A Behind the Scenes Look.

We use Trello to keep our discussions organized. It lets us branch off into different focus areas whenever we want without getting lost in the weeds. Each card contains it’s own main document, attachments, and conversation thread. We talk things over in detail and then update the main document to make it official. If a conversation ever grows too large or forks off into a new area, we can break it out into its own separate card.

It’s super flexible, easy to work in, and most importantly, gets out of our way so we can just be creative. It’s even FREE for your first 8 boards! I can’t recommend it enough.

Here’s a glimpse of how things are looking for this game.

Everything starts on the left and moves to the right as things evolve.

Getting Started:
If it’s a new game design project, we each fill out a brief set of questions about the game we have in mind. We’ll discuss our differences and keep it casual for a bit, but the goal is to set down some requirements and constraints and to have an idea of what this game should look and feel like when it’s done. We never had that for Hinterlands, and I think that’s why we struggled in those late stages.

I have a few pro tips in there and a summary of lesson’s we’ve learned on past projects to help guide us around making the same mistakes over and over again. I revisit these cards every so often to keep them fresh in my mind.

Idea Pile:
This looks pretty clean at the moment, but the early days is a lot of random stuff in the Idea Pile where we’re exploring themes and mechanisms and studying other games. Only the best ideas make it out of here. I’ll leave some “extra” ideas in the Idea Pile for awhile just as a reminder, in case we want to dig into them a little. Right now it seems like most of that stuff is related to possible expansions.

Needs Fleshing Out:
Once we have a course of action, I’ll type of a quick to do list, and setup a few cards for the key components or mechanisms that need to be worked on. We spend most of our time having discussions in this column.

We intended to do a lot more of this in person this time, but summer plans, family time, and illnesses have kept us from getting together. We’re keeping it virtual at the moment, and that’s slowing down our playtesting.

After each playtest, I’ll write down the key takeaways and reactions. We’ll discuss them at the next meeting and decide what actions to take, adding them to the to do list. Rinse and repeat until everything is in the Solid column.

Anything in this column is pretty much done and in its final form until new rounds of playtesting say otherwise.

Junk Pile:
Rejected ideas or ideas that were gobbled up by larger concepts get moved to the Junk Pile. I don’t delete them because you never know when you’ll need to pull something from the scrap heap to solve a problem.

Consolidating our Core Concepts

I spent some time cleaning things up and pulling the ideas we agreed on into the CORE card. The CORE contains the current state of the game as it exists in our minds. If we ever wander off on a tangent and need to remember what we’re trying to do, we can come back to the CORE and anchor ourselves again. This is the first time I’ve done it this way, but we wandered around for 3 years on Hinterlands and I’m trying my best to keep the train on the tracks this time!

Our CORE so far

The Shape of the Game

  • Competitive game for 1-4 players
  • Tactical Skirmish Game with some short-term strategy. “Rack ’em! Let’s go again!”
  • 30-60 minutes
  • Players place tiles to create a shared, cohesive landscape, hex map
  • Each player has their own god board, hand of quest cards, and a supply of followers and temples

What is the theme?

  • Mythological gods are competing to see who has the most influence over humankind. They create the world by their own designs to attract new believers. As their faith grows, so does the god’s power over the world.

What is the goal?

  • The god with the most influence when the game ends wins.
  • Influence is based on:
    • number of followers on the map
    • number of temples constructed
    • specific god criteria (extra points for each follower near water)

What is the setup?

  1. Place bag of tiles, scoreboard, and starting tile in the center of the table
  2. Shuffle the easy/medium/hard Quest Decks and place them next to the bag
  3. Each player gets a random god board and a bag of meeples and temples in their color.
  4. Each player draws 2 easy and 1 medium Quest Cards and 1 Tile from the bag.
  5. Each player puts one meeple on the score board.
  6. Go!

What is the teardown?

  1. put the starting tile, score board, and god boards into the box
  2. put all the tiles back into the bag, into the box
  3. put all the cards back into their decks, into the box
  4. put each set of meeples and temples into each player bag, into the box
  5. Done!

What is the core loop?

  • at the beginning of your turn, place a tile onto the map (you always place at least 1 tile per turn)
    • then, optionally, if you are able to resolve one of your quest cards with that tile placement, you cash in the card for one of the listed immediate rewards or socket it into your god for its on-going ability.
    • also, you may use any unlocked god powers revealed when you constructed temples.
    • you may interweave temple powers and card powers however you like.
    • you may also use the default, basic actions always available to each player, and interweave them with your other actions as well.
    • you may continue in this fashion until you can do no further actions
  • At the end of your turn, draw back up to your hand size if below and draw a new tile.
  • End of game is when there are no more tiles to draw from the bag

How should it feel?

  • Fun & Quick turns
  • Satisfying Combo Chains
  • Exciting / Nervous / Empowering
  • Short and long term planning
  • Puzzly, tactical, strategic

Questions for the Audience

How do you manage your creative projects? Do you work in collaboration with another person or like to keep things solo? Do you have any pro tips to offer on what we could be doing better? (other than getting things to the table as soon as possible. We’re trying!)