Episode 6: Whats Next?

What are we working on now?
With the games core mechanics solidified and the game running smoothly in all player counts (1-4), we have moved onto the final alterations, Kickstarter budget checks, shipping, stretch goals, overall game quality, and as always ongoing play testing.

Alterations: So there is one last rule I would like to add that is not in the current version of the rule book. It covers a rare situation where a players luck in drawing cards is worse than winning the lotto. Trading duplicate ingredients, where any 3 of a kind of ingredient can be traded for 1 point of fame.

Stretch Goals: Ok so these can be dangerous as you have to ensure you don’t push out the cost of the finished product too much that its pledge no longer pays for itself. At the moment all planned stretch goals include component upgrades and possible additions to the base game. As with any campaign to be funded is the ultimate goal. Some are able to do this in a day, a week, some scrape through at the end, and unfortunately some never quite get there. But to unlock stretch goals can make a good game a great game, so if you do back the game and would like to receive the best quality and content it can be, share the campaign to let other people know about the project!

Shipping: Of course free worldwide shipping is always favorable, there are regions that will cost more than others and some that will incur taxes on top of shipping. These will be mitigated as best as possible to give backers the lowest possible price.

Game Quality: Head Chef is currently going through a face lift. Unfortunately that means review copies had to be sent out with prototype art, while functional and pleasant, it is far from the polished look we are working towards. Prototype game art used can be seen on the front page of this website and in the current rule book. New card designs will be announced and the site updates once complete… stay tuned.

Play testing: Play testing never stops, each play through presents a new experience. Adding to these experiences show what works and what doesn’t, and we want Head Chef to be the most fun it can be.

If you made it this far, my sincerest thank you for reading our story. I hope you enjoyed it and that it did what it set out to do, that is, to give you an insight on the development and evolution of Head Chef from its initial designs to the fun, colourful, family friendly game it has become today. I hope I can count on your support to make this a successful kickstarter campaign. For any questions or even ideas on the game you would like to put forward please don’t hesitate to contact me at admin@cstargames.com. It is never too late to improve what Head Chef currently is !

Oh and if you are in Sydney and would like to play the game, with myself even, drop me an email and we can try to tee something up. I would be honored to give you the opportunity to play it before release !

 

 

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Episode 4: Hollow but not empty.

V3 Play Testing:
V3 went through various rounds of blind play testing and even a protospiel, that is, an event where game designers and experienced gamers play your game and give constructive feedback. Watching these creative minds play the game and hearing their ideas helped spark ideas, as I twisted their thoughts with some fresh new ones of my own.

The ability cards moving to the character cards changed the game a lot, in a good way! Now players played the game differently depending on which character they were.
Not only did they add uniqueness to the play through, they also improved pacing as the abilities each player had helped them progress faster through the game. This one change added great replay ability to the game, and became the new heart of the game that the rest revolved around, this was groundbreaking !

It was realised at this stage that the actions deck was the games biggest problem. Most were negative “take that” mechanics that would disrupt and greatly slow down other players. They also created too much of an element of luck, they were quite powerful and were gained on the luck of a draw. The option to buy discarded ingredients (leftovers) added more depth to the game and was a great addition, now players had to pick more carefully when discarding and think twice if taking a leftover is worth an action or not.

The single player variant worked well. While play testing, every game didn’t result in a win, but felt if the right decisions were made of when to play food and when to hold on to cards the player would have a fighting chance, given this the deck could still beat you.

The Team variant I was very fond of, it added a silent team co-operation element where you work together as a team, but would have to try to sync up your thoughts on actions without communicating to them why you are performing your action. (Very much like Ticket to Rides team Asia expansion, if you like ticket to ride and haven’t played Asia … go get it , its probably my favorite expansion to the base game). In the team variant each team also had 2 characters and such 2 abilities to take advantage of, which made for some great combo opportunities and inventive thinking.

One last observation which I agreed with was that having additional ingredient cards depending on players meant not all cards would have the same wear, as the base 2 player set would have the most wear and tear because they are used in every game. This configuration would also lengthen setup and pack-up time (depending on how pedantic you get when packing up a game).

The game was moving in the right direction, it had a lot of holes, but its shell was rock solid !

V4 Changes (The BIG one):
– All building cards were replaced for a single scoring track from food truck to restaurant for each player.
– The games point system changed from earning money to pay for an upgrade from food truck > cafe > restaurant, to points of fame gained by making food, whereby an upgrade of your building was due to your level of fame/popularity.
– Actions per turn increased from 3 to 4.
– Players capped at 4.
– Team variant removed.
– Removed additional sets of ingredient cards.
– The action deck was removed as a deck and given to each player as a set.
– Created more than double the amount of character cards, each with their own thematic and unique ability.
– Ingredients deck card frequencies were optimized to keep the game flowing while carefully being adjusted to balance the fame gained with how easy or hard it was to create each food.
– Renamed the Action cards to Power cards and changed some of their abilities.
– New catch up mechanic.

V4- The BIG one… was it a BIG success or a BIG failure?
Find out in Episode 5!

Episode 5: The silver lining.

V4 Play Testing:
Wow, the changes made were amazing!
Replacing the building cards for a single scoring track card made setup and pack up faster, streamlined the upgrade process while the game was in progress, and made it clearer to see where players were in the progression of the game.
Changing the scoring system to points of fame played nicely into the games theme.
Increasing the amount of actions per turn meant players could progress and gain fame just about every turn, which greatly increased the games pacing while giving players that feeling of accomplishing something more often.
Capping the player count at 4 and removing the team mode was a tough decision, but was necessary given the changes. To make such drastic changes, the game had to stripped back to a more basic form and rebuilt. I was never able to recreate the feel of the team variant with the games current configuration, so as to not add something in for the sake of it being there, it had to go.
Removing the action deck and bundling them into a set of power cards that each player starts with really moved the game away from the heavy element of luck of the draw and more into the strategic, situational based thinking of when to play a power card, and who to play it on. They were also redesigned completely to be weighted more on the progression (positive) side and less on the negative (disruptive) side.
Creating more character cards greatly increased the replay ability and variation of the game, after all this is the heart of the game!
Ingredient frequencies were fine tuned over many play testing sessions to ensure the food was attainable without being over powered in the fame department.
I was happy to have been able to fix the catch up mechanic by putting a permanent action cost each turn to upgrading from food truck to cafe. Thematically this action was spent setting up your cafe in the morning where this was not required having no furniture when on the food truck stage. So once you have upgraded to a cafe, for the rest of the game you only have 3 actions per turn instead of 4. All players that had not hit half way would be getting an extra action per round to help them catch up.

At this stage the game flowed well, playing in a reasonable time for the games weight (5-30 mins depending on player count) and most of all was a close finish that never really saw anyone lag behind too far, and if they did they had a high scoring food on its way that shot them back into … or ahead of the pack.

It took a long time and a lot of testing but I truly believe Head Chef V4 has overcome all previous issues that held the game back while adding in a lot of new elements along the way to improve the games enjoyment factor!

Design of the cards were changed many times to ensure all of the required information was accessible and easy to identify without having to constantly refer back to the rule book.
In the top left you have the sequence number, when making a food you need the ingredients in sequential order.
The star value of the last ingredient in the food you are making will indicate how many points of fame you will earn.
At the bottom, for the players that want to know more of the depth of the deck makeup can play a little risky now knowing how many of each card is in the deck or safer knowing that there are a lot more of their required ingredient in the deck based on discarded cards.
All this information help make the game easier to play, easier to learn and easier to strategize as to when to risk waiting, and help to make up your mind on what card to discard to the leftovers pile.


But it doesn’t end here, I am still working with designs and thinking of ways to add, without complicating the game. Little tweaks are being made assisted closely with play testing observations. I actually have a few ideas right now that will be play tested, so v5 will definitely be a thing and perhaps the last version that you will receive as part of the kickstarter release… exciting times!