What to do with Trickster, hmmm...

I've got the rights to Trickster back in my hands! I'm considering where its future may lead.  Trickster was my first attempt at really pushing print-on-demand as a primary distributor. It was an ambitious plan back in 2015. In those days, it was a series of individual small-deck card games. The deck sizes were optimized for best margins and ease of shipping from POD. Each deck was standalone, but could be shuffled together. The core rules were the same for all of the games, but the cards in each deck had unique abilities. (I would attempt this again with the " I Can't Even " series and with the  Plume  decks.)  After releasing the fourth deck, Trickster got picked up by a publisher as a  big box edition on Kickstarter , with a new look at revised theme. Unfortunately it never really caught on in retail. I think it's really better for a small indie channel like DriveThru. I'd been waiting for the retail inventory to run low before promoting the classic de

Rocket Broker - Worker Placement Area Control Roll-and-Write

(This is a rough sketch of a game from 2017, when dice placement and roll-and-writes were gaining more popularity. I was in a phase where I was just merging as many different ingredients together to see if they'd stick.  You can see some of these ideas in Pencil Park.) You’re trying to get your payloads onto rockets and into orbit. Rocket space ain’t cheap and neither is the fuel. You have to invest wisely if you want to launch!  Setup The game comes with a deck of rocket cards. Shuffle a number of cards based on player count. (Designer note: I never determined a number since this prototype never got tested.) Lay out six random rocket cards onto each of the launchpad spaces. Each rocket card has a space agency that is sponsoring its launch, like NASA, or JAXA. Each rocket has a different arrangement of spaces representing its cargo capacity. The oval below each rocket card space is its fuel, which will be needed for the rocket to launch at all.  Start of Round At the start of a rou

Ludology discusses imposter syndrome

It's the annual recap episode of the Ludology podcast. Important notes on imposter syndrome here. Host Erica Bouyouris is the designer of "Dumb Ways To Die," the best-selling new card game of the year. That should be a huge achievement for any game designer. Unfortunately, that doesn't align with BoardGameGeek buzz or lead to big awards, so she's had to come to terms with that as she continues in her career. Good discussion on feedback, mental health, and managing your well-being as a game designer.

2023 Book Review

Here are all the books I've read and reviewed over the past year. As is typical of my lifestyle, I take in more audiobooks than physical books. I'm not a purist about that sort of thing. The one hitch is that I've already burned through a LOT of the audiobooks from the library that had my interest. It's forced me to branch out to other genres, so you'll see some more non-fiction and a couple of mysteries here. Plus one or two books I'm categorizing as Fantasy, though there are no swords and sorcery in the mix. There is one very specific element that kept popping up in the sci-fi I read this year: A distant-future community of humans has their Earthly origins kept secret by a manufactured religious authority. The Interdependency Trilogy features a theocratic government put in place to manage an interplanetary alliance of traders and producers. The Safehold series backstory, human survivors of an alien purge get their minds erased and rewritten to avoid any new in

Five Themes for Set Collection in Board Game Design

I often rely on set collection for my early prototypes. It's such a simple, satisfying framework to motivate players and give clear goals. The problem is how often set collection becomes a rote, emotionless task list to complete. The theme of the set collection is what set makes it more appealing to new players. An evocative theme suggests secondary mechanisms that help fill out the rest of the game. Here are a few themes I've used or seen over the years. Recipes and Shopping Lists Welcome to Stabbed! Impress the chefs, follow the recipes, and you won't be stabbed! This is by far the most common usage of set collection. Players are tasked with collecting certain amounts or combinations of resources. Then they're rewarded with a certain number of points. That straightforward transactional structure is certainly useful when the rest of the game is rather complex, but it doesn't necessarily suggest fun secondary mechanisms. I got around this in Junk Orbit by making th

Artist Advice: Early in my career, should I focus on building my portfolio or taking on small jobs?

  This is extremely important: What you draw today is what you'll be hired for tomorrow. If you draw spaceships, you'll show up on searches for spaceships. If you draw dragons, you'll be sorted with the dragons. If you don't want to draw spaceships or dragons, don't post them in your portfolio. As an art director, I have to search through hundreds of portfolios for each project, looking for the right potential candidates. If I don't see what I need in your portfolio, you don't even appear in that initial search, let alone get further consideration.  If you're in a financial position to just work on your portfolio so you can build up your skills, that's totally valid. Just make sure you're posting consistently and that your best work is visible first. You can also delete older work that doesn't show your current skill level. (I see a lot of portfolios with years-old freshman-level work that never got cleared out.) To get paid will building you