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In need of input on game, cards and icons

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Xacharias
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Rank and Icon Update
Icon and Card Test

Hello!
I'm designing a game where criminal factions battle against each other for the control of a city. As I am a big fan of the old Grand Theft Auto video games I used that style as a source of inspiration. I know that is about as unique as vanilla ice-cream but the idea is to make it feel somewhat familiar and easily accessible for new gamers.

Description in short
Criminal factions are at war with each other over the control of city territory. Each faction consists of 13 characters ranging in strength from 1-13. These are then categorized in seven ranks as follows:

  • (1-2) Recruit
  • (3-4) Thug
  • (5-6) Associate
  • (7-8) Soldier
  • (9-10) Enforcer
  • (11-12) Hitman
  • (13) Boss

The game plays over a series of rounds. Each round a City Card is drawn and the battle for that location begins. City Cards ranges in value and can also provide bonuses to the player controlling them. Effects and bonuses usually affects one of the ranks above.

For example: A weapon store adds +2 to all Associates.

City Cards also provide income and by the end of the game, the faction with the most Income wins the game.

Battle
A battle is simply choosing which of the 13 criminals to assign to the fight. This might sound easy enough but once you've played a Character Card it remains visible in front of you. Thus giving everybody else full insight as to what cards you have remaining. So for every fight, it gets somewhat easier to predict the opponents next move. But then again, that is also true for your opponent.

Special Abilities always resolves first. Then bonuses are added to the characters strength and the fight is resolved with the strongest criminal as the winner. In case of a tie, no one gains control of the City Card and it is discarded (face up). So as the game progresses, all information is always available for everyone.

Art style
I have chosen to be inspired by the cell shaded illustration technique used in the early GTA games since I think that is a great fit with the theme. Again, not too original but I find it works very well. Also, it allows me to draw friends and family as criminals - a great bonus!

Icons
The idea is that the icons should be easy to read both in terms of Strength (value) and Rank (text, color and icon). The idea is for a stylized Knife, Bullet and Gun to be used as indicators of rank to make them easily distinguishable from each other. See attached image.

In need of feedback
I have play tested quite extensively and so far the input has been really good. But before I take this game to the next stage I'd really appreciate your feedback.

  1. What do you think about the icons? Does it work?
  2. What do you think about the card layout? Is it functional?
  3. Any other general input is most welcome!
andymakespasta
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Love the art

The icons are okay. The layout, and number of ranks suggests you can play this game as a poker deck. Or not. I don't know.
The gun/bullet spread behind the icons gets ridiculous at the higher ranks. Maybe change it up, and have the ranks use different stuff?

The card layout is fine, as you really aren't stuffing that much information onto each card.

I love cell-shaded art. The theme is sort of dark, but the colorful artwork really makes the ranks stand out.

This makes me wonder, if the ranks are straight up better (i.e. higher ranks are always better), or if the ranks have a certain theme, or range of mechanical effects. Since players can easily tell rank at a glance, is the information useful in game?

Without actually seeing the rules and the card effects, I can't really tell if the game has anything new to offer. The theme and art are great draws, but you might want to start thinking about what the focus of your pitch would be. Would it be some interesting mechanic, or are you just going to sell this game based on the strength of your art and theme.

X3M
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I think you already have

I think you already have explained the rules 'almost' completely, right?
In that case, you already have a well designed game.

Although I wonder how much bonus the lowest tier card would get?
And how many city cards are there to battle for?
There will be only 13 battles?
How to decide a winner if both sides have the same amount of city cards?

Xacharias
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Great input!

andymakespasta wrote:
The icons are okay. The layout, and number of ranks suggests you can play this game as a poker deck. Or not. I don't know.
The gun/bullet spread behind the icons gets ridiculous at the higher ranks. Maybe change it up, and have the ranks use different stuff?

Initially I thought about having it double as a poker deck but then decided not to. I agree that it gets too cluttered and odd-looking on the higher ranks. I was initially thinking about having the different groups of ranks be represented with a weapon instead. For instance a knuckle for Recruits, a baseball bat for Thugs and so on. I think I'll hava another look at that.

andymakespasta wrote:

The card layout is fine, as you really aren't stuffing that much information onto each card.

I love cell-shaded art. The theme is sort of dark, but the colorful artwork really makes the ranks stand out.

This makes me wonder, if the ranks are straight up better (i.e. higher ranks are always better), or if the ranks have a certain theme, or range of mechanical effects. Since players can easily tell rank at a glance, is the information useful in game?

The basis is that a higher rank beats a lower rank. However, more than half of the characters (all uneven numbers = 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13) all have special abilities. The number 1 (Vladimir the Vengeful) for instance has the following ability:

Immediately kills the opponents Boss.

There are also abilities that relates to the actual territory being fought over, or facing the police and others give bonuses if certain cards have been played earlier or not. It's not overly complicated but there are pretty much always one card trumping another. It is very much a psychology, guessing and bluffing game. With complete information at hand. But each fight and territory gained that carries bonuses also changes the values of the cards. Basically a player will chose between trying to get the valuable territories with little bonuses, or build up power through lesser income territories that carries bigger bonuses.

andymakespasta wrote:

Without actually seeing the rules and the card effects, I can't really tell if the game has anything new to offer. The theme and art are great draws, but you might want to start thinking about what the focus of your pitch would be. Would it be some interesting mechanic, or are you just going to sell this game based on the strength of your art and theme.

It is a simple yet quite challenging mechanic that I have found works well among both serious gamers (as a filler or starter) as well as casual gamers.

I might put a Print n Play up here soon if there is interest in trying it out?

Xacharias
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Thank you X3M!

X3M wrote:
I think you already have explained the rules 'almost' completely, right?
In that case, you already have a well designed game.

Although I wonder how much bonus the lowest tier card would get?
And how many city cards are there to battle for?
There will be only 13 battles?
How to decide a winner if both sides have the same amount of city cards?

Higher rank beats lower ranks. Although, the very lowest rank (1) beats the very highest rank (13), similar to the Spy in Stratego.
There are 24 City Cards to battle for. Gameplay is divided in two phases with 12 cards each. After the first phase, players replenish their hands for the second one.

Playing 12 City Cards instead of 13 also means that when the 12th City Card is drawn, everybody has 2 cards left in their hand to chose from. So it is never possible to fully anticipate the opponent (even though you have increasing odds).

Usually, the first half of the game is a sort of build up, where players try to get hold of strong bonuses. For the second phase players try to utilize those bonuses to collect high income territories. Since City Cards are shuffled however, it is usually a good idea to adopt the strategy accordingly.

All City cards have a value ranging from 1-5. Suburbs such as projects and docks being on the lower end and heists such as bank job, casino or armored car being the higher end. There are also Police Cards subtracting value. So two players ending up on the exact same score is really unusual. The tie-breaker in that scenario is then the last (13th) card in hand or "Last man standing". If still a tie after that - it is a tie.

Hope this explains some more. Would be delighted to have people here play test it and give feedback if that is of interest?

andymakespasta
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I like your game more the

I like your game more the more I think about it.

What happens if two players use the same ranked gangster? Is the next round used as a tie-breaker?

I'd probably just write the rules on a poker deck if I wanted to play, but your artwork is good enough to make me consider buying if the price is fair.

I didn't like your icons the first time, but they look fine today. I don't know why. Also, you're right about the higher ranks being easier to identify with the icon weapon spread. I didn't recognize the knife until I read the text description though.

Also, is the game strictly 2-player? If I had two decks, could I play a 4 player game with two on each side?

Soulfinger
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The rank terminology is

The rank terminology is muddled and confuses tasks with titles. For example, a boss would have something like an underboss or consigliore beneath him. Enforcer is synonymous with hitman. Neither fits into a hierarchy though, no more than a racketeer would, so 9-10 would better be termed as captain or capo. If a thug is not yet an associate then what is a recruit supposed to be, someone recruited into unorganized crime? My suggestion:

Boss
Underboss
Captain
Soldier
Associate
Thug
Crook

It scales up from someone who has committed a crime, but could even still be considered a civilian as far as organized crime goes, to a thug who has seen some struggles even if he has nothing to show for it, to someone working for or with an actual crew, to a made man, a captain of a crew, underboss, and then boss.

Actual criminal hierarchies do exist and are fairly transparent to the public, thanks to the efforts of law enforcement, so it rings very hollow and inauthentic not to get it right.

Past that, the art looks wonderful and emulating GTA will go over great with a solid core demographic of players. It looks like something CoolMini or Guillotine Games would issue.

I Will Never Gr...
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Iconography

If I could make a suggestion on the ranking symbols;

Instead of a number of bullets and guns all mixed like they are presented here, perhaps do colour coded bullets;

1 Grey/Steel/Black bullet for 1-2
2 Grey/Steel/Black bullets for 3-4,
1 Silver bullet for Ranks 5-6
1 Gold bullet for Boss/Rank 7

I would consider also adding the corresponding bullet colour to the white outline area of the ranking to further reinforce it. Although you do have the background images corresponding to the various ranks, so that may be overkill if you also did the white area.

Perhaps 2 Silver, 3 Gold in those ranks just to emphasize it beyond the colour.

Otherwise, the layout looks perfectly functional. You have the pertinent quick info in the top left so people can fan their cards out naturally and still see it which is important.

Xacharias
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Again, very good input!

andymakespasta wrote:
I like your game more the more I think about it.

Well, I sure like the sound of that! :)

andymakespasta wrote:
What happens if two players use the same ranked gangster? Is the next round used as a tie-breaker?

Initially that was the rule but from gameplay it proved to have a too significant impact. So now, a tie simply means none gains control and the area remains in the middle, face up and uncontested until end of game. However, there are special character abilities that can alter that.

andymakespasta wrote:

I'd probably just write the rules on a poker deck if I wanted to play, but your artwork is good enough to make me consider buying if the price is fair.

You would probably miss the actual City Cards to fight over a lot then. :) I'll make sure you don't need to worry about that though by getting the price right once I get that far.

andymakespasta wrote:

I didn't like your icons the first time, but they look fine today. I don't know why. Also, you're right about the higher ranks being easier to identify with the icon weapon spread. I didn't recognize the knife until I read the text description though.

I can only agree on the collected input on the Icons. They do need to change.

andymakespasta wrote:

Also, is the game strictly 2-player? If I had two decks, could I play a 4 player game with two on each side?

It is tested with 2, 3 and 4 players. It becomes a quite different game in each scenario. When playing only 2 it is all a psychology game and you could potentially really dominate your opponent if you are skilled and have a good read. When playing 3 or 4 it is more about knowing when to strike and when to dodge.

Character abilities also plays out first so it is not always that the highest rank wins. For instance, the Rank 5 ability is that he kills all Hitmen (11-12). So, if 5, 11 and 6 are played in a three-way fight, Rank 5 first kills off Rank 12 through his special ability before getting whacked by his fellow associate with the higher Rank 6.

Xacharias
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I'll have to consider this

Soulfinger wrote:
The rank terminology is muddled and confuses tasks with titles. For example, a boss would have something like an underboss or consigliore beneath him. Enforcer is synonymous with hitman. Neither fits into a hierarchy though, no more than a racketeer would, so 9-10 would better be termed as captain or capo. If a thug is not yet an associate then what is a recruit supposed to be, someone recruited into unorganized crime?

You are spot on. I was struggling a lot with the actual terminology of the ranks. It is important though that it doesn't just reflect the typical Italian structure but that it is a bit more generic. I felt I had to make a few trade-offs. Consider some of the different factions: Organized Crime Syndicate, Italian Mafia, Japaneese Yakyza, Mexican Cartel, Russian Bratva, American Motorcycle Gang.

Soulfinger wrote:

My suggestion:

Boss
Underboss
Captain
Soldier
Associate
Thug
Crook

It scales up from someone who has committed a crime, but could even still be considered a civilian as far as organized crime goes, to a thug who has seen some struggles even if he has nothing to show for it, to someone working for or with an actual crew, to a made man, a captain of a crew, underboss, and then boss.

Actual criminal hierarchies do exist and are fairly transparent to the public, thanks to the efforts of law enforcement, so it rings very hollow and inauthentic not to get it right.

I was considering Underboss earlier but it just has a strange ring to it in my ears. Is there another option (not going Italian)? Also, there will be two underbosses then, but maybe that is OK?

As far as Enforcer and Hitman goes I agree that these describe a job task rather than a title. But they have a nicer ring to them than having both soldier and captain. At least for me, having both of them starts getting too close to army ranks even though that might be more accurate. Also, regarding "Recruit" as the lowest rank I sort of like that as it is kind of synonymous to "Hangarounds" and "Prospects" so that would work well for a lot of other gang structures.

That being said, I really appreciate your input on this and I will definitely take your suggestions into consideration moving forward.

Soulfinger wrote:

Past that, the art looks wonderful and emulating GTA will go over great with a solid core demographic of players. It looks like something CoolMini or Guillotine Games would issue.

Wow! What a great compliment. My sincere thanks! :)

questccg
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I think Soulfinger is right...

You should RANK your troops according to the proper naming not duties (so Captain, Soldier vs. Hitman, Enforcer).

I had to do a similar change since I was designing a Sci-Fi space game and we came up with Captain, Commander, Sergeant and Private. Before I had Soldier and Private. Private was already a soldier... So Private and Sergeant made more sense (from a military perspective).

Captain was for ships - but I had nothing for crews. And so we chose "Commander" for managing crews. And if you do "define Commander" in Google, you get: "a person in authority, especially over a body of troops or a military operation."

So now it all works out... Using the CORRECT ranks! ;)

And I too AGREE, your artwork looks AWESOME. It really has a GTA feel/vibe. I know that's what you wanted, so kudos for pulling that off!

Xacharias
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Got it!

Thanks for the very useful feedback on this. I will definitely change the rank terminology now.

Thank you guys!

markgrafn
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I don't agree...

At least with Captain being a name associated with mobsters. It could just be my military background acting up, "if you can't respect the man, respect the rank." Captain referring to criminal organization, although accurate, isnt something ive liked. There are other options than captain that would fit just as good. CAPO for example as stated by Soulfinger. But that's all my opinion.

jbship628
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Very solid start, 2 quick suggestions.

I really, really like the concept and execution of your game. The fact that it likely will have a fairly low price point (as a seemingly card dominant game) only makes the odds of me potentially buying it go up!

I have 2 quick suggestions. One is very small and is simply an aesthetic thing that I noticed, the other might be more of a tweak to the game.

Minor aesthetic idea: In the background colors of the cards, it basically follows a rainbow color order from yellow to purple and then red for the boss. I like this, and I like red being the boss and it makes sense for it to be there. The one thing I noticed is that the current Enforcer level color is a blue/green and is noticeably lighter than the regular blue cards in the current soldier level. As you are already so close to having a very easy to distinguish pattern, I would switch the background colors of those 2 groups to have a more natural color palette transition.

If certain special powers defeat certain levels of characters, you could even then make those box colors match the background colors of the character to give a visual clue as well.

Tweak idea: I don't personally like the idea of a #1 being able to take out the boss. I know it is similar to the Spy in Stratego and I agree that there needs to be some way to defeat a Boss. This leads to my idea for a 14th card for each player: The Police. (With the art having a white or gray background so it contrasts against the color backgrounded criminal cards) (Use a police badge as its symbol in the corner with no number)

Think of it as the crime family tipping off the Police in order to catch their rivals in the act. The Police have no number, only a single special rule. "This card defeats all characters and this city card is reshuffled back into the deck." (This could also just make the city card go to no one at all as well, or even to the Police card playing player to show them bribing the Police. Whichever of those options you prefer.)

This adds one more card that will be left in your hand, increasing the variance. In multiplayer, it becomes an interesting decision where a high demand city card may invite The Police, but who plays the card? So you will see sometimes 2 or more Police cards getting played which are redundant, so those players may have burned off a valuable resource, or everyone plays a low card on a high demand city card, thinking it a Police trap, and then seeing a 3 or 4 winning a city card they had no business winning.

EDIT: Something I just thought of would be for the #1 level card special power basically able to ignore any Police cards played. He's such a low level guy, that he basically has no wrap sheet, so the Police aren't looking for him. THis creates this neat paper/rock/scissor between the #1Crook/Police/#13 Boss that both makes much more thematic sense, and increases strategic decisions.

For example: In a 4 player game, Player A plays a 4, Player B plays an 8, Player C plays Police, and Player D plays the 1. The Police card defeats all criminals, taking out the 4 and the 8, but the 1 escapes detection and then wins the square.

andymakespasta
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So police beats everything,

So police beats everything, and rank 1 beats police?
police sort of becomes the boss.
What's the difference?

Xacharias
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Thank you for valid input

jbship628 wrote:
I really, really like the concept and execution of your game. The fact that it likely will have a fairly low price point (as a seemingly card dominant game) only makes the odds of me potentially buying it go up!

I have 2 quick suggestions. One is very small and is simply an aesthetic thing that I noticed, the other might be more of a tweak to the game.

Great to hear. I will look at the color adjustment as well and see what I can do.

Regarding the #1 card and a Police card. I might have misunderstood something, but to me, it would ultimately just add another card but the basic mechanics would be the same?

Also, I don't really like the thematic part about sending the police on one another. Criminal organizations usually stay away from the police altogether as being caught as a snitch would be devastating.

But, I still like the creative input a lot. :)

Soulfinger
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Xacharias wrote:You are spot

Xacharias wrote:
You are spot on. I was struggling a lot with the actual terminology of the ranks. It is important though that it doesn't just reflect the typical Italian structure but that it is a bit more generic. I felt I had to make a few trade-offs. Consider some of the different factions: Organized Crime Syndicate, Italian Mafia, Japaneese Yakyza, Mexican Cartel, Russian Bratva, American Motorcycle Gang.

Fortunately, you can pretty much just google "X Hierarchy" and find a flow chart for any group. Really though, most are kind of boring in their terminology and tend to mirror the Italian structure. Military rank is a logical parallel for them, although the Yakuza lean a bit more toward executive terminology. The thing is that with the popularity of mafia movies, like the Godfather, and television shows, like the Sopranos, it's easier to go with something that will inherently 'sound right' to people than to reinvent the wheel.

Xacharias
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Now with updated ranks and icons

Just updated the ranks and icons. I think I actually like this better after all, so thank you guys for all the valuable input!

(I updated the original first message above with the new art because I couldn't seem to find a way to put it in a comment? Any advice on how I do that?)

As always, any feedback is welcome. Cheers!

questccg
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Xacharias wrote:I updated the

Xacharias wrote:
I updated the original first message above with the new art because I couldn't seem to find a way to put it in a comment? Any advice on how I do that?

Use standard HTML once you upload the image. So in your case you would have something like:

And then you need to specify under "Input format", Markdown.

Then people can see the images in any comment...

Xacharias
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Perfect!

questccg wrote:
Use standard HTML once you upload the image.

It works. Excellent, cheers for clearing that up mate! :)

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