Beta Station!

I believe Daryl to be dead, consumed by the pint-sized monster he’s raising, but a couple months ago I sat down and finally finished writing out a complete set of rules for our project now long, long in the making:

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Along the way that’s become:

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Beta Station is a fast playing, casual exploration and sci-fi shoot ’em up boardgame. Take the part of a cavalier relic hunter in a derelict space station, searching for lost technology and fighting off hidden terrors and competing treasure seekers in an exciting tabletop adventure!

I’d been fighting the name change for a long time, but in producing this latest iteration and started to think about some future directions I decided it wasn’t worth risking trademark, legal, and search collisions over the Relic Hunter title. Seemingly nothing is camped out on the Beta Station name.

Yesterday I spent an early morning arts and crafts hour putting together a new prototype:

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Assembly was straightforward, though there is a fair amount of cutting just given the quantity of chits and tiles. For the next prototype I need to add cut line guides to both the chits and tiles. The former have none at the moment, so I basically just eyeballed it. The latter do but they get lost in the heavy black wall bleeds on some of the tiles. I also plan to add some doubled-over player markers, so you could use them as stand-ups rather than laying flat like all the chits.

Tom W has the prototype now, with strict instructions to guard it with his life. Hopefully him, Charles, whoever can get together and play some games without me in order to gauge the clarity of the rules writeup. Later this summer I hope to put together another set or two, playtest the rules writeup a bit, update on current manufacturing options and cost, and then get serious about plans for a small Kickstarter. Worse comes to worst, written rules were the last missing component to at least get the game out there as a print & play. The Beta Station prototype is indeed already available as such and I plan to have it remain so as part of drawing in people to the eventual Kickstarter.

More Ancient History: Space Marines!

I also stumbled across this while cleaning up one of my web dumps: My most successful experiment with sculpting and casting a game piece.

The original “little dude.”

It’s, you know, pretty terrible.  The simplicity could actually work well, but the sculpt wasn’t smoothed over and evened out enough so he’s kind of lumpy and rippled. He was actually made out of Sculpey clay rather than green stuff, for no real reason than that I had a ton of it. He stands about 3/4″ tall, the biggest problem with the Sculpey being that it shrinks a bit in baking. A small plastic army man stood in for the original armature, deeply buried in the final shape.

Still, though, he actually looks awesome.  He’s wearing a cool little backpack you can’t see that came out pretty well. Most importantly, he worked great as a game piece looked at from table height and wound up the player piece in Relic Hunter.  The small, cartoonish shape to him worked great for its atmosphere and became one of its defining symbols.

Cast pieces. The guy on the right is in a vaguely Imperial Stormtrooper inspired paint job…

To support that I wound up casting dozens and dozens in Alumilite.  Eventually a bunch of the copies were cleaned up and themselves made into a 5-piece mold so I could cast them like gangbusters. At one point we had so many of them, Daryl and I could fight over design decisions by throwing fistfuls at each other.  I cast them up in 5 different colors, one for each possible player, and they drifted around into the corners of my apartment like confetti.  Some of them got some minimal paint jobs and were inevitably fought over in playtesting.

The mold from the original piece.

I forgot to put release powder on the first half of the mold before pouring the second, so it had to be cut and ripped apart and hence looks like a mess. Still worked well though for what felt like a long run of casts.

Rocketship Ancient History

I found this while cleaning out archives on one of my servers: The original sketch for the Rocketship Games website.  It’s pretty awesome, in a 1990s-WWW kind of way.  The original site actually had a lot of custom code.  News scripts (blog), forum, link roll Firefox extension, and so on.

The original rocketshipgames.com site design.

My original gaming blog, driven by a custom backend and Firefox extension for posting.

Eventually the site moved to a much less visually busy layout like it has now.  Still though, the top banner graphics have pretty much stood the test of time, which is awesome.  I think you actually could make a layout like this work really well and look like a super pro gaming site.  It’s just tough to make a dark, patterned background like that work well.  Something to think about for a site update in the future.

Centre Rock eventually went up as a free print & play boardgame.  I’m actually really proud of it.  It looks great, plays well, and has well written rules.  It’s just a shame it’s never gotten in front of more people.  I have some vague notion of adopting it into a Flash/mobile game, but we’ll see.  A boardgame people played would still be real cool.

Relic Hunter is also a super super awesome game that I’m real proud of and actually got a lot of plays.  Daryl and I have just never gotten it together to really write down the rules and polish it up.  Hopefully someday…  It’s not for no reason that when Caitlin and I moved into our house I had box after box with labels like “Unfulfilled hopes and dreams.”