After much hard work and some skipped meals, I was able to push forward and get Earth prototype #2 designed and printed this Saturday. Over the past few days I've also done some play tests. So how did it turn out? Pretty damn good actually. The balance tweaks seem to be working out well, but as always they will take longer to test. More on that later. Design tweaks however, offered more obvious improvements. The text is now easier to read and much of the game language has been unified. Creating a unified experience is always important with a game that only uses a random portion of it's assets in order to add variety. I want players who only see 15% of what the game offers, to feel like they understand 100% of the core mechanics. I also still want them to be surprised/excited as they discover the other 85% of the game. On top of that I'd also like 5000% game play variety. Too much? Probably. Let's get away from all these percentages.
To play test variety a little more heavily, I've removed quite a lot of it. I know that doesn't seem like it makes sense, but hear me out. Instead of using a random selection of cards each game, I've used the same cards for the past 4 playthroughs. Seeing how the same setup can play out differently each time has given me more confidence that I'm on the right track.
I'm very pleased with how the game feels and I think it soon may be time for some real testing. Keep your friends close, and your prototype testers closer.