I painstakingly took (mostly consistent) pictures of all 9 ship cockpits, and wanted to post them here for reference. I’m 30 hours into the game and just lovin’ it. Upgraded from a Durston to the Beluga (pretty cool with 3 turrets) but eventually might try the Sequoia in depth because the glass makes it seem like driving a space car.
Well Rebel Galaxy Outlaw released exactly 1 week ago, and what a great week it’s been. A bit of history, as I’ve mentioned before Privateer was the first game I bought on CD and absolutely played the heck out of. I still play it monthly almost 30 years later. I found the core gameplay loop so satisfying and the moment-to-moment combat really great and it never seemed to get repetitive. I’ve been waiting for a spiritual successor a long while now. Freelancer came though, and although it was a good enjoyable game in it’s own right, it didn’t quite hit the Privateer vibe perfectly.
And now we’re here with Rebel Galaxy Outlaw (RGO). Ever since the first teaser trailer I’ve been hoping the game would be good. I watched a few videos from the devs and read a bit about it, but in general I was trying to not get my hopes up too much and not spoil too much content.
Now that it’s been released it’s an absolute hoot. Definitely the successor to Privateer I’ve been waiting for. Combat is spot on, as is exploration, progression, stations, music, everything.
Here’s some screenshots from my playtime so far.
Motivations for a new game – Star Duel
Another game came out the same time, and although it wasn’t nearly as anticipated for me, Dicey Dungeons has a great take on dice allocation/placement/usage/manipulation/whatever you want to call it. And combined with RGO I’m considering whether it’s finally time for me to take the plunge and design a space game. I’ve long considered a space game to be one of the pillars of what a designer should tackle. Now that White Line Fever (car combat game) is nearly wrapped up (I’m SO SLOW to take pictures for the rulebook…) I’ll be looking for my next project. I could work on the campaign system for WLF, and I might still. But in the mean time I’ve vaguely been brainstorming a space dogfighting game, tentatively named Star Duel.
So far I’m thinking no miniatures and no hex/square map or freeform movement. Instead you build a ship from dice powers, such as Laser which does X damage (where X is the dice you allocate to it), to more complex stuff like Emergency Power where you can re-roll a dice or split it up or flip the face or whatever (again very Dicey Dungeons inspired). There would be power management where you can choose how to allocate your 4-7 dice, like do you put all of them into offense on YOUR turn, or save some for defense when the enemy attacks you? Since you could have defensive dice things as well. Ship construction would just be “drafting” style where you get 3 cards/dice powers and choose 1 until you have X amount to fill in the ship. Anyway obviously still extremely rough, but still something I’ve been thinking about.
Collisions currently do too much damage. The involved cars roll D8 and take damage equal to the result, with a MINIMUM of their Speed. Cars have 20 Armor (hitpoints). So a Speed 6 car is going to take 6-8 damage, which is brutal. Even a Speed 1 car takes 1-8. Know how frustrating and…uninvolved? it is to take 8 damage three times and explode? This is even worse once the Hammer Brand is involved (+2 Damage to others, -2 Damage to self) as you potentially are doing 10 max damage. In other words 1 more damage than the HIGHEST weapon damage in the game, which is only single use. So it’s time to revisit them. I want people to die from shooting, not from crashing.
Rename?: Speaking of crashing, I was considering today of renaming the more clinical Collision term to Crash. Can’t tell what would fit the tone and theme of the game better.
Anyway to fix up Collisions I had a few ideas:
Flat Damage: Take damage equal to your Speed. Predictable and a bit boring. Would work better for vs obstacles than vs cars (which would be a much messier crash).
Roll Off: I like the head to head nature of a roll off during a crash. I just can’t figure out how it’d work to feel different than just rolling damage. For example if the White Challenger rolls a 7 and the Red Mustang rolls a 4 what happens? Does the “winner” take less damage? Maybe the damage is the Speed still, so in this case the Challenger would take the lesser Speed as damage? How does that work with similar speeds? How does it work vs obstacles? What about the different between the dice? Or a slower second roll? See how it gets weird?
Max instead of Min: What about if instead of Speed being the MINIMUM damage you take, it’s the MAXIMUM? This changes a Speed 6 car from 6-8 to 1-6. It also feels better “rolling against yourself” since you have a chance to roll low and take less damage. The Hammer Brand in this case could just remove the max cap for the enemy, so they just straight out take D8 damage.
Currently the winner is the last option. I’m going to give it a few playtests and see how it works. But the math seems much more favorable, the system still works for vs obstacle and vs car without needing changes, the Hammer Brand provides an interesting option, etc.
Open Road: Campaign System
I’ve mentioned that I want to eventually include a campaign system for White Line Fever that uses real world road maps. Primarily because I spent most of my 20s going on 200,000km of road trips. So I’ve been back-burner-brainstorming on how to use the maps to make a series of meaningful, interesting decisions that link together car combat while still having resource management and the feel of a road trip. Lofty goal.
So far my heart is tending towards a dice allocation/placement style. Some light reading in the genre:
More to come on that in the future. And I swear one of these days it won’t take me freaking 3 months to take in-game photos for my rulebooks. Haha man I’m awful at doing that in a timely fashion.
Almost ready to wrap up the core rules of White Line Fever. So far there IS amazing placeholder art (left), let me tell you my hand drawing skills have never been better. So besides a few more playtests I need to take pictures and make diagrams for the rulebook (like right, from an old Car Wars setup I had).
There are otherwise no more outstanding TODOs. I imagine weapon numbers will get tweaked over time and potentially new ones added or existing ones removed, but that’s pretty natural as the game is played more. In the meantime here is the current rulebook for White Line Fever, complete with record sheets (that, as usual, I’m pretty happy with!) and all the placeholder art you could ever want.
As to my previous post about wanting to include Speed into Floor It checks, the math just didn’t work out, so I’m sticking with the simpler, more generic approach of D6 vs Maneuver number. Much more enjoyable to always know your odds, not be less than 50% right away at high speeds, not need another different dice, etc. I’m still open to figuring out a solution to this, but what I came up with so far in a few playtests and attempts just didn’t quite blow my socks off.
Anyway after release I’ll take a bit of a break and then start on a longtime goal of trying to make a campaign system that uses real world roadmaps to track progress. I have a few vague ideas of how I want the campaign to work, but generally there should be interesting and meaningful decisions made between the different route options available, as well as resource management and tough calls in between fights. Completing a solid, lightweight core game should help facilitate this, instead of throwing everything into the first release. The other big expansion idea I want to do is increasing the Action options, so you can do more each Maneuver instead of just shoot or drop weapons. Again still in the very vague stages (I’m trying to not get TOO far ahead of myself) but I think I’ll add a Utility slot on each car that can be chosen and gives another Action, such as repairing self, aiming guns, boost straight ahead, etc.
Some more good changes to White Line Fever from my most recent playtest. I still need to sit down and think up some more Deployment types though, since the existing two are a bit limited. Ideally I’ll have half a dozen.
One issue that’s always kind of irked me about the reworked rules though is “Floor It” not factoring in your Speed. How it works is you get 1 free Maneuver each round (and each Maneuver let’s you move, turn/drift, and attack), then you can choose to push your luck and try to get more Maneuvers. Each subsequent Maneuver requires a successful roll on a D6 where the target is the number of Maneuvers you’ve done so far. So to do a 2nd Maneuver is 2+, third is 3+, and so on right up to 6+. But Speed isn’t a factor, so going for 1 extra Maneuver at Speed 2 is as difficult as Speed 6.
For a game with the subtitle “Speed is Everything” this seems wrong. But it adds another step and some super minor math to involve Speed, so I’ve been hesitant. I’m still working on a solution, but the main contender right now is switching from D6 to D12, and changing the target to be Speed + Maneuver num. So Speed 4 trying for a 2nd Maneuver would require 6+ (4+2) on a D12 instead of just a flat 2+ on a D6 with the current way.
My biggest concern, besides the slowdown in play (I found it awkward to add up, but that might have been because I kept the Speed marking dice on record sheet beside the table and the Maneuver counting tokens on the table), is how the pace of play will be affected. Will average Maneuvers go from 4 to 1 or 2? Also will one Speed emerge as the clear choice? Right now Speed is more a choice of what you think you can get away with given the terrain and where you expect to drive through in that round. I also think it becomes slightly less transparent on what your odds are…obviously going faster and doing more Maneuvers is riskier, but HOW risky is not as easy at a glance as a linear D6.
Other possibilities are a D10 (likely to make Speed 5 or 6 completely pointless…plus I hate D10) or 2D6 (even more math though, even if it’s mostly second nature for people). Still trying to brainstorm some other possibilities to factor in Speed.
My playtest went really well last month. I was Utility and my two friends played the other roles. They had played my earlier version of Glowquest and this playtest went a lot better. The game was much smoother with the fat trimmed, ability cards, less passives, no interrupts, simpler monster presentation and management (monster power was great!), etc. I think one or two more substantial passes of polish to the game and it should be close to done. Then I can worry about tacking on expansion pieces. Remember of course that while I want anyone to be able to enjoy the game, realistically I’m making it for me and 2 childhood friends who used to play Advanced Heroquest together. Just sort of a nostalgic nod to that game and an excuse to bust out the old tiles.
TODOs from Playtest
Anyway here’s a rough list of the TODOs I have from both the playtest and previously. It’s straight from my notes so might be a bit disorganized:
– Whoever opens door gets to place Glow
– Different name for “Instant” type card, seem too much like an interrupt. Maybe “Action”?
– Reorder Monster Card to have Grit, Defensive Layers/HP, Speed
— Easier to reference than two similar sized boxes side by side
– Need to specify there is a minimum Grit of 2
— For cards like Tear
– Try Features in the base game instead of Glow, to add some variety to rooms
— Maybe place a token, not knowing what feature it is, THEN generate it and put where the token is
— Helps prevent min/maximizing the feature placement
– Rename Grit to Guard and Shield to Grit, and remove/rename Guard Basic Benefit
– Get rid of +1 Resolve passive
– ALL passives need a downside/trade off, no straight out better ones (like the existing +1 Armor, +1 to-hit, etc.)
– Offense gets Line as a default? Then has Slide in some Benefits
– More Monster Power spending options
— New Basic Benefits?
— Three checkboxes for each Level Up, so you could do +1 base damage 3x
— Bonus with only a single creature to make a “boss type”?
– Give up on re-rolls, they make original roll feel less impactful and are too tedious/rare to bother tracking
– No more passage fights? Rooms only?
— Then slow pace gives +MP to next Encounter?
– Note that Setup Distance is maximum, for hallways and the like
Huzzah, looks pretty rad right? I’m pretty happy with all the little touches, like the images under important fields, how the armor track turned out, the circles to fill in for Brand, and so on. You can get the current version of the record sheets as PDF if you’re interested.
I also did a playtest of the trimming and reworking I’ve been doing for White Line Fever. Went really well and played a lot more smoothly than in the past. Since my last post I’ve added Droppables (like oil, spikes, etc.), removed the once-per-game Crash ability, tweaked how the order of Maneuvers works, added a satisfying exploding car rule, and more.
The main chunk of remaining work is in taking photos for the rulebook and playtesting even more. I’m sure some balance tweaks will happen to weapons over time, just like how Dinosaur Cowboys went, but I think I’m pretty happy with how the game works overall now.
My biggest epiphany was to think of the game like a skirmish game but instead of 28mm miniatures it has cars. Because previously I had this subconscious restriction that car movement must be plodding and a bit tedious to try to achieve some sense of realism. Sort of like the turning key in Car Wars: sure it’s great and realistically shows how hard different angles of turns would be for a car…but at the same time it can feel like math or geography homework trying to weave your car through some hills. Or phased turns in Dark Future or even Gaslands. Whereas with White Line Fever the cars sort of behave like vehicles from a skirmish or wargame, as in they just turn up to 90 degrees and move in straight lines. So the combat flows really well, and pushing your luck trying to get more maneuvers is satisfying. So yeah, that was a good realisation on par with my initial a-ha of all cars getting the same number of maneuvers and faster cars just go further each time.