We have done a lot of thinking over the last few months about what kind of game Omicron Protocol is. We started our journey by standing on the shoulders of giants. We knew we wanted to make a game to rival our favorite games in the genre that brought us together as friends, games like Guild Ball, X-Wing, and Malifaux. We wanted unique characters, small scale skirmish, competitive balance, and most of all a minimum of negative play experiences.
Ok, it’s been a LONG while since I wrote a regular blog. Do you guys miss me? ;)
Well, Brendan and I have been crazy busy demoing as well as streamlining any “kinks” in the rules where it causes our demo-ers and playtesters to go “huh?” Since we did so many rounds of playtests at Adepticon, we were able to come up with some pretty neat rules simplification that led to the new PRINT AND PLAY V1.3! After playtesting these rules a little bit, we definitely feel that the game is much smoother and easier to learn and play. We hope you will try it out by downloading it and giving us feedback in the survey links we have in the “READ ME FIRST” PDF file.
It’s time for another entry of “Game Design Thoughts”!
This time, we’ll focus on the Animals faction, which we just revealed last week officially. As many have seen, we’ve started playtesting them again, after putting them away for a few months. Before we stopped testing them last time (September 2018 time frame), they were balanced against both the Peacekeepers and Survivalists. Since then, we’ve definitely made some changes to the game, namely to the CyMS, and we made the Peacekeepers’ range strength a lot higher over the last few months. So we thought, “Animals should be balanced, if not too weak now, against the PK.”. Boy were we wrong!
One of the biggest decisions Brendan and I had to make with Omicron Protocol was whether we should have a hex-based board or not. “Traditional/hard-core” minis games usually is just on a mat/board/table where the boundaries are defined and that’s it. You throw whatever terrain you can find or buy, and use all sorts of cool rulers to measure and move your armies/teams across the board. Going hex-based was a tough decision, but brought lots of rewards, including but not limited to:
In the last 2 “Game Design Thoughts” series, I talked about how small changes affect a lot of things, and then how our changes to the CYMS took almost 2 weeks of intense internal playtesting to get right. Well, as the title of this post suggests, some of our seemingly non-impactful changes greatly affected the balance of the factions again.
This will be a short one, since we’ve been writing this rulebook for way too long!
As we prepare for the next important step of the game development, getting the first draft of the rulebook written is crucial for beginning blind playtests and rules illustrations. Without blind playtests, we would never know if Omicron Protocol can be learned by new players without any help from the designers.
Oh boy that was a rough 2 weeks of internal playtesting!
As many of you know already, one of the unique mechanics of Omicron Protocol is the existence of a 3rd party enemy called the CyMS (Cybernetic Mutation Syndrome), or “Crazies” as the locals of San Lazaro calls them. The cool part is that besides having to do your objectives and fight off your opponent’s faction, you also have to deal with these pesky citizens who seem to randomly decide to attack you. The not-so-cool part is moving and keeping track of them at the end of the turn when both players have finished activating their heroes.
Game Design = Iteration
Once you have your basic rules and theme in place game design becomes iteration. You test and test and test, and as you go you make changes to your rules to improve play, simplify, balance. In our game we have many unique characters with a wide range of themes and abilities, we have objective cards, scenarios, and forage cards to balance….
Fast 15-30 min demos that we can give at conventions and events, and
A single sheet version of the rules that teaches new players who eventually buys the game and want to learn the basics quickly.