More Players, Cohesion and Polish

Time for a quick update!

I’ve been working on bringing more players into the game. It was always intended to be a 2 to 4 player game, but up until recently I was focused only on the two-player mode because I want this game to be as good in two-player as it is in four-player. After some iteration and playtesting, three-player is working pretty well (will try four next). New dynamics come from adding additional players, like players helping others to stop the frontrunner from winning. This is typical for games with many players, and I’m glad to see it making an appearance here. There are a number of board designs I’m still testing out to see what works best for 3 to 4 players.

When I played with my designer friends during GDC, one main thing that bothered them was the lack of a cohesive game feel. They thought the mechanics felt cobbled together. This caused players to pay less attention to certain mechanics because they weren’t heavily related to each other. I felt defeated by the intensity of their feedback, but in the end it’s always great to be challenged by peers. I listened to my friends and have since fixed the problems. For example, there used to be two separate mechanics in the game — objectives and missions. Objectives allowed players to bring new spies into the game, and missions were players’ win conditions. Now the two mechanics are coupled, which enables me to create cool content for players to experience and keeps both mechanics (now just one mechanic) front and center. The pairing is easy for beginners to understand, it gives players more direction, and it makes the whole game feel like one story arc per player.

Along with cohesion, I’ve been ironing out a number of little rules that tend to trip up new players. This smoothing process always feels so good, like “squashing” bugs while programming. It also means my ruleset can be shorter. It’s down to two pages now!

Polishing Content
Lastly, I’ve been taking a look at all of the mechanical content in the game to make sure it’s the best it can be. The items and skills have been fun up to this point, but needed to be kicked up another notch as I get closer to pushing this game to the “finished” state. Now there’s a booby trap you can use to trick opponent spies into injuring themselves. Even cooler, there’s a MIND CONTROL device that lets you wreak all kinds of havoc.


Ok, that’s it!