The new year has officially started, and that means we're back in gear. After our most recent updates to the game we had some balancing work to do which we finished well before 2017 ended, but it's just the way things go that every minor change exposes new glitches and bugs. We feel we're approaching the ideal state where nothing can be changed without sacrificing some element of gameplay. Even so we're aware of the potential problem of over-engineering this thing. Changes need to be made, but at some point they need to stop.
Probably our biggest change will happen with the pork mechanic. Perhaps no two prototypes exist with the same pork ruleset and aesthetic, so it's definitely our most volatile mechanic of them all. The basic premise has always been the same: add pork to bills by laying down riders, but if you add too much pork, the bill becomes bloated and dies. No matter how elegantly we explained the concept or how many cool symbols we used, it was still a bit difficult for newbies to grasp. We're finding that this disconnect is due to superfluous elements rather than it being too complicated. In other words, the same effect can be achieved with less. Some solutions have been presented to us and we think we have one we like.
Up until now bills have had variable pork ceilings. Some bills could take 9-10 points, others as high as 15. This meant that in addition to keeping track of pork on the bill, you had to track the maximum number. In practice this resulted in two actions that players routinely forgot. We'll be retooling this mechanic to have every bill's pork ceiling the same, and only vary the starting position.
Along with those changes, we're re-thinking components. A lot of our initial prototype design came about for two reasons: (1) we were preparing for the possibility we had to produce some materials ourselves, and (2) we were prototyping through The Game Crafter, whose components come in predetermined sizes and materials. Even though the art is top-notch, the game pieces themselves looked and felt cheap. We still have to remind ourselves that working with a manufacturer will allow us to actually choose components that feel better and serve the game design more elegantly. For example, many of our chits (cardboard tokens) were designed out of the limitations of The Game Crafter, but they would be better as stand-up wooden pieces.
Last, but certainly not least, we'll be at OrcaCon next weekend! We will not have a permanent setup like at ETX or Dragonflight. Rather, we'll be demoing the game for short periods on Saturday and Sunday (from 10-1 both days). We'd love to see you there!
The Weather Gage Team