Scoria : Post mortem

Posted by (twitter: @MrTroy)
May 1st, 2015 9:48 pm



I wanted to create a digital board game in Unity. Not having much experience in Unity here’s what I ended up with.

While working on Scoria, I had a simple goal to finish the game, make sure there was sound,music and graphics. I  had  base gameplay in mind where I would build a tactics style game where the background would attack you. Originally there were going to be graves everywhere and hands would come up and grab random surrounding tiles. The goal was going to be to push your opponent towards the hands and attacking background elements. Once basic moving was put in place I realized it was almost impossible to push in the desired directions hoping to get the right cards. So how did I get that far before coming to this?

Well I started with this baby. I decided as soon as I heard the theme to go to the local store and buy a notebook to ONLY work on this game with. I sketched out some basic ideas for what the cards would look like as well as concept’d out turn orders… etc. Seemed fun on paper. WRONG.

The AI problem
If you’ve played the current version of the game, you’ll see that the action is very slow. It’s hard to get the cards you want in order to move the way you want. That being said, I had to design AI around this as well. It was completely frustrating. With the AI trying to attempt to use the attack cards that it had, there was a lot of moving left and right, discarding random cards to try and get what it wants. The AI basically stood in the same square discarding the entire game unless approached by the player, or moving left and right repeatedly.  That eliminated the “also get to the treasure chest” objective.

The blank board problem
I originally planned to design out a full board with tombstones and pillars and… shrimp dogs, flaming cars… all that kinda stuff. Then I realized I only had 72 hours(It being my first Ludum Dare I didn’t really want to chance 48 hours) so all of it was scrapped. So I ended up with a huge blank area with nothing to do but move forward and attack.

The super(unconventional) weapon
Since I didn’t have the stage with the reaching hands and flying pillars, etc. but I still wanted a weapon that the player didn’t control attacking. So I went with a death laser in space. I created targets that would appear on the ground every four turns, and it would fire after the player and ai moved. That was very hard to see/understand without reading the page then using your imagination. This lead to another problem, things made perfect sense to me but confused others.

Things aren’t as clear as I thought
Part of the design of this game was to have no text at all. I wanted everything to be iconic. The back of the cards were originally suppose to show off the 3 card types. Red – Attack, Green – Magic/Skill, Blue – Movement. The Go button was suppose to be an icon that says “use this card”, and the trash button was suppose to symbolize discarding. After spending a good amount of time thinking of how to do such icons, I realized anything magic and skill would HAVE to be explained. The two buttons for “use” and “discard” would’ve required a tutorial. There wasn’t enough time for all of that.

The Deck
Currently the game works with a shared deck. While developing I kept track of the cards on paper while playing out the enemies turns trying to balance out the cards. I couldn’t accept the thought of each player (IRL) bringing their own decks to the table to play this game, so I took the easy road and had one shared deck. In retrospect, it might be more fun not being able to card count what has been played.

CardRotateThe Cards
Once again, there were green cards planned that would do cooler things but they required text. I think I’ll revisit the no text thing if it makes the game that much cooler in the long run. Also I planned on having stats that allowed you to use various cards. For example, a move card that allows you to move 3 spaces requires a move of 3. Once I dumped the idea character selecting(To speed up dev time) for the jam, I realized that doing that gave me more empty space on the cards. So, I trimmed the cards of all unused space. A lot of choices like that caused me to have to change-

The Graphics
I avoided Photoshop like the plague on this project. I think I opened it maybe twice the entire weekend. I didn’t want to play with textures and I didn’t really have proper 3d software anyway(Blender and I aren’t on speaking terms right now). So I used the voxel tool Qubicle to do everything. Yup. Absolutely everything in the game is 3d voxels, I was planning on spinning cards around and everything. It didn’t look as cool as it did in my head though.


scorianotesFuture Plans
I plan on continuing this game, I’ve even made notes! I wanted this game to focus on being very much so a board game as well as a video game. I wanted to make something that four players could play and move around a board and race to a treasure… or try and kill the other players first. I’m waiting until after voting is done though, because that’s when I’ll have the most feedback on everything. I’m kicking around the idea of shrinking the board size and or having multiple levels to choose from. I’d also like to have 2D sprites instead of 3d modeled characters. I’ve always been a big fan of Final Fantasy Tactics.

In closing, I had a lot of fun participating in this Ludum Dare and I’m almost positive I’ll participate in future ones as well. Thanks for the read!

Here’s another link in case you don’t feel like scrolling. :)

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