Re: To Smithereens - a board game developing

I loved this response, so thanks.

Here's my 'table-game death' vs. 'video-game death' theory:

A competitive multi-player video game rarely conflates 'death' with outcome-significance; you only really die after you've died 20 times, or 30 times, or whatever. So, ultimately, multiplayer mode simply does not invoke the concept of "death," in any recognizable form — or, rather: does not invoke the concept of life.

If you have lives, you've entered a different paradigm of life.

Meanwhile, in 'To Smithereens' — or 'Monopoly,' or 'Candyland' — you lose once, and you lose permanently. Your game is over. You're ejected from play, by one of your friends. You're out. You're dead. You're killed. They're not. You're punished with a jail-term on the permanent sidelines, trapped, watching everyone else continue to have fun without you. Yours is the horror of the ghost.

(And that's just the paradigmatic metaphor of most table-games, to say nothing of 'To Smithereens' in particular, where the story metaphor is also death.)

To reformulate and conclude: Generally speaking, competitive table-games give you one life and one death — so, to whatever extent you're 'embodying a life' in a table-game, the nature of that life is, metaphorically, equivalent to your real one. If you wanted a competitive multi-player video game to evoke something closer to the normal-life paradigm, there would be no "multiplayer mode," in the traditional definition; instead, it would be like playing the actual game campaign, with one life — for half an hour? an hour? more? — until one of your friends kills you.

tl;dr — The pain of death is proportional to what's lost.

Teague Chrystie

I have a tendency to fix your typos.

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Re: To Smithereens - a board game developing

That makes sense. Incidentally a couple of the battle royale video games now (particularly Battlegrounds) might actually cross that line for you. They're (usually) slow start games, kitting out your avatar, looting buildings, getting progressively more crunched in space on the map until there's only one player left. One life, might last 5 minutes, might last half an hour....and still die. Definitely nearer that one life intensity.

I certainly agree with the overall "permadeath" annoyance at least in board games with several players. To Smithereens is only 1v1, so there's that. Once someone dies, you can get drinks together right away.

Or play again, because we've finished up and been like "Fuck you I'm gonna beat you next time let's play NOW" big_smile

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Re: To Smithereens - a board game developing

(For what it's worth, I only just realized what '1v1' means.)

(I never said I was smart.)

Teague Chrystie

I have a tendency to fix your typos.

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Re: To Smithereens - a board game developing

(Out of curiosity... could the ships be drones?)

Teague Chrystie

I have a tendency to fix your typos.

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Re: To Smithereens - a board game developing

I suppose they could be, at least insofar as the actions they're taking could be done by drones. I'm honestly not sure how well "You're actually a drone" would play on most players of strategy games, though.

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Re: To Smithereens - a board game developing

Interesting theory, Teague! I'd never thought about that regarding table-top games, but it would, weirdly, explain the relief I felt at losing/dying midway through games as a kid. I'm a ghost; I'm free! I don't have to play anymore!

Teague wrote:

The pain of death is proportional to what's lost.

As I've gotten older, I've become fascinated by game creation & interactive storytelling, and I like some games, but I largely feel the same way about them as I do about driving; I would be having more fun in the passenger's seat. I like to watch more than I like to play.

Incidentally, Writhyn, I'm enjoying following this thread and seeing how the game is developing!

Re: To Smithereens - a board game developing

Update #9
It's like, 95% there. There's a couple of finagly bits I want to iron out/test:

1) Adding a few more tiles to the Asteroid. Feels like it's not quite varied enough. In fact, there are a couple of things we're trying out to give the Asteroid more of a presence.

2) Damage system is getting a test tonight. At the moment it feels a little too back-burner, like parts being damaged is a very small part of the game's strategy. The system to be tested is spreading damage: parts will be able to receive multiple damage tokens, and if a 4th token is received, 3 of them are spread (equally as possible) onto adjacent parts. This opens up further tactical options for targeting things. Anyone who's played Pandemic will probably recognize this mechanic.

And, that's it. So far I've tested the game with about 5 people, including a short-attention-span high schooler who nonetheless played it 4 times in succession. So, there's that!

Also, The Rules are coming along nicely, so I'll have those ready before too long, and after that, Prototype Volunteer time!

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Re: To Smithereens - a board game developing

Update #10
I've gotten The Rules knocked out. Aside from (I'm sure) some word-wrangling, I don't expect them to change much before prototype printing. Feel free to take a look:

The Rules: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1aA5 … sp=sharing
(formatted for a half-size booklet so you may want to zoom out a bit tongue)

The Player Handbook (guide to parts and such): https://drive.google.com/file/d/1IpGE0U … sp=sharing
This one's a PDF 'cause I made it in MS Word for some reason.

Last edited by Writhyn (2019-04-29 19:01:56)

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Re: To Smithereens - a board game developing

Also @Boter and @BDA:
You guys were willing to test the prototype, so I wanted to make this clear: To Smithereens is (at least right now) a 2-player game, so not really geared for fun game nights with many friends tongue. Not sure I made that clear before. Still interested?

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Re: To Smithereens - a board game developing

The discerning gentleman collects guinea pigs, I see; perhaps sir would countenance an exotic specimen for his study? If the elusive Southern Californian Impossibly-Easy-To-Confuseii, of legend — famously the dumbest of all guinea pigs — would be of interest to sir, please be it known that I know just the rodent.

If this solicitation be too bold, sir, or not of interest — I beg of your pardon: pay it no heed.



(EDIT: Sorry. I've been reading lots of 'old-timey-scientist' correspondence lately. It's like watching Deadwood.)

Teague Chrystie

I have a tendency to fix your typos.

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Re: To Smithereens - a board game developing

Talkin' fancy, eh? Well, it's good by me. More testers, the better.

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Re: To Smithereens - a board game developing

I'm down, yo.

(Felt the need to counter Teague's discerning gentleman tone.)

Boter, formerly of TF.N as Boter and DarthArjuna. I like making movies and playing games, in one order or another.

Re: To Smithereens - a board game developing

Writhyn wrote:

Also @Boter and @BDA:
You guys were willing to test the prototype, so I wanted to make this clear: To Smithereens is (at least right now) a 2-player game, so not really geared for fun game nights with many friends tongue. Not sure I made that clear before. Still interested?

Just saw this, I am definitely still down to wrangle some people up to try it out 1v1.

ZangrethorDigital.ca

Re: To Smithereens - a board game developing

Update #11
Hey, this is actually still going! Turns out that finagling a board game with many part abilities/bonuses takes a long time. Not that I'm surprised, just enjoying the process. Oh, also I can't focus on it all the time because programming!

Ok, so where we at? Well, it's adorable that I said "I don't expect the rules to change *much* before sending out test kits" because...wow. But a lot of the changes have been very gradual. For the most part, the core mechanics (asteroid, ship-building, combat cards) are the same.
On that note, the cards (I started with dice remember?) work amazingly well. They've felt random *enough* and had a good ratio of Hits to Critical Hits in every game. That part has not ever felt like it needed adjustments since they were first introduced. Using the cards as damage counters (and secondarily as collection bonuses) has turned out to be an inspired move, though I say it myself. They seriously add to the game by giving a player who's getting pummeled a chance to come back. Basically, the more times you're hit, the more likely you are to get a good bonus. It's a built-in balancing mechanic that has allowed for some serious comebacks without ever feeling unfair to the almost-winner. I really freaking love this mechanic, and if I ever finish this game, it will probably find its way to future games in some form.

As for the asteroid, it's basically the same, just with more varied tiles: instead of just resource tiles with a scattering of Hyacinth wreckage (bonus tiles) and dead exosuit guys (increase asteroid aggro), there are now Grit tiles (resource tiles that build up dangerous levels of foreign material), Shuttle wreckage tiles (tiles that grant a nice bonus *and* a drawback as long as you hold them), Void tiles (causing mass-discard of a whole asteroid pile), and a couple of others.

Just recently I've changed the function of asteroid attack tokens. Whereas before - if a player drew them - they would immediately attack both ships, now they build up and then unleash one giant attack before resetting. This helped the early-game breathe a bit more before things started getting out of hand. Plus, it feels *different* from just any ordinary attack, so that's a plus. This also allows players to see the odds of an incoming attack and prepare for it within reason.

So what's next? More experimenting! Of course.
1) Different system for asteroid aggro: instead of Saniss 130991 attacking both players at the same time, the aggro build-up can be *somewhat* directed by the players. Certain actions will influence the asteroid's attention to the other player, allowing for some strategy other than "Build guns and blast 'em!"
2) a pretty big shift in part-inventory: right now, each player starts with a set, equal number of parts in their inventory which they build with resources they obtain. I want to *try* giving each player only a few of the basic parts, and shifting the rest of the parts into an orbital "debris field" that players can scavenge as a separate action. This would allow for different strategies relying on attrition and force players to adapt if the parts they wanted have been taken.
This would be a significant change, but it will be fun to try out. It also gives a whole new set of options for part abilities/bonuses.

So, that's To Smithereens right now! Still iterating.

The main rules are here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1aA5 … sp=sharing

The player handbook (parts, bonuses, etc) is here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ttV4pz … sp=sharing

Why is one a docx and the other a google doc? *shrug* Don't @ me, bro.

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