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Limbo: The Passing


#1

Hey guys!

For the last two years I have been working hard on creating a game inspired by Netrunner and tries to reinvent it with a completely different universe and streamline the learning curve without losing any depth (the way I see it, it’s NR’s biggest caveat).

The idea is to make this game community driven, so anyone can contribute to the lore, create campaigns, etc. So I thought this’d be a good time to put this out there and gather some feedback.

You can download some decks, play of Tabletop Simulator, find more info…at: limbothepassing.com.

I don’t have an ETA for the release date yet, but we are working on finding the right publishers so we can roll it out effectively. Any comments, ideas, support on BGG are greatly appreciated!


#2

One thing that jumped out at me glancing through the rulebook was the language used seems to be entriely male-gendered (he/his) - would be good to see gender neutral terms instead (like they/them).


#3

Thanks for the remark! That’s coming from Spanish (my native language). All the texts are currently being checked by someone who’s native in English.


#4

While cloning games is certainly legal, I don’t understand why you would try to profit off of someone else’s work instead of designing something of your own. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. I know that there are a few differences, but it seems more like a reskin than ‘inspired’ by Netrunner. As a fan project, there’s nothing wrong with a reskin, but you say you’re trying to find a publisher. Since neither game is being published at present, it’s not like there’s an issue. I’m just meditating on morality in design. Forgive me if I’m overstepping the bounds of common courtesy.

A more constructive note is that you should say what both players are trying to do in the first paragraph of your rulebook. I mean how they win and roughly how they will go about doing that.

For example, if I were writing rules for Netrunner I’d have a little setting fluff and then:

The corp’s goal is to score seven agenda points by installing and advancing them in servers. They need to be protected though, because the runner’s goal is to steal seven of those very same agenda points. They do this by running the corp’s servers and overcoming the protective ICE and upgrades in their way.

Even if you read this and are asking yourself what advancing or running is, it gives you some structure in your mind as you read the rules.


#5

Thanks for the thoughts thopol. The bureau invests on assets (buildings / businesses), guards protect the entrance to those places…etc. A lot of work has been done on making the game concepts intuitive and less ‘obscure’. We will make sure to make those ties on the rulebook explanation as right now it’s kind of dry.

Regarding the game being derivative, this is something I was planning to tackle sometime down the line but I’d like to come back to you regardless. Netrunner has a very unique system, which is mostly unique because no-one has even attempted to draw from it - for a good reason too, it’s quite complex. If we were talking Magic: The Gathering, there is about a million games (Hearthstone, Eternal, …) out there that basically take the core elements (creatures, attack/defense, mana…), maybe twist some of them and put together a new product. No-one calls those clones because it’s something we are used to by now.

Limbo started as something completely different and some things have aligned with Netrunner over time. At the end of the day I decided that fixing what wasn’t broken just because it was taking itcloser to NR in some regards wasn’t the best policy. That being said, I’ve never felt like I was constrained by it at any point as lots of elements have been dumped / rethought in the process. It answers to the question, if you were to design NR again, what would you do differently? Trust me when I say, the amount of thought and innovation that has taken to put together this game far surpasses that of any of the other games on my docket that are more in line with stuff like Scythe, 7 Wonders, etc.

All the drafting, legacy campaigns, deckbuilding are vastly different. Gameplay wise, there are dozens of core mechanics that have changed that have a big impact. Just a few examples.

  • Actions normalized at 3 per side (this is a huge change as subtle as it may seem)
  • Limit on the number of luggage the passer can pile on. This is quite different from MU, as Luggage is more in line with NR Resources / Hardware… Has some serious implications in that you have a real cap when building up your board. Also, Luggage can be sold, creating moments of burst economy that really change up the Passer econ.
  • Limit on the number of assets the bureau can have, usually being between 2 and 4. Also has some serious implications on how wide you can go and destroys asset spam strategies seen in NR.
  • Wincon changes - there is no flatlining. Instead, the deck itself acts like an expire fuse. Again big big implications.
  • Actions are performed during your turn. No more interruptions (i.e.: rezing assets) on the opponents turn. This required another massive rework.
  • Obviously all cards, iconography, wording…have been worked from scratch while keeping an eye on competitive NR for the last 7 years (what worked, what didn’t…looking at you Faust).

Will certainly talk more about those in the future, but I’d really encourage you to have a deeper dive on the game with an open mind if NR is something you liked. I think you will be positively surprised on how the ebb and flow of the game has changed.

Regarding it being published, it will happen down the line, hopefully sooner rather than later. As I said, can’t talk any ETAs or publisher names right now but rest assured we want to make sure this game get’s out not just to the NR community but also to a lot of new people that found NR too hard or intimidating, so that takes figuring out some logistics. Ultimately, I want to make sure this is a product that will also be enjoyed by the existing community.


#6

Why should I play this over Netrunner? What has improved?


#7

Pretty much the entire game has been rethought with a few points in mind:

  • It’s much simpler to get into, so it caters to a wider audience. Wording, icons, card types, mechanics…have been reworked to accomplish that.
  • Way less RNG - there is still RNG as in every card game but it has been minimized to the max. For instance, the game is balanced around the fact that any bureau card can be thrashed for a cost, which reduces the RNG of accessing multiple cards and hitting water every time without the ability to react. Also, no flatlining means no lucky Snare or shenanigans like that, so it stays true to the core netrunner. That is not to say there are no discard archetypes.
  • Quicker, more condensed - The action system feels snappier and makes the game time more consistent usually around 30-40 minutes. Idle turns are very rare, like clicking for creds.
  • Dynamically balanced - we are introducing an online-first mechanism to update the printed card balance without reprinting it, based on the community feedback. The goal is to make every card playable and be able to update the “Manifest” on the fly. No need to release cycle after cycle and ban lists in an effort to keep the game balanced.
  • Cheaper - since there are no factions, the gameplay revolves around the different characters more heavily than in NR. That let’s us limit the required number of cards to provide interesting deckbuilding options and limit the standard game format to the core box + a few cycles (when and if they are developed) so any newcomer will not have to put in more than 100 bucks at worst to be able to compete.

On top of the core gameplay there also a large part of the game which is the campaign. Basically a legacy like repeatable system where you evolve a storyline, make branching decisions and sideboard between games. The scenarios twist the game in certain ways so that you always have to think about the best composition with what you have available for those rules. It’s not just playing the same decks over and over again.

This campaign is more in line with what you would expect from Gloomhaven / Scythe: Rise of Fenris than Terminal Directive, which to me was a miss. We will be making a tool available so that anybody can create just about any campaign with their own narratives, rules…etc. And then share it on the web.


#8

Hi! Thanks for posting–I know that it’s never easy to put things out onto the internet for folks to critique (it’s also easier to be a critic than a creator); and I think posting on Stimhack is perhaps the biggest chance to have folks who understand what you are aiming to do here.

From my first blush, the website definitely has the framework. It’s sleek and the copper tints match well with the world you are trying to build. However, had I zero knowledge of netrunner, with mostly text explanations of the game, I don’t have a good sense of what the game looks like.

As for the concept, as a frequent poster of all things ANR, I’m both your target audience as well as the person who will give you the biggest push back. As a post above said, “Why wouldn’t I just play netrunner?” And while I understand the response, “It’s Streamlined Netrunner + Scythe + Gloomhaven in a 1920s Afterlife World”–my response to that response is still to push away.

Consider The Spoils, a nearly identical MTG clone. It def. “fixed” a few things that were wrong with MTG, and for quite a while was moderately successful. However, from my observation, it never shook the “It’s reskinned Magic The Gathering tag.” Limbo pushes me into this mindset.

Can you win over the devout ANR players? Maybe? I dunno.

Lastly, and this is a bit pick-nitty, but using “scoop” in place of “run” has an odd feeling in my brain. “I scoop that target there.” versus “I run that server there.” Maybe it’s just having played ANR for YEARS and so I’m conditioned and used to that language. Of course, every now and then I still smirk immaturely at the term “Jack-Out.”

So even then, “jack out” versus “stop the scoop” thematically feels pretty different.

One HUGE barrier to ANR is that there is thematic language for nearly EVERYTHING (except “remove from game.” I wish we adopted a term for that :slight_smile: )however, one of the brilliant things about that thematic terminology is that it eventually lends itself to some good mental short cutting that ties in perfectly with what is happening in the game.

Scoop, Target, Character, Deck, Discard–all of these are the “same mental shortcuts” as above, but when we go side by side with Run, Server, HQ, RnD, Archives…the richness of the ANR world starts to surface even in the game’s terminology.

Do I think the game itself will be fun? Probably! A better version of a campaign setting than Terminal Directive sounds pretty awesome. And you have some neat tweaks to the game (like how to gain money by selling cards–oh yeah, “trash” is another keyword! :slight_smile: ).

And I know you spent A LOT of time and effort on this, (hence me not just poo-pooing it due to personal cyberpunk tribalism), but I also know that I’m pretty close to your target audience…and as part of that sliver of the venn diagram, I am going to approach this with a good bit of hesitation.

So, there’s my thoughts. Feel free to ask any questions! For what it’s worth, I do hope this game does land how you want it to and it is well received and gets a shot at entering the world.

Thanks again for putting stuff out there. That ain’t easy.


#9

Appreciate the support! I understand it’s hard to convey the pitch / theme without the actual illustrations but those will come together soon enough. Same goes for polishing the lore, we have a professional writer onboard that will help bring those ideas to live. For now, we are focusing on nailing down the base gameplay and mechanics and giving you guys an early peak of what we are going for - including some decks and the TTS mod which we use for internal testing. We will also be doing some livestreams in the next few weeks.

Regarding the thematic language; I understand how a harcore ANR who might also be into the cyberpunk universe may have grown to like those but quite frankly I think it increases the learning curve too much for my liking. If there is something we didn’t think about twice was dumbing down the language to the basic denominators (deck, discard, discard pile, etc) which can be understood by most gamers. The oddest case is “scoop” which is still being debated, but a word for indicating that action is required. On the other hand, we want to go the extra mile to make sure the game concepts tie in well and the theme shines through the artwork / lore :slight_smile:

Finally, unfortunately ANR was cancelled. Not intending to throw salt in the wound but I want to believe some of those gamers will consider giving a chance to a game like this even more so now.

Thanks again for your insights!


#10

Official support has ended, the game is certainly not cancelled. :smile:

Best of luck with your endeavours. :+1:


#11

That’s what I meant, apologies. I know you guys are working hard at NISEI :wink: and I’m actually looking forward to hearing what you guys would’ve done differently with ANR in the first place, as we are still in time to implement feedback on this.


#12

I was on purpose only asking one short sentence, but you are not really answering my question.

  • Simpler: Should I play it because it’s simpler to get into it? I know ANR, so why should I find it fun to go back from Chess to Tic Tac Toe? It might motivate others: “hey ANR was to complicated for me I’ll try Limbo”, but this is unfortunately not the answer for this audience.
  • Quicker: Actually I play 2 games in a tournament in 65 min, so 30 - 40 minutes seems to me the average
  • Dyn Bal: You update cards without reprinting them? You got me! Honestly, if online first is your attitude, I play on JNet not as much as others, but the game is important IRL so online first… nah. Or is there something hidden that I don’t get? I don’t need another virtual card game.
  • Cheaper: Honestly? We can proxy all cards with Nisei.
  • Campaigne: I don’t see why this can’t be done in ANR. Yes you are doing it somewhere else, but why? (my perspective)

For me there is a lot what you are doing and it sounds about right! But you didn’t provide arguments why I should play this over ANR! Is the game more fun?
If you could provide a living community & tournament scene it might be a reason to switch, but not to give it a try now or think about it.

I would be tempted to see a how to play video or try it at an event.

And honestly, I don’t care about illustrations! Do them, but this will only provide the new hotness of the month. The big question is, why should I play this over ANR (in this forum)? What is different to ANR? See it as a business pitch, that you will need to answer often when you are looking for a publisher and that should only be like one sentence.


#13

On one short sentence: it’s more approachable, tighter and plays more elegantly than ANR. Which in my book results in a more fun experience.

To answer your points:

  • Simpler: While you already put the time to learn ANR, keywords, metagame, etc…making it simpler (not shallower) means quality of life improvements for veteran players and easier to get new players into the game. Which is good for every community.
  • Quicker: Remember I’m talking about the playtime for the average Joe. For someone with your expertise games could clock in 20’ easy. It’s a bit quicker per se, but more importantly, game length is more consistent - you will not be flatlined turn 2 and no game will overstay it’s welcome either.
  • Online first: Maybe I didn’t explain myself well. The game is physical as of right now, but we have built it in a way that can be balanced without reprinting cards by changing their deckbuilding costs online. Basically a master list of card costs / limits that will update online + be printed on new cycles. Say you play on a tournament using Manifest version 1.4 - the card “Glow Dealer” may now cost 3 points to include in the deck instead of 2. On another note, we have been thinking about making it easy to port it to a Hearthstone like app from the ground up so there’s that as well.
  • Cheaper: Proxies are more expensive per card than mass producing games. We are talking 330 cards base set + tokens, rulebook, more stuff around 45USD. Regardless, the entry costs of playing “official” ANR was prohibitive even after the Revised Core Set, so we are staying away from that LCG model.
  • Campaign: You could potentially. However, Limbo has been thought from the ground up to fit this sandboxy campaign schema, also thematically. So there are concepts like card rarity, loot, etc that are already there. Some competitive players may not care about this, but helps make the game more accessible to a lot of other players.

Honestly, I am deeply impressed by the work you guys are doing at keeping the community alive, NISEI and all. The community has always been ANR best asset. But every community needs a good dose of new blood and this becomes much much simpler with official support and a lower entry threshold, which is basically two of the things we are shooting for. Basically our goal is to build Limbo listening to all your feedback and including you even from this pre-production stages, so we are making materials available, livestreams soon, etc.


#14

I know that you’ve iterated a bunch already, so this may not be of any use to you. I’m just spitballing here.

I was trying to think of some ways to take the core mechanics of Netrunner and use them differently, like how the good deckbuilders after Dominion felt like they were bringing something new.


#15

It looks interesting. You obviously put a lot of thought and work into it, and it certainly looks to provide the same type of experience as Netrunner while being its own thing. I would probably try it.

That said, I don’t like the terminology. Passer and Scoop are awkward to me. Given the backstory blerb, Passenger or Stranger or Investigator would be better. And for runs, Explore or Investigate or Probe. I also think using terminology for hand, discard, etc wouldn’t be remiss. That was brilliant for Netrunner’s theme.

Regarding theme, I gotta be super honest on another thing as well: I probably won’t play it until there’s some art and more bolted on for the setting. The mechanics drew me into Netrunner, but Android made it a pleasure to stay. If you’re mostly still Netrunner, you gotta sell me with your world.


#16

That’s a really cool idea, I could totally see something like that working as a solitaire / coop game spinoff where the bureau is automated. Alternatively it could be an interesting one vs all tableau building game where the bureau develops the city and the passers just try to score points getting in.

One thing we found out early in the development process is that having multiple entry points is what makes the game really interesting (deck, character, discards, assets), as it makes for challenging decisions on where to enter / what to protect.


#17

In fact, those are the two words that are still under dispute, and I’d very much welcome suggestions.

  • The Passer is very much an existential concept. They are those that have not conformed to the idea of eternity on Limbo (as opposed to the dwellers) and still want out / question the status quo in different ways. The nonconformists.

  • Scoop; what the passer does is go through the city fishing for info, like a noir film / point-and-click adventure. This generic concept gives a lot of freedom to create different narratives, but the word may ring strange. As the main action of the game, I’m still looking for short snappy sounding words (dig?).

Regarding the keywords, as I mentioned above I see your point but from an accessibility perspective it makes the game that much harder - and that’s been something often criticized about ANR by reviewers. I think there are other ways to make the theme shine through illustrations / design / lore and that’s where we are putting our chips on. The concepts of what each thing mean in game are still there; discards - boneyard, deck - gazette (news agency), character - bureau HQ. Note how all are tangible real word places; this grounds the in-game concepts in a way that feels tangible. We just decided not to bring this complexity in the in-game texts.


#18

I’m actually mentally playing this game. In the “pyramid” where the ICE-esque cards are set, I think each row could be named thematically–for purpose of triggering abilities (i.e., you get sent to an unrevealed gate of the bureau’s choosing; if revealed, encounter another location in The Hollows, etc.).

The “bottom row” of four could be The Gates, the row of three could be The Hollows, the row of two could be The Wardens, the last card is The Bureau.

As a Spirit, you have to start at one of the city gates, work your way through the hollows, get past the Wardens, then go deal with the Bureau. That’s starting to feel like a story…

The “ice” in the game could send you back to different gates, cards could get you “stuck” in a District Row until you meet some conditions to move forward.

hehe, anyway, just goes to show you the power of a picture :slight_smile:


#19

I was thinking of ‘Investigate’ instead of Scoop… Depending on how you want the theme, can go with ‘Burgle’ as well… Maybe ‘Ransack’? ‘Prowl’ – Evokes the feeling that you’re heading to this area with guards around it, looking for a way in to gain information…

I sorta don’t like the word ‘reach’ replacing Access… You might be able to use ‘Discover’ instead?


#20

Apologies for the late reply, I was travelling around for the last few days.

I was thinking this is probably a mistake on my part - should have written Snoop instead of Scoop. Would that make more sense?

I’m looking for a word that can either be used as a verb and a noun, and ideally it should be short as well (investigate would be nice but it doesn’t have the snappy sonority). If you still think Snoop doesn’t cut it, I’m definitely open to more ideas in the line of “dig” / “investigate”.

About reach…personally I don’t have a problem with that word. As with discards, activate … those are meant to be more in game terms representing an action, so as long as reach is visual enough I wouldn’t have a problem with the immersion. “Discover” is more flavorful but the action seems less clear to me. Any other thoughts aside from “reach”, “access”…?

Thanks for the help!