Devlog #2 – Origin and Design.

Hello everyone and welcome back to our devlog.

I thought today I’d shed some more light on the game’s origin as well as the basic Minibot design.

The game Minibots Arena is constantly mutating in this early stage. However, the fetus idea was very different than what it is now. My original thought was to make cool-looking little collectible toy figurines of various factions made of recycled plastic, to be sold in the thousands of convenience stores that dot the beautiful country of Vietnam, no doubt heavily influenced by Gundam Converge and my travel through Japan where tiny collectible things are abundant and embraced.

Tiny, basic Pokemon toys are already being sold at Mini-Stop for $1, and they come with some sort of map for a board game.

IMG_0263

Meanwhile in Japan, 7-11 is associated with Bandai and you can find Gundam Converge and other Gundam products in their stores – even exclusive Gunpla kits!

7-11-gundam-kits-collection-list (2)

However, personally I rarely buy collectible figurines with an unknown thematic. Looking at the bookshelf on my left, I see Marvel, Star Wars, Dragonball and Bandai stuff (and those little Pokémon toys). If it were made of recycled plastic however – in a country that is placed in the top 5 of “Asian countries who dump the most plastic in the oceans” – I might buy some of it just to support the effort.

Let’s be honest though, having a purpose behind the figurines would be much more fun. Since I have been trying to put together a working board game for the past few years now, I decided to fuse the two concepts together.

Of course, it helps to look at other miniatures-heavy games to see what they are doing right. On a giant pile of plastic and metal miniatures, towering over any and all competition, proudly stands a Space Marine – a Games Workshop space marine.

For all their talent and might however, Games Workshop has yet to convince me to fully commit. Here are a few reasons why I’m dutifully staying away from the great hobby.

The things that keep me from playing Warhammer 40k:

  1. The price.
  2. The boxing schemes.
  3. The gameplay isn’t that great to me.
  4. You need a huge area to play it.
  5. You need several players to commit.
  6. You need tons more money and time to make your army look great.

Mind you, I did dip in the hobby about 15 years ago. I had purchased a starter set of Space Marines and a few Scouts, and my friend had Dark Eldars. We played twice. I loved the painting aspect and built a few maps out of cardboard as well. However I couldn’t afford to expand my army at the time (and the miniatures were cheaper back then).

A year later, I would receive a tank and speed bikes as a Christmas gift but my friend and I had moved on to Magic: the Gathering. I ended up selling the unopened boxes a few years later to buy more board games.

I consider Magic: The Gathering to be one of the best games ever created, all media considered, and managed to convince a dozen of my friends to get into the hobby with me. It occupied tables everywhere we went for years – we always had our decks with us.

The things that kept me playing Magic for years:

  1. The price.
  2. The gameplay is intricate and offers plot twists.
  3. Hugely customizable.
  4. The entire game can fit in your pocket.
  5. You can play for minutes or hours.

Keeping all this in mind, let’s look at the very early creative process for the game itself.

Magic Set Editor has always been my most helpful tools. I find that simply naming cards or attaching art found online to a card greatly fuels my imagination.

So, on a quiet evening I fired up the program and created a card named “Minibot”. I then Googled “Minibot” and looked at images until I found one to my liking and put it on the card.

I then gave it a type – Minibot – and a few stats. Work, Move, Inventory, Range. Finally, I gave it a Strength and a Defense. They were to be the base units to my new game. The foundation. The one card upon all other cards would build.

Minibot

That’s essentially what started everything. I stared at that card for a while. For some reason, I was fixated. I started sketching more ideas and bot parts on scrap paper immediately.

Just for fun, here’s a rough evolution of the Minibots design:

The first image was my actual logo for my Youtube channel: Minibot Media. I hired someone on Fiverr to create a sprite icon based on an older sketch I had drawn and that’s what was produced.

The second image is what I drew that night, thinking about a very basic toy frame with snapping parts so someone could change the arms, legs, and add a head.

The third image is a more thought-out Minibot look for a comic book I was writing in my head. You can see its liquid battery in the stomach, and gauntlets.

The 4th image is a sketch from an actual artist based in Hanoi. I really love his style and am considering hiring him for more game art eventually. In the meantime he’s created a few commissions for me, of chibi-Zakus for my t-shirt line.

Notice the wings on the helmet which act as antennas, the claws for melee attacks, the potential blaster on its left wrist for ranged attacks, and porthole-style window in its belly to display battery power. At the time I forgot to mention that he should be made out of plastic. He’s since been re-colored in 3D-printer white.

At the moment, the miniatures have taken a backseat to the project as the game play, fun factor and mechanics are much more important. I’d also like to make the game as affordable as possible for everyone, so punch-out tokens would be the way to go. Of course, miniatures are much, much cooler and recycling plastic would actually be helpful to the environment.

I hope you enjoyed this devlog! If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments! Comments are hugely motivational. If you think some of your friends would enjoy this project, go ahead a share the blog – sharing is caring.

If there’s a certain topic you’re curious about or you think I should focus on for my next devlog, go ahead and tell me and I’ll do my best to tackle it.

And now back to creating basic tokens for play-testing!

Étienne

 

PS: Right now as I’m writing this devlog, a weird memory just hit me: I had attempted to modify checkers when I was around 8 years old. I was staying at my grand-parents and had some play-do, so I made a few little monsters and added them to the base game, getting my Grandpa to try to play with them. Mostly they were game-breaking – One could move backwards, one could move 2 squares at once, one could move in straight lines – poor Jacques had trouble memorizing all the new rules and we ended up going back to the classic style hehe!

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