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…
We didn’t win. Super sad. The winning game looks awesome though, so I guess slightly less sad. I’m not going to say any more about Terra Neo until it’s published (soon, hopefully).
Here’s what’s been happening in the meantime. Manic Mechanics is plodding along slowly, but I’ve started to work on something I didn’t expect to do: totally new board design. I don’t mean graphic design, I mean actual design. Here are some diagrams about that.
This shows possible track layouts for 12-card boards. The cards themselves would be the Game Crafter’s Jumbo Cards, which measure 3.5′ x 5.5′. I’m going to be cutting some out of paper to test out the sizing pretty soon. Might even do a playtest. Haven’t decided. Either way, this would change a lot in the game, including actual gameplay elements, since many cards reference their “zone.” If the zones get smaller and more numerous, certain vehicles will be gain power while others will lose power. It’s something I have to look at. But the ultimate goal here is to get this game to fit in a smaller box, which will be possible if I use these boards.
Meanwhile, back at Satellite Salvo, a new print-and-play has arrived. I still need to make some tweaks to it, but otherwise it’s pretty much finished.
The tricky bit here is the folding. By folding the sheet along the two horizontal lines, you get a very cool print-and-play object. The two upper sections stand up like a tent to shield the lower section, which of course is the secret information. All of the rules fit in the middle, so they can be referenced at any time, and the whole thing can fold flat, leaving only the top panel with the Enemy Planet and Arsenal visible. All you need are 5 dice and a pencil.
Well that’s it for now. Not sure what the schedule is in the next week, but my hope is to find some time to get serious about Manic Mechanics. It’s sort of the big project right now, and if I could knock it out I could move on to some other games that are frankly more interesting to me right now. Until then.
Before I begin this post in earnest, I’m going to quickly point out that the Game Crafter has published the list of Map Builder Design Challenge entries, and it is extensive and intimidating. You can check them out here.
So, Reluctant Pirate Games 2.0. An ambitious title befitting an ambitious time. Let me start with a sad, sad picture.
When the Game Crafter updated their website, all old games had to be updated or else they would be un-published. Because at the time I was not updating my website or really doing much of anything, I just let it happen. When I finally went back to the site to check it out, this sad state of affairs greeted me. That “Need help?” button suddenly seemed like it was mocking me. Not only had my successful games become unpublished, but I realized how many games I recently made that never actually got finished. What’s more, it reminded me that all of the my old games could use revisiting. With that in mind, I am launching this campaign. By the end (whenever that is) I will have updated or completed every game on this list. To keep it interesting, I’m going to tackle them in pairs. The first pairing is, fittingly, Manic Mechanics and Satellite Salvo. My first two games, possibly my best, and two incredibly lame alliterations. Can’t wait.
Although I’ve done some text-based work on Satellite Salvo in the past few days, most of my time since Terra Neo ended has been spent going over Manic Mechanics. Tonight I actually sent out a survey to all of my collaborators to ask them what they thought of the potential changes. Let me lay these changes out for you.
First, I want to tweak the card layout and appearance. Like an idiot I put the old card on the right, because I hate intuitive graphics. But either way, you can see the differences are small. Still, any change could be trouble, so I thought I would ask. This card also has a slight change in effect, but that’s not really part of the survey.
I’m also thinking about punching up the artwork with a scribble effect. I’ve made some cards that integrate this fill into the vehicles, but I’m even less optimistic about that idea. Either way, it’s a really simple Illustrator command that produces this, so I’m not worried about big changes meaning big piles of work.
Also, I’m totally changing one of the vehicles (Scorpedo used to be called Warpedo, and it did something totally different) and possibly adding a bizarre wild-card vehicle. It’s called Multiball. Get it? Like “multiple,” but referring to the roundness? I’ll see myself out…
The last two things I have to do are without a doubt the most difficult. One is to fix the boards, which is something I have tried to do repeatedly over the past few years. Every time I try to edit them, I realize that I am as stumped as I was the day I first drew them. The other big problem is the rules. Between these two things I may have actually won the first Game Crafter contest. But I didn’t because the board was ugly and the rules were incomprehensible. So that’s going to be an adventure, especially since I have decided to use this project to teach myself InDesign. Hooray…
What this means for my website is that I will finally have stuff to post again. I will be working on these two games continuously over the next few weeks, with my tentative deadline being Easter. That way I can celebrate by eating donuts again after the horror of a gluten-free Lent. If my posts get increasingly angry until then, that’s why. Let’s hope not.
I was too busy tonight to do the full Terra Neo post that I wanted to do. Instead, I’m just going to point out that if you refresh the page, the banner will change. I made one for each game I’ve designed, complete or incomplete, and a generic one that matches my brand new business cards. Anyway, tomorrow is the deadline for Terra Neo, so I will post to my success at midnight when I submit/order.
Actually, I don’t like that there aren’t any images in this post, so I’m just going to post all of the new banners below so that you don’t have to refresh. Woo!
The Magnificent Mechanical Mosaic
The Founding Fighters
So Alex Coulombe has won the Mashup Contest with his game “The Rum Run.” Having played it, I am not terribly surprised. My game, Satellite Salvo, was honored with the title “Most Creative,” so that’s pretty cool too. But in honor of his victory, I present a really great video he made of a game that we played during my play-test party. I’m the one that keeps rearranging my tiles into little shapes.
It might be interesting to note that “Idle Eyebrows” is Alex’s music name, so he basically did everything in this video. I really liked how it came out, even though I got crushed in this game by Alex (foreshadowing?).
That aside, I thought I would just throw up a post about a small project that I’ve been toying with recently. A few years ago I came up with a fairly unobjectionable card game called “Kung-Fu.” It used a standard poker deck, or in ideal circumstances, two poker decks. Recently the Game Crafter started taking submissions for poker decks, and I thought I would just put a deck together themed on Kung-Fu, and publish it with the rules attached. Here are the prospective suits for the deck.
I wanted a custom set of suits, but I wanted it to be obvious which classic suit they represent. I tried to maintain basic forms, and of course the colors give it away. Those may change, but not much. Underneath that is my current scheme for suit layout on number cards. Face cards will be pictorial, obviously, and on that note check out the sketch by our resident artist.
So expect to see a little more about this coming up. Although really, there isn’t much more to show after the suits. I guess I’ll just post face-card images when I get them. Stay tuned.
If you look to the right, you will see that the Game Crafter just announced the finalists for the Mashup Contest. Though Satellite Salvo did not make it into the top three, which will be printed and judged, it only just barely missed the cut-off, meaning I effectively tied for fourth. Again. But all in all, for one of the quickest development periods I have had, really respectable. Also, my friend Alex is in the finals! I am excited to see if he wins.
In other news, I have been neglecting to post, despite the fact that a lot has happened in the last two weeks. Shima has reached a playable level, and a damn good one at that. Unfortunately, I did not take the pictures of the play-test with my own camera, and I completely forgot to get the pictures from the play-tester before he flew back to DC. In lieu of the nice set of pictures, here’s a the most current board. I’ll try and explain some of what you see below.
BAM (again)! The board has changed very little, but at the same time, quite a bit. The old board had gameplay implications that it didn’t need too. This board, with the each player’s area broken into large bands instead of small plots, is truer to how the game works. The new central “clock” shows the seasons and the months within them. Each “turn” represents one piece of a season, and by pure coincidence it works out to be twelve.
I will post much, much more soon, but I would really like to have the pictures before I launch into a full-bore explanation.
So this is the game out of the box. I was extremely pleased with the way it printed, especially the folding Planet Mats. Cutting out the buildings was admittedly annoying, but it was nice to have them. I think if there’s a 1.1 version I may eliminate the buildings and just include a few black tokens to represent them. I only played most of a game; my play-tester had to leave suddenly, which actually allowed me to take this picture. As you can tell, it was going pretty well. We had each taken five shots and we had nearly finished. The only problem I’ve noticed with the proper version of the game is that vigorous rolling can accidentally collapse space itself, by which I mean the divider board. Anyway, I’m going to be having a bit of a play-test party next weekend, so I’m gonna hold off on talking too much about this right now.