First of all, thank you for registering last month and keeping the faith in the project. This first post Gamefound message is also to confirm you successfully registered in the website. I noticed some of you attempted to subscribe several times. Don’t worry though, each unique e-mail address should only get a notification once per post.
1. About the project
In retrospect, I can look back at a lot of good things that happened to the project. In the top three are the conventions with a top team and enjoyably meeting new people, then we have some incredible videos made like the one by Boxed Meeples and Jon Gets Games, and incredible artists like Diego providing the character art and Ana developing the miniatures for the game.
Nevertheless, some things were at the root of many delays and badly timed initiatives. I have managed to pinpoint some of the poorly made financial decisions. In the beginning I had a budget to spend, now I have some financial catching up to do, not completing a successful campaign also results in an unchanged tax condition. As long as I cannot sell a product, my condition is that I don’t have to pay additional taxes, but I cannot omit VAT. Bad thing is that I have to pay an additional VAT to all services, but on the bright side I will get a bigger tax return. Ironically, the additional VAT costs are never being caught by your tax return. This results in a gap of tax fines. While I don't want to bore you with my bookkeeping, I can say that in the meantime I am enjoying my time off from the project, especially financially.
I do have plans for a relaunch. My first plan for February is to tackle the list of icons to make the style coherent and rethink the card layout to simplify them. The rulebook is also going to be split into two parts instead of three. The rulebook is going to be written for the new standard base game: Astronomer rules (without lunar trajectory board) and AstroNavigators rules with trajectory board. This standard box will not have the planets module included. Some gameplay experiments with only the astronomer part of the game and without the planets, really brings the game more to the family game realm. The astronaut part of the game is still essential to portray my vision of the game, but instead of hanging a half space trip to a first and fast module, it seems better to omit the astronaut rules all together and keep it as an optional expansion rule, but included in the standard box. The planet module will be a separate expansion box called “The Philosopher’s Orrery”.
The rulebook will be accompanied by a "learn while playing" example, based on what you see on Jon Gets Games, but then without the planet module.
The all-in deluxe version is going to be kept as it was in the first launch attempt, but will only be unlocked as an upgrade choice in the stretch goal section. I want to concentrate on the game’s essential features first, and only on the upgrades if there are enough backers.
In essence, my plan during a relaunch is to get the standard game funded first. Even without ever getting to the stretch goals. For the relaunch and the right numbers, I will have to sit down with Gamefound and Panda again. If the miniature version is not included from the get-go, a lower production minimum can help to lower the funding goal needed for standard production with wooden components.
The first stretch goals will look different:
Rocket alternatives (not in base game anymore)
The Philosopher’s Orrery expansion
Option to choose an all-in deluxe box with miniatures (this is going to be at least 40K)
Previously planned stretch goals will be reassessed to being listed afterwards
How to get more backers?
Lowering pledge cost by moving the orrery and deluxe version to stretch goals
Showcasing card and iconography revamp beforehand
New rulebook and learn while playing guide
2 more big content creators to showcase the game
Smaller more accessible base game
Maybe a version choice without animals / with humanoids (only standard version)
For the two content creators I am hoping for Rhado and Gaming Rules! About two years ago I talked to Paul Grogan in Essen about the game, and Rhado has AstroNavigators on his wish list on BGG, so I do think this might be a good choice. I haven’t contacted them yet for the task, since I really want to get the new rulebook versions first.
Everything considered, I have faith in the next launch. The only thing I keep having nightmares about is a humanoid standard version. I already extensively explained why I am not liking it. Nevertheless, I have been using AI to generate some ideas. The alternative, is to have a sterile version without the animals and change the card designs to instruments and helmets instead of animals. Production wise, the box, 7 character cards, 14 hidden agenda cards and 7 wooden tokens plus rulebook images need to change. Depending on the financial situation for development, this might stretch a relaunch date even further.
2. About other prototypes
In the meantime, I am working on other games, a game called Weather 4Cast and another game on AI, martial arts biomechanics and gravity in space. First of all, I am a game designer. Since my teenage years, I have made games for friends and fellow students. Never professionally. After college, it stopped for about 15 years. Coming back from living in China, I discovered the new landscape of board games and I felt the need to pick up where I left. I am also glad to finally set aside all the development, advertisement and publisher stuff for a brief period to do some more designing. The issues and demands I encountered with AstroNavigators are certainly also on my mind while working on these other games now.
Weather 4Cast is a small card and tile game where you manipulate weather pressure zones and make predictions of the weather within 3-7 days on your current location on Earth. You need to predict the wind direction, wind speed, temperature and humidity. Believe it or not, but these four parameters are conceptually linked to low and high pressure zones. Location on earth and time of season are key to get the details right. An expert module brings the environment like water and mountains into account. Those who have played AstroNavigators will find some Earth map similarities in this game, but than shaped by square cards. The use of transparant tiles with pressure zones and isobars are also part of the components. The base game will only consist of map and prediction cards, pressure tiles and 4 dice.
The other game is more ambitious and will be a slow side show process, when the other games are not taking my full attention. It also might be material for another publisher. The game is a 1-4 player cyberpunk, dungeon crawler deck builder in the style of Street Masters, but with deck building wing chun kungfu skills. There are three hand forms and two weapon forms. In this game a secret gun form has been developed called Phoenix Fire (similar to the gun kata in Equilibrium). I am a wing chun teacher and practitioner myself. I wanted to build an AI and human future where both are cut off the digital network and have to deal with gravity in space. This world will be an extensive one, and I will probably be looking for collaborators to develop the game in the far future.
Thanks to AI’s evolution to do scientific and cosmetic research, humans can immortalize themselves by transferring themselves into artificial bodies. In that same future, AI has been able to gain independent consciousness and use artificial bodies as well. Both human and AI consciousness were living codependently to enhance themselves via upgrades instead of generations of natural birth and death. The anti-AI faction ‘human league’ leader and Kungfu expert Lee Fenghuo has plans to destroy AI’s independent capabilities, because of the evolutionary treat he perceives to humans. The interplanetary network is still AI-free and the Earth’s network has been crippled. A group of AI warriors have decoded the secret Phoenix Fire form and techniques Lee developed. Together with pro-AI cyber humans, the AI warriors now train their artificial bodies to stop their enemies from wiping them out during the Human League’s exodus from Earth.
You play as one of the AI-warriors to stop Lee from leaving and destroying Earth during lunar flight or on a moon base. While training and upgrading during missions, you prepare for the final showdown with the elite Human League warriors. Your aim is to save Earth for self-preservation and to coexist with humans. During four missions you build up your fighting deck while fighting anti-AI militants in order to be able to have faster reaction combinations for the final showdown. The latter can take place in a space ship or on a lunar base where the fighting environments are manipulated by different gravity circumstances.
3. About other games
For some of you seeking to find nice new games, I would like to share my recent findings... I always enjoyed playing Dune Imperium. I love the physical version, but now I can also go wild online with Dune: Imperium op Steam (steampowered.com). Playing to complete missions, to play against AI and against other players worldwide. I wanted to refrein myself from buying the physical Uprising edition, because I have everything from the original edition with expansions and deluxe minis, but now I discovered some interesting spy features... And yeah, playing online makes me want that version even more, sigh. Lately I am also discovering and enjoying the solo version of Skytear, the MOBA Board Game | Skytear (playskytear.com). The latter has a nice learn while playing booklet, which helped me with drafting ideas for AstroNavigators.
To end my thoughts on the project, I want to leave you with whishing you all a merry Christmas and a happy New Year! We are actually celebrating Winter: the coming of more light and less darkness in 2024, literally in astronomy on the 21th of December, but I also hope figuratively speaking for humanity in Christmas spirit! Enjoy family and friends!
As a whimsical gesture to my humanoid – animal dilemma I asked AI (Midjourney) to create its thought on the matter 😉.
Merry Christmas and Ad Astra!