Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The NaGa DeMon is complete!

On Saturday, some friends from work came by to help me play test Taipan.  I am very grateful to both Kannon and Avalos for playing my prototype with me and giving me some much needed feedback. With this post my challenge is done and I have come out victorious.  My game has a lot of problems but it was playable and there was some fun to be had.

First of all, it went great.  We played about 6 turns before devolving into discussions about whats going wrong.  At that moment in time, Kannon had found a perfect path to victory that we could never catch up.  We started talking about that, and before I knew it we were moving some of the cards that were "in play" into our discussion.  Pulling city cards to explain some idea.  Moving Cargo Counters to show how cities should hold cargo that is delivered to represent the demand being fulfilled. And after long, it was clear we would never get the game back to the way it was.
Nearing the end of the game we start moving pieces to help explain ideas.
Issue #1: 
One of the issues was the Ship Cards I added to the game.  Kannon, being very good at math picked up on the cargo of the Merchant Ship being able to hold 5 cargo.  This made it so he could quickly make a lot of money on fairly short trips.  He didn't have to pay much to get the ship, and he never had to worry about loosing it.  I also had an Upgrade mechanic that let players modify their ships.  This just muddied the decisions of whats the best thing to do.

Issue #2: Pirates, Combat, and Salvage
Players really didn't have to fear the pirates attacking them since they could just run away.  Even if they did take damage, it was so minimal they always had enough money to repair it.  Killing pirate ships just wasnt worth it. It took too long to get to a pirate in the hopes there would be a pirate there, in the hopes that when you killed one, it dropped any cargo of any real value.   It just didn't have a big enough payout to be worth doing as a strategy.  In the end, the players didn't feel like the "Pirate Hunting" strategy really belonged in the game about "Merchant Trading".

Issue #3: The Perfect Path
Kannon started making trips with his Merchant Ship and once he made this trip once, it was clear to the rest of us that we were behind.  If we were ever going to catch up, we would have to do the same thing, but by the time we got across the board to do it, he would have done it at least once or twice more and then he would be so far ahead of us in points, it would be a loosing battle.
Kannon contemplates how he is going to crush us.
In the end, I took two pages of notes and will be making changes and updates soon.  I also talked with my friend Bryan Pope of Arcane Wonders.  He is talking about getting together on Thursday to play Taipan at a local cigar bar he hands out at.  That should be fun.  Scotch, Cigars, and the latest version of Taipan.

I will continue to work on Taipan and upload my thoughts and notes on the game design process.  I expect that in another month I will have what appears to be a fairly solid game and I can move on to a new project.  Until then, please stop by and share your thoughts, ideas to make us all better game makers.

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