Sunday, April 11, 2021

Rolling Seas - Design Diary - Part 2

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I see a lot of other designers write up design diaries for their games and I've always found it interesting to learn about the process that a game went through from initial concept to publication.  So I decided to share the history of Rolling Seas so you can learn more about the game, how I made some of the design choices I made, and what my plans for the game in the future are.  It's a bit long, so I've broken it down into a few posts that I'll share over the course of a few days.

Rolling Seas Design Diary
  • Intro & Part 1
    • Coming Up With the Idea - Early November 2019
    • The Sailing Tests - November 12-14, 2019
  • Part 2 - YOU ARE HERE
    • Finding a Sailing Solution - November 14, 2019
    • Bonuses - November 15-22, 2019
  • Part 3
    • A Prettier Game - November 23-29, 2019
    • The First Public Playtesting - December 3, 2019
  • Part 4
    • Maps & Crew - January-February 2020
    • The End of Playtesting, Sort Of... - March-May, 2020
  • Part 5
    • Nuts! Publishing & Rolling Seas Updates - April-July 2020
    • New Ideas - July-December 2020
  • Part 6
    • Second Edition & Getting Signed - January-April 2021
    • Crowd Sale - April 2021
Finding a Sailing Solution - November 14, 2019

That's when I hit on the solution, almost.  I added a d12 dice to define the wind direction and you'd sail your ship as far in the chosen direction as the value of one d6 with values of 1, 2, 2, 3, 3, and 4 (I've used dice like that in several games and really like that distribution).  Sailing in one direction wasn't very interesting, so then I needed a way to allow you to change direction.  That's when the three d12 dice came into the game.  They defined three directions and you could sail in any of those three directions up to the distance defined by the special d6.  

This also gave me a good method of adding new adventures to the map.  I had initially been planning to add a new adventure to the map every X number of turns (but never got that far in testing before I realized movement wasn't working).  Instead, whenever two or more direction dice indicated the same direction, then a new adventure would get added to the map.  This worked pretty well for quite a while.
Movement worked, but wasn't very
interesting yet.  Also note, rocks were
brown and monsters were red!

I played my first entire game on November 14, 2019, on a much too large map that I cut down about 50% a few turns in, using that method of sailing and it worked ok, but still felt a little restrictive, especially when I rolled a couple of 1s in a row.  So I decided to give the ship a set amount of movement and you'd just choose one of the wind directions based on the results of three d12 dice, much as the game works now.  But then I needed a way to allow you to change direction when you sail.

That's when Ship Speed (aka Movement Points) and Supplies (Provisions) became a part of the game.  I took out the d6 to determine your speed and decided that ships would have a set number of Movement Points.  Sailing with or against the wind would cost different amounts of Movement Points, but Supplies would let you sail further.  I also decided that you'd need a way to upgrade to a faster ship, so Gold was added.  And you needed a way to get Supplies and Gold, so instead of just sailing around, I added the ability to Explore the islands as an option.  I added the d6 back into the game and had that determine various rewards for exploring.  Amazingly the Exploration rewards have remained almost unchanged since the very first iteration of the game!  Only the rewards for Explore 5 were tweaked a bit.

Bonuses - November 15-22, 2019

At this point, the game was working pretty good and I knew right that I was on to something.  I played a couple of times and sailing, exploring, and telling your story in port were really working.  By now, all the main mechanics of the game were pretty well defined.  It was fun and interesting but still needed something. I started thinking about what I liked about some of the other roll & write games.  

I thought about the bonuses you earn in Twice As Clever when reaching certain points on the score tracks.  I love how those bonuses sometimes have a cascading effect, causing big, exciting turns.  I also like how in Truck Off: RAW you can earn special abilities that, when used at just the right moment, can help you out of a tough spot.  So I added bonuses at the ends of each row of the Supplies and Gold track and at various points on the Story track.  The first time I played with these it really added some interest and excitement to the game. 

For a while, the bonuses you could earn were 1 Story, 1 Supply, 1 Movement Point, 1 Gold, or 1 Reputation.  This is the point where I decided to change the name of Supplies to Provisions.  Since I didn't have any iconography yet, using an S for Story and Supplies would get confusing.

This is what I'd call my first real game of Rolling Seas.

Bonuses were still new, but their placement on the
Story Track has remained the same!  The Gold and
Provisions (Supplies) tracks have evolved significantly.

I made a few notes about some tweaks and adjustments
that I felt were needed.  Some of these changed a few
more times as the game came together.

After the first play with bonuses, I made note of a few more tweaks, a few more places to add bonuses (like bonus reputation on ship upgrades and for ending the game at a port), and tried again.  Each set of tweaks was an improvement, so then I decided to make some nicer components.

After playing with the new direction dice I needed a way to more simply calculate the cost to sail in different directions.  The first compass card was just a blank white card with the compass directions drawn on it and a blank white circle token with numbers on it.  This worked great and, other than graphics, the compass cards and tokens in the final game work exactly the same as my first rough components!

Thanks for reading!  Join me for Part 3 where I take the game out for public playtesting for the first time!  And be sure to check out the Crowd Sale before it ends!

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