Final Game Post Mortem- AstroTrails

For the final game redesign, my team decided to tackle Outerspade after we learned that our first choice, the Fame game, was selected by another team. Outerspade presented an interesting challenge to us, in that the message it’s creators wanted it to have did not match the theme and feel of the game itself. The first big decision we had to make was whether to move forward with the intended message (awareness of global warming and it’s catastrophic effects) or focus on the space theme and competitive nature of the game as it was.

Originally we chose to move forward with it’s intended message, global warming. First we tried to modify the card game to properly convey that message. We initially tried adjusting it to still be competitive, and then into a cooperative game. When neither of these worked, we tried a mixture of competitive (one winner) and cooperative (everyone could lose), but it still wasn’t really getting across the message during play. By then, we realized the card games were just too simplistic to really convey the message while still creating an exciting, anticipatory feel. We tried to translate the message into a board game, but we just continued to run into snags. The game either became overly complicated and rule driven, or it hinged too much on chance with little room for strategy. As time was running out, we decided a drastic change in direction was necessary.

From there we turned our focus onto the original theme, space, and kept the explosion dynamic to create an anticipatory, race feel to the game. With this change, we finally began to move in a good direction. First we tried it as a card game, using a deck to build the “board” and another to navigate it to “escape”. However, this wasn’t moving as smoothly as expected. It also required a good amount of work before game play could begin and would have required designing and testing many variations that the build deck could create. Because of that, we moved more fully into a set board before deciding that it was just too stiff to create the air of excitement and interaction we wanted.

We then looked to Tsuro for inspiration on a more flexible board dynamic, and that’s where the game’s design truly took off. We created a space race, throwing luck of the draw in with varying treasure locations and movement tiles, while adding power ups to aid in strategy development. In the end, I think the resulting game was very interesting and fun. It is very different from the original game, but I believe it really embodies and builds upon the originals intentions and feelings.

Our team worked well together, and we were much better at discarding games when they weren’t working and moving on than my previous groups were. However, I do think we stuck with our original direction too long before rerouting, due to a wish to create a game that focused on such an important modern problem. I was sad that we couldn’t incorporate the original message of global warming, due to it’s importance in the modern day. However, I do think we were in the right to cut it out and focus on a good play experience instead.

I am very happy with the work we put into the final game, and the finalized graphics have turned out truly impress. The resulting game looks amazing, and it also plays well. The graphics help simplify some of the mechanics that were harder to comprehend with our mock ups during the playtest. I believe this game could be highly marketable in the future, particularly with more refinement of the treasures and their boost abilities. Possibly cutting the boost varieties from three to two would help simplify their uses and encourage their use and availability for strategy. Overall, it is an interesting game that is easy to get into without a steep learning curve. The graphics are eye-catching, and I believe that will help the game sell well, as well as making game play more interesting and graphically interactive. The design encourages and supports the space theme, and I think the name change conveys it’s new mechanics and the anticipatory energy we wished to foster during game play. Overall, I’m glad that I got to work with this team to create a game I am very proud of to finish the semester.

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