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1001 Odysseys

Created by Chris Cieslik

An adventure board game with storybooks full of journeys to visit new worlds, meet quirky aliens, and make many, many branching choices. 1-4 Players, 30-60 minutes per chapter.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Playtesting, Editing, and Almanac Writing
about 1 month ago – Tue, Jun 11, 2024 at 11:26:47 AM

Hello friends and explorers! We have completed our move, which for me personally has soaked up most of the Spring. Luckily, the writers and playtesters have been working throughout. We didn't move far, just a few miles, but moving is the wooooorst. Ivy is pleased with the new porch, which is of course the most important thing. 

Writing

We've done it! All of the blurbs for Storybook 1 and Storybook 2 have been written and included in our handy-dandy database. We have written so many varied endings, so many rich discoveries, and so very many puns. There are approximately 2,500 blurb-paragraph-data-objects! The text data takes....3MB to store. That's almost an entire MP3 :)

Playtesting

Though the writers have been playtesting each Storybook and Chapter as we go, it has been really great to get fresh eyes on our stories. When we're writing, we have access to tons of information about Insula and its people, and we want to make sure that all of the important bits make it through to the player. So far, we've been able to observe varied playthroughs to the end of Storybook 1 and Storybook 2. We're continuing to play through their many, many variations. 

Of course, we can't read through every single one of the thousands (millions? hurray math!) of possible pathways through each Chapter, so the supercomputer is once again helping us by checking for missing updates, missing blurbs, and other things that would make the game stop. There has only been one such thing recently, but it's good to have a safety net that covers the furthest edge cases. It does not appreciate the puns though.

Editing

The primary writing focus right now is on edits. We're continuing to edit Storybook 1 and Storybook 2. This gives us a chance to fold in relevant comments from the playtesting, as well as small inconsistencies that the writers notice as we read over our work. We've also taken advantage of the opportunity to make a few small tweaks to the narrative structure to really make sure the choices we offer you are the choices that we deliver in later blurbs. 

Almanac

Now that we mostly know which words will be included in the Storybooks, we're making sure that we have almanac entries for everything that needs it. Everything will be presented alphabetically, with full-color illustrations of the Federation sentient species. We're also putting together a pronunciation guide to help you through some of these new words. It'll be usable and amusing too!

Rulebook

We're also working on the Rulebook, which will serve as the operating manual for your starship, the Odyssey. You'll be able to look up game terms alphabetically. For learning and onboarding, there will be the complete Rulebook and also a full "Chapter 0" tutorial, which gives both the backstory and fully teaches you and your crew the game. 

This is very important to us! We want you to open the box and be able to more or less immediately start reading cool stories, not watching hours of YouTube videos on how to assemble your spaceship. 

What's Next?

We are approaching the finish line! Our playtests have gone fantastically - the quantity of laughter I've heard is truly exciting after all the work the writers and artists have put in to this over the past several years. This box of stories is just about ready to go to print, and arrive on your table. Thank you for your infinite patience, and if any local folks are still looking for playtests (or to continue their playtests!) feel free to reach out. We're happy to run the game as often as we can :) 

Writing, Reviewing, and Revising
4 months ago – Fri, Apr 05, 2024 at 12:55:21 PM

Greetings! Spring has arrived, departed, and arrived again here in the Boston area. In the meantime, we are almost finished pulling together all of the many pieces that will combine to form 1001 Odysseys!

Narrative Architecting Update

The narrative trees are fully grown. This means that all of the Updates that you will encounter at the end of any blurb have been entered into our database in a way that lets our system run the game as though playing through each possible pathway. The result is close to 3000 blurbs (2846 right now, to be exact!) that each contain a chunk of writing that will weave together based on your crew's choices. This might change by a couple blurbs as we playtest and revise later Chapters and add in a few additional blurbs to help pull you back into the story if you misplace a Passport Item or something, but it's very close to the final form. 

Writing Update

Writing in the Storybooks is quickly reaching its many ends. We're working on the last two Chapters, with the rest of the Chapters in various stages of playtesting, review, and revision. So far all the playtesting we've done has gone super well! A handful of typos, and some revisions to the tutorial, but smooth sailing otherwise.

As we continue to review and playtest the Storybooks, we'll also be adding, writing, and editing entries for the Almanac. The Almanac is your Information Officer's source of facts from around Insula, during play. Need to look up a word, location, alien species, or fancy plant? The Almanac's the place! 

Design Update

Icons showing simple outlines of white shapes on dark, hexagon backgrounds. Hexagons are labeled: Game (collection of dice), Plants (leaf), Plumplim (friendly plant-person), Collaboration (two reaching for the same star), Market (a storefront), and Mechanics (interlocking gears).

We now have a full set of lovely Location Feature icons to use on the Focus and Location Cards. We'll be doing a final double-check on the list of all of the Location Cards in the game, and then using the magic of datamerge in inDesign to generate all of the cards that will reveal the new locations you will discover on the Maps. 

The selection above is a small subset of the many, many icons that span all of our various world maps. Each icon represents something you can Focus on during your adventures.   

We're also bringing a final level of polish to the Passport, Item Cards, and Contact Cards so they can best show off the delightful artwork of the various items and people you will encounter in Insula. 

What's Next?

With writing now wrapping up, and playtesting underway, we're closing in on completion. We're going to playtest the heck out of the later chapters, finish up the Almanac, and then get the game to you! 

Quick Playtest Update: Success, and some more Playtests!
4 months ago – Fri, Mar 08, 2024 at 09:05:18 AM

Hey friends, here with a quick update! Our February Playtests were successful, and many laughs were had. Ivy, in particular, liked having people visit. She'd punctuate many blurbs with a Meow with purrfect comedic precision, and sat on the demo set waiting for more people to come over.

One of the things we were most interested in testing was Chapter 0, which is a Tutorial with background story information. This is the first chance we've had to run it, and it was good fun! We learned some important lessons about how best to teach the game from the book - this was our first experience having people learn without us driving the demo. We're making some revisions, and we'll be testing those out soon.

We have playtests available here in Arlington, MA Saturday, March 16 and 30th at 12PM, 3PM, and 6PM. If you missed out on February and want to join, or if you would like to return and continue your adventure, let us know! [email protected] 

Playtesting on normal chapters went great! We found a typo or two, but otherwise smooth (solar) sailing. Our writers continue finishing up bits, and we're working on tying up the last card graphic design loose ends. 

Happy March everyone! 

The Dangers of Tempting Fate, and Playtests Begin!
6 months ago – Tue, Jan 23, 2024 at 11:08:19 AM

Hello friends and galactic exploration associates!  A slightly belated Happy New Year, and a doubly belated hello to everyone who visited us at PAX Unplugged in December. It was a lot of fun, and we enjoyed seeing everyone :)

Guess who got COVID over the holidays? If you guessed everyone, you're correct. Unfortunately that included myself and Julia, which despite our vaccines and boosters, resulted in a severely un-fun few weeks (better than it could've been though, without them!).

Playtesting

We'd aimed to start playtest days in mid-January, and we're now ready to get that started. We will be running them primarily from Asmadi HQ here in Arlington, MA, on Saturdays and some Wednesday nights. Each playtesting slot will be for 90 minutes, with 4 seats available. 

Below is our planned February schedule. March schedule we'll put together in a few weeks as we see how these go. If playtesting goes well, printing button time will follow!
 

  • Saturday, Feb 3: 1PM, 3PM
  • Saturday, Feb 10: 1PM, 3PM, 5PM
  • Saturday, Feb 17: 1PM, 3PM, 5PM
  • Wednesday, Feb 21: 6PM, 8PM
  • Saturday, Feb 24: 1PM, 3PM, 5PM
  • Wednesday, Feb 28: 6PM, 8PM


Important Notes for Asmadi HQ Visitors: There's ample street parking, and we're right near bus stop for the 77. Also, we have a cat, Ivy. She's very chill, but if you are allergic, there's not much we can do in the winter to have windows open. Secondly - no smoking of any kind, which includes before attending. I'm unfortunately very averse to smoke-smells, especially stale smoke on clothes. Instant headache :( 

If you'd like to sign up for a slot, email [email protected] with how many people you are (groups are encouraged! I'll try and accommodate solos as best I can, but no guarantees). 

If you play in slots across multiple weeks, you'll be able to test additional chapters beyond the first, saving progress between them :)

Production and Materials

As it's been some time since the campaign, we've needed to update factory quotes. Paper prices have jumped a bit, but overall we're looking pretty OK for production this Spring. We've reviewed samples for book paper over the last couple months, and this week we'll be reviewing paper samples for the maps + cards. Books are pretty simple, but since placing cards on the maps is such an integral part of the Cool Factor, we want to get that feel correct! 

Writing and Database

Work continues! We're closing in on finishing the last few chapters (so that they're ready for testing), and the database has been hard at work tracking the miniscule possibilities of reaching each individual path. Here's some paths from Book 2, Chapter 9:

Screenshot of a web interface showing 80 squares, each with its own id, percentage, and the word 'Traverse' at the bottom. Some are red, some yellow, and many green.

Each one of these squares represents a slightly different board state at this specific paragraph. Sometimes, there are just a few states. In this case, not so much. Having these states tracked by computer lets us know that any blurb that can possibly be generated by any combination of focus, mission, and location will have an entry in the database, ready for writing and editing.

What's Next?

Based on our experience playtesting Chapter 1 of each of the Stories at several conventions and our own internal readthroughs of most of the other chapters, we're optimistic that this batch of playtesting will go well. Assuming it goes as we expect, we plan to finish up the last few graphical items, finalize the book layouts, and go to print this Spring.

The Continuing Odysseys of the ...starship Odyssey
8 months ago – Wed, Nov 22, 2023 at 01:36:38 PM

Greetings adventurers! It's a fine fall day here in our portion of Earth as we bring you this update and prepare for the Gathering of Turkey and Turkey-Substitute Enthusiasts, an event that surely will stretch into the centuries beyond. 

First, I'd like to share Good News. Over the past [indeterminate quantity of time units] I've alluded to family illness and personal stuff (on this KS and on other updates elsewhere about Asmadi things) that's been difficult and time-consuming, and things on that front have taken a very positive turn and are going much better over the past several weeks. Kind thank yous to all who've expressed concern privately, publicly, or by carrier pigeon. I'm excited to get a lot more Game Stuff done than I have been able to. It's been a heck of a couple years for everyone. Let us all hope good things are on the way in the coming months! 

Art Update

Drawings for more of the surprising Passport Item cards are in the works, and we've also just wrapped up art of the Space Janitors for the Almanac to replace a very old illustration that was misrepresenting our small robots. As we've mentioned before, we're holding on to the Passport Item and Contact card illustrations so you can be surprised and delighted by them when you encounter them on your own adventure, but we're very happy with the latest batch. 

Writing Update

Writing continues in the later Chapters of our Stories, which means we're focused on making satisfying endings. There are a lot of threads that run through a Storybook, and it's very satisfying to see them come together at the conclusion. We're also writing entries for the Almanac so your Information Officer can tell you all about the wonderful things in Insula. 

One of the most important features of the Almanac we've been working on is its Sittability. Sittability is a measure of how likely a Cat is to sit on a particular book.

Space Engineer Ivy is carefully evaluating this prototype book

We're also making sure all the entries are reasonable to read out loud and fun for the group to learn about. The Information Officer is a bit of a unique role and we want it to be as fun as we've seen it be in many of our playtests! 

Publishing Update

At the start of this journey, we wrote most of one book and used it to estimate the length of each book that we planned to write. We wanted to provide many hours of fun and about 400 pages of story content in Odysseys, and we thought that would be 4 stories each of about 100 pages. Over the past months, we've been evaluating how long our chapters are, and what that means for printing the game. The chapters we've been writing have been largely longer / more in-depth than our initial ideas, and so we're adjusting a bit. 

With what we've written, we're going to be printing two longer stories of about 200 pages each in the 1001 Odysseys box.  We're now closing in on the 400 pages mark (last export test was 372), and will likely exceed it by a bit when all is said and done. In terms of schedule, we'd hoped to be print ready at the end of December, but we're still a couple months off. We are, however, ready to start playtesting!

 Playtesting: PAX Unplugged + Boston Area

Next weekend we will be at PAX Unplugged with a demo set of 1001 Odysseys (We'll be actively demoing Chapter 1 of each Story, with a few other test storybooks available to peek at). If you're there and want to say hello or play a chapter, please stop by! In particular, Story 2 Chapter 1 has not been seen by anyone outside our team so we're eager to see folks try it :)

In January, we're going to be doing on-site public playtesting here at Asmadi HQ (or maybe at a nearby site), and anyone who is local is welcome to join! We'll be posting signups for specific dates right after the New Year. We'll likely be doing Saturdays and one weeknight per week, and we're super excited to see people in person! 

We had hoped to do some remote playtesting, but right now we're focused on in-person. Apologies for the change on that, we just want to get this off to all of you as soon as we can!