Monday, September 21, 2015

CFR this Sunday at Congress of Gamers

Championship Formula Racing will be making a live appearance at Congress of Gamers, Sunday the 27th at 1:30.  I'll be running a full 3-lap race on a 1/64th scale track.  If you've seen the set-up at WBC, you know the drill.  A final decision on track has not been made.

If you've never played before, come at 1:00 for a demo.

I also volunteered to run a game of Steampunk Rally (BGG), fresh off the Kickstarter.  I'll start with a demo at 5:00 followed by a race at 5:30.  So stay after CFR and make it a full day of racing games.

Congress of Gamers is a local Rockville, MD con that is a really great value.  If you show up just for Sunday, it will cost you $7 at the door.

Friday, April 17, 2015

I've Got a Mailing List

I've been unintentionally collecting emails of people interested in Speed Circuit for a while. Now I've got an official email list.

So, if you want periodic emails about Championship Formula Racing play opportunities, PBeM, the forth coming publishing, and/or my other games in development...

Friday, April 3, 2015

Championship Formula Racing (Speed Circuit v3) at WBC 2015

For me, the game of Speed Circuit that I grew up with has become the game of Championship Formula Racing (CFR) to be published by Jolly Rodger Games.  Although I did not know it at the time, that transformation started when I took over GM duties for the Speed Circuit Tournament at what was then Avalon Con many, many years ago (I actually don't remember when).

So while the program at WBC 2015 will say Speed Circuit, for me it will be the first tournament for Championship Formula Racing with what will be the game's final rules set (I promise).

Many, many thanks to Chris Long for being Chief Steward again this year.  I will get up to Lancaster on Thursday and Friday to run the demo and as many qualifying heats as I can but will not be staying through the weekend.

There is only one rules adjustment from last year, which I describe below.  Also note that these core rules are very close to being locked down as the rules set for CFR.  I will also be bringing development versions of some of the components that may end up in that version of the game, including a card-based system for car set-up.

Finally, I will be bringing up components for racing against historical drivers that will be included in CFR.  I may run one or two historical drivers at the demo Thursday and would be happy to loan out the components to anyone who wants to play with it at the con.

On to the tracks.

Thursday Q1:
Track 1: Hockenheimring (PDF)
Track 2: Monza (PDF)
Track 3: Shanghai (PDF)

Friday Q2:
Track 1: Albert Park  (PDF)
Track 2: Monaco (PDF)
Track 3: Valencia Street Circuit  (PDF)

Saturday Q3:
Track 1: Circuit of the Americas (PDF)
Track 2: Buddh  (PDF)
Track 3: Suzuka  (PDF)

Sunday Finals: Marina Bay  (PDF)

Rules Links:

Note that some terminology has been rejiggered in this version.  "Test" is the new official name for attempting to exceed your top speed, acceleration, deceleration, or start speed.  Also note that these rules refer to the components that I currently imagine will be in the box for Championship Formula Racing.  Some components will be different in a large format, live event like WBC but I've tried to make the components work at that scale and WBC will be a good test for those.  Also, the tables you are used to seeing are gone and have been replaced by a new thing I built out to make them look less like 1970s era war game combat charts but the underlying math is the same.

Rule Change:
Starting Grids for more than 6 cars (from the core rules)

When there are between 7 and 12 cars in the race the blue spaces are all used and some number of red spaces will also be used, from front to back, as shown by the numbers on the picture below. So in a 9 car field, we would use all of the blue spaces plus the first three red spaces (marked “w/ 7+”, “w/ 8+”, and “w/ 9+”).

Cars are assigned to those spaces from front to back and from inside to outside. As always, the first car will be placed in the front row to the inside. The second car would be placed in the front row to the outside, etc. If a space is not being used for that number of cars, then it is skipped. Thus the last car will always be in the last row to the outside. The example below shows a 9 car field and indicates the order in which cars would be placed in each space.

The purpose of this layout is to balance out the effect of pole bids regardless of how many cars are in the field.

See the core rules linked above to see how this grid system works with 6 or fewer cars... a thing that rarely happens at WBC.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

5 Lessons Learned From UnPub 5

1) Do not try to demo two games at once.

That table over there on the right looks great with both games set up.  But it almost broke me.  Trying to run two different games at once was a bad idea.  I did not want to turn away a potential playtester because the game they wanted to play was in a box instead of on the table.

Instead what happened is that when both games were going at once, I was able to pay less attention to how things worked or didn't work or just help people through the first couple of turns.

Thank god a good friend of mine hung out for most of it or it would also have been a lot more tiring then it was.

On day two, I put out Spore Wars till lunch got three great plays in.  Then switched to UFO Racing League after lunch.  I was able to pay much closer attention to what was happening in the plays and help guide people as needed.

2) People who come to a convention to play unpublished games are smart people and friendly.

More then once, I had a play tester ask after the game what my plan or steps toward publication would be.  That was not a question I expected and one that shows a level of knowledge and sophistication about game development.  But maybe I should have expected that from these attendees.

Also, these people are hear to play games,  They want to play games.  I don't think I once asked someone if they wanted to play a game and they said no.  So if you go to something like this, don't wait for them to ask you to play -- ask them to play.

3) The pylon was useful.

People came over and read what was on the pylon as they walked by.  That was probably the best thing about the pylon.  It gave people who may not have wanted to ask me something or interrupt a way to find out what I was showing and figure out if it was something they would be interested in.

4) Business cards are a must have.

Put all the ways for people to follow you on it.  If they like your game, they want to know what happens to it and so they need to know how to follow you on Twitter or Facebook or your Blog or whatever you have.  So put it on a card and hand it out when people express interest.

5) Don't worry if you do not have a sell sheet.

I don't think anyone took one and no one asked for one.  I heard lots of noise about sell sheets before the convention.  I built one for UFO Racing League because I think the game is pretty mature in the development process and I had them sitting out all day 2 (forgot about them day 1).  I did not build one for Spore Wars because that game is officially about a month old.

Now this is clearly a small sample size and I'll be interested to hear if others had different reactions, but I think I'm undecided on sell sheets.

Monday, January 5, 2015

CFR Core Rules Beta

I finally have a first draft of the core rules for Championship Formula Racing.

PDF Here

I'm not sure that this is the right format for the rules.  I am contemplating creating a version that outlines only the core-core rules and pushes exceptions and edge cases off to the back of the rules.  There are a good number of edge cases in this game.

For those familiar with the WBC style rules there will be few surprises.  Perhaps the only two things I added in this draft is a revised grid system that spreads cars out a bit with smaller fields plus I tweaked the tie-breaker roll for pole to allow you to spend skill there as well.

Not a change, but I also came up with a method for using cards to set-up your car at the beginning of the race.  This creates a completely reusable system for car set-up.

If you have any thoughts on this version, either in substance or in clarity, please let me know.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

So I Did A Playtest on Google Hangouts Last Night

Well, it was actually Monday night... and it was not nearly as easy as that sounds.

I needed to do some playtesting for the pitting rules that I am tweaking as advanced rules for Championship Formula Racing and getting together 5, 6 or more people on a regular basis for that is hard.  Especially since, these rules are best tested by experienced players.  A newbie isn't going to know if this particular mechanic is unbalancing if they have no experience with the game at all.

The Internets to the rescue!

What Google Hangouts lets me do is share my desktop with up to 9 other players.  That was effectively the board.  I can move the cars around, people can see the track.  They can talk to me and tell me where to move the car.  We can talk through options.  I can point to spaces on the track with my mouse.  It worked well.

But there was a lot that Google Hangouts does not handle well in this scenario... secret information being the first.  Also, player specific information gets clunky as well.  I probably could have tracked that on track as well.  I essentially do it for PBeMs that way.  But once I went down the rabbit hole of dealing with secret information.  I was also worried about cluttering up the limited realestate of the screen with a lot of small information no one could see very well.

For those not familiar, in CFR everyone secretly picks their speed for next turn.  Then we all reveal speeds and then resolve movement.  In order to let people do that part, I had to build some online forms to record speeds then reveal them at the right time.  While I was in there I built forms before that to handle pre-race car set-up and forms after that to record some things that happened -- usage of point pools, car damage, speed changes.

Considering that we were cobbling together Google Hangouts plus a home-built set of web forms for this it held together.  There were some technical issues with the stuff I built, but that's not useful to anyone else.  But Google Hangouts generally worked well for this.

Some things I learned:

  • Sometimes Google Hangouts crashes.  And you have to reload it.  It happened a couple times to pretty much everyone.  But was not hard to fix.
  • You start on mute.  That took some getting used to.  Talking, talking, until someone says "Hey!  Your on mute!"
  • For this scenario, I shared my screen which worked brilliantly.  I did not even have to keep my screen focused on the graphics program that I had the track map and cars in.  But when I did that I had to learn to push the button on the resulting pop-up to share with everyone (or maybe it said to share persistently?).  Effectively that meant it was always in front of everyone so that focus in the big screen did not shift when someone else started talking.
  • That reminds me... so what I was sharing on my screen was a graphics program that I use to built the tracks.  Then I built cars (like above).  Shrunk the cars to fit on the track and moved them around in the graphics program as needed.  Worked well.  I'm using Xara in case anyone cares.
  • I need a headset.  People sometimes had a hard time hearing me with just my computer mike and I tended to start yelling which annoyed people in my house that were not playtesting a game just then.
  • Google Hangouts takes a good amount of bandwidth.  This did not affect the experience for any of us but one of the participants was using a hotspot and noticed that he had used a good bit of his bandwidth.  I think it would not be a problem for most people with high-speed dedicated service but something to think about.  It also might not work well if someone had a low-band width access.
  • Small text can be hard to see.  On a physical board you can focus your eyes in a particular spot or move in closer to see something in detail and then focus on the whole board when you need to independently of everyone else.  With Google Hangouts we are all sharing one eye like the Fates do.  If I zoom in on the upcoming corners, someone who needs to see the whole track right now is out of luck.  I kept it zoomed out and there were a couple of times when people misread the speeds in the corners.
This was a success.  It required some prep work, but I will definitely do this again.  In fact, I'm planning a second play test Monday Night.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Ghost Drivers, Ready to Play-Test.

Ghost Drivers is a system for adding drivers to a race that will drive themselves.  You could race by your self against a field of Ghost Drivers or add some Ghost Drivers to a field of humans to fill out the field.

These Ghost Drivers are basic/generic Ghosts and are set-up to represent a modest challenge for less experienced drivers.  Experienced Championship Formula Racing drivers out there should have no trouble beating a field of 5 Ghosts most of the time.  But that's OK.  We need something for beginners to cut their teeth on.  Mostly I want to make sure that the cars work and the strategies make sense.

The kind of feedback that would be great is to know if a particular strategy doesn't make sense or a car ends up finishing the race with a lot of wear left over or the instructions on the track don't seem to make sense or there seems like there should be a better move that the Ghost should be trying for in specific situations.  In addition to the usual, spelling, grammar, punctuation, or general "I have no idea what Doug is trying to say here."

Feel free to include any thoughts in the comments below or contact me directly with feedback.

What I'm working on next are Ghost versions of Nurbergring and Monza, basic Ghost Drivers for those two tracks, and historic Ghost drivers for Monaco, Nurbergring, and Monza.  Historic drivers will be more challenging.

What I've included below are enough print-and-play materials to run a race with any number of humans against up to 5 Ghost Drivers at Monaco.  In addition, you can see some of the directions I'm going with other components.

Here are all of the files.  Other then these, all you will need are 2 dice (6-sided), something to keep track of wear and skill with (I use poker chips), and an understanding of the rules although, this system would probably work fine with most any recent variation of the game.  Below are descriptions of what everything is and basic thoughts on how to print them out.

Speed Cards
First up, some generic materials.  The first is a set of speed cards.  I print these out on card stock to stiffen them up a little then cut them out.  One sheet is enough cards for a single driver.  You will need to have one set for every Ghost Driver and Human Driver.  You only really need the first page.  Page two are backs.

Attribute Cards
Next are attribute cards.  This is my initial concept for reusable car set-up.  I also print out these two pages onto card stock then cut them out to make a single car set-up deck.  You will only need one car set-up deck for each human players.  Ghost Drivers do not need set-up decks.

For each car attribute (acceleration, deceleration, etc.) there are 4 cards representing the four choices for each attribute.  Set-up points are printed in the corner of each card.  The idea is that each human can go through the deck picking out one card per attribute until they have a net 2 points.  The selected cards can be placed face down in a stack until everyone has set-up there cars.  Then the cards are arranged in front of each driver so that everyone can see.

Also included on these pages are two -20 markers that can be used to mark damaged acceleration, deceleration, or top speed.

Car ID Cards
Last generic file are a couple pages of Car ID Cards.  The idea behind these is that you can pick the card that matches the car miniature you are using on the track and place it next to your attribute cards so that everyone knows which car is yours.  The file below includes cards that match my two favorite sources of appropriately sized formula one cars... Formula De / D and Formula Motor Racing.  I also included a mostly blank page so that you could maybe make your own.  I print these out on card stock as well.  (I print a lot of stuff on card stock.)

Ghost Driver Rules
Now on to the files that directly relate to Ghost Drivers.  First up is the Ghost Rules book that explains how the whole system is supposed to work.  I'll try to get a video up soonish as well.

Ghost Strategy Cards
Next are the Ghost Strategy cards,  The rules explain how these work, but they basically encapsulate generic strategies.  The idea is that these cards will be used for all of the different tracks.  In production these would be two-sided.  After you print these out (on regular paper) fold them in half so that one strategy card is on one side and one is on the other.  I know this wastes some paper, but its easier then getting double sided lined up right, especially since this is play-testing.  It also means you could use both cards that appear on the same sheet if you really wanted to, but the current design is that you would only use one side or the other.

Monaco Ghost Drivers
Now this page are the specific Ghost Driver cards.  They define the stats and strategy combinations for specific Ghost drivers for Monaco.  I print these out on card stock as well before cutting them out since you have to shuffle them a little.

Monaco Ghost Track
Finally, the track itself.  This is the same Monaco you know and love but it has markings on it to give the Ghosts some track related guidance.  This pdf has two pages, that overlap to form the entire track at a scale that works with the aforementioned plastic cars from Formula De/D or Formula Motor Racing.  After printing out both pages, cut the edge of one of them so that it can be placed on top of the other to create one seamless track and then tape in place.