So in an effort to try and become more organized and structured in my game design life, I’ve recently started using Google Keep as my web homepage, encouraging me to finally keep to-do lists and such. While I’ve theoretically had a to-do list as a recurring Outlook reminder, and Outlook has a great Task functionality, a recent spate of listening to the Board Game Design Lab podcasts (fantastic website and series, btw!) encouraged me to not only do this, but to use a psychology trick in the process: putting lots of small, almost effortless tasks on the list, so tackling the occasional big object feels like a continuation of my momentum rather than trying to roll the boulder up the hill from scratch.
Another game design, and the first in a while! Thanks again to Boardgamizer for the awesome game-generation website!
The Unused Prompts
This one is just…bland. The constraint is somewhat interesting, but the Mechanics and Theme combine to make a game idea that seems like dry toast.
This one is just begging, screaming on hand and knee for a cheesy 80s cartoon villain title of “SERPENT MASTER” and cheesy low-detail cartoon art. Building it to basically be a spoof of 80s cartoon shows, with players building their MEGASNAKE and trying to build the longest snake and either avoiding or attacking other snakes, depending on how many heroes or villains you have in your group. Damn; while this one’s not the winner this week, this is a damn strong idea I’d love to revisit eventually.
My apologies for such a long delay since my last post. Life has become insane in the last few months, and I’m currently in the process of packing as my wife and I will be moving to an entirely new state here in just a week!
So, a quick update on the progress and status of various projects, below the cut:
Firstoff, many apologies for the radio silence this month. I’ve had a large load of time-consuming work to deal with, and unfortunately that and other stresses have meant I haven’t had a lot of free time for post-writing.
However, that’s not to say nothing is being done; quite the opposite in fact! I’ve been fortunate enough to be working with my dad in developing the professional-level art for Holy Press. While I’m still working on getting summer game playtesting group together since my primary playtesting group evaporated for the summer when school let out and the undergrads went home, the art is coming along beautifully, and I’m really excited for where the game is rapidly going.
Hopefully by the end of summer, the art creation will be complete, and presuming I’ve been able to get in blind playtests by then and refined the rulebook to iron out any remaining rule inconsistencies or fuzzy areas, Holy Press will be ready to purchase at the end of summer. I’ll also be pitching it hard to as many different eligible companies from Cardboard Edison’s Compendium as I possibly can, so (fingers crossed) I might be picked up for professional publication/distribution!
For now, though, I’m going to be probably posting a bit less often as I work through the last of the time-intensive work projects and stress factors. While I’m on vacation next week, the following week I want to make sure I touch on the idea of Buystarter, and why I’m really excited about the idea of using that for RPG and wargame publication moving forward.
Until next time. Cheers!
For those who might not have heard, games Workshop has announced the dawning of Warhammer 40K’s 8th edition, and have a FAQ up before the ruleset has even dropped (an unexpected occurrence they even lampshade in the FAQ itself). I’ve previously left my thoughts and impressions leading up to and following the release of Age of Sigmar, but I wanted to touch on what my impressions are of the upcoming 8th Edition (I’ve seen it jestingly dubbed “Age of Emperor” as well) and how I think it will stack up to AoS and previous editions of WH40K.
Apologies for the quiet week! I’ve been doing some creative writing, and didn’t manage to quite coordinate to get in a playtest of Mistgore last night. Next week will see game testing resume as normal, ideally, and I’m hoping to get some blind playtests going for Holy Press and Green-Circuit Mercs, so their rules can be refined to the point that they’re only waiting for final art for production/publication!
Today, I’m going to get the game design I meant to do earlier up! We again return to good-old Boardgameizer for the design prompts.
The Unused Prompts
To be honest, this one is just too open-ended. I feel like this is possibly a solve-a-maze game but with hidden or partial information, but not sure and not really feeling that the prompt “grabs” me. That said, given the constraint a perfect name would be “Sneaky Buggers.”
I don’t know what it is, but the idea of math and word games tends to give me hives. The Theme and Victory condition here don’t help much either. Presumably there could be a game somewhere in here about trying to lie in a classroom vocabulary test and basically other players trying to sabotage your efforts to BS through the test, but again it doesn’t really grab me.
Just a small update: I had a chance to playtest the newest iteration of Green Circuit Mercs with my loving and long-suffering wife, and a minor miracle occurred:
While she normally is a fan of board games, she’s markedly less so for card games, especially competitive ones, so already there were two strikes against it. In addition, I am absolutely terrible about explaining my homebrew game rules to others in a logically concise and coherent fashion, and she is a very competitive and precise player: this was another strike, as it can often end up with me accidentally forgetting a key rule that throws a game into turmoil.
Still, after a slight bit of eyebrow-raising during the initial rule explanation, we hopped into it and she grasped it straight away, and proceeded to almost steamroll me. I lucked out with an aggressive early game that managed to provide the Tech cards to supplement my Cyborg deck and help me win more bids than I otherwise would have in the late game. After it was all said and done, I won by a relatively-narrow margin, and she said she had a lot of fun. The only dislikes she had against it were just with the competitive and card-focused aspects of it, which again were issues with the game style as a whole rather than specific mechanical issues with GCM.
Overall, I’m incredibly excited. Now all that’s left is getting some blind playtesting in so the rulebook can get refined and streamlined; I’m also looking to do the same with Holy Press, as I have a relative who has offered to do artwork for it for free!
Hopefully there will be more of that to show off in the coming months, but until then I at least have two games basically ready to get fine-tuned and published! I’ve joined Cardboard Edison’s Patreon, and this gives access to their Compendium of game publishers looking for submissions. I’m incredibly excited to be able to submit my game to multiples of these, and while a game design contest is all well and good for publicity, this might be an even better way to break into the industry and start to make my name known.
Anyhow, that’s it for this week. Next week tune in on Monday for the next Boardgameizer design, and the next iteration of the Alien Ambassador rules. Cheers!
Sidenote: Whoooops. This was supposed to be posted last Friday, and I completely forgot about it sitting in my drafts.
So I had a chance to try Green-Circuit Mercs yesterday evening, with the new player-specific decks and the revised Threat values. I have to admit, I was incredibly nervous going into it: previous GCM playtests had left me a bit discouraged and worried that I was going down the wrong rabbit hole for how to address the previous issues with enjoyability of play.
It went fantastically.
So, following the feedback from Alien Ambassadors and my inability to get a game test over the weekend, I’m looking at a next-available-playtest date of Thursday, with the due date for a finalized game concept/presentation on Friday.
Unfortunately, that’s not really doable, especially if any issues whatsoever persist in the v2 Ambassadors iteration. I’m feeling that more and more it’s looking like I’ll be getting one playtest per week, meaning that I have to drastically rescale my games in progress to account for these likely shortcomings. I think I’m suffering slightly from a bit of frustrated expectations from players: Green-Circuit Mercs didn’t make a fantastic first impression, and the second revision did better but it still wasn’t a sought-after game. Alien Ambassadors did slightly better, but I think my players are possibly starting to be disinterested in trying new games.
More under the cut, along with the new schedule:
I feel like the best solution to this issue is to basically “complete” the games I have in-motion at the moment. For example, Holy Press still needs art and blind playtesting to get the rulebook polished up (and in that order, since nice art tends to be a good draw for cusious players), but I feel that the core gameplay is “done”. That said, here’s the new schedule, pared down to account for only one playtest iteration per month:
Cardboard Edison Award: January 31st
- Holy Press: Submitted, at Prototype step
Trick Taker Challenge: March 6th
- Green-Circuit Mercs: Not submitted, at playtesting step
2017 Northwest Luci Award: April 7th
- Alien Ambassadors: Not submitted, at playtesting step
Button Shy Wallet Game Contest: April 23rd
- Boatbuilders: Not using for contest due to component revision, at playtesting step.
- The Order of Artemis: Not submitted, at prototype step. This one I’m shelving indefinitely, as I feel there was way too much stuff that needed a lot more polish before it would even have a strong core gameplay loop.
- Mamluki: Not submitted, at playtesting step. Also shelved, but mainly until after Green-Circuit Mercs is released because there will be heavy art and logo crossover, and I want the shared universe to feel well-represented between the two games rather than try to meld them after the fact
- Thunderglyph Survival game contest: April 30th
- Hunter’s Quarry: Design step. This one is veeery tentative, and will probably unfortunately get shelved too. I love Thunderglyph’s art and such and I think the game has a ton of promise, but I want to make sure I revive my playtest base instead of screwing that up and crippling myself for later testing stages.
- Big Box Challenge: June 5th
- No design yet
- Gamelords Dungeon Crawler Challenge: August 15th
- No design yet, although I have a strong inclination to use a previously-shelved rough outline idea for a Legacy-style dungeon delve game.
Current focus is on testing Green-Circuit Mercs and Alien Ambassadors, and getting those out of the way as well as getting Holy Press developed into a final releasable game.
This is really rough, as I feel like a screwup for eyes-bigger-than-stomach, as well as potentially damaging my only playtest source at the moment. I’m also going to be pushing to see about other playtest options as well, but that will require some checking around to make sure it fits comfortably with home, work, and Ironwatch needs as well.
Until next time; I think I’ll be working on cranking out the design outline for ClikB8 this Friday. Please let me hear your thoughts in the comments and reblogs below. Cheers!
So, got a game playtest in for Alien Ambassadors. Overall it went decently, but it definitely needs some changes before it will be ready for submission.
What Went Well:
Players really liked the weird actions, and seemed to enjoy the Interference changes as well. I was worried the latter might be too confusing or hard to track, but it sounds like they didn’t mind and liked how it changed it up from just being a basic 20-questions format. I am going to tweak a few of them (the ones that make an answer compounded with another action card), but overall this section went over swimmingly.
What Needs Improving:
The question categories are way, way too broad. While I might be rubbish at 20-Questions, I was only able to guess correctly for 2 of 15 cards. I had originally debated having a list of options players picked from, but had rejected it out of hand due to the sheer # of cards that would need to be added to make the list robust enough to provide some degree of challenge.
One option could be to make the choices as numbered tokens drawn from a bag, corresponding to a big chart of Places, Animals, and Things. While this would solve the issue, it doesn’t address a second concern I noted as I was playing:
There was basically no player interaction.
Party games survive or die by their group fun-ness, and right now Alien Ambassadors has no player-player interaction other than the rotating interaction of the Translator and the Aliens. I figure I can kill two dangerous birds with one stone here, and roll in the goal of what players are trying to have the Translator guess. I can even call back to the original Alien Ambassadors constraint and have the monocolor cards.
The one drawback is I have to kill the Translator.
Honestly, the alien communication was the most-fun part, and as a Translator I felt more frustrated and useless than engaged and having fun. What we’ll do instead is have a common list of items, depicted by a picture most likely; each has a corresponding card, and at the start of a round, all players get a minute to ask questions using charades to the player to their left, and by the end of the minute they must place their guess by putting a marker on the icon on the board; if right, both they and the other player get a point, and otherwise they both get nothing.
Then the next round they draw new cards to replace the old ones, and do it again with the player to their right. This repeats swapping left/right until the game ends. In addition, at the end of each round, the player with the highest current score swaps seats with the player directly across from them (their choice if there are 2 options), so you don’t get permanently stale combinations of players. Play continues until someone hits a target point goal, say 15 or something.
Now we have a direct player investment in both good charades/guessing, as well as good clues, a general semi-cooperative feeling, and best of all a constant ability to both use deduction as well as the alien language.
So, what do you think of the changes to Alien Ambassadors? Please let me hear if you like this better, worse, or something in-between in the comments and reblogs. Next week I’ll be doing a little design for a game I’ve got in mind called ClikB8, based on the idea of social media news. Until then, thanks for reading; cheers!