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Axis Mundi Introduction and Playthrough Video - Feedback Wanted

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peterthull
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Hi! I’d love some feedback on the design of my board game: Axis Mundi.

It’s a 3-player competitive game of tactics, movement, and otherworldly powers, set on a rotating island with a transformative secret.

Its main game mechanisms are grid movement, hand management, and action selection, with the victory condition being that of a race.

Please visit:
https://www.betterliferesources.com/axismundi
to check out the ‘Introduction and Playthrough Video’. Please note that it is quite lengthy.

I am looking for feedback on the game's design. What do you think are its strengths and weaknesses? Do you think it is compelling enough?

I would also like to know your thoughts on the video itself. Were the rules explained clearly? Did the video play without any hiccups? Were you entertained by it or did you find it boring?

Thanks for your time.

let-off studios
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Too Long

I consider myself a rather patient person, but I would never sit through a prototype explanation video that's nearly 4 hours long.

Who is the intended audience for this video?

How long does it take to play a typical game?

The prototype looks beautiful (the rotating board in particular looks fantastic), but personally I couldn't devote the time or energy to seeing the video all the way through. I would consider this a tremendous barrier to entry for anyone.

ceethreepio
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I think you need to sell it better

Hi,

It's going to be very hard to answer your questions about the rules because no-one has that much time to go through the video and understand everything, because it appears the rules have merged into the play through...

You've set yourself too many objectives and tried to cram the answer them all them in a single video. My suggestion? You need several videos.

A 30 second sales video
----------------------
What's the game? Why do I care? Why is it fun? I can watch this and get a high level overview for it, and begin to imagine how it will play.

2min rules overview
--------------
3 players, spinny island, demonic powers, etc. How do I win? How do I lose? How can I humiliate and crush my friends? What's the same, what's different? If it's completely different am I going to spend 4 hours learning it?

25 min detailed rules overview
-------------------------------
This should cover the actual rules. I wouldn't bother filming the board for this. This is more a diagramed approach, with animations.

3 hour Playthrough
-------------
Get real people and get them playing! Show us (and your potential purchasers) that you are having fun! And then overlay what's happening on the video so we can see the 'hidden' information.

That's my 2 pence (UK :D)

Nick

peterthull
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thanks...

Yeah, you guys are right. Thanks for the feedback.

evansmind244
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Sell Sheet

Google "How to make a sell sheet" Stephen Key with inventRight. I believe this is a very powerful tool board game designers need to master. It will help with everything to do with marketing, finding publishers, and distributors. The key of the sell sheet is the one line benefit statement. Imagine putting that entire 3.5 hour video into ONE SENTENCE. That is where your mind should be focused. Once you hook possible customers, distributors, or a publisher then they ask you for more information on your Game. The big difference is getting them to say, "Wow that sounds interesting, I need to know more about that".
That's my Hay-penny of value for you!! Good work getting to where you are. I have developed so much respect for game designers, and any innovative person that actually gets a product to the light of day.....profitable or not!!

questccg
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My suggestions are

ceethreepio wrote:
A 30 second sales video

I would suggest making the "Sales Video" about 60 seconds (1 minute). I know people might say lower ... but 60 seconds is the maximum. It should cover everything like "Who you are", "Who is making this game", "Tease the rest like a movie preview (short and sweet, with some mystery..." You've got to get people's attention and say: "Wow, that sounds cool... I want to know MORE!" And voila you are set!

ceethreepio wrote:
2min rules overview

Then I would make a Kickstarter "Intro Video" about 120 seconds (2 minutes). This should be more like an extended version of the 60 second "Sales Video", in it you answer all the basic questions just like the "30 second version" ... but you might actually show some "Sample Gameplay" or some "Sample Cards" or some "Sample Artwork", etc. Sort of like "Show-Off" your game and... of course leave some room for mystery... Again people saying: "Wow, that looks very interesting... Let me Google for MORE!"

ceethreepio wrote:
25 min detailed rules overview

Instead I would go with a 15-20 minutes detailed rules overview. You can get these done by a THIRD PARTY: "Lance Myxter" (The Undead Viking) or "Board To Death" (TV/video reviews). Both are a great source to make a more detailed preview video.

And you DON'T need any "exhaustive" playthrus. Nobody is going to watch them. I find it hard enough to listen to a 40 minute podcast. 4 hours is way too much ... And I get it, you want to show off your passion and "baby". There are better ways to INTEREST gamers in to backing or wanting to know MORE about your game ... Than a super LOOOONNNGG video.

TBH I was bored after 30 seconds. So IF I were a potential customer, you would have lost me... (Not that I am...) We're all just trying to help you out.

Cheers!

peterthull
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thank you all

Thank all of you for the great suggestions. In retrospect I should have asked for this advice before I produced this video, but, live and learn.

ceethreepio
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I disagree ... :)

questccg wrote:
I would suggest making the "Sales Video" about 60 seconds (1 minute). I know people might say lower ... but 60 seconds is the maximum. It should cover everything like "Who you are", "Who is making this game", "Tease the rest like a movie preview (short and sweet, with some mystery..." You've got to get people's attention and say: "Wow, that sounds cool... I want to know MORE!" And voila you are set!

I respectfully, but totally disagree with this :)

Imagine a 30 or 60 second sales video for Pandemic, 7 Wonders, or Ticket to Ride. Do you think the designers of these games feature in that video? Do you think they 'tease' anything? Absolutely not ... they've got 30-60 seconds of the most value thing in the world - your attention.

"Diseases have broken out all over the world! You and your friends are disease control specialists! Work together to travel the world, cure outbreaks, and search for the cures to the diseases! Save the world before it's too late! But watch out for Epidemics that could destroy civilisation!". Boom, we are done, that's your 30 seconds over.

Awesome. Now that's a game I'm interested in...

questccg
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Enigmatic TBH

ceethreepio wrote:
I respectfully, but totally disagree with this :)...

You're entitled to your opinion (respectfully). But from watching his VIDEO his game looks "more like a mystery"... Why are there several levels and why do they rotate?! After watching "X" minutes of the video... Can you answer those two (2) questions??

If the answer is NO... Well then he's already got his HOOK. The game in itself seems like a bit of an "enigma". The board seems to be more "abstract" and lends well to "mystery", "puzzle-ish" gameplay and "unpredictable" twists and turns (See that... PUN intended!)

That's why I wouldn't spill all the beans in a sales or intro video.

ceethreepio wrote:
Imagine a 30 or 60 second sales video for Pandemic, 7 Wonders, or Ticket to Ride.

Each game respectfully deserves it's own video. Not all games are the same. IMHO I've already explained how I see his game. To me it should be something "enigmatic". And that's just my opinion based on what @Peter has shown in his video...

Cheers!

peterthull
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Re-framing the discussion...

Ok, so I get that the video is too long to casually watch in its entirety. But I had an idea that would be helpful to me and maybe a bit of fun for you guys.

Can you watch the video from the beginning, up until the first thing that you dislike about it, whether that be something about the video, something about the game, or something about yours truly. And then tell me about it.

In other words: ROAST MY VIDEO. Hopefully some of it will be constructive criticism, but be as harsh as you want. Don’t worry (or be disappointed by the fact that): I won’t get mad at you for whatever you say.

I’ll start:

The sound quality of the music is crap in some places and the rules goofs I made are quite embarrassing considering I am the designer and all!

Let the roast begin! https://www.betterliferesources.com/axismundi/

questccg
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I made it to 2:30 and then lost interest...

Sorry I don't have anything to ROAST ... But that's about the time I got bored and lost interest. Nothing worst than watching "Some Dude" present his game with which he will conquer the world with... (LOL)

But I'm feeling "extra nice" today ... and have a suggestion:

Could you make the "white" area between the layers BLACK??? That would go a long way in making the layers seem more "seamless". The bright white is a pure contrast and it "breaks up" the different layers. IMHO I think making it BLACK would make the board look more "polished"!

TBH I think it would make the game look "more professional". If you can't do it for the prototype, that's fine ... But when you get the game made professionally (manufactured), I would ensure then that the layers look as "seamless" as possible.

I don't know how to play (and it does interest me ... because the board is NOT so typical). But you've only got 2:30 to WOW me into thinking THIS is the game that I NEED to play!

And BTW you are on the "good path" when you ask the question: "Why should players play Axis Mundi instead of another game?" Make that your 60 second EXPLANATION of "why"... And you'll for sure have a video which offers something for the viewer to "ponder".

Cheers @Peter!

Tim Edwards
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Hi Peter, 2 things spring to

Hi Peter,

2 things spring to mind.

The opening sequence goes on for too long. The first shot is cool but lasts too long at 15 seconds. Then it takes 15 seconds for the name of the game to zoom into view, which is not a very entertaining thing to watch. Then there's a GOOD fast montage of images, but immediately I'm staring at the name of the game again for about 10 seconds. Probably the whole sequence shouldn't be more than 15 seconds in total.

I'd also cut to the chase quicker in terms of what the game is actually about. You mention the book that inspired it - but then go on to talk about some specific features of the game without saying anything about the theme of the book or what aspect of it the game represents. Somewhere you mention it's a race. I need more about that earlier. If I haven't read the book (I haven't) I feel like I'm missing something important. Is it snakes and ladders in space, or a dungeon-y version of hare and tortoise? Is it a brain burner or a push-my-luck heart stopper?

Your passion for the game comes over and I don't think you need a polished product with amazing editing and effects, but tightening these two areas would, I believe, make people significantly more likely to watch on.

I hope that's useful.

peterthull
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responses to questccg's various points...

@ questccg:

That you lost interest at 2:30 is valuable information to me so thank you for sharing that. In that section of the video I explain the unique aspects of the game to answer the question, “Why would you want to play Axis Mundi”. I could see how someone could consider this part boring – the actual gameplay is where the action is. However, as you elsewhere praise me for addressing this very topic, it seems like a bit of cognitive dissonance to me.

I think the area probably would have looked better in black, like you said. But yeah, what I have is just a "function over form" prototype. In the highly unlikely event that the game is ever produced commercially, I have a few different ideas for the space, but that is a bridge I'll cross when if and when I get to it. Right now I am more interested in refining the game’s gameplay than its aesthetics. I should have stated that up front.

Regarding your comments: "nothing worse than watching some dude present his game..." I find that to be an odd sentiment on a site called Board Game Designers Forum. “…conquer the world…” No delusions of grandeur here. Quite the opposite, in fact. The game “looks like a mystery” and an “enigma”. Things that aren’t understood due to ignorance of the facts are often given an incorrect meaning. Coincidently, that is an underlying theme of Axis Mundi. However, I don't want this thread to derail to a discussion about these topics.

To be clear: my goal for sharing the video was not to "WOW" anybody, or sell anybody anything. It wasn't to get Kickstarter backers, or Game Crafter orders. It isn't a marketing video. I wanted to present my prototype to game designers, for game design feedback. My core rule book is 20 pages. With the backstory and all the other stuff, it adds up to 40 pages. Some people don't like to read, and "a picture is worth a thousand words", so I made as entertaining a video as I possibly could to show the rules and the game in action. I will concede that its length is intimidating. But, to state the obvious, anyone can watch as much or as little of it as they want. Again, that is not what this thread is about. It is about critiquing my game’s gameplay.

If you change your mind and decide to partake in that endeavor, I welcome your further comments. If you would like to continue into these side topics, however, I feel that the proper venue for that would be private messages, as public ones would derail the thread. No offense on my part is intended to you in this or any other matter.

Thanks questccg. I appreciate your comments, especially the ones about marketing. They gave me a lot to think about for the future.

peterthull
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thanks

@Tim Edwards Valid points.

I didn’t want to go into the book – I felt it was unnecessary - but I guess I should have mentioned that you don’t need to have read the book to continue watching and that it will all be explained in a few seconds. The novel’s basic plot is the setup for the game’s backstory, which I summarize at 3:45.

Thank you for your suggestions.

Tim Edwards
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peterthull wrote:@Tim Edwards

peterthull wrote:
@Tim Edwards Valid points.

I didn’t want to go into the book – I felt it was unnecessary - but I guess I should have mentioned that you don’t need to have read the book to continue watching and that it will all be explained in a few seconds. The novel’s basic plot is the setup for the game’s backstory, which I summarize at 3:45.

Thank you for your suggestions.

Yeah, it's not really about going into the book. I wouldn't do that. It's more about introducing basic info about the game early on. There are more than a few seconds between your tantalising mention of the book and finally telling your audience what the game is about and what kind of game it is.

I wouldn't spend long on the backstory either. Information about the actual game itself is more important.

questccg
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Personally I LIKE it!

peterthull wrote:
To be clear: my goal for sharing the video was not to "WOW" anybody, or sell anybody anything. It wasn't to get Kickstarter backers, or Game Crafter orders. It isn't a marketing video. I wanted to present my prototype to game designers, for game design feedback.

Well you should have been aware that MOST "designers" are not looking to watch a video more than 20 minutes. Tom Vasel's The Dice Tower videos are pretty much a STANDARD and rarely go over the 15 minute duration.

As others have said, I personally would have wanted to "understand" the relationship with the Book "S" and your game. What is the connection? Or had you presented the "unique" Board and explained what the levels are for and why you allow them to shift (both left and right I assume).

Designers can give DEEP Feedback with just one post in a thread with some background and thereof be able to offer advice, suggestions and ideas. Believe me we have some CREATIVE folks on BGDF who have made all kinds of accomplishments. It doesn't take a lot to get our members to spice up a thread with additional ideas.

You say you wanted "feedback"? For what exactly?? If we wanted to LEARN how to play your game, that's a Video Preview (15-20 minutes) and can be done by a third party. If you want us to determine if your pitch to backers or gamers is good, that's an Intro Video (30-60 seconds).

You didn't need to make a long video to get people interested in your game design. Just some thread saying "This is what I have, what does everyone think?!"

Personally I LIKE your concept (even if I don't know everything about it). I like that the board is DIFFERENT, I like that parts of it turn in either direction, I can't understand HOW the game is played (would like a video presenting this ... that is 15-20 minutes) so it makes me curious to know how players move around and what can happen in a game. I also would like to see key differentiation between your game and others. Can you compare it to anything else out there? The other point I'd like to see is the relation to "S"... So there is plenty for me to by "INTERESTED" in your IDEA. To me it is very "mysterious" ... and that attracts me.

I'd watch a 15-20 minute Preview video... I LIKE your concept. The abstract nature of the board makes me go: "Hmmm???"

Cheers.

Note: BTW I am watching this crazy long playthru video just so I can familiarize myself with your game. I've watched 30 minutes and will do so incrementally during the next few days. I'll let you know what I think AFTER watching the video.

I'll probably be better able to comment and see what you do address in the video and what questions are left over afterwards.

questccg
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ROAST this...

Why are players taking WOUNDS just by walking around the board? It doesn't make sense that you would lose some kind of health just by walking around. Accessible Hexes and Cave Hexes cause wounds when you walk into them (1 Wound)... Okay maybe the Cave Hexes makes a bit sense, you're walking into a dark area and can get wounded walking around in the dark... But Accessible Hexes... What is the LOGIC in that???

Another note, instead of "Inaccessible Hexes" make them "Lava Flow Hexes" which in turn cause Wounds when you walk into them. Like 2 Wounds when you walk onto an "Lava Flow Hex" and an additional 1 Wound if you remain in that hex during the end of your turn. So up to 3 Wounds if you enter and STAY in a "Lava Flow Hex". So the Darkness of Caves does 1 Wound and Lava would do 2 Wounds (and possibly 3 if you remain on that hex).

Also I would ADD more "Lava Flow Hexes" maybe like 4 or 5 of them... And maybe the Demon doesn't suffer from any Wounds from "Lava Flow Hexes" while the Angel suffers 2 Wounds from any "Lava Flow Hex"...

Just some ideas ... while watching the Video.

ceethreepio
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Re: ROAST this...

I remember chatting to a friend of mine at University who was studying Environmental science, and asking him what field he hoped to move into after finishing? He smiled and said he wasn't sure, but "there's always spaces in Volcanology".

TL;DR Isn't it set on an active volcano? :)

questccg
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Re-incarnation...

ceethreepio wrote:
...TL;DR Isn't it set on an active volcano? :)

But I think from what I understood so far, the players emerge OUT of the Volcano an "Angel" or a "Demon"... And the goal is to RETURN to your starting hex and board your ship to escape from the Island. The decision to become an "Angel" or a "Demon" is decided by a fateful 1d6 roll.

I'm at 1:45 and the Beastmaster has become a "Demon"... Will continue to watch more to see how the game unfolds from there onwards!

Tim Edwards
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ceethreepio wrote:I remember

ceethreepio wrote:
I remember chatting to a friend of mine at University who was studying Environmental science, and asking him what field he hoped to move into after finishing? He smiled and said he wasn't sure, but "there's always spaces in Volcanology".

TL;DR Isn't it set on an active volcano? :)

Irrelevant aside (apart from theme)

I'm in Bali at the moment. Last night I heard firecrackers and looked out of the window to see smoke all across the hotel grounds.

This morning hotel staff informed me - actually it had been a nearby active volcano spitting and the smoke was actually volcanic dust.

No damage received thankfully.

questccg
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Not what I expected after watching +50% of the video

questccg wrote:
I'm at 1:45 and the Beastmaster has become a "Demon"... Will continue to watch more to see how the game unfolds from there onwards!

The game reminds me a "bit" like "Betrayal at house on the hill" without the "scenario/betrayal" mechanic. In this game, it's the reverse... Players join forces TOGETHER to defeat the Angel or Demon.

Having gone through about HALF of the video, the "mystery" is a bit lost... And I feel like it's a "gimmicky hex movement game". Yeah the turning of the levels "adds" a bit of "dynamic play". BUT I feel like "fundamentally" you are still playing on Hexes.

My INITIAL impressions about the board were like: "Wow, this is so different and I wonder how the game is played???" Watching the video and seeing that it is merely a "sophisticated" Hex-based movement, I am a bit disappointed.

Also I'm not very interested by the "characters" either. To me it seems like even if they are a BIT different... I'm not impressed by them either. (Sorry I'm being honest about what I've watched so far...)

Okay enough about the "Negatives" ... Let me explain my "Initial Wonder".

So when I saw the board... I wasn't sure about how the players would move on it. It was Anti-Climactic to simply move like normal Hex-based games. I guess you're probably too far along in the design to "ponder" a different style of play. Fundamentally the game is DONE. However when I first saw the "Board", it made me think how are players to move around. I was picturing something ALA "Sorry!" or something like you need to complete a level BEFORE moving onto the next one. Instead is all you need is sufficient MOVE POINTS (3 points) to reach the next level. I was thinking there would be more to this than just "vanilla hex movement".

What could you have done? I'll just give a brief idea (which you can ignore because it would impact your design too much).

Each "RING" of tiles, is a LEVEL of game... You are in some kind of deep caves that travel to a point known as "the secret to the island" in the middle, most deepest point in the cavernous "underground". Each time you PLAY, the "Secret" would be different and would affect how the 2nd phase of the game would occur. Sometimes it would mean that you would need to RECRUIT one of the other players to HELP you, other times you go it alone, etc. This could allow a LOT of replayability and could be more "scenario-based".

At each level, before being able to "move on" to the next level, you MUST "unlock" and solve the PUZZLE for each level. I would ADD a FOURTH (4th) player who is sort of the "Puzzle Master". And seeing as your board is ABSTRACT (or that's how I perceived it before learning more about the game...), different kinds of Puzzle could require solving before progressing to the next level (deeper) in the caves.

Something like that. Because I felt the "board" looked more "abstract".

Anyways that's what I got as an early impression...

Note: Instead of crates giving you bonuses, they could offer CLUEs to help unlock and solve the level's Puzzle. The Puzzle Master could "seed" each level with clues to solving each one.

peterthull
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design decisions

Thanks for the feedback questccg.

Your question about wounds is a good one. The answer, which I forgot to mention in the video, is found in the backstory document: “the island’s inhospitable surface, which is slickly black and jagged and cruel-looking, likely to gash a bare sole at the instant of contact… a shardy expanse of conchoidal black rock, knapped and honed and polished by the aeons.” In terms of gameplay, I was going for a risk vs. reward type scenario. The Accessible Hexes will wound you, while the Path Hexes on the corners won’t. But the Path Hexes leave you vulnerable to melee attacks that will push you down a level. In the beginning stages of the game, when all the players are far away from each other, it doesn’t really matter. But as they get closer, and after a Demon/Angel is defeated (when the characters are usually clustered together), it can make a big difference, tactically.

Also, I wanted to use wounds as a negative repercussion for moving to make the in-game choices that the player makes tougher and more interesting. Managing your character’s wounds is a bit of a mini-game within the game.

As for the Inaccessible Hexes (lava), the reason they can't be entered is so that they can be used to block opponents from getting close enough to melee attack you. This occurs at some point in the video. I tried looking for a video timestamp but wasn’t able to locate it. Too long! LOL

The levels rotate at regular intervals in the same manner each round. My idea for this was to keep it predictable, not random, so that the players could anticipate with certainty where the boards would be after the rotation. I wanted to challenge and reward players for mentally visualizing this. Also, it fits with the theme of the firmament always rotating in the same direction at the same rate.

Maybe the characters need some work, like you were saying. I’ll have to think about that. At the end of the video I briefly go over the other 2 characters that I have developed. I will be curious to hear your thoughts about them. I was trying to make each character play differently with their own unique abilities that break the rules of the game.

Thank you for your many thoughts. It means a lot to me that you are taking the time to watch the video and give me your honest opinions.

questccg
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Actual "characters"...

peterthull wrote:
...Maybe the characters need some work, like you were saying. I’ll have to think about that. At the end of the video I briefly go over the other 2 characters that I have developed. I will be curious to hear your thoughts about them. I was trying to make each character play differently with their own unique abilities that break the rules of the game.

What I would think would be "better" is to "flesh-out" the characters more. Like the "Cultivator" could "Dr. Petra Venkova" a russian holistic doctor. Or the "Beastmaster" could be "Johnny A. Battlemore" a american hoodlum from the wrong side of town... And lastly the "Malignant" could be "Howard E. Strain" an escaped patient from a secret science lab... Or something along those lines...

Maybe turning them into ACTUAL "characters" as opposed to "boiler-plate" roles might make the game more interesting... Something "minor" to think about that could help DRIVE the "Story" aspect of the game...

Cheers!

Note #1: I only suggest this because the game seems to be more "abstract" than "narrative". And since your game is "loosely" and somehow based on the novel "S", I would expect to have some fictitious "characters" which whom you can build a larger story around.

As it stands now: the "beastmaster", the "cultivator" and the "malignant" seem very GENERIC and "abstract" ideas rather than people the player's can relate to more easily.

Note #2: I also suggest to try to make the game LESS and LESS "abstract" looking. Why? Because I feel many people will be like: "Wow this looks cool..." And then when you learn about the game, you figure out that the rotation is only a gimmick to hex-based movement.

questccg
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More LOGIC to Wounds

I would agree that IF you are RUNNING around in a "hostile" environment, that opens up the possibility to cause WOUNDS. But if you walk or climb, those actions should be "wound-free". I can't remember how many hexes are part of the RUN action... My guess would be 2 hexes and therefore would inflict 2 wounds.

Again just my attempt to be more LOGICAL when it comes to "wounding" characters for the actions they are doing.

The idea being that while RUNNING affords you +1 Extra Hex, it also cause Wounds. IF you don't want to be wounded, all you can do is the "normal" move which could allow you to move 1 hex at a time only.

This is just an EXAMPLE. I'm currently at 2:00 into the VIDEO.

When I get to the end, I'll check out the other 2 "characters" (more like roles).

peterthull
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backstories, abstracting a game, and wounds

Yeah, it would definitely be cool to flesh out these characters and give them actual backstories. I’ll have to get my creative juices flowing on that but your proposed characters are a really good jumping-off point. I envision the Character Mats to have artistic renderings of the finalized characters.

I’m not entirely sure how to make the board look “less abstract”. By changing the (still prototype) terrain art on the hexes? By having the Warehouse Hexes have an actual warehouse miniature? Having the Power Hexes have miniatures (I’m thinking something like a ring of fire the character miniatures can be placed into)? I don’t know, that’s all I got off the top of my head.

As for the wounds, here’s my logic behind them. First off, the characters aren’t traversing around this island in full body armor. No, they are in dressed in rags, maybe even barefoot. And the island is made up of sharp and jagged glassy volcanic rock. Basically, it is like natural razor blades everywhere with a totally uneven surface that makes it hard to walk on. There have been paths that have been carved out of the rock that wind up to the top of the mountain. So, they can be traversed without taking wounds. But venturing outside the path is a dangerous proposition. Acquiring the wounds can be counteracted by activating a Dexterity Permanent Power Card, but, as you know, the Character Mat only has a slot for one of those, so you can’t be dexterous at the same time you have, say, a bow and arrow at the ready, which I think makes sense. It’s like you are concentrating on not getting cut up so can’t do other things simultaneously (spoiler: there is a character that breaks this 1-slot rule).

For clarification: the rule is that running on the same level gives +1 wound in addition to any wound that would be acquired by walking into the hex, while running into a LOWER hex causes 2 wounds (with the exception of a Power Hex, which clears all wounds).

One thing I like about this system is that if you need to move a long distance, the way you do it, in other words the path you take and where you walk or run, can affect the number of wounds you acquire. So it creates these small organic puzzles of figuring out how to move to your destination while acquiring the fewest number of wounds. There is an example of this near the end of the play-through.

Again, thanks for your thoughts. Cheers!

peterthull
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Amnesia

Another point about developing the characters:

The notion of identity and identity fluidity is a major theme in the novel S. The story begins with (minor spoiler alert) the protagonist emerging from the ocean suffering from amnesia, and he spends much of the novel trying to figure out who he was, is, and will be.

For this reason, I wrote that you are playing as an amnesiac into the game's backstory. But I suspect that, as you were saying, a lack of character backstories would be missed by the players, and the amnesia narrative may even be seen as a cop out. I will need to ponder this.

questccg
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Well I FINISHED watching your video!

One of my comments is that you seem to be playing too "neutrally" with the Demon. I would have done +3 Move/turn and jump down as QUICKLY as possible and then ready myself for an all-out war at the Demon's Warehouse. Or something like that.

It took too long to play IMHO. And there were always THINGS that you forgot to do (like wounds or place infection markers or area of effect, etc.) which mean that the game is TOO COMPLEX. Or at least could use some simplification.

Instead of spreading "infection markers", you could simply do "+1 damage" to your opponent based on the "infection" he/she has (when you are next to any opponent). So just being adjacent to another player inflicts a wound.

This is just an example on how to simplify things but keep with the whole "infectious character"...

There are always alternatives that allow you to do something similar in a less complicated way. Something you should consider.

Having watched the entire video... I am a bit disappointed on how you chose to END IT. You just STOP even before a victory. Second point, is if your Demon did NOT make it to his ship, that would have been too many turns to figure out he wins/loses. TBH you would think that getting back to the ship needs to take at most 5 turns (less than HALF of the game). You said we were on ROUND #12 when you ended the game.

That means 36 turns... IMHO I think the game is INVERTED. It's too easy to BECOME the "Demon" or "Angel" and then all the effort is put into defeating them. That's what I mean by INVERTED. It should take MORE time to become the "Demon" or "Angel" and then it should take a fraction of the game time to finish the last 25% (or so) of the game.

I'm just explaining to you my thoughts.

In essence what I am saying is that you should spend 75% of the time trying to BECOME the "Demon" or "Angel". And then the last 25% should be a race to the finish with some melee battles. IDK.

What I am trying to present as my point/opinion is that IF after 40 turns you KILL the "Demon" and then everything get RESET... That's a real bitch to have to play 40 more turns... The game's play time is somewhat questionable. It's too long, too many small things to do and watch for, etc. I'm sure you could manage to "streamline" it a bit... To make it quicker in terms of play time.

Best of luck(!?) with your game!

questccg
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One last comment (from me)

As I mentioned before... The "vibe" I get is a bit like the game called "Betrayal at house on the hill" (BHH) with it's traitor mechanic. I think you could have potential of a good game ... If you can do the following:

  • Make the game be about a RACE to the "Axis Mundi" center hex.

  • Allow the player who reaches it FIRST the CHOICE of either becoming an Angel or a Demon. This seems like one of those in-game decisions which could be important in the last 25% of the RACE.

  • If you choose to become the "Angel" your goal is to make it back to your ship and leave the island.

  • If you choose to become the "Demon" your goal is to defeat all of the other opponents.

  • Ensure that the time in the race is 75% to the "Axis Mundi" and 25% to the end-goal victory condition (which depends on if the player is a Angel or Demon).

Something simple ... much like BHH I reconsider the game's length knowing your game is the opposite (25% race and 75% battles/victory). I used to think BHH finished TOO EARLY. Now I'm considering saying the play time is accurate in making the game end after the climatic reveal (who is the traitor).

Cheers @Peter. Hope this honest feedback helps. Maybe a bit... IDK!

questccg
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More about simplification

Maybe also remove the whole "1st Phase/2nd Phase" powers and just stick to one complement of abilities. The point I was trying to make with the previous comment was ONCE someone reaches the "Axis Mundi" and "evolves", it's either THAT player who wins the game or the other two (2) players who win the game ... by preventing the "evolved" character from accomplishing his/her victory condition.

It has got to end by 40 turns (IMHO).

You can't have someone ELSE run back to the top and START ALL OVER again.

questccg
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Another idea I had while thinking about your game

Instead of having each player with the "SAME" Familiar... Perhaps you could make it different.

For example:

  • The Cultivator has a Hawk that can retrieve items from afar. As your default Familiar, it has two (2) energy required to command. It cannot immobilize an opponent. It can move up to three (3) hexes from its master.

  • The Beastmaster has a Black Bear that can melee attack when next to an opponent. As a more aggressive Familiar, it requires four (4) energy to command. It can be used to immobilize an opponent. It can only be commanded to do perform its actions one (1) hex from its master.

  • The Malignant has a Monkey that can both climb, melee attack and immobilize making it a middle ground Familiar. It requires three (3) energy to command. It can perform its action up to two (2) hexes from its master.

Just some further ideas to "flesh-out" the game and make it less "abstract". Everyone commanding a Bird ... seems a bit too "perfect". In reality each character would have their OWN Familiar to offer greater variety in terms of game play and add a more thematic element to the game.

Cheers!

Note: I also think that once you choose to become an Angel or Demon, you no longer have a familiar to command... Again in the vein of trying to "streamline" the game with less elements.

peterthull
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more responses

questccg, thank you for expressing all of your ideas.

I wish you had read the story document that is on the site, as it sets up a lot of elements and mechanics of the game. Some of your ideas could be implemented without the story being altered, others could not.

For example, in the story, you are shanghaied, have amnesia, and are forcibly sailed to the island by the ship’s strange crew (strange how? I can’t describe it, you’ll just have to read it!). Then, you are escorted to a warehouse and then the familiar, an otherworldly raptor, flies down from the sky to your arm to do your bidding. That’s the setup for the game. The conclusion of the game is that one of you makes it back to the boat that brought you, as an Angel or Demon, to depart and wreak havoc on the world, while the other players get shot with tranquilizer darts and are forced to become crewmembers to continue the ritual for future “candidates”.

While I think your variable familiar idea has merit, I guess maybe I WAS going for gameplay a bit more abstract than the change you are suggesting. I feel that if both the characters and the familiars each had different powers it would be too complex for the players to remember/grok/play. As the familiars do play an important role in the game, I want the players to be able to easily see their opponents’ energy levels and immediately know exactly what the implications of that are.

The tactics of managing your familiar’s energy level, choosing when and how to command them, and taking steps to avoid your opponents’ familiars is a pretty big part of the game. I feel that the Angel/Demon needs to keep them for those reasons, in addition to the fact that many of the cards in the decks effect the familiar, so stripping it from the Angel/Demon would “break” those components.

I do think you are on to something with your idea about how to end the game (either the Angel/Demon or the other characters winning). The notion that the game could potentially go on forever without a winner was something that was bugging me and does need a solution. The hexes become harvested throughout the course of the game, but that may not be enough to force a conclusion.

I have to respectfully disagree with you on rejecting the upgraded character abilities. The Demon/Angel are powerful and the other players need to be made stronger to balance it out. I also like the game mechanic of pushing their abilities to the extreme – I think it makes it more exciting/dramatic.

I’m not familiar with BHH, I’ll have to check it out on youtube to comment on the comparison. Hopefully I’ll have more time over the weekend to post more…cheers!

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