Under Falling Skies diary 3: What’s in the box? – Tomas Uhlir

And here comes the third part of the developer diary for Under Falling Skies, which will be released in German in the fall of 2020:

“In the previous two posts, I wrote mostly about production improvements, enemy ships miniatures and a streamlined user interface. But that doesn’t tell much about the actual new content. There are still people, who think the game will have the same 9 cards as the original print&play version, but that is far from being the case. This time I would like to show you, what you’ll find in the box-

Usually when a publisher picks up a game for publishing, it’s already a working prototype and a big portion of the game design is done. After playtesting the game for some time and after some tweaking, you should usually have a pretty good idea, what components you’ll need, so you can assign the work to graphic designers, illustrators, rule writers, etc. So, to sum it up, you usually need to have a working game first, to get a better idea about the components. This is not, how it was with Under Falling Skies.

When I design a game, it really helps me, to do it under some restrictions. Not only it boosts my creativity, but it helps me to keep the game sleek. When you have no limitations whatsoever, it usually requires a lot of self control to keep the game compact and elegant. It’s often tempting to deal with a design problem by adding stuff, instead of actually solving it. That’s why I like those 9-card contests so much.

So once CGE decided to publish Under Falling Skies, one of the first things I did, was to ask Víťa, our production guy, what components can we afford for the game. After some calculations, we decided to go with a B1 cardboard (circa 70×100 cm), and based on that, I started to design the game. It’s a very similar approach like in the 9-card contest, from which the game originated. There you need to fit the whole game on 9 poker-sized cards, this is just about eleven times bigger.

But what is going to be on all this space, you ask? The original game felt pretty complete already, right? When deciding to dive into this design task, the thing I was afraid the most, was the fact that I could lose the elegance of the original game. The good news is that you can still experience the game almost the same way as you knew it from the print&play version, just with a lot more variability.

When you open the box, you’ll find four cardboard sheets with all the necessary components to play a full game, with adjustable difficulty through flipping the sky tiles, with various base layouts and even with a few cities to spice things up a bit, just a little more content, than it was in the print&play version.

However, under those four cardboard sheets, you’ll find twelve more, wrapped up and waiting until you decide to dive into the campaign they hold.

A campaign is something that suits a solo game very well and when I first decided to include it, I was tempted to make it a legacy experience. But then I realized, what it is, what I like the most about the legacy games. It’s the pleasure of revealing the hidden content, game after game, looking forward to what else the designer prepared for me. But this usually comes with a cost. All those boxes and envelopes make the game unnecessary expensive, and worse, you often throw the game away, after about a dozen plays anyway.

But then I realized, maybe I don’t need the boxes and envelopes. The cardboard sheets are designed, so they fit the box almost perfectly. What if the player doesn’t take them out all at once? What if he takes only a few sheets every time he progresses through the campaign? The rest can remain a surprise!

In Under Falling Skies, you’ll find four chapters of gradually revealed content. Each chapter brings something new to the game, new cities, new tiles, missions, characters, and who knows what else… But most importantly, you can enjoy all this, not only as a part of the campaign, but you can combine it with everything you’ve unlocked so far and use it in standalone games. Nothing gets destroyed, it can be all combined together and everything, including the campaign, is replayable.

At the end, we went even further and divided the chapters by a thick paper sheets with an introduction comix on one side and the new mechanics described on the other.

Oh yes, the comix… I guess, the post is a bit long already, so I’ll tell you more about the comix next time. And to shorten the wait, here is a small teaser, prepared by Finder, our awesome animator and a skilled 3D modeller. ;-)”

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Published on boardgamegeek.com,
at July, 28th 2020.

Here you can find more information about Under Falling Skies