Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Holidays!

"Holiday Cheer" Trest by Geng Gendall

We all want to wish you a Happy Holiday Season, whether your holiday of choice has already past, or is still days away. The blog will be quiet for the next few days as I am moving to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a mere hour and a half from my current home base in Chicago, Illinois. After a few days of packing, moving, and unpacking I should be getting settled in. Meanwhile, Tim and Geng in their far away homes, will be getting down to some new Broken Contract business. Going into the New Year there should be a bunch of new 3D renders and some new art so stay tuned.

Thanks again for the support this year and we'll see you soon!
-Nick and crew.

Monday, December 22, 2014

3D Renders Sent for Printing!

Officer Hickley 3D sculpt by Tim Barry

Happy Holidays to everyone out there following Broken Contract.We appreciate the support and interest you have all shown over the last year. I started posting about Broken Contract originally on 2ndcitywarzone.blogspot.com a little over a year ago now and when I created this blog, a core group of interested friends and colleagues followed. That group has grown steadily over time. Thank you all for the support!

Speaking of 2ndcitywarzone, a month ago I wrote an article about how I got into gaming and how I've always wanted to design games. Its titled "How A1 Slave Pits of the Undercity Changed My Life" and it a good read if you like nostalgia, introspection, or background on how people like myself got involved in gaming.

Back to Broken Contract! Long time followers will recognize the above 3D render as the first one I ever posted, way back in June/July. Officer Hickley is not one of the "core" characters to the "Deep Underground" storyline, so his sculpt has sat on the backburner. However, with a new Kickstarter looming I've finally sent him for printing. Additionally, the two characters featured last week, Talla Kellerman and Trest have also been sent for printing:

Talla Kellerman 3D sculpt by Tim Barry

Trest, the Gen-Mod Brute, 3D sculpt by Tim Barry

One of the things we are doing with Broken Contract is flexible scaling. I want all the characters to be proportional to each other, so as a hulking 7' tall behemoth, Trest will stand 37mm from feet to eyes. Talla Kellerman, at a diminutive 5' 4" will stand 28mm. In between, Officer Hickley, at 6' 2" will be 33mm. Hopefully, this range of scale will heighten the sense of individuality across the characters and make them more relatable. This is a different approach compared to squad based games that normally run all the characters at the same height, so we'll see how it goes.

Tim is about to get to work on Ari Gaylen, Officer Sarie Moerta, and Officer Lamal Tulson. We'll see those in the coming weeks along with Nells Turnbull. John "Geng" Gendall is also about to get the sketches done for Breaker Crew Leader, Kollis, and the Prod Overseer, Billins. There's a lot more to watch for in the coming weeks.

Thanks for reading!
-Nick

PS. As always: Please find Broken Contract on Facebook and Twitter and follow us. Thanks and Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Two New Sculpts: Talla Kellerman and Trest the Gen-Mod

This week we have two new 3D sculpts to show off, both of Breaker Characters. These have gone through several stages of revision and I think they are where they need to be. 

Talla Kellerman the Progen Mechanic 3D sculpt by Tim Barry

First we have Talla Kellerman, the Progen Mechanic. Talla is a highly capable technician, and is a great asset to your crew of Breakers. Remembering door codes or getting machinery up and running - if you run into a situation where you need to make an Intellect Check, she's your best bet. However, getting her to join your crew is not as easy. As a Progen, she is child of the original colonists on Hathor, and receives better quarters and wages for her work than the rest of the Tracted workers. This makes breaking a much greater risk because she has more to lose. In the game, she must be negotiated with to join your crew. However, if you get her to join, she'll also be better at negotiating with other Progens you encounter along the way.

Trest the Gen-Mod Brute, 3D sculpt by Tim Barry

Second we have Trest, the Gen-Mod Brute. Trest is a hulking behemoth of a man, towering above his crew. Born and raised into a genetic modification program, Trest was designed with gigantism and immense strength so he could wield construction equipment normally affixed to vehicles. Brutes are pumped full of steroids and other drugs to maintain peek performance during their work shift. With his size, endurance, and ability to swing a weapon that can easily render a person into paste, Trest packs a heavy punch that has to be dealt with by the Prods.Trest is a great distraction. He can endure more Wounds than a normal human, and if you need to pass a Strength Check to move a rock or lift a malfunctioning door, he is the Character you need.

Both of these Characters will be part of the upcoming Broken Contract - Deep Underground box set that we'll be Kickstarting early next year.

-Nick

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What Sets Broken Contract Apart? The Miniature Adventure Game.

In this scenario, four Breakers are at the bottom portion of the board, and two Prods stand at the top. A third Prod lurks in the hallway as an inactive NPC belonging to neither side. In the middle is an open doorway and to the right is a closed doorway leading to a hidden passage blocked by two ore carts. More than just a combat scenario, there is a sympathetic Prod to negotiate with, an alarm to set off, doors to open and close, a hidden passageway to find, and carts to move. Broken Contract is far more than two sides fighting it out.  

When I started work on Broken Contract just over a year ago I set out to create a sci-fi board game that drew off of some of my favorite sci-fi movies and TV shows. I wanted to create something unique, that stood out in its subject matter, aesthetic, and game play. In a time where new games are being launched every day, particularly miniature board games and skirmish war games, what makes Broken Contract unique?

Its a Miniature Game That isn't Strictly About Combat

Most miniature war games on the market focus on combat exclusively. I can only think of two games that try to integrate "non-combat solutions" into the game. Neither game emphasizes that aspect with dedicated Stats to make those elements a focus of the game. I wanted to create a game that focused heavily on "non-combat solutions" and the way to do that was to create a robust collection of statistics and scenarios that use them. An objective in Broken Contract is not killing all of the enemy, taking control of a room or taking control of one or more objectives, its delaying the enemy through intimidation, closing doors, and distractions, while opening doors, acquiring equipment, negotiating with potential allies, and of course, running away. And where combat is concerned, a number of the weapons in the game are non-lethal. This is deliberate. I want Characters to come back again and again. Like in Cool Hand Luke, the workers may run off, but you capture them, try to break their spirit, and put them back to work only for them to do it again and again.

Four player play testing from back in April.

It's a Multi-Player War Game

Other than the upcoming Zombicide: Rue Morgue, I can't think of another miniature wargame that was designed with the intent that "multi-player" is the ideal way to play the game. Most war games are faction based games that put one strategizing opponent against another. Broken Contract can be played this way without any degradation in play. In fact, the ability to enact your strategies would be unmuddled by "too many cooks". However, Broken Contract, inspired by Firefly and Cowboy Bebop, highlights individual motivations. Like an RPG, the Characters strengths and weaknesses are unique, requiring a player with a unique mindset to get the most out of them, or else they get relegated to being fodder. By playing Broken Contract as a multi-player game it gives the game play and narrative more depth.

A Restraint Drone dragging this Breaker to "the box" where they will be curled up in solitary confinement until their spirit is broken and they are deemed able to go back into the mines.

"Deep Underground" is Like a Prison Break

Most miniature games focus on fighting your way into a warzone and taking objectives, or they are dungeon crawlers that involve fighting your way into a "dungeon" whether its a fantasy catacomb or the corridors of a spaceship or tech facility of some sort. In Broken Contract "Deep Underground" you are Breakers, indentured workers, essentially prisoners, bent on escape. This alone is most similar to Zombicide where avoiding the enemy is key, but the Prods are being played by one or more players trying to capture the Breakers to put them back to work. Ultimately, killing the enemy and taking objectives are not the primary goals; escape or capture, and a constant running game are.

The person who this character is based on didn't want to have the orphan missing a leg as his companion, so we're saving this orphan to go along with some other character. Snowpiercer makes great use of uncomfortable child labor moments without going over the top.

Complicated Subject Matter

There are some really great sci-fi games coming out now with dystopian futures and corporate control and they are all exciting narrative based miniature games, but their conflicts are impersonal. One of the goals of Broken Contract has been to personalize the characters and their struggles. Broken Contract is not a story about two gunned up powerful entities, its a game about individuals struggling for empowerment. When you dig just below the surface there is no clear good and evil in this story, just those who have power and those who do not. Like a show such as The Walking Dead, the situation is the primary antagonist, and there are pinnacles of hope and vile scum on both sides of the divide. This is deliberate because struggles are complex and games don't usually showcase that. I wanted to make a game similar to Firefly and Cowboy Bebop because their situations often were not cut and dried. Both crews would get themselves into a "job" only to find themselves conflicted about what they were doing and I love that.

Humanity fighting itself is much scarier and more relatable than humanity fighting aliens or zombies.

A Sci-fi Future with No Aliens and No Zombies

My absolute favorite sci-fi is based around humanity making tough choices and doing what it does best, thwart itself. Monsters are cool, but essentially they are just non-human species just trying to live their lives. Its not relatable because it is purely fantasy. The complexity of mankind struggling against itself is scarier to me and is thus, more engaging. That isn't to say, genetically modified species and technology gone amuck don't have a place in Broken Contract, they do, because humans love tampering with the balance, but humanity is still the heart of the story.

I think that these elements make the game stand out. Play testing has been interesting because when experienced gamers first start playing they immediately gravitate to moving and fighting their way through their enemies, but by the end of the session the things they are most excited about are the non-combat action movie moments like closing doors, dive rolling under them, ordering opponents to "Stand Down!" and other bits of adventure outside the realm of just fighting it out. These are the things they always want to see expanded upon even further. Pretty much every other miniature game is about combat, and ignores the adventure and intrigue elements that make those types of books and movies so entertaining. So in a way, Broken Contract is more of a miniature adventure game than a miniature wargame and I think that's a unique distinction.

Alpha Rules 2.0, Update coming soon to go with the Print and Play components I just put up last post. Thanks for reading!

-Nick