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"Adapting" Coral

Coral is a 3D dice allocation/stacking game. Dice represent coral, which you grow. Form shapes, dominate the stacks and try to block the other players.

It's one half of Coral Islands, a package containing 2 dice games.

Early testing of Coral

I first played both in January - relatively soon after joining Alley Cat Games. Caezar had been seriously impressed by 'Islands' but worried about the cost of packaging 64 nice dice in one relatively small box. Coral was an opportunity to give people 2 games in one box. That would surely justify the cost? It just had to be further designed and developed.

When originally submitted, Coral was all about dominating the stacks. Dice are first loaded into divers, triggering some possible special actions, and then stacked on top of each other. It was a fine mechanism but not quite enough for an entire game.

I think it was Brett who suggested the formation of shapes as an additional element. Points and target shapes were shown on cards. Instantly, the game became more engaging.

Playing against Caezar and Nicola, I'd be trying to work out how to assemble the target shapes, making sure I wasn't losing a race to make the shapes, and always working out if I could easily block one or both of my opponents. We had found the fun!

Now we were starting to enter development. Coral was taken to UKGE for 'trial by fire'. Over the course of the weekend, [hundreds] of folk tried it and Katie Bain continued to collect feedback.

Playtesting at a company's stand, folk are more likely to give helpful criticism. The noisy surroundings means that any extra complications will cause people to stumble. With thousands of amazing published games available, a few of them at the same stand, you can be sure that any shortcomings will be vocalised. Thank you to everyone who gave their time to test the game.

Of course, the game has plenty of time for every concern to be addressed. We noticed a few issues that I look forward to eradicating. Memory concerns that hadn't ever been a factor under 'lab conditions'. Some folk finding the dice hard to see. I'm also looking towards simplifying the scoring and we have found a method of emphasising the divers.

By having a larger team, ACG is able to not just have one new set of eyes, but a few pairs to help bring about the fun and properly develop this. I consider myself the 'design rep' in the development team. Mike Nudd (of Waggledance fame) has started working on radical ideas and I'm throwing some into the mix.

Now comes the 2nd half of the design/development process and I am confident that we can maximise the fun that already exists here.

We'll soon be starting remote testing and so keep an eye out for that. [We'll be getting in touch via the mailing list, so sign up to that.]

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