Dev Diary Entry 1 – Mechanic Overview

Before diving into anything else, I thought it would be beneficial to just briefly summarize each of the main mechanics/interactions that currently exist in Boiling Point, along with what they mean, and the rationale behind them.

Overall, the game can be split into four (4) main categories which make use of several mechanics:

Player Movement and Interaction 

Action Points | Take That | Interrupts | Track movement | Card Driven/Hand Management

During their turn, players can play any cards from their hand along with two (2) survival actions (out of four [4] possible options). Playing cards control most movement, letting players travel up and down the game board, i.e climb the side of the pot. The cards are designed to be in line with the theme and the famous ‘crabs in a barrel’ mentality, so several cards will move the player up while slightly bringing down their opponents at the same time.

There are multiple types of cards that give players boosts, or let them respond to certain opponent actions off-turn. This was a really important aspect in making play feel dynamic and not like you’re simply waiting for a turn to end, especially in keeping the theme present for players. I’ve built several events into the design that regularly occur for players to interact with off-turn.

For their survival actions, players can discard cards from their hand to increase their power (Train) which improve the actions they take. They can also heal wounds, remove heat, and store cards (Rest). Storing cards is important, since the end of the turn requires you to cycle the remaining cards in your hand for new ones. This implements the hand management concept as players will want to know when or what cards they want to play on their turn based on how they inherit the board. The last two (2) actions deal with how you win and allow you to either obtain new objectives that you can try to score (Plot), or attack the chefs (Attack) to collect tears the can help you gain points or achieve objectives.

Escape Points

Area Control | King of the Hill | Hidden Information | Victory Points | End Game Bonuses | Set Collection | Press Your Luck | Dice Rolling | Catch Up 

The main goal of the game is to collect Escape Points. Escape Points are the victory resource in the game and are what you need to achieve, well… victory. You can gather escape points in four (4) ways: 1.) By starting your turn in the top section of the pot (king of the hill/area control), 2.) by scoring secret Escape Plans (hidden information), 3.) by attacking and defeating the chefs/collecting their tears (set collection, dice rolling, press your luck, end game bonuses), and 4.) by trading in lunch break tokens that you can also earn by attacking the chefs.

The game is designed so all players accumulate points steadily over time, with players having to look for opportunities and push their luck to get ahead! But no player is out of the running until the end, especially as players that push their luck too far may just knock themselves out!

Rising Heat and Heat Management

Sudden Death | Simulation | Player Elimination | Timed

The core of the game is designed around a unique mechanic that simulates basic thermodynamics. During the game, players continuously gain heat from climbing, attacking the chefs and the rising temperature in the pot. At the end of every round, a temperature tile is flipped over.

 

Temperature tiles represent where the boiling water is, and where steam bubbles can be generated. At the beginning of each player’s turn, any steam bubbles already on the pot will move up one (1) level. If there are none, new ones will be generated by rolling a die, similar to how resources are generated at the beginning of turns in games like Settlers of Catan. When these bubbles reach a level with a player on them, they pop, giving each player on that level heat.

Players that end their turn with six (6) or more heat, ‘boil,’ and are out of the game. While this may sound alarming, it functions as a balancing mechanic, tension builder, and overall game timer. It helps the game stay on track while stopping players from speeding ahead or lose focus, and letting players feel like the stakes are real. Additionally, it adds a very interesting set of player interactions. While players can use actions to cool down, they can also pass the heat on to cooler players through heat transfer. This creates a very interesting dynamic where players in healthier standings will think twice about attacking hotter players. 

Whenever player elimination does happen (and when a chef is defeated), more temperature tiles are flipped, creating a cascading effect towards the end of the game.

Two wins and 1 Loss 

Race (to escape the pot) – ends the game when a single player reaches eighteen (18) escape points. That player escapes and wins.

Semi-Co-op (to defeat the chefs) – ends the game when all three (3) chefs are defeated. All players escape but the player with the most escape points wins.

Elimination – All players boil and no one wins.

There are two (2) alternate win conditions: either someone reaches the point threshold and escapes, or the chefs are all defeated (have no tears left). This helps keep players in the game with different paths to victory, but maintain tension as the paths overlap during many points in the game. A player trying to escape will likely have a small window to do it before all the chefs are defeated.

Summary

While there are other pieces and nuances to the game, this is a general summary of the game’s core mechanics and their inspirations. In the following posts, I will get into a lot more specifics on how the game’s evolved, so stay tuned!

– Rich

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