Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year, New Game: Broken Contract Alpha Testing.

Broken Contract prototype board sections for the first scenario in the game, honed after a bunch of solo play testing. These board sections are 8"x10" so that they can also fit on a normal scanner.
 Early last year I was very immersed in working with Hyacinth Games on Wreck-Age. It was a rewarding experience but ultimately two of us started butting heads a lot and I decided to step away from the project. I got to see the first half of the layout for the new Wreck-Age soft cover a couple weeks ago and the art is great, and some of my writing was still there and intact. Its kind of thrilling to see something you invested yourself into come together and to see your input retained for distribution to a large audience. As a musician who's put out a bunch of records, its the same sort of thrill as seeing your record for the first time with art and all. Its a different medium but a very exciting thing. I'm very happy for them too and seeing my name credited is the icing on the cake. Good stuff.

Days before I stepped away from Hyacinth I got injured on the job. I work for a moving company and I tore my ACL and meniscus disk trying to lift something awkwardly (hindsight: because it was too heavy for one person). Though I'm poor as dirt right now it was a sort of blessing in disguise. Friends and family were asking if I was going to work on a game of my own and suddenly I was on crutches and unable to work. I floundered around for a month debating whether this was something I wanted to do but I got some solid encouragement. Worker's compensation was going to take care of my surgery so immediately after my surgery I set to writing. If you follow the blog you saw these three posts:

Broken Contract
Broken Contract - Breakers
Broken Contract - Enforcers

These posts formed the budding concept for Broken Contract, a board game that could one day be fully expanded into a skirmish miniature game or even potentially a RPG. One thing I learned working on Wreck-Age was that a 344 page full color hard back rule book was was an enormous undertaking and way too ambitious for what I could undertake. So instead I looked at how a game like Zombicide was presented - the simplicity - and I decided to start out somewhere akin to that. By Thanksgiving I finished the first draft of the alpha play test rules and presented them to my friends - the core of which were my beloved gaming buddies from my time at GW #108 in Buffalo, NY. Rob Ferrick, Brenden Terrill, Mike Hughes, and Aaron Beechler have at least read partially through the document and given great commentary (Rob actually has done most of the editing thus far). The one thing that was missing from my initial play test rules was a scenario that could be played, and the board to play it on. So in December that became my new goal along with hounding some artist friends for some concept art. December also saw the start of pricing out development and manufacture along with assembling a business plan. One of the challenges I'll be facing is attempting to produce the most ecological and ethical game I can. I know this is going to drive costs up. However, I can't very well make a game about a ravaged Earth left behind and human workers forced into indentured servitude, and then contribute to those same conditions.
This was an initial prototype board that used 12"x12" board sections. Smaller board sections sped up play and would be easier to scan and send to my play testers. These sections met the blade of my paper cutter for alterations.
While I was working on some prototype board sections for the initial scenario I snapped some photos and made some changes. The models pictured are proxies (stand ins) from Games Workshop. One of the next goals is to see if I can wrangle a sculptor or two to help out with the project.
The red models represent Security Officers overseeing a mining operation. The models with light brown bases represent the revolting workers known as Breakers. Ignore the guns, they're all running around with shovels, pick axes, and the big guy has a pneumatic drill.
This insurrection is going badly. The two models laying down with 3's next to them have been taken down. The model laying down with the bulls eye next to them is in restraints. Making the board smaller reduced the distance to escape. I also updated the scenario after several runs through to incorporate a point system for determining success.
Hopefully, the first half of this year is filled with making this concept a reality. With a bit of luck and a lot of hard work, it could be. Keep watching this space for updates.


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