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Cooperative Sci-Fi Strategy Game - WIP

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Dravvin
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The mAIden Voyage Player Deck Card Back
The mAIden Voyage Encounter Deck Card Back
The mAIden Voyage Event Card Example

Over the past few months I’ve been working on a cooperative action based sci-fi strategy game called The mAIden Voyage. Having play tested it myself and with friends on many occasions I’m about to take it to a few strangers at the UKGE to get some honest feedback (hopefully).

Several games have inspired The mAIden Voyage including Pandemic, Eldritch Horror and Battlestar Galactica to name but a few. I’ve tried to take the things that I love about other games and combine them into this game. These include game replayability, story/theme consistent in all parts of the game, quick reference cards making the game easy to learn (and remember!), set collection, resource management, event/encounter cards and individual roles. The art is inspired by art deco and retro travel posters (which I’ve had quite a bit of help with from a friend).

I have a few weeks before I do this so would appreciate any advice on playtesting and on my game idea in general. In addition to the images with this post, I've uploaded several images of some of the cards here if you’re interested, including quick reference cards which should give you a feel for how the game plays: www.facebook.com/themaidenvoyagebg

OVERVIEW:
The mAIden voyage is a Sci-Fi strategy game with cooperative gameplay. The game is played over 2 boards and will have a maximum of 12 rounds. The basic aim of the game is to get The mAIden to its destination, mostly intact, and with enough crew to carry out its mission.

STORY:
Space travel is commonplace in 2183, in fact there are tons of ships floating around in our galaxy, going from system to system, mostly scientific or mining, but lots of them none-the-less. However, exploring our own quadrant wasn’t enough for one group of scientists. They wanted to answer some deeper questions and had set out on a mission to once and for all prove that dark matter existed.

This group had been studying dark matter for decades but still couldn’t conclusively prove that it existed. Then, on a rather normal and boring Sunday evening, Yvette, the lead scientist, had an idea: Why didn’t they go and collect some? That way they could once and for all settle the debate as to whether it existed or not. They had recently identified what they thought was a collection of dark matter in the neighbouring sector AWGT-0608, just 12 parsecs away! But just dark matter was only half the fun. They wanted a brand new and sparkly ship to do it in. One that they had designed, a fully AI (Artificial Intelligence) controlled ship. This ship was The mAIden.

The journey was going to be long, but exciting! They couldn’t take all the supplies they needed with them, but could take enough to get them part-way there, they would need to stop at at least 2 planets on their journey to pick up additional supplies and at least 10 of the scientists would need to be tucked up in stasis until they arrived to conserve energy. Fortunately, they had had lots of data of prospective planets along their route so had plenty of choice of which ones to stop at as well as the most up-to-date stasis chambers available.

Unfortunately, not everyone was quite so enthusiastic about the mAIden’s mission. In fact, they objected to the whole idea of the existence of dark matter and weren’t too keen on an AI controlled ship either. They feared that both would result in no good and ultimately would cause the end of the human race. They just hadn’t worked out yet which would end it first – dark matter or AI.

This group called themselves Anti, so named as they were against most things scientific. They were determined to stop the mAIden’s mission, at any cost. With the ship being the first of its kind, surely it would be easy to sabotage?

Launch date came and went and the mAIden was performing exceptionally well. The scientists thought they had prevailed over Anti but little did they know that they had actually been infiltrated. There were 5 Saboteurs on board, all patiently waiting for the right moment to act.

The first of the Saboteurs had a very specific mission: damage the AI Core at the point of no return. This would wreck all kinds of havoc. The remaining 4 Saboteurs then simply had to wait and act at the right moment to guarantee that the mAIden’s mission failed.
Only moments after passing the point of no return, an explosion went off in the AI Core. A large group of scientists rushed to see what the problem was, but they were too late; 3 of the Scientists were already dead. When they tried to interface with the mAIden they discovered that the AI that the scientists had so carefully designed was damaged, it had fragmented.

In an attempt to save herself, the mAIden transferred each of her algorithms into the AI-bots. The AI-bots had previously been happily running the ship, carrying out the mAIden’s every command. But now, the AI-Bots have been set free; each has its own personality, specialism and quirks.

Unfortunately, the mAIden wasn’t able to fully transfer all of her algorithms before being irreparably damaged, her command and navigational algorithms were permanently corrupted, preventing the mAIden being able to turn around until it’s mission had been completed. This would give the Saboteurs plenty of time to prevent the mAIden and its Scientists from ever reaching its destination.

Things had gone wrong, very wrong indeed…

Arcuate
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Sounds like a prequel...

Sounds like a prequel to my own game.

I'd be happy to swap playtesting efforts... Cheers, Arcuate.

Ah... I see on another thread you prefer co-ops and don't like complex rules. That means a playtest swap is not going to work - we overlap on theme, but nothing else.

Good luck with your game!

The Professor
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Best of luck to you and the mAlden Crew!

Dravvin,

We just completed a successful KS for our 4X space coop, TAU CETI, last month. The artwork looks great and it appears from the write-up, coop is baked right into your design. Sounds like it will be a fun, challenging game!

Cheers,
Joe

Dravvin
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Thanks Arcuate :)

I don't mind complex rules as long as they are intuitive but with a 9 month old it is almost impossible to sit and read a long rule book now! What I really hate is having to keep refering to it for fiddly rules.

Oh the days before children! Though I love her to bits :)

Good luck with your game too. I'd be interested to read more about it either way.

Dravvin
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Thanks Joe

Was TAU CETI your first KS? How did you find the process? Any advice for running a campaign?

I'd love to make my game a reality but as I have to fit it in around work and my daughter I think it might be a while until I'm happy to release it properly - currently trying to properly scale it for different numbers of players - any advice there?

The Professor
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KS Advice

Dravvin,

It's actually the fourth KS I've been involved with over the past five years. The first two were my own in which my colleague and I designed thematic card holders and component trays for Arkham Horror ~ Crafthulhu and Eldritch Knowledge. They both successfully funded at 200%-350%. The third one was obliquely assisted through conversations with Sandy Pedersen before he launched Cthulhu Wars. Finally, TAU CETI has been one in which I assisted from the sidelines. One for the future is working with Kris Kycia, here at BGDF on his game, Tradewars: Homeworld.

One piece of advice I would absolutely give to you...pick-up a copy of Jamey Stegmaier's Build a Better Company by Building a Better Community. It's seriously the most essential reading for you before you ever hit the "Launch" button.

As far as numbers, game stores and their players love larger player counts. Try to shoot for 5-6, but with the option for solo play, as well.

Hope that helps. Certainly send me a note and I'll be more than happy to help you out.

Cheers,
Joe

Dravvin
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Wow!

Looks like you've had quite some success Joe!

I'll look the book up thank you :)

I originally designed my hands for 5-6 players but cut it down as thought it was too long with 5+. It's only the player deck which needs slightly more cards to make it work but can probably get round this by shuffling the discard pile. I'll do some playtesting with 5 once I get 1-4 sorted!

Thanks again for the advice :)

Janice

The Professor
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Sounds great!

Janice,

There's absolutely no substitute for play-testing. I know Jamey's Scythe had more than 700 play-tests and even TAU CETI topped 250. If you don't have a rubric for players to assess your game, send me a PM and I'll provide you with something I have used on a number of games and shared with quite a few of our colleagues here at BGDF.

It's great to see a female designer, as the nature of the hobby is wonderfully receptive of everyone's creativity.

Cheers,
Joe

adversitygames
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It sounds like a potentially

It sounds like a potentially interesting idea.

Here's a few thoughts on your backstory:

I suggesting shortening it. It's quite long-winded.

The name seems weird. Why maiden? What is maidenly about the ship? It seems like it's been picked because it has "AI" in it.

I guess you're not going too hard-science and are going more casual and fun with the backstory?

But even then there are inconsistencies (eg the idea that you can pick up supplies en route contradicts there being a point of no return).

(going casual with sci-fi is fine, it's a board game not a research report ofc, but internal contradictions take it from far-fetched - which can be fun - to incomprehensible - which isn't)

Happy to playtest it if we meet at UKGE.
Honest criticism I can do.

Dravvin
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Good points iamseth

Thanks for the feedback iamseth.

The story does need another read through and you've picked a good point out there. It should be point where they can no longer realistically communicate with Earth - I'll get right on to fixing that! And yes, it's casual/fun sci-fi I'm going for.

We've had debates about the story length - sufficient detail to explain the mechanics and setup vs information overload. I think there will be many more re-writes until I get to a final version but perhaps I should bump this up my priority list a bit (along with even more play testing!). Generally my work starts long and over many iterations it gets shorter.

In terms of name - The mAIden Voyage is a double play on words/letters.

In terms of maritime a maiden voyage is the first journey of a ship. Secondly, it has the letters AI in it (which is a bonus!). Given that the whole concept of the game is about getting from one place to another in a (space)ship that is brand new (i.e. it's first journey) it's called 'The mAIden Voyage'.

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