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.