Saturday, July 24, 2010

Another progress report

My posts seem to be coming farther and farther apart. I apologize for that. I think there are a couple of reasons for it. One is simply that I've been very busy, and have had little time (and when I have time, little energy) for posting. Another is that I haven't been doing anything worth the waste of bandwidth: nothing to say. But I think I've accumulated enough tidbits to make a new post worthwhile, so here goes.

Railways of the Western U.S.
I haven't had much to say about this because my part in it is nearly done. (There's even a page up at BGG for it: Railways of the Western U.S.) But I can report that we (myself and the folks at Eagle Games) have been proof-reading digital copies of the board, the rules, the cards, and the box art, and it's looking really good. The board has been designed to match the Eastern U.S. board esthetically as well as physically, and I think they'll look great together on the table.

The rules are receiving the last few tweaks. My Fuel Depot rules have been tossed in favor of some different ones that the Eagle Games folks dreamed up, and I agree that theirs are much better. I'm eager to try them out myself, now that I know what they are! I'm hoping to get the game on the table at Pacificon over Labor Day weekend.

And after the digital proof-reading is done, it's back to being patient while it goes through the cycles of printed proofs, final approval, printing, assembling, and shipping. (Still waiting for my instant gratification, here!)

Solitaire Till Dawn X
It's been hard to work on this because I do 8 hours or more of programming at work, five days a week, and I'm often feeling pretty burned out by the time I get home. But I am making progress. Today I got some very insidious bugs out of the BooleanTest class (which is used for things like deciding whether you're stuck, or have won the game), and in the process greatly sped up the program's ability to peer into the future of the game as you play it. That could be very useful—we'll see!

New Game Designs
Yes, I have a couple of new designs! With Rottweiler mostly out the door, I've been able to spend some time thinking about such things.

I actually have three that I'm turning over in my head. All are in very early design stages; only two have even been mocked up to try a solo game on my own, and that has happened only once for each of them. But they each feature one or two newish ideas that interest me.

Without going into a lot of detail, one is centered around buying your resources from a "futures" market: if you think you can wait to get them, you can get them cheaper. Of course, there will be time pressure to get them more quickly, and damn the expense!

A second grew out of an idle notion to make a game with Genghis Khan as a theme. The Great Khan was not just a warrior, and there were some interesting economic things happening in his empire. Instead of a battle game, I began to wonder if there wasn't an interesting area-majority game lurking in there somewhere. Area majority has been done before of course, but for this game I'm hoping to introduce a trading-with-foreigners twist.

The third new design grew out of the second. I was looking for an interesting scoring mechanism for it, and thought of one so interesting that it turned into a whole new game. This is the one that has my attention at the moment, and it has been developed more than the other two (not that that's saying much). It is also an area-majority game, with twists in both the area-majority mechanism and in the scoring.

I always have high hopes for any new design, and they usually turn out somewhere between rather dull and utter garbage. We'll see about these.