An advance (and final) posting for when we reach April and Open Play is finished on the game website,
and it is possible to buy a copy.....
We used to call these things microgames back in 1978
- micro cost and minimal components (under $3 and basically pre-printed print-and-play in a baggie),
small in size, and the games themselves were microcosms instead of trying to be full grown universes.
The Singularity Trap is a microgame in this tradition (Ogre, Chitin, Melee) but implemented on computer
- to handle display of a playing field not practical to do physically, individual player displays,
interaction of hidden pieces, game mechanics, and paperwork. Unlike Ogre or Chitin were, this game is for 2-6 players.
The $1.99 retail price and minimal graphics are certainly traditional microgame elements.
It can be used as pass-and-play (but this gets tedious with more than 2 players).
Best play is in person with multiple computers/laptops/tablets.
The ingame message/chat function can be used for passing notes when playing in person, but also makes it possible to
play online in different locations without having to rely on an external chat like Skype or Google Hangouts.
Players just need a web browser (tested in Firefox and Explorer) and a 1280x720 or better display.
Browser zoom controls work for the game so the display is adjustable. The map itself is 750x616 pixels.
For Windows users that do not have a web server installed, I recommend UwAmp since it can be run totally off a thumb drive.
One option for the game files is bundled with UwAmp and database already set up - just unzip to a thumb drive.
So it can be used as localhost (for pass-and-play),
or as a LAN server (for devices sharing the same router),
or online using a web server to host the game.
But this is a boardgame, not a videogame. It is turn based and uses the written orders then simultaneous actions model.
The entire board shows without scrolling. The display updates instead of animated things moving. Human vs Human only.
UPPER DISPLAY (home)
The board is a hexmap, hexagonal in shape, 10 hexes on each outer edge (19 hexes across) and with 19 vertical levels
containing 37 planets in 7 colors (including gray) on various levels.
Vertical positioning of pieces is accomplished with a transparent overlay of fleet markers for each vertical level.
Planet color markers (the planets can change color)
Planet ownership markers
Fleet and sensor markers - each player's color, plus dark fleet, unknown fleet, and sensor range markers
The gameboard is a fleet level display with details in paperwork/report format similar to miniature battles.
Sidebar - visual summary of all vertical levels with level select buttons, located to the right of the map
Economic points and allies also tracked in the upper display, and the actions panel is to the right of the sidebar.
MIDDLE DISPLAY (use page down button from home, page up from end)
Quick Reference Card - ship specifications by type, also planetary color point values.
A listing buffer for stored but untransmitted orders is also located in this section.
LOWER DISPLAY (end)
Paperwork / Reports Section (computer serves as your secretarial staff)
- Current Encounters list with ship id, damage, owner info for all ship encounters sorted and grouped by location
- Hyperspace Jump Chart of all jumps you make charted as both outward and incoming sorted by location
- Fleet listing - all your ships with all details sorted by location grouped by condition and also as full fleet.
Meta Concepts -
Disparate groups have discovered a way to escape their current joint isolated exile and return to the larger world.
However, the method itself requires either total trust by all - no game - or domination of dissenters - a conflict game.
Control of "resource nodes" and changing them to be better for you and worse for others is the conflict driver.
Game unit construction, maintenance, and repair consumes points generated by controlling scattered resource nodes.
Units may be repaired anywhere but constructed only at a controlled node. Unused points are saved.
Limited info on other players' units is a primary game mechanic. Alliances reveal much of that hidden info to allies.
Alliances can be changed at end of each turn, greatly affecting gameplay.
So a game of territorial control, warfare, and deception. (And a bit of negotiation with enough players.)
Specific Concepts -
Space themed - 3 dimensions to the gameboard, no terrain features except planetary nodes
- warp in vertical movement system themes as matching warped space inside the singularity
- moving ships interact with stationary ships only during the move segments
Limited info - Ship details only available in encounter range (same space)
- Presence of unknown fleet(s) detected within sensor range (1 or 2 spaces)
- Dark ships/fleets only visible to owning player
Territory (planets) owned determines resources available to maintain, repair, and construct forces (ships). This and
altering a planet's color closer to your own (according to the game map) express the conflict driver.
Ship (gate based) technology disrupts nearby electronics but allows instant transport between 2 established terminals.
Thus the repair anywhere but build only at planets rule and the WW2 style strategic fleet display map and paperwork.
Alliances - allies do not attack you in combat and if present may prevent planetary takeover by an enemy
- allies do not block or prevent movements of allied ships
- allies share their fleet location info with their allies - this is valuable information in a betrayal
- your allies can get underfoot and prevent you from taking over a planet or even take it themselves instead
- an ally of yours might also be an ally of your enemy
Multiples of 3 - from a flat viewpoint planets are located every third space and adjacent home planets are 9 spaces apart,
and 9 spaces from center, but the vertical positioning makes many seemingly adjacent planets actually 6 spaces apart and
home planets are actually 18 spaces away from all other home planets (still 9 spaces away from the planet at map center).
This relates directly to ship movement capabilities of 2 or 3 (civilian) and 4 or 6 (military using slipstream).
Combat - combat occurs at all enemy encounters and cycles until no enemies remain or no firing capability remains
- shots are allocated by each player among possible target ships
- to hit chances per shot are based on shooter's enemies and target's enemies weapon totals in the encounter
- each hit destroys 1 ship capability unit randomly but only after all armor units on that ship are destroyed.
Dark ships are "out of play" but must be maintained or scrapped and may be repaired - a possible result of combat damage,
but may also be self-inflicted damage (to hide a ship) during the maintenance and construction turn segment.
A Dark ship popping up and pinning a fleet in place can be a useful tactic.
As bad as having your ally change sides and pin a fleet.
Both civilian and military ships have Warp drive in common, but the hyperspace Jump of civilian ships is
usually not that useful in the game (despite being intrinsic to the background scenerio) and mostly
just demonstrates the superiority of the military Slipstream in gameplay.
Move vector entry retains the option of typing in a vector but most players will use left and right mouse clicks
on the map and the level select buttons and then click the copy button for the move segment instead of typing it in.
Ship Types - 5 types
All types share a weakness - once armor is gone a single lucky shot to System will make them go Dark until repaired.
The fortess (BaseStar) has no movement and is constucted in place at controlled planets. Maximum armor and combat
capability with extended range sensors.
The warship (Cruiser) has mid-range armor and combat capability with a movement of 4 using slipstream.
The scout (Scout) has no armor, basic combat capability, extended sensors, and movement of 6 using slipstream.
The basic civilian ship (Explorer) is also the cheapest ship - basic combat capability, no armor, move 3.
The planet altering civilian ship (TerraFormer) has basic armor and combat capability and is the only ship
that can change the color of a planet. With a move of only 2 they are often constucted in place.
Naval and Starfleet miniatures for move vectors/headings, "capability units" damaged by combat,
and target selection - not to mention the whole paperwork thing
Old World War 2 movies for the strategic (fleet) level large area map idea - I blame both
"keep it cheap" and laziness for not adding a visual zoomed in individual ships display for encounters as an extra.
Wargames for supply/reinforce/recruit concepts which became maintain/repair/build in the game.
Various sources for the written orders then simultaneous actions concept.
Diplomacy - my brother loves it - for making alliances important in the game
- and my dislike of pure negotiation games for keeping alliances from becoming too important
-- and allowing them to be unused or permanent for a more pure wargame so as few as 2 or 3 can play.
DISTRIBUTION - the lack of a sales plan
Take a look at the game. See http://thesingularitytrap.com which includes a demo set.
To get a copy from me, you must email me using one of the links on that website.
Same thing if you want to distribute it, etc. It all begins with sending me an email.
Just to be clear on how awkward I want it to be to buy it directly from me,
first you have to email me via the website,
I want you to tell me you understand the needs a server to run on requirement,
and need to know which zip(s) you want.
Then I email you back with my Paypal account info
- which gives you my cox.net email address (the website forwards to my gmail account).
Then you send me $1.99 and Paypal gloats over their 36 cents chunk of it
and sends me an email about it.
Finally, I email you the zip or zips requested (see options available on the website).
I would much rather have someone else handle distribution and send me $1 per,
while keeping the rest themselves.
And I do not want anyone to buy it who does not know what they are buying with no hype involved
- thus the website.
I do want people to take a look at it and would like some opponents myself.