Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Lowered expectations

It looks like I will need to lower my expectations for my board game FMB.  The current setup I am using at home for my copy looks like the picture here:

The pieces that currently are matchsticks, beads and plasticine were intended to be replaced with models of fantasy monsters and people.  I wanted mounted horsemen, wizards, swordsmen and ogres.  Unfortunately it seems that this is simply out of reach for production and isn't even especially reasonable for my personal copy.  The cheapest figurines I have been able to locate that are simply plastic and paint go for $1.50 - $10.00 each so unless I am willing to shell out quite a lot of cash for a full collection I would be stuck buying whichever pieces happened to be cheap even if they don't work well as game pieces.

I had this wonderful plan of a battleground with all the fantasy archetypes represented but the dream has been dashed on the rocks of reality.  It is something I expect nearly everyone has to deal with when they try to create something with a lot of flexibility in scope - you have to know when to pare back your expectations due to cost. Certainly many an entrepreneur has been sunk by the refusal to compromise and I hope to not be that individual. I absolutely demand that a game I make be as perfect in mechanics as is possible but the appearance is something I can be flexible on.  I know that I have spent many enjoyable hours playing minesweeper, freecell, bridge, poker and old computer games so it is clear that games don't require that sort of beauty to be successful though I am sure it doesn't hurt.

My current updated plan is to use flat pieces of cardboard to represent units.  The idea is to have a picture of the creature in question and 2 numbers in the corners to show its statistics and place the cardboard unit in a frame of sorts to show which team it is on and hold it upright.  I made two little prototypes but you need to imagine that the plasticine is a hard plastic frame and that the cow and bread pictures are an ogre and a wizard.

This setup should have the nice combination of fairly cheap to produce and still allows me to use 'tap' mechanics for the units as well as easily display their stats.  It is a bit sad that my original idea needs to go by the wayside but I must content myself with the beauty of mathematics and not the beauty of artwork.

I have been having a tremendous time inventing new concepts for Artifacts within the game.  I end up approaching new creations in one of two ways:  Either I create a name and then try to figure out what sort of effect could work with that name or I do the reverse and come up with the effect first.  For example, I thought of an Artifact that would just kill a unit as soon as it is hit and decided that it should be associated with a traditional symbol of death - and Scythe of Doom was born.  The other way around occurred with Sack of Wonders - it seems like an amusing idea for a magic item; you reach into the sack and see what you get!  So now the Sack of Wonders makes you generate a random number and awards you things based on which number you got.


  1. Heck, I much, _much_ prefer the cards in stands. A small form-factor 2D surface holds a lot more information and prettier pictures than a moulded hunk of pewter.

    For the stands, it's a good excuse to learn CAD. You could probably get the stands injection-molded in blisters for ~0.5$/dozen or so. Infinite!

  2. Stop Abusing your LeHavre Cows! They don't like fantasy beat-downing.

    P.S. I LOVE LeHavre:)

  3. I'd worry that it's hard to tell what strength a tapped unit has with an essentially 2-d model. In your picture above what I assume is the bread is mostly tapped and I can't tell a thing about it, or even if it is bread.

    You may want to consider using small wooden blocks which could have a lot of information on the 'big' side and a small summary on the 'skinny' side so you can still get the information on tapped units without having to crane your neck around.

  4. http://www.flickr.com/photos/thegeekery/3632238429/

    Something like these, with the summary on the skinny side.

  5. And when you turn the ogre around, you get meat!