...1999: the big beast

Genesis and assembling from the first ideas until the creation of the prototype

Card technology

Messaggio da leggereda Veldriss il 18 marzo 2016, 13:56

If the calamity was the "Chimera" of my boardgame, could not miss the antidote and countermeasure ... in this case the technology became my "Bellerophon".

I would have loved to insert something like games for computer, for example Age of Empires... but you know the amount of technologies in a PC game? Then, customize all for each faction (French, English, Spanish, Russian, Austrians, Prussians etc etc) or standard and make them all the same? What I had already ready? The icons of games on PC were really low resolution, impossible to use them, so I opted for something more simple and I took as starting point the images of Civilization.

Here below a first outline of the groups in which the technologies had divided and the sequence of purchase:
Immagine

Here a first draft of the characteristics of calamities, in the last 2 columns the various technologies that enhance/deteriorate the effects:
Immagine

And finally a summary table here almost definitive used during the first game:
Immagine

As you can see the "technologies" are colored green, the cards "Empire" are blue and the "calamities" are red; this colour system combined with a short description (at the bottom of every card) made very simple learn quickly the game despite there were approximately 70 different cards distributed on 3 decks.
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Re: ...1999: the big beast

Messaggio da leggereda Zamein il 18 marzo 2016, 13:56

It has always worked ... well ... almost always ... do you remember that memorable day... a Sunday several years ago, the previous game was finished on Sunday before (eh, a lot of us game also lasted 6/7 sessions of 8/10 hours each), we had prepared everything to start new game, who was happy to have won the last time, who was glad to restart and revenge, we were total of 10 people.

The game begins, first round ... roll dice for random events: Double... insults like "sfigato" to one had increased the barbarians against everyone, but ok... we continue... second round no random events, third round the same... the fourth also... (for "turn" I will "turn of player", essentially every 10 "turn of player" we makea complete round and restart) is always the case, the first two or three rounds are characterised by everyone studied his trade, where expand, against who declare war and how to make the other weaker or keep grow strong...

I remember that I had my eyes fixed on sheet and calculator, to make and remake the calculations to find the best combination of businesses that could be in my Empire, when suddenly I hear the laughter of sadistic Manellino, raising the gaze, there were those who laughed and laughed, Lollius almost was trembling hands and I didn't understand what caused it, then I look on the table, a skull on a dice... I think ok, no problem, a random event was normal, but then I known another skull on the second dice, Ianno invites lollius to the calamity card, so Lollius start to turn, being attentive that does anyone besides him notice the picture and understand what it is, their eyes move on quickly reading the consequences of calamity and he have a look of confusion (like: but always to me?), the tension rises, turn the card: Famine.

I thought: "fuck, no this in the first round, I hope to not be one of the victims", fortunately I avoided (immense ass), with a sigh of relief and thinking that the danger was now escaped, I got back to my calculations... to my strategy.

Suddenly, while the sixth player roll random event dice, laugh again, this time was Manellino to make the calamity, raising the gaze, he had a look of crazy fun, as always, he loved calamities. He turn it: Crusade! We began preparations for the Crusade, we decided destinations and anything else and then the turn passes to seventh, to me.

I wasn't able to develop my business strategy with all the hustle and bustle, but hadn't importance, I would have made a temporary trade for a couple of rounds while I terminated to study the best tactic, I take the dice and roll, they roll a long time on the gameboard, the red one stops on the skull, the other continues to roll, everyone follow wit gaze, was going to stop on four but clashes with the bunch of keys and go back, another skull.
I exploded to laugh, could be the end, with a famine that already had weakened too many players (in the first round had not had the opportunity to buy the protections and also someone had wasted too many armies in attempts of conquest); moreover the crusade undertook much of both armed attackers that for defenders; if I had caught the pirates or the barbarian invaders could be the end of the game, but maybe there was something worse: the plague.

Slowly, almost with hand trembling, pescai the calamity, I make a deep breath thereafter I looked it, a scythe, a skeleton hooded, mice eyed like rubies, written at the top of the card recited "Fever". They began to rise up to rumors that want to know what it was but I ignored, pondering how to use this calamity, finally I decided to move the destructive power to those who had not undergone the famine, luckily I had suffered, hindsight I would have lost all armies.

Now the situation was decidedly more balanced, was only the first round and everyone had armies available more than halved, but the thing I liked was the typical situation of difficulty from which you can get away with commitment and with the right strategy, in short we were well after the last match in which it was arrived at incredible power levels.

I ended my turn and I spent the dice to the next player, Paul, launched the dice, two skulls.
The tension went up again but it was a small disaster, storm, that did almost no effect. The ninth player pulled the dice, all smooth, played his turn calmly and passed the dice to Lorry, he pulled them and appeared again those two cursed skulls, fished the card with the hope that it was still a less damaging calamity, but his gaze revealed clearly that was not so, THE BARBARIANS. the game will ended when a wave of enemy armies destroyed in the first round 3 players.

However I can say that on at least a hundred, maybe even more, games played only one time there was a similar devastation.
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Re: ...1999: the big beast

Messaggio da leggereda Veldriss il 18 marzo 2016, 13:59

Hi Zamein!
They remember everyone that game, I sometimes tell when I'm at convention ... I know that was a real unlucky succession of coincidences, I think it will be almost impossible to happen again ...

This perhaps is a photo of repertoire of that game, but not 100% sure ... but keeping in mind that the whole of Spain is in the hands of the Barbarians with lots of fortifications and General (and it seems that England is in similar conditions) would say that might be just that...
Immagine

Immagine

on the contrary ... I know it is that because I found also this other photo with a roll of the dice events double skull: CALAMITY!!!! Surely that game...
Immagine

... but I was thinking that isn't a bad idea that there is a remote chance that game can win, on the contrary, in my opinion is an excellent incentive to entice players to give maximum; play against each other, it is true, but every so often they are forced to work together to prevent the total crash!

In this way then alliances are more fickle:

-"I would attach guy, but if I weaken too him then maybe I find myself boundaries full of armies barbarians"

-"I know that I will have to contemplate coalition with my worst enemy for now, otherwise I cannot manage 2 fronts ... just finish here, then I will see what to do 8-) ".
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Creating the map

Messaggio da leggereda Veldriss il 18 marzo 2016, 14:00

Fixed the main structure and mechanics of the game, the biggest job to start was the map ... mmm ... a very big work, definitely the last created some years before was no good enough, I wanted something even more impressive, sure to create a map of a game starting from zero is not so easy.

I banged my nose a few times about attempts on the map...

First of all the area that was to be represented:
- all world would have been nice, but I know that was a problem then manage areas too small
- I wanted a zone where the movements by sea were very different and articulated, with straits, peninsulas able to circumnavigate, Islands, etc. etc.
-for a long time I worked on area Eurasia because I would have loved to revitalise our very first version with the map of Marco Polo; the idea was to find a nice map on some geographical Atlas (do not imagine that Internet was as it is now), so I look the atlases at my house and a couple in the library of my country... I had even written a letter to the Department of Geography with a detailed request for what I needed (map scale, representation, etc). However, having the right starting map, scan and modify a thing so big, looked beyond my ability.
- I liked the map of Europa Universalis on computer, it was really great, but it had 2 problems: if I chose an area too large around Europe, this map had large white areas not managed by the game; the map was on computer and I wasn't able to find the original picture in subfolders of the installed game...
... the new games were programmed differently, they had changed and used a completely new graphic formats (to prevent copying), also the new directX alter irreparably copy/paste of screensshot from the game ... what to do? Then came the solution: a very small program, perhaps snapshot, it could also make screenshots of games in directX: I was happy!!

The idea that came to my mind was industrious, I didn't know where I'd be arrived, but I began to do early attempts.

First of all I made a lot of screenshots of a big area of the game map on PC; of course I must set the game to display a better map as possible, "clean" from other graphics of the game... Fortunately options allow to do this and the result of a screenshot (after trim the side edges) was like this:
Immagine

Next step was join all the screenshots with an absolute precision, millimetre precision... more, pixel precision! The result was a gigantic image (1.515x1.230 mm.):
Immagine

Then I decided the size that the final map should have had... $#$#$# does not fit all! How do?
Africa interested me a lot, especially the idea to trade up to the Gulf of Guinea or to the Horn of Africa widened enormously naval movements... so I decided to "crush" a little Africa to gain space, Sahara desert not interested me.
Same thing India, but it was far, far, I was forced to reduce the Arabian peninsula and to move the Persian Gulf since to have the West coasts of India inside the area of game ... was enough then add the Maldives to have an interesting shopping centre over there.
As first changes was not bad:
Immagine

But it was still too big and I didn't know how to reduce it further. Meanwhile, I began to clean up the map from beige color that territories had as background, same thing for all texts written, let anly boundaries and rivers.
Doing the first plots of some partial areas, I noticed that however the territories and some areas were too small and so I decided to make further changes:
- enlarge England
- move and enlarge Iceland
- crush Scandinavia
- remove all small islands
- reduce to about 1/3 the number of territories represented, in this way territories would have been much bigger and could accommodate the pieces of the game.
Immagine

Then I had to define the boundaries, not only of individual regions, but also of kingdoms and Empires... enlarge areas here, cut there, move, copy, delete, save, save as, go back to 2 changes, here ok, there is to redo everything; same thing for the seas... in short a nice work:
Immagine

Now it was necessary to paint the map ... and here I see hard, not so much for the ideas, as for the "physical" limits that the computer of my father had: it was a Pentium III 800 with 1 GB of RAM, a beautiful beast at the time, only that my image was big and when I started to color, it became even more big (100 MB approximately TIF or 400 MB bmp)... sometimes for partial color tests I must wait 20 min, other also 30 min... I arrived in this solution that I liked:
Immagine

I was already good point of work... my friends began to ask where I was with the realization of the game... for me was already a success to show this picture to us :D .
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Creating the map 2

Messaggio da leggereda Veldriss il 18 marzo 2016, 14:01

At this point I had to define more things on the map, for example the names of territories (some books of geography and a couple of atlases) and cities... the latter were to be distributed homogeneously over the map and exactly 1 for each Kingdom and 2 for each Empire; a print on A3 of the map that I had, pencil and eraser, a bit patience and finally the last clipboard for my map on the PC were these:
Immagine
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Implementation of trade

Messaggio da leggereda Veldriss il 18 marzo 2016, 14:02

Same thing to set trade: a print on A3 of the map that I had, pencil and eraser, a bit patience to decide what type of goods use (obviously influenced by the color of goods of Serenissima that I plundered ;) ) and also the most important markets uniformly distributed:
Immagine

The arrows indicate the two cities that have the highest price and lower for the single commodity. Excluding wine that had its lowest price in Kreta island (center map) I had tried to distribute important markets in the suburbs of the map to increase the price differences between minimum and maximum and entice players to "move their ass" to trade better.

Below shows the table of trade with all cities, up the various goods, the columns to buy and sell, highlighted in orange the best prices to buy and in blue to sell:
Immagine

However, nothing complicated, paired with each commodity always 1 only best market to buy and 1 only to sell better, minimum prices and multiplication factors (x distance) different depending on the value of the goods.

Despite myself I had created this trading system, there wasn't a way to exploit weaknesses in-game, of course there were some profitable routes, the rules on commercial transport were changed a few times during the first year to balance some rare cases; the many variables in game made the trade definitely not quiet and linear operation.
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The outer edge of the map

Messaggio da leggereda Veldriss il 5 giugno 2016, 17:52

THE BOARD MAP:
Mindful of past experiences with hundreds of long games on various boardgame, I wanted to solve a fundamental problem: the life of my work and particularly the safety of home... yes, because you don't know, but if once parents taught behaviour and good manners, over time this thing had a long lost in the air and in fact my new friends/boys/players were a bit of "animals" when they manage snack or glass of cocacola during challenging phases of a game.

Until were crumbs of a bun on the ground or on the map ok... ok also some sweet salami or tiramisu on the map... but definitely a drink poured on the map or chocolate cake crumbs on the chairs in velvet of my parents, absolutely NO!
In addition, the table would not be large enough to support everything need of each individual player.
Then I decided to apply to the map a perimeter border that solve all these problems.
First of all I outlined the size and I tried to see how to divide it into 10 parts (for each individual player):
Immagine

The thing seemed to work, so I decided to continue working on it... I decided to draw even the position where support their cards and the player Panel with polystyrene base.
Already the map was colored according to ideas that I was working on about religion (5 factions: Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, Shiite and Sunni) and diplomacy (playing couple and more), same thing for this board map to facilitate visually players:
Immagine

If you notice, there was also the place for support the snack :P :P :P !!!
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Creating Cards

Messaggio da leggereda Veldriss il 5 giugno 2016, 17:53

Let us leave the map aside for now to see the cards and their progress...
I needed to take some choices in order to define and complete cards:
- dimensions
- frame
- areas for text and image
- type of font to use
- type of image
- colors
- back

To make all these decisions I took all decks that I had at home and I started to analyze them... after a series of scans and various attempts of coupling I had arrived at a good solution: the frame of the cards from age of Renassaince; the images of Anno Domini for cards Empire, Civilization for carts technologies and Age of Renassaince for carts calamities; I have chosen wallpapers and texts between the various textures and TrueType fonts available.
The assembly was approximately this way…
Immagine

... and then get the card like this:
Immagine

Same work, more or less, for other types of decks, here are some examples respectively for calamity, technology, event:
Immagine
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City and terrain types on the map

Messaggio da leggereda Veldriss il 5 giugno 2016, 17:54

Cities on the map...
To complete the map I needed a lot of icons and images to represent the various types of terrain and cities; once the game for PC that I owned (Age of Empires and Cossaks) gave me a big hand to save time and find the job already half done.
Many of these "managerial" games on PC indeed had an editor for the maps that I I exploited so quite simple: I prepared a map with giant size limit, fully covered with flat terrain of grass; then I started to put a reasonable distance away from each other all components of the game that could interest me, not just mountains and woods and palm trees, but also all buildings of the various factions of the game.
In this way I had hundreds of buildings of every European and Arab region and once I decided the 45 required, I made some screenshots; then with photo editing program I prepared one by one the images like this:
Immagine

Same thing with territories, the most difficult to place were the woods and palm trees, but it was only a matter of time; I decided also to put the wood with snow in Northern Europe to enhance the map:
Immagine
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Texts on the map

Messaggio da leggereda Veldriss il 5 giugno 2016, 17:55

Then there were a lot of other things to prepare:

The circles which were to highlight the area of land (beige) or sea (blue) for random events...
Immagine

... the various names of Kingdoms, Empires and town…
Immagine
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