So, I thought, maybe if I strip the game back a bit and apply a different theme -- or any theme, really! -- I might start to make some progress. I think that sometimes it is important to step back from an idea and be willing to either bin it or make drastic changes that may involve dropping significant parts of what I was working on.
Something I am beginning to learn is the importance of having a theme. I am much more interested in games for their mechanics than their dressing, but if there is a setting and thematic idea for a game, it means that when you come to a decision point in the design, the theme can act as a guiding hand to help you choose which way to go.
In this case, I decided that maybe the game could be about pirate captains trying to recruit a new crew for their ship. Instead of collecting influence in different factions like in The City, players are now collecting crew skills like sailing, navigation and fighting. Instead of having persona cards with different requirements, each player has a ship which has specific skill requirements in order to set sail (and this could be different for each player). The aim of the game would then be to collect all the necessary skills and be the first to set sail.
|Thanks to a little nanDECK magic it is easy to throw together prototype cards.|
Of course, all that would be rather dry, so many cards will have effects that change things about. Being a game about recruiting a pirate crew, having effects that involve punching other crew and doing other nasty tricks would be completely on-theme, so having a bit of a take-that aspect to play would seem to work out just fine.
As an aside, for prototyping purposes there are an awful lot of pictures of pirates out on the Internet that are free to use (Project Gutenberg has some great ones in some of their books), so with very little expenditure of time and effort I can include some appropriate artwork on the cards.
So, the situation now is that I am throwing together a bunch of prototype cards for the next run at testing. I could probably have made a few modifications to my existing city cards, but I think it is worth reworking more-or-less from the ground up, and it gives me the excuse to play with pictures of pirates.