I’m reviving this old wordpress as a dev diary. It’s the night before #devtober officially starts, so I’m just gonna throw up some inspiration images for what I hope to work on this month (and beyond?).
Why these things? In order of appearance:
- I’ve been playing Pokemon Master way too much. I don’t actually like the gachapon-ity of it all, but I’m also fascinated with it.
- Demon Slayer is one of the best shows airing right now, and now that I’ve been properly introduced to gachapon games, I genuinely don’t understand how there isn’t a Demon Slayer mobile game. I would play it. Shit, I might even pay to play it. And that’s saying a lot, because I’ve never done that.
- In the last few projects I’ve fiddled with, I’ve become really interested in positioning during combat, and a great example of this in an existing game is Flash Duel by Dave Sirlin. I played it once at a Meetup and really liked it, plus I love Yomi, so I’ll definitely be re-reading the rules.
- I didn’t actually play Sekiro, but in watching the Game Grumps play it, and after the recent Polygon video, I’m interested in this idea of ditching “HP” in all fighting games, and instead experimenting with the only outcomes being Block, Dodge, or Death.
- There’s actually another game jam going on this month called Cryptid Jam, so I’ll probably try to use that theme since devtober doesn’t have one. And I do have a fondness for the Cryptkin collectibles. Someone gave me a Jersey Devil and I keep him on my desk instead of a rubber duck. He’s helpful.
So… that’s the stuff floating around in my mind as I wait to start working on this game. I’ll try to post periodically as I work on it!
If you’re reading this, you may have followed the url on my business card. Unfortunately, this blog has been inactive for some time. For my portfolio, please visit the site below:
On the other hand, if you’re here to see examples of my board game work, you’re in the right place!
Oh god rhymes. They seem like a such a good idea when you start, but then you make some dumb-ass choice for the end of your first phrase and everything falls apart. Tonight I’m really posting for momentum purposes, not because I have a lot to say. November has been busier than I thought it would be (read: Pokemon has been getting really good), so I really have nothing to show right now except for these patterns.
Some of these patterns already existed, so let’s go through them left to right, top to bottom (think phone buttons).
1: Water – Obviously already used
2: Brown Squares – For my money, too elaborate, but still traditional and possibly good for something.
3: Tatami – New texture that I am using for the Tomodachi. Not actually a traditional texture, so to speak, but it looks nice on the card.
4: Rice Paddy – A great pattern that I really need to redraw, but one that is already used to great effect on the board.
5: Orange Overlapping Circles – Way too harsh for my taste, but it could have some use if we chose a better color for it.
6: Black Hexagons – A really interesting new pattern that I came across and roughly recreated. Could be good as a brown for a new storehouse or harbor texture.
7: Wood Grain – Already used as boats, but if things get shuffled around this could become any of the three “wooden” texture we’ll need.
8: Tan Stars – One of my favorites, and already used in the pasture. I need to redraw it, but otherwise it’s great.
9: Purple Tortoise – A very traditional texture, one that we used for Tomodachi before, but something that I would love to re-purpose because like I said, it’s super traditional.
Right, so there’s that. As I was typing this I did realize I have one more thing to post.
This is some terrible, horrible graphic design, but hey, it’s a work in progress. Later in the week I’ll have a pow-wow with Alex and Morgan and hopefully we (read: Morgan) will find a good way to array the art and information. For now, enjoy the lovely tatami texture, and try not to be frustrated because I CLEARLY FORGOT TO RECOLOR THE HAIR TIE AFTER I CHANGED THE KIMONO TRIM TO PURPLE. FUCK.
So finally I’m getting around to posting these pictures. This is a mid-game picture from our recent play-test of Shima. It contains a good deal of new elements, so let’s work through them one at a time.
The first new thing, and probably the most obvious in this picture, is the little personal islands/circle things. After playing many cramped games of Shima on the shared board, it became clear that A) the shared board gains us nothing and B) there are real advantages to having separate islands, including a simpler scaling from 2 to 4 players. So I bought a pack of index cards and a box of crayons (top left), and we made some little islands. Here’s Ian’s island and storehouse (to be explained) since he had the most artistic approach.
For reasons I can’t explain, he drew his fields in this order (rice paddy, pasture, ocean), then proceeded to set up his storehouse on the ocean end. The intended order is storehouse-pasture-paddy-ocean, but hey, he spent the time drawing nice colorful lines, so I’m not going to argue with him. As you can see, he has workers in his fields and 2 cows in his pasture, neither of which are kobe (which would be denoted by red circles beneath them). He also has 2 fish in his storehouse, and a barrel of sake in-progress. Like I said before, the storehouse is a new concept, and one which we’re using to sort out a few different problems. The first is fish storage. The rule of “half your fish expire” was wonky and constantly caused problems and miscalculations, so now there are just X barrels (12 in this game, but probably 8 or 9 in the final design). We are also using the barrel system to produce sake: players pay three rice to place one rice token in a barrel, and a season later a red honor token is placed beneath it, and it becomes sake. We are also considering a system that allows sake to sit for months on end and accrue honor, but that’s still up for debate.
The other big new feature is the central “harbor.” In this playtest, we each chose a color (Purple/Blue/Yellow) and used the colored winks to place workers at docks on the central board. In this picture, I have a purple wink at the eastern and south-western dock, Ian has yellow winks at the same docks, and Morgan has blue winks at the north-western and eastern harbors. We’re still working out the precise mechanism of the harbor, but it worked very, very well in this primordial state. Morgan’s Diplomat card was just as valuable as in the older version of the game, but it wasn’t as over-powered. Speaking of boat mechanics…
These are the newest version of the boat cards. I’ve moved some things around from last time I posted, and I’ve made an… unusual modification to the rules text. If you couldn’t tell already, they’re haiku. I desperately wish I could do all the rules text in haiku, but the truth is I chose these two to preview because these are the only two I could reduce to haiku form. This may be a task that spend some time on later, because come on, how awesome would it be to have all the tomodachi and boat text written as haiku? Either way, I’ve removed the unsightly harbor texture from the previous version, and I’ve added in the lightened bar that’s present in other printed game elements. The only thing I’m unsure of is how best to represent the prices, and even more specifically how to help the Rice token stand out from the background. The dark lines here aren’t my favorite.
So that’s that. I’ll be finishing up the boats this week, and moving on to some more intensive Tomodachi design soon. We may have an opportunity to play, or at least experiment, on Saturday when Alex and I (along with many others) will be waiting in line at 5 in the morning to get tickets to Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart’s Broadway show, Waiting for Godot. Until then…
Ok, so this is cheating, but I’m going to post a bunch of artwork up top even though most of it has already been seen here recently.
I realize the majority of these were posted a few days ago, but there is one new one (top right corner) and it is also an excuse for me to premiere the new font: Nuku Nuku by Vic Fieger. I think I should start to credit the fonts I use, even though they are all free and what not. Plus, this is a really fun font that everyone should have in case they do a stylized, Japan-inspired project.
So the Shima party went well on Saturday: there was sushi and root beer, and someone brought a pie! More importantly, we played through an incredibly slow round of the game while debating rules and mechanics, and we came away with a few great ideas. We’ll be changing tomodachi mechanics (obviously), and we’ll work on making the processes involved in premium goods easier to understand. In addition, we’ll be working on a new barrel mechanic that we will use to fix the fish-storage problem. Currently the rule is “at the end of the season, half of your stored fish expire.” This has been weird and confusing, and the barrel thing will fix it. I’ll leave it at that until I download the pictures from the playtest so I have some pictures to reference in the explanation.
Something that we didn’t discuss, but which came up in conversation with Alex later, is pricing. Right now, each good has a set price, and there is one boat that simply pays double. This is not that interesting, and it means the boats rely entirely on their effects for personality. It also means that products never change value depending on situation. Here’s the solution.
Now each boat accepts only a certain combination of goods, and it sets its own prices for each. This means that the boats in the harbor can dramatically change the potential value of your goods, and it encourages you to diversify. Also, ignore the weird stripes in the wood texture, it’s an Illustrator error that I can’t quite work out. The other big thing to notice here is that it now appears that the boats are at a harbor, not just floating in the water as before. This is because we are changing the boat system entirely, and uh, that’s it. Something else that I can better explain with pictures.
So like the title said, more Shima. I’m kind of distracted right now watching Top Gear, so I’m going to get back to that and stop writing this sloppy post. Until Thursday (I think).
November is upon us, and according to the internet, it’s National Game Design Month. I’m not sure which department of government makes these decisions, but there it is. So to celebrate/participate, I am doing two things. One is that I’m going return to this hobby, which I have mostly shelved since getting an actual adult job (which is itself in game design, hooray!), and second is I’m changing the name of the month from NaGaDeMon to NaGaReDeMon as shown in the post title. Instead of trying to tackle all my games like I did before, I’ve decided to only work on a few over the course of this month, and two of them are my Alex Coulombe collaborations, so that should hopefully help things along.
First project: Shima
So the original game had 8 different “Tomodachi” that you could hire to assist you at your farm. Over the last week, I created a few more. And even though it doesn’t really matter what they are for this post, I’m going to identify them anyway: Kabuki, Priest, Miko, Gaijin (foreigner), Carpenter, Smith, Daimyo, Ronin, and Sumo. Alex and I will be looking to change the way Tomodachi are hired and utilized, and part of that plan is reducing their abilities from 2 per card to 1 per card, and then allowing players to hire two workers. This should add flexibility and hopefully some more strategy. We’re also looking to radically redesign the board, but that’s for another post. Tonight, actually, I’m having a bit of a playtest party, so expect some pictures tomorrow and a more involved Shima update.
Next project: PUNCH
PUNCH is my only non-competition game, and it’s one that I’ve played with many people and received fairly positive reviews for. It’s also been ignored for a long time, and really doesn’t need that much work to fix. A few months ago I solicited some new colors from our resident expert, Morgan, and recolored all the gems to avoid some common confusions that players have had. Now the suits are shape and color, which allows me to update the face cards in a very pleasing way.
The new face cards feature brighter, color-coded artwork, and a new thick outline that seems to make them stand out. The original printing of the game was very dark and the art got lost in the stony background. As of now, this is all I’ve done outside of some minor wording changes on the cards. I’ll be looking to do more work on this soon, but I wouldn’t expect anything for a little while. This next project though…
Third project: Satellite Salvo
Thanks to the introduction of printed pads from The Game Crafter, Satellite Salvo may be able to exist as more than a print-an-play. The three people who purchased the game could tell you that it is outrageously difficult to play as a traditional board game, and that it’s so fiddly and delicate that it’s almost impossible to make it through a full game. While I’ve played Satellite Salvo dozens of time on paper, I’ve only attempted it once as a board game, and we didn’t even make it through the whole thing. Mind you this game takes like twenty minutes to play, so that’s saying something. Right now I’m trying to work out how to do the Arsenal sheet, and of course, re-writing the rules.
So that’s it. There’s always the chance that I totally abandon this effort and don’t post for like a year, but hey, hope springs eternal. I could be posting every few days if this goes according to plan. Until next time, whenever that is…