Back in 2016 when we successfully funded our first game Small Star Empires, we sat down and talked about our next steps ahead. We really liked the design philosophy behind Small Star Empires – it offered a simple game system with few rules that in turn offered deep strategy and many choices in the game.
We then started to design and develop another game in the series called Small Ancient Empires, which I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned before. We wanted that game to follow up on the philosophy and started developing it. However, one thing led to another and we diverted our efforts away to our then next game called Galactic Warlords.
(working on the then new Small Ancient Empires)
Then in 2018 we launched the 2nd edition of Small Star Empires with expansions, and we saw that the series had a great potential. So we were back to the drawing board for the Small Empires series.
The idea about a next Small Empires game was this: The game should be relatively simple, but had a few more rules in to create even more depth. The first thing I thought to myself was “Ok, so in Small Star Empires, the ship goes for as many spaces as you want in a straight line, unless someone blocks your line. What if we change that mechanic? What if now, you have 2 or 3 movement points from your origin and as you go along those spaces you plopped ships or trains?”
That idea kind of led to me conceiving two games in parallel: Small Sea Empires and Small Railroad Empires. The design philosophy behind those games had the same roots as in Small Star Empires – keep it simple but fun and include some additional rules that will be a twist on the colonization mechanic from Small Star Empires.
Small Sea Empires had the trading goods mechanic, and while good, it had some problems on it’s own. So that’s why in the meantime, we decided to continue with Small Samurai Empires, which was clearly a great design right from the start.
But let’s get back to Small Railroad Empires. As I said, the idea for the game was there from few years ago, but I simply didn’t get to it. Then, one summer day two years ago (if I remember correctly), I just took my laptop and got to a nearby café where I sat down and wrote all these ideas about the game. It’s a great feeling when you get into the flow and you are overwhelmed with all these ideas that interlock. “Oh, some spaces will be factories which will produce goods” and “Oh oh, the longer the route is the more points you will receive!”. I simply love those moments.
(Small Railroad Empires “concept space”. I use Adobe Illustrator to place every idea I have in one place.)
Then sometime last year I sat down and did my first prototype. I played it myself at home and I was immediately in love with what I came up. I played a few games with myself just to get a hang of things and see, what’s important in the game and what’s not. Few days later, I played it with our developers Boris and Vladimir and we all decided that it was a great start for the concept that I had.
I think this is enough for a first part of a Dev Diary for this game, I don’t want to bore you with a huge wall of text. 🙂 In the next part, I will talk more about the game and how it developed over time.
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Until next time.