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As-yet-untitled Space Game

4 replies [Last post]
Joined: 03/24/2009

Hey there everybody. I'm new here, but I thought I would share the basic concept of the game I've been working on, and see if anyone could help me, among other things, come up with a title for this bad boy.

The Premise: Humanity has just discovered that there's a network of wormholes connecting dozens of different planets from all over the galaxy. The players are starship captains who have nobly decided to brave the dangers and venture forth into the wormhole network, so as to explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilizations, and make more money doing so than anyone else.

The Board: Each planet is on a hexagonal tile, one planet per tile (except Earth, which also has the moon and others), and all 37 fit into in a hexagonal frame; players start on Earth and fill in the rest of the board as the game goes on by sending probes through wormholes or diving blindly into the unknown. Planets aren't necessarily connected to the planets adjacent to them... rather they're connected by wormholes. Each tile has a wormhole path coming in from all six edges, but hot all need to touch the planet (the one coming in from the top might snake around the planet completely and go out the bottom, for example). Early on, when tiles are starting to be placed, this means a lot of planets directly connected to the one next to them, but over time it leads to unexpected, meandering paths that connect distant parts of the board to each other.

The Game: The primary goal is to find and 'claim' planets. The first person to stop at an unexplored planet leaves a marker there; each planet is worth a certain amount of money, but more importantly, the players are then allowed to explore the planet (drawing from a deck that contains both valuable artifacts and technology, but also potential disasters). Sometimes exploration leads to encountering Quests (draw from the quest deck; it presents you with a major challenge with a significant reward for completing it) or Aliens (draw from the aliens deck, which has a number of variable outcomes, good and bad). Once all the planets have been exposed (if not necessarily visited), it becomes a race to get back to Earth. The first person to return ends the game, and gets a 10% bonus to the value of all the planets, artifacts, technologies, and quest rewards they've obtained. Whomever has the most money wins.

The Challenge: The secondary goal is to do everything in your power to PREVENT your opponents from accomplishing their primary goal. You can attack each other (to damage, rob, or temporarily disable the other's ship), you can steal planets other players have claimed (by attacking, bribing, or coercing the planet), you can play your technology to make your ship more powerful (but losing half the value of the tech, because now it's USED), and you can use certain artifacts offensively to harm your opponents (but in so doing, you lose the artifact... naturally, the most powerful are the most expensive).

I have a prototype, and am working on a second, better, more thought-out prototype, but I still need to play with the mechanics for ship movement (currently, it's 1d4 plus or minus how many upgrades the engine has, to hopefully put some measure of control in the hands of the player while still requiring them to move more than they might want), as well as how planets get explored (I'm toying with letting players draw multiple cards at more valuable planets, but I'm still not sure). But still, that's the basic idea... being a jerk and making a lot of money in space. So my real questions (besides "does this sound awesome?" and "does this sound exactly like some other, better game I've never heard of?") are... can anyone help me think of a title? And can anyone help me think of a term for "wormhole network" that better conveys the sort of 1930's, "Flash Gordon"-style pulp-sci-fi attitude that I was hoping to tap into?

SiddGames's picture
Joined: 08/02/2008
The board system sounds

The board system sounds loosely like Tongiaki. Half the tiles are water and half are islands. The water tiles have crisscrossing "currents" between the six edges, which creates a sometimes meandering path between islands as one explores. The gameplay sounds nothing alike, though.

How about something like "Rocketeers" - it sounds retro-science (and good or bad, is similar to the movie "The Rocketeer"), but can also be a play on the word racketeers. Maybe "Rocket Racketeers."

What would 30's SF call a wormhole? Tube? Portal or Gateway? What did they call networks back then (what did they even refer to as networks, heh)? It seems like "generic" type names are reminiscent of older SF (for example, "Star Trek" and even "Star Wars" are very generic names if you know nothing about them). Maybe something like: Space Current(s), Star Current(s), Galactic Voyages, Rocketroad instead of railroad. Hm, tying in with the financial exploitation, that leads me to something like Star Barons. Hm, and further, using historically based names: Union Galactic, Solar Express, Galactic Express.

Wormhole Trailblazers
Star Tapestry
Web Riders (Starweb Riders? Web of Stars?)

simons's picture
Joined: 12/28/2008
For wormhole

For wormhole names:
extra-dimensional portals?

For game titles:
Trinidad 2200 (or named after some other famous ship)?
although I do like Rocketeers

Joined: 04/06/2009
Gate Crashers?

Gate Crashers?
Into the Warp?

The gameplay sounds okay. I like the non-linear board, but having been designing games for several years now, I'm starting to feel like decks of cards are the number one cop-out these days. People come up with a decent base mechanic, but when they can't figure out how to add depth to the gameplay, they just add a deck of cards with random powers and effects.

For instance, one thing you could do is make it more into a military/economic game... have different types of planets produce different resources. Establish production bases there, send freighters to bring them back to Earth to sell them, with a fluctuating economy. Build combat ships to defend your own shipments and/or hijack other people's shipments and/or attack their planets. Maybe there are roving pirate fleets, that any player can move under certain circumstances. Some planets would be occupied by alien civilizations and defended by mighty fleets. Usually you trade with them, buying whatever resource they have to sell cheaply and bringing it back to Earth, and/or selling them your own stuff, if they're offering a better deal than Earth. With sufficient firepower, you could overwhelm them and take them over, taking the planet's production for yourself.

I'm not saying you have to do exactly that... but do you see what I mean? With a good set of rules, you could just print a couple of numbers to represent resource production/native population of each planet directly on the tile, not have any decks of cards at all, and still end up with deep gameplay. Personally, I think that should be a game designer's goal... simple mechanics leading to complex gameplay, rather than vice versa.

Joined: 07/27/2008
About worms and holes...

Emmental Galaxy, emmental warp.

Nematode warp, nematode galaxy.


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