Keeping Score

Keeping Score

3:46 PM Tuesday, October 16, 2018


One of the questions we faced as a team was, "How are we going to keep score?"

Atlas Break is a small card game. That means it's a single box, no nonsense, just about pocket-portable package. I LOVE the gems of a game like Ascension. And there's nothing wrong with going old school with a little pen and paper. We also discussed the possibility of enclosing dice to keep track. Who doesn't enjoy the tactile sensation of something that brings you closer to great victory?

Well, practicality doesn't always enjoy it. Creating an extra compartment in our box for something that will otherwise bang against our cards...not cool. And, extra components mean extra space, bigger box = less portable game.

Star Realms is a similarly small box, all card game, which uses cards with values on both sides (1, 5, and 10) to keep score, which I've used and found a bit of a bother, to pause in order to rearrange my score cards. (They also suggest the good ol' pencil and paper route)

So, when our creative director came up with a few novel ideas to keep score, I was blown away by the simplicity and elegance of his solutions. Here's the one that won out:


So first, let's look at the central card in this draft: Champion Rizza Vice. Players of Atlas Break choose one of six characters at the beginning of the game. Each of these champions has these green markers up top which align with the Score Cards. Our game calls health "Influence" and the amount of influence a player has is determined by the location of the Score Cards behind their Champion Card.

In this image, Rizza's Influence is at 25.

Not sure if this is a big deal to you guys, but this score-keeping method just so seamlessly integrated itself into the game, particularly because of our Champion component. And this stuff is freakin' exciting!

Let me know if you've seen a score-keeping method like this before or if there are other score-keeping methods that are your favorites! (My favorite is still Ascension's cool gems!)

Card Types: Districts

Card Types: Districts

3:28 PM Monday, August 27, 2018


Another card type we have in Atlas Break is called the District card. This is a card with mechanics which affect both players and take effect and precedence as soon as it appears in the market.

These can have wild game-changing effects, such as adding an additional card to both player's hand every turn or the ability to counteract an attack by sacrificing a card in your hand.

Here is one of those cards:

Old Porthos Satellite Relay


This card adds +1 Currency to both players, which could be a formidable force when dealing with Hex Holcomb, the Engineer, who already gets +1 as a Champion power.

Playtesting Progress

Playtesting Progress

6:14 PM Friday, July 13, 2018

Hello, Everybody!

We are currently working on internal playtesting and beginning to branch out into small outside groups.

So far, we've been able to uncover a few errs in the efficacy of some cards and some balancing issues.

What I'm really interested in right now is figuring out what is better for our game:

- Having every card be unique (this is how it stands now)
- Having duplicates of some cards to assist in crafting a strategy

Some cards serve similar purposes, but because we have factions, they offer different potential advantages for players. One thing we may do is decrease the number of factions in order to increase the likelihood of coming across a card that is useful (decreasing factions from 6 to 3).

So, playtesting continues and we'll experiment with these components as the weeks go on.

Card Types: Bugs!

Card Types: Bugs!

4:10 PM Tuesday, June 12, 2018


One of the most unique cards in our game is the Bug card type. When these cards are drawn into the Marketplace, players have the option to attack their opponent as normal OR they can go in to attack the Bug card to reap victory bonuses.

Here is one of those cards: Brood Mother, a powerful beast entering the fray!


This Bug has 12 Defense, which means you have to pack quite a punch to destroy it. However, once you do, it also has an equally hefty reward, offering +6 Influence points. Influence work as health in this game, as different factions fight to gain Influence over the world.

Hope that's helpful in explaining the unique mechanics of this card type and we look forward to sharing more with you as we continue!

The Playtesting Process

The Playtesting Process

6:48 AM Sunday, May 6, 2018


Now that the rules, cards, mechanics, have all been nicely laid and seem to work in my head...it's time to smash it up!

My approach to playtesting begins with building out a very simple prototype with my team. We have an indispensable programmer who has developed a clean database for us to add to and to print our first stage prototypes from.

This prototype is very simple, made up of only text and small images. Simultaneously, the art team is bringing the art and frames together in what will be used for our second stage prototype and final print.

Playing Solo
The first part of playtesting is playing the game myself. As the person who built the mechanics, I am starting off with so many questions in mind. Are all mechanics making sense? Are they all necessary and useful? Are play styles I designed in actually practical and usable?

However, the first game often reveals issues very quickly that I may not have even considered, which is why getting to this stage is so important. These little revelations will inform how I adjust the game and how I alter rules and/or mechanics for my team's internal testing.

Internal Testing
It's so vital and helpful to get everyone on the team on board and playing the game. This will be my first opportunity to access real issues that players will run into whether that's confusion regarding the rules, poor game pace, overpowered champions, etc. But I'll also get to hear about the good stuff, too. Who everyone's favorite champion is, what was liked, etc.

An important not here for all playtesting: People like to win. Be sure to clarify before playtesting sessions that winning is not the goal at this time. Exploring the mechanics and what can be improved is the primary mission.

External Testing
This is something I'm very excited about. Bringing groups of players together to play the game and get feedback. This is also tricky. Depending on player knowledge of your closeness to the project, players may not feel comfortable giving negative criticism because they want to be kind. I think the best information to be gathered here is probably by observing how games flow and listening to the questions that people have while playing, which will indicate hurdles in gameplay. Direct feedback could also be useful but perhaps not as much as careful observation.

That is a little bit about my process and I'm so looking forward to it! I'll be printing this week in order to playtest and make as many necessary edits as possible before we go into our second stage prototype which is the one we'll be using for external playtesting.

Thank you for reading our blog post! Let me know in the comments about where you find the most valuable input when playtesting!

Development Update

Development Update

5:54 PM Tuesday, April 17, 2018


Hello, Everybody! Just wanted to update you all on our progress to date on Atlas Break.

We've worked and re-worked this game over a long period of time and we are getting into our prototyping phase.

  • - Card frames for all card types are completed.
  • - Card Art is completed, named, and organized
  • - Mechanics are in our Card Database

Next Steps

  • - Automating card variables into our card frames
  • - Manually placing card art into respective frames
  • - Printing prototype
  • - Playtesting

Those are our short term goals coming up. The cards themselves are looking beautiful! I remember our first prototype for the first version of this game. It was basically tables with our variables and card test, no card art, and printed on card stock. And when I say "basically," I mean "actually."

Our previous prototype was ugly but it was playable and served its purpose. There are varying opinions regarding how "finished" a game should appear before playtesting, especially before playtesting with those outside of your group. Regardless of where one SHOULD be for the playtesting stage, I am very glad that we've played with most basic of prototypes and that we will be playing with a prototype with this level of finish.


Here are a couple of samples of our cards. These are only samples (not all variables included/only flavor text) but they're so pretty, I had to share.



Atlas Break Card Type Breakdown

Atlas Break Card Type Breakdown

2:00 PM Sunday, March 18, 2018


As we hammer out our final rules and mechanics, I'll be piecing together brief synopses of the game. Today, we'll go over our card types.

Atlas Break contains a total of 8 card types:

Champion
This card shows your chosen champion and their respective Champion Power.

Starter Cards - Basic Bot and Basic Currency
These are the cards that each player begins with. They include a Basic Bot, which does 1 attack and one Basic Currency Card, which permits 1 purchase power. Currently we have our currency noted as "Units" but not sure if this will stick. Let us know if you have any suggestions for Currency!

Ability
These cards are used once then discarded into the Void.

Mob
These are bots, humanoids, and other creatures that are collected and then cycle through the player's deck.

Bug
Bugs are a nuisance to all. Destroying a bug card provides an instant reward to the victor!

Barrier
Protective shields of all types that must be destroyed before the player can be attacked.

District
These are location cards that have a mechanic that applies a new mechanic to both players.

And, that's it! Each of these cards has appropriate variations in their card design for which I've mocked up templates for our art director to work from. From the last post about card frames, I think you know how excited I am about those! They've been further refined and continue to be improved.

The templates are also being used on our database side to automate our table of card information to actual cards. We're looking forward for our new prototype being finished soon and play testing of the new version of Atlas Break to begin.