National Game (Re)Design Month!

Well then…

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…


PUNCH is published!

Even though I’ve had the game in hand for months now, I am only now officially publishing PUNCH, my first non-competition game. You can head over to the Games page to check it out, and of course it can be purchased through the Game Crafter at the lowest price their system allows me to set. I think I make 36 cents profit if anyone buys it. Anyway, I just needed the time to fix some of the mistakes and write an actual rules document. When I finished designing it months ago, I was just too impatient to write one, so I didn’t publish it. Next up on the agenda is actually publishing The Estate, but that will take a little more doing.

So yeah, expect some more news about stuff soon! Vacation is super great for knocking these things out.

Well this is awkward…

I think the responsible thing to do at this point is to pretend that I didn’t just lapse for over a month. Instead, we are going to move on as if nothing happened. Forget this whole thing…

So the contest is over. The Estate didn’t make it into the finals, and obviously did not receive any commendations or mentions. What I will say is that having received the game in the mail and spent the better part of an hour putting the stickers on the dice, it does look pretty great. What should follow this sentence is a picture of said dice, but instead, I’m just going to reiterate my lack of camera and move on to the next thing.

PUNCH came out even better than I expected. I’ve played it repeatedly over the past month and everyone has loved it (except one person who had exceptionally bad luck and couldn’t catch a break). The only problem I ran into was that I didn’t anticipate the darkening of the images, and I have to re-color some of the artwork for clarity and appearance. Again, pictures will appear when I can borrow a camera from someone.

Here, then, is what I actually have been working on recently. While Shima was given an immediate 1.1 upgrade (mostly because of Alex), my first game, Manic Mechanics, has been awaiting the same treatment for some time now. I’ve been addressing many of the issues with the boards that players mentioned, including the clarity of where a player can move from a given spot. The above image represents my solution to this complaint, although it shows the fact that I still haven’t been able to work out how to represent the junk piles. I’ll deal with that soon.

In the immediate future, I’m looking to officially release the two most recent games. There are some graphic tweaks to be done on both of them, and a thorough spell-check of The Estate is in order. The fact that I wrote the entire story portion in a few hours led to some atrocious spelling and grammar mistakes, as well as some plain old bad writing. In fact, you can look at the one card I posted and find some. I know I did moments after posting it.

So in short, I didn’t disappear for a month, I haven’t made a series of stupid spelling mistakes, and any evidence to the contrary is slanderous propaganda.

The Estate submitted and assorted updates

Sunday has long since come and gone, and The Estate barely made it in. I think I had twenty minutes left on the clock at the time of submission. This, of course, means that I have spent the last few days finding terrible grammatical errors on the story cards. Here’s one now:

Apparently Mario is narrating this story. I know it would really add to the moment if I found myself face-to-face “with-a two shambling figures! It’s-a me!” Most of the errors are like this; remnants of old sentence structure lingering within the finished blurb. I’m not going to address this right now though. I think I’ll wait until I get it in my hands and can make a comprehensive list of the errors. This can go on the Manic Mechanics schedule, which is roughly 2 months per correction apparently.

Speaking of getting it in my hands, I’ve also finished and ordered PUNCH! I didn’t make rules because, well, I know how to play it already and I don’t anticipate it ever being played outside of my presence. That and I really struggle with rules. I also ordered a game not of my own design, and when I get it and play it I’ll probably post some sort of review of it.

Oh, and Manic Mechanics again. I played a really intense game over the weekend, and the players had some excellent suggestions for the game. The 1.1 update is a post-graduation priority, so in about a month these ideas will probably start coming up here.

AND ANOTHER THING: Masterplan Mondays have begun again, and now Alex and I are working with a mutual friend, Morgan, who gave us the gift of the Shima colors. He’s been working with Alex on another project, and we managed to rope him into this one. His perspective is really different from ours, and it has rocketed the project forward. For my part, I’ve started working on a new set of building tokens. Here’s a 3D mockup of a game in progress (sort of).

That’s it for this post. Not really my most focused effort. If the shipping and handling gods smile upon me, I will have pictures of the printed games early next week. If not, Masterplan images should increase in frequency soon. Until then.

Archery card Layout (not art)

I’d like to once again say that this is not the art for the game.

Hopefully it’s clear what I’m aiming at here (HA). The colors and concentric elements are supposed to be reminiscent of an archery target, and in-game they tell you everything you need to know about the monster you are facing. For instance, this Rokkle has a “hit” value of 4, meaning you must roll a 4 or above to hit him. Doing this will cause him 1 damage, although some shots will do more. A monster which receives 3 damage is killed. The card also has a “kill” value of 10, meaning if you are able to roll a 10, he is killed immediately, regardless of damage.

The two orbiting symbols represent his special abilities. Each monster can have up to two of these, one that effects targeting and one that effects behavior. The bottom symbol means that this monster is “hearty.” Again, sorry for the terrible play-on-words (plays-on-words?). The Rokkle has, therefore, one extra damage capacity. The second symbol, and may I remind you that this isn’t the real art, indicates that this is a “flying” monster. Flying monsters must be damaged before they can be killed, meaning a roll of 10 as your first shot against this monster will only damage it.

That’s all I have for tonight. I’m still not even sure what this game’s fate will be, but I am warming to the new system, partly because of this new design. Over the weekend I will probably do the scanning, so there’s a chance that the influx of art will energize this project. Otherwise, expect more news on the other RPG.


Earlier in the week I said that I would be finishing up PUNCH really soon. That statement turned out to be true. I’ve finished the second version of the rules, and the art is nearly complete. For instance:

As of now, these are the face cards for PUNCH! I need to make a texture to use in place of the flat colors, and I might end up replacing the gem shapes with the actual gem symbols. Either way, I think they turned out pretty good for a first pass. A few friends of mine, Alex included, did a play-test for me and the feedback was mostly positive. Once I do a play-test of my own with the new rules, I’ll probably post them here. Technically the game can be played with two standard poker decks, you’ll just need a reference sheet for the face cards. Oh, and one last little thing.

I updated the suit images at the suggestion of an artist. He reminded me that gems are, in reality, slightly translucent, and that a good deal of the beauty is created by the interaction of the facets on both sides. I was thinking that I would just use these as the aces, but I’ll probably just replace all instances of the suits with the new ones.

Actually, another last thing. In an ideal world, the archery game will get tested this weekend. This is not guaranteed to happen, but it could, so there might be some play-test pictures up here for the first time in a long time. I think that’s everything.

Updating is for losers. And archers…

A week or so ago I had a very productive period. It resulted in a whole bunch of pretty pictures and news worth posting. Since then things have been, well, less visual. Punch was actually played and deemed pretty good, so it just comes down to designing the few remaining cards and publishing it. It is literally that easy. There’s almost no chance that it actually ends up taking me forever to do a simple task like that. It would be unprecedented. Maybe…

In terms of actual work done, my entry for the RPG contest has moved forward significantly in just the past day. The only thing I really have to show for it though is a massive and complicated Excel document that won’t really look that great posted online. It doesn’t have a name right now, and I’ve just been referring to it as “the archery game.” Here’s a rundown.

Players take on the roll of a warrior stationed atop a defensive wall. Monsters emerge from the wood some distance away and make their way towards you, all while you fire at them with various projectiles. Each turn you are able to fire at one target, with some exceptions. Targets will look something like this:

There are three important pieces of information on a target card. The first two are its “aim” and “power” values, represented by green and purple respectively. When you roll your dice, these are the numbers that you must roll in order to 1: hit the target and 2: kill it. If either of these fail, the shot is a failure (unless otherwise noted on a card). Finally, the orange value represents that monster’s special effects. There will be only 3 effects, and they will be crazy simple, so it isn’t really worth getting into right now. Also, the art will be much, much better than this. I promise.

Knowing your target’s values, you can then choose which weapon you wish to use from your hand. Maybe you would want to use something like this:

The values on this card represent bonuses to your roll. The colors correspond, so your aim roll would suffer slightly while your power would be increased. Actually, this wouldn’t be a great card for this situation, but whatever. It’s the only one I drew. Finally, you roll. In every roll, you must choose six of the ten available dice, distributing them to either aim or draw depending on situation. Here’s what you might do with this shot against this monster:

Success! Your aim value summed to 12 (4+2+5+2-1) and your power ended up being 11 (6+3+2). You would have just killed the Skinny Goblin, claiming it as your prize. And now we reach the goal of the game: to kill the most monsters.

As the game progresses, you will rack up a body count represented by the cards you claim. The hitch is that while you succeed as an individual, you all fail as a team. The wall takes damage any time a monster is able to reach it, and that damage is not player-specific. If enough monsters reach the wall, everybody loses. No one gets to count up their kills and declare the victory, because you’re all dead. I’m hoping this will force people to work together just enough to survive, but not so much that it could be played as a solitaire game. I’m sort of imagining those scenes in Lord of the Rings when Gimli and Legolas keep count. Neither of them would ever do anything to intentionally hurt the effort in order to increase their kills, but when everything is over, they get to sit down and claim bragging rights.

Either way, this game will probably get tested sometime in the next week. And I guess I’ll work on Punch sometime in between. And you know what, I should probably update when I do those things, because that’s what you do when you make and maintain a website.

Suddenly motivated

So I’ve been posting about once a week, and I usually open with something about doing very little work. This isn’t going to be one of those posts. This post follows a week where two things happened to change that. The first is that TGC announced another contest. This has produced (sigh) a bunch of text documents and an Excel dice-simulator, but very little in terms of art. So nothing to show really for that one. The second, and much more exciting development, is that a game that I had thought of and basically abandoned has risen from the ashes and dominated my design time for the past few days. I now present the first images from my upcoming card game, PUNCH.

This is a rough version of the 10 of [insert suit name here]s. It’s clearly unfinished because it lacks a suit mark below the number, and because I haven’t really named the suits yet. Other than that, I’m pretty happy with this.

I realize now that I’m saying all of this without context or explanation. Let’s fix that. PUNCH is a card game played with a minimally modified poker deck. It is inspired by Alex Coulombe’s GULP, a game that I really enjoy. I wanted to make a game in a similar fashion, but also existing in the same fictional universe as his game. In GULP, you play as a village of Boggles, blob-like creatures who grow crops in their mouths while they stand in the river. In PUNCH, you represent a Rokkle mining crew trying to dig up the most gems. As of now, I really don’t have a good image of the Rokkles, but just think a mix between Geodude and a trapezoid. That should get you there. Anyway, there are four types of gems, and you acquire and spend them in the search for the four ultimate gems (read: aces).

If it isn’t clear, these are the suits. I drew these from a jeweler’s manual I found online, so while they are genuine crystal shapes, you wouldn’t really find them in nature. But who cares, they look nice. Also, if anyone except me is admiring the pebble texture in the background, I will say that the rocks themselves were drawn (and then copiously duplicated and stretched) by hand, but the colors were not. I happened upon a great website run by Adobe called Kuler, which allows designers to submit five-color schemes so others can download and use them. This particular theme is called MetalsMineFiled, and it is awesome. On top of that, I found a script that lets you take a swatch of colors and randomly apply it to a group of objects. I would have driven myself insane if I tried to color them all individually. The mind is just ill-equipped to do truly random tasks.

So yeah. PUNCH is cool. I will be testing it within the week with regular cards, so it’s unlikely that there will be any action shots. As for the RPG contest, the deadline is over two months out, so the design probably won’t pick up speed for a while. I will definitely post more PUNCH artwork as I make it, and Masterplan Monday is still happening, so there will surely be something new on Tuesday. Until then.