A cooperative tabletop game of exploration, tactics, and adventure.

Oliver Hong
Class: Thesis I - 2019
Instructor:  Frank Lantz    

What is a Gearheart?

What makes Gearhearts unique and unforgettable is it’s core component – the gearheart. Each player uses their own toy-like gearheart to program their mech. “Programming” the gearheart by inserting and manipulating command cards is both tactically and physically satisfying, and we want players to treasure them, personalize them, and experience them as magical devices that link them to their on-board avatars.

How do they work?

These gearhearts, like the ancient mech technology they control, are finicky. The programs they hold are executed in the order and direction they are placed, a spiraling call stack beholden to space. Players are limited in how many commands they can place, recoup, or modify per turn, balancing each decision between risk and reward, now and later. The gearhearts also go through a cyclical arc of building up tension and releasing it as a byproduct of “shifting” or rotating the device to change the direction of commands. This allows mechs to execute particularly impressive feats of movement, combat, or repairing, before taking time to “cool down” and re-engineer their program.

Where did Gearhearts come from?

Gearhearts started out as a quest to make the world’s first massively-multiplayer board game. Influenced by legacy board games like Gloomhaven and Charterstone, as well as digital experiences like World of Warcraft’s five-player raids, the game narrowed scope through our excitement for the gearheart-centered core mechanic. We have held onto the chained scenario structure of those early influences, providing an experience for players to enjoy over several expeditions. It’s important to us that players feel like a real team –  working together, helping each other, and exploring their changed world.