The spark at PAX South 2015
Today starts our regular schedule of writing on this site. Tuesdays will be for more general things: design philosophies, showcasing specific parts of our game, anecdotal stories, etc. Thursdays will be for game & company status updates. We already have some big news for this Thursday, so be sure to visit again then.
Back in January 2015, at PAX South, Marshall showed me the idea of a game he was working on. It was essentially a card version of "Left, Center, Right" with a few other cards added in that would make you take another player's coins. This original version didn't have much in the way of player choice, as the game progressed just by revealing the top card in a rather large stack. There was occasionally a card that you could hold on to, but it would rarely be used.
In addition to playing Marshall's original idea, we also met with some other game developers, including Steven Bailey, designer of Billionaire Banshee, and a few others. We played their games, chatted with them, and learned a bit of the process they went through to be selling their game officially (or unofficially) at PAX South. The whole event was a great incubator for us, and I left the weekend with some ideas for how to improve Marshall's original idea.
The big thing the game needed was to give the players choices so that strategies could develop. Rather than use the single deck idea, I decided to split the deck into two - one would be the random cards that passed coins around, and the other would be for player actions. The action cards could also be bought and sold. This relatively simple change ended up drastically changing the flow of the game, and made it into something much more fun to play.
Through multiple play tests both with physical copies and a virtual copy via Tabletop Simulator, we've iterated on that two-deck design to come up with cards that feel right and have fine tuned the numbers. Though there's always more room for improvements, we're comfortable with where the game is now, and will be working on a Print and Play version in the very near future.