Saturday, April 14, 2012

Star Runner Part 1

Sample box holding all
the components.
Friday marked a completely new experience for me in my board game life.  I played a game of my own design.  Yes, that's right, a design of my own creation and a lot of help from a few friends came together in paper and cardboard to make a board game.  If you hadn't guess from the title, the game is operating under the name Star Runner.  Star Runner stared as a rough concept in the summer of 2009.  I wanted to design a game based on Firefly, so my first thought was to use different elements of that universe and figure something out to make it work.  As I worked on it, I realized I wanted some more creative freedom, so the Firefly cannon was dropped, but some ideas still exist from that.
Some of those ideas are found in the set-up of the game, which is get a ship, get a crew, find a job, try to make money, and stay out of trouble.

Focus on the various types of cards
From left to right we have
Tech in orange, Passangers in blue
Runs in green, Crew with the black bar
and colors at the bottom, and
resource cards in the TTR deck facedown.
It's still very early on, but I spent 3 hours printing everything (thanks to my generous aunt and her color laser printer) and then the better part of a week gluing, cutting and sleeving everything. As my friends will attest, I kept telling people I was cutting something for my game, and I felt it was all I was ever telling them.  I would cut while watching TV or listening to podcasts, and use my friends as nice breaks from the strain of scissors.

I think the components look pretty good, especially for testing. I'm using old Star Trek CCG cards as backers for the big cards, and the US Ticket to Ride cards as backers for the small cards. Fortunately, they don't detract from the game play, though the sleeves get annoying for shuffling at times.  The good news with shuffling is that most of it is done in the beginning, and after that, there's very little, so it keeps things moving.  It took us about an hour to go through set-up and teaching, but that's because I was the only person setting up, and next time it should go faster, at least I can hope.
Game in progress, about 1/3 done.

One of my biggest fears going in, besides the fear of complete rejection and not having a fun game, was that the market system would crash and burn.  As it turns out, it was a pretty clear system with two players monitoring it.  Everyone ended up having a job or two of their own. One player was the banker for money, two managed the market, and helped with cards. One also helped manage the movement arcs, and I took care of drawing market and inspection tokens.  Several other things crashed and burned, but we tweaked what we could while playing, and wrote down changes that we think will work better next time. Next time is also the best news I could ever get, because it means they liked the game.

Speaking of the fear of rejection, it really is unnerving to place something you've created in front of other people for the first time.  I've invested parts of the last 30 months into this, and a good portion of the last 3 months, so to have that go to waste would be deflating.

The crucial thing I learned with testing this was how to make adjustments on the fly.  We saw that something wasn't working, and we came up with a way to fix it.  Some other things are design elements I have to go back and rework, but I have a much better idea on how the game plays, and thus how to design it how I want it to play.

I hope this post also clarifies why I've been a bit sparse with my postings.  Trying to get a design to prototyping was a big push, and once I could see it close, I just had to get there.  My original plan was May 1st and I'm proud to say I beat that arbitrary deadline by 2.5 weeks.

If you'd like to know more, leave a comment with any questions, and I will answer them to the best of my ability in Part 2.

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