Ridere, ludere, hoc est vivere.

Showing posts with label Reactor scram. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Reactor scram. Show all posts

Friday, June 5, 2015

Importance of theme in a cooperative game

Future Wolfie of iSlayTheDragon recently reviewed Samurai Spirit (designer Antoine Bauza, artist Victor P. Corbella, publisher FunForge).  It seems like an interesting game - I've got it on my wishlist - but a couple of sentences in Future Wolfie's review jumped out at me:
In a way it’s like a cooperative version of Blackjack, with much better art and a few special powers thrown in the mix. But that’s what it really boils down to in a sense: trying to hit a maximum total card value without going over.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

UnPub 5: Friday

Keith Ferguson and I are at UnPub 5, presented by Ad Magic at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, Maryland.  Darrell Louder has really cranked up the gain on UnPub this year, with a terrific new location and a slate of activities for the pre-convention Designer Day, which just concluded Friday night.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Spring and summer photos

As October begins and fall sets in, I thought I would look back at some of games I got to play over the last six months.

My friend Grant G. gave us Goa for Christmas, and Kathy and I really like this neo-classic Euro.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

UnPub Mini Chantilly Recap

Last Saturday, Keith Ferguson ran an UnPub Mini event at Game Parlor Chantilly.  (I helped a little.)  We had about twelve designers and about 20 gamers playtesting over the course of the 11 hours that the store was open that day.  It was about as successful as we could have wanted.  For my part, I got to playtest "East India Company" and "Reactor Scram" one time each, as well as to play about four other games, though there were many more I wish I could have played.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

More designers for 21 June UnPub Mini in Chantilly, Virginia

As I mentioned in a post on May 8, there will be an UnPub Mini event this Saturday 21 June at
Game Parlor
13936 Metrotech Drive
Chantilly, VA 20151
We now have a full slate of eleven designers lined up, so we have plenty of opportunities for gamers to come and try out new game design prototypes and provide feedback to the designers.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Reactor Scram: early playtesting

I have finally started working in earnest on a co-op idea I've had percolating in my mind for the last few weeks.  The theme is that the players are workers in a nuclear reactor plant whose maintenance has been neglected, until finally the bad day comes when everything seems to break at once.  The goal is to get the plant into a "safe condition" without melting down a core or irradiating any of the workers.

First prototype of "Reactor Scram"
I ran a couple of solo playtests.  I won one and lost one, which made me think that I've got the initial balance at least coarsely in the right neighborhood.  What surprised me was how quickly each game completed - roughly ten or fifteen minutes per game.  I usually have the opposite problem with the games I design - play times that run way too long.  Right now I've got a game that takes more time to explain than it does to play.  So I want to figure out some way of extending the gameplay as well as the "story arc" so that I'm not just "making it longer" for the sake of making it last.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Reactor Scram

My latest design inspiration is a co-op game idea I've had for a while.  The setting is a nuclear reactor plant that has gone horribly wrong.  Players try to operate various controls to keep the reactor (or perhaps multiple reactors in a single plant) from melting down.  Problems can accelerate rapidly; players can quiesce one issue only to have another pop up elsewhere.  Players win if they can stabilize the entire reactor plant; players lose if any core gets hot enough to start a meltdown.

Existing co-op games like Pandemic and Forbidden Island are obvious models.  I have a couple of specific innovations to try to induce a strong sense of urgency (and perhaps panic) in the players.  I've realized that in general, a co-op game (one that does not have traitors) is rather like team solitaire.  That means that the game boils down to card luck and problem optimization.  The tricky part about making a game like this fun is ensuring that players' decisions are not obvious but do affect the progress of the game.  I want to make sure that mistakes cause setbacks but don't render the problem unsolvable.  So there has to be a pretty broad decision space, with multiple variables in play and multiple "knobs" for the players to manipulate in an effort to control the game state and get to a solution.

I recognize that in any players-vs-game, luck has to be a factor.  In fact, I think uncertainty and variability contribute to the fun and excitement of the game.  But I'd hate for the game to devolve into a question of what order the cards came up or how the dice rolled.
 
I had some thoughts regarding card luck in general.  In an upcoming post, I'll discuss a game design idea that came out of the question, "can I make a card game that minimizes card luck?"