Monday, September 12, 2016

Interstellar Pig version 2.0

So my brothers came the other weekend to play games with us here in Provo.  One of the games we were planning on playing was Interstellar Pig, which I had made years and years ago, back when I was still in Jr. High or High School.  We had a 4-player game and it was pretty fun, but there were definite flaws.  Flaws which I had an itch to fix.

For example, each character has an IRSC, which is the game's fancy way of saying IQ. The problem was, some characters had really high ones and some had really low ones, and they didn't really balance out, and they in the end really didn't matter too much.  So I worked on fixing it so that all of the characters were balanced. Part of that has to do with the number of planets they're naturally comfortable with, part of it has to do with their agility during battle, and part of it has to do with certain special abilities they have.

The game board from my version 1.0

Also, there were four different atmospheres and 15 planets, which was too many. I chanced the game to have only 12 planets, and now there are only three different types of atmosphere: Oxygen, Hydrogen, and Flundonium. With the temperature, instead of having all these random numbers of temperature that you had to keep track of and try to mathematically figure out if you could survive, I just changed it so that there were four main temperatures: cold, cool, warm, and hot. Each planet has one or more of these four temperature listings, and each character does as well of where they'll be comfortable at.

Another thing was that the number of spaces in-between planets was much too high. It would take you three turns just to get from one planet to another. During our game night the other night I recognized this even before we started playing so I quickly just through in a third die to roll so that we rolled three instead of the normal two.  In the new version I fixed it so that we can play normally with two dice, and the distances between planets is much more manageable.

In the old version, if you wanted to know if you can land on a planet, then forget about looking at the board, because that thing had no information. You had to find the planet's corresponding card somewhere on the outside of the board to look at that. That seemed a little silly to me, so I added right on the board the planet's atmosphere and temperature.

Here is the new version of the board (which is super awesome):

In regards to rules, is that when we were playing the other night, when you wanted to land on a planet, you had to check to see if the atmosphere was right, if the temperature was right, and if you could see on that planet.  Well, I got rid of the "Light" category, so now you can see on any planet, because that part was just obnoxious, and wasn't even really part of the book (there's one instance where Zulma has to wear glasses to see in a dark cave). As for the atmosphere and the temperature, I noticed something that happened in the book: "Zulma landed on a blinking star, and took an instruction card which ordered her to land directly on the surface of Ja-Ja-Bee, where she would have to spend her next three turns. . . . I understood Monya's glee at getting the dangerous intelligent spider-lady so quickly out of the game. Would the atmosphere poison her before she had time to freeze to death? I was curious to see. But Zulma wasn't perturbed. She had brought portable breathing equipment with her. And, since Ja-Ja-Bee had been one of the planets she had chosen at the beginning, she had stashed a powerful heat pump there, as well a cache of . . . food" (Sleator 92).

What does this tell me? First off, a card can tell you to land directly on a planet. And if you are instantly out of the game if you can't live on that planet, then that would be super crappy. Losing just because of one bad card is a dumb way to lose. Secondly, it appears that Zulma was actually able to land on the planet and go through its envelope even though she couldn't survive on the planet, because she was able to grab her heat pump there to keep her temperature comfortable.

This, added to the fact that the other night during our game night we agreed that it was super tough not being able to land on any planets at all if you couldn't breathe or be comfortable, led me to an idea. This idea also crept up the other night when we kept running into each other and battling. In the book, a player is out of the game if they lose just one battle. But I'm not a big fan of player elimination in games. We didn't play it that way last night and had a lot more fun. So I decided to have a health system: Everyone has four health, and if you reach zero than you're out of the game.  Every time you lose a battle, you lose one health. Plus, you can choose to land on a planet that doesn't have the right atmosphere or temperature; all it does is decrease your health by one as well. (Decreases it by two if the atmosphere AND temperature are both wrong for you.) The nasty Lanthrococcus molluscans, which killed off Ryan last game, now only does 2 damage to you.

In regards to battles, in the book Zena says, "You may be in direct combat and have to sacrifice a card" (50). Therefore I made the rule that if you lose a battle, the winner gets to look at the loser's hand and steal a card from it. The loser then has a one-card-less hand limit size for the rest of the game.

Anyway, those are the basic rule changes that I'm writing about in this post. As for getting it published, I don't really have high hopes. After all, Chaosmos is already out, plus I don't even know how to get started on working with the intellectual property rights. No, working on this game is mainly just for fun, for the challenge of it. Publishing is just a by-product, developing games for the thrill and challenge of it is my hobby and passion.

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