As the game was coming into focus with a theme and solid mechanics, it was time to flush out the rest and start the biggest, most time consuming part of making a game. PLAYTESTING!!
At the beginning of playtesting the game the main mechanics included an auction system for percentages of city profits, and the building mechanic where players building additional building to increase the profits earned from cities. This is where we started the playtesting.
It was immediately obvious that the game was lacking certain elements that the game needed to complete the experience. This is where ideas were added, removed, altered, expanded. I wanted to give players the option to gain unique abilities, which after a few different incarnations became the Corporate Structure Tree. An expandable network of abilities, interrupts and bonuses that can even give a player bonus end game points.
We tried a variety different components and designs to accomplish what we were aiming for. In the end we decided the best choice was a durable punchout tile which can expand out (and depending on the tile placed, end a track) branch out to include additional tracks of abilities.
Once the final idea on how to do the Corporate Structure was decided on it was time to decide which abilities/bonuses to include. We spent many, many hours testing out the unique abilities. Some were kept as part of the game. Others were cut. And still others were modified to function best.
Another issue that needed resolving was whether or not to include each or certain tiles multiple times. Some of the abilities are worth letting multiple players get a hold of them. Particularly the abilities that attack the other players. Hours of playtesting showed that the best option was to go ahead and include multiple copies of some of the tiles but to balance it out by modifying each instance of the tile to be a different cost and strength. This idea gave us the ability to make each instance of the same thing unique.
Most of the Corporate Structure tiles are flipped over when used. The mechanic to flip the tile back to it's usable side is linked to the Event Deck. Each round a new Event Card is flipped over and activated, impacting all player's Corporate Structure Tree and the Round Marker, among the other things the Event Cards do. (We'll have a post about the Event Deck later)
The different colored circles of the back show when the player will get to flip their tile back to their usable sides. When the Event Card revealed shows the purple circle, all purple circled Corporate Structure Tiles flip back. This decision helped us to integrate the game and ensure that the various mechanics work together giving players better variety of choices and strategy.
This is also around the time that we decided to break up the tiles into 3 different categories to differentiate the types of abilities/bonuses. Attacks, Defensive, Structural. The Attack tiles are to add some Take-That mechanic to the game letting players harm the competition. The Defensive tiles help defend against attacks from other corporations as well as providing protection against the game itself (riots/boycotts/lootings). The Structural tiles are to help give your corporation a bit more backbone. Some extra credits here, Additional Corporate Structure Branches there.
My opinion is that the Corporate Structure is one of the most exciting, and if used strategically , one of the most powerful part of Corporate Sharks! Players can pick up a few tiles here and there to help as they go or use their corporate structure to plan an entire strategy.
The planning and playtesting for this mechanic definately was one of the most time consuming of the whole process but well worth the effort we invested.
Have you tired out the Corporate Structure already? Leave a comment below!
Check out more about Corporate Sharks HERE!