Development Diary...

If you've been here before you'll know that I've been working on my first 'proper' game since about November last year, he's a quick run down of the development process so far. It's a simple card game that combines memory with take that elements. 

The premise is that you are trying to smuggle the strangest things through customs to impress you're family. This is the first time I've properly mapped out how the game game together so apologies for it being a bit of a long post. 


Nov 2015

Had the idea for the game - basically trying to combine two of my favourite games at the time, Exploding Kittens and Sheriff of Nottingham.

Made a prototype and play-tested with my Kittens Krew - it was a disaster - the game was made of 3 decks at the time, Actions, Roles and Baggage. The game was crazy chaotic. Initially a lot of the premise for success was based on the order you were trying to get through customs, each role had an objective, plus each player had a random selection of action cards, plus baggage. 

It was very confusing, so I went back to the drawing board.


Dec 2015

I tried a few different ideas out, using a Citadels drafting system for roles, which made it play way too similar to Citadels and slowed down the game. I decided to combine actions and roles. Simplifying the game and removing the clutter. 

I had another big play-testing session. Feedback was really positive but the game was wildly unbalanced. At this point the game had become about trying to collect as many baggage cards as possible. 

Roles included passengers and airport security. Passengers allowed you to gain cards while airport security let you take other peoples cards. There was one prevailing tactic of targeting the player with the most cards. 

Because of the mix of roles it was kind of hard to explain the premise of the game although it worked it wasn't as streamlined as it should have been.


Jan 2016

I'm a regular backer of games on Kickstarter, over the festive period I saw something that caught my eye, a mechanic my game hinted at but didn't make much use of. Over my festive play-testing I realised that people were trying to remember what baggage cards other players had. This was something I hadn't considered as a game play mechanic. 

I made two fundamental changes in January which helped double down the strengths of the game and focus on making it simpler. 

1 - Restrict the max number of baggage to 6 cards
2 - Remove the airport security cards from the roles and put them into the baggage deck

This solved many problems with the game and really brought it into focus. With airport security in the baggage players had a risk/reward in taking baggage cards. Restricting the number of baggage really helped reinforce the memory element. 


Feb - April 2016

Lots of play-testing - a few things becoming more refined. Players do 3 things on their turn;

Reveal or Conceal a baggage card,
Play a role card (now renamed passenger cards),
Baggage claim - draw a baggage card


June 2016

First lot of artwork -

UK Games Expo - my first convention, I signed up with and got a couple of slots over the weekend. Feedback was really positive and I was introduced to a bunch of cool people. 

I attended a couple of London meetups for playtesting - made further refinements.


July 2016

Which brings me to now.

I'm really happy with the mechanics and theme of the game. I think the game is well balanced, there's still an amount of luck but the game is fun and light enough for this to not be a big issue. 

One of the things I didn't mention that changed was the baggage cards themselves. Initially there was legal and illegal items (a la Sheriff of Nottingham) but in the game I'd created I wasn't making use of this and it wasn't adding anything. So I decided to drop it, now items are unique and actually real items people have tried to smuggle through customs. 
Getting rid of the legal v illegal aspect also helped make the game more family friendly and clean up the theme (why would a smuggler want a snow globe?)

The cards currently look like this;

The current version of the rules are available here