Multiuniversum release!

boardgame, boardgame prototype, Carousel, event, Multiuniversum

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Are you going to UK Games Expo? I am. Couldn’t miss the release of my first card game: Multiuniversum!

If you’re going to the event why don’t you come over to Board & Dice’s booth and check it out? When I’m hanging around I’ll teach you how to play and even lose graciously.

Meanwhile Multiuniversum is popping up all over the boardgame social media. There are a several reviews in Polish already (thank you Google Translate!).

Uplift Andrew assembled a print-and-play copy and took awesome photos, like the photo in the header and  these other great photos!

Then it got into the Top Hotness in BGG:

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Then Rahdo did a runthrough!

This is a big milestone for me, I love Rahdo’s videos so this feels like having a cameo on my favorite TV show.

Dice Tower mentioned it in the UKGE Preview video (at around 10:00). The art got their attention, now we just need to get them to play it. It’s a pity Zee Garcia isn’t coming with them because I believe he would like it the most.

This has been a long time coming. The first post about it is from 13 March 2012 – four years ago! It’s been through many iterations, a few themes, three countries and three loyal playtest groups. All because I stumbled around a mechanic which I hadn’t yet seen in a game and found it intriguing.

I learned a lot, and I can’t wait to hold a final production copy in my hands.

Come share that moment with me, this weekend in Birmingham!

Round and round

boardgame prototype, Carousel, Pizza-go-round, playtest

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Just like the bikes go round and round, so does the game!

Changing the main goals in Pizza-go-round brought several issues to light, so additional tweaks were required. I was fortunate to get really good feedback and design suggestions from Vital Lacerda and now the game’s working well, so here are the changes:

First up, I replaced the standing order lineup for small piles of orders on the buildings themselves.  Instead of picking up orders to fulfill on your own, you prepare the ingredients and go to the building in order to deliver the pizza.

This increases player interaction and competition. When you see other players chop ingredients you can guess what orders they’ll be going for, and the race is on! When that order is delivered, that player keeps the order card for the final scoring and a new one is revealed. The game is over when four of the piles are empty.

That means the “Out of gas” card is out too. How could it stay, since the single pile of orders isn’t there anymore? The players weren’t big fans of the semi-random end of the game anyway, especially because they were penalized for any leftover ingredients they had. There was absolutely no downside to removing this from the game.

As you can see in the picture, the buildings have abilities now! Each one has a unique ability which is activated by the action cards. Using them is simple: play the “building” action to activate the building where you are. This creates a lot of possibilities both for the players and for the game, as building cards can have two different sides.

There’s also a “deliver” action you can use when you’ve prepared the right ingredients for the order, and a brand new one I’m experimenting with: “recycle”. Recycle allows the player to discard any number of cards from their hand in order to draw more from the deck. This allows the players to throw away cards that aren’t useful at the moment and to press their luck, while keeping the deck flowing.

Lastly, the direction of the bike doesn’t matter anymore. I thought the players would be confused now that the ramifications of their actions change, but actually it was the other way around. It flows better because it avoids the situation where a player wants to move but suddenly can’t because everything is pointing to the wrong direction, and removes the “fiddlyness” of having to turn the cards in a specific way – particularly noticeable when the bike cards are stacked in a single building.

How about a slice?

Pizza-go-round!

boardgame prototype, Carousel, Pizza-go-round, playtest

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Come to think of it, Carousel‘s theme clashes with the game mechanics. The postman theme doesn’t really work when you’re taking things from the board and keeping them for yourself.

To fix this, I added recipients to the envelope cards. Instead of picking them up, now you had to deliver them at the right location to get those precious points. This worked very well. It brought a new set of objectives to the players, and the chance to interfere with the other players.

I was having a lot of fun, so I tackled on another issue that had become apparent during playtests. First-time players were intimidated by the amount of possible actions during a turn. To avoid that Analysis Paralysis, I decided to cut two actions from the cards.

I still haven’t found a reliable system to distribute the actions throughout the cards the way I want, so I was forced to do it manually. That’s a pretty radical change, because it requires brand new files for all the game.

Is that bad?

On the contrary, it’s a great opportunity to improve the theme! I often think about the mechanics first, and would like to try developing both at once. So…

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I bring you “Pizza-go-round”!

Instead of a van you’re driving a pizza delivery bike. Orders replace the envelopes, and have varying ingredients and rewards. Action cards have six actions instead of eight, along with an ingredient. You can play actions to move between buildings and ingredients to complete your orders. The game ends as the “out of gas” card pops up from the orders deck.

The playtesters had a lot of fun! Although this is a branch, my favorite bits from Carousel are still here, along with a clearer set of goals and a more appealing theme.

Finding an audience

Carousel

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The latest feedback Carousel got from a very influential partner was that it was too complex for a casual player but too simple for a hardcore one. They weren’t interested in a filler game for a hardcore player.

Among my playtesters are several hardcore gamers who like to play it inbetween much longer games. It’s a puzzle, a braintease where you have interesting choices in every turn. It’s also a race, so it doesn’t drag for too long.

I didn’t develop the game with a target audience in mind because I didn’t intend to sell it. I just found an underused mechanic and had fun with it until I had something original. As soon as I noticed interest on it I started pursuing it. Times are rough and publishing a filler game for a hardcore audience could be risky at the moment.

This means I’m no longer working with Mesaboardgames on this project. I really liked working with them though, and would certainly do so again now that I know what type of game they’re looking for.

What’s next? I’ll be talking to other publishers, having fun with other themes and looking at other ways of putting it out there. Suggestions welcome!

Design isn’t over until release, right?

Carousel

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Good news everyone! Carousel got picked by a publisher! I’ve been working with Mesaboardgames to make it as good as it possibly can.

There have been some radical changes, but the core remains intact. It’s still about combining and getting the most of those pesky action cards.

First off, the theme. I tried a simple one because it made it easier to explain. You’re a postman and you’re delivering packages across several locatoins. I believe that made talking to publishers a lot more fluid, and good ideas sprang from there.

Second, the coin tokens became envelopes. It’s now harder to guess the other player’s score just by looking at their stash. Suspense!

The biggest change og all though, was giving each player its van. There’s a lot less  upkeep and it allows you to plan your next moves on the other players’ turns.

After a couple radical changes it’s become a more interesting game, with added interaction and strategic depth. These changes need more testing, of course.

Next time I say something is finished, please ignore it. Carousel is still going round and round!

Carousel is done!

Arcádia, Carousel, playtest

The tips from the latest Arcádia meeting were spot-on. I took their suggestions, adapted them to the game and playtested them at home to save time. I made some changes to the icons and cards and added the coin tokens.

The Friday meeting was great. Every game got played. I thought there wouldn’t be time for mine because it was  getting so late but it got played at around 2am and everyone had a good time!

Wrote some notes down, tweaked some elements and now I feel like it’s done. I don’t see a single thing I want to change.

What’s next? Why, I’d like to publish it of course!

Carousel is evolving!

Arcádia, Carousel, playtest

First, it has colors now. Developing the icons in black and white helped to make them readable so players don’t just rely on the colors. After that was complete it was fairly quick to bring colors in. All the numbers are still there though, making it playable by the colorblind.

This experience taught me a lot about iconography and preparing editable files for inevitable changes in the future.

Second, Advance Mode has become standard because it’s much more rewarding. Players feel like they have a certain degree of control over the game’s more random parts.

Third, the new players at the latest Arcádia meeting said they wanted some more meaningful choices during the course of the game. They felt like their whole turn was useless if they didn’t score any new points. They also suggested adding coins to the game, which would be easy to get but aren’t worth that many points. Still, it is another way to increase your score if you don’t can’t deposit cards this turn.

I got some tokens, tried the game with these changes against myself. The game was so balanced that every test game ended up a tie. I started taking more thorough notes while playtesting to see which actions are the most useful.

Ended up with a new victory condition that makes the game much easier to learn, more tactical and, hopefully, fun! I’ll keep testing and bring back results.