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Time Quake - Critiques Wanted

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GenWash
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Forgive me if this is in the wrong spot— this will be the 1st time I've posted anything like this in this forum.

The game:
https://vimeo.com/69788196

Time Quake has been playtested 3 times among my friends only. They all seem to like it but I still feel that it has a long way to go. If I am able to turn this into something really good, I have high hopes for the art.

Please feel free to ask any questions, critique, give ideas, etc. in any way you wish. If anyone is interested enough in Time Quake I can also email the card templates and the necessary information for them. Many thanks!

-TJ

GenWash
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I should mention that the

I should mention that the Missions have various payment values: $1, $2, and $3.
The missions each require around 5, 6 and 7 agents to complete, respectively.

Traz
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since you asked

Gen-
I think you have a wonderful game and game system. I'm ready to buy one. ;-)

However [you knew that was coming] - I would suggest one very serious change. Your 'date' mechanic feels contrived and confusing. When you completed the mission, you replaced it with a mission from 1890 [a higher date] and then removed another mission with a higher date, 'a mission with a higher date must be removed'. Yet you didn't even consider the new one [a rule we don't know about?]. This I found confusing [all or one?] and arbitrary [rules apply to one that qualifies, but not others]. BUT, I think at the heart of it, I like the rule, so here is my suggestion for a tweak:

Find four symbols [an hourglass/a sundial/a pocket watch/a grandfather clock] to add to each mission. I'm assuming a deck of 52 cards and probably about 20 of them as missions? [help me out here] Distribute the symbols evenly.

Whenever a mission is completed, remove another mission with the same symbol that has the most/least [you choose - you know your system, I don't] agents attached. In case of a tie, choose the mission closest to the completed mission going to the left [or just use that as the criterion].

As an alternative, choose the mission with the NEXT higher date [that might be what you meant to say].

The reasoning will be that any one mission completed can change the timeline - simple logic and definitely adds flavor to the game.

I like the concept - you have handled it very elegantly, and the basic mechanics are solid, understandable and suggest ease of play. With the right artist, you are close to publishing. You obviously need repeated play to make sure all your numbers are congruent to play balance, but that will come.

Bottom line? I'd back this on KICKSTARTER. Please keep me informed of its progress.

laperen
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very very cool! the gameplay

very very cool! the gameplay seems solid enough, ill have to know more of your intentions and biases to gvie any suggestons though

is there any backstory to why these people are playing around with events in time in our world?

why both players are competing against each other in the same company? because the gameplay suggests they are working together, which i find rather counterintuitive to a competitive scenario. does the company have a code of ethics to their work?

my recommendation would be a limit to how many agents can complete a mission, so a player can uscrupulously sabotage a mission

another suggestion would be sabotage of a particular agent, so you replace an agent currently on the field with the agent you are about to play, probably based on a variable comparison like the sum of the highest 2 variables of the agents

are there any plans to make this game accomodate more players?

the layout could be improved IMO but no ideas come to mind right now

GenWash
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Thanks & Clarifications

Traz & laperen,

Thanks so much for the encouragement and feedback! I will definitely be taking your suggestions into consideration as my friends and I continue to play test. Also, I don't think I was quite as descriptive as I could have been in the video and perhaps it led to some confusion. I will try to clarify a few things as best I can for you:

1) Thematically, the "date" mechanic represents how completing a mission changes the future. If agents assigned to a mission in 1776 complete their objective, they return to HQ. All missions are intended to significantly change the future. Therefore, any missions after 1776 currently in play when any player scores the mission is replaced with a new one from the mission deck. Because of the actions of agents in 1776, their mission has been compromised because of altered circumstances. The company/time machine automatically reroutes these agents to a new mission. Also, a new mission becomes available in the mission slot formerly occupied by the 1776 mission. All cards being replaced due to a mission being scored happen simultaneously.

2) Exception to the above: If there are no agents assigned at a mission that happens after 1776, this mission is not replaced. A mission cannot be compromised before anyone is involved there. It is merely a potential endeavor.

3) No two missions have the same year, so there are no rules for resolving date "ties."

4) There are 84 cards total: 48 agent cards (poker size) and 36 different missions (tarot size).

5) To quote Traz:
"The reasoning will be that any one mission completed can change the timeline - simple logic and definitely adds flavor to the game."
This is exactly what I was going for with the above mechanic.

6) I'll admit the backstory is a bit muddy at the moment, which is why I chose to keep it simple in the video. However, just spit-balling here:
To the occupants of the advanced time-travel capable universe, we are but mere playthings. Think immature Time Lords. Wealthy citizens can pay companies to meddle with our timeline as entertainment. Even watching the assigned time-agents struggle (lower class citizens desperate for work) is entertainment. The players play as the company's dispatchers, and even they compete to earn favor within the company. Perhaps the company is also part government… or ALL government.

7) I have considered adding "period expertise" text to a limited number of agents that would cause them to be an auto-complete mission card if played on a particular mission. Essentially trump cards. I have not implemented this yet because I do not want to overcomplicate things but I've promised myself that I would eventually try it out. Other abilities like laperen suggested may work as well, but I would not want to add them until I know that the base mechanic by itself works as a complete and fulfilling game experience consistently.

8) We've play tested once with 3 players. With 3, the likelihood that another player has the correct agent to steal a mission away from you is increased by a lot. Too much I'd say. Therefore, we only dealt 3 cards to each player instead of 4. This seemed to remedy the problem and I would not be opposed to calling it a 2-3 player game.

9) I spent a lot of time (most of the time spent on this actually!) on the layout. I'm satisfied with it but I would absolutely be open to other options.

Again, thanks a LOT you guys. You have no idea how encouraging it was to read your responses. You've made me even more excited about this than I was. I look forward to more input and I will definitely be posting updates here.

laperen
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finally got some ideas for

finally got some ideas for layout, this recommendation is more for packaging than gameplay but might helpout with printing woes

you can have the mission cards laid in landscape with the variables shown at the bottom of the card

then you can have the agent cards laid in portrait with the variables laid at the top of the card, and the name at the bottom of the card, maybe some flavortext even to give the agent some character

that way you can have your mission and agent cards differentiated immediately, and not have to give the 2 types of cards different sizes

my main worry about the layout is related to how the players are seated. im assuming players are seated across each other, your layout is good for one person to see, but not the other.

putting the cards sideways gives the annoyance of tilting the head, but i guess its a persistent problem with no real way to solve since changing the layout might make organisation become messy

i still think this game can expand to fit more players, but more players also mean more cards to include. not sure you intend to go for it, but the layout will be a persistent annoyance with more players IMO

still, for me its soemthing i can bear with, user interface is just something i put more effort into than i should. the game's organisation on the field is neat as it is, so i guess change it only if your playtesters really complain about it outright

and for the backstory elements you mentioned, somehow feels like its got some HitchHiker's-Guide-to-the-Galaxy feel to it, probably could throw in a reference there and make ti more light hearted than youve portrayed it in text so far

Traz
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ah, so........

"Therefore, any missions after 1776 currently in play when any player scores the mission is replaced with a new one from the mission deck."

This answers my question. In your example, you place the 'new' mission [with a later date than the completed mission] to replace the completed mission BEFORE you remove any missions with dates that are later [when you leave the new/replacement mission on the table]. You need to include a line in your rules that states "Remove any missions - and agents attached to them - that have dates later than the completed mission. *Then* replace all open mission slots with new mission cards."

As to your 'period expertise', you may want to try having these cards allow a player to place an extra agent on their turn, rather than being a trump card. This allows them more options while being held, and it reduces the number of cards in a players hand [classic risk/gain mechanic] reducing their flexibility on future turns for certain gains immediately. A trade off that requires good timing. This might allow you more players without overloading the system. You might also want to consider allocating one to every player at the beginning of the game [a Team Leader if you will], adding a known tension that will fall at a time [pun intended] you least expect it. If these work out in playtesting, they would make an EXCELLENT stretch goal for a KICKSTARTER campaign.

As to your card layout - I think it's just fine. My artwork suggestion is just that - not to change the structure, but to jazz it up and make it look pretty. ;-)

Your spit-ball is right on target. Nicely done. If that were on the back of the box, I'd want to take it home.

Oh, wait - I already want to take this home! ;-) Looking for a blind playtester? Woot!

StagCutlery
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A couple suggestions

If you're looking for "period expertise", you could group events during certain ages (age of exploration, bronze age, industrial age), and your agents could be given a bonus to one or more stats if assigned to the appropriate period. As long as your stats never change position (Stealth is always the first number, for example), you could denote the specialty with an asterisk (x*) or enclose the number in a special circle (a bronze coin for bronze age, or a cog for the industrial age) to remind you of their specialty. You could also leave this expertise for named agents. For example, you could have a generic card, like 300 Spartans (because why not?) with set stats, but Henry Ford gets set stats, plus a bonus if he's in the Age of Industry. The whole thing is people mucking with the timeline, so have fun with it!

My next suggestion is after you have your system fine tuned, what do you think of having two agendas on each of your events? For example, one side of the card has "Kill Xerxes" with its requirements and victory points, while the other side has something like "Give Xerxes Helicopters" with its own set of requirements and victory points? Again, you got people time-hopping, so make up some crazy things. A player can commit his agents only to one side, and each side's reqs/VPs could be different, so the strategy would be to assign agents to the side he thinks he could complete quickly, even if that side gives less VPs that its other side.

Lastly, a critique; I like that scoring an event wipes out future events, but I feel like that's just a rough draft idea to something even cooler. I don't think that mechanic is fully fleshed out yet. I wish I had something else, but I don't. I tried thinking of some brainstorming ideas for you, but came up blank.

That's all I got after watching your video. Hope to see more as it progresses.

GenWash
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Being Considered

Stag,
A period expertise mechanic involving the missions being grouped into different ages is currently being considered. I've also thought about having 2 separate missions on each card, but I am unable to visualize it right now without drastically changing the game. It'd be something I'd focus only if the current system fails to endure.

But wow... give Xerxes helicopters. LOL. I will definitely use that or something like it and proceed to make even more crazy missions to replace the relatively boring sounding missions that I have right now. Like, lock Hitler in a room with nothing but Chicken Soup for the Soul books for 3 months...

Any further crazy/funny mission ideas?

jasongreeno
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Dinosaurs

Chaos Missions: A chaos mission is taken by the anarchists groups of the future. Their goal is to throw a wrench in the Time Lord's plans. Example:

Release T-Rex on the Mayflower. If this Mission succeeds target Mission (within 200 year window) and assigned agents are discarded.

Shoe
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My first thought was that the

My first thought was that the game seems a bit like a re-themed Smash Up. In games dealing with messing with time I like mechanics that make it feel like we can actually effect the time stream. Maybe consider having several timeline decks, and replacing future events with stuff from an alternate timeline deck that contained opposite missions...like Save Vlad the Impaler....etc

Just a thougt
-Shoe

StagCutlery
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beat me to it

Shoe wrote:
My first thought was that the game seems a bit like a re-themed Smash Up.

I was going to say the events mirror Smash Up's bases up very much. Was one of the reasons why I suggested dual-statted agendas. Didn't want to mention it because I wasn't certain if the OP had played it or not.
I think you can still stake a claim for yourself if you focus on the following things:
- Events affecting future events. It fits your theme and any mechanics rooted to your theme are always good. I still stand by my statement that you need a more engaging mechanic on this though.
- A different "collapsing" mechanic. Right now both your game and Smash Up have the same method of people dog-piling a place until the threshold(s) is met to score it... actually, by the time you're ready to publish Smash Up might not be popular, so this point is probably mute.

So two suggestions:
Suppose events had a sliding scale/tug-of-war thing going? Say you have the event "Adolf gets accepted to art school" and you're playing agents to either help this happen, or to prevent it, and the pendulum swings back and forth until there's a winner.
Based on the outcome, something happens to the timeline. The card states that all future events with the "war" keyword are replaced if it passes, but if Hitler doesn't get accepted, then all the agents with the "WWII" keyword are discarded.

Traz
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yummy

Jason - LOVE your idea about Time Lords vs Anarchists. Woot!

This might just allow both sides of a mission to be played - you might want to consider having your Agent Cards be *SPLIT CARDS* with two Agents on each card, allowing you to make a decision which way you can get a particular mission fulfilled - and work against your opponent[s] at the same time. It would even be possible to change your mind along the way, swinging your support from the Time Lords to the Anarchist at an opportune time. I think Stag hit that idea out of the park.

ANARCHISTS could easily be an expansion, or a set of stretch goals. ;-)

Jeez. Anybody would think I'm trying to push this kid into getting the game published....

GenWash
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Thanks for all the feedback

Thanks for all the feedback so far, my notepad is filling up quickly and work on Prototype B is fully in progress.
I'm also starting another thread for funny mission ideas.

GenWash
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Law of Our Universe

I was thinking thematically, and I came up with this idea. It may be just something written in the rules, but I think it causes the game to make a little more sense.

Our universe resists alterations to its timeline. When a mission is successful, our universe is "wounded." The changes still send shock waves far into the future, but as time passes the wound naturally heals itself. This is why despite Xerxes being given a random fleet of helicopters and it changing the balance of power in the world for a time, within a couple hundred years things have somehow returned pretty much to the way they would have been, with only minor changes still lingering. Perhaps somehow all the helicopters were used foolishly and all knowledge of how to build them was lost.
Any time agents currently deployed to future missions are still knocked back into the vortex by the shock waves, but this "law of the universe" explains how Benjamin Franklin still exists one day, and his life is still pretty much the same as it should have been, and there would be no reason (mechanically) to change the mission having to do with him or remove it from the game, unless there are agents assigned there.

Speaking of which, when a mission must be removed because the agents there were compromised by shock waves, I think that mission should not be "removed from the game" anymore, but rather just sent to a mission discard pile that has a potential to be shuffled back into the mission deck should the game last that long. (it hasn't yet though)

In short: It's the opposite of the "Butterfly Effect" theory of time travel.

StagCutlery
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one more thought about missions

Another thing to solidify your timeline idea: you can have multiple missions dealing with similar things and once one is scored, the other ones that occur later can't be played. For example, once someone scores "Washington Tells a Lie", any Washington mission that happens later must be replaced.

padragan
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Custom effects?

Why not have different effects when a mission is resolved?

On the mission card it says exactly how the future is affected, things like "Remove the first mission in the future marked WAR" or "Return two agents to the discard from the mission with the highest date". Of course, if there are no WAR mission cards currently in play nothing happens.

In line with this I also think it would be great to add labels to all missions like

WAR
DISCOVERY
GREAT PERSONALITY
REVOLUTION
WORLD INSPIRATION
ECONOMY
MURDER
MONUMENT

and the like. I think this would do two things to your game:

1. It would add a strategic point of view, where you can choose how to tweak the current board if you have the choice between finishing several missions during your turn.

2. It would add more theme, and it would give the notion that you actually DO something with the future.

But I must say what others have said already. The game looks solid, and I would back it if it was on kickstarter. Take care of this gem!

MikeyNg
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Multiple bigger strategic goals

I like the idea of having larger big strategic goals for the players to pursue. My initial take is that there's a lack of ... interactivity between players.

I like the idea of having opposing factions. Alternatively, you could have agent cards be double-sided with one side having more positive attributes and one side having negative attributes. You'd use the negative side to slow down an opponent's progress on certain missions.

I think having different types of missions (maybe like 3 or so) and different eras may be good. In addition to this, at the very beginning of the game, players draw a Victory Condition card for themselves. It could have things like "Start a war in three different eras" or "Provide advanced technology four times" or "Accomplish 3 tasks in the ___ Age" etc. You could change the VP (currency) and provide different types (war/tech/peace/etc) to match the victory conditions.

This would allow you to expand beyond two players as the game is not simply dogpiling on any mission - you want to pursue missions that are good for you. Or prevent missions happening for other players. Or accomplish an earlier mission to timeshift a later mission that you don't need to potentially make it something that you do need. Or bluff other players (he's really stacking the war missions - he must need them).

StagCutlery
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...

GenWash wrote:
I was thinking thematically, and I came up with this idea. It may be just something written in the rules, but I think it causes the game to make a little more sense.

Our universe resists alterations to its timeline. When a mission is successful, our universe is "wounded." The changes still send shock waves far into the future, but as time passes the wound naturally heals itself. This is why despite Xerxes being given a random fleet of helicopters and it changing the balance of power in the world for a time, within a couple hundred years things have somehow returned pretty much to the way they would have been, with only minor changes still lingering. Perhaps somehow all the helicopters were used foolishly and all knowledge of how to build them was lost.
Any time agents currently deployed to future missions are still knocked back into the vortex by the shock waves, but this "law of the universe" explains how Benjamin Franklin still exists one day, and his life is still pretty much the same as it should have been, and there would be no reason (mechanically) to change the mission having to do with him or remove it from the game, unless there are agents assigned there.

Speaking of which, when a mission must be removed because the agents there were compromised by shock waves, I think that mission should not be "removed from the game" anymore, but rather just sent to a mission discard pile that has a potential to be shuffled back into the mission deck should the game last that long. (it hasn't yet though)

In short: It's the opposite of the "Butterfly Effect" theory of time travel.

What if certain missions had "Historical Gravity"? These mission cards don't have an objective, but once they come up they stay in the timeline and the game ends when a certain number of these cards come up?

padragan
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Messing with the scoring system...

I just got another idea that may or may not be interesting.

What if the scoring of your missions were depending on conditions that may be altered? For example:

"$2 unless a war was prevented before 1266, otherwise $4"

or

"$1 for each killed personality earlier in history"

That way the different players will be more or less interested in some of the missions on the board, and that in turn could feel more like player interaction, and also add a strategic dimension to the game. It would also add to the strength of theme in the game where new missions actually have an impact on missions allready cleared.

These rules could be in a separate box of the mission cards, so that players that wish for a simpler game could still use the default scoring system.

Silverdreams
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I'm on board

I really like the concept here and the game play looks pretty straight forward. Some of the suggestions on here are good too, so hopefully you can streamline it without losing the core. Add me to the list of blind playtesters!

GenWash
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UPDATE

Here is an update for all who have contributed thus far.

Many, many variants of this game have been tried and one fact seems to rise to the top:
The game's base mechanic is what makes it challenging and fun. It is at the core of the decisions that a player must make. Every single addition to the game that we've tried, such as special abilities on some/all cards, special cards that aren't agents, etc. have bogged the game down and even broken it to the point of unplayability.
The "time quake" is what I am calling the mechanic that causes future missions to be removed/replaced when a mission in its past is completed (shock waves knocking the agents loose). Even this mechanic seems to be best left alone.

Therefore, work on Prototype C is almost finished and I will be using TheGameCrafter to print. I do not think I will "publish" the game through TheGameCrafter but rather send the .pdf files to anyone here who would like to blind playtest. If anyone has an easier idea please let me know.

The only thing that really stands in the way of completion on Prototype C is more interesting missions. A large portion of them are "kill/save significant person." I have another thread here that would love to be filled up ;)

Missions Idea thread:
http://www.bgdf.com/node/12699

Thanks everyone!

Evil ColSanders
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It seems very similar to

It seems very similar to Renier Kenizia's "Poison", but using 3 numbers instead of 1. Just an observation.

GenWash
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Nice!

I misunderstood this when I read it the first time. I really like this idea, but I'm thinking they wouldn't be missions, but rather something else that would fit thematically with 3 "game end" cards.
Have you ever played Palazzo by Reiner Knizia? The game ends when 5 special tiles are revealed in the same way as you have described. They represent the impending arrival of some guy there to inspect the palaces you've built during the game. (the tiles form a small mural when put together)

GenWash
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The above comment...

...was meant to be a response to StagCutlery.

StagCutlery
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Maybe "Father Time" has had

Maybe "Father Time" has had enough and puts a kabosh on all the timey-wimey stuff?

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