While I’m still working on the various “standard” worker placement spots on the board, it’s probably a bit further off than I’d anticipated so I wanted to add an update in the meantime with some of the non-specific ideas I’ve had.
What’s in a name?
Well, a lot, as a matter of fact. It’s interesting reading posts on how other designers came up with the names for their games, particularly for newer designers who need to use as many resources as they can to grab the attention of potential buyers. I’ve been doing a great deal of thinking on this recently (as “Unnamed worker placement/role selection game” doesn’t quite roll off the tongue) and I think I’ve found a name I’d like to use that both fits the story and theme of the game while still being (hopefully) interesting enough. So, while not exactly the most fascinating of posts, I’ll be referring to the game as From the Ashes for the time being.
Although I realize the game is a far, far way off from needing artwork, I’ve nonetheless started thinking about what sort of style I would like as I find it helps me keep ideas on the same track, while at the same time helping me keep the theme and mechanics tied together as much as possible.
I’m no artist by any stretch of the imagination, but in my time working at a video game studio, I’ve had the opportunity to work with various artists and have learned that it truly helps to be prepared with actual examples, rather than just words. So far, I’ve found one image that near perfectly captures the style I’m hoping to have on the board:
(Image by Obsidian Entertainment – https://eternity.obsidian.net/news/update-51-prototype-2-update)
I like the isometric style design, the colours and the overall style of that image as a baseline, and hope that I’ll one day get to the point of having some artwork done up. I envision a larger city with cobblestone streets, a large keep near the top and in general some buildings with obvious damage to them. The area where the player-built buildings are constructed will be much more devastated, allowing for the new buildings to be placed over the top of demolished ones, showing progress towards reconstructing the city as the game is played.
I’ve been jumping around on the number of workers each player will have available and have so far been unable to come up with a perfect number. On one hand, I like the idea of having only one single worker, such as in Le Havre and Forge War, but that won’t work due to the Card phase of the game; making players choose between harvesting resources or taking other actions in the city seems like it would lead to an overly long game where half of the time, your action didn’t feel impactful at all as you were just harvesting resources while others were actually doing something. I also decided against having a larger number of workers, such as in Russian Railroads and Spyrium, as I want the worker placement actions to feel meaningful, as opposed to “I’m going to put one of my workers here because nobody else has yet.”
At this point, I’m leaning towards having each player start the game with 3 workers; 2 regular workers and 1 “boss” type worker who will access a different set of actions on the board, sort of similar to the different type of workers in Pillars of the Earth. I also like the idea of a “boss” going into a building and being able to throw his weight around in order to get more, or get something better than what his lackeys are able to. I also like the idea of regular workers not blocking an action space, but a “boss” being able to; it helps signify that he’s of a higher status, so I believe I will start off with this mechanic and see how it goes in testing.
Further on the topic of workers, I want them to be disposable but still valuable, so I believe I will use the reputation track to gate when new workers can be hired. When constructing buildings, several of them will require a worker be included as part of the construction costs (building a Lumbermill or Blacksmith needs someone to actually do the work, after all!), so there needs to be a way of recovering those lost workers otherwise there will be no incentive to purchase buildings until the very end of the game, which I want to avoid.
Up next is to continue work on the main board actions, moving forward with the 2 types of workers. I’ve begun collecting components and hope to have a (poorly drawn) prototype done up in the near future, then actually try to convince others to play with me – I can’t wait!