Games in Development for 2014

10 Acres is on hiatus, and New Bedford is on its way, so here’s a look at what is next for Oakleaf Games in 2014.

First, Anna is starting to work on a game about weather forecasting. I’m “consulting” on that, but it’s definitely her project. My role is more of a reference and sounding board for ideas. There’s been some progress made on the concept, and a first prototype was made, but the second prototype is looking like it will be completely different from the first. The game will involve predicting weather, moving weather and trying to match your predictions. I’ll have more to say about this as the game develops.

I’m now looking ahead to my next games. I have 3 partially complete games in the works. The first game is a role selection game with 100 different role cards. Each card has a group action associated with it and a bonus, and each role card is a unique combination. It has a theme that seemed like a great fit when I started, but after playing through it, the theme is not as tightly integrated as I was hoping, so I I’m still working to find the right one. It seems to be mechanically sound, but it will need a lot of testing to confirm.

The second game is a “sequel” of sorts to New Bedford. The discovery of oil near Titusville, Pennsylvania and subsequent availability of of kerosene as a lighting source contributed heavily to the demise of the whaling industry. At the same time, the Pennsylvania lumber, coal, steel, railroad industries were rapidly expanding. The new game, Titusville, is about the interactions between these industries in the late 19th century. It uses a similar action mechanic to New Bedford, with two key differences. Whaling is replaced with a “demand” system that lets players decide how quickly they can fill contracts for major points. The buildings are replaced with a non-spacial approach to rail laying, network building, and railroad operations, that provides opportunity for interaction.

The third game is Human Resources. Although Human Resources wasn’t selected as a winner of the DiceHateMe 54 card challenge, it is basically a complete game. Artwork and mechanics are where I want them to be, so I need to get some feedback to see if the game is ready for the next step. All three of these games have some form of working prototype that I have been working on since last year and all games have seen a few tests, so I’m hoping to make good progress this year. I need to do some more testing with a wider audience and get more feedback.

I also have 3 ideas in development, that are getting close to prototyping and testing. The first new idea is a little darker in theme, and the working title is “Chapel of Bones”. It is based around the practice of moving bones to ossuaries in order to make new space in crowded cities. The main mechanic is a twist on role selection. My concern is that the mechanics aren’t unique enough to stand on their own, and the theme may be a bit off-putting. I have some other concepts for the theme that are a bit more “standard fare Euro game” if the game looks like it needs a retheme, but it will require some significant changes in mechanics.

With all the snow we’ve had this winter, I keep thinking about the trucks plowing my street while fighting against the snow. The second new game idea is based around trains in the mountains in winter, tentatively titled “Tracks in the Snow”. The concept is a pick-up-and-deliver game, with players competing to reach destinations. Weather plays a major role, continually covering the tracks with snow that the trains have to pass through, but once a player clears the tracks, the following trains can pass more easily, too. Right now, I don’t have a clear picture of what players are actually trying to accomplish. It’s not enough to simply clear the rails, so I’m still looking for a something to tie this game together.

The third new game is actually 3 games in one. The idea is three short games sharing some elements of theme and most of the components, but with three distinct mechanics. You start as a mine owner balancing profit, labor, and safety using a worker placement mechanic. Then you progress to a running a railroad between the mines and nearby towns, using a pick-up-and-deliver mechanic. Finally, when disaster hits and a derailment destroys a town, you must to clean up and rebuild the town while swaying popular opinion for your own profit, using role selection and voting mechanics. This game is developing quickly and should be ready for testing soon.

These are the main projects I’ve got for the next year, and I’m excited to see where they lead. Of course, I’ve got several more ideas waiting, and who knows what else will pique my interest in the rest of the year.

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