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Moonflight Development: Many Moons - Developing Asymmetric Games

The Starry Night by Van Gogh

So, from the first the basic mechanics of Moonflight were pretty solid. I’ve tweaked the player steps to avoid downtime and combat hate buying, along with slipping in some ways for people to protect their market for the same reason, but the central engine has hardly shifted. I suspect that’s just part of my process, I think well in abstract terms but particularly in the case of Moonflight the basic issues were so significant that once I figured out how to get over them sufficiently to bother making the first prototype anyway there wasn’t a lot of work that needed to be done on the central engine. Basically, in order for the game to work at all it had to work pretty well. The thing that has taken work has been balancing the actual decks and the characters of the four Jacks. Each deck has to do something interesting and different from the others and it has to do it in a way that’s both fun and interesting. I’ve found the shape for the first three but since I’ve just had an interesting early playtest for Jack O’ Cot and Hovel I thought I’d write a little about that process.

Jack O’ Cot and Hovel is the tableaux building specialist, the theory is that they have several tableaux cards in the first half of the game that each has repeatable and ongoing abilities but in the second half of the game the tableaux cards crumble down and filter, giving up a lot of their abilities and simply becoming halls to shove cards into. The feel is intended to go from an active and bustling town that devolves into essentially slum housing and places to hide away the unwanted. When I first wrote the Jack O’ Words and Names it worked, it was balanced, but it rewarded disengagement and lacked fun. Fixing Words and Names required a total re-design. Cot and Hovel has issues, in the second half it generates an effective and interesting engine, but in the first half its cards are powerf