A new character is currently being developed for Apocalypse Frenzy! This will increase the possible number of players from 3 to 4, and with the upcoming expansion (also under development) from 4 to 5. In this blog I will reveal the new threat to planet Earth, or the new possible protector. But first, let me explain the development process of this character.
In the previous blog post I mentioned how a playtester with a lot of experience in board games, gave some valuable feedback after playing the game for the first time. He advised me, as did some other people, to make Apocalypse Frenzy playable with 4 people before releasing it. I was already considering this with an expansion, but I didn’t want to wait so long with the release of the game by designing a bunch of new cards. However, the character he came up with didn’t need new cards at all.
The man suggested a new character that would not have a destroyer or protector mission – some sort of neutral character – but that would be able to play cards belonging to other characters. To make up for the lack of points from missions, certain combinations of cards could give bonus points. The man did not know what the character should look like or how it should fit thematically, but we were both sure it would be possible to make it fit in somehow.
Now, the idea sounded cool to me, but part of it was against what I had envisioned for the game. As a designer, you should be careful of two things when listening to feedback from others: dismissing it entirely because you love your own game so much, and blindly following advice. Part of the feedback I received would shake up the core of the game, which could possibly still improve the game but it would be a different game. In Apocalypse Frenzy, all players and characters can be a Protector or Destroyer, and the actions they take will give them different points depending on their alignment, and other players can use this to determine the alignments. This was the core of the game, and the suggested character would not fit into this. So I dismissed this part of the feedback: the new character would not be a neutral character.
On the other hand, when multiple people including a very experienced board gamer tell me that it is better if my game supports 4 players before releasing it, then it is a good idea to take that seriously. What’s more, the feedback I received allowed for this to happen without having to design a bunch of new cards, since the character could play cards that belong to other characters. So I embraced this part of the feedback. Now, by only adding 1 card to the game, I have made Apocalypse Frenzy playable for 2-4 players instead of 2-3. I also did not need to ask the illustrator for help, since I could make this character myself by editing the other characters and mixing them into one. So get ready to meet… the Shapeshifter!
The Shapeshifter is a unique type of alien, a little monster that can copy any object or creature it sees and change its own appearance accordingly. It has travelled to Earth to look for new things to copy and to eat. Each time it copies something it grows stronger and bigger. In Apocalypse Frenzy, the player that controls this character will play cards that actually belong to other players, copying their value and abilities.
The Hungry Shapeshifter came to Earth on an empty stomach. Everytime it copies something, it grows bigger and stronger, but also more hungry. Eventually it will be so big and so hungry that it can eat a whole planet. They say that planet Earth is healthy and full of nutrients…
The Ambitious Shapeshifter is satisfied with copying things. It’s his way of life, and not only does it give him pleasure, it also gives him knowledge. His visit to Earth has opened his eyes: these humans must be the most creative beings he has ever seen. They make so much stuff, and so many beautiful and interesting things. But if these Destroyers get their way, his joy won’t last for long. He will do his best to prevent the world from being destroyed.
Both the Hungry and the Ambitious Shapeshifter know that the different aliens have their own advantages and disadvantages. Copying something from all of them will definitely make him stronger. This will be his side mission, and to help him out he has the special power to play cards that belong to other players.