As I mentioned in my update about Mycelia, both games are only a few months old. The idea for Bubble net has been in my head for a year or so, but the way that it would work only became clear in August or so of this year.
By October, I was testing a draft version of the game, hoping to take it to BGG.CON with us.
I took this version to BGG.CON, and was able to test it once.
The board layout
The things I knew I needed to fix: how the centre of the spiral worked, and how the bubbles and fish fit onto the board. I also needed two storage areas, one for the eaten fish, and one for the escapees.
The first version was simply a sketch of a spiral. Then I gave it some thought and laid it out over the points of the compass.
When you actually play it, though, it’s clear that there isn’t enough space for the fish tokens on the inner spaces, or for the bubble tokens on the outer ones, so I redesigned the board accordingly.
After playing several rounds, I never got my bubble tokens to the inner spiral, so I knew I could make them smaller and more aesthetically pleasing. The trick is to determine exactly where to make the change, but as my printer can’t handle printing exactly to scale, I had to take a guess and then print the first version with The Game Crafter to see how it went.
It still needs a few tweaks, but overall, I am quite pleased with it.
Once I had my layouts for the cards and board decided, I knew the art I needed to decorate them, and the box.
All three of my series of small games are being illustrated in the same way – line drawings made on my tablet with my stylus, as vectors, and then printed and painted with watercolours.
Once I have scanned the images back onto my computer, I fit them into the outlines and assemble the artwork – which allows me the flexibility to rearrange the elements, something I can’t do with a painting.
Once all my artwork is completed and scanned, turning each image into a “cut out” also allows me to create the game assets in digital format, which makes it much easier to make the how-to-play video and the first version of the rulebook.
I was rushing to get this first edition completed in time to enter in The Game Crafter’s Lunchtime challenge, and I was thrilled to find out that it had progressed to the semi-finals, as well as scoring 89.5/100 in the art test.
Unboxing the prototype
It was really nice to get my copy and test it – I haven’t ordered the accordion boards before, and they were much better than I expected – satisfyingly weighty, and they feel really high-quality. They also sit beautifully flat on the table.
I took it for a quick whirl and I think, bar a few tweaks, this prototype is pretty much ready!
The next steps will be: more play-testing, designing the custom pieces for the podmates and fish, and deciding how many additional player boards to include in each box, and how to sell the add-on player kits.