Dev Diary - Project 2: Making the Game Hard

Up Ship Creek is what you would call, a hard game. It was designed that way with turn/time restrictions, hazards and a whole bunch of over laying rules that can make the road uneven. In the hex game we as a class are making, it seems that it hasn't been that hard of a game. 

With the removal of hazard rooms, you start out with no hazards. So from the get go there are no dangers (depending on the scenario). It's only when you draw tokens, does that sense of danger increase. The first iteration of the tokens though, had only 5 hazard tokens, that being around 1/4 of the total token pool. When we playtested that, it seemed that most of the time the players would get item tokens, so going in, there wasn't as much risk or worry as we would have liked. To fix that though, we're boosting the hazard token count up to 10, that along with the 9 cat tokens will have the players going in with a more than 1/2 chance of getting a bad token. This hasn't been playtested yet, but will hopefully make the game both harder and more fun.

Yes, fun. Having the tokens be around 40/60 good or bad will make it so that they cannot really predict what they're going to get. This is chance, which creates uncertainty, that equals hopefully more fun for the players. Because having them just fly through the game, only really worrying about their AP and the remaining rounds, is not that fun. Contemplating whether or not to go through a hazard when you're on low health is much more fun than just moving from ship piece to ship piece.

For my team, this is especially important. Our previous playtests have seen people rarely ever get damaged. Again, this might be because of the small pool of hazards, or because of the scenario. Right now we only have 1 crisis which has status effects laid down. 2 rooms are on fire and you need to put them out. There is a chance of you getting damaged, which creates tension and risk. For a scenario about crashing on an alien planet, you would expect there to be more dangerous things. Exposed wires, broken machines, alien creatures, poisonous stuff. I will admit, that the game we are creating hasn't seemed that fun to me. It has been fun playing it in a way, knowing that I've helped create it and have seen its evolution. It's not fun though in a pure game play sense. Not taking damage and not taking those large risks makes the game seem almost like riding on a bus, rather than driving a car. This meaning, you're sitting back, going where you expect to go with no surprises. Contrary to driving a car, where you're in total control and have the ability to change the course or risk at any time. Not the best analogy actually...

 Pretty much, fun comes from taking risks and surprises, that is why I found the original Up Ship Creek game so fun, while I found this one to be... okay. Our scenario specifically, needs fine tuning both through the core game rules, and through the crisis' to make them as exciting as possible. Making them harder, making them a challenge rather than a straight path is what's needed to make a truly fun and compelling scenario.