check it out and consider backing! We would also love your support on Greenlight)
I think its been said before that the best way to play a game (strategically) should also be the most fun. I’m not sure who first came up with that, but I think they are mostly right. When most players sit down to play a game they would like to get into the world of the game and make choices they feel fit the game. I am sure there are some players who just think about the strategy, and don’t care about the world the game is set it, but likely most of us want to make choices that seem “cool” or fun.
It often seems that the most memorable gaming experiences are when you played a game and you did something that created a cool story. Some games do a lot to enable this sort of experience by creating extremely thematic worlds, so that almost any way the game is played it comes out as a cool story. For example, War of the Ring is dripping with theme, and it is hard to make a choice that doesn’t feel perfect for Middle-Earth. This becomes more difficult when you are playing a game that is less theme-focused.
There are also times where a certain strategy is very effective, but is also very boring. DotA 2 has this issue some of the time in high-level matches. The best play is often to sit back and farm, growing your advantage, but many players find this strategy boring and so they run into fights and end up losing an otherwise winnable game. Ideally, the most fun way to play a game would also be the best strategic choice. This is ideal because it would mean players are constantly encouraged to have fun.
In SkyBoats we thought about this when we were designing the game. SkyBoats is exciting and gives you a great feeling of adventure as you fly around the map, and we’ve done our best to try and tie strategic choices to fun choices. One of the main mechanisms we used to do this was to reward players for making the plays we found the most fun. In early development we realized it was exciting to pick up goods in a far corner of the board, and find a way to sail them across the sky to a city demanding that good. Even better if it was the last points you needed on the last round! The game now rewards players for sailing along winds, and for taking goods long distances! I will discuss our wind mechanics in more depth in my next post!
I would love to hear what you think about how fun and strategy tie together in games!