Galactic Fighters is a two player tabletop combat game. I made this game primarily to see what happens when I over-scope a project. I used the project as a chance to experiment with different physical interfaces, and ways to convey complex amounts of data. This was really a “for fun” project.
Overview – Project Details
Development Time: 1 Month
Roles: Designer, Artist
Overview – Synopsis
This project was the last physical game I was assigned at DigiPen. I’ve made a number of successful, well-scoped, on time games. I wanted to go a bit overboard for my last physical game, and crunch on this project. I also wanted to explore some methods of displaying information that are different from most of my games.
Details – Design Process
I wanted to create a force composition game that made territory control its central focus. I decided to create a space combat game, where players mine resources from asteroids to build ships. The more asteroids a player controls, the faster they can build ships, eventually overwhelming the enemy. Different ships have different costs, strengths, and weaknesses, allowing for a variety of unique strategies.
Systems like this can suffer from one player gaining an advantage early on, and then it’s only a matter of time before they finally finish off the other player, who never really had a chance. To alleviate this, I created capital ships. To win, the player must destroy the other player’s capital ship. The capital ship is also the spawn point for new ships. So, if a player keeps their capital ship back, away from the front lines, it will take a number of turns before reinforcements can arrive, creating an advantage for the other player. This generally creates a scenario where players with fewer asteroids can turn the tide through aggressive but risky movement.
Details – UX
I wanted to make a symmetrical game, but give each side a unique look. I am unfortunately not a skilled clay modeler, so I used basic shapes and sizes to show equivalency. Each grey and purple unit has an equivalent ship of approximately the same size. Size is also an indicator of relative strength. The largest ships are the most powerful. So, even without knowing the stats, players can still make a general assessment of the map fairly quickly.
From a UX standpoint, the thing that irked me the most about my last combat game, was the need to look from the playfield back to cards to check unit health. It worked, but it made it kind of clumsy to get a good feel for the gamestate. Limitations on the number and types of components I could use hindered my ability to explore better solutions last time. This project, my only restriction was that it had to fit in the box. So, I toyed around with numerous systems. I really like systems that put the health right on the unit, like ActionClix. I devised a system where a single die sits on a hex stand, with the unit itself above that.
My one restriction of everything having to fit into a shirt box actually posed a bit of a problem with this design though – The units would be too big. So, I needed to make the base and ships detachable. I tried a variety of solutions: hooks, Velcro, and magnets and metal strips. The magnets with metal weren’t strong enough to support the weight of that much modeling clay though, so I ended up using 4 neodymium magnets per unit. It raised the cost a bit, but it greatly reduced setup time, and made getting to the gameplay much faster.
Details – Post-Mortem
In the end, I managed to deliver a product that was well-polished, well-balanced, and engaging. I got to explore some construction concepts for fun, and it was just generally an enjoyable project. This project was just pure design and creation for creations sake, and I loved every minute of it. If I ever get a 3D printer, I’d like to come back to this game and refine it more. Pushing enemy ships into black holes was a fun dynamic, but was underutilized.
Download – Full Game
Would you like to play this physical game? You can download all art assets and the complete ruleset here.