Monday, January 07, 2008

Tuning Terra Prime - showing a publisher?

My friend works for a new company getting ready to put out their first video game title, and evidently they are interested in doing more than just video games... My friend told them about Terra Prime, and they are interested in trying it out!

That's pretty sweet, so now I guess it's time to iron out the couple of kinks that have been annoying me, and send them a copy. I'm hoping to test out some of these changes this week, make whatever adjustments are necessary, and send it out to them some time next week. In order to make myself do it, I'll try and set a deadline for myself - lets say January 16th I'm going to Fed Ex the package. So here are the ideas I want to try out...

  • Game Length - I've been a little disappointed in the game end triggers and he fact that the game doesn't seem to last long enough to really get into red colonies/delivering red cubes. Red cubes are intended to be a big, late game play, you drop a colony on a red planet for a chunk of points, then you cart a red cube back to Terra Prime for a chunk of cash, and then you're pretty much done. If you're good (or lucky) you could maybe get all the way back out there and collect another red cube to deliver, but that takes a long time. I upped the value of the red cubes to 10vp (from 6) hoping the incentive would increase to go get them, but I really think 6 should be the right value. I'll have to try and find end game triggers that allow for people to get to the end game plays. I might also try going for them sooner, maybe it's a groupthink/player issue and not a game problem at all. I rather like the amount of time the game takes to play, and I wouldn't want it to get any longer.
  • Game End Conditions - I've always been happy with the "a player places his last Colony marker on the board" game end trigger, but I've never been happy with the "certain number of tiles face up" trigger, and there's never been a trigger related to delivery. I think I might like to scratch the exploration trigger, and have the only game end condition be when someone runs out of markers, then I want to add that you get rid of a marker when you fill a tile (which you collect for the bonus points). I might also have that the tech upgrades get marked out of your supply of colony markers. And I'll give people like 10 markers instead of 8 (for 3 player... 1 fewer for 4 player and 2 fewer for 5p)
  • Demand Tile change - Instead of adding a yellow tile when a yellow colony is founded, I think one of the green tiles should be replaced with a yellow tile. Similarly, when a red colony is founded, the red tile should replace the other green tile. In other words, there would only be 2 delivery tiles available at any given time. This way, once there are yellow and red colonies, you can't just deliver green and blue unless someone brings in the yellow. I think this will make a delivery strategy a lot more interesting.
  • Combat change - I'm going to try to streamline the combat a little. This won't really make it any less random, which is one of the things I'm skeptical about, but it should make the die rolling a little less clunky at least. Instead of the current system, where you roll 1 die per gun or shield, and they work on a 5 or 6, you'll roll 1 die per symbol (no matter how many guns/shields you have, even zero), and on a 6 they work. Each gun you have gives you a +1 on your roll when attacking, and each shield you have gives you a +1 to your roll when defending. There will no longer be a roll for the alien's attack, just for your shields. The 'extra gun/shield' upgrade will be unchanged, and the 'guns/shields work better' upgrade will make each gun/shield give a +2 modifier instead of +1, doubling the usefulness of the guns and shields you have.
That's it for now, time to head home and try it out!


Shea said...

IMHO Yuck to die modifiers! Seriously, I don't want to set there and say:

I rolled a 4, then I get two +1 modifiers, but each of those are doubled, so that's 4+2X2 = 8

You took all the climax out of me rolling a 4.

Conversely, I get 2 bonus dice, and double that, so I get 1+2X2 dice, which is 5. I roll 5 dice, and can immediately see the results!!! I like instant gratification.

Seth Jaffee said...

Shea, thanks for the comment. After trying it last night, I completely agree with you. In retrospect, reducing the die rolls just puts more weight on their luck anyway. I do prefer the "old" way to the new idea I tried last night.

The next thing I think I'll try is simply making the guns and shields a little more powerful. I don't want aliens to be a gimme though, I actually want them to be really scary. People should want to run away from them unless they are really prepared to fight, in which case they should be able to win, but they should probably take some damage in the process.