The Antler Games Blog
We are featured on the front page of one of the biggest Hungarian news outlets today!
Saltlands is not the next favorite family edition of Monopoly but rather a hard survival game where you’re more dependent on other players than what you would feel comfortable with.
[…] several popular game mechanic elements have been combined together within a single game. Seems intimidating and complex at first, but after beginning the game it turns out that Saltlands is immensely streamlined and logical.
Hard but winnable, you need to stay on your toes and choose the right tactics depending on the characters, environment and wind direction. […] But after all, someone’s going to bite the ground and that’s why the game is so exciting.
I am super happy to see that our first review is a good one, they seemed to have really liked the game! B-)
Watch the Video
Win a Poster
Get to know the game better and win Saltlands posters!
Contest rules – win a poster!
Do you like the style and artwork you can see in Saltlands? Would you like to support us in printing our dream game – even before the campaign? Can’t wait to have something until you can back us on Kickstarter? Get a free poster to hang on your wall in the meantime.
In order to participate, all we’d like you to do is spread the word about us. We will draw the winners from the mailing list subscribers, one poster for every 50 mailing list subscribers. Deadline: 29 February.
Participate by doing 2 easy steps.
First, if you liked the video, please tell your friends about it. For example, by retweeting this:
— Antler Games (@AntlerGames) February 15, 2016
Or sharing this Facebook post:
Then, subscribe to our mailing list so that we can draw you. (No spam, approx. 2-3 emails until the campaign)
Also, you can check out the main page for more info about the game.
That’s it! If you have any questions or feedback, just ask below in the comment area:
A few design principles important to me:
- Fail faster
Quickly prototype, try it as soon as possible. Iterate as fast as you can. As the game gets better changes get smaller, but be prepared to throw away big parts of the design if necessary. Playtest as much as possible trying out different features, see how players do.
An entertaining discussion of this principle by extra credits:
Fail Faster – A Mantra for Creative Thinkers – Extra Credits
- Less is more
Evaluate each feature according to how much it adds to the experience: does it justify the added complexity and playtime?
Regardless of whether the feature adds to the game through fluff, strategic thinking, player interaction, immersion or anything else, evaluate it this way. Know whether you are designing a light party game or a heavy war-game, adjust your threshold accordingly.
I will check back after a few more game designs under my belt and see whether these are still my top two.
A few principles specific to Saltlands:
- Players must work together just like in a survival situation (think apocalyptic movies, zombies etc.), but it’s not a fully cooperative. There are no fixed teams, players can choose who they work with (or change this) with the flow of the game, as they please. This is achieved by having the first players fulfilling victory conditions at one of the exit points win, regardless of their number.
- Keep the game at a medium to low complexity for a thematic game, with a playtime of about 1-2 hours.
- Language independence, there is no text on the cards or tiles only in the rulebook and crib sheets. Designing this way poses some challenges, but forces us to to think more about how players understand the game and to keep things simple. This allows us to publish the game in several languages right away, but we wouldn’t stick with it if we felt it was detrimental to the experience.
These are not immutable, in fact design goals have already changed some what during development.
I’d love to hear your take in the comments.
…A post by Gergely Kruppa…
We just finished the recruitment of our future 3D artists and I was a lot more involved in this process than previously in the 2D illustrator hiring.
Last time was a cakewalk for me. We had tons of artists interested in our project, most of them were very familiar with the world concept we have created. All of them had a different skill set and style. Some of them were incredibly talented, and some of them were beginners. Sometimes I, as a graphic designer myself was surprised about how people with no real experience or skills assign for a position like this with a lot of serious work to do. Gergő kept in touch with the artists and organized the interviews, and I had the easy part: pick the right one. In retrospect, after all the illustration work we’ve done; with an almost complete game design I can say we made a really good choice.
Now I had more time for this and I contacted and interviewed all the potential 3D sculptors. And the hard part is not organizing these things. Actually it feels pretty exciting to hunt for talented people and make them interested in your project. I ended up with a bunch of talented artists – and this time all of them were a good fit for the work. Their references were truly amazing, but I had to choose.
It’s impossible to work with everyone. And after I made my choice, even if I made the right one, I had to refuse the others. This kind of makes me sad. One day before I was really excited about how awesome 3D design we are going to have, and now I have mixed feelings about all this hiring stuff.
p.s.: But still: We’re going to have awesome figures! 😀
We changed some stuff in the game during the holidays. But it makes sense: we test so that we see what actually works out and what doesn’t.Nhe next step: we are going to make a video of the game! Stay tuned!
A few words from Greg Kruppa, the designer
After months of intense testing we are about to finish the core game. The current 2.15 prototype will soon turn into a reviewer edition made by the Kártyagyár (‘Card Manufactory’), a Hungarian board game prototype manufacturer.
I love this design phase: every mechanism is now in place and working well, the basic features of the game are solid and I can concentrate on the details and balance. On which card should I use a certain illustration? How could the starting position be a little trickier? How can we improve the weaker characters? How hard do we want to set the default game exactly?
I have all the tools in my hand to manipulate these parameters, and I’m not afraid to use them. Finishing touches – of any kind – are making me happy, because it’s sure that it’s going to bring good results, but I still have enough time to make it perfect.
I can’t wait to see the first officially complete copy of the game.
The most important changes:
- New victory system. Now the victory areas are not fixed but rather the players move them around the terrain with so called ‘rumor’ cards – a great way, as anybody can have ‘a word’ about which way they should go. Every time a player finds a rumor token, he can choose from 2 options which move the victory areas towards different directions. Once 6 rumor have been uncovered, they become locked, and the players can attempt to win at those areas.
- New, more balanced starting tiles
- New way of exploring the desert. The tiles are not in the player’s hands any more, because they can already influence the position of the victory areas with the rumor cards. Once a terrain tile is explored, all tokens become visible on it so it is easy to plan in advance – and also, the bandits get moving as well!
Captain’s log, Week 52, 21-27 December
I’d say that so much has happened during this week… and oh yes, it did. But Christmas has slowly and inevitably crept upon us with all that if can offer: a few days to spend with our families, lean back and wind down a bit, think about this year and the next one and of course, ehm, Christmas presents. (Not alone, but including board games!)
So, what happened is that we had the time and mental energy to actually sit down and plan what we would like to do until the Kickstarter campaign launch. We already knew what we wanted to do, but the plan needed substance. It’s a complicated process and we haven’t done KS campaigns before – fortunately the Web is full of useful resources. We’re not alone with our endeavor, at least 2 new games appear every single day on Kickstarter in the ‘Tabletop Games’ category.
Everybody knows Jamey Stegmaier from Stonemaier Games, right? I haven’t had the opportunity to play any of his titles yet (which must be pretty awesome games), but I’m pretty confident that he is a marketing genius. Marketing is what separates good games from great games. The board game world is much like the world of startup ventures. Anyone can have an idea but execution is what transforms an idea into an enterprise.
I’m going to tell you the clever metaphor, that having an idea in itself is much like farting: everybody has it multiple times a day, nobody is interested in the others’, it flies away fast and it’s really hard to properly ignite one. 🙂
If you create a KS campaign, you don’t just sell a product, but rather receive monetary support for a promise that you and your team are competent and enthusiastic enough to create an actual board game from some prototype or preview version you present on the campaign page. It’s the same stuff with startups: the investors not only buy the idea but invest into the team who can actually execute it. That’s why figuring out manufacturing, shipping etc. is so important prior to any campaign: the investors (backers) can see that their money won’t be wasted.
Jamey is one single person, but he also has a group of people with whom he is working (his advisors and ambassadors). And he started blogging a few years ago, and made lots of information available regarding board game KS projects. This is so valuable – there are maybe probably 5 people here in Hungary who know anything about bringing tabletop games to Kickstarter.
You can see access his full list of lessons here: KS lessons full list. Have you seen or used these lessons before in practice?
Our plan for the next year
Okay, so we have planned what we would like to do next year. 2 out of the 3 of us are doing this full-time. Which means time costs money. The advantage is that we really don’t want to lose any time (and money) so this keeps us going all the time and motivates us to carefully think but make decisions, to deal with game development and marketing side by side.
After reading through about a hundred of Jamey’s blog posts, I have created a Gantt chart for the project by taking into account all of the prerequisites that a campaign could need. The currently scheduled start time is mid March, but this could still change because it contains so many elements that are still up to third parties.
I’m going to upload the whole diagram in the next blog post and go through all of its elements so stay tuned!
Finally, Andrew has uploaded more pictures to the Saltlands BoardGameGeek page. They were carefully selected and captioned by him so that you can quickly see how the game looks like. Keep in mind that the artwork is not final and we are working hard to make it as great as possible until (and after!) the campaign. Click on the image below to browse the gallery:
Captain’s log, Week 51, 14-20 December
Let’s take a look at last week in retrospect.
Game tests. Oh yes, we have visited four board game clubs this week. Plus 2 more play testing with friends. + BGG extra. That means
18 hours of intense playtesting this week.
Welcome, dear Reader!
The time has come for us to start a blog.
We are the Antler Games team, and our first upcoming board game is Saltlands. Long story short, Saltlands is the ‘post-apocalyptic desert’ themed successor of a different, ‘post-apocalyptic zombie escape’ game, in the works since June 2015.