Monday, March 4, 2013

UFO Racing League, Basic Movement Walkthrough

Before I get too far into talking about the status of UFO Racing League, I figured I should walk through the game as it is.  Not too many details here, just the basics.

In the future, we race space ships instead of race cars -- of course.  The UFO Racing League is akin to NASCAR in space in style.  The space ships in the series were nicknamed UFOs because that's what they look like.

Each player gets a control board that they use to track the status of their ship's momentum, height, damage, battery, and set new thrust.  Below is the control board for the Blue #3 UFO.  For now, we will just worry about the parts related to movement -- the core of the game.

The top left of the board is where the ship's current momentum is tracked (close-up below).  Note that momentum is tracked along 3 axis: one vertical; and two horizontal axis.  Small blue poker chips are stacked in the circles to indicate how much momentum the ship currently has in that direction.  In the middle is a picture of your UFO.

The momentum chart shows us how to move your UFO when its your turn to do so.  Below we see some blue chips in different places on the compass.  One chip on the up side of the vertical axis, one chip on one side of one of the horizontal axis, and two chips stacked on one side of the other horizontal axis.  This shows us that on our turn, we must move our ship up one, one space this way , and two spaces this way .

Note, UFOs do not have a front or a back.  So horizontal movement is made in the absolute direction of that axis.  In order to facilitate this, everyone's board should be placed on the table perpendicular to the track -- not at an angle.

So lets see how this movement works on a track.  Below we are looking at an overhead of the UFO on a piece of track.

When we move our UFO, we must move one axis at a time, but we must move the entire thrust in an axis when we move it.  We can not split up the move.  So, lets move this way  first.  We have to move two spaces that way so we end up here (translucent marker show where the ship was before).

Note that we could not have moved only one space, moved a different direction and then moved another space in this direction.  We had to move both spaces at once.  Next lets move this way  the one space we need to.

Finally we must move up one space.  Each UFO sits on a plastic base with a series of 7 steps that indicate the UFO's current height.  Below, we move from height 4 to height 5:

Now that we've seen the very basics of movement, lets learn how to change our speeds or momentum in these different directions.

The bottom of the board is where you set set your ship's new thrust at the beginning of a turn (close-up below).  Note that the basic, 3-dimensional compass rose is essentially copied with the addition of a space where energy can be ear-marked for your battery (more on batteries later).

At the beginning of every turn, you will receive some number of small blue poker chips, which represents the energy output of your ship that turn.  This energy is placed anywhere on the thrust chart or onto the battery area next to the thrust chart.

Below, we have placed four energy in different places around the thrust chart: one up, one this way , and two this way .

This is how we change our momentum from turn to turn -- by adding this thrust to our current momentum to find our new momentum, and thus how we will move our UFO this turn.

After everyone has had a chance to set their thrust for this turn (done secretly behind a screen), we must consolidate new thrust and old momentum.  Step one is to move all thrust from the thrust chart up to the same compass rose locations on the momentum chart.  In the example below, I changed the color of the new thrust tokens to red to highlight what was new and what was old.

We don't normally want momentum in two opposite directions, so its time to simplify.  Lets look at this  axis first -- highlighted by the green arrows.  Last turn we had one momentum this way .  This turn we added two thrust this way .  In all situations like this we subtract the smaller amount from the larger amount.

That will leave us with one momentum going this way .  We see the result of that below, and our next axis highlighted in green.

Now we subtract 1 new momentum  this way from the two momentum we had this way .  That leaves us with one this way .  And we move on the vertical axis.

In this situation, we added 1 thrust up to the one thrust we already had going up to end up with two thrust going up.  Now we know have our resolved momentum for this turn and can move our UFO again.

Next Time: Collisions! Or maybe Batteries! (I know, it doesn't have the same ring.)

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