I was previously posting about the release of my first game publication, Outlander: The Series - the Boardgame. It was a project I thoroughly enjoyed making, and even more so, felt like I was contributing to helping my hubs along with his business. What we've discovered is that this is something I'm good at, and compared to novel writing, I'm quick. The downside being that I have created numerous games that I've handed off and, thanks to my lovely Dory brain, have next-to-no recollection of. So I have to be quick and I have to be focused.
This past year I've been taking the lessons learned from my Outlander journey and putting that into my new projects. And while I have no intention of going into competition with hubs, or taking on another self-pub branch myself, I am looking to see myself less of an idea supplier and more of a creator.
So instead of creating a wall of ideas to collect dust, I am using this new-found opportunity of being home to push forward as far as I can. And so, I present to you MY work-in-progress prototype:
And so was while throwing myself into the Bridgerton tv drama sensation that a conversation sparked: Wouldn't it be funny if someone took this idea of the debutant match-making cattle-auction and turned into some sort of property game where you were trying to invest in selling-off your sons and daughters to the "right" people?
Well, I didn't make Bridgerton Monopoly (sad face), so that idea is still up for grabs should you want to cash in on that and whoever owns Monopoly trademark (teehee, monopoly on Monopoly).
It did take me about a year to get the linch-pin to the idea that was brewing. Without reason or warning, I realized that centerpiece the whole affair was the Mama. The Mamas of the Ton control the social world and will stop at nothing to boost their children, or at least that's what every Regency-based book and film has ever taught me since Jane Austen (It is a truth universally acknowledged!). And so I had my raison-d'etre, to pit a ton of Ton mamas against each other! What fun would that be?!?! Snide gossip! Throwing a young person's social status through the moral paper-shredder just because they came in with the wrong shoes! Well, the idea was golden and a game was whipped up!
That's not to say that I got everything right on the first try, adjustments are always being made.
This introduced the idea of votes, gaining points for your social gambling. Then I had to think of all of the ways we could disrupt another Mama from obtaining their goals. And so the rather large collection of the Social Deck began, adding Anytime cards to change-up the Gossip and Goals.
The trickiest part in Phase One was timing. How do we keep the game snappy but interesting?
The more we played the more we were able to refine just what a turn should look like. It actually turned the Anytime cards into ANYTIME cards instead of just a generic Action card. So rather than dictating how many cards total a person could play per turn, we let the chaos evolve for itself. And it was MARVELOUS!
Players were still restricted to playing 1 Gossip card, but now could mix and rearrange the Lords and Ladies, could steal and undo actions from their opponents, and as long as they had the cards to do it, they could stir up all sorts of trouble! Or, alternatively, fix-up the trouble someone else caused them!
This was a lengthy course of trial and error playtests, always looking for balance.
A word of advice, NEVER cater 100% to all of the feedback, your project will never get made because it will never be perfect. It will also no longer be the game you wanted to make. Yet, NEVER dismiss feedback. People may not always know what they want, and so their suggestions are not always the exact solution, but will point you towards a potential problem in your design.
And thus I had to face my next BIG obstacle. The winning conditions. At the time, the mechanics places only 1 Lord and Lady on the Dance Floor at a time. I knew that I didn't want it to be inevitable that everyone would be able to successfully match-make their Couples, but what I had done was make it so unlikely that even having a Couple goal card was near redundant.
How to fix this? I didn't want to remove the vote casting. I didn't want all of us aiming for the same goals. So we tried it with 3 Lords and Ladies. It increased the odds, made you more selective in which Gossip you played and who you played it on, and it meant that you could probably gain control over at least one Couple without controlling ALL Couples.
Now that we solved that, I had to make sure that the mechanics and sequences kept up.
Now that I had 3 Couples, there was so many more ways to interrupt the Dance Floor. And what about the timings? How many turns could you have? How long did the Round last? How many Rounds did you play?!?!
So the targeted playtests continued. And what I discovered is that when you use 3 couples at a time, your Lords and Ladies thin out much more quickly. This was good, because now I didn't have to come up with an arbitrary reason for the game to end, it would take care of itself. There just won't be enough couples to continue on for more rounds. It was perfect!
So that eliminated my second tracker (thank goodness!), and then left me the question of what to do with the turns. Originally my Clock hand moved after EVERY turn and the Round ended at the 12. And then I had to account for adjustments depending on how many players were at the table -- I wanted the game to be snappy, but still fair. With how the game was currently running, the answer was simple (the answer is always simple once you've discovered it): Use the Clock as the First Player marker (eliminates another component), and when the turn sequence gets back to that Player, they move the Clock hand. One Round, One Clock Movement.
I know, I know, why didn't I just do that in the first place?!?! IT'S A PROCESS!!! At least I got there in the end.
But luckily I know that I have something that works and works as I intended. Everyone who has played has walked away with tears in their eyes, belly-laughing from the down-right dirty insinuations tossed at these fictional caricatures of gentry. It's fun. It's memorable. And it's mine, from start to finish!
Needless to say, I'm starting 2023 off with my game face on!
And, yes, my next one is following close behind! I don't know how many slightly off-colour card games I'm going to spew out, but no one's going to stop me just yet!