Thousand Year Game Design Challenge - July Update

The Thousand-Year Game Design Challenge

Push by Dan Hope
Dan Hope submits the first video entry with an elegant little push-and-corner abstract. You can plainly hear how well-practiced and well-rehearsed he is during the demo. If you're pitching a game, it's crucial that you are confident, calm and comfortable. Take a lesson from Dan, folks.

WarMaze by Mackenzie Cameron
Mackenzie's entry bears some similarities to Oshii, in that play is about pushing other piece around. But that's where the similarity ends. In fact, this is closer to a Zelda puzzle, where you and your opponent's are trying to hit certain targets while keeping your princess safe from the other monsters.

Push by David Gordon Buresh
You're not mistaken! This is another game called Push. (I had to double-check that myself.) This game is much more similar to Tsuro, though. Play focuses on shifting rows and columns of pawns around a grid and getting individual pieces isolated for capture.

Beloved by Ben Lehman
Longtime indie storygamer and storygame designer Ben Lehman drops this artful game into the competition. You're a hero. You must rescue your beloved from an invincible monster. But there's more to this game than it seems. I can't say more without spoiling the surprise.

Questions about Cover Design or the Thousand-Year Challenge?


I'm prepping notes for my seminars at GenCon. I'm speaking about cover design in RPGs on Saturday and about the Thousand-Year Game Design Challenge on Sunday. If you have any questions on either subject, I'd love to work them into my presentations.

Midnight SageFight at GenCon


A year ago, our founders spent entire hours developing the ancient art of SageFight. We continue that most noble of traditions at GenCon 2011. Each midnight of GenCon, it is time for SageFight at the Embassy Suites.

Bring your cameras! The first rule of SageFight: Tell everyone about SageFight.

Dan Cetorelli's Handbound Books for Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple





Dan Cetorelli sent me his special handbound editions of Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple and Do: The Book of Letters. These were the top-tier prize for the $1000 backer in Do's Kickstarter, along with an extra copy of each book, stones, bag, and some other goodies. Hope you dig the whole package, Mr. Backer!

» More of Dan Cetorelli's Custom RPG Bookbinding

Sean O' Connor's Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple Web App


Sean O'Connor built this prototype web app for his friends to play Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple online. Pretty cool, eh? If you combined this with some of the persistent elements of Graham Walmsley's dice roller, you'd have a great mobile app. If you want to take a stab at it, I'm happy to help however I can!

Google Plus Circle: "People Who Have Played My Games"


I'm starting a "people who have played my games" circle. If you've played any of my games, comment on this G+ post!

Signing and Doodling Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple


Busy busy busy! Got a big stack of books to sign and doodle for the $100+ backers. Thanks for letting me deface your property! I hope to finish those up this weekend and start mailing them out next week.

Reports of backers $40 and under have been trickling in all week. Those books will continue shipping over the next several business days. When you get yours, be sure to tweet, post, or blog about it!

» Pre-order the Book at Evil Hat
» Buy the PDF at Evil Hat | RPGNow

New Reviews for Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple and Do: Book of Letters!


Mark B. of the Diehard Gamer recently reviewed both Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple and Do: The Book of Letters. Spoiler alert! He quite likes them both.

On Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple: "If you’re looking for a simple RPG to have fun with, or a game to introduce someone to the idea of RPG’s without scaring them off, Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple is a fun, low-maintenance RPG ... it’s a lot of fun to play whether you’re a multi-year veteran or you’ve never played an RPG in your life, regardless of how old you are. "

On Do: The Book of Letters: "As an addition to Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple, it’s a fine one, both due to its inexpensive price and the volume of content included in the book for running and creating new letters for your pilgrims."

Thanks, Mark!

Do: The Book of Letters now available for backers!


We're happy to announce that the first expansion for Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple is now available for backers to download. Do: The Book of Letters adds a whole slew of new troubles for your pilgrimage. A whole slew, I say. Not just half a slew. The R&D guys recommended just a fourth of a slew, but no, I demanded you get the whole thing.

Thanks so much for your support. Enjoy!

Oh, if you're not a backer and you'd like to get your mitts on the PDF, it's available for purchase from Evil Hat's webstore here. It's 56 pages of new letters, new info about the Temple-verse, and all for five smackeroos!

» Buy Do: The Book of Letters

Vote for Happy Birthday, Robot!


Vote for Happy Birthday, Robot! at the Ennies! There is some stiff competition from major games with a lot more market presence than our little Robot, but there's always hope. Hope and your vote!

So go to the Ennies voting page and vote for Happy Birthday, Robot! in these categories: Best Game, Best New Game, Best Production Values, Product of the Year. Let's make this a very happy birthday for Robot.

» Vote for Happy Birthday, Robot!

Thousand Year Game Design Challenge - FAQ

1,000-Year Game Design Challenge
The FAQ section of the main challenge page was getting a little long, so I'm splitting it off to its own post. If you have any questions about the challenge, I'm happy to answer in the comments. :)

What inspired the challenge?
This challenge is inspired by The Long Now Foundation, whose support of long-term thinking influenced the scope of this challenge and its duration. It is also inspired by The X Prize Foundation, using contests to encourage private citizens to do public good. And the biggest inspiration is the DivNull Lark, in which one generous guy helps get unreleased games published.

What's your goal for the challenge?
Greg Stolze once said that Chess wouldn't be sold today because there isn't enough commercial potential. That lingered in my mind for years. I want to offer some incentive to would-be game designers who like making those games. Perhaps one of them will make the next classic that will stand the test of centuries.

Why such a generous timeline for the challenge?
The challenge spans a full year with a deadline for entries is in the middle of that year to give my wife and me (and anyone else) enough time to play the entries a few times. We like the idea of having enough patience to wait a year for the conclusion of the challenge.

How will you know if a game still exists a thousand years from now?
We won't, obviously, but we still like the idea of thinking that far in advance. Yes, it's an audacious, hubris-laden goal that makes a good headline. The challenge is as much about present-day design and production of game experiences as it is about the future.

How do we know you'll follow through? Is it possible there won't be a winner?
This is an understandable concern, but I hope have a good reputation among gaming community that my word is enough. So, take my word, there will be a winner announced on January 1, 2012 and he or she will earn the prize.

Who are you anyway?
We're just folks who like to play games. By day, I'm senior art director at an ad agency. By night, I like designing games and talking about game design in general. My wife is a crafty jack-of-all-trades and frequently my first playtester. Together with our friends, we play board games in coffee shops and host the occasional RPG at home.

Why special favor for creative commons licenses?
No one owns the rules for the classic games, which is one small part of why they have survived and adapted for so long. We actively encourage the use of Creative Commons license, in some form. It's won't make or break our decision, but it might give your game that extra little nudge to help it survive the next thousand years.

If the game is published after it is entered, but before the deadline, is it still be eligible for the prize?
Yes, it is still eligible. Actually, if you are able to concept and publish a game within the span of a year, we'll be very impressed. (It's uncommon, but doable.)

Is this an annual thing?
Maybe. We're waiting to see how the first year progresses before we make any plans for next year. We may need to change the format or requirements a bit here and there, but we want to get this first experiment completed.

I have a game that I posted to a blog/forum: What counts as "published"?
The reason we exclude "published" games is that we want to avoid any legal liabilities. (We're not lawyers, but money is always sticky issue, so we're just trying to keep ourselves safe.) We also wanted to make sure contestants were entering *new* games to the challenge. Now, what counts as "published"? If it has been produced in a physical format for commercial release, that is definitely published. If it's released online as a download for commercial release, that is also published. If it's posted online for free... We'll let that slide.

5/5 Stars for Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple!


Reviews are already coming in for Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple!

"5/5 Stars. A beautifully illustrated, amazingly structured and wonderfully imaginative universe." — Ben Gerber

"5/5 Stars. One of the highest quality products I've seen in a long time." — Erathoniel Woodenbow

"This sort of collaborative story-telling game is great to get kids using and stretching their imaginations. And it’s a great way for families to spend some fun game time together!" — Game Knight Reviews

Awesome. :D

"My Favorite Game Console is a Table and Chairs" at Connecticon

Joshua Newman wore the My Favorite Game Console is a Table and Chairs shirt at Connecticon and shares this great story:

"Someone came up and told me that was exactly how they felt. They had this whole story about how they're not very good at video games. They were so happy they could actually tell someone sympathetic. I didn't tell her that I love video games but love my friends more. She just needed a shoulder to cry on."

D'aww. Yay!

» Photo by Robert Bohl

Thousand Year Game Design Challenge - June Update

The Thousand-Year Game Design Challenge
It was another fruitful month for the challenge, with a very special guest now in the running. But first, some news: The deadline for entry is extended to August 31st. Hope to see you at GenCon and I look forward to showing off some of the entries so far.

Take-Back-Toe by James Ernest
Veteran game designer James Ernest submits this entry that actually doesn't have much in common with tic tac toe. It's more like a dice-driven mancala, with an elegant tension of constrained choices. The game suggests using poker chips on a mouse board, but you can play this with rocks or via forum post.

Antipode by Shane Hendrickson
Much like the classic game Hex, your goal is to connect two sides of the board. The twist is that the tiles are double-sided, as in Reversi/Othello. If your pawn passes over an opponent's tile, it flips to your color. Interesting mix of two well-loved abstract games. Usually those mashups don't fare well, but I think this one has strong potential.

Charing Cross by Mike C
In the tradition of many great games, Mike enters a chess variant that's actually a little more like Chinese Checkers. Each player has two pairs of chess pieces starting from two sides of a chess board, trying to reach their opposing side. I can immediately see the tension here. Interesting!

Saaguan by Andrew Cooke
With touches of Robo Rally, this game offers some more complex gameplay than the average 2p abstract. Robots move about the field, blasting each other with beams. Check out his automated and animated demo, too. Very cool.

Mint by Graham Walmsley
Graham actually withdrew this entry after some people told him they played a very similar game in school, but I'm putting it up here as sort of an honorable mention. With a bit of hacking and tweaking, the basic mechanics can still be used to create an interesting new game and I hope Graham submits a revised entry. Get on it, Graham! :)

Past Entries:
» January
» February
» March: (No entries)
» April
» May

Happy Birthday, Robot! - Nominated for Four Ennie Awards!


Holy crap! The Ennie 2011 nominees were just announced and Happy Birthday, Robot! is nominated in four categories!

Best Game
* Happy Birthday, Robot! (Evil Hat Productions)
* Icons Superpowered Roleplaying (Adamant Entertainment/Cubicle 7)
* Legends of Anglerre (Cubicle 7)
* Mutants & Masterminds Hero’s Handbook (Green Ronin Publishing)
* The Dresden Files RPG (Evil Hat Productions )
* Honorable Mention: The Laundry (Cubicle 7)

Best New Game
* A Taste for Murder (Graham Walmsley)
* Happy Birthday, Robot! (Evil Hat Productions)
* Icons Superpowered Roleplaying (Adamant Entertainment/Cubicle 7)
* The Dresden Files RPG (Evil Hat Productions )
* The Laundry (Cubicle 7)
* Honorable Mention: Stars Without Number (Sine Nominee Publishing)

Best Production Values
* Gatecrashing (Posthuman Studios)
* Happy Birthday, Robot! (Evil Hat Productions)
* Legend of the Five Rings, Fourth Edition (Alderac Entertainment Group)
* Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary 2 (Paizo Publishing)
* The Dresden Files RPG (Evil Hat Productions )

Product of the Year
* A Song of Ice and Fire Campaign Guide (Green Ronin Publishing)
* DC Adventures Hero’s Handbook (Green Ronin Publishing)
* D&D Gamma World Roleplaying Game (Wizards of the Coast)
* Gatecrashing (Posthuman Studios)
* Happy Birthday, Robot! (Evil Hat Productions)
* Legend of the Five Rings, Fourth Edition (Alderac Entertainment Group)
* Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Player’s Guide (Paizo Publishing)
* Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Inner Sea World Guide (Paizo Publishing)
* The Dresden Files RPG (Evil Hat Productions )
* The Stork (DreamPunk Productions)
* Honorable Mention:Legends of Anglerre (Cubicle 7)

That's some tough and varied competition, but I'm still thrilled to be included in the company of Dresden Files and Gamma World. Yowza.

A game inspired by the Borrowers, Arrietty and the Littles?


The new trailer for Studio Ghibli's Arrietty has me thinking about the potential for a game inspired by that general premise: Hidden elflike people hide in our walls. Here are a couple quick ideas:

Your story is set inside the home in which you play the game.
Any pets in the home are hazards for your characters.
Character art is drawn at actual size. (About an inch or so.)

So what's the compelling situation? What is the common thread each time you play the game? What is different each time you play? Hm!

It's real! Product Photos of Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple

Here are some product shots of Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple. An advance copy arrived on my doorstep. It looks gorgeous. (The game, not the doorstep.) Click any of the images to embiggen. We're on schedule to debut at GenCon!
Daniel Solis
Art Director by Day. Game Designer by Night.