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Subject: Designer Diary by Michał Oracz #1 rss

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Hello Everyone!


My name is Michał Oracz, I like to think of myself as a Board Game craftsman, with some experience at this point but still with a lot to learn. I’am author of games such us Neuroshima Hex, This War of Mine: TBG, Theseus: The Dark Orbit or The Edge: Dawnfall. Many others I had a pleasure to help in different ways, especially through my years in Portal Games.

Today I would like to share with you a very special project that I have been working on with Awaken Realms team for quite some time now and give you a little bit of insights on what you can expect from it. In my situation. I have a comfort of making games that I always dreamt about making and would love to play myself. I believe this crucial in any creation process - to do things that you think are important and will push the boundaries of what people think is possible just a little bit further.


Etherfields started few years back, with a very artistically distinct world build by Adrian Komarski and Ania Myrcha – it looked amazing and had a great ethereal feel. I immediately knew, that this is something, that I want to be a part of. Having another thematic and story-telling game on my account (This War of Mine: TBG) I wanted to use all the experience and implement it in this new title in a fresh, more
approachable aspect.

Lessons from past


When you design games, there is always a choices you must make – an experience designer is able to make those choices knowing consequences to the whole game. When designing This War of Mine: TBG, there was a lot of hard choices like that – from bigger then normal randomness (that simulated the unfairness of warfare) to game complexity (so that it could have a very high replay ability). A lot of questions like: How much of the game is possible to calculate and predict, how much of it is pure story, when the game is not fair to the player because of the theme etc.

While I stand by the choices that were made for this game 100%, as I feel that they fit the theme very well, I choose a different path for Etherfields. Obviously, the two games are extremely different but they share the story-telling aspect and a serious message.


In Etherfields, I put more emphasis on approachability – the story is no longer text paragraphs in the book, but rather tiles and cards with vivid dreams arts and comic-like quotations here and there, that will put you in the mood of the scene and leave crumbs of the story that you will have to collect. They also add what an art cannot – sound, voices etc. It fits the dream world great – you will never get a full, well described pictures, but you don’t need to. You will need to use a lot of your own imagination in the carnival of different, surreal dreams and find a conclusion on your own. After a lot of tests, I can tell that this way of storytelling is much faster and don’t take you out of the game too much, while players have tons of fun with creating their own interpretations.


Another topic is conveying a serious message – in This War of Mine: TBG theme was very much obvious and visible from the first minutes of the game. Etherfields will be much different – this game will have much more metaphorical sense, that you will have to figure out on your own. While it can still be very serious and sometimes creepy, you will navigate different dreams with totally different feels.
As a side note – theme of the game is no accident. I put a lot of my personal time through the years on the literature about dreams, symbolic and very interesting findings in this subject. You will be surprise to learn a lot of them.


World that changes at will


One of the most interesting thing about Etherfields and the theme it brings is the absolute freedom of the dream world. You can get transported in the blink of an eye from a huge desert to claustrophobic car lost in the middle of nowhere. Your characters can do all the crazy actions, from flying to transforming into items or creating whole new areas.

To reflect this, but also give players sense of control over what is happening (which is always important in a good board game) I have introduced deckbuilding in almost every aspect of the game. You will not only deck build your Memory Chest (abilities and resources) or Items. By making various story or gameplay decisions you will deckbuild encounters deck, locations deck or map. Almost EVERY element of the game is decbuilded! – so that every dream you will visit have a big potential on changing your campaign from now on.


I will try not to spoil too much, but as an example you will visit a very surreal factory of mud, where hollow monkey-like creators will load up earth and water to create a mud. Depending on your choices and action in those locations you will need to put additional random encounter in your deck, that will stay there for the rest of the game or perhaps find something useful about the structure of the Mud in this dream world that will help you from now on in each muddy locations.


All this creates a world that can change at will, but it also have some kind of wired consistency and you will always know the consequences of your actions.

This is the first Designer Diary entry – I hope you did enjoy those few insights about the game! I know you are probably eager to know more about the gameplay I will be definitely writing more in future weeks and there is so much to share!



Yours,
Michał Oracz
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Matthew Wiviott
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I know this is a very early reveal, but I have so many questions about this game!

I gather it's a campaign of interlinked scenarios, but I'm assuming non-legacy (or at least reset-able), correct?

Will decisions or outcomes carry over from one scenario to the next?

Will the deckbuilding mechanic be used during each game, like Dominion, or in preparation for a scenario, like Arkham LCG? Or both?

Will it have a basic stand-alone scenario that is heavily randomized so the game can be played without diving into the whole campaign?

Are all of the components cards and tiles? (i.e. no board or minis)

I'm sure these questions will be answered in the upcoming kickstarter, but I'm curious now
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Tom Eklund
Czech Republic
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So far I love everything about this game and I hope it will be everything it seems to be... and more...
 
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Daniel Ebeck
United Kingdom
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Mattwivs wrote:
Are all of the components cards and tiles? (i.e. no board or minis)
Oh, there are miniatures. From what’s been posted, it seems to be a similar game layout to Tainted Grail.
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James
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Hobbit_Hardcase wrote:
Mattwivs wrote:
Are all of the components cards and tiles? (i.e. no board or minis)
Oh, there are miniatures. From what’s been posted, it seems to be a similar game layout to Tainted Grail.
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Lawrence Wheeler
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There are very few games I've ever been this excited to learn more about. Please keep the information coming. Any idea at all on a campaign date?
 
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Justin Boehm
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Mattwivs wrote:
I gather it's a campaign of interlinked scenarios, but I'm assuming non-legacy (or at least reset-able), correct?

Will decisions or outcomes carry over from one scenario to the next?

Will the deckbuilding mechanic be used during each game, like Dominion, or in preparation for a scenario, like Arkham LCG? Or both?

My questions as well. I’m hoping it’s yes, yes, and only during the game (as that would make it Deckbuilding, and not deck construction, building a deck pre-game in LotR LCG is sooooooo boring).
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Greg Mahler
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I really, really enjoyed This War of Mine. It's one of the most unique board games that I have ever played. So I am excited to see how else you use this type of system and since it is a deck-builder, I am even more intrigued.
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Minx
United States
Texas
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Thank you for sharing more details about this game, I really enjoyed reading your first Desginer Diary entry and can't wait for future posts!
 
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Kaziu K
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To be honest I'm only interested in Michał Oracz's mechanics(as they are always great!) for this game. The theme is simply too dark for me. I don't want to "load" such strange images to my brain. So... waiting for rules, and still waiting for Michał's game that is not so dark, not about strange demons, and "somehow wicked" in graphics and theme... Seeing this and Edge... I don't have high hopes for it. But that's ok, not all games are for me Hope his mind and soul is not as dark too...
 
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I can’t wait to learn more! The mechanics, the theme, and the art all seem to be completely unique. I respect the courage of making something groundbreaking to which people aren’t used to compared to making a “safe” product with a bunch of minis (Looking at you Cmon).

Will back this one for sure. Impatiently waiting for the kickstarter!

Thank you for the Dev Diary! Can’t wait to read more about it!
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