Foom – Devlog #3

Too Many Resources

The most obvious issue out of the most recent playtest is that 6 types of resources is far too many to keep track of. For each card the player wants to buy they have to calculate the differences of three different numbers. Then they add the results of each of those sums to their bitcoin number. If the card is Space or Medical and they have some of those resources they add whatever is left to the appropriate type. If the result of all that is negative the player can’t afford a card.

It’s just about possible to do all of that in your head, but it is error prone. It’s also quite a lot of work to do every time and wasn’t very fun. The resource tracks from V2 helped but weren’t nearly enough.

The first order of business was to reduce that load. That involved a few changes:

  • The Medical and Space resource types are gone. They were there as an attempt to encourage specialization in certain kinds of cards, but I’m going to try to handle that a different way.
  • When a bitcoin is acquired it becomes a type of resource of the player’s choice, but that choice is permanent.
  • There are no longer any resource conversion trades possible between the remaining three resource types.

Awkward Game Endings

Another significant issue was with the leveling up process in the game. The way it worked in V2 was that players bought the next level from one of four level stacks. The level stacks were themed and had a high cost and a large reward. The final card in each stack was “you win”, so whoever hit level 4 first won the game.

The only thing I didn’t like about this system was pretty much everything. Having four extra stacks of cards was strange when everything else in the game was in the main deck. The stacks themselves were themed poorly and two of them ended up being pretty broken. Only having three steps to victory also seemed to take away from the drama of the end of the game a bit. And it was tough to tell if a player could even buy a victory on their next turn because of the difficulty determining if anybody could buy anything that I mentioned above.

The fix here is to replace the level up cards with “Advance” cards that represent permanent upgrades to a player’s capabilities. These are in the main deck and are dealt with just like all the other cards. The other change that will hopefully help these issues is that now the rule is that a player wins when they are the first to hit 10 resources in two types. There is more work to do here, but I think these will be a step in the right direction.


The approach to event cards I added in V2 worked well. It was a little awkward to have events come out in the initial draws and the events themselves need work, but I like the direction things are headed.


Between V1 and V2 all of the Attack cards were removed from the deck. ┬áThese are added back in V3 with a twist: Attack cards now cause a permanent resource cost to the player doing the attacking (and probably to the player being attacked.) I think these will need a bunch of tuning, but I think they’ll also work better than the “steal a card” attacks of earlier versions of the game.

Here is the latest version of the game if you want to see all the changes. Now I just have to rope some people into playtesting.


3 Responses to “Foom – Devlog #3”

  1. stanley tweedle commented on :

    Hey Joe, I just got back from GDC, and there were lots of card players there. I didn’t see mention of your game anywhere though. What would you advise if someone wanted to promote your card game at various conferences they attend? (since I like the AI concept)

    Foom? Finally Oppressed by Our Machines? LOL! Norbert Weiner is spinning in his grave on that one!

    Also this whole tracking of resources, points, etc. I can barely make change at a cash register anymore I have become so dependent on technology. LOL! So in that regard, perhaps if these cards had a qrcode or if there was some program I could run on my phone or ipad or goog glass or castar (etc) to look at the cards as they were played and keep up with all that for me, I could enjoy the game more while our devices did all the tallying yes? Maybe have RFID chips on/in the cards that could do this wirelessly? Mixed reality stuff?

    I rode the amtrack sleeper car there and back from seattle to san fran and the internet service goes out (and cellphone service too) most of that way because of the mountains. I was thinking boy this would be a good place to break out joe’s AI card game and engage some friends while riding the train and no internet access. Also I think the card game would be good on cruise ships when you are out of internet range. Also the card game (for us geeky AI types) would be something I would like to play while getting drunk in a bar, on those virtual card game machines they have. Perhaps there could be a player account to log in and play the card game from terminals of various kinds all over the planet and the database info stored centrally somewhere. So as I play the game in san fran, I can keep up with my elite status playing it in other bars in other countries, lets leverage all that global goog fiber yes?

  2. Joe thought on :

    Foom is the shorthand term that singulatarians use for a runaway intelligence explosion. I don’t know where it comes from. Was it derived by something by Norbert Weiner?

    There may eventually be a digital version of this game, but for me the whole point is to make it a functional and fun game that’s entirely analog. That’s an important design constraint.

    If/when I get to the point where I want to sell the game I’ll have to figure out where to promote it. GDC probably isn’t the place since it’s mostly about digital games. GenCon would be a better choice. All of that is far in the future though. Right now I’m focused on actually making the game fun.

  3. stanley tweedle thought on :

    Joe, I went to the emerald city comic con, they had a whole hotel dedicated to arcade and table games. Settlers of Cataan was still pretty big, and they had a few card games, but NOTHING like foom/hardtakeoff. They even had a library where you could check out all kinds of board and card games (there was a goonies board game I had never heard of) I am really excited about your card game, I hope there is some way we can add QRcodes or RFID stuff to it so that we can play it with some AR glasses. Next up Norwescon and Sakura Con, I am gonna keep telling people about it.

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