The continued (and continuing) evolution of Tinmates (or is it Pocket Prison?)

Gosh, it’s been a long time since my last blog post, over three months in fact! If you missed my last blog post, you won’t know anything about the evolution of Tinmates. That’s ok, if you want to read it you can do so by clicking here. If you don’t want to, I’ll give you the short version in the next paragraph:

Tinmates was created for the Mint Tin Design contest 2017. The initial idea was to use the tin as an area to control. The game was loosely inspired by the core mechanic of King of Tokyo (without the random element from the dice) and an action selection mechanic similar to Scythe. Tinmates was reasonably successful in the contest but I knew that there was more that could be done to improve the game. The first part of that was thinking about the presentation of the game.

Prototype 2

Tinmates was a good game for the mint tin contest, and having the mint tin as the area to control was the main inspiration behind using the king of the hill mechanism. I was confident that it could be more than what it was inside the mint tin. Here’s prototype 2:

Prototype 2

Prototype 2

As you can see, I tried to make the game more of a focal point on the table, with each player having their own player actions connected to the board itself. Each player also had recessed areas for each of the cubes in their section. This was my dream for Tinmates, a really high-quality product! That said, I wasn’t done playtesting so I definitely got ahead of myself here. I had to make some changes and that didn’t come easily with this prototype. For example, there wasn’t any space for the cards. What a mistake! This design was scrapped in the next prototype.

Prototype 3

Prototype 3 was more separated. I was trying to get the game to the most efficient version whilst still keeping it pocket-sized and with the recessed cubes. I decided to give up on my dream of recessed player boards shown in this prototype. I knew I could never make the boards as small as I wanted and that it’s just too expensive to manufacture. Players loved them but the game isn’t heavy enough to warrant a price tag over £30 (in my opinion). With that in mind, it was back to the drawing board.

Prototype 3

Prototype 3

I had another problem with Tinmates: The cubes. The players wanted to touch them every time they took that action, even though they should only be touching them when they were upgrading that action. This was really frustrating and I saw it time and time again in each new playtest. So much so that I started saying “don’t touch these cubes unless you do this specific upgrade action” and still there were those who couldn’t resist the call of moving the cubes from one recess to another. I must admit, there was something very satisfying about those cubes and the recessed areas, but they had to go.

Prototype 4

So, for prototype 4 I’ve gone back to one of the earlier ideas floated by Richard (Masters of Olympus), who suggested flipping the cards to upgrade the actions. I playtested this at the time and preferred the cubes but after having so many issues with the cubes I decided it was time to get rid of them and give the flipping of the cards another go.

Prototype 4

Prototype 4

This prototype solves the issues of moving those cubes around them. As much as I loved those cubes, they were causing more problems than they were solving. There are other added benefits of this version, it’ll be much cheaper to manufacture. Keeping the costs down for buyers and making it a more attractive package for publishers (if I don’t decide to self-publish) in the process. Also, the game can be made pocket-sized again! Which brings me on to an announcement teased in our newsletter and in this blog title: Tinmates will henceforth be known as Pocket Prison. The decisions behind the name change are something I’m going to cover in a future blog post. Just know that there are a few reasons behind the name change and I’ve thought a lot about it.

That’s about it for running through the changes to the prototypes. There have been a lot of other changes and I’m definitely going to go more into depth about the cards in a future blog post but I’m done rambling for today. Next time I’m going to discuss the name change of Tinmates to Pocket Prison.

Did you have a preferred prototype for Pocket Prison? Do you want to start an online petition to get the cubes back? Or do you think Pocket Prison is going in the right direction in terms of the components? Let us know by sending us a tweet @DrandaGames or following us on Facebook or Instagram