## Posts

Showing posts from January, 2011

### Thousand Year Game Design Challenge - January Update

The first month of the challenge went even better than hoped. We had plenty of media coverage on Purple Pawn , Wired/GeekDad , Tor , Lautapeliopas (Finnish), Abre o Jogo (Portuguese), Discovery: Treehugger , The Star , and UnBeige . There are a handful of discussions on BoardGameGeek , Reddit , Inventori di Giochi (Italian), and Gameful . But most importantly, we got some very interesting game entries you ought to check out. Portal by Kenny VenOsdel A hex-based abstract capturing game where the board position decides which pieces are allowed to capture, which pieces can be captured, and what spaces they can move to. Also, players alternate the ability to move once or twice. Numeria by Lloyd Krassner aka Warp Spawn Games This game is played on a chessboard with thirty-six tiles numbered 1-36. Win by forming rows and columns sharing mathematical relationships. These can be as simple as a consecutive series of numbers or advanced as a Fibonacci sequence. Public Secrets

### Procession

Each player has a bridal party trying to get their bride to the chapel. The bridal party clears a safe path for the bride to travel. The first bride to make it to her chapel wins! This is a casual strategy game for couples. It's inspired by flower girls spreading petals for a bride to walk on as she approaches the altar. I hope you enjoy it with your special someone. Stuff You need • 2 or 4 players. • A chess board. • Each player needs five pawns. These are called Maids. • Each player needs a queen. This is called the Bride. Setup For a two-player game, arrange the pieces as shown above. In a four-player game, place the extra couple's pieces in the remaining corners. How to Play Each player takes turns moving one of their pieces. Each piece has special types of movement, but there are some common restrictions. A piece may not pass through any other pieces or land on an occupied space. There are no "captures." Maids move like chess rooks. That is, hor

### [In the Lab] Rulers - Notes on Ruling

So let's talk about the heart of the matter. Let's talk about rules. I don't mean the mechanics of the game, I mean the edicts that the characters can impose on each other. This is where I do a little bit of world-building to explain how to rule. First, here are the different types of rules, in order of greatest authority. Law A fundamental principle of the universe, like the Law of Gravity. No one can create a law. Given standard conditions, a law applies equally to everything in the universe. That doesn't stop monarchs from trying to break them. Alas, the universe doesn't bend to the will of even the most obstinate dictator. While laws can be merciless, they are fair and predictable. So, smart monarchs and wealthy sponsors fund scientific institutes to discover the laws. If no one can create a Law, then the strongest competitor is the one who knows the most about them. Plus, on occasion, scientists discover clever loopholes around Laws, like airplanes, hel

I recently ordered some small hand-made books from Sara Hindmarch, otherwise known as Re:Paper . She describes her work as "Hackbooking," bookbinding using found objects and fine papers. My books came in these cute ribboned parcels. I got this handy little hardcover to keep post-it notes nice and organized. I won't have to go rummaging around for a tiny pad any more. And I couldn't resist one of her beer box books. These are hand-bound books with covers made from upcycled beer boxes. I love a clever, aesthetically pleasing re-use of materials. » Sara's Etsy Shop: Re:Paper

### Megan and Daniel play Pandemic

A married couple talks about the games they play and enjoy. Find more posts like this here . Megan The rules for basic play in Pandemic took about 20 minutes for me to learn, but comprehension of the goal and how to start and end were pretty easy to see. I've only ever played with just the two of us, and during the first two games we forgot a key rule (reminded ourselves of the rule we forgot after the first time, but neglected a different rule the second time around...oops). I think we'll need to keep the rule booklet on the table for a while yet. While I'd say there are several steps-per-turn in Pandemic, the constant collaboration amongst players keeps it interesting through the whole game. And with two players, it's fun to try and determine the two best roles to play to make it through the game. Playing Pandemic is sort of like getting a group together to defeat a game of Risk already in play (but instead of armies and cannons, you have to worry about diseas

### [In the Lab] Rulers - Mechanics

Because I'm not entirely settled on one situation just yet, I haven't given much serious thought to mechanics or systems. I don't like designing a system without first knowing what mechaphor that system is supposed to emulate or evoke. Verbs First, there are some loose things to consider, like what characters will do in an average session. In this early step of the design process, I look at these as simple verbs like Explore, Acquire, or Fight. I can refine those verbs and create specialized roles by adding adverbs like Quietly, Strongly, or Quickly. I can also do this by adding nouns like Monarchs, Armies, or Rulers. So here was some initial brainstorming from people on story-games. » "A stat for Rule-making, a stat for Rule-breaking, and a stat for avoiding Rules." » "What about something vaguely Polaris-esque, where there's regular narration and then Special narration? Maybe key phrases that only Rulers can use? Maybe more powerful Rulers (

### Dung & Dragons Concept Art: From Sketch to Color

This is my process for putting together some concept art for a game. Concept art is not intended to be final. I'd give this to a proper artist to produce something more professionally polished or include it in a pitch document to a game company. Sketch I began with a loose sketch in red pencil, traced over that with a normal pencil and traced again with a sharpie. Then I scanned that and desaturated all the red out. Then I increased the contrast so only the sharpie would be visible. With that image, I can begin the vectoring process. Vector I use Freehand MX for my vectors. It's a defunct program no longer supported by Adobe, but it's what I learned back in college. I could never figure out Illustrator's idiosyncrasies. :P Background For the background, I cobbled together some stock vector elements from Shutterstock: A farm illustration and a dragon silhouette. I took that into photoshop to do the same dissolve brush coloring. Color These vectors make i

### Knights of the Dinner Table reviews Happy Birthday, Robot!

Knights of the Dinner Table #168 has a very warm write-up for Happy Birthday, Robot! and small story games in general. Many thanks to contributor and fan Ashok Desai for the kind words. Here are some of them! "Now this game is just charming. It was floated as a concept on the Internet and financed through fundraising site Kickstarter, but flew to such astounding success and gained so much support that it's now available in many places in a startlingly attractive hardback.[...] "There's no character ownership at all, any player can write sentences about anyone in the story solong as it makes sense. The resulting tales tend to come out rather like those cheerful, thick-paged children's books found in all good nurseries, not least because you're operating under an often draconically strict word limit. That's not a criticism though. The limit is good. It makes you try harder.[...] "All in all it makes a pretty good manual on how to introduce the v

### [Do] Saturday Night Group - Episode 3

This is a story created by playing Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple . » Previously: Episode 1 , Episode 2 The Pilgrims Pilgrim Reckless Syllogism gets into trouble because he can't control where he's going and helps people by pointing out logical flaws. (Matt) World Destiny: 4 Temple Destiny: 8 Pilgrim Marvelous Cat gets into trouble by overdoing things and helps people by sneaking around. (Raven) World Destiny: 2 Temple Destiny: 6 Pilgrim Favorite Shirt gets in trouble by being soooo familiar and helps people by drawing away danger. (Daniel) World Destiny: 6 Temple Destiny: 5 The Letter " Spun of Crystal and Gold " by Sophie LagacĂ© The Story Pilgrim Reckless Syllogism gives new meaning to "first contact" when he misses his landing on Amber Carnelian's balcony, colliding into her and sending them both tumbling through the air. Pilgrim Reckless Syllogism picks himself and Amber off the ground, dusts them both off, and apologizes prof

### Gentlemen, suspenders.

This is all I'm saying.

### [Do] The Grid of Caring

Mark Sherry and I were talking about destiny in Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple . In this conversation, he made some big observations, which I'll condense below. He begins... "There are two ways to view the Destiny mechanic in Do. The first is the way that you seem to view it: you have a desired outcome for your character, and it might lead you to make suboptimal choices in choosing stones in order to obtain it. The way I viewed it was that your Destiny was an emergent detail, informing you of your character's ultimate fate as an outcome of the (sometimes hard) choices you made earlier." To which I reply, "And you really can play it both ways. My preference is the former, but you can easily play in-the-moment and still get an interesting ending for your character." Mark continues, "The latter is how I tended to play, and analyzed the game. I want to be surprised by the ending. "Part of it is that that I didn't find that the things tha

### [In the Lab] Rulers - Introduction and Situations

Last year, I'm kicking around a loose outline for a game setting, possibly something for an RPG. It's inspired by rules-oriented fantasy like Lost, Deathnote, Highlander, Fullmetal Alchemist and Inception. Stories that present a set of rules, then follows characters as they explore the boundaries of those rules. The setting closely resembles our modern world with some notable twists. Premise First, all nations are monarchies, with varying ranges of oppression. A handful really severe third-world dictatorships exist, but most nations are quite livable. All the trappings of first-world modern society exist, like suits and cars and jobs and the internet. Second, some people have an ability to rule . That is, they can create a rule like "No one may enter this room without my permission." or "Men must bow in my presence." and the universe obeys, to an extent. It takes a significant amount of willpower to impose and maintain a rule, but it is easier when t

### 5 Tips for Playing Board Games in Public

My wife Megan and I often play board games at cafĂ©s around town. Playing at home is a very different experience than playing in public. We've come across some particular points of etiquette that we sort of took for granted. A friend's recent Facebook update mentioned a couple of rude board gamers sitting next to her at a coffee shop, so I thought we could share some tips. #1: Pick the right place. Indoors: Look for an establishment that has comfy chairs, a welcoming atmosphere and lots of idle chatty patrons. Local cafĂ©s are our favorite spots, but a pub could work, too. Once you get there, choose a table that has enough room for your game and any food or drinks you have ordered. It's worth noting that public libraries frequently host game nights for local chess clubs. Ask your library if they'd host a general game event, too. Outdoors: Public parks frequently have chess tables for your use. Be careful, though. Choose a safe place to gather where you won't

### Kari Fry added to Artist Directory

Kari Fry Kari is a professional caricaturist and illustrator with years of experience in the field. She has a particular love for drawing cartoon animals, as you can tell from her portfolio. » Artist Directory

### [Do] Monday Night Group - Episode 3

This is a story created by playing Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple . » Previously:, Episode 1 , Episode 2 The Pilgrims Pilgrim Clumsy Mirror gets into trouble by falling down on things and helps people by creating an illusion. (Jenn) World Destiny: 6 Temple Destiny: 6 Pilgrim Pugnacious Cookie gets into trouble by picking fights, and helps them with his selection of tasty baked goods. (Mark) World Destiny: 5 Temple Destiny: 6 Pilgrim Revolting Boot gets in trouble by rousing rabble and helps people with his indestructible boots. (Daniel) World Destiny: 7 Temple Destiny: 6 The Letter " Once Upon a Time " by Peter Aronson The Story Pilgrim Clumsy Mirror lands in the royal throne room, squarely stepping on the cat king's tail. Pilgrim Clumsy Mirror quickly jumped up and waved her hands shouting "We have arrived isn't this wonderful!" Pilgrim Pugnacious Cookie picks a fight with nobles about the cleanliness of the kitchen Pilgrim Revol

### Video: Deconstructing a Hardcover Book

Here's how I take apart a hardcover book for use in craft projects. Generally, a good hardcover is connected to the pages by its endpapers, so you want to cut those off first. Be careful to leave the gauze underneath intact as much as possible. Then carefully rip off whatever endpapers you can so you'll be able to paste on your own later. Take some time to take a look at how the pages were bound together for ideas on how you can bind your own book, too. When it's all taken apart, you'll see that the hardcover is basically just three thick sheets of cardboard held together with a durable fabric glued to the outside. In a later video, I'll show how to add your own pages to a deconstructed hardcover book. » Music: The Neverhood Soundtrack - Dum Da Dum Doi Doi

### 5 Tips for Elegant, Efficient Board Game Design

A while back, there was a thread titled " I want to learn from you ," in which people stated the things they wanted to learn from each other. A couple people asked me about "elegant, efficient board game design." It was presumptuous of me to offer any kind of tips at the time, and still is, but here is what my tips were... Be Cheap Use the cheapest, most commonplace game props possible and use as few of them as possible. It's hard to make a baroque, overly complex game when you only have black and white beads on grid paper. Also, it makes distributing your game much easier when players already have the tools necessary. Look at the stuff around you right now. Examine how you can make a game out of those objects. Forget Stuff Easily I never mastered thAC0, I barely grasp probabilities, and I absolutely suck at advanced chess techniques. Consequently, I try to write my rules so that they would fit on a sheet of paper. Even better, on a business card. Or, s

### The Leftovers in "The Room of Spiky Things"

The Leftovers return to the call of adventure and cowardice in The Room of Spiky Things, suggested by you, the viewers! Here you'll find all the hazards you'd expect, like a cactus, stalagmites, rakes and mohawks. New tools are also available, like punch, a comb... and the crown. But wait, new dangers abound! If you're the unfortunate soul to land a word on this space, you'll lose one of your precious items. Say goodbye to the celery from the Bunny's Burrow . Sniff farewell to the cologne you picked up in the Pit . This space requires two words to be filled instead of just one! All the better to slow down your progress so the Monster can eat your sniveling heroes. Test your wit and might against The Room of Spiky Things . » Download: The Room of Spiky Things

### Skippy's cannibalistic Happy Birthday, Robot!

Scott Merrill heard about Happy Birthday, Robot! from the promos on the Drabblecast . Here's the story he and his friends created: Robot met an old friend, but he was different. Robot was saddened with disbelief, but smiled broadly. Robot said exactly what he felt, "One arm suits you!" Robot's friend frowned and took off running, but came back. Robot said, "Excuse me, I though you knew that I eat appendages." "Specifically, your's and my brother's." A foot fell off Robot's friend, who exclaimed "Mon frere!" Robot's eye widened and he reached for his friend's purple face. Robot ripped his nose and screamed "I'll enjoy you, friend/brother!" Robot hugged his brother tightly. They both wept. Robot chewed slowly. Oh my. With friends like these, who needs snacks? I guess that just goes to show how the average Drabblecast listener plays the game. Remind me to be cautious if I'm ever invited t

### Megan and Daniel Play ________

Starting next week, and continuing intermittently, Megan and I will share our thoughts on games we play. Not-quite-reviews from an active married couple who love playing all sorts of games. Generally we'll focus on games we actually enjoy, so these will all be pretty positive. Currently on the docket: Last Word Word on the Street Pandemic Marrakech Jungle Speed Carcassonne Catan Card Game ZOMBIES!!! Race for the Galaxy 3 Stones Blokus Rumis We're curious. What would you like to see in these features?

### My favorite game console is a table and chairs.

Man, I'm kind of on a t-shirt kick right now. I said this on Twitter today and some people wanted a t-shirt. These shirts are now available from my CafePress store . » Graphic licensed on Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike: Vector EPS » UPDATE : By popular request, here's a new commonwealth version.

### Cutting Libraries in a Recession is like Cutting Hospitals in a Plague

This design is based on an original tweet from Eleanor Crumblehulme to Neil Gaiman last year. Neil requested a t-shirt, so I submitted this design and released it on creative commons . The American Library Association Midwinter Meeting is next weekend and this graphic was quite popular during the ALA meeting last summer. There is still time to get your shirt shipped. Here's a quick overview of what is available at cafepress: » Men's Ringer T » Women's Cap Sleeve » Women's Plus Size V-Neck » Women's Organic Fitted » Vector EPS Download: CuttingLibraries.eps released under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License