Development Diary #26
KINGDOMS CLASH WITH CRUNCH TIME
It's kind of funny to me that the month I started Trolltem Poles, updates on Kingdoms of Immacus went silent for a while. If Kingdoms of Immacus is a marathon, Trolltem Poles was definitely a sprint. All concentrated effort went into the game with Kingdoms getting the occasional tweak, update, and playtest in. The primary reason for this is a direct shift in funds from Kingdoms to my wedding, but now that it is over, it's time to get back on the Chowwaki (Yorri's Mount).
Everything is coming down to the wire. I mean the window for sending things to print is shrinking rapidly, and I'm in full-panic-mode. I need brochures, game components, a tablecloth, and everything else packed and ready, and I am running out of daylight to get it all done. The inside of my brochure on Illustrator crashed, which set me back, and I haven't had the time to work on that and card formatting. This weekend though for sure!
I remember reading a blog about why no one should do a big card game, but obviously it was by someone who has never undergone the experience. Let me tell you young designers that formatting and reformatting hundreds of cards is an infuriating labor of love. Build a template that has every single card in it and stick to it. For some reason my frames shifted on some of the cards, and I needed to spend an entire work day fixing all that card shift. Who knows what hides in the darkness for the other kingdoms I'm about to work on. Though all this formatting is not the final version (gagged a little bit there), it has shown me the best way to approach this stuff with future games. Trolltem Poles files are much more organized than Kingdoms, but that'll get fixed soon once I get back from Protospiel.
Mechanics change, so should the cards
Cards are like little time capsules that remind you to reformat them. I learned early on in this process to stop changing the entire set of cards with every iteration. Only change the cards that will be playtested. Now that I have finalized the mechanics for public playtesting, I'm looking at older cards, and they are telling me "hey, I don't work anymore!" Okay cards I get it, let me get right on that.
Tokens, tokens, who's go the tokens? Tokens! I don't know why I obsessed over these tokens for so long, but I figured out how I want to display information on the back of them to notate a higher value, which is much needed with the new Domain leveling changes (more on that in a little bit). Since the set up is there, and I only have a few minor tweaks, I plan to have these ready to go in time for Protospiel. Update! I finished them and the new kingdom tokens are much nicer.
One more playtest with feeling...
Before Protospiel, I wanted to get one more playtest in with the leveling changes for Domains (more on that in a second). The game is still meaty, clocked in at 60 minutes, and has this slow burn feel that ramps towards the end. Nothing feels broken, and the game was satisfying, but I'll leave that to the experts at Protospiel to decide. At the end of the day, fun was had by all.
Domains leveling up levels up!
After playtesting the Domains with the new leveling up system, I feel the economy is about where it needs to be. Things can still feel a little expensive, but that's where the tough choices come in for the player. Either way, after all that fiddling the Domains have reverted in most ways to the way it was originally set up.
Final thoughts on Kingdoms before Protospiel
Kingdoms has been in development for a very long time, and Protospiel is that first step to bringing it out into the world and making the necessary changes that my internal group is unable to see. Mechanically, it's as polished as it can be. There's still plenty of art to do, further playtesting, and I can always do more polishing (the Mothers know how much I love to polish this thing). I will present people with the most polished Alpha version I can muster. Next year I will be focusing my efforts on art and art development for the game.
There are a lot of cards that still need to be done, and though I want to focus on this, the budget has to be minded as well. I'm hoping Trolltem Poles will provide the financial bump Kingdoms will need to speed up the art process. Nothing is for certain. There might be one more game in the pipeline before Kingdoms releases, but that's for another blog posting. See you at Protospiel!