I’ve just finished my 20 days of prototypes challenge and come up with 10 brand-new prototypes for the next BrainGoodGame (or games!) The idea is to be able to be able to make them quickly and then draw from a larger pool rather than getting stuck trying to “force” one idea. Anyway, I thought I’d describe each to you so I could get some feedback! (Feedback notes and challenge reflections after the list of games). Anyway, here are the prototypes!
“Lawnmower” – A simple real-time game where you attempt to control multiple lawnmowers and keep them cutting grass! You can also play new lawnmowers. This is supposed to sort of capture the feel of Mini Metro. (Non-panicky real-time)
“Blob-Commander” – A game where you pick an “order” die (on the left) and combine it with a “selection” card (on the right) to give an order each turn. So you might “move forward twice with all archers, or move left and attack with all units that are connected in a “blob”. An interesting idea but has problems in terms of “action parsing” or proofreading.
“Protector” – An idea where you have 3 energy or action points to spend each turn. Most commonly you spend it moving around the map (up,down,left,right), but you can also spend the energy points on cards in your hand. Enemies move after you’re done and can be fast and slow. This one seems particularly open ended in terms of extending it. Lots of possibilities for enemy types, card types and even objectives (although I like the idea of a “there and back again” type objective because if you rush ahead and don’t fight much it’ll be harder on the way back but not impossible). Also tends to have a playful feel at least for me, as I find a lot of the time I can hit the arrow keys by intuition.
“Dominion Lord” – The idea here is that for both you and your opponent, the cards in your hand correspond 1:1 with units on the board. So the action funnel is pretty explicit. If the unit is not on the board, the card becomes a “summon” action instead. One downside of this approach is that it seems much more fun to order units “near the front”. Maybe it needs a double move option for guys in the back like XCOM, or a different kind of objective. This is sort of like Undaunted.
“Farmer Dan” – This one is about moving around a single avatar on a map again (like #3). However here, as you move around a couple things can happen. If you move into a grass space, you “till” it, making it ready for new crops. If you move into a weed rock or stump you work on clearing it (some take more than one action). Then you have tetris pieces in your hand representing both crops and watering actions that you try to line up with the shapes on the board you have cleared with your farmer. There is a whole efficiency game about farmer actions, about lining up the crops properly and trying to refill water without wasting it. Pretty interesting. What this one seems to need is longer strategic arcs or something to “build towards”. Not quite sure what that might be.
“Deus Lines” – This one is fundamentally about building out action chains on the board. You place buildings that have an action on them and also allow your workers to “turn” as they activate them. Crucially, each turn you place a building and then send a worker in, but you can only send a worker from each side once. You can reactivate abilities by cleverly positioning your turns. Sort of a riff on the Deus/Wingspan “action-chains” type of thing. This one is pretty complex though to get started with, so needs some simple goals to work probably.
“Minos Mana” – This one is roughly about building off of matched colored pieces on the board to make shapes. So sort of like Through the Desert network building and sort of like Minos Strategos (or Tash Kalar) shape building. Needs more definition to what shapes you’re trying to build, and whether those are explicit goals, or patterns that always work, or cards that you draw. Has a couple cool twists. One is that you pick up new dice off the board as you go. Two is that the enemies spawn based on an intersection of row and column, and it alternates whether the spawn row or spawn column switches. Three is that you are working against the “enemy score” and they score by capturing your placed pieces. Therefore there is an upside for spreading out (more patterns) and a downside (more vulnerability).
“Dungeon Beans” – Called “beans” because of the name our group uses for Bohnanza, which is a game where you can’t re-order your hand. The premise here is that you have a set amount of energy. Playing the left most card in your hand costs 0 energy, but each card to the right costs 1 more (so it’s more expensive to skip ahead). You can also always just do a “default” up down left or right move/attack by discarding the leftmost card. This one also seems super extensible and easy to see as a full game. It takes a lot from roguelikes/broughlikes in terms of structure (slay enemies, be efficient, get to the exit). Seems to be a lot of room for deckbuilding, card types, treasure, monster types, etc.
“Card Maze” – This one is about moving on a grid using standard playing cards. If you match “suits” you get to move and go down a card. If you match “rank” you get to re-draw at the end of the turn. If you match both you get to draw 2 (plus one card). You can also collect totems on the board that let you discard and re-draw your hand. Once you collect 3/4 totems you head for the exit. Already quite fun and very extensible with enemy types, different suits, special powers for Jacks (there are no Jack spaces on the board), pickups, starting characters etc etc. With the playing card metaphor I think it is a bit more approachable than most BrainGoodGames for non-strategy gamers. Very intriguing!
“High Seas” – The final prototype is kind of the inverse of the previous. By stepping onto ocean spaces you draw the indicated card. You’re trying to make sets of cards, runs, basically typical poker card hands and use them to “battle” other ships. Lots of ways this can work, and it’s fun to collect the hands and scout out the best cards to collect and asses the diminishing returns (you have limited time, can’t take em all and have to make your way north!). I have some ideas about how different enemies can work, different pickups and sub-goals and selling big sets at “markets” for a lot of points. Goal being have X money and get to “port” at the north of the board to bury your treasure/buy the port/retire etc. Promising!
So those are the 10 prototypes from the 20 day experiment! It took about 2 days for each prototype, and the process ended up mostly being
Day 1: Brainstorm ideas by reviewing design notebooks and mix and matching game mechanic cards that I’ve drawn up/seem interesting to explore.
Day 2: Make the digital implementation of the prototype.
One thing that stuck out to me was that my prediction of how promising each prototype would be was often very far from my evaluation after making it. Some were much better than I thought they’d be, others much worse. Takeaway: you gotta make em and see. Don’t get hung up looking for the “perfect idea”, because it’s hard to identify!
The goal of the digital implementations was mostly to assess each idea for how promising it seemed, and how easy it would be to take it from the current state to a released BrainGoodGame. I have ideas about the potential of some of them, but I’m curious what you guys think with just the gifs and the basic descriptions to go on. Which ones jump out at you? Let me know on the Discord or on Twitter.
It was cool this week to be able to go back and dust off the cobwebs from both of these games after the Militia 2 launch (I have another update planned for that in the near future too, then back to NEW STUFF).
I feel very fortunate to be in a position where I can go back and tweak the games. It would feel pretty bad to have to leave them in a state I wasn’t 100% proud of.
As always, let me know if you have feedback about either of the patches or encounter any bugs or whatnot. And if you want updates when we release new BrainGoodGames and large updates for old ones, sign up for the mailing list here: https://braingoodgames.com/email.html It’s hugely appreciated!
Thanks for your support and for playing BrainGoodGames!
I’d like to thank Vivafringe, Paulo, blubberquark and Nomorebirds for helping to test! Let me know if anything seems fishy with either version at braingoodgames (at) gmail and I’ll try to get an update out ASAP.
Patch highlights include a new Expert Mode for faster, more difficult games (it unlocks at XP level 10), a bunch of new goal cards for the races, a new base set card to unlock and a ton of bug-fixes and quality of life improvements.
-Added new Yon Goal card: Yin Shrine
-Added new Rak’Thun Goal card: Temple of Might
-Added new Kuldas Goal card: Hydrogen Nursery
-Added new Therlunai Goal card: Diligence Tribunal
-Added new base set card: Old-War Outpost
-Abandoning a practice mode game from the main menu no longer results in a loss
-Adjusted round number hover reminder text in Weekly Challenge
-Fixed rare null reference exception when colonists are refreshed
-Randoming and clicking play again now always gives another race if possible
-Added randoming animation to the main menu
-Reset race leaderboards for Season 2
-Fixed bug where doing a placement match would result in a loss even with no saved game
-Fixed bug with card collection after doing a weekly challenge
-Added option to end placement match and set rank early
-Added expert mode to unlock level 10 (unlocks Expert Mode toggle in options menu and Expert Weekly Challenge)
(Doubles oxygen costs for exposed colonists and settled colonists produce 1 oxygen per turn. Faster, more difficult games)
-Fixed # for suffocate message calculation
-Expert Mode no longer shows unexplorable military spaces
-You can choose your goal on the first turn
-Lowered habitat construction cost to 1 metal
-Changed reward for blowing up rock world from 4->5
-Changed reward for blowing up water world from 2->3 cards
-Changed reward for blowing up jungle world from 6->8 oxygen
-Changed reward for blowing up gas world from 8->10 hydrogen
-Added Fusion Drive Center to Void goal cards
-You can now destroy upgraded worlds
-No explore 5 sectors goal in round 5 or 6
-No gain hydrogen or gain oxygen goal in round 4-6
-No settle goal in round 1-4
-Military goal only in round 3-4
-When a new enemy is spawning and all available spawning locations are filled, one of your fish on the border will be removed randomly
-If you use the spyglass space with 3 artifacts, you gain 2VP instead
-Enemies now recalculate their paths when a new Anglerfish lantern face is placed on the board
-Modified artifacts to give 2VP when you pick one up with 3 artifacts already held
-Shallow waters squad now starts with 2 crabs and 2 seahorses
-Digging up a spyglass no longer triggers an enemy move
-X marks the spot can no longer spawn on half dug spaces
BUGFIXES/QUALITY OF LIFE
-Artifact names now show in artifact collection
-Fixed some issues where you could get stuck on the Team Up section of the tutorial
-Fixed bug that made it possible to stack finish artifact early popups
-Fixed null reference when finishing artifacts early
-Fixed issue with splitting an octopus 8 resulting in a 1 and a blank
-Fixed issue where artifacts could occasionally replace other already existing ones on the board
-Fixed bug where digging up coral would prevent you from using a die ability (like crab dig or roll new Blue Tang)
-Changed default placement match max from 10 to 15 (if you look at the relevant leaderboard first the max is set to whatever the 10th place score is)
-Made it so second Eel “1” move does not trigger enemy movement
-Fixed bug with passive artifacts showing “Discard the artifact without using the rest?” message
-Fixed bug with parachute not activating fish “1” abilities
-Large performance improvements
-Fixed bug with rank info tooltip showing up when XP quest popup was up
-Fixed issue with fish in tide pool showing their tooltips with popups up
I’ve added tablet mode to Militia in settings! Now’s your chance windows tablet users to sit back and slay some orcs. You can also toggle the threatened indicators in there.
Secondly, I’ve added a hardcore mode to Solar Settlers. It’s on the beta now (To access the beta right click Solar Settlers in your Steam Library -> Properties -> Betas then enter “solarsettlersbeta” -> Click Check Code -> Select in Dropdown -> Restart Steam).
The changes are:
Colonists now cost 2 oxygen per turn.
You start with 5 oxygen.
You gain 1 oxygen of production for each settled colonist (but no more than the # of active colonists)
The idea is to lower the number of active colonists on the board at very high ranks, encourage more early settling and to reduce match playtime. We’ll see how it goes! Lots of discussion about the design is going on on the discord if you wanna join in.
Lastly I just wanna give a huge THANK YOU to everybody who has joined the BrainGoodGames community over the last little while. It has been by far the most sucessful week ever for BrainGoodGames, and I’m just thrilled and inspired that I get to keep making them. You guys rock!
Note: To access Hardcore Mode press the up arrow on your keyboard ten times on the main menu.