My Game Design To-Do List: Set sail or get off the dock.

It's a crazy-busy time here in the lab. Aside from the stack of freelance projects on my plate, a number of game-related projects are building up and I'm having some trouble prioritizing. Here's a list of what I have so far:
  • Nine Lives: (Due this month) Done, just waiting for proofs to arrive so I can review and approve, then it will be ready to sell.
  • Koi Pond: Moon Village: (Due December) The first proper expansion for Koi Pond will include several new cards that I'd like to get a give a few more rounds of playtesting. I must also do the art for those cards, which is a bit time-consuming in itself.
Beyond that, I have a variety of options and obligations. I would like to keep releasing card games through 2014 but I have two other things on my mind.

First is UnPub4 in January, for which I've not yet declared which games I will be testing yet. Ideally they'll be games that I can have ready for sale around March, either to pitch to publishers or have for sale on DriveThruCards. At the same time, Dice Hate Me will be running a contest to design 54-card games!

So I'm trying to decide which two games I will test at UnPub4, which games will be ready for DriveThruCards on January-March, and which game I will submit to the 54-card contest. My options are as follows:
  • Train Town: Despite not winning the Korean board game contest, I think it has potential. It needs new art, which I'll probably have to do myself. Again, the art is the time-consuming part of it and still depends on if/how I retheme the game. In theory, I could have it ready for sale in January or February.
  • Expedition: The loose game idea I posted earlier this week was well-received when I proposed it to Dice Hate Me, so I'm inclined to pursue it for further development for that contest. For the time being, I'm using a loose scifi theme about colonizing an alien water planet. It's rapidly spinning out to being too complex, so I might just keep it simple for now and add further secondary mechanics later.
  • Cheeky Panda: Inspired by Dead Man's Draw, I tested this game on Monday and it was quickly honed down into a light, take-that, interactive game of theft and trading. It needs art, but the quick pace makes me think it's a good candidate for UnPub4. In my experience, I get the best feedback out of a playtest event when I can iterate rapidly.
  • Trickster: This one is still very nascent, but will probably be the easiest to prototype. It's built on a trick-taking mechanic, with a mythical trickster theme. When you play your cards into the trick, you play two at a time. One face-up, one face-down. You're never quite sure if you actually want to win the trick.
  • Misspelled: I haven't talked about this much, but it's a retheme of Stupor Market, my old word-based party game. Players are young wizards learning how to pronounce the words of a spell. My solution to Stupor Market's problem of needing a dry-erase board? Card drafting, each card has a silly-sounding syllable.
  • Monsoon Market: Speaking of drafting games, MM has been in my lab for way too long at this point. Again, art is the biggest delay and I also need to tweak some of the auction mechanics. But geez, I was talking about this game after the last UnPub event. Time to set sail or get off the dock.
Okay, talking this through makes things a little clearer:

UnPub 4: I should focus on games that are harder to self-produce, since I'd likely need a publisher's support to get art done at the very least. A kid-friendly game also helps, since the event is held at a school. That means Monsoon Market, Train Town, or Cheeky Panda, most likely

DriveThruCards: I should focus on games I can produce myself and are relatively simple to develop, which will likely be Cheeky Panda, Trickster, or Misspelled.

54-Card Contest: The time crunch means I gotta keep things simple. Retheme some cards for Expedition, maybe add some player powers, but otherwise keep the core mechanic as a focus.
Daniel Solis
Art Director by Day. Game Designer by Night.