Far Away Design Journal - Recent Refactoring

We’ve been keeping busy on all the Far Away fronts. The Cherry Picked Team has updated the print-and-play with our new creature and building card designs. This is an important internal milestone. Because of that, we wanted to publicly share our next production steps.

Our attention has shifted from design to content. The core rules of Far Away are set. Now, we need to add more missions and creatures. A core goal of Far Away is to be highly replayable. Players choose their adventure from over 10 missions. Each of these missions offers a main, possibly branching, storyline and several optional subplots. The story and goal variations are coupled with the creature variety. Each combination of the 35+ creatures threatens the players in different ways: are they stalked by giant carnivores or are their buildings being corroded by slimes? Our hope is every session feels unique.

Currently, we have 1 full mission in the print-and-play and 3 more designed but not in cards. We have 14 creatures in the print-and-play, with 12 more designed (with the illustrations in various states). The goal of the next couple months is to greatly increase these numbers. In doing so, we also need to ensure the missions and creatures are actually different. We don’t want 10 variations on a “build the base” mission. We’ll write up a mission-design blog soon to share our design process.

All this variety is a stress test to our design. Throughout the last couple months, we kept iterating over the core rules to support more scenarios without increasing complexity. We worked hard to have additional rules, actions, and goals presented in the missions themselves. Our current design distributes mission-specific stuff across the text on mission cards and buildings. Players learn rules as they go, helping reduce their trips to the rule book. We’re also doing the same for the core rules by improving the mats and reference sheets you’ll already have on the table. The same is true for the creatures: their unique behavior goes on their individual cards, while the general experience has been streamlined. The current playtesting rounds will show us if those efforts worked.

We also found opportunities to give the core game more depth while leaving the design simple. For example, we had struggled with how to let players repair buildings. Making repair an action bloated a player’s choices; the actions a player can do, the more likely they’ll be overwhelmed. We decided to retool the Eat action to be a more general Consume action. Consume a plant to remove hunger, consume a bioplastic to repair a building. This also opened up other resources to be used in the same fashion, making it easier to explain behavior with mission-specific resources.

These core changes let us rapidly develop and add content. Expect us to add more missions to the print-and-play in the near future. If you’re in the Seattle-area, we’d love to do some live playtesting with you. We need to ensure every mission branch is balanced, fun, and easy-to-interpret.