Redline Update 6 - The more I learn, the more I realize how little I know.
I've re-designed the layout of my cards for readability, re-constructed my 2 secondary Driver decks, and run a 3-player test. There were issues of balance and grammar. However, the biggest issue by far was that my damage system presents confusing information to players. To explain why, I'll have to explain a little of my thought process behind the game.
I see the player's Hand as the Driver's thoughts, the Field as the gadgets and maneuvers of a car, and the Deck as the possibilities of the car body. Further, damage was a system I wanted in the game from the start. So, damage currently works by forcing a player to discard a number of cards equal to the damage they receive.
The damage system by itself makes a kind of intuitive sense that my testers easily accepted. The problem lies in determining the impact of any attack.
As an example, there's a card in the game that deals 3 damage and costs 10 speed. After the cost of 10 speed is paid, the target of the 3 damage discards 3 cards from a deck that may have 25 cards or less at the time of the damage. There is no knowing what the cards will be until they are discarded, and there is no way to count the cards left in the deck without both players physically stopping the game and counting.
The end result of calculating damage in cards discarded from a deck, outside of a video game (where the number of cards left in a deck can easily be displayed), is only a vague sense of danger. Receiving damage doesn't feel bad, as I had worried it would, but at the same time dealing damage doesn't actually feel that good either. Damage, as it was made clear to me by my testers, doesn't convey clear information and occasionally even feels superfluous.
So, now I have to make a change to a system that I wanted in the game from the start, but that is actually unrelated to the primary system of speed. If my theme were a strong one, I could use it to guide me on how I move forward. Unfortunately, my guide for Redline is just speed (partially to avoid focusing too much on my inspiration, the 2009 animated film Redline), and speed is more a concept than a theme.
I've got 1 system that works, and alot of thinking to do. I feel like this would be a good point to set the Redline project aside for a little while... but there's still something there. Something gnawing at me. I want my speed card game.