Redline Update 8 -- Psychic Scrap Racers now
Ok, I'm changing the name and theme of my main game to Psychic Scrap Racers. Psychic, mutated kids in a dystopian future who race scrap on public roads actually makes more sense to me than a bunch of weirdos in the space future or whatever who race cars they have for reasons. A major benefit of the changed theme is that the game itself is making alot more sense.
In my last post, I pointed to a video of racing on public roads as inspiration for my new direction. Testing this week has revealed a purity of focus from this inspiration that I wasn't getting from Redline (2009 anime). The removal of damage systems is freeing.
This is not to say that other ideas have not tried to creep into my design. The version of my game that I tested this week included cards that represented Traffic, as well as dice rolling. Traffic cards, though still an interesting idea to me, added extra rules and were often misunderstood in execution. Additionally, I've belatedly realized that Traffic cards, as I've designed them, existed only to offset the game-ruining effect of the dice.
Dice, by themselves, were not fun the way I was trying to use them. Aside from the Traffic cards, I had no mechanism in place that really benefited from the existence of dice. So, I tried playing a game with one of my testers that had neither dice nor Traffic.
My game without dice, with only the occasional Hot card to add speed, was actually kind of engaging. I was worried that turns where a player didn't gain speed (and there were a few), or lost distance through negative speed, wouldn't be fun. To my surprise, the tester I was playing with insisted he had been having fun regardless, as there had always been something to do.
On further reflection, turns where a player doesn't move or moves backward actually make a weird kind of sense. I've been reminded of a scene in one of the YouTube videos that inspired me, a scene where, for a split second, a racer is forced to slam his breaks to avoid slamming into the back of a slower car. The source of the video, another driver, speeds past his unlucky opponent, capturing an entire few seconds were a car in a race is forced to stand still.
I still believe I'm on the right path. I'm going to cut mechanics, add cards, and hopefully have something ready to test by Tuesday. At the very least, I'll have something ready and tested by next week.
Side note: I was exposed to the surprising difference a few rule changes can make today. The Talisman board game is one of my least favorite games of all time due to pure random bullshit. That's literally what the core of Talisman is: bullshit, due to a high level of negative randomness culminating in adventuring that is more chance than skill. Most runs leave you failing repeatedly because a card or roll says so.
So, imagine my surprise when I got to play a "fun" (mileage may vary) version of Talisman: Runebound. Runebound incorporates many of the same randomness (and a semi-painful board setup) of Talisman, but gives you a choice in your encounters. You're not forced to fight or face anything until you choose to.
I recommend comparing Talisman and Runebound, if you have the opportunity to do so.