Foom – Devlog #2

You may have noticed the biggest change: The game has been renamed from Hard Takeoff to Foom. In my head they were equally as good because they’re basically synonyms. Once I started saying them out loud, though it was clear that Hard Takeoff is a terrible name for a game. And Foom is tremendously fun to say, so Foom it is.

I played v1 for the first time yesterday and learned a few things:

  • Keeping track of all those resources is difficult. Each turn each player had to count up their total in six different resources. Then they did a bunch of additional calculation to figure out what they could buy.
  • When players stack up the cards they buy they eventually end up with a huge stack and the deck shrinks to almost nothing.
  • The attack cards in v1 were half-assed and kind of all identical.
  • Players were unable to form any kind of consistent strategy with the only thing that persisted between turns being the shared river. It quickly filled up with crap nobody wanted and stayed that way for the rest of the game.
  • There was no consistency between any of the cards’ cost and what you get out of them.

Preliminary balancing

I attacked that last issue first. I wrote another script to process the same card source data and produce a CSV file of the cost and production of each card. It uses some estimated values for the benefits to reduce all production to one number.

  • Bitcoin = 1.0
  • Eyes = 0.85
  • CPU/Hands = 0.75
  • Medical/Space = 0.50

I also generated a curve of what I wanted each level of production to cost. Because more expensive cards are so much more efficient in terms of player actions, I wanted them to be less efficient in terms of resources provided. The numbers I settled on were:

  • 3 cost -> 1 benefit
  • 7 cost -> 2 benefit
  • 12 cost -> 3 benefit
  • 18 cost -> 4 benefit

All of that turned into a spreadsheet:

Card count cost output target cost target output
Mesh Networks 1 5 1.5 5 1.5
Behavioral Surgery 1 8 2.25 8.25 2.2
Quantum Computing 1 8 2.25 8.25 2.2
Resurrect Ray’s Dad 1 4 1.5 5 1.25
Cure for Cancer 1 12 3 12 3
Augmented Reality Contacts 1 6 1.7 5.8 1.75

Target Cost is how much the specified output should cost according to the curves above. Target Output is how much output the specified cost should result in. Once I had this data to look at I went through and tweaked each card up or down in cost or benefit to even them all out. This eliminated a bunch of cases where there were two cards with the same cost and wildly varied benefit levels.

Other tweaks for V2

The rest of the tweaks I made based on the play test were pretty straightforward. I added a scoring track so player could keep track of their current level of each resource. Then because they didn’t need the cards anymore, the rules changed to discard each card after it was played and replenish the deck.

For the attack cards, I was biting off quite a bit already, so I just removed them from the game for now. They will almost certainly return in some form in a future version.

To help with the difficulty with forming a strategy, I gave each player a three-card hand that persisted. That way player could keep cards they wanted to save up for.

Something I felt was missing from V1 was a representation of the mood of the human population. This took the form of event cards that affect the costs and benefits of other cards and persist for several turns. There are a dozen or so events in the main deck now and whenever a player draws one of these they replace the current event and then draw another card before proceeding with their turn. Thanks to everybody on Twitter for suggestions on how to accomplish this random scheduling of events with much complexity.

I also wanted to represent more of the different strategies an AI could take more explicitly in the game. I did this by having four different upgrade sequences instead of four copies of one sequence. The four sequences help with one of four things: taking multiple actions, drawing multiple cards, effectiveness of space cards, and effectiveness of medical cards. The rule was that you could buy off any stack, but only if the top card was your level plus one.

You can find the new cards here. I’ve actually played a game with V2 as of this writing, but I think I’ll save the results of that test for the next devlog.

~Joe


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