Friday, February 22, 2013

Ground Floor

from an image posted by user yzemaze on Board Game Geek
I got introduced to Ground Floor Wednesday night.  That was a fun game.  Earlier that evening I noted that I am leery of many Eurogames these days.  Its not because I don't like Euros.  In fact, I often do like Euros.  But I prefer flavor with my game and most Euros are really abstract games in disguise.  So when I hear worker placement, I figure its just some abstract math engine with farms or castles on the board.  I own that game in many forms already, I don't need to play it again.  Which is a shame.  I almost never tried Stone Age because of that and I like that game.

This is a long intro to saying that Ground Floor has little wooden cubes and disks and uses a worker placement mechanic, but the mechanics' tie to the theme (building a company) is well thought out and I really enjoyed it.

It also has some other mechanics in it.  Its got a widget engine in there as well (not uncommon in worker placement) but I felt a bit of tableau building going on as well.  One aspect of the game is that you can upgrade your office space as you go and that gives you better / different capabilities.  So as the game progresses each player has very different capabilities.  Also, that tableau -- your office, is where 99% of the victory points come from.

Perhaps no higher compliment to a game than that I really wanted to play it again.  But the night was late and I had to go home but I look forward to more plays.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

UFO Racing League at UnPub 3

First post will be about the game I've been developing for several years now --UFO Racing League.  More about the game itself later, but last month I had the opportunity to take the game to UnPub 3 for some playtesting.  It was a fabulous experience that I recommend to anyone with a game in development.

One of the best things is that players are given a form to fill out after they play your game and then John sends them to you. I glanced at them when I got them but then saw Daniel Solis' quantitative review of the data he got from his play test of Belle of the Ball at UnPub 3 and couldn't believe I had not thought to do the same.  Yesterday I did the same.

17 different people played the game over the course of 4 games -- three 4-player games and one 5-player game. I had two families play. One husband, wife, and 2 young boys (~8-10 maybe). Another father with his two tween daughters (who texted between moves). There were also a number of other designers who played the game so a great mix of play testers.

The first 5 questions on the form ask people to rate various aspects of the game.

That's good. Of course, some of this is the fact that I was there to teach the game. The real test will come when blind testing starts and people have to learn from the rule book.  I found teaching the game to be a great experience. My second play test was near the end of Saturday's session and I suspected we would not have time to finish the game so I tried to really compress teaching and that was great because it really focused the teaching to the important parts -- in turn I think it helped me focus the pitch for the game.

The game is not designed to have much luck.  Even less now then in previous versions. Although how you view luck may help answer this question. While there may appear to be no luck at all in the game, because other people's moves can affect your moves, there is some luck there.

Always great to hear that people think your game is fun.  I was a little surprised that some people found it humorous or hilarious, but I think that may stem from running into opponents -- that can be funny for everyone who did not get run into.

That's great news.  Its something that has been a work in progress for the game. I've been spending a lot of time on track design lately which has been a big contributor to the game taking too long. The games that weekend all took right around 1.5 hours. That seems pretty good to me.

This is also great news. Previous versions of the game had some very artificial forms of interaction that I have removed because it was obvious that they were artificial and they just detracted form the best parts of the game.  After doing that I held my breath hoping that the core mechanic would be enough to carry interactivity.

The next six questions asked more yes/no quesitons.

I thought this was a very interesting question. I think most people answered this with the thought that predictable is bad. But planning ahead is a huge part of the game, so some amount of predictability at a tactical level is required to keep planning from getting frustrating.  One of the Yes answers noted in the margins that the yes answer was a good thing.

The rest of that set of questions:

Yea!  You really do love the game!  Well, at least these 17 people did.

The end of the questionnaire asked if you liked the game, why, and asked what other games you like and don't like. 16 of the 17 said they liked and 1 said they didn't know.


  • It was a quick, interactive game more based on strategy then luck
  • The physics is fun. Having to think ahead about where you need to be when you get to the later parts of the track was fun
  • Lots of fun, fast paced.  Opportunities for player v. player
  • Physics is a fun, unique aspect in a game
  • A lot of fun and very quick, and very interactive
  • because it was strategic and interactive
  • I felt it required a good amount of strategy
  • because it was fun and could spend time with the family
  • I enjoyed being able to bump players into walls
  • I have never played anything like it
  • cool take on racing game with concise, clear mechanics
  • fun, light (feeling) but still interesting
  • great 3-D. momentum is really neat
  • simple, fun and its racing
  • it was enjoyable with good mechanics
  • it was very cranial + strategic w/o being tedious

Favorite parts:
  • the player interaction
  • racing, persistent momentum
  • the way the physics worked
  • I dunno, using quick thinking to outwit my opponents? I like competition.
  • I loved crashing into people
  • ramming into people
  • the interaction with others
  • interaction with others
  • preventing players from moving forward
  • 3-dimensions
  • movement mechanics
  • getting a feel for hot to control your ship
  • imagining the 3-D space
  • the math
  • collisions and movement aspect
  • the visualization of reakl thrust/momentum, etc.
  • managing the momentum - preparing for changes in the course - strategic use of expert pilot
Least favorite parts:
  • none
  • collisions feel like, with all of the cool persistent movemebt, the collisions feel a bit unrealistic
  • tough to say, it was all fun
  • Math problems, haha
  • keeping momentum
  • getting trapped in the corner
  • none
  • none
  • damage
  • downtime? (maybe streamline movement resolution (time limit))
  • hard to visualize the ceiling
  • nothing
  • make the expert pilot card once per turn
  • the parts falling apart
  • the math :)
  • as the learning round it was too long
Favorite games of the testers;
  • strategy, RPG
  • rog (?)/themed
  • tabletop role playing games
  • word games
  • anything really
  • mystery
  • trivia
  • table top RPG
  • card/dice
  • strategy/euro
  • heavy w/ tension (diplomacy, agricola, I do like RFTG [race for the galaxy?])
Least favorite games of the testers:
  • fluffy, non-strategic party games
  • worker placement
  • poker/gambling games
  • lifestyle(?) games.  Games where you just set up a life
  • sports
  • trivia
  • artistic
  • trivia
  • I do not like racing games
  • dicefest
  • luck
  • abstract
Thanks again to John for all his hard work and Tim for making the slog out to Delaware to play some games.