Game Dev update, More Illustrations, Reduced Language Dependence
Hello Perfect Crime Kickstarters & H N Y!!!
What's been happening since the last update and where are we with development?
We've had a strange old last month to be honest - on the game development side of things, the improvements that started straight after Essen (reduced complexity, reduced language dependence, increased game speed, increased player interactions and thematic resonance) have been playtested to death and I'm seeing as pretty much been finalised now. I can honestly say I've never been happier or more proud or more confident with the state Perfect Crime is in!
On the other hand, we've been completely hammered with delays to the graphic design (Ian has been very ill for the majority of November and December) and with getting the remaining concepts over to Nick for illustration.
Thankfully, Ian and I have been working side by side over the holidays to get things moving forward again so we absolutely have progress...which is what this update is all about =)
First things first though - new illustrations from Nick!
Nick is working flat out to get the rest of the illustrations for Perfect Crime completed and we're on 100% backer illustrations now with the equipment cards now completed - should have more for you soon!
Game dev changes
Barring anything major popping up in playtesting, I'm considering the mechanical side of Perfect Crime pretty much done now, leaving only the scenario booklet to finish off (from a development point of view - there's still a fair amount of typesetting!). So what have I been up to? what's different and why have I been changing things?
As you know, we demoed Perfect Crime continuously during Essen, ultimately getting ~250 people sat down in front of and playing the game. Having direct access to such a large, experienced and engaged playtesting group isn't something that is that easy to come across (we've been actively testing domestically for ~a year now but as many attendees will tell you...the Essen crowd is different) and the feedback we received, while positive, highlighted a couple of things that I felt could be improved upon.
Previously, we had the bank controlling all their security upgrades through a series of separate Tableaus (a different tableau for each type of security) which presented the bank player with a bit of an information overload.
This needed fixing.
After working through a load of different ideas I realised we could cut down on the amount of information here by simply getting rid of the idea that the bank should have to pay for each upgrade and made it automatic - giving the bank a free upgrade each game day/turn. Suddenly no more upgrade costs! Instead we have an upgradable number of upgrades, which gives the Bank an interesting decision. The obvious move is to increase the number of upgrades, but in doing so the bank is neglecting to upgrade other (possibly more critical) systems - much better, even if I have shamelessly overused the word 'upgrade' in this paragraph =)
Similarly, I did something I had been thinking about for a while, which was to harmonise the lock complexity and door strength stats. This cuts out another whole line of figures and although it is reducing the thematic ever so slightly, the gameplay improvements we gain give us a definite net positive.
Making these two changes has allowed us to turn what was effectively 6 screens into 1 screen - completely gets rid of the information overload and makes this much easier for the Bank & the Robbers to read. Much, much, much better!
Another thing I had noticed was that bank players tended to concentrate on upgrades rather than installs (internal doors, CCTV cameras etc.) so I have given the bank player free security installs each day, the number of which can also be upgraded. This sorted out a balancing issue (i.e. the Bank getting easily robbed because no security had been installed) making the bank better able to counter the robbers, makes the board a _much_ more interesting proposition for both sides and as a side bonus improves the aesthetic of Perfect Crime as a whole! Everyone wins!
I seriously love (and there is a clear real-world bias towards) the idea of Robber actions improving (feeding back on) the level of security the Bank has, but this wasn't working quite right and I felt needed changing. So, I reviewed all of the Robber card actions towards the impact they would have on creating Evidence & Suspicion - basically I've harmonised the two, there's a lot more of it than they ever used to be and it stays on the board until the end of a day or collected by a Guard.
Evidence now plays a much more central role in Perfect Crime. The Bank uses Evidence to get free security upgrades (same as before), but they can also use it to give the Police additional moves and additional attacks when they arrive.
Not only does this gives the Bank another interesting decision to make (to save or spend) but if fixes the 'Super Guard' problem: when a Guard manages to singlehandedly take out a whole crew of robbers...which should be 'possible', but unlikely. Basically the Robbers needed to be more powerful, but doing so made the game so unbalanced that the bank didn't stand a chance - there needed to be something else...
So, now (in the scenario where the Robbers are smashing their way through a bank) the Robbers are leaving all this Evidence in their wake and are heavily armed. The Bank, rather than being forced to always confront the Robbers head on, can move their Guards behind where the Robbers are to collect Evidence, which can be spent to make the Police stronger. The Robbers can leave crew members behind to 'guard' the Evidence, but this reduces their ability to carry out Valuables - interesting decisions indeed!
We had a problem in co-op mode where a strong player would be able to 'pop' the best route available and force a weaker player to follow their plan (similar to the situation you can get in a game of Pandemic). Now each Robber player get's their own mini-crew (2-3 robbers - depending on the number of players) to manage. They are still working with the other crews and the way the co-op mode works hasn't significantly changed, but psychologically this gives each player direct ownership over a set of Robbers and is enough to stop this sort of play =)
Reduced Language Dependence
Haven't managed to get rid of all the text, but have done a lot!
Imagine the scenario. You've got your crew of Robbers. They're equipped with the best, the meanest, the most effective kit you can imagine for breaking into banks but there's a problem...you've equipped so much you can't see at a glance what everything does =/
Worry no more - now we have pictures rather than words!
I can see a few backers have changed address' recently and have (naturally) been asking about address surveys. I've logged all the changes, but will be sending out a survey to doublecheck everything straight after we reach production. We're going as fast as we can at this end - thank you all for your patience - I promise Perfect Crime will be worth the wait!
Ok - think that's enough for one update - Ian is sat next to me finishing off the design for the money as I type this and we are most definitely moving forward - we'll be working on typesetting the rulebook next so will have more for you very, very soon!