Daniel Peterson here, Lead Game Developer for Mayday Games. Today I wanted to talk about Meteor designed by Mike Young.
When I started working on Meteor Max Holiday was the graphic designer. Max wanted Meteor to set in Space Race Era of the 1960's. My first thought was Harley Earl and his chrome and fins. Harley Earl was Head of Design of General Motors, I love his design. All those cool cars from the 50's and 60's was his work.
Max had a different idea of 1960's style. Instead of Harley Earl, Max wanted a cold war style found in the movie Catch Me If You Can. (Early design by Max for a rocket card below.)
Max left Mayday Games and started working with Tasty Minstrel Games. We got a new graphic designer, Allison Lichtfield. Once we got the art work from Marco A. Echevarria the 60's style was gone. Instead it was replaced with a warm family friendly style. I'm really happy with the final design. At times I still wonder how Harley Earl influence would have looked.
Seth wanted Meteor to be language independent. I worked very hard with Allison to make sure the icons on the cards are accurate and consistent. It was a very difficult job and I feel good about the final product.
I wanted an interesting back story for Meteor. I searched the internet and I learned a lot about Meteors. First off, rocks from space are not called Meteors until they hit the earth, they are called Meteorites when they are falling from the sky. I considered renaming the game at that point but kept Meteor. Interesting that I read a review of Meteor from Russia, they called the game Meteorite. They got it right.
My first thought of a back story was to create a peaceful night. An Astronomer looking through a telescope sees a Meteor and notifies the authorities....well Astronomers don't look through telescopes anymore, instead they capture images of light and study their data collected in one night for many months. This technology was available in 1949 with the Palomar Telescope in San Diego California.
After a few games, I realized that Meteor is not a mad frantic playing of cards but a careful management of resources. I created this elaborate back story:
"Astronomers from several countries have identified a large group of meteors on a collision course with Earth. If just one of these meteors hit the Earth it would surely be the end of the human race.
Leaders of every country attend a global meeting and decide that all differences will be set aside and that each country will contribute resources to stop the incoming meteors. The world leaders designated a handful of Launch Sites scattered throughout the world. These launch sites will be a collection point of resources and provide a place to build and launch rockets that will destroy the meteors.
Some countries can only contribute small rockets that are old and outdated. Other countries will be able to contribute large rockets with the latest technology. Some rockets need Atomic energy and Hydrogen energy and other rockets use Nuclear energy.
This is where you come into the story. You are a Launch Site leader. Time is of the essence! You do not have a second to spare. You need to quickly build and launch rockets from your Launch Site to destroy the meteors before they collide with the Earth. The problem is that your donated resources are not compatible with each other. You need to match the appropriate rocket with the matching energy. If you have resources that you can not use, you may send your resources to other players Launch Sites so that they may use the resources instead. Can the Launch Site Leaders work together to destroy the deadly meteors before the Earth is destroyed?"
I was geeking out over this theme. It explained why the rockets and energy did not match. It explained why players drew cards during altitude zone change. It takes time for the resource to get to the launch sites. Launch Site Leaders do not start off with all the available resources. They slowly came in from contributing countries. The back story explained all aspects of the game.
This elaborate back story was replaced with: "In five minutes a meteor storm will impact Earth, unless you can work together to blast the meteors into oblivion! Work cooperatively; pooling resources and launching rockets to obliterate the impending threat, or cockroaches will inherit the planet. No pressure—it’s just the fate of the world."
The final back story is much better, simple and direct. I thought some of the players might find the elaborate back story interesting.
Development and Rule Changes:
Mike Young did an excellent job. The game is well balanced and I did not have to change much. I asked a lot of questions on the rules and specific cards. This information is included in the Card Glossary with the clarification of each card. Some of the minor rule clarifications were:
-When new Meteors were added to the Meteor Field they entered play face up. If they entered face down, they occasionally created situations that the players could not win.
-The Radioactive Meteor destroying an additional small meteor. It was expanded to include a "large" meteor that has been revealed with a strength of 3 since 3 was the size of a "Small" meteor.
-Splitter Meteor adding a Meteor without Traits....what if the cards drawn was a Fast Meteor in Altitude zone 1. Game Over!
Mike and I had one disagreement with the rules. He had a rule that once the last card of the resource deck was drawn, game over. After I lost the game because of the that one rule, I would be counting cards and it would be one more thing to track in the game. I felt it took players away from the experience. Lets be honest, if players draw the last resource card....chances are high that they are going to lose anyway. Let the players play it out and not worry about running out of cards. It was one less rule to include in the rule book.
Seth asked Mike and I to create some promo cards for the kickstarter campaign. The elaborate theme is what helped inspire me to create the Top Secret Cards. If this was an actual crisis, some countries would hold back and not contribute all they have. But as the situation grew more dire, countries would reveal their Top Secret technology. I did not want to disrupt the balance that Mike perfected, therefore the cards could not cost any energy. I did not want the Top Secret cards to clog a players hand, therefore the Trash Can icon is on every Top Secret card. It allows players to discard that card from their hand to draw a new resource card at anytime. That is why the Top Secret cards attach to a different card to improve or modify the card that they were attached to. The Top Secret Cards can only be played in certain altitude zones. This shows the desperation of the selfish countries that finally give up the good stuff when it is a desperate situation.
The kickstarter campaign was fun. I wanted it to be a call to arms and a recruitment drive. We created the Meteor Defense Coalition (MDC.) The MDC cards were inspired by the Kiss Army cards. I wanted the campaign to be done in character and all updates issued by Mike Young, the Head of the MDC and keep the entire campaign in character. The video was fun to work on, I wrote the "Screenplay" the direction of the video and found the quote from Nasa at the beginning. The video was inspired by my first theme of a peaceful night, being disrupted by the incoming Meteors. Jeremy Blake found the images and music and made the video amazing! Video seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_cMddRdIZE
At GenCon last year we had some demo copies of Meteor to show at the convention. The night before Ryan calls me from his hotel. He is playing Meteor with 3 other players and they can't win a 4 player game. I heard the other players in the background yelling out, "It's broken!" You should.....with all kinds of suggestions. I assured them that it is not broken and gave them tips and suggestions how to learn the game and play the game. I also looked over my plays and it was close to 60% win rate with 4 players. Soon I got a call and the group reported a win and everyone was happy and they dropped the claims that Meteor is broken. We knew that we had to add strategy tips the rule book and a section to teach new players how to play.
I wrote the first draft of the rule book. Later it was edited and chopped. Over 500 words were removed and it is not the rule book I wrote. This major rewrite occurred after GenCon and I was very discouraged.
How was I going to get more content added to the rule book to help players learn the game and include strategy tips when a significant amount of text got cut from the rule book? Frustrated and discouraged was an understatement of how I felt at that time. I was devastated!
We started getting feedback from the review copies that players were struggling to learn how to play Meteor. Ryan asked me to write a Tips Sheet. A lot of the content on the Tip Sheet was the tips discussed during the conversation that the occurred night before GenCon. I hope this makes a difference and it helps players learn one of my favorite games. The Tip Sheet can be found at https://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/117620/meteor-tips
I can't thank Mike Young enough for creating Meteor it is an amazing game. I have played it 175 times so far and I still love it. I got to personally demo Meteor at International Tabletop Day in California and it was neat to see new players fall in love with it too. You can get Meteor here, https://maydaygames.com/card-games/meteor.html
It is an honor and a privilege to work on Meteor. I also thank all the kickstarter backers for making Meteor a reality. I hope you find as much enjoyment playing Meteor as I do.
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