The “Nearly” One Year Outer Earth Update

Outer Earth has changed a lot since I started it back in May 2013. Being able to take part in Cards against Humanities Tabletop Deathmatch has been a superb experience and it has really fuelled my passion for boardgame design beyond imagination! I am super thankful for that! Now that the fluffy stuff is out of the way, lets talk about Outer Earth!

My CAH tabletop deathmatch episode has FINALLY aired and can be found at their Tabletop Deathmatch Website! If you havent seen it yet, I highly recommend watching it before going through this post!

As for Outer Earth, the game has changed tremendously over a year and this blog post will highlight those changes through one card type in the game, the development card!


The humble beginning

This was my first attempt at the pipeline concept. For this iteration, I used a coloured paper stock to quicken + save money on prototyping. The pipelines were causing an issue when aligning so they were thickened at the base to allow for ease of placement.1

The “GenCon 2013″ iteration

With the second attempt, the design was cleaned up and the icon was emphasized with a circle. I made sure that the pipeline thickness was skinny enough to look elegant while still being easy to use. A number on the bottom center has now been added to break auctions that end in a tiebreaker. This is the version that I brought to Gen Con and presented for the competition.

Colour schem’ing

With the earlier 2 versions, I had relied on the coloured paper stock to represent the different development types. There was a lot of comments that referred to “are you going to use these colours” and it was time to find my colour scheme for the game. I went a Yellow + Green + Magenta scheme and created a secondary lighter version of the colour. After receiving valuable feedback from some pro’s in the industry during the Tabletop Deathmatch, I made some changes for the better. The stock market + gameboard was removed to slim down the game time + components.


The Riffle Shuffle Deck

Up until this point, I had used my personal printer (an inkjet Canon Pro 9000 that works GREAT btw) and each time a new version of the cards came out, another printing + cutting + sleeving job that I would spend days doing would begin. I decided to make the next batch of cards through a professional playing card printing service.

The service that I used was PrinterStudio. I highly recommend going this route if you have 100+ cards to make AND want to create multiple sets of your prototype. The colours turned out a tad less saturated than I expected, however the benefit of having a deck that can be shuffled easily + looks professionally + could be printed again within days were huge.

Multiple game tweaks have also been added and all of them have a common goal of making the game more accessible and easy to learn without losing depth. I can proudly say that teaching and playing a full “short” game of Outer Earth can be done within 1 hour!


Minor Usability Tweaks

With the most recent version of the development cards, I decided to tackle some core problems with the previous versions.

  • The first one was to change the symbols. The previous symbols were too intricate to be distinguished from far away so I designed a more recognizable icon set.
  • There was a constant debate about the magenta colour (as in calling it magenta, red, pink etc etc) so I made a new colour scheme that would be easily named + works well in MOST colour blindness scenarios + looks better!
  • The last thing I added was a sliver of colour INSIDE the pipeline to which it could connect to. Many players eventually had the “ahaaaa” moment with the development cards when they learned that the starting point of each pipeline is dictated by the development type. Yellow developments = always left, blue developments = always middle and red developments = always right!

5Outer Earth has come a long way since the Tabletop Deathmatch and I am glad to say that a Kickstarter WILL be running in the near future (after the documentary has fully aired). My goal is to get the Kickstarter up and running within a reasonable time after the documentary ends.

Stay in the loop of future core updates, I highly recommend joining Outer Earth’s Mailing List!


BoardGameJam 2014

So what IS a boardgamejam?! In a nutshell, it is an event held every year in Toronto where you attempt to do is to make a boardgame over one weekend (2 days). So what can be done in 2 days? In this post I will talk about our (Justine + me) experience jamming out a game. Here is a summary of the game we created followed up by our experience throughout the event

Chicken Coup

A game with ~30 cards for 3-5 players that takes ~20min to play. In Chicken Coup, each player are secretly placed in either Team Chicken or Team Fox where they now have to earn points for their team.


Chickens earn points by hatching eggs while foxes earn points by eating chickens. Cards are played into the coop and the game ends when all the cards are played.

In addition to gaining points throughout the game, each player has to guess what team everyone is on. You get extra points by guessing the correct teams of the other players. At the end of the game, either Team Chicken or Team Fox wins. Continue reading

#3 CAH Deathmatch :: Cottage Playtest Changes

From July 28th to August 2nd I managed to both go to the cottage while getting some solid playtesting done with a close group of friends. With Outer Earth in its mid-late stages of development, I am still looking to fine-tune the mechanics present in the game.

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Changes that were made + rationale:

  • Reduced initial start Action Points 3 –> 2
    • With prior changes to the game allowing you to accumulate more action points and planet capacity, starving the player with less action points made for a bigger struggle and satisfaction of evolving your company throughout the game.
  • Each industry card on a planet gives 1 Victory Point
    • There were too few victory points earned throughout the game in comparison to the end scoring. To even it out, every industry card gives 1 victory point in addition to the victory points gained for meeting certain criteria (If the industry matches the planets industry + if you manage to get a set of the three different industries (primary, secondary and tertiary) connected on a planet).
  • Remove 1 Action Point industry investments
    • The action of discarding a card to place into your industry stock face down was not used at all throughout the playtest, which made me question the mechanic. Playtesters felt that cards were more valuable as auction bids and connections than endgame stock investments. Now the mechanic is simplified with the remaining cards in each players hand count towards the endgame stock investments.
  • Create more influencing planet modifiers
    • The planet modifiers were a nice mix of drawing cards, victory points and stock modifiers. Throughout the playtest, there was always a way more buzz around modifiers that included stock changes, additional victory points/action points/planet capacity. On the other spectrum, modifiers that allowed you to draw cards seemed “boring” as you could easily do that with your own action points. All the modifiers will now have a bigger impact than what you can do on your turn with a single action point.
  • Changes to the cost of closing planets
    • Should the game penalize a player for closing a planet earlier than its planet capacity? That is a question I have been thinking about. Closing a planet early gives you an ability (Draw a card, Planet Capacity or Action Point) at the cost of losing the potential point gain of the planet. Is the lost victory point potential a big enough of a penalty or should there be a bigger penalty (-1 VP/an extra AP/Not possible to close planet) if a player tries to close a planet early? As for now,  no penalties and players are allowed to close ANY planet for 1 Action Point regardless of how many industry cards there are on the planet.




#2 CAH Deathmatch :: Travel, Lodging and Gen Con Badge

Initially I did not have any plans of attending Gen Con. This also meant that I had nothing booked at all for Gen Con when they notified me about being one of the finalists! In my submission to the Deathmatch, I had stated that I was not attending Gen Con but if I was selected as one of the finalists, I would book everything ASAP, and that’s what I did!

With less than one month before Gen Con, booking a reasonable hotel at the core of Indianapolis was close to impossible. As I was looking around and doing research on the event + place, I learned about the Gen Con housing block (which was by now all sold out + too late for a waiting list). After a day of looking, my girlfriend and I settled on a hotel ~15min away by taxi. Hopefully we won’t miss out on all the action!

Another update on the topic, we ended up buying two tickets for the Gen Con Shuttle Bus service! It is a great new service that runs consistently throughout Gen Con from  7am-3am Thurs, Fri, Sat and 7-8pm on Sunday. Both tickets ended up costing ~$100.

There is also a ~15 hour greyhound bus ride we have purchased from Toronto – Indiana. Lots of time to go over and practice my pitch/get some sleep…!