Board game version of TBK in progress

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Board game version of TBK in progress

Postby Dr_Nostromo » Sun Dec 13, 2015 19:33

I've started work on a board game version, once again. Right now I'm mostly doing graphic in preparation of developing the game. I'm not sure if I'll wait for Vassal 4 (C++ based) or stick with Vassal 3 (Java based) before I actually begin development. I'm so much more comfortable working with C++ as it's so much faster and easier to manipulate ...at least for me.

As far as graphic work, here's a quick sample of the graphics differences. Here's a typical card from the CCG version:

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Since the board game version will be a hex based game, the new card conversions will look like this:

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Re: Board game version of TBK in progress

Postby Dr_Nostromo » Sat Jan 02, 2016 17:08

I've decided to change course a bit. I'm not going to worry about making a public refacing of the CCG version of TBK, but rather I'm going to turn my efforts towards the board game version once again. The CCG version is fine and our group is playing 4-5 hours on Sundays and we have a few one-on-one games going on as well so we're all having a good time with it but, it's just not the same as the old board game. Hopefully, the limitations I've experienced in the past with the Vassal engine will cease to be a problem this time around.

Currently I'm converting terrain tiles over to a hex grid format and I've already revised the map. Here's what the main kingdom map looks like. Still need to update the palace and catacombs maps.

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Click here for the big picture.

You'll note that most of the game board is just blank hexes. That's because the game randomly creates the terrain configuration at the beginning of each new game ...so, no two games are ever alike.

Here are some samples of the newly converted terrain tiles. I'm showing the public version artwork here. Both the public and private group versions will be built at the same time. Artwork that has been submitted to me in the past will all be used in the public version and I will get around to reposting the artists submission pages that I use to have on the web site.

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Re: Board game version of TBK in progress

Postby Dr_Nostromo » Mon Jul 04, 2016 18:59

For those that may have an interest in the progress of TBK, here's the latest development journal entry.

I've decided to forgo creating an online version for the time being. The group I play with loves the game and we still play the card game version online whenever we can, which hasn't been much lately due to personal responsibilities ...I just retired at the beginning of June so I'm been overwhelmed taking care of business. Now that the dust is settling, I'm finally back at work on TBK and we can start playing more often.

I've decided to create an actual tabletop rendition of the board game version ...the card game version is fun but not nearly as fun as the D&D adventure feel of the board game version. Later, I'll probably make an online version but, since there's been zero interest in the game among the various forums I frequent, my group and I are just going to enjoy the game in my garage, for now.

The game is incredibly complex in it's setup and many "in play" processes can bog down the game with calculating statistics and record keeping. So, the computer will be used to handle the grunt work and we can just enjoy the game play.

The first thing I needed to do was create a Vassal module that would build the world we play in. Terrain is randomly generated for each game. Doing this manually takes well over an hour plus finding a way to fully randomize a few hundred terrain tiles without making a mess can be quite a pain. The module does it in just a few minutes. I can then build the tabletop game board to match the computer generated world from a box of organized terrain tiles.

Here's a look at a blank game board for the Kingdom. Some the locations have special established preset terrain tiles. The rest will all be filled with randomly placed terrain.

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The first items put in place are a stone bridge that crosses over Lake Mariah and connects the northern and southern sections of the Mariah Lowlands region. A river with a single wooden bridge on both the north and south sections of the Mariah Lowlands must also be built. These rivers will be 3 to 4 hexes in length. I have a small button that randomly places the stone bridge and the two wooden bridges to get the process started on the two rivers.

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Once the bridges are set, I can right click each one and select a straight river, a curved river, or a random river tile. This provides the river tiles needed to create rivers 3 to 4 hexes in length. The rivers and bridges can be rotated to fit the situation. Here's a shot of a complete river on one side of the Lowlands.

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Once the rivers are built, I can right click any of the river tiles and select "Get Kingdom Jail". A jail must be located somewhere in the lowlands in case a player gets arrested by the Kingdom Guard. This shot shows the river tile menu used to get the kingdom jail tile and the tile has been randomly placed.

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I can now right click the Kingdom Jail and ask to "Get Mariah Dock". This dock will be placed somewhere along the southern coastline of the lowlands next to the waterway. Players can purchase and store boats here or they can buy a roll of canvas for sails (a lot cheaper) and build their own boat. Just depends on how much time and equipment one has. It just so happens that the dock shown here was randomly placed at the very end of the waterway. That will make for some extra traveling. You'll also note the other river that was built for this half of the lowlands.

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I can now use the dock to "Get Woods". To build boats and rafts, players need to have a bladed weapon and a woodworker's kit and be in a forested location. They also must add a roll of canvas in the case of a boat. Since rafts must be built next to the Mariah Channel between the lowlands and the midlands and boats must be built along the southern coast next to the waterway, the "Get Woods" command on the dock will randomly place a woods tile next to the channel and another next to the coast. This shot shows the two tiles randomly placed.

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There are 9 merchants that must be present somewhere in the lowlands and the woods tiles will give me a "Get Merchants" option. These will be randomly distributed. Here's a section of the region showing the Psychic, Lapidary, and Blacksmith.

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All of the special tiles have been placed so I now click another button that distributes terrain tiles to fill in the rest of the region. Some manual adjustments must be made to insure that blocking tiles (rivers, cliffs, quicksand, etc.) don't completely cut off the ability to travel through the region. Also, each of the merchants have a second tile that "may" appear. If two of the same merchant are too close together, I'll move one away to a reasonable distance so that players will have that merchant close by regardless of where they are. If no second copy of an existing merchant appears ..oh, well. Here's a shot of the complete Mariah Lowlands build.

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Now we move on to the Mariah Midlands. The Guardian, Zerox the Kingmaker and the Kalash Cathedral are in established preset locations. The only other special tile to consider is Fort Karson. This is where players may hire armies and army leaders and march them into the battlefield of the wastelands. I click a button to place it in a random location somewhere in the midlands.

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I then click another button to fill in the rest of the region with terrain tiles. The only manual adjustments I may need to make here is to insure that blocking terrain does not cut off travel throughout the region.

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The wastelands - which consist of a DMZ, a Battlefield, and a Safety Zone - is rather large but it only takes a click to fill the entire area. The only tile adjustments I may have to make is to, once again, insure that travel through the region is not blocked.

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Since the Battlefield will be used for warfare between armies, forest, hill, mountain and fortification tiles are tagged with a symbol showing combat advantages for those terrain types. Here's a section of these tiles with their combat symbols. Armies in forested locations get a +1 attack advantage as shown by the "1" within the crossed swords. Fortification tiles, such as the Fortress and Ruins shown here, get defensive advantages. Hills and Mountains get both an offensive and defensive advantage.

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The only area left on Mariah Island is the Mystic Realm. This is where the player will ultimately end up to gain access to the Great Throne ...if they live long enough. A simple click of a button builds this region as it only distributes 4 tiles. Each of these tiles represent a specific terrain type and the player may choose either path to proceed through the region. It may be short but it is the most difficult region to pass through and, quite often, the most brutal.

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That completes Mariah Island so we move over to Breene Island which has just three regions. You'll note that Breene Island has several established preset locations. In both the Coastal region and Inland region, a Caverns tile must be randomly placed. A player may attempt to travel from one caverns tile to the other, if they have the skill to negotiate the caverns. Here's a shot of the two caverns in place.

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With a couple clicks, the rest of the coastal and inland regions are randomly built.

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The only region left is the Palace Grounds. A click of a button will randomly place the tiles for the four tests: Power, Psychic, Skill, and Swift. They'll be split into two paths and the player may choose which of the tests they wish to attempt. You'll note that once they get through the tests, they'll have to face the palace guard, which could be a weak creature who is easily overcome to a master dragon which could make for a savage battle. Getting into Laurica's Palace generally isn't easy.

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Now that I've used the computer to assist in building a mostly random world, I can match it on the tabletop with a real map and real hexagonal tiles. The next part of my project will be to create the tabletop maps and tiles. I'll post some photos of the the project as I move along. Once I have the main Kingdom map complete, I'll more on to the Palace and Catacombs maps.
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Re: Board game version of TBK in progress

Postby Dr_Nostromo » Fri Aug 26, 2016 18:15

Quick update on my home game project.

I've gotten all the graphics and descriptions done for the 2000 odd game components so I can now print them out and put them all together. I started yesterday with the most difficult part of the project which is the main kingdom map.

The map is a huge graphic that I've broken down into sheets. I then print out the sheets on glossy sticker paper. I cut out the white areas on each sheet as these areas will be occupied by terrain tiles that, as noted above, are laid out randomly.

This first shot shows the black foam board with much of the kingdom map already in place. To the right is an uncut sheet that I'm just about to put in place. Pardon the fuzziness of the pictures ...I wasn't paying real close attention to how they were coming out. I'll do better next time.

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The next three shots show the map after the cutouts have been made in some areas. I thought this was going to be an arduous project but, as it turns out, an exacto knife goes through this foam board like a hot knife through butter. It only took me a few minutes to do all these cutouts. Some of the edges need some light sanding and I'll probably take a black marker and go over the edges of the cuts and tiles as the white foam board really stands out.

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The last picture shows an area that is not cut out yet on the bottom. I'm getting ready to put the backing on and I've left this area intact to insure the proper placement of the existing terrain. I just won't put any glue on this particular area and cut it out once the map is mounted. The obvious reason why I don't do the cutouts before mounting it is because I don't want to cut into the backing.

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The main map will be mounted on 4 foam boards. I haven't measured it so I'll post that later ...but it's big. Once I get the kingdom map done, I've got two others to build: - the palace and the catacombs. Those will be simple compared to this.
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Re: Board game version of TBK in progress

Postby Dr_Nostromo » Wed Sep 21, 2016 14:35

It's taken nearly a month to finish the terrain tiles. That's the problem with hexes ...you can't use a paper cutter. They all have to be cut by hand. This first shot shows a sheet of terrain tiles that I've just begun to cut:

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This one shows a sheet in the process of being cut down:

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Now that they're cut, I need to mount them on foam board. The tiles are printed on glossy sticker paper so I can just stick them to the foam board and then use an exacto knife to cut out the tile. This shot shows a tile being mounted:

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After I mount the tile, I run the edges on a sheet of fine sandpaper to smooth it out and you end up with tiles that look like these:

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I had to do this for 516 tiles. Hence the reason this took me nearly a month. It was sort of like building a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle veerrrryyy sloooowwly. ...and here are all 516 tiles:

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I then spent a couple hours of separating them out and bagging them up by map region:

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Now that the tiles are essentially complete, I still need to do some work on the game board as far as bordering certain areas. I figured that would be much more easily done if I had the tiles in place to give me a reference as to where to permanently set the borders. So, I started up the Vassal TBK_V4 Map Maker and had it build a Kingdom map. After is was done, I filled in the game board with tiles to match what Vassal created. Here's some comparison shots between Vassal and the actual game board:

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Vassa Full Image Game Board Full Image

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Vassa Full Image Game Board Full Image

Next step is to create some borders on the game board. There's several areas where hexes sit right next to each other but there's actully some terrain feature between them (rivers, cliffs, etc.). So, I need to glue in permanently raised borders so players will know where they can and can't go.
If your heart is in the right place, then it's just to the left of center.

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Re: Board game version of TBK in progress

Postby Dr_Nostromo » Thu Oct 27, 2016 17:46

Another month has gone by and I thought I'd be done by now but I ran into a problem which is going to require much more time than expected. Details on that below. In the meantime, this is what I have gotten done.

This first shot shows some of the bordering I did on the map ...specifically Breene Island. Since players are traveling a pathway up to the summit of Breene Island (where Laurica's Palace is located), I needed to define the path by placing borders representing cliffs and rivers (impassable) and walls (passable with rope and grappling hook):

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I've also finished the palace and catacombs maps. The palace is just a 10 x 10 grid of marble flooring. It will contain 12 rooms ...all of which are secret until entered by a player. It's then turned face up to all. So, being the first player in a room is not necessarily a good thing. Each room will have from 1 to 3 doors and most of those doors will be locked. Each room also contains a relic. Each player is looking for a specific relic as assigned to them by Zerox the Kingmaker. They would enter a room, deal with all the encounters required by the room, and, if they are still in the room, they may peek at the relic. If it's the one they're looking for, they place it in their inventory and then get the hell out of the palace as quickly as possible. If it isn't the relic they're looking for, they'll note the room and relic in a personal palace log and move on to another room.

The TBK Map Builder assists in creating the palace and then I would match what Vassal made for the tabletop map. You'll note that on the tabletop shot, some of the rooms have been revealed as if there are players already exploring the palace. I've also turned a couple of the relic chits over:

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Vassal Full Image Game Board Full Image

Here's a shot of a few of the palace room cards. They look far better than the photograph ...the lighting is terrible for taking pictures in the garage.

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Then there's the catacombs. While players are exploring the palace, they may randomly encounter a Catacombs Doorway. This gives them the option of getting back to
Mariah Island under the waterway. But since it has rotating rooms, a player may be able to get back quickly, if they're lucky, or get trapped there for extended periods of time. It's also extremely dangerous.

As with the other maps, I use the Vassal Map Builder to randomly place catacomb rooms in the map. Then I just have to insure there's at least one open path from the entrance to the Mariah Gateway. Here's a map the builder made and I've made some adjustments to insure an open path. It is then matched on the tabletop. I've superimposed a red arrow on the map to show the open path.

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Vassal Full Image Game Board Full Image

At the beginning of each new round, the Vassal Game Assistant will select 1 to 3 catacomb rooms and post a message stating that these rooms have rotated. Here's an example of what can happen between rounds. The first image is a close up area of our original map. The second shot shows what happens to the path if some of those rooms rotate. You'll note that the open path through Room 10 is now closed and rooms 7 & 8 have opened up providing a few different paths ...which is great if you're heading that way. Not so good if you happen to be in room 10 when it rotated. Now you're stuck there until a door opens up.

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Original Full Image Adjusted Doors Full Image

All the map building is now complete. The next thing I did was print up and create all the various chits used in the game. Here's a shot of the chit creation in progress. Mostly what I did was use glossy sticker paper and paste it to semi-thick art mat (only $1 a sheet at the Dollar Tree ...same as the foam board, btw) and run it through the paper cutter.

Seen in this shot are various chits including some locks and keys that have been turned over to show the number on the back. A number 4 key will only open a number 4 lock, for example:

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At this point, I figured I was on the home stretch. I knew cutting and pasting the cards was going to take a lot of time - there are hundreds of them - but what I didn't count on was the problems I encountered when I printed and mounted the first sheet. The problem with working with graphics on the computer is that they look real big and clear. When I printed them out, I noticed they were too small, the print was hardly readable and some of the details of the graphic were lost on the front of the card.

I originally made everything to scale so that cards would fit nicely on the tiles of the game board. But, obviously, the cards ended up to small. Well, I still have to have them fit on game board tiles without too much overlap or the board will become obscured by a whole lot of cards eventually. So, I tried resizing them from 2" x 2" to 2.25" x 2.25". This would give me over a square inch of extra real estate to work with and wouldn't create a major problem with the game board. That actually worked quite nicely - the descriptions are much easier to read and, once I modified the card face information, the primary stats of a card can now be read at a glance.

The big problem here is that I now have to modify hundreds of cards that I thought were already done. So, I have a couple months of work ahead of me. Here's a picture of the old and new cards. You can see that the extra square inch of real estate, and a few graphic adjustment, make a HUGE difference:

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I've been at work on the this conversion and creation of cards - I'm printing and mounting them as I correct them - so I'll post a few samples later. I've finished the Collectibles and I'm about half way through the Creatures. Those are the two biggest collection of cards. Time to get back to work.
If your heart is in the right place, then it's just to the left of center.

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