I’m pretty excited to be beta testing the first complete version of one my games. It’s going to be a card game, and there are only a few kinks to smooth out, before really play testing.
Themes/Goals: Self-discovery. Symbolic Death.
Inspired by: Senet.
What is it about:
It takes John Ortebergs quote, “When you die it all goes back into the box”. To play each player answer a set of questions at the start of the game to create a unique deck specific to them and their own personal life challenges. This deck is their interaction deck and it’s how they will interact with the world, these interactions involve an associated item belonging to the player that the player uses to resolve the challenge.
Trials also known as Challenges are organized by colour and Theme which match to the players deck which is assigned a matching colour, and ID. To play the game they must progress through each challenge at the end of which is a gate. Players can gain karma points and baggage from other players.
The goal and objective of the game is to progress through the 6 Gates of the Afterlife, a shadow representation of the Earth. The Goal is to pass a series of challenges to get through the gate, to reach the final gate where your heart is weighed by the baggage and interactions remain. You want to shed as many of these interactions as possible. Throughout the game players are asked to examine their relationship with the items used to represent them, their fears and what they mean to them and how they impact others around them including themselves.
By the end of the game players should be left with nothing and are asked to examine who they are without these things and what they have left. The beauty of this game is, people can take their newfound self-awareness and step back into their shoes upon learning what the Shadows of the world had to teach them, or they can pursue life in a different direction, it’s all up to them.
Not an everyday game:
The game is meant to be a fun way to discover who we are and to share that with others. However because the game is so personal and about self-discovery it’s meant to be done between people who are close to each other or are trying to develop intimacy and are at a level of trust. It requires a certain honesty with oneself and the security to be honest around others since it creates a dialogue between people.
As a developer my goal with this game is to offer people a tool that enables them to learn who they are beyond the roles in their day to day life. I’d love to be able to create a solo version of the game, for people who prefer to play alone though I can see a modified version coming out of it.
I also realized that this game could also be used as a writers tool, as you can learn more about who your character is, it’s fears and battles through this game. And I think that it could also help us figure out the many personalities we have, the death is really symbolic and it’s pretty broad.
Why a card game:
Originally Afterlife was designed to be a interactive fiction and it was based on the Medusa Lore (a novel I’ve been writing since 2006). The original game Afterlife had different factions and a series of interactive choices and dialogue, it spent years in development because I went back and forth on the programming. I never got past a basic menu, creating a series of rooms and an intro scene.
During my time in school we were required to create a short game each week taking what we’d learned in programming or game development that week. I would take the same game and rebuild it again and again, expanding on the story, focusing on game elements.
In one of my classes we had to make a card and board game and I was introduced table-top RPGs. I was entirely fascinated by the mechanics behind table-top RPGs and that there were so many out there beyond DnD. It was absolutely amazing that computer mechanics could be applied in a pen and paper setting. I’d spend the next several years focusing on that.
Flash forward today. Originally the project I wanted to get out by February was called Winter Solstice. A few setbacks occurred in my personal life that led me to putting Winter Solstice on hold. Due to depression that reoccurs while working on it, it will remain on hold for some time, as I feel the game has begun contributing to more depression than stopping it.
I decided that I need to create a game that allowed me to get away from my computer desk and engage with the outside world. And figured a board game would be it.
So I began looking through some of my old short games and found AfterLife. My intent was a board game with dice and some cards, but the expense of a board game and me not feeling confident with the art looking the way I wanted to, decided to stick with a simple card game with no fancy images, simple colour coded using text and a character sheet to keep track of scores and the unique deck associated with each player.
More recently Afterlife takes a concept from the game Sanctuary I made a while back and due to their overlapping similarities have been merged together. The two games have a different history and journey but their paths have all led to the same place.
Design & Play testing:
I am currently in design mode getting ready to shift into play test mode. I still have to put the finishing touches on the design which I now have a work concept for. I have some basic mechanics which I’ve been testing and refining. I may have to change things with the game to make sure it works as it should, just a lot to work out to make sure it runs smooth, is fun and people get from it what I intended. There are also two different styles of playing the game that I have to explore and working out if I need more or less proposed cards.
So I am excited about that and where it’s headed.
This was written February 1st and slightly modified and posted in March. The game is evolving, and the influences on the game and the gameplay itself has evolved since February. It went through a major revamp around the end of February and we are just now leaving Design and nearing play testing. I am truly excited and will be creating some screenshots and pictures soon. Once I get a playable and tested (demonstratable) product the real fun: Marketing begins.