Updated: May 16
PRETENDING WHO WE ARE
The desert feels cold past dusk. Leo Maseko wears bleu jeans and a posh brown jacket with stripes. In the distance, he can make out what seems to be a torch like light source in front of a gigantic ionic pillar. Once closer to the light, a somewhat misplaced ancient Greek temple appears in sight behind the pillar, partially revealed by the full moon that lights the side of Maseko's view. With sadness, Leo looks at the astrolabe dangling to his thigh on a rope to his belt. He wants to seek comfort in the moonlight to conjure up the worthwhile effort of a sacrifice he made with his betrayal to Jarrah, until... suddenly two new light sources flash on top of the pillar like monstrous eyes staring down at its pray. Leo never felt like a prey before, he is used to be the predator. This sensation is certainly new and exotic to him. Whatever thought or regret has been setup in the sky evaporates. The creature's silhouette darkens the full moon, making its body and head more visible to the light of the flickering torches at the pillar's pedestal. Leo now notices the lion shaped body and strangely feels at ease right away. The blue lit eyes seem to narrow in irritation by the relaxed posture of Maseko. The illusion of comfort is short lived when abruptly gigantic wings darken even more of the moonlit background.
A grunt, low yet female voice bellows through the air: 'Don't tell me you where just strolling around and got lost.' Leo reaches for the astrolabe when the winged creature continues, 'You sought me. Here I am, Maseko!' Leo gasps when he hears his name. 'Are you a sphinx, an angel of the Sun?' he stutters and holds the astrolabe high above his head as an offering. The human face, with the body of a lion and angelic wings confirms with the same grunt bellowing voice: 'Sol Ange!' She looks at the Arabian astrolabe and frowns. 'Your sacrifice was in vain. You threw love down the drain to uncover my secrets? I need a spherical astrolabe!' Leo lowers his paw with the astrolabe and closes his eyes for a moment, realizing what foolishness has just overcome him.
When he hears flapping wings, he looks up just in time to realize Sol Ange leaping down towards him. Without thinking he rolls an evasive manoeuvre backwards, before the sphinx's huge claws strikes the spot where he stood. The sand lifts up to form a temporary curtain veil. Once the sand cloud evaporates, Leo sees one of Sol Ange's paws covering his astrolabe. Her human blue-eyed female face, peeking through a bleu metal amazon helmet adorned with emerald stones, is now very clearly visible. She smirks while slowly circling her prey. 'Before I can even hint you with information about time and space, or with something more ambitious; like how to control them to your benefit...' she stops circling at the same spot the astrolabe lay on the ground. 'Show me that you understand what creature you really are! You know the one that goes on four legs in the morning, on two at noon and on three in the evening. And don't sell me that lion and koala romance nonsense! Or... I will devour you!!! Come back with the right instrument when you know the answer.' The sphinx kicks the astrolabe towards Leo. Blinded by the accompanying sand, Maseko covers his head with his jacket. When he scans his surroundings again, Sol Ange is gone.
A lot of my work before diving into the rulebook again, was redesigning all the cards with new artwork, tweaked design details and adding new abilities, or correcting overpowered ones. They are not final yet, but are good for demonstrations and precampaigning. Diego is working on some new layered backgrounds for our trailer, but those will also replace some of cards temporary card backgrounds. These backgrounds would equally serve its purpose as playmat add-on art.
What follows is the direction we are going for with the card designs. The character, hidden agenda, Instrument-Quest, lunar phase and planet cards have their bleed margins still on, while the constellation art has round cut corners for demonstrational purposes in these examples.
You will also notice the last series of master model miniatures sent by Aná of Tiny Factory Studio among the images.
Enjoy the parade of components that follows...
images are still subjected to change (for Diego's version)
images are still subjected to change (for Diego's version)
These instruments are halve tucked with instrument side under the hidden agenda cards and with quest visible and side up. Once the quest has been completed, the card is turned with the instrument side up. Active instruments grand techniques that can unlock Super Inventions.
Super Inventions demo tokens:
Super Invention cards with their ability still need to be developed. The super inventions are a story driven expansion, originating from the solo variant. Although we already have the miniatures and some artwork, detail designing is probably left for after the campaign. Here we just show you the technique requirements with their miniature image.
First an overview with height comparison (by Jeff McDowall and Tiny Factory Studio), then some pictures of the new models.
The big change here is the cut up into separate tiles to enlarge the most important parts, which can be placed in the centre of the table. One of the nuisances during physical play tests on our playmat was the fact that the small icons became fuzzy on the playmat, that the world and star maps were too small and too far away for some players at the table. Separating the components into tiles proofs to be efficient as well for players with different table dimensions. You can place the boards as you see fit.
BUILDING UP TOWARDS GAMEFOUND
The first physical demonstration will be in January at AstroPolis in Oostende for their youth club 'Space Hoppers' (age 8-12), which will be a great opportunity to try out our level scales in teaching the rules to our youngest audience since our game is quoted on 10+. Afterwards, we want to open demonstration reservations to all board game clubs and conventions for 2022.
An official publishing date for the base game (without solo variant) will be coined for TableTopia and a new similar version will be launched on TTS as well. You might think 'well, we already have a TT and TTS version to test with', and yes that's true, but the TT-version wasn't officially published yet due to the lack of our own artwork for the constellations on the one hand, and because the rulebook with the new card designs and updated rules wasn't finished yet.
The main precampaign goals are to get the game among as many players as possible to get feedback from blind testing via digital and physical game sessions. In the meantime, a press release strategy needs to be laid out. I noticed that more and more people get interested in AstroNavigators, but I do want to stress that, although several parties are helping us, it still is a one man show based on working hours in extra time, and financial recourses are limited to personal investments for now, in order to have enough to show for a crowdfunding campaign. So be patient for all of it to come together as I am figuring out things as a first time publisher.
My hope is to start preparing for Gamefound in February in order to get a crowdfunding setup by March for a draft review. Gamefound told me that March would be perfect for me since they will target working with smaller publishers then anyway. Getting the crowdfunding layout done artistically can be outsourced, but getting all quotes together and having the right numbers is another. Than the question falls on where to invest in PR before and during the campaign. In February Hexy Studio is scheduled for our trailer video setup. Furthermore a list of previewers need to be setup for quoting. And how many preview video's does one need to have?
Draft schedule has the Campaign during Easter vacation in April, the production after mould making and miniature adjustments in July-August. Shipping will probably start in October with an overall ETA of December 2022. Beware this is just a draft, although one that we are basing project planning on. More realistically the ETA will be probably in 2023. Always be prepared for delays I presume...
Many of our current and potential partners were not present in Spiel for the obvious global reasons. Nevertheless, Deborah and I managed to say hi to everyone present we wanted to meet at Essen! We even managed to get hold of Paul Grogan from 'Gaming Rules!' who, together with his friend accompanying him, gave us some great and crucial advice on blind testing rulebooks.
We also went to Channing Jones' boot with his 'Galactic Era' to pick up our copy of the game, which is also illustrated by our own Diego Sanchez! Furthermore we tried out a new game in the making by co-designer Phil Eklund from Sierra Madre Games and Ion Games, and met the man in question. Ion Games has also a similar statements to Armillary Games' to publish scientific themed games, although, I must say that theirs are of a very heavy kind. We also visited a board game friend working for Game Brewer, we passed Jumping Turtle Games and visited a partner in playmats add-ons from Playmats.EU.
With all that I wish you all a happy 2022! I know that the coming year will be a game changer on so many levels for me personally, but I hope to make this one a fun experience for all partners in this project, followers and enthusiasts! Don't hesitate to comment or share something great on any channel: on blog reply, BGG, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or by direct contacting.